A friend just called to my attention “The Kafka Files #172,” a semi-regular series of email dispatches by a friend of his named Eileen Sutton, wherein the contemporary world’s race to catch up with—if never quite outpace—the work of their namesake is duly noted, one case after another.
(Quick aside. Rumors to the contrary, it is not true that Samantha Power’s “Dying in Darfur: Can the ethnic cleansing in Sudan be stopped?” her recent extravaganza for the New Yorker (Aug. 30), was originally set to be published under the title “A Report for An Academy,” her working title changed at the last moment before going to press, and then only by an intern’s errant keystroke.)
Anyway. Sorry I can’t provide a weblink to The Kafka Files. As I mentioned, they arrive via email. But #172 sure is a beauty. It cites a report in this morning’s Washington Post by Al Kamen (“State Dept. Web Site Still Out of the Loop,” Sept. 20—for a copy, see below). The gist of Kamen’s report was this:
First, click on “Countries Where al Qaeda Has Operated,” a webpage that the U.S. Department of State put up some time in the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001, hijacker bombings against U.S. territory.
(Note that I say some time in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001.—Although no date is given for the creation of this webpage, the latest item that it attributes to Osama bin Laden bears the date October 15, 2001.)
Therein, you will see a map of the world, along with the State Department’s list of countries where State was claiming at the time that al Qaeda had operated.
This list is 45 countries long. It includes such famous Al Qaeda stomping grounds as Afghanistan, Bosnia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon—and, of course, the United States.
Next, take a close look at the actual list of “Countries Where al Qaeda Has Operated.”
Glaring for their absence from this list are Iraq, Syria, Israel, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (i.e., the West Bank and Gaza Strip).
Now, I for one can’t vouch for the accuracy of the State Department’s list of “Countries Where al Qaeda Has Operated,” ca. October, 2001.
But don’t you find it more than a little bit curious that one country, Iraq, above all others, was excluded from the list when the State Department compiled it in the immediate aftermath of 9/11?
“Countries Where al Qaeda Has Operated,” U.S. Department of State (October(?), 2001)
FYA (“For your archives”):
The Washington Post [[EXCERPT]]
September 20, 2004 Monday
SECTION: A Section; A19 , IN THE LOOP Al Kamen
HEADLINE: State Dept. Web Site Still Out of the Loop
BYLINE: Al Kamen
It’s always important to keep your Web site up to date. Take, for example, a site the State Department put up, apparently a month or so after 9/11, with information about Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda terrorist network.
There are quotes from bin Laden praising the hijackers and quotes from President Bush and other administration officials outlining efforts to defeat terrorism. To be helpful, State put up a map showing in red where al Qaeda had been operating around the world.
Those places include this country, Europe and Russia, North Africa and most of the Middle East. But wait! There are a couple of countries in the Middle East where al Qaeda had not been operating as of the fall of 2001: Syria and Iraq.
But we now are told al Qaeda had been all over Iraq then, right next to the WMD. In any event, it’s operating there now, so best to update soon. The site is http://usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/terrornet/12.htm.