Browsing the blog archives for April, 2007.


Tenet Talks

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Bush Administration, Dick Cheney, Iraq War, War on Terror

Former CIA Director George Tenet’s hotly anticipated book about What He Did to Get Us Into War will hit the shelves on Monday, and the New York Times has an advance copy. Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti write,

George J. Tenet, the former director of central intelligence, has lashed out against Vice President Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials in a new book, saying they pushed the country to war in Iraq without ever conducting a “serious debate” about whether Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat to the United States.

The 549-page book, “At the Center of the Storm,” is to be published by HarperCollins on Monday. By turns accusatory, defensive, and modestly self-critical, it is the first detailed account by a member of the president’s inner circle of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the decision to invade Iraq and the failure to find the unconventional weapons that were a major justification for the war.

“There was never a serious debate that I know of within the administration about the imminence of the Iraqi threat,” Mr. Tenet writes in a devastating judgment that is likely to be debated for many years. Nor, he adds, “was there ever a significant discussion” about the possibility of containing Iraq without an invasion.

Well, OK, so we knew that. But it’s nice to have corroboration.

Tenet admits to making the famous “slam dunk” remark that Bob Woodward wrote about in one of his books. But he says it was taken out of context and, in any event, played no part in the decision to go to war.

Mr. Tenet described with sarcasm watching an episode of “Meet the Press” last September in which Mr. Cheney twice referred to Mr. Tenet’s “slam dunk” remark as the basis for the decision to go to war.

“I remember watching and thinking, ‘As if you needed me to say ‘slam dunk’ to convince you to go to war with Iraq,’ ” Mr. Tenet writes.

As violence in Iraq spiraled beginning in late 2003, Mr. Tenet writes, “rather than acknowledge responsibility, the administration’s message was: Don’t blame us. George Tenet and the C.I.A. got us into this mess.”

Shane and Mazzetti say that Tenet portrays President Bush “in a largely positive light” but is much less kind to Cheney, Wolfowitz, Feith, and others who, before and after 9/11, largely ignored al Qaeda because they were obsessed with Saddam Hussein. Tenet also settles some scores with Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley.

And Tenet corroborates what many former Clinton Administration officials said about the Bushies ignoring warnings that al Qaeda was really, truly dangerous and needed to be made a high priority.

The book recounts C.I.A. efforts to fight Al Qaeda in the years before the Sept. 11 attacks, and Mr. Tenet’s early warnings about Osama bin Laden. He contends that the urgent appeals of the C.I.A. on terrorism received a lukewarm reception at the Bush White House through most of 2001.

“The bureaucracy moved slowly,” and only after the Sept. 11 attacks was the C.I.A. given the counterterrorism powers it had requested earlier in the year.

There’s a bit more background about the book and the “slam dunk” remark in this Washington Post article.

Update: Paul Kiel writes,

George Bush insulates himself from reality! The administration didn’t seriously entertain the notion that Iraq didn’t have WMD’s! Dick Cheney is an asshole!

OK, so the revelations in George Tenet’s new book aren’t going to shock anyone, but they are notable considering the source.

Yeah, pretty much. There was some hope Tenet would reveal something new, but it doesn’t seem that he did.

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Dems on Parade

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Democratic Party

I missed the first part of the Dem candidate debate tonight. From what part I did see Joe Biden did quite well, and you know I’m not much of a Biden fan. There’s a Senator Gravel of Alaska on the stage who is, IMO, an unsufferable jerk. Since I missed much of this debate I’m not going to offer further opinion, but y’all are welcome to add yours.

You’ll want to see this Tom Tomorrow cartoon (scroll down).

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The Senate Today

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Congress, Iraq War

The Senate vote on the Iraq spending bill is scheduled for 12:45 pm EST. I’ll post the result as soon as there is one.

Update 12:57:
The roll call just started.

Update: Adopted 51-46.

Another update: Bob Geiger says,

As expected, the vote was almost straight down party lines… Hagel and Smith did the right thing and voted with 48 Democrats and Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont to bring the troops home. No Democrats voted with the Republicans who, of course, had Joe Lieberman (WHOCARES-CT) on their side, with Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) missing the vote.

Gee, it’s almost as if the gutless McCain doesn’t want to be on the record about this or something — go figure!

Also, I understand the Dems plan to tie Bush’s veto to the 4th anniversary of Mission Accomplished day. Heh.

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Bush’s Last Stand

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Bush Administration

Remember that big drop in violence in Iraq that’s supposed to have happened because of the “surge”? Nancy A. Youssef of McClatchy Newspapers writes that the Bush Administration no longer counts car bombings as “violence.”

U.S. officials who say there has been a dramatic drop in sectarian violence in Iraq since President Bush began sending more American troops into Baghdad aren’t counting one of the main killers of Iraqi civilians.

Car bombs and other explosive devices have killed thousands of Iraqis in the past three years, but the administration doesn’t include them in the casualty counts it has been citing as evidence that the surge of additional U.S. forces is beginning to defuse tensions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

President Bush explained why in a television interview on Tuesday. “If the standard of success is no car bombings or suicide bombings, we have just handed those who commit suicide bombings a huge victory,” he told TV interviewer Charlie Rose.

Huh?

Youssef explains that there has been a big drop in the number of executions, most of which were being carried out by Shiite militias. “Much of the decline occurred before the security plan began on Feb. 15, and since then radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has ordered his Mahdi Army militia to stand down.” In the same period, however, the number of suicide car bombings (which U.S. officials attribute to al Qaeda) has risen considerably.

Sure enough, Joe Lieberman has an op ed in today’s Washington Post about the wonderful progress being made in Iraq. Then he says, “The suicide bombings we see now in Iraq are an attempt to reverse these gains.” We got ’em on the ropes, folks. You heard it from Holy Joe himself.

Juan Cole writes,

Since the Bush administration doesn’t actually have any good news on Iraq, they are just making it up. It confirms your worst suspicions. They haven’t been counting victims of car bombings when they say that violence is down in Iraq! Bush administration spokesmen and officials are just saying that fewer bodies are found in the streets, victims of death squads. But the number of victims of car bombing has actually increased in this period.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi government is withholding statistics on Iraqi casualties from the United Nations.

It is official: The real parts of the Iraq War are being treated as imaginary, and the imaginary parts are being treated as though they are real.

In today’s Washington Post, the Reptile writes that the Bush Administration has barricaded itself from, well, just about everybody. He describes Bush’s delusional defense of the hapless Alberto Gonzales, then adds,

Vice President Cheney’s personal criticism Tuesday of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in a rare statement just off the Senate floor suggested that defense of Gonzales is not an isolated act of defiance. Bush, never entranced with life in Washington, detests dealing with a Democratic Congress. Reflecting annoyance and fatigue, he is unwilling to withstand incessant attacks from the likes of Reid and is ready to fight it out for the over 20 months left in his term. Retaining Gonzales means Bush has slipped behind the barricades.

The choice for righties is whether to stand aside or wall themselves in with the besieged Bushies. Today a number of them are lined up on the castle parapet, hurling mud and abuse at the armies beyond the moat (that’s us). For example, Michelle Malkin has “produced” an infantile video — well, I’ll let Bob Geiger describe it:

Malkin, who, of course, has never served in the military, proudly posted on her personal web site, Hot Air and YouTube, today a video she stars in showing her in a faux cheerleader costume — the cheerleader image just forever went from wholesome to skank in my mind — and bellowing out “The Defeatocrats’ Cheer.”

She does the old “gimme an ‘L,’ gimme an ‘O'” routine until she spells out “loser” complete with the clucking of a chicken after each silly chant and showing unflattering pictures of Kerry, Murtha, Ted Kennedy, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi with each letter of the word. Malkin even waves little white flags at the end to signify surrender from the Democrats.

In other words, they’re out of even nonsensical arguments and have resorted to flinging feces.

Today everybody‘s linking to this David Broder column, in which the Artichoke says Senator Harry Reid is the Democrats’ Alberto Gonzales. “The Democrats deserve better, and the country needs more, than Harry Reid has offered as Senate majority leader.”

Years ago, David Broder probably was an excellent columnist. I’ve never followed his column closely, but Josh Marshall says Broder peaked in the 1960s and 1970s (as did Rich Little). He’s well into his 70s now, which doesn’t necessarily translate into dementia. Josh writes

I really don’t know whether I find it more painful or amusing to watch David Broder’s quickening decline. But I’m going to go with amusing. Because clearly there’s some deep streak of evil within me that gets a kick out of watching one man struggle so desperately for relevance and even coherence.

I think I feel more embarrassed for Broder than anything else. Broder won a Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary in 1973, which was the same year the Washington Post won a Pulitzer for its Watergate investigations. But that was a long time ago.

Here in the present, Mark Murray reports for MSNBC that Americans are siding with the Democrats against Bush.

As the Democrat-controlled Congress and the White House clash over an Iraq spending bill, with President Bush vowing to veto it because it contains withdrawal deadlines, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that a solid majority of Americans side with the Democrats.

In addition, a nearly equal number believe that victory in Iraq isn’t possible, and about only one in eight think the war has improved in the three months since Bush called for a troop increase there.

“They don’t see the surge working,” says Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted the survey with Republican pollster Neil Newhouse. Instead, they are saying “we need to get out.”

The timing of this news couldn’t be better; today the Senate is expected to vote on the “emergency” supplement appropriations bill that the House passed last night. Let it pass, let The Creature veto it, and force Republican politicians to choose whether to be on this side of the barricade with the majority of the American people, or with the dwindling, desperate holdouts on Bush’s side.

Update: Speaking of time warps — Condi Rice actually said this today:

“The Russians have thousands of warheads,” Ms. Rice said. “The idea that you can somehow stop the Soviet strategic nuclear deterrent with a few interceptors just doesn’t make sense.

(singing)

    I’m back in the USSR
    You don’t know how lucky you are, boy
    Back in the USSR, yeah

Weird.

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Compromise Bill Update

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Bush Administration, Congress, Iraq War

The House just passed the Iraq “emergency” supplement appropriations bill. The Senate votes tomorrow, I believe.

Update:

Speaker Pelosi: Iraq Accountability Act Conference Report

Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

“This is the seventh emergency appropriations bill the Congress has had to pass to make up for the President’s failure. Seven emergencies. What is the surprise? Why aren’t they understanding the cost of this war in lives, in health? In reputation, in dollars, and the readiness of our military?”

Update: Here’s the roll call. Dems voting no were Barrow, Boren, Davis (Lincoln), Kucinich, Lee, Lewis (John), McNulty, Michaud, Marshall, Matheson, Taylor, Woolsey, and Waters. Republicans voting yes were Jones and Gilchrest.

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Boiling Rice

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Bush Administration, Congress, Iraq War

The House Oversight Committee voted to subpoena Secretary of State Rice this afternoon. That’s Henry Waxman’s committee. Thomas Ferraro of Reuters reports,

Democratic lawmakers voted on Wednesday to subpoena Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to testify about administration justifications for the 2003 American-led invasion of Iraq.

But the administration said it might fight the subpoena, citing a legal doctrine that can shield a president and his aides from having to answer questions from Congress.

“Those matters are covered by executive privilege,” said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, moving toward a possible legal showdown with the Democratic-led Congress.

On a party-line vote of 21-10, the House of Representatives’ Oversight and Government Reform Committee directed Rice to answer questions from the panel next month about the administration’s claim — later proven false — that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger for nuclear arms.

“There was one person in the White House who had primary responsibility to get the intelligence about Iraq right — and that was Secretary Rice who was then President George W. Bush’s national security adviser,” said committee Chairman Henry Waxman, a California Democrat.

“The American public was misled about the threat posed by Iraq, and this committee is going to do its part to find out why,” Waxman said.

Sweet.

Update: Waxman’s committee also issued “two subpoenas to the Republican National Committee requesting the testimony of RNC Chairman Mike Duncan and documents related to possible violations of the Presidential Records Act and the Hatch Act by White House officials,” the committee web site says.

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Rudy: Vote for GOP or Die

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Republican Party

The next time I flip into a drug-induced homicidal rage I hope I’m standing next to Rudy Giuliani. Check this out

Rudy Giuliani said if a Democrat is elected president in 2008, America will be at risk for another terrorist attack on the scale of Sept. 11, 2001.

But if a Republican is elected, he said, especially if it is him, terrorist attacks can be anticipated and stopped.

“If any Republican is elected president —- and I think obviously I would be the best at this —- we will remain on offense and will anticipate what [the terrorists] will do and try to stop them before they do it,” Giuliani said.

In other words, if you vote for Democrats, the terrorists will kill you. Only Republicans can keep you safe.

The families of 343 dead firefighters might have a few words to say about that.

Update: Crooks & Liars has Olbermann’s special comment on Giuliani’s death threats.

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Spill Those Beans

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Bush Administration, Congress, U.S. Attorneys

The House Judiciary Committee just authorized a subpoena for Monica Goodling’s testimony. Even better, they extended an offer of immunity. That means she can’t “take the Fifth.” Read about it at TPMuckraker.

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Why I Hate Righties

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Bush Administration

I know it’s as common as ticks in Arkansas, but whenever I see this kind of depraved dishonesty from rightie bloggers I am disgusted anew. Rick Moran wrote at RedState:

If it was good enough for your daddy/granddaddy’s war it’s good enough for yours,” seems to be what the Pentagon is saying with regards to trying to hype the accomplishments of Pat Tillman – whose character assassination by the left continues to this day – and Jessica Lynch, the young woman whose convoy was ambushed resulting in severe injuries and her capture by the Iraqis.

Not having witnessed this “character assassination” by “the left” or anywhere else I clicked on the links. Sure enough —

Link #1 is to a blog I’d never heard of, with no site meter or blogroll, and with a glorious lifetime total of one incoming link discovered through Technorati. And it’s primarily a sports blog.

Link #2 is to an essay by Rene Gonzalez, identified as “a University of Massachusetts graduate student.” Mr. Moran might be shocked to learn that Mr. Gonzalez is not, in fact, recognized widely by “the left” as some sort of spokesperson. In fact, we (I presume to speak for my fellow lefties) never heard of him. The essay is dated April 28, 2004, btw. One would think if disparagement of Pat Tillman was so common one might find a more recent example.

The third link is to another blog I’d never heard of. This one has a blogroll, but the blogs on the blogroll are a mystery to me, also, and according to Technorati nobody links to this blog other than the blogger himself. The blogger does claim to write for CounterPunch and some other leftie sites. But when he posted his anti-Pat Tillman screed as a Daily Kos diary the reaction from the Kossacks was, um, hostile. (e.g., “[Bleep] off.” )

Fairly solid proof that this blogger’s opinions are not representative of “the left,” I’d say. But Rick Moran is a prominent rightie blogger, so his lies and misrepresentations are, arguably, representative of “the right.”

Lefties to Rick Moran: Bleep off.

Update: Via Glenn Greenwald — although “the left” is not, in fact, engaged in character assassination of Pat Tillman, some elements of “the right” are wasting no time smearing Pat Tillman’s family. For example, John Hinkeraker of Power Line dismissed Kevin Tillman as “an antiwar activist who has posted on far-left web sites.” Glenn comments,

What does Hinderaker omit from that description? That Kevin Tillman was in Afghanistan along with his brother, having volunteered to risk his life to fight for the U.S. Army in the wake of 9/11. But because he came to conclude that the invasion of Iraq was wrong — and because he has persistently demanded that the truth about the Bush administration’s conduct in his brother’s case be exposed — he is subjected to discrediting smears from smarmy little chest-beating play-acting warriors like John Hinderaker.

The “troops” are nothing but cheap and empty props to them. Before it was revealed that Pat Tillman was both an atheist and against the war in Iraq, he was paraded around after his death as though he, standing alone, was the Symbol and Justification for the warmongering Bush movement. Ann Coulter said that “Tillman was an American original: virtuous, pure and masculine like only an American male can be.” Sean Hannity constantly invoked his name with antiwar guests.

Yet once it was revealed what Tillman’s actual political views were, they both simply declared that they “do not believe” it. What mattered to them was not who he really was — they could not care less about that — but his use to them in service of their twisted political propaganda.

Update2: Eric Boehlert asks, can conservative bloggers tell the truth?

Update 3: Love It and Leave It T-shirt, anyone? Here’s the Made in USA model.

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Bush Double Smackdown

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Bush Administration, Iraq War

This is brilliant.

Speaking of brilliant — Bill Moyers’s “Buying the War” is on PBS tonight.

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