“Like tethered goats to the killing fields …”

Sidney Blumenthal has a must-read article in today’s Guardian (emphasis added).

Since the Iraqi elections in January, US foreign service officers at the Baghdad embassy have been writing a steady stream of disturbing cables describing drastically worsening conditions. Violence from incipient communal civil war is rapidly rising. Last month there were eight times as many assassinations committed by Shia militias as terrorist murders by Sunni insurgents. The insurgency, according to the reports, also continues to mutate. Meanwhile, President Bush’s strategy of training Iraqi police and army to take over from coalition forces – “when they stand up, we’ll stand down” – is perversely and portentously accelerating the strife. State department officials in the field are reporting that Shia militias use training as cover to infiltrate key positions. Thus the strategy to create institutions of order and security is fuelling civil war.

Rather than being received as invaluable intelligence, the messages are discarded or, worse, considered signs of disloyalty. Rejecting the facts on the ground apparently requires blaming the messengers. So far, two top attaches at the embassy have been reassigned elsewhere for producing factual reports that are too upsetting.

The Bush administration’s preferred response to increasing disintegration is to act as if it has a strategy that is succeeding.

This is, of course, the way the Bushies have operated since the days Dubya was governor of Texas. But it’s one thing to claim, for example, that Texas tax policies were a success when in fact they were not. Now the Bushies are flushing Iraq, not to mention an incalculable number of lives, down the toilet and calling it victory.

It gets even more amazing …

Under the pretence that Iraq is being pacified, the military is partially withdrawing from hostile towns in the countryside and parts of Baghdad. By reducing the number of soldiers, the administration can claim its policy is working going into the midterm elections. But the jobs the military doesn’t want to perform are being sloughed off on state department “provisional reconstruction teams” (PRTs) led by foreign service officers. The rationale is that they will win Iraqi hearts-and-minds by organising civil functions.

Blood and destruction just to get Republicans elected in a midterm election. Awesome. But, says Blumenthal, the Pentagon has informed the State Department it will not provide security for the foreign service officers. The PRTs are supposed to hire mercenaries if they want protection.

The state department’s Intelligence and Research Bureau was correct in its scepticism before the war about Saddam Hussein’s possession of WMDs, but was ignored. The department was correct in its assessment in its 17-volume Future of Iraq project about the immense effort required for reconstruction after the war, but it was disregarded. Now its reports from Iraq are correct, but their authors are being punished. Foreign service officers are to be sent out like tethered goats to the killing fields. When these misbegotten projects inevitably fail, the department will be blamed. Passive resistance to these assignments reflects anticipation of impending disaster, including the likely murder of diplomats.

But, hey, what’s a few beheaded diplomats if it’ll help win the midterm elections?

Best of all, the Secretary of State has “washed her hands” of her own department. Unfortunately her exceptional skills, most notably her talent for looking straight at a camera and lying her ass off, do not translate into effective management of the State Department. She has handed the task of coaxing diplomats into being tethered goats to an underling while she flits about the world getting her face in the news.

While the state department was racked last week by collapsing morale, Rice travelled to England to visit the constituency of Jack Straw. She declared that though the Bush administration had committed “tactical errors, thousands of them” in Iraq, it is right on the strategy. Then she and Straw took a magic carpet to Baghdad to try to overthrow Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafaari in favour of a more pliable character.

Juan Cole reports today that the magic carpet ride didn’t help.

Iraqi politicians said on Wednesday that the visit to Iraq of Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and UK Foreign Minister Jack Straw had proved counter-productive. Positions actually hardened with the visit. Haider al-Abadi said, “All it’s doing is hardening the position of people who are supporting Jaafari . . . They shouldn’t have come to Baghdad.”

Meanwhile — today Josh White reports in the Washington Post that Rummy has taken offense at Condi’s charge that the U.S. made thousands of tactical errors in Iraq.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he did not know what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was talking about when she said last week that the United States had made thousands of “tactical errors” in handling the war in Iraq, a statement she later said was meant figuratively.

Speaking during a radio interview on WDAY in Fargo, N.D., on Tuesday, Rumsfeld said calling changes in military tactics during the war “errors” reflects a lack of understanding of warfare. Rumsfeld defended his war plan for Iraq but added that such plans inevitably do not survive first contact with the enemy.

Unfortunately, Rummy’s achievements as Secretary of Defense reveal a lack of understanding of the entire bleeping time-space continuum. See also Sadly, No.


It’s snowing in southern Westchester County. Another setback for the plans to turn my co-op into a tropical beachfront resort.

Speaking of snow jobs, yesterday Condi Rice seemed to deny that the U.S. is building permanent bases in Iraq. Liz Sidoti reports for the Associated Press:

Rice did not say when all U.S. forces would return home and did not directly answer Rep. Steven Rothman (news, bio, voting record), D-N.J., when he asked, “Will the bases be permanent or not?”

“I would think that people would tell you, we’re not seeking permanent bases really pretty much anywhere in the world these days. We are, in fact, in the process of removing base structure from a lot of places,” Rice replied.

Huh? Was that a denial, or not?

Anticipate This

“I’m trying to think differently,” President Bush said in New Dehli. If that doesn’t give you the willies, nothin’ will.

Yes, folks, the same crack (or on crack) foreign policy team that pushed North Korea back into the plutonium processing business, didn’t anticipate Hamas would win the Palestinian election even though their own poll said it would, and whose crowning achievement is the war in Iraq, has taken us another step closer to destroying civilization as we know it. David Sanger writes in the New York Times (emphasis added):

Mr. Bush took a step in his efforts to rewrite the world’s longstanding rules that for more than 30 years have forbidden providing nuclear technology to countries that do not sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

“I’m trying to think differently,” Mr. Bush said in New Delhi, referring to the administration’s argument that a new system is needed. But in treating India as a special case — a “strategic relationship” — he has so far declined to define general rules for everyone.

In essence, Mr. Bush is making a huge gamble — critics say a dangerous one — that the United States can control proliferation by single-handedly rewarding nuclear states it considers “responsible,” and punishing those it declares irresponsible. For those keeping a scorecard, India is in the first camp, Iran is in the second, and no one in the administration wants to talk, at least on the record, about Israel or Pakistan — two allies that have embraced the bomb, but not the treaty.

At WaPo, David Von Drehle writes,

In case you missed the memo, the world is multipolar now.

Gone are the days of go-it-alone foreign policy, of unilateral preemption and epoch-making events scheduled solely “at a time and place of our choosing.” That’s all so 2002, back at the climax of what columnist Charles Krauthammer calls “the unipolar moment” of unlimited American power. Unipolar means the big dog, Uncle Sam, bears the burdens and thus calls the shots.

These days, America is into “regional partnerships,” as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice explained earlier this year, because “emerging nations like India and China and Brazil and Egypt and Indonesia and South Africa are increasingly shaping the course of history.”

Condi Rice. The course of history. Be afraid.

A few weeks ago Sebastian Mallaby pointed out that Condi Rice’s foreign policy theories are a work in progress.

In January 2000, as the Bush campaign got underway, Rice published a manifesto in Foreign Affairs that laid out the classic “realist” position: American diplomacy should “focus on power relationships and great-power politics” rather than on other countries’ internal affairs. “Some worry that this view of the world ignores the role of values, particularly human rights and the promotion of democracy,” she acknowledged. But the priority for U.S. foreign policy was to deal with powerful governments, whose “fits of anger or acts of beneficence affect hundreds of millions of people.”

The “great-power politics” perspective was, I assume, the basis of the Bush Administration’s decision to dismiss the importance of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden in March 2001. Another Bush foreign policy triumph. Mallaby continues,

Even six years ago, this was an outdated position. The Clinton administration was certainly preoccupied with powers such as Russia and China, but it was also tracking Islamic terrorists who had already attacked the World Trade Center. The importance of other non-state actors, from rebels to environmentalists to bond traders, had become a cliche of globalization commentary; AIDS had been recognized as a security threat. The era of great-power politics was widely thought to have ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Rice seemed like a Sovietologist who hadn’t quite caught up.

Kissinger-style realpolitik is so 1970s, Mallaby writes. The realists were on the wrong side of history — American support for the Shah of Iran is just one example. “Time and again, the idea that diplomacy consisted mainly of relations with powerful governments proved wrong,” Mallaby writes. “As a rising cadre of neoconservative Republicans argued, diplomacy was often about judging the currents within countries — and backing democratic ones.”

Mallaby explains that recently Rice seems to have caught up with the 1990s consensus that weak, destabilized states can prove to be dangerous, and in the long run the best hope for world peace is a world of stable democracies. And I can’t argue with that. The question is, how does that theory translate into policy?

The Bush Administration seems to think that if the all-powerful U.S. can just find the right combination of carrots and sticks, plus the right message strategy, it can re-shape the world to its liking. Robert Fisk provided a glimpse into this thinking recently:

Last week’s visit to Beirut by one of the blindest of George Bush’s bats – his Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice – was indicative of the cruelty that now pervades Washington. She brazenly talked about the burgeoning “democracies” of the Middle East while utterly ignoring the bloodbaths in Iraq and the growing sectarian tensions of Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Perhaps the key to her indifference can be found in her evidence to the Senate Committee on International Affairs where she denounced Iran as “the greatest strategic challenge” facing the US in the region, because Iran uses policies that “contradict the nature of the kind of Middle East sought by the United States”.

As Bouthaina Shaaban, one of the brightest of Syria’s not always very bright team of government ministers, noted: “What is the nature of the kind of Middle East sought by the United States? Should Middle East states adapt themselves to that nature, designed oceans away?”

Fisk quotes Maureen Dowd: Bush “believes in self-determination only if he’s doing the determining.” Heh. David Von Drehle writes,

But can a unipolar president find happiness in a multipolar world? We got a few hints last week, as President Bush visited one of Rice’s emerging shapers of history, India. Like a clumsy groom who has learned precisely one dance for his wedding day, Bush went carefully through the steps of multipolar diplomacy, yet there was no mistaking his natural tendencies. You got the feeling that if George W. Bush is going to embrace “partnership,” it’s going to be on his terms, pardner.

Now the Bushies are playing Santa Claus and deciding who’s naughty or nice. And the Bush/Cheney/Rice team now decides on its own which nations deserve nuclear arms and which don’t. And they do so on the basis of their dumbly one-dimensional world view that attempts to sort all people into neat binary categories — good or bad, friend or foe — without taking in the complexity of nations and their multifaceted relationships with each other. How will the India deal affect the dicey relationship between India and Pakistan? Between Pakistan and the U.S.? Between Pakistan and the terrorists who live there? What about Israel? And what about China? The deal with India is supposed to help counter the power of China. But some critics of the deal point out that India’s economic relations with China are critical to New Dehli. If, someday, India found itself having to choose between China and the U.S. … well, Santa comes but once a year; China is on their border all the time.

In other words, this deal could have all manner of bad outcomes that even smart people might not anticipate. Which means you can assume the anticipation-challenged Bushies haven’t considered them.

See also: Ron Beasley and upyernoz.

Update: Great cartoon.

Worst Memory Ever

Or, Condi Strike Again … Jonathan S. Landay writes for Knight Ridder

A State Department-commissioned poll taken days before January’s Palestinian elections warned U.S. policymakers that the militant Islamic group Hamas was in a position to win.

Nevertheless, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said after the election that they had no advance indication of a major Hamas triumph.

What is with this woman?

Steven Aftergood, the director of the Project on Government Secrecy, said that while the poll didn’t predict Hamas’ big win, it clearly showed a trend toward victory for the Islamic militants.

“Either Secretary Rice was being disingenuous or else her department has a serious information-sharing problem, because INR could not have done a much better job of assessing the Palestinian election than they did,” said Aftergood. “No one else did a better job than INR. So to profess surprise of the outcome is incomprehensible.

“This is secrecy squared,” he continued. “It’s one thing to keep secrets from the public. But when the bureaucracy is keeping secrets from itself, policy is compromised.”

Maybe she was out buying shoes.

Update: See Skippy, “we don’t think anybody anticipated that things might happen while he was in office and he’d actually have to lead the country.”

Update update: I’ve been thinking the nation would be better served by a potted plant as POTUS. And Secretary of State, for that matter. But eventually we’d hear “I don’t think anyone could have anticipated that President Ficus would shrivel up and die if we didn’t keep him watered.”

Why They Snoop

Jason Leopold of Raw Story reports that Condi Rice authorized a plan to use the NSA to spy on UN delegates in 2003.

President Bush and other top officials in his administration used the National Security Agency to secretly wiretap the home and office telephones and monitor private email accounts of members of the United Nations Security Council in early 2003 to determine how foreign delegates would vote on a U.N. resolution that paved the way for the U.S.-led war in Iraq, NSA documents show.

Two former NSA officials familiar with the agency’s campaign to spy on U.N. members say then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice authorized the plan at the request of President Bush, who wanted to know how delegates were going to vote. Rice did not immediately return a call for comment.

The former officials said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld also participated in discussions about the plan, which involved “stepping up” efforts to eavesdrop on diplomats.

This is actually old news; the NSA angle was reported in the Observer in March 2003, before the Iraq invasion.

The United States is conducting a secret ‘dirty tricks’ campaign against UN Security Council delegations in New York as part of its battle to win votes in favour of war against Iraq.

Details of the aggressive surveillance operation, which involves interception of the home and office telephones and the emails of UN delegates in New York, are revealed in a document leaked to The Observer.

The disclosures were made in a memorandum written by a top official at the National Security Agency – the US body which intercepts communications around the world – and circulated to both senior agents in his organisation and to a friendly foreign intelligence agency asking for its input.

See also Shakespeare’s Sister.

I recall that in 2004 the NSA was also used to wiretap Mohamed ElBaradei, of the International Atomic Energy Agency and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. The Bushies were pissed at ElBaradei for trying to warn them prior to the Iraq invasion that Saddam Hussein was not a nuclear threat.

Now, I don’t know offhand if these wiretaps would have required warrants. But it does show us that the Bushies have no qualms about snooping for purely political purposes.

Who Knew?

It’s hard to tell at the moment, but the righties may be retreating from the “what Bush did was within the FISA law” position. There’s one bitter ender here who is ignoring the point that the surveillance allegedly did involve private communications of American citizens. The “we were wrong” thing does come hard to some folks. But although they haven’t raised a white flag, this morning the righties seem to have redeployed to a new battlefield.

Which is: How many senators knew about the surveillance? And if they knew, why didn’t they speak up sooner?

Yesterday the Associated Press reported that Sen. Harry Reid was briefed on the extralegal surveillance “a couple of months ago,” and “whoever disclosed the existence of the surveillance program should be prosecuted.” This rightie blogger jumped in with “Which means that: (1) Reid ADMITS was informed as soon as he took over Dem Senate leadership from Daschle, (as we should expect); and (2) he accepts that the disclosure of this was a crime.”

Reid took over Dem Senate leadership from Daschle nearly a year ago, not a couple of months ago. Maybe the White House briefers were behind schedule. Should the “leaker” be prosecuted? As I understand the law, the liability falls only on people within the government who disclose classified information. I suspect that whoever let the New York Times know what was going on — “Nearly a dozen current and former officials,” according to Risen and Lichtblau — might be in violation of law regarding classified material, and Senator Reid would have been in violation of law had he disclosed it. The New York Times, however, would not be in violation for printing the story. And once the story was public Senator Reid was free to talk about it.

Please note that I don’t claim to be a lawyer. I could be mistaken.

Shakespeare’s Sister reports
that some “media analyst” on Fox News said that senators who are now critical of the program were briefed about it before it started. But there seems to be disagreement on this point. Barton Gellman and Dafna Linzer write in yesterday’s Washington Post that

A high-ranking intelligence official with firsthand knowledge said in an interview yesterday that Vice President Cheney, then-Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet and Michael V. Hayden, then a lieutenant general and director of the National Security Agency, briefed four key members of Congress about the NSA’s new domestic surveillance on Oct. 25, 2001, and Nov. 14, 2001, shortly after Bush signed a highly classified directive that eliminated some restrictions on eavesdropping against U.S. citizens and permanent residents.


Former senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.), who chaired the Senate intelligence committee and is the only participant thus far to describe the meetings extensively and on the record, said in interviews Friday night and yesterday that he remembers “no discussion about expanding [NSA eavesdropping] to include conversations of U.S. citizens or conversations that originated or ended in the United States” — and no mention of the president’s intent to bypass the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

So we’ve wandered into “he said, she said” territory. Dicey.

Risen and Lichtblau report today that

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Sunday defended President Bush’s decision to secretly authorize the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans without seeking warrants, saying the program was carefully controlled and necessary to close gaps in the nation’s counterterrorism efforts.

In Sunday talk show appearances, Ms. Rice said the program was intended to eliminate the “seam” between American intelligence operations overseas and law enforcement agencies at home.

“One of the most compelling outcomes of the 9/11 commission was that a seam had developed,” Ms. Rice said on “Meet the Press” on NBC. “Our intelligence agencies looked out; our law enforcement agencies looked in. And people could – terrorists could – exploit the seam between them.”

The article goes on to quote a number of lawyers and security experts who say they have no idea what Rice was talking about. In an emergency, warrants can be obtained in minutes from the secret FISA court, and can even be obtained after surveillance has begun. Either the Bushies are hiding something, or they just don’t like to mess around with paperwork.

People of Faith

Righties are nearly giddy with joy at yesterday’s combative Veterans Day address by George W. Bush. Dear Leader is finally fighting back, and now the sun will shine and birds will chirp and all the awful bad poll numbers will go away.

At the rightie blog PoliPundit, Lorie Byrd wrote,

I agree with Michelle [Malkin] that the outrageous allegations of “lying” and “misleading” into war should have been addressed sooner. At one time I thought maybe it was better that Bush not personally respond, but that others do it for him. And many did a good job. As time passed though, and those allegations got repeated enough, with the media never questioning their validity, but merely parroting them over and over again, they gained an air of credibility about them. That is all that the public has heard in the mainstream media for two years now. Many have accepted those allegations as truth. I am very impatient. I could not have waited as long as Bush has to come out swinging. Maybe, though, if the President and his people come out forcefully enough now, armed with unassailable facts, they might be able to make a stronger argument than they would have if they were playing defense. I have been begging for this for a while now and would have liked to have seen it sooner, but it will be interesting to see if the President’s timing and method of action are effective.

Michelle also described Norman Podhoretz’s essay which was linked here as “the clear catalyst for Bush’s speech.”

“Outrageous” allegations? One wonders if righties understand what truth is.

Let’s say you ask me, “Have you seen Jane lately? How is she?” and I respond truthfully that I saw her last week and she was fine, you would naturally assume that Jane is fine. But if I knew for a fact that last night Jane was run over by a train and is being refrigerated at the county morgue, and didn’t bother to pass along that little detail, then my response would not have been honest.

But this is essentially the rightie approach to “truth.” For example, in the essay linked above Podhoretz writes,

And even Hans Blix–who headed the UN team of inspectors trying to determine whether Saddam had complied with the demands of the Security Council that he get rid of the weapons of mass destruction he was known to have had in the past–lent further credibility to the case in a report he issued only a few months before the invasion:

    The discovery of a number of 122-mm chemical rocket warheads in a bunker at a storage depot 170 km southwest of Baghdad was much publicized. This was a relatively new bunker, and therefore the rockets must have been moved there in the past few years, at a time when Iraq should not have had such munitions. . . . They could also be the tip of a submerged iceberg. The discovery of a few rockets does not resolve but rather points to the issue of several thousands of chemical rockets that are unaccounted for.

Blix now claims that he was only being “cautious” here, but if, as he now also adds, the Bush administration “misled itself” in interpreting the evidence before it, he at the very least lent it a helping hand.

Blix may very well have said all those things. But Podhoretz leaves out the inconvenient little detail that at the eve of the invasion Blix was begging the White House to at least postpone the invasion and give the inspectors more time, because they were not finding WMDs and doubted, at the very least, they were there.

Podhoretz’s whole essay is like that; it’s all spin and talking points. It is literally factual and deeply dishonest at the same time.

Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus write in today’s Washington Post

President Bush and his national security adviser have answered critics of the Iraq war in recent days with a two-pronged argument: that Congress saw the same intelligence the administration did before the war, and that independent commissions have determined that the administration did not misrepresent the intelligence.

Neither assertion is wholly accurate.

The administration’s overarching point is true: Intelligence agencies overwhelmingly believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and very few members of Congress from either party were skeptical about this belief before the war began in 2003. Indeed, top lawmakers in both parties were emphatic and certain in their public statements.

But Bush and his aides had access to much more voluminous intelligence information than did lawmakers, who were dependent on the administration to provide the material. And the commissions cited by officials, though concluding that the administration did not pressure intelligence analysts to change their conclusions, were not authorized to determine whether the administration exaggerated or distorted those conclusions.

National security adviser Stephen J. Hadley, briefing reporters Thursday, countered “the notion that somehow this administration manipulated the intelligence.” He said that “those people who have looked at that issue, some committees on the Hill in Congress, and also the Silberman-Robb Commission, have concluded it did not happen.”

But the only committee investigating the matter in Congress, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has not yet done its inquiry into whether officials mischaracterized intelligence by omitting caveats and dissenting opinions. And Judge Laurence H. Silberman, chairman of Bush’s commission on weapons of mass destruction, said in releasing his report on March 31, 2005: “Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers, and all of us were agreed that that was not part of our inquiry.”

President Bush’s speech yesterday was one miscarriage of truth after another.

Bush, in Pennsylvania yesterday, was more precise, but he still implied that it had been proved that the administration did not manipulate intelligence, saying that those who suggest the administration “manipulated the intelligence” are “fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community’s judgments.”

In the same speech, Bush asserted that “more than 100 Democrats in the House and the Senate, who had access to the same intelligence, voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.” Giving a preview of Bush’s speech, Hadley had said that “we all looked at the same intelligence.”

But Bush does not share his most sensitive intelligence, such as the President’s Daily Brief, with lawmakers. Also, the National Intelligence Estimate summarizing the intelligence community’s views about the threat from Iraq was given to Congress just days before the vote to authorize the use of force in that country.

In addition, there were doubts within the intelligence community not included in the NIE. And even the doubts expressed in the NIE could not be used publicly by members of Congress because the classified information had not been cleared for release. For example, the NIE view that Hussein would not use weapons of mass destruction against the United States or turn them over to terrorists unless backed into a corner was cleared for public use only a day before the Senate vote.

As Chuck at Just a Bump in the Beltway said,

Anyone see a pattern here? Much like the Patriot Act and other controversial activities, the White House and its allies repeatedly waited util the last second to present confusing and sometimes incomplete information to Congress and rammed through a vote on it right away.

Milbank and Pincus continue,

Bush, in his speech Friday, said that “it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began.” But in trying to set the record straight, he asserted: “When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support.”

The October 2002 joint resolution authorized the use of force in Iraq, but it did not directly mention the removal of Hussein from power.

The resolution voiced support for diplomatic efforts to enforce “all relevant Security Council resolutions,” and for using the armed forces to enforce the resolutions and defend “against the continuing threat posed by Iraq.”

In other words, in “trying to set the record straight,” Bush lied about the record.

Hadley, in his remarks, went further. “Congress, in 1998, authorized, in fact, the use of force based on that intelligence,” he said. “And, as you know, the Clinton administration took some action.”

But the 1998 legislation gave the president authority “to support efforts to remove the regime of Saddam Hussein” by providing assistance to Iraqi opposition groups, including arms, humanitarian aid and broadcasting facilities.

President Bill Clinton ordered four days of bombing of Iraqi weapons facilities in 1998, under the 1991 resolution authorizing military force in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Describing that event in an interview with CBS News yesterday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said: “We went to war in 1998 because of concerns about his weapons of mass destruction.”

I believe Condi has equated Clinton’s bombing with “going to war” before. Never mind that the “Clinton did it too” defense sounds a tad juvenile — I wasn’t the only one who threw eggs at Mr. Johnson’s car! Billy did it, too! — it is ludicrous on its face to equate Clinton’s bombing with “going to war.”

But to righties, that does’t matter. The hard-core rightie faithful, which includes most rightie bloggers, will grasp at any verbiage that comes out of a White House officials’ mouth as “unassailable facts” that repudiate the lies of the trickster left. That’s because any challenge to the fantasy world they live in scares the piss out of them. It is absolutely futile to try to reason with most of them, because they’ll turn purple and start screaming before you can finish a sentence. But it is vital for all of us to keep setting the record straight, so that Americans who are capable of appreciating the truth get to hear the truth.

Are You Experienced?

Oh, my. Some people do sound a tad shrill.

Looks like Steve Clemons’s interview with Brent Scowcroft in the October 31 issue of the New Yorker (article not online, but the issue goes on sale tomorrow) is going to be a must-read. You can find excerpts at the links above. I want to mention this paragraph in particular:

Like nearly everyone else in Washington, Scowcroft believed that Saddam maintained stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, but he wrote that a strong inspections program would have kept him at bay. “There may have come a time when we would have needed to take Saddam out,” he told me. “But he wasn’t really a threat. His Army was weak, and the country hadn’t recovered from sanctions.” Scowcroft’s colleagues told me that he would have preferred to deliver his analysis privately to the White House. But Scowcroft, the apotheosis of a Washington insider, was by then definitively on the outside, and there was no one in the White House who would listen to him. On the face of it, this is remarkable: Scowcroft’s best friend’s son is the President; his friend Dick Cheney is the Vice-President; Condoleezza Rice, who was the national-security adviser, and is now the Secretary of State, was once a Scowcroft protege; and the current national-security adviser, Stephen Hadley, is another protege and a former principal at the Scowcroft Group.

Now, this is exactly what I thought about Saddam Hussein before the invasion. Many’s the time before the invasion I had this exchange with a rightie:

Rightie: You looney lefties would just leave Saddam in charge of Iraq.

Me: Well, yes. I think he’s contained. And what’s he gonna do with UN weapons inspectors running all over the place, poking into things?

: You leftie idiots don’t know anything. You are so naive.

Yes, I may be naive. I have no experience directing foreign policy or national security. But, I might add, I’ve never argued with a rightie with any more experience than I have. Yet they always assume they know more than I do.

But Scowcroft has experience, and he says I was right.

Speaking of Saddam, in today’s Washington Post Jim Hoagland writes that Saddam’s lawyers may present testimony that might cause the Bushies some discomfort.

Saddam Hussein’s lawyers have announced their intention to make past U.S. complicity with the Iraqi dictator an essential part of the defense in his Baghdad trial. Let’s hope they keep their poisonous word. …

“Americans . . . want to blame Saddam for the mass graves and killing Kurds,” Khalil Dulaimi, the dictator’s lead lawyer, told the Wall Street Journal. “But they forget that they supported Saddam back then.”…

… Official Washington helped Hussein suppress Iraqis so he could fight Iran (Reagan), called on the people to rise up against the dictator only to abandon them when they did (Bush 41) or relied on economic sanctions that slowly ground Iraqi society into dust while providing a political alibi at home for not acting (Clinton). The unnecessary misery, political strife and corruption that a misbegotten and mismanaged occupation now contributes to Iraq must also be added to the list.

Hoagland argues that Americans owe Iraq “more than a sudden case of moral amnesia to bolster precipitous withdrawal.” I agree with Hoagland in principle. But it’s hard to see how not-withdrawing is helping Iraq, either.

Before I forget–we are about to reach the 2000 mark–2,000 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. We may have reached it already, but as I keyboard the most recent information says we’re at 1,996, ten of which have not yet been confirmed by the Department of Defense. United for Peace and Justice and other organizations are calling for an antiwar action the day after the U.S. announces the 2,000th death. You can follow the link to see if anything is being organized near you.


Condi Rice is guardedly optimistic the Iraqi Constitution will be approved.

“The assessment of the people on the ground, who are trying to do the numbers and trying to look at where the votes are coming from, is there’s a belief that it can probably pass,” Rice told reporters today in London. She cautioned that she wasn’t certain of the outcome.

Does this mean we’ve turned another corner? If so, how many corners have we turned, all together? And next time we invade somebody, let’s make it a country with fewer corners.

Juan Cole is the go-to guy for background on the Iraqi constitution and today’s vote. Here is his most recent post.

Speaking of Condi–bloggers are having some fun with her this morning. No, really. Today on Meet the Press, she said,

The fact of the matter is that when we were attacked on September 11, we had a choice to make. We could decide that the proximate cause was al Qaeda and the people who flew those planes into buildings and, therefore, we would go after al Qaeda…or we could take a bolder approach.


Joe Aravosis:

That is way, way too nuanced for George Bush. He told us he was going to get Al Qaeda. Bin Laden was going to be captured “dead or alive.” Not true after all.

So, the “bolder approach” was to go after Iraq? That had nothing to do with September 11, or the people who flew those planes into buildings. But he said he was going after Al Qaeda. Thanks for clearing that up.

Condi’s right about one thing: Bush did have a choice to make. He said his choice was to make us safer from terrorism. That would have meant going after Al Qaeda and Bin Laden. He made another choice by invading Iraq. That has made us less safe, killed a lot more Americans and increased terrorism. Nice job.


This may be news to the Secretary of State but the proximate cause of 9-11 was al-Qaeda. Nevertheless, the administration decided to invade Iraq instead of focusing our efforts on destroying al-Qaeda and capturing Bin Laden.

Today, bin Laden remains at large, international terrorism is on the rise and the invasion has become “a potent recruiting tool for al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.”


We could destroy the people who attacked us, or we could let our attackers off scott free to go after an unrelated and unthreatening foe.

That’s not “bold”. That’s “fucking idiotic”.

If you could sit down and talk to Condi, what would you say to her? No, let me rephrase–what would you say to her other than f— you, you lying bitch?