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Fat Steve's Archives

| Thursday, November 17, 2005

Drafts of "Bush Lied" Story

Dishonesty and Derangement


Summary:

        The President has begun to defend himself against accusations of lying us into war, various reporters are quite upset.  Now the question is, to what extent are they deranged, and to what extent merely dishonest?  Come with me, and I will wander about the landscape of the press, MSM and non-MSM, attempting to answer this.

At Length:

        Almost two years ago, psychiatrist Charles Krauthammer described Bush and Murdoch Derangement Syndromes.  Bush Derangement Syndrome is characterized by:
        the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency -- nay -- the very existence of George W. Bush.

        In the closely related Murdoch Derangement Syndrome:
        otherwise normal people believe that their minds are being controlled by a single, very clever Australian.

        But Krauthmamer never noticed another longer-running mental illness, Libertarian Derangement Syndrome, which is characterized by the belief that the U.S. "state" apparatus ("U.S. 'government' apparatus", in U.S. English) is the worst thing in the universe, and all allied and friendly states are almost as bad, while all enemy and unfriendly states are better than ours, and probably positively virtuous.  All this is believed regardless of the history and current actions of the states in question.

        Another part of Liberarian Derangement Syndrome is the belief that since the the United States Government is the very embodiement of evil, anything is permissable that harms it.  In respect to reporters, it means throwing standards out the window, presenting speculation as fact, ignoring evidence, and flat out making up things.

        A great current example of Libertarian Derangement Syndrome is a Matt Welch post on Reason's Hit & Run.  You can waste time reading the whole think if you'd like.

        Welch quotes the following from Stephen Green:
        It's fair to ask if the Iraq Campaign was a necessary component to the Terror War.  It isn't fair to compare Iraq to Vietnam, when the two wars have nothing, zero, nada in common.  It's fair to ask if our soldiers are dying in vain, or because of stupid policy, or because of inferior equipment.  It's not fair to run headlines like "Battle Deaths Continue to Mount."  No shit, Sherlock?  A real story would be, "Battle Deaths Decline as Fallen Soldiers Miraculously Resurrected."  It's fair to question Bush's policies.  It's not fair to act as a conduit for enemy propaganda.  It's fair to ask if Iraq is draining resources from our efforts in Afghanistan.  It's not fair to complain that Afghanistan isn't perfect yet.  It's fair to complain about indecencies at Abu Ghraib.  It's not fair to virtually ignore atrocities committed by the other side everywhere else in Iraq.

        Welch follows with these two paragraphs, the last in his post:
        So, if I'm getting the general vibe of the pro-Pushback crowd right, it's "fair" to declare that the U.S. media (and those who have the temerity, or should I say derangement, to believe that the White House manipulated pre-war intelligence), are deliberately (and again, monolithically) trying to lose the war by siding with America's enemies ... but it's "not fair" to print the headline "Battle Deaths Continue to Mount."

        Or maybe it boils down to this -- it's OK to say that "Newsweek lied, people died," but don't you dare say such a thing about the guy who actually commands the world's most powerful military.

        Let's unpack this.  First, I'm not sure who the "pro-Pushback" crowd is supposed to be (Welch mentions Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit and Stephen Green of Vodkapundit, while including links to posts at The Officer's Club and Dr. Sanity).  But his response to these people's points is almost entirely a sustained sneer and assertion that they are wrong.  Here is a useful phrase for all of you: "What may be freely asserted may be freely denied," or in other words, 'If they can't come up with a logical argument or empirical evidence for their position, it gets no respect.'  If Welch had any arguments or evidence, he felt no need to produce them.

        Next, Welch defends MSM dishonesty by using some dishonesty of his own.  He has the long quote above from Green, but somehow, the following didn't make it into Welch's post, though it's from the same essay:
        I don't mean to imply that the MSM needs to hop on board the bandwagon and cheerlead for any President along any military campaign, no matter how foolhardy – far from it.  In case you hadn't noticed, I used a good portion of this essay to complain about Washington, and that's something the media can do a whole lot more effectively than one small blogger.  Criticism isn't just necessary, it's a necessary good.  But the MSM needs to relearn constructive criticism, and they need to remember which country defends their rights, and which group of people would gleefully slit their throats.

        All together now: "Editing as Lying!"

        Welch puts words into his opponents mouths, claiming they are "deliberately (and again, monolithically)" aiming to see the U.S. lose the war.  Welch doesn't quote anyone saying this, and if you do go see what Reynolds, Green, or Santy are saying, they say that MSM is so partisanly Democratic that they'll say almost anything that might hurt Bush, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE CRITICISM IS TRUE.  As Reynolds has pointed out, repeatedly, what Bush was saying in early 2003 was what Clinton was saying in 19989-2000.  The Democrats who supported Clinton, a man guaranteed not to do anything serious, now face primary opposition from the anti-war left if they don't oppose the war.  For that matter, many Democrats voted to give Bushitler McChimpsky, the world's most evil imbecile, and also the world's stupidest tyrant, sole authority to decide whether and when to go to war.  They lie about what they did in an attempt to save their own skins, and an attempt to increase their party's power.  As for what this means for the nation, they couldn't care less.

        Welch got it right when he says that Stephen Green regards it as unfair to keep printing headlines about 'Mounting Casualties.'  Either you're a pure pacifist who believes that no war is ever justified ('The Civil War?  I would have preferred to African slavery continue to this day if we could have done without the war, or even ended it sooner?  The Nazis might have conquered the world, if not stopped by war?  If I had to choose, I'd rather that, than any war of any kind?'), or you're with the vast majority of us, arguing about whether this or that particular war is justified.  And in any war, casualties mount as long as it goes on.  The stories that concentrate on U.S. casualties are intended to lessen support for the fight, nothing else.  The same MSM that can't stop talking about U.S. casualties has dropped it's 9/11 footage down the memory hole.  Those deaths can be ignored.

        And yes, Matt Welch shouldn't dare to call"the guy who actually commands the world's most powerful military" a liar   not till he can back it up with evidence, something he didn't even attempt in his posting.  I'll say this for Kevin Drum, he took the trouble to distort the evidence and make some stuff up when lying about Bush.  In typical Deranged Libertarian fashion, Welch thinks the fact that the President is the Commander-in-Chief means any accusation against him is automatically justified.  (One day, if they get the medication right, I'll attempt to explain to Mr. Welch why lying about anyone is usually wrong, and lying to the public about politicians, thereby hindering the voters in their quest to judge the government, is wrong under almost any conceivable circumstances.  But a sane person wouldn't need to be told.)

        Welch is right on one point, when he criticizes those who accused Newsweek of deliberate dishonesty in it's egregiously incorrect Koran-flushing story.  There's no evidence that Newsweek and it's veteran all-star "investigative" reporter were dishonest, instead of just spectacularly incompetent.  But think a moment.  Isikoff allegedly called an anonymous source, who allegedly gave Isikoff incorrect information about a forth-coming report on the prison camp at Guantanamo.  Isikoff swallowed the information whole, without asking to see the report with his own eyes; without seeing the relevent section on Koran flushing; without having it read to him over the phone; without checking with a second source; without asking the sole source, 'If it turns out you're wrong, would you be willing for me to publicly blame you, by name?'; without even asking 'Gee, how big an object can you flush down a Gitmo toilet?'  Isikoff just ran with what was either a lie, a rumor, or a bad recollection (of prisoners attempting to flush their own Korans).  And people did die as a result of the story.  "Newsweek goofed, peopled died," would have been an adequate summation, but after the months of "Bush lied, people died," the phrase "Newsweek lied, people died," was inevitable, if only as irony.

        Now, suppose that source had told Isikoff that the report would reveal that the prisoners at Guantanamo had been treated well, and that no abuses had ever taken place.  Do you think he'd have trusted that blindly, or would he have looked for another source or two?

        Take a second example, former Marine James Massey, who's been going around telling people that he and his fellow Marines committed numerous atrocities in Iraq, quite deliberately killing people (Google him yourself, I can't be bothered).  Massey's stories were widely distributed in the media, without anyone ever attempting to find a second witness to a single incident.  The only reason Massey still isn't being reported as authoritative by the MSM is because one of the five reporters embedded with Massey's unit publicly disputed the story.  Yet even MSM outlets with such embedded reporters didn't bother to call them and say "Hey, what gives here?  Is this true?  If so, why haven't you reported it?  If not, why is Massy saying it?'  Nor did anyone remember the "Winter Soldier" investigation, in which various people made claims of U.S. atrocities that turned out to be false.  Or that it wasn't that difficult to establish the truth of the My Lai Massacre.

        And recall too Easongate, where the chief news executive of CNN apparently said 'The U.S. government is knowingly and deliberately murdering reporters in Iraq,' and the rest of the MSM just nodded.  No need to check into this, even though, if true, it has Pulitzer and best-seller all over it.  And no outrage at the thought the story might be false, that Eason Jordan might be slandering the Administration, the Armed Forces, the Nation itself.

        And in all three cases, I haven't heard of a single instance of someone saying 'I wonder what effect this story will have on the war effort?'  But let Judith Miller get some WMD stories wrong (if they were wrong), and suddenly her colleagues are up in arms.  Her stories may have helped launch the war!

        So?  As a reporter, was Miller supposed to decide not to publish what she published, even if she believed it true, because of the effects it might have?  If so, just what exactly are the standards of judgment she and other reporters should be using?  Why are false pro-war stories reprehensilbe (if they were false), but false anti-war stories just something to shrug over?  I'd like to here Welch, or someone, discuss those questions forthrightly.

        Still, Welch only appears to be out of his mind.  The MSM is in full-bore liar mode.  For instance, the New York Times claims:
        On Monday, at a stop in Alaska en route to Japan, Mr. Bush again said that the Democratic criticism was irresponsible and that "investigations of the intelligence on Iraq have concluded that only one person manipulated evidence and misled the world - and that person was Saddam Hussein."

        But what Mr. Bush left unaddressed was the question of how his administration used that intelligence, which was full of caveats, subtleties and contradiction, to make the case for war.

        To the extent that that passage means anything, it clearly implies that the Bush Administration misrepresented uncertain intelligence to push his war policy.  THAT IS NOT TRUE!  Here's the Senate Select Committe on Intelligence (SSCI) on the National Intelligence Estimate of October 2002 on Saddam's weapons of mass destruction:
3. Overall Conclusions - Weapons of Mass Destruction
(U) Conclusion 1. Most of the major key judgments in the Intelligence Community's October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction, either overstated, or were not supported by, the underlying intelligence reporting. A series of failures, particularly in analytic trade craft, led to the mischaracterization of the intelligence.


(U) The major key judgments in the NIE, particularly that Iraq "is reconstituting its nuclear program," "has chemical and biological weapons," was developing an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) " probably intended to deliver biological warfare agents," and that "all key aspects - research & development (R&D), production, and weaponization - of Iraq's offensive biological weapons (BW) program are active and that most elements are larger and more advanced than they were before the Gulf War," either overstated, or were not supported by, the underlying intelligence reporting provided to the Committee. The assessments regarding Iraq's continued development of prohibited ballistic missiles were reasonable and did accurately describe the underlying intelligence. [Emphasis in original]

        The only way you could overstate that would be to accuse Saddam having a hard strike date for attacking the U.S.

        Then there was the Silberman-Robb Commission, which had access to more information than the SSCI.  It opined:
        While the intelligence services of many other nations also thought that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, in the end it was the United States that put its credibility on the line, making this one of the most public--and most damaging--intelligence failures in recent American history.

        This failure was in large part the result of analytical shortcomings; intelligence analysts were too wedded to their assumptions about Saddam's intentions.  But it was also a failure on the part of those who collect intelligence--CIA's and the Defense Intelligence Agency 's (DIA) spies, the National Security Agency 's (NSA) eavesdroppers, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency 's (NGA) imagery experts.  In the end, those agencies collected precious little intelligence for the analysts to analyze, and much of what they did collect was either worthless or misleading.  Finally, it was a failure to communicate effectively with policymakers; the Intelligence Community didn't adequately explain just how little good intelligence it had--or how much its assessments were driven by assumptions and inferences rather than concrete evidence. . . .

        Contrary to what some defenders of the Intelligence Community have since asserted, these errors were not the result of a few harried months in 2002.  Most of the fundamental errors were made and communicated to policymakers well before the now-infamous NIE of October 2002, and were not corrected in the months between the NIE and the start of the war.  They were not isolated or random failings.  Iraq had been an intelligence challenge at the forefront of U.S. attention for over a decade.  It was a known adversary that had already fought one war with the United States and seemed increasingly likely to fight another.  But, after ten years of effort, the Intelligence Community still had no good intelligence on the status of Iraq's weapons programs.

        It sounds like any distortion that took place came at the hands of the "Intelligence Community" rather than the White House.

        And former CIA Analyst and later National Security Council staffer Kenneth Pollack wrote:
        In the late spring of 2002 I participated in a Washington meeting about Iraqi WMD.  Those present included nearly 20 former inspectors from the UN Special Commission (Unscom), established in 1991 to oversee the elimination of WMD in Iraq.  One of the senior people put a question to the group: did anyone in the room doubt that Iraq was currently operating a secret centrifuge plant?  No one did []my emphasis].

        Other nations' intelligence services were similarly aligned with US views.  Somewhat remarkably, given how adamantly Germany would oppose the war, the German Federal Intelligence Service held the bleakest view of all, arguing that Iraq might be able to build a nuclear weapon within three years.  Israel, Russia, Britain, China, and even France held positions similar to that of the US; Jacques Chirac told Time magazine last February: "There is a problem - the probable possession of weapons of mass destruction by an uncontrollable country, Iraq."  No one doubted that Iraq had WMD.

        When the [UNSCOM] inspectors suddenly left [in 1998], intelligence agencies were caught off balance.  Desperate for information, they began to trust sources that they would previously have had Unscom vet.  With so little to go on, they believed many reports that now seem deeply suspect.  After 1998 many analysts increasingly entertained worst-case scenarios - scenarios that gradually became mainstream estimates. [Emphasis and bracketed material mine — St. O.]

        The "problem" with the Bush administration isn't that it distorted intelligence.  The "problem" was that W. isn't President Penis.  William Jefferson Clinton made speeches about Iraq hiding WMDs, about Saddam invading foreign countries, about the danger the Ba'athist regime represented.  After making such speeches, he would go to NATO and/or the UN and ask them to join with us in taking action against Saddam.  Our "allies" would then ask if the latest Iraqi bribe check had cleared, and, finding it had, would refuse Big Billy's entreties.  At which point Mr. Open Zipper might say a few harsh words in public, and fire a few cruise missiles, but privately he'd be highly pleased.  He never wanted to DO anything, and now he had an excuse: 'The meanie Frenchies, Russkies, and Chinks wouldn't let me.'

        But that evildoer Bush would get up and say Iraq had WMDs, cite the intelligence data, ask our "allies" for help, and when our handfull of genuine allies said 'yes,' while the Axis of Honest Weasels said 'no,' (honest politician: someone who stays bribed), well, then Cowboy W. would just say, 'In that case, we'll have to go it ourselves.'  What a dishonest SOB!  He was misusing intelligence, turning it into a guide for action rather than an inspiration for a speech.
_____________________

Sympathy For the Democrats



Summary:

        As the President has begun to defend himself against accusations of lying us into war, various reporters are quite upset.  I've begun to sympathize with them.  The rules got changed in mid-game, and they justifiably resent it.
  • Under Clinton, the Intelligence Community used to say they were gathering information on Iraq, although frequently they just presented assumptions as facts.

  • With Big Bill, this didn't matter, because Clinton talked a good fight, but only talked.

  • The Philanderer-in-Chief used to make speeches about the Iraqi Menace, complete with the 'Intelligence Community's' latest ominous information; he'd say something had to be done, before it was too late; he'd sign laws saying it was our policy to overthrow Saddam, and talk about using the Iraqi National Congress to pull a coup.

  • Then, after making a lot of noise, President "Loose Zipper" would ask the Axis of Weasels for military assistance, get turned down, and drop the subject, along with a few bombs or cruise missiles.  In short, Wag the Dog.

  • Then along came that crazy cowboy liar, W., who said all the same things President Tumescence did, made the same threats, asked the same psuedo-allies for help, got the same refusals from the Axis of Weasels, and then, dishonestly went ahead and did what he'd threatened to do.

  • Like the old Jewish joke (A:"That bastard Meyer lied to me!  I should have known you can never trust him." B:"What did he do?" A:"He said he was travelling to Minsk.  So naturally, I thought he was going to Pinsk.  Then he went to Minsk after all!  He tricked me!"), W. told the truth to be who were expecting lies, and they're mad that he fooled them.

  • That's why they're claiming he "misused" intelligence.  From the MSM's viewpoint, which is shared in certain of the fever swamps of politics, any use of intelligence that led to war is automatically misuse.

At Length:

        Almost two years ago, psychiatrist Charles Krauthammer described Bush and Murdoch Derangement Syndromes.  Bush Derangement Syndrome is characterized by:
        the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency -- nay -- the very existence of George W. Bush.

        In the closely related Murdoch Derangement Syndrome:
        otherwise normal people believe that their minds are being controlled by a single, very clever Australian.

        Lately, Pat "Dr. Sanity" Santy has also chimed in on this subject.  But with all due respect, I don't think the Democrats are deranged.  They're not even particularly dishonest, just speaking in code.  The Donks have very real grievances.

        Not that political derangement doesn't exist.  The late Murray Rothbard, an anarcho-Libertarian icon, was almost delirious with joy at the conquest of South Viet Nam and Cambodia.  'Look, look, two states have died!'  Later, when two million people had died, Rothbard was associated with Inquiry magazine, where the big international human rights issue was East Timor.  Indonesia, a thoroughly "evil" state (translation from anarcho-libertarian into English: 'Indonesia, whose rulers were sometimes friendly to the U.S.') was oppressing the population of East Timor.  We all ought to be concerned and paying attention and . . . and more concerned, and paying more attention.  Since the only people who could do anything about this were Western governments with strong armed forces, and since the only thing an anarcho-Libertarian would approve of the government doing was meeting to proclaim its permanent dissolution, the people of East Timor would just have to keep on suffering — but with our concern!  Now that, friends, is derangement.

        By contrast, Matt Welch at Reason's "Hit&Run" sounds at first like he needs his meds adjusted, but I think that's mostly a pose.  Just as Garrison Keillor loved the Republicans that were typical of his youth (they almost always lost), but hates the Party of Reagan and Gingrich ('They re-elected Bush and kept control of Congress?  Who ordered that?!'), so Welch is angry that the White House, the Republican Party, and the right blogosphere wants Democratic talking points about the Iraq War to correspond to reality.  The nerve!

        But when you penetrate past the whiny tone, the editing-as-lying, the sneers, the unsupported assertions, the non-sequiturs (I especially like Welch's "argument" that it's OK to call W. a liar because he's "the guy who actually commands the world's most powerful military"), and the stuff Welch just plain made up, and once you realize the anti-war people are constrained by politics to speak in code, you begin to see the outlines of the real case.  It's a lot clearer in this piece in the Democratic Party's house organ:
        The White House is right that many Democrats, including some of the same senators who are now criticizing Mr. Bush most vociferously over the war, expressed concerns about Iraq's weapons programs in the months and years before the invasion.  When the resolution authorizing force came up in October 2002, 29 Democrats in the Senate and 81 in the House voted in favor, versus 21 in the Senate and 126 in the House who voted against it.

        But many of those Democrats have said that they now believe they were misled by the administration in the way it presented the prewar intelligence.  And the White House's assertion that two government studies back up its contention that it did not manipulate the intelligence obscures the critical distinction.

        On Monday, at a stop in Alaska en route to Japan, Mr. Bush again said that the Democratic criticism was irresponsible and that "investigations of the intelligence on Iraq have concluded that only one person manipulated evidence and misled the world - and that person was Saddam Hussein."

        But what Mr. Bush left unaddressed was the question of how his administration used that intelligence, which was full of caveats, subtleties and contradiction, to make the case for war.

        Now at first glance, this may look like a pile of bullstuff, as Joe Bob would say.  Crude Jacksonians, many of whom have learned how to use a search engine, and they'd find former CIA Analyst and later National Security Council staffer Kenneth Pollack, who wrote:
        In the late spring of 2002 I participated in a Washington meeting about Iraqi WMD.  Those present included nearly 20 former inspectors from the UN Special Commission (Unscom), established in 1991 to oversee the elimination of WMD in Iraq.  One of the senior people put a question to the group: did anyone in the room doubt that Iraq was currently operating a secret centrifuge plant?  No one did.

        Other nations' intelligence services were similarly aligned with US views.  Somewhat remarkably, given how adamantly Germany would oppose the war, the German Federal Intelligence Service held the bleakest view of all, arguing that Iraq might be able to build a nuclear weapon within three years.  Israel, Russia, Britain, China, and even France held positions similar to that of the US; Jacques Chirac told Time magazine last February: "There is a problem - the probable possession of weapons of mass destruction by an uncontrollable country, Iraq."  No one doubted that Iraq had WMD. . . .

        When the [UNSCOM] inspectors suddenly left [in 1998], intelligence agencies were caught off balance.  Desperate for information, they began to trust sources that they would previously have had Unscom vet.  With so little to go on, they believed many reports that now seem deeply suspect.  After 1998 many analysts increasingly entertained worst-case scenarios - scenarios that gradually became mainstream estimates. [Emphasis and bracketed material mine — St. O.]

        Simple minded Red Staters, and us spiritual Red Staters stuck in the Blue, read things like that, and think 'Well, it looks like if there was any intelligence manipulation, it was done by the intelligence community.  The Bush Administration just made the mistake of believing them.'

        That's an understandable conclusion, but sadly wrong.  Read further in Pollack's article, and you find him complaining about the way Administration "handled" the intelligence.  What, they got fingermarks on the reports?  What was there to "handle?"  This:
        . . . many administration officials reacted strongly, negatively, and aggressively when presented with information that contradicted what they already believed about Iraq. Many of these officials believed that Saddam was the source of virtually all the problems in the Middle East and was an imminent danger to the US because of his perceived possession of WMD and support of terrorism.

        It wasn't that the "Intelligence Community" disputed the idea that Saddam had WMDs.  It wasn't that they doubted Saddam supported terrorism — he used to make public presents to the families of those who blew themselves up while murdering Jews.  No, it's that "imminent danger to the US" part.  If Saddam was an immiment danger, then, as with al-Qaeda and Afghanistan, we would take him out immediately.  For many, that policy was unacceptable.

        In the previous administration, everyone followed the script.  Saddam swaggered and talked tough; Clinton made speeches about what a danger Saddam was to the U.S., and how the U.S. was prepared to act, and then backed down.  It took Clinton all of 1998 to nerve himself to 70 hours of air strikes, then the planes were stood down and the issue was dropped.  Clinton signed the "Iraq Liberation Act" into law on October 31st, 1998, and on January 20th, 2001, Saddam was still in power.  Actually invading Iraq was not supposed to be an option.

        Once you grasp that, then you can understand a passage like this one of Pollack's:
        The machinations of the OSP [Office of Special Plans] meant that whenever the principals of the National Security Council met with the president and his staff, two different versions of reality were on the table.

        The CIA, the state department, and the uniformed military services would present one version, and the Office of the Secretary of Defence and the Office of the Vice President would present another.  These views were too far apart to allow for compromise.  As a result, the administration found it difficult, if not impossible, to make important decisions.

        A near-barbarian, someone like, well, moi, would tend to read that and say 'Huh?  Sept. 11th, 2001, the hijacking attacks.  Sept. 12th to Oct. 6th, Special forces infiltrate Afghanistan.  October to December, 2001 we liberate Afghanistan.  In 2002, some guerrilla warfare continues in Afghanistan, but by July 23rd, 2002, "C," the head of Her Majesty's Secret Service, says of Washington
        There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable.  Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.

        Our hypothetical Jacksonian would conclude that the important decision had been made, and fairly quickly: invade Iraq and get rid of Saddam.  The "Intelligence Community" wanted a different decision: to talk tough and do nothing, leaving Iraq for the next Administration to 'deal with' by also talking tough and doing nothing.

        So the MSM/Democratic Party/anti-American Libertarian claim that Bush lied is perfectly sincere, and true in its fashion.  Bush went around saying the same kind of thing that Clinton had said.  The Donks thus expected him to do the same kind of thing Clinton did — nothing.  I quite believe Jay Rockefeller when he said:
        We authorized him to continue working with the United Nations, and then if that failed, authorized him to use force to enforce the sanctions.

        How could Rockefeller expect that lying SOB in the Oval Office would take the "Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq," as a warrant to destroy Saddam and change the regime?  Why, it's like finding out a pro wrestling match wasn't fixed!

        And what are the Democrats supposed to do now?  Admit they weren't serious?  Say that their policy is to resume the course that
led to 9/11?  Swear they'll never fight a war unless the enemy is as stupid as Afghanistan, and gives them no choice?  Admit that when it comes to states that seek nuclear weapons and support terrorism, they intend to cross their fingers and hope nothing bad happens till after they retire?  They can't win general elections with those policies!  But they can't survive the activist-dominated primaries without them.

        And aside from the war issue, the Republicans aren't any different.  They campaign as conservatives, get elected, then spend like drunken Fair Dealers.  Where do they get off, fighting wars like Fair Dealers too?  Nope, it just ain't fair.  And what's worse for the Dems, its working.

_____________________


Summary:

        As the President has begun to defend himself against accusations of lying us into war, various reporters are quite upset.  I've begun to sympathize with them.  As with an old Jewish joke, Bush lied to them by stating the truth.  The rules got changed in mid-game.  Once you break the Donkey code, you see that they're in the right.
  • Under Clinton, the Intelligence Community used to say they were gathering information on Iraq, although frequently they just made stuff up.

  • Then Clinton would make speeches about the Iraqi Menace, complete with the 'Intelligence Community's latest information;' he'd say something had to be done, before it was too late.  He'd sign laws saying it was our policy to overthrow Saddam, and talk about using the Iraqi National Congress to pull a coup.

  • Then, after making a lot of noise, the Philanderer in Chief would ask the Axis of Honest Weasels for military assistance (their motto: 'We STAY bribed'), get turned down, and drop the subject, along with a few bombs or cruise missiles.  Wag the Dog.

  • Then along came that crazy cowboy liar, W., who said all the same things President Tumescence did, made the same threats, asked the same psuedo-allies for help, got the same refusals, and then dishonestly went ahead and did what he said he'd do.

  • It's like a classic Jewish joke.  A:"That bastard Meyer lied to me!" B:"What did he do?" A:"He told me he was going to Minsk.  So naturally, I thought he was trying to trick me, and was actually going to Pinsk.  And then he went to Minsk!"  W. lied to them by telling a truth he knew they wouldn't believe, and they're justifiably angry that he fooled them.

At Length:

        Almost two years ago, psychiatrist Charles Krauthammer described Bush and Murdoch Derangement Syndromes.  Bush Derangement Syndrome is characterized by:
        the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency -- nay -- the very existence of George W. Bush.

        In the closely related Murdoch Derangement Syndrome:
        otherwise normal people believe that their minds are being controlled by a single, very clever Australian.

        Lately, Pat "Dr. Sanity" Santy has also chimed in on this subject.  But with all due respect, I don't think the Democrats are deranged.  They're not even particularly dishonest, just speaking in code.  The Donks have very real grievances.

        Not that political derangement doesn't exist.  The late Murray Rothbard, an anarcho-Libertarian icon, was almost delirious with joy at the conquest of South Viet Nam and Cambodia.  'Look, look, two states have died!'  Later, when two million people had died, Rothbard was associated with Inquiry magazine, where the big international human rights issue was East Timor.  Indonesia, a thoroughly "evil" state (translation from anarcho-libertarian into English: 'Indonesia, whose rulers were sometimes friendly to the U.S.') was oppressing the population of East Timor.  We all ought to be concerned and paying attention and . . . and more concerned, and paying more attention.  Since the only people who could do anything about this were Western governments with strong armed forces, and since the only thing an anarcho-Libertarian would approve of the government doing was meeting to proclaim its permanent dissolution, the people of East Timor would just have to keep on suffering — but with our concern!  Now that, friends, is derangement.

        Now look at Garrison Keillor.  Keillor loved the Republicans that were typical of his youth (they almost always lost), but hates the Party of Reagan and Gingrich ('They re-elected Bush and kept control of Congress?  Who ordered that?!').  Keillor is very mildly deranged by the GOP (see his comments about not getting angry, which follow paragraphs of bile), but hey, the Republicans and the Conservative Movement put an unreconstructed big spending New Deal Democrat trade union leader at the head of their movement.  Trying to wrap your head around that would confuse anyone.

        Just lately, the Republican Party, and the right blogosphere wants Democratic talking points about the Iraq War to correspond to reality.  The nerve!  As this story in the Democratic Party's house organ puts it:
        The White House is right that many Democrats, including some of the same senators who are now criticizing Mr. Bush most vociferously over the war, expressed concerns about Iraq's weapons programs in the months and years before the invasion.  When the resolution authorizing force came up in October 2002, 29 Democrats in the Senate and 81 in the House voted in favor, versus 21 in the Senate and 126 in the House who voted against it.

        But many of those Democrats have said that they now believe they were misled by the administration in the way it presented the prewar intelligence.  And the White House's assertion that two government studies back up its contention that it did not manipulate the intelligence obscures the critical distinction.

        On Monday, at a stop in Alaska en route to Japan, Mr. Bush again said that the Democratic criticism was irresponsible and that "investigations of the intelligence on Iraq have concluded that only one person manipulated evidence and misled the world - and that person was Saddam Hussein."

        But what Mr. Bush left unaddressed was the question of how his administration used that intelligence, which was full of caveats, subtleties and contradiction, to make the case for war.

        Now at first glance, this may look like a pile of bullstuff, as Joe Bob would say.  Crude Jacksonians will use a search engine, and find former CIA Analyst and later National Security Council staffer Kenneth Pollack who wrote:
        In the late spring of 2002 I participated in a Washington meeting about Iraqi WMD.  Those present included nearly 20 former inspectors from the UN Special Commission (Unscom), established in 1991 to oversee the elimination of WMD in Iraq.  One of the senior people put a question to the group: did anyone in the room doubt that Iraq was currently operating a secret centrifuge plant?  No one did.

        Other nations' intelligence services were similarly aligned with US views.  Somewhat remarkably, given how adamantly Germany would oppose the war, the German Federal Intelligence Service held the bleakest view of all, arguing that Iraq might be able to build a nuclear weapon within three years.  Israel, Russia, Britain, China, and even France held positions similar to that of the US; Jacques Chirac told Time magazine last February: "There is a problem - the probable possession of weapons of mass destruction by an uncontrollable country, Iraq."  No one doubted that Iraq had WMD.  [Emphasis and bracketed material mine — St. O.]
        So simple minded Red Staters, and us spiritual Red Staters stuck in the Blue, would read things like that, and think 'Well, it looks like if there was any intelligence manipulation, it was done by the intelligence community.  The Bush Administration just made the mistake of believing them.'

        That's an understandable conclusion, but sadly wrong.  Go back to the Pollack article, and you find him complaining about the way Administration "handled" the intelligence.  What, they got fingermarks on the reports?  What was there to "handle?"  This:
        . . . many administration officials reacted strongly, negatively, and aggressively when presented with information that contradicted what they already believed about Iraq. Many of these officials believed that Saddam was the source of virtually all the problems in the Middle East and was an imminent danger to the US because of his perceived possession of WMD and support of terrorism.

        It wasn't that the "Intelligence Community" disputed the idea that Saddam had WMDs.  As Pollack said, they all agreed he did.  It wasn't that they doubted Saddam supported terrorism.  He used to make public presents to the families of those who blew themselves up while killing Jews.  No, it's that "imminent danger to the US" part.  If Saddam was an immiment danger, then, as with al-Qaeda and Afghanistan, we would take him out immediately.  But that policy was unacceptable.

        In the previous administration, everyone followed the script.  Saddam swaggered and talked tough; Clinton made speeches about what a danger Saddam was to the U.S., and how the U.S. was prepared to act, and then backed down.  It took Clinton all of 1998 to nerve himself to 70 hours of air strikes, then the planes were stood down and the issue was dropped.  Clinton signed the "Iraq Liberation Act" into law on October 31st, 1998, and on January 20th, 2001, Saddam was still in power.  Actually invading Iraq was not supposed to be an option.

        Once you grasp that, then you can understand a passage like this one of Pollack's:
        The machinations of the OSP [Office of Special Plans] meant that whenever the principals of the National Security Council met with the president and his staff, two different versions of reality were on the table.

        The CIA, the state department, and the uniformed military services would present one version, and the Office of the Secretary of Defence and the Office of the Vice President would present another.  These views were too far apart to allow for compromise.  As a result, the administration found it difficult, if not impossible, to make important decisions.

        A near-barbarian Jacksonian, someone like, well, moi, would tend to read that and say 'Huh?  Sept. 11th, 2001, the hijacking attacks.  Sept. 12th to Oct. 6th, Special forces infiltrate Afghanistan.  October to December, 2001 we liberate Afghanistan.  In 2002, some guerrilla warfare continues in Afghanistan, but by July 23rd, 2002, "C," the head of Her Majesty's Secret Service, says
        There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable.  Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.

        Our hypothetical Jacksonian would conclude that the important decision had been made, and fairly quickly: invade Iraq and get rid of Saddam.  The "Intelligence Community" wanted a different decision: to talk tough and do nothing, leaving Iraq for the next Administration to 'deal with' by also talking tough and doing nothing.

        So the MSM/Democratic Party/anti-American Libertarian claim that Bush lied is perfectly sincere.  Bush went around saying the same kind of thing that Clinton had said.  They expected him to do the same kind of thing Clinton did — nothing.  Instead, that damned liar W. said that Saddam had to go, and then, made him go.  I quite believe Jay Rockefeller when he said:
        We authorized him to continue working with the United Nations, and then if that failed, authorized him to use force to enforce the sanctions.

        How could Rockefeller expect that lying SOB in the Oval Office would take the "Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq," as a warrant to destroy Saddam and change the regime?  Why, it's like finding out a pro wrestling match wasn't fixed.

        And what are the Democrats supposed to do now?  Admit they weren't serious?  Say that their policy is to resume the course that
led to 9/11?  Swear they'll never fight a war unless the enemy is as stupid as Afghanistan, and gives them no choice?  Admit that when it comes to states that seek nuclear weapons and support terrorism, they intend to cross their fingers and hope nothing bad happens till after they retire?  They can't win general elections with those policies!  But they can't survive the activist-dominated primaries without them.

        And aside from the war issue, the Republicans aren't any different.  They campaign as conservatives, get elected, then spend like drunken New Dealers.  Where do they get off, fighting wars like New Dealers too?  Nope, it just ain't fair.  But whoever said politics was fair?

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