Saturday, July 26, 2003


We're bringing back the bat.

On Monday, July 28th, Vice President Dick Cheney will raise $250,000 from a handful of special interest contributors at a luncheon in Columbia, South Carolina.

Let's show Dick Cheney that the grassroots have the power to take on the special interests that have bought the Bush administration. Let's show George W. Bush and Dick Cheney that we will not let our government be sold to the highest bidder.

To take on Dick Cheney and George W. Bush-- to beat back the special interests-- the Dean campaign is "Bringing Out the Bat" this weekend. Our goal is to raise $250,000 in online contributions by midnight, Monday, July 28th. You can take part. You can show George W. Bush and Dick Cheney that the grassroots campaign for Howard Dean is going to send them packing. Click on the link below to contribute:


We'll be updating the bat 4 times a day throughout the weekend, and every half hour on Monday. Join in and watch your progress-- see how your contribution is making a difference.


In light of the just released 9-11 Report I thought I'd remind everybody of Greg Palast's interview with Alex Jones this Spring. It has a lot of interesting revelations about what might NOT be in the 9-11 Report:

Greg Palast: Yeah, well there’s a few. One of the stories that I broke on BBC television was that before September 11th, FBI agents and CIA agents told BBC television that they were blocked from investigating certain members of the bin Laden family in America who were tied to suspect terrorist organizations. And that they could not investigate Saudi Arabian funding of al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. And they were very frustrated that they could not do this investigation before September11th. The other documents showing the investigations were, some of them were permitted to go forward beginning September 13th, 2001. And I have to say, I don’t know whether George Bush had any knowledge or pre-knowledge of September 11th or any of that, but what I was investigating though was why were the intelligence agencies told to stay away. And I want to give you a piece of information, Alex, which some is in the new book and some will be on your show for the first time today.

One of the things I am very concerned about, BBC learned about from two completely separate sources – is about a meeting in June of 1996 in Paris between Saudi Arabian billionaires, international arms dealers and the finance arm of al Qaeda. And there was a discussion about how much the Saudis would pay to al Qaeda and these other so-called charities that were really fronts for terrorist organizations. My view is that the Saudis were going to pay off these guys to get out of Saudi Arabia. That was the month that nineteen American servicemen were killed in Saudi Arabia when al Qaeda blew up the Khobar Towers. The nineteen American servicemen were dead and so the Saudis, rather than to go after these guys, said we’ll write them a big check and tell them to go play in Afghanistan. And I was wondering why the intelligence agents were not free, were not free by the Bush Administration, to really to go after that source of funding. You know the old rule of investigation is follow the money. If you can’t look at Osama bin Laden’s piggy bank and you can’t check out his checking account, you are not going to know what he’s up to. So I found out who was at the meeting. And one guy at the meeting, according to two separate sources is a rich Saudi named Sheikh Abdullah Bakhsh, at least is how it is spelled in English.

Alex Jones: And was involved in Harken back in the 70s.

GP: Boy are you – you’ve got a good memory. You know exactly what it comes from. This guy was supposedly in this meeting about funding al Qaeda. What we also know is that when George W. Bush was in the oil business, he made millions in the oil business but he never struck oil. But he seemed to strike the pockets of several Saudi Sheikhs. Every time he had an oil venture going south, he had one called Arbusto and another called Spectrum – finally those were bought up by Harken Oil. A Gulf Sheikh would come in and put up the money to pull George W. out of the financial fire. And it was Sheikh Abdullah Bakhsh who was the big money helping to refinance Harken Oil and save George W. from, basically from bankruptcy in the oil business. So this is the guy - you know when our president says there are thousands of people out there trying to kill us and people supporting terror, he might want to look at some of his own business partners.

AJ: Isn’t he one of the richest people in Saudi Arabia – and also bin Laden’s older brother was involved in it too right here in Texas.

GP: Well, you know he did have – I haven’t been able to get the information on the Texas story. You may have more information on that. What I was concerned about is that there are two members of the bin Laden family in Washington, D.C. and Virginia Falls, which overlooks the Pentagon. And Abdullah and Omar bin Laden – now you have to be careful, there are lots of Abdullahs and there are lots of Omar bin Ladens. Remember Osama has 52 brothers and sisters. That’s quite a family. So not all of them with the name bin Laden or even Abdullah are suspect. But these two guys and you have this on your program because this was from the FBI document 199I which is a national security secret document which the agents basically dropped off for us because they were upset that they couldn’t investigate these guys. And they were fronting an organization called WAMY which sounds very nice - the World Assembly of Muslim Youth – and they do actually support little baseball teams and basketball teams and that type of thing. But I thought some of their films for training camps for kids were basically recruitment for suicide bombings, recruitment for Jihad. And this was going on Florida, by the way. And now it turns out that a member of this organization, headed at one point by the bin Ladens and by the Saudi Royal family, turns out to be the conduit for the tapes of Osama bin Laden to al Jazeera television. A guy was just arrested in Somalia from WAMY. This is the organization that the FBI wanted to investigate and they were told, “Back off.” And we have to be concerned about is whether – I’m very concerned about whether the Bush family’s finances are prejudicing their view of how to conduct foreign policy, how to handle the intelligence....


Thursday, July 24, 2003

After months and months of delay, the Bush Admin finally released the 9-11 Report today.

Why wait for the paperback? Download it and read it today.
After two years of giving Chimpco a free ride the Washington Post has come to the forefront in reporting the developing scandals within the Bush Admin. There are a couple very important stories this morning worth a read.

The first one details the lack of planning, rather the lack of coordination between Govt agencies for the after-war peace in Iraq:
Officials critical of the occupation planning said some problems could have been predicted -- or were, to no avail, by experts inside and outside the Pentagon.

Before the invasion, for example, U.S. intelligence agencies were persistent and unified in warning the Defense Department that Iraqis would resort to "armed opposition" after the war was over. The Army's chief of staff warned that a larger stability force would be needed.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his team disagreed, confident that Iraqi military and police units would help secure a welcoming nation.

The State Department and other agencies spent many months and millions of dollars drafting strategies on issues ranging from a postwar legal code to oil policy. But after President Bush granted authority over reconstruction to the Pentagon, the Defense Department all but ignored State and its working groups.

And once Baghdad fell, the military held its postwar team out of Iraq for nearly two weeks for security reasons, and then did not provide such basics as telephones, vehicles and interpreters for the understaffed operation to run a traumatized country of 24 million.

"People always say that sometimes people plan for the wrong war," said Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and former head of the State Department's policy planning office. "One can say in some ways that the administration planned for the wrong peace. In particular, there was an emphasis on preparing for a humanitarian crisis when in fact the larger challenges turned out to be political and security."

The second story deals with ongoing battles between the WH and the CIA over who's to blame for the Niger uranium story getting into the SOTU speech. It's becoming clear that it's more than "just 16 words":
How did the White House stumble so badly? There are a host of explanations, from White House officials, their allies outside the government and their opponents in the broader debate about whether the administration sought to manipulate evidence while building its case to go to war against Iraq.

But the dominant forces appear to have been the determination by White House officials to protect the president for using 16 questionable words about Iraq's attempts to buy uranium in Africa and a fierce effort by the Central Intelligence Agency to protect its reputation through bureaucratic infighting that has forced the president's advisers to repeatedly alter their initial version of events.

At several turns, when Bush might have taken responsibility for the language in his Jan. 28 address to the country, he and his top advisers resisted, claiming others -- particularly those in the intelligence community -- were responsible.

Asked again yesterday whether Bush should ultimately be held accountable for what he says, White House press secretary Scott McClellan told reporters, "Let's talk about what's most important. That's the war on terrorism, winning the war on terrorism. And the best way you do that is to go after the threats where they gather, not to let them come to our shore before it's too late."

White House finger-pointing in turn prompted the CIA's allies to fire back by offering evidence that ran counter to official White House explanations of events and by helping to reveal a chronology of events that forced the White House to change its story.

The latest turn came Tuesday, when deputy national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley and White House communications director Dan Bartlett revealed the existence of two previously unknown memos showing that Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet had repeatedly urged the administration last October to remove a similar claim that Iraq had tried to buy uranium in Africa.


Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Look over there!! It's Kobe Bryant!!

Despite their irritation with the White House, other states worried by Korean instability have tried to come up with an acceptable pretext for negotiations. If the United States won’t agree to bilateral negotiations, then everyone can pretend to hold multilateral discussions instead. Then, during the breaks, the North Korean and U.S. diplomats can meet and talk at the vending machines.

Faced with a paranoid, proto-nuclear dictatorship, Mr. Bush has exacerbated the problem with loud rhetoric and dithering policy. Unable to decide whether to negotiate or to seek "regime change" in Pyongyang, his administration has done nothing useful to contain the Korean threat. The United States has no policy, no plan, no discernible purpose in its posture toward North Korea.

I have been saying for some time now that the problems of the Bush Admin go far beyond "16 little words" and the evidence of all the lies and half-truths is starting to mount. Here's a good article confirming my suspicions:
Iraq is providing the Bush administration with some hard and necessary lessons. One home truth is that frightening the voters only works for a while. George Bush & Co put a great deal of effort into persuading Americans that Saddam Hussein posed a direct threat to home, high school, family SUV and, generally, to the American way of life. Lest we forget, Bush claimed at one point that unmanned aerial vehicles could menace US cities with biological or chemical weapons. Dick Cheney went bigger than big on the supposed Iraqi nuclear threat. Bush adopted the notorious Blair-Campbell "45 minutes to Armageddon" one-liner, as well as the exotic Niger yellowcake fairytale.

Yet nearly two years after 9/11; after two all-out wars; after a deal of extra-judicial killing and illegal incarceration; after attorney-general John Ashcroft's faith-led subversion of the US constitution; and three months after Saddam joined Osama bin Laden and the Taliban's Mullah Omar in the displaced-but-not-deleted category - do Americans really feel any safer?

Many voters must wonder, with Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry, whether increased resources for airline and border security, police, firefighters and a more effective FBI might not be a better bet than spending $3.9bn a month on occupying a country that does not want to be occupied. That total does not include the Afghan quagmire - or the human and political cost of daily US casualties. Another White House contender, Dick Gephardt, says a "macho" Bush has left the US "less safe and less secure".

Even Bush's most obliviously hawkish officials have given up claiming that toppling Saddam has somehow reduced the al-Qaida threat. It is still out there - and may be intensifying.

Looks like the disclosure of Amb. Joe Wilson's wife as a CIA agent has stirred up a hornets nest in Congress:
Washington - Democrats yesterday denounced the alleged disclosure by administration officials of the identity of an undercover CIA officer, and members of both parties indicated a congressional investigation is likely.

Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), an Intelligence Committee member, said it plans to investigate who revealed the identity of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame, who is married to former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. In a move that sparked the current controversy over allegations that Iraq was trying to buy uranium in Niger, Wilson revealed two weeks ago that he had warned the Bush administration the reports were unfounded.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), vice chairman of the intelligence panel, called the disclosure of Plame's identity "vile" and "a highly dishonorable thing to do; highly, highly dishonorable." He, too, said a probe is probably necessary and accused the White House of strong-arm tactics aimed at those who question their policies. "To go after him [Wilson] is one thing, but to go after his wife is another thing," Rockefeller said.
After three months the USA finally has a plan for the reconstruction of Iraq. Will it work? I'm doubtful:
WASHINGTON, July 22 ? The top American civilian administrator in Iraq is to announce on Wednesday a 60-day plan for that nation, including restoring power to prewar levels, resuming criminal courts, awarding mobile-telephone licenses, and distributing revised textbooks to newly opened schools.

The detailed set of security, economic and political objectives, to be described in a speech here by the administrator, L. Paul Bremer III, is intended to rebut growing criticism from some in Congress, aid agencies and even some military officers in Iraq that the civilian occupation authorities have no clearly defined path ahead for postwar rebuilding.

Since arriving here from Baghdad over the weekend, Mr. Bremer has appeared on the Sunday news programs, met with lawmakers and conferred with President Bush's top advisers to outline his blueprint for what many officials say is a make-or-break period for the reconstruction. He is to meet with Mr. Bush on Wednesday. "There's a lot of talk that we have no plan, and don't know what we're doing," Mr. Bremer said in interview at the Pentagon today. "Well, we have a plan and we're executing that plan."

However, freedom of the press is not part of the plan for right now:

BAGHDAD -- A local newspaper has been shut down and its manager arrested because of an article that U.S. occupation authorities and Iraqi officials considered an incitement to violence and a threat to human rights in Iraq.

Iraqi police accompanied by U.S. troops raided the offices of Al-Mustaqila newspaper, which means The Independent in Arabic. Neighbors said troops broke down the front door, ransacked the office and detained the newspaper's manager, Abdul Sattar Shalan.

According to U.S. occupation authorities, the paper published an article 10 days ago titled, "Death to all spies and those who cooperate with the U.S.; killing them is religious duty." The headline closely echoed recent threats made by clandestine armed groups against U.S. forces and their Iraqi collaborators.

"The Coalitional Provisional Authority supports and encourages the development of a free and responsible Iraqi press," the occupation agency said in a statement today. But it said Al-Mustaqila "has chosen to threaten the basic human rights of Iraqi citizens" and published a "clearly inciteful article," putting it in violation of occupation press rules.

The U.S. authority has banned all Iraqi media from publishing or airing material it views as inciting political, religious or ethnic violence or promoting attacks on U.S. forces here. It has already shut down one Baghdad radio station and one Shiite Muslim newspaper in Najaf on these grounds.

About Cheney's Energy Task Force:
Here is the smoking gun pointing directly to Vice President Richard Cheney's secret energy company meetings held at the White House in early 2001. Some of the documents of the meetings reveal charts of "Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts" and a "map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals" ... Congress and the press should immediately and thoroughly investigate the any linkage between the secret White House deals, the fake California energy crisis, the Enron collapse, and the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. The question to ask is: Did the White House sell US foreign policy to the highest energy company bidder?
In case you missed the fireworks on the 4th of July, here's a site where you can make your own.
While it's been a lousy week for American troops in Iraq it's been a good week for those of us who like to see Chimpco's approval numbers start to fall:
Public support for President Bush has dropped sharply amid growing concerns about mounting U.S. military casualties and doubts whether the war with Iraq was worth fighting, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Bush's overall job approval rating dropped to 59 percent, down nine points in the past 18 days. That decline exactly mirrored the slide in public support for Bush's handling of the situation in Iraq, which now stands at 58 percent.

And for the first time, slightly more than half the country--52 percent--believes there has been an "unacceptable" level of U.S. casualties in Iraq, up eight points in less than three weeks.

Here's a weird one, from a war in another time and another place:
AN AIRPORT used by hundreds of thousands of tourists and business travellers each year could be sitting on top of thousands of live bombs.

Papers among thousands of files captured from the Stasi, the secret police of East Germany, claim tons of live Second World War munitions were buried in concrete bunkers beneath the runways of Schoenefeld airport in East Berlin. It is now the main destination for discount airlines, such as Ryanair, and numerous charter companies.

Not only did the commissars intern munitions beneath the runways, but also entire Nazi fighter planes, all fuelled and fully bombed-up, according to the Stasi.

The captured files of Interflug, the former East German government airline and the airport authority of the DDR, are now being examined to see if the Stasi claim is true.

Experts believe it entirely feasible that, in the aftermath of the Second World War, with Berlin littered with millions of tons of unexploded ordnance, the Soviets could well have pressured local officials to move to clear the airfield as swiftly as possible.

"They would have stuffed them anywhere they could - there was simply too much stuff to blow up all at once," said Karl-Heinz Eckhardt, a Berlin historian. "There was a warren of massive Nazi bunkers beneath the site of the present airport that would have suited their purposes."
The anger is building:

SAN FRANCISCO -- The letters are pouring in like a water main break -- fast and, yes, furious. From Alabama: "We want to know the truth!" From Arizona: "If there's nothing to hide, what's the harm in a bipartisan inquiry?" From Mississippi: "We must get to the truth -- whatever it is!"

About 400,000 people from every state have contacted members of Congress in the past three weeks as part of a petition that asks Congress to investigate the controversial claims that led to the war on Iraq, with more than 50,000 people signing on to the liberal activist Web site in the past five days alone.

"It seems more and more people who supported the war are signing on," said Eli Pariser,'s campaigns director. "They're angry. People who in the past couple of weeks before the war decided to support it are swinging back."
As our friends in the New Europe remind us: the truth matters.

Eastern Europeans felt "unconditional love" for America after the Berlin Wall came down, Patocka explains. That love affair may have cooled, but people here expect American presidents to meet high standards. They don't want to fall back into the old communist-era cynicism that all politicians are liars.

Patocka, who edits Literarni Noviny, a weekly magazine in Prague, is more critical of the Bush administration than most. But similar concerns were voiced by many of the several dozen Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Bulgarians and Poles I talked with over the weekend.

"Here is my question," said Patocka, trying to fit the news from Washington into what he knows of modern American history. "Clinton was impeached for saying he never had sex with a woman. Now you have a president who seems to have lied to the country about the reasons for going to war. So I want to know, what will be the consequences?"

Monday, July 21, 2003

Chimpco knew months before the SOTU speach that the Niger uranium claim was false:

But recent revelations by officials at the CIA, the State Department, the United Nations, in Congress and elsewhere make clear that the weakness of the claim in the State of the Union speech was known and accepted by a wide circle of intelligence and diplomatic personnel scrutinizing information on Iraqi weapons programs months before the speech.

"Everyone knew" the letters purporting to prove Iraq's effort to acquire uranium in Niger "were not good," said one senior administration decision-maker who otherwise supported the president's decision to go to war in Iraq. "The White House response has been baffling. This is relatively inconsequential. Why don't they tell the truth?"

Why indeed.....
Is Saddam a bigger threat today than before the war?

But declassified portions of a still-secret National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) released Friday by the White House show that at the time of the president's speech the U.S. intelligence community judged that possibility to be unlikely. In fact, the NIE, which began circulating Oct. 2, shows the intelligence services were much more worried that Hussein might give weapons to al Qaeda terrorists if he were facing death or capture and his government was collapsing after a military attack by the United States.

"Saddam, if sufficiently desperate, might decide that only an organization such as al Qaeda, . . . already engaged in a life-or-death struggle against the United States, could perpetrate the type of terrorist attack that he would hope to conduct," one key judgment of the estimate said.


Sunday, July 20, 2003

Great article on why the US march to Baghdad was so effortless, for the most part:
In the final days of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, this country's armed forces collapsed from within, with soldiers deserting in droves and commanders of even the most elite units refusing to push their last fighters toward inevitable slaughter by a technologically superior U.S. force, former Iraqi military leaders said.

The rapid disintegration was largely preordained, Iraqis said. The Iraqi military was composed of disparate and competing armies with no central command authority, top generals inexplicably ordered some units not to fight, and security precautions left officers unable to communicate or to coordinate battle plans, according to interviews with more than two dozen former general officers and other field commanders serving in the regular army and special military units.
The continuing war against American civil rights:
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A lawyer for a local activist charged with refusing to leave a restricted area during a visit by President Bush last fall says the Bush administration is trying to make criticizing the president a crime.

In a motion filed Friday, Brett Bursey's attorney included testimony from a Michigan case to boost his argument that the U.S. Secret Service unfairly pushes protesters hundreds of yards away from the president while allowing supporters to line Bush's route.

Defense lawyer Lewis Pitts wants documents from state and federal authorities he said will prove his claim that Bursey ``has been wrongly charged simply for criticizing the president.''

Bursey, 54, faces a seldom-used federal charge of entering a restricted area around the president of the United States. He faces up to six months in prison and a $5,000 fine if convicted.

How Bushco is blowing a big chance with Syria in the war on terror. A must read:
In Washington, there was anger about what many officials saw as the decision of the Bush Administration to choose confrontation with Syria over day-to-day help against Al Qaeda. In a sense, the issue was not so much Syria itself as a competition between ideology and practicality—and between the drive to go to war in Iraq and the need to fight terrorism—which has created a deep rift in the Bush Administration. The collapse of the liaison relationship has left many C.I.A. operatives especially frustrated. “The guys are unbelievably pissed that we’re blowing this away,” a former high-level intelligence official told me. “There was a great channel at Aleppo. The Syrians were a lot more willing to help us, but they”—Rumsfeld and his colleagues—“want to go in there next.”

“There is no security relationship now,” a Syrian foreign-ministry official told me. “It saddens us as much as it saddens you. We could give you information on organizations that we don’t think should exist. If we help you on Al Qaeda, we are helping ourselves.” He added, almost plaintively, that if Washington had agreed to discuss certain key issues in a back channel, “we’d have given you more. But when you publicly try to humiliate a country it’ll become stubborn.”

Robert Baer, a retired C.I.A. officer who served in Syria and is the author of a new book, “Sleeping with the Devil,” on Washington’s relationship with the Saudis, agreed that the Syrians had more to offer. “The Syrians know that the Saudis were involved in the financing of the Muslim Brotherhood, and they for sure know the names,” Baer told me.

“Up through January of 2003, the coöperation was topnotch,” a former State Department official said. “Then we were going to do Iraq, and some people in the Administration got heavy- handed. They wanted Syria to get involved in operational stuff having nothing to do with Al Qaeda and everything to do with Iraq. It was something Washington wanted from the Syrians, and they didn’t want to do it.”

The next logical step in the unfolding story:

In all the debate over the disputed claims in President Bush's State of the Union address, we must not forget to scrutinize an equally important, and equally suspect, reason given by the administration for toppling Saddam Hussein: Iraq's supposed links to terrorists.

The invasion of Iraq, after all, was billed as Phase II in the war on terror that began after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But was there ever a credible basis for carrying that battle to Iraq?

Don't misunderstand — we should all be glad to see the Iraqi people freed from Saddam Hussein's tyranny, and the defeat of Iraq did spell the demise of the world's No. 4 state sponsor of international terrorism (Iran, Syria and Sudan all have more blood on their hands in the last decade). But the connection the administration asserted between Iraq and Al Qaeda, the organization that made catastrophic terrorism a reality, seems more uncertain than ever.

Maureen Dowd has a few choice words about Bushco's modus operandi:
The complaints infuriated some in the Bush administration, and the new Tommy Franks, Gen. John Abizaid, suggested that field commanders might mete out "a verbal reprimand or something more stringent."

Somebody at the White House decided not to wait. Matt Drudge, the conservative cybercolumnist, told Lloyd Grove, the Washington Post gossip columnist, that "someone from the White House communications shop" told him about the ABC story and also about a profile of the Canadian-born Mr. Kofman in The Advocate, a gay publication. Mr. Drudge quickly linked the two stories on his popular Web site, first headlining the Advocate piece, "ABC NEWS REPORTER WHO FILED TROOP COMPLAINTS STORY — OPENLY GAY CANADIAN." Eight minutes later, he amended the headline to read, "ABC NEWS REPORTER WHO FILED TROOP COMPLAINTS STORY IS CANADIAN," leaving readers to discover in the body of the story what the Bush provocateur apparently felt was Mr. Kofman's other vice.

Now that the right wing's bête noire, Peter Jennings, has gotten his American citizenship, conservatives may have needed another ABC Canadian to kick around. And the Christian right is still smarting over the Supreme Court's telling police they could no longer storm gay bedrooms in search of sodomy.

Scott McClellan, the new Bush press secretary, said that if Mr. Drudge's contention about his source was true, it would be "totally inappropriate." He added, "If anyone on my staff did it, they would no longer be working for me." He said he had no way to trace an anonymous source.

But Bush loyalists regularly plant information they want known in the Drudge Report. Whoever dredged up the Advocate story was appealing to the baser nature of President Bush's base, seeking to discredit the ABC report by smearing the reporter for what he or she considers sins of private life (not straight) and passport (not American). Let's hope the fans of Ann (Have you no sense of decency?) Coulter aren't taking her revisionist view of McCarthyism too seriously and making character assassination fashionable again on the Potomac.


After 9/11, this administration had everything going for it. Republicans ruled Congress. The president had enormously high approval ratings. Yet it overreached while trying to justify the reasons for going to war.

Even when conservatives have all the marbles, they still act as if they're under siege. Now that they are under siege, it is no time for them to act as if they're losing their marbles.

Chimpco's lies just the tip of the iceberg, if the media would just open it's eyes:
Other pre-war deceptions: Even when administration deceptions have been exposed by prominent mainstream outlets, the media in general tend not to recall them or draw connections. In October 2002, in a notable front-page article titled "For Bush, Facts Are Malleable" (10/22/02), Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank noted two dubious Bush claims about Iraq: his citing of a United Nations International Atomic Energy report alleging that Iraq was "six months away" from developing a nuclear weapon; and that Iraq maintained a growing fleet of unmanned aircraft that could be used, in Bush's words, "for missions targeting the United States." While these assertions "were powerful arguments for the actions Bush sought," Milbank concluded they "were dubious, if not wrong. Further information revealed that the aircraft lack the range to reach the United States" and "there was no such report by the IAEA." But recent media discussions of Bush's credibility-- including in the Washington Post-- have rarely mentioned these examples.
If it's Sunday it must be the New York Times doing what it does best: exposing the lies of Chimpy. In this report James Risen, David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker fill us in on how old the evidence was the Bush Admin used in it's rush to war:
Now, with the failure so far to find prohibited weapons in Iraq, American intelligence officials and senior members of the administration have acknowledged that there was little new evidence flowing into American intelligence agencies in the five years since United Nations inspectors left Iraq, creating an intelligence vacuum.

"Once the inspectors were gone, it was like losing your G.P.S. guidance," added a Pentagon official, invoking as a metaphor the initials of the military's navigational satellites. "We were reduced to dead reckoning. We had to go back to our last fixed position, what we knew in '98, and plot a course from there. With dead reckoning, you're heading generally in the right direction, but you can swing way off to one side or the other."

Condoleezza Rice, Mr. Bush's national security adviser, said today that the question of new evidence versus old was beside the point. "The question of what is new after 1998 is not an interesting question," she said. "There is a body of evidence since 1991. You have to look at that body of evidence and say what does this require the United States to do? Then you are compelled to act.

This piece from the Los Angeles Times shows how utterly unprepared the US was for winning the peace in Iraq:
The date was Feb. 21. More than 100,000 U.S. and British troops were already poised at Iraq's doorstep. Their battle plan was rehearsed and ready. In fewer than 30 days, the first American tanks would cross the sand berm into Iraq from Kuwait, launching the tip of the spear of what would be a swift and brilliant battlefield victory.

Yet this two-day gathering at the Pentagon's National Defense University was the first time all of these planners had gathered under one roof to address an equally vital matter: how to win the peace in Iraq once the war was over.

"The messiah could not have organized a sufficient relief and reconstruction or humanitarian effort in that short a time," recalled Judith Yaphe, a former CIA analyst who attended the session.

"The military's war planning was light-years ahead of its planning for everything else," added a senior defense official who was present.

Jay Garner, the retired Army lieutenant general who led the meeting and would soon attempt to lead the peace, called it a rock drill: "It's a military term — you know, you turn over all the rocks."


Saturday, July 19, 2003

Of little lies and BIG lies:
The Justice Department last week refused to produce Ramzi bin al-Shibh, the “high level” Al-Qaida operative the Feds say they have in custody, for questioning by 911 suspect Zacarias Moussaoui in an extraordinary defiance of a judge's order that could see Zacarias walk.

You have to hand it to U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema, the Alexandria, Va.-based trial judge in the case. She has been dogged in her efforts to see that justice is done for the only U.S. defendant to arise from Sept. 11 attacks. Moussaoui has repeatedly claimed that Ramzi bin al-Shibh can clear him, a claim back up in a video tape by Ramzi himself, prior to his alleged arrest.

The exchange, which the government is desperately trying to stop, met with the usual mumbo jumbo “it would involve an admitted and unrepentant terrorist (the defendant) questioning one of his Al-Qaida confederates, would necessarily result in the unauthorized disclose of classified information.” Brinkema has ruled that Moussaoui, who is representing himself, should be allowed to question Ramzi bin al-Shibh via a satellite hookup from the “unknown location where he is being interrogated”.

So what’s the problem here? There is no threat to national interest and video conferencing has been used many times in high profile trials. The problem is that Ramzi bin al-Shibh is not in custody.
"If some can sacrifice their lives, then surely the rest of us can give our attention."
"Us versus Them" casts a heavy pall across all the vastness of Bush country. There are the "haves" versus the "have-nots" with an absurdly large number of the have-nots believing they are the haves. (A recent poll showed that a noticeable percentage of people making $39,000 a year thought they were in the upper one percent of the country.) These delusional haves, who think the new tax breaks are designed for THEM, are more disdainful of the poor than the rich are.

Bush country is rigid and brittle. It's an unending disconnect from a true picture, like a crude imitation of a Georges Seurat painting where the dots are so emphasized that they strangle the landscape. What should be an endless scattering of fine points that emerges into a solid, unequivocal mass remains simply a tired pile of dots.

In this MUST READ piece John Dean weighs in with his opinion that a special Prosecutor is needed in the scandal over the Lies Told:
What I found, in critically examining Bush's evidence, is not pretty. The African uranium matter is merely indicative of larger problems, and troubling questions of potential and widespread criminality when taking the nation to war. It appears that not only the Niger uranium hoax, but most everything else that Bush said about Saddam Hussein's weapons was false, fabricated, exaggerated, or phony.

Bush repeatedly, in his State of the Union, presented beliefs, estimates, and educated guesses as established fact. Genuine facts are truths that can be known or are observable, and the distance between fact and belief is uncertainty, which can be infinite. Authentic facts are not based on hopes or wishes or even probabilities. Now it is little wonder that none of these purported WMDs has been discovered in Iraq.

So egregious and serious are Bush's misrepresentations that they appear to be a deliberate effort to mislead Congress and the public. So arrogant and secretive is the Bush White House that only a special prosecutor can effectively answer and address these troubling matters. Since the Independent Counsel statute has expired, the burden is on President Bush to appoint a special prosecutor - and if he fails to do so, he should be held accountable by Congress and the public.

What's the Chimp have to hide? Todays Washington Post spells it out:
Saadi (the seven of diamonds in the coalition's deck of cards) surrendered voluntarily to U.S. authorities in Baghdad on April 12. He was the first senior Iraqi official to do so. Because he had never been a member of the Baath Party, U.S. officials were hopeful that he would provide honest information.


So where has Saadi been for the past three months? His family believes he has been imprisoned at the Baghdad airport along with other Iraqi captives. His wife said that she has been communicating through the Red Cross and that in his last communication, on June 15, he told her he was "being treated correctly," was "allowed to shower once a week" and was passing the time reading and writing.

Saadi's friends say there has been quiet discussion about his case with the Coalition Provisional Authority headed by L. Paul Bremer. Believing that Saadi is "clean," some officials of the authority have recommended three times to higher officials at the Pentagon that he be released, according to Saadi's friends. Each of these requests has been rejected, they say.

But why muzzle Saadi? At a time when there are political firestorms in America and Britain over Iraq's WMD program, why not let one of Iraq's leading scientists answer questions? For example: When (if ever) were banned weapons destroyed? If they were destroyed, why didn't Iraq make a full disclosure, as demanded by the United Nations? Was Hussein afraid that if he admitted he had destroyed his WMD stockpile, he would lose a deterrent against attack by Kurdish and Shiite enemies of his regime? These are precisely the questions Saadi could help clarify.

Saadi's silence, I suspect, is evidence that the Pentagon and the White House have concluded that any public release of his testimony would undercut their position. After all, this White House is so desperate to protect President Bush on WMD issues that it is prepared to sacrifice CIA Director George Tenet. If Saadi's testimony could help the president, surely we would have heard it by now.

I have the same question about another man who voluntarily surrendered to the coalition, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz. He turned himself in April 24 after several days of negotiation involving an Iraqi American intermediary in the United States.

Aziz in his later years was not an intimate of Hussein -- that's why he was only the eight of spades in the coalition's deck. But he knows things that would be relevant to the British and American publics. Like Saadi, he has little incentive at this point to lie. His family even wants him to publish his memoirs.

I spoke with his son, Ziad Aziz, yesterday from Amman. He said his only official contact from his father was a June 14 letter via the Red Cross saying he was in good health. The younger Aziz recalled that when he said goodbye in Baghdad, his father seemed ready to cooperate fully. He, too, might be able to tell the world important information, were he free to do so.

What's bothersome about these cases is that they reinforce the impression that the Bush administration has something to hide. Why not disclose the testimony of people the coalition worked so hard to catch? The only convincing explanation, argues a former CIA official, is that their accounts would "directly refute the Bush administration's insistence that WMD still exist somewhere -- an assertion that we all know is growing more questionable every day."

Retribution is swift from this White House and if you are in the military and speak out the chances are good you will lose your career:
On Wednesday morning, when the ABC news show reported from Fallujah, where the division is based, the troops gave the reporters an earful. One soldier said he felt like he'd been "kicked in the guts, slapped in the face." Another demanded that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld quit.

The retaliation from Washington was swift.

"It was the end of the world," said one officer Thursday. "It went all the way up to President Bush and back down again on top of us. At least six of us here will lose our careers."

First lesson for the troops, it seemed: Don't ever talk to the media "on the record" -- that is, with your name attached -- unless you're giving the sort of chin-forward, everything's-great message the Pentagon loves to hear.

Only two days before the ABC show, similarly bitter sentiments -- with no names attached -- were voiced in an anonymous e-mail circulating around the Internet, allegedly from "the soldiers of the Second Brigade, Third ID."

"Our morale is not high or even low," the letter said. "Our morale is nonexistent. We have been told twice that we were going home, and twice we have received a 'stop' movement to stay in Iraq."

The message, whose authenticity could not be confirmed, concluded: "Our men and women deserve to be treated like the heroes they are, not like farm animals. Our men and women deserve to see their loved ones again and deserve to come home."


Thursday, July 17, 2003

Has Smirky and his Henchmen/woman outted a CIA operative out of spite and as a warning to others?
Soon after Wilson disclosed his trip in the media and made the White House look bad. the payback came. Novak's July 14, 2003, column presented the back-story on Wilson's mission and contained the following sentences: "Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate" the allegation.

Wilson caused problems for the White House, and his wife was outed as an undercover CIA officer. Wilson says, "I will not answer questions about my wife. This is not about me and less so about my wife. It has always been about the facts underpinning the President's statement in the state of the union speech."

So he will neither confirm nor deny that his wife--who is the mother of three-year-old twins--works for the CIA. But let's assume she does. That would seem to mean that the Bush administration has screwed one of its own top-secret operatives in order to punish Wilson or to send a message to others who might challenge it.

UPDATE: It pays to remember that when you play in the Bush League every pitch is a curveball. I think the Valerie Plume story is one of those stories with a lot of reverse-topspin. Has anybody thought that perhaps there is more to this than simply revenge against Amb. Wilson? Maybe there are some untold truths at work here that people are missing.

OK here’s the prevailing CW. The White House wants revenge on Wilson for his disclosures. They leak that his wife is a CIA operative. He’s outraged! Everybody in Left Blogistan is outraged and not surprised that the Bush Admin would stoop so low. Bushco gets their revenge. Her career is ruined. End of story.

Problem with this logic: I think that the CIA would be totally livid about having one of it’s own outed, especially one that might be a very important asset. It seems to me that SOP would be to leak their displeasure to the press about it. It would make all the papers and mainstream TV news and the media would be all over this story and there would be calls for investigations and whatnot.

But there has been nothing from the Agency or the newspapers about this. Nada zilch. Not a peep.

That’s very strange.

Plus, it’s hard to believe that the Bush Admin would take the chance of bringing the wrath of the CIA down on them over this, especially considering how much the CIA might know about the deceptions. Why would they want to open up that can of worms? Karl Rove is too smart for that anyway. He knows there are bones buried over in Langley that are better left buried.

Could the CIA be secretly happy about this? It’s hard to imagine that’s the case, but here’s my thought.

It’s probably safe to assume that Mr. Wilson was pretty upset about how the information he provided to the CIA about the yellowcake was used, as witnessed by his disclosures in the NYT and on Meet the Press. I imagine that he decided to come forward because he was disgusted and angry, and being a patriotic American he wanted the truth to be told.

It’s also possible that his wife shares the same hard feelings as her husband does, namely she’s disgusted and angry at the way the Agency has been treated by Chimpco over the use of it’s intellegence. I can’t imagine that the two of them would not have discussed all this before he made his disclosures. That was a big step forward out of the shadows for him.

Maybe she felt the need to do something too.

Just gathering what the article in The Nation said I’m left with the idea that she was some sort of mid-level or higher operative of in the WMD bureau. I think it’s safe to assume she knows all sorts of classified stuff that she can’t talk about, at least not on the record.

Let’s look at it this way. If I were a guessing man (and I am, btw) I would be guessing that Valerie Plume has been leaking classified information to a press source from her position in the CIA and the WH, in it’s quest to plug the leaks, found out about it and then cooked up a plan to deal with it.

So, they tell loyal soldier Bob Novak about it, he publishes it and she’s outed. Then she gets called into Tenents office and is told that she’s been compromised by those bastards and she can no longer be a valuable hidden asset because of it, so they demote her to the “bowels of the Agency”.

That would effectively end her career because how can she come out and say she’s been wronged and make a big stink about it without having to admit that she’s been passing classified information?

It works on so many levels:

#1 - The WH gets an annoying leak stopped and they get to destroy the leaker. You know they’re happy.

#2 - The WH gets to screw Amb. Wilson, big time. He’s very unhappy.

#3 - It’s the end of a leak, something that the CIA really isn’t wild about anyway. So they’re happy.

#4 - Valerie Plume becomes a symbol to the rest of the Agency of what can happen if you leak. She’s really unhappy and everybody else is thinking twice before they leak.

#5 - Novak gets the pleasure of fucking over a “traitor” and doing a good deed for the Party, so he’s really happy.

#6 - The CIA doesn’t have to go through the embarrassment of admitting they have a leaking problem. Considering the bad press the Agency has gotten lately they’ve got to be overjoyed about that.

That’s what I think is happening. I could be wrong.

The ignorance of the Bush Admin is astounding:
Gingrich notes that on April 28, Bush told a group of Iraqi Americans in Dearborn, Mich., "I have confidence in the future of a free Iraq. The Iraqi people are fully capable of self-government." Then the Newtster continues:

"Contrast that vision with a recent classified report by the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research titled 'Iraq, the Middle East and Change: No Dominoes,' which was leaked in March 2003 to the Los Angeles Times. As reported by that newspaper, the document stated that 'liberal democracy would be difficult to achieve [in Iraq]. . . . Electoral democracy, were it to emerge, could well be subject to exploitation by anti-American elements.' " Gingrich goes on to list other Foggy Bottom low points, and concludes: "Can anyone imagine a State Department more out of sync with Bush's views and objectives?"

It's official: It's a guerrilla war:
The US chief of military operations in Iraq has admitted that attacks against American troops in the country bear the hallmarks of a "classic guerrilla-type campaign".
His comments - on a day that saw one soldier killed and a missile fired at a US cargo plane - represent a remarkable acknowledgement, the BBC's Nick Childs at the Pentagon says.

Pentagon officials have been reluctant until now to admit to a guerrilla campaign, describing the attacks as uncoordinated violence by remnants of the Baathist regime.

"I think describing it as guerrilla tactics is a proper way to describe it in strictly military terms," US Central Command head General John Abizaid said at the first briefing in his new job.

"It's low intensity but it's war however you describe it."

General Abizaid's comments came as US soldiers posted in Iraq spoke out in the media expressing frustration and fear about the growing number of attacks on US targets.

Public anxiety about events on the ground in Iraq is growing in the US and beginning to present real political problems for the Bush administration, our correspondent says.


Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Got bad news? Just delete it:
Earlier this year, a study predicting mediocre job growth from Bush's proposed $674 billion economic stimulus plan disappeared from the Council of Economic Advisers' Web site. The study forecast an average increase of only 170,000 jobs—0.1 percent of the workforce—every year through 2007. The study was pulled just after a major Jan. 7 Bush budget speech to the Economic Club of Chicago. "In the out years, by their own estimate, their plan is a job and growth killer," says Jared Bernstein, economist at the Economic Policy Institute. "Instead of doing what serious analysts would do and going to the drawing board to re-evaluate, they just took the offending document off the Web site."
Is it a lie before it's told?
WASHINGTON - In a new dispute over interpreting intelligence data, the CIA and other agencies objected vigorously to a Bush administration assessment of the threat of Syria's weapons of mass destruction that was to be presented Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

After the objections, the planned testimony by Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton, a leading administration hawk, was delayed until September.

U.S. officials told Knight Ridder that Bolton was prepared to tell members of a House of Representatives International Relations subcommittee that Syria's development of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons had progressed to such a point that they posed a threat to stability in the region.

The CIA and other intelligence agencies said that assessment was exaggerated.

Syria has come under increasing U.S. pressure during and after the Iraq war for allegedly giving refuge to members of Saddam Hussein's regime, allowing foreign fighters to cross into Iraq to attack U.S. troops and for backing Palestinian militant groups that were conducting terrorist strikes on Israel. After Saddam's government fell, some Bush aides hinted that the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus might be the next U.S. target.

The objections by the intelligence community come as the Bush administration is defending itself over complaints that it embellished intelligence secrets to justify the war against Iraq.

Bolton's planned remarks caused a "revolt" among intelligence experts who thought they inflated the progress Syria has made in its weapons programs, said a U.S. official who isn't from the CIA, but was involved in the dispute.

He and other officials who provided similar accounts spoke only on the condition of anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity and because they aren't authorized government spokesmen.

The CIA's objections and comments alone ran to 35 to 40 pages, the official said.

Thanks to Talking Points Memo for the link.
Ray McGovern lays out the reasons why Chimpco's deceptions matter:
The focus on the State of the Union address is almost a red herring. I'll tell you what I mean by that. It's bad enough that the president did say that it was quite wrong, but he said it. But that pales in significance to the reality that that forgery, the information from that forgery, was used deliberately knowing it was a forgery in September and October to frighten our duly elected representatives and senators into approving a resolution empowering a president to make war on another country. That is incredibly complex incredibly grave constitutional crisis, when the administration deliberately uses false evidence, evidence it knows to be false to trick essentially our elected representatives into seating their power, on declaring war and saying yes, Mr. President, we're frightened enough. We hear all about this mushroom cloud and the people have, too. We will give you the right to wage war even though there's no provocation. That is I can outline, I don't want to take up too much time, I can outline how that all happened. Basically in a nutshell they didn't have anything else. The Al Qaeda thing, they didn't have because the Central Intelligence Agency analysts to their great credit refused to contrive connections between Iraq and Al Qaeda. They didn't have much on bio or chemical warfare, because the D.I.A., the Defense Intelligence analysts to their credit, said there's no reliable sources on these things. The aluminum tubes--that argument bent as easily as aluminum bends, so they couldn't use that either. So as they looked around for something to persuade Congress to authorize a war, they dusted off these documents known to be forgeries and said, before anybody finds out about the forgery, we can, number one, get the resolution to approve the war. Number two, we can have our war. Number three, we can relish the victory. And who's going to care if part of the rationale was based on a forgery, when we have a victory. And that's the fatal miscalculation. Because the press and American people do care when they're lied to. That's what we're seeing playing out right now.
Andrew Wilkie was the Senior Intelligence Analyst for Australia's intelligence agency, the Office of National Assessments when he resigned in March to protest the way intellegence was being distorted in the selling of the Iraq War. He was interviewed for a morning TV program DownUnder, and here's what he has to say:
AMY GOODMAN: It's good to have you with us. Can you start off by telling us what you'll be announcing later today at your news conference with congress member and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.

ANDREW WILKIE: Sure. I welcome the opportunity to speak with the Congressman. I would hope to have the opportunity to explore, amongst other things, the core issues which really are being neglected a little at the moment because of the focus on the Niger information. The fact that in some ways--as important as this information is--in some ways it's distracting us from what I call these core issues. The first one is that we were sold this war on the basis of Iraq possessing a massive arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Not programs, but weapons. Of course they haven't been found and whatever is likely to be found now is certainly not going to meet the definition of massive or mammoth. The other core issue I think which has been a little neglected over recent weeks, is the fact that the second pillar of the war was the claim that Iraq was cooperating actively with Al Qaeda. Which I don't think has ever been proven, and is certainly at odds with my experience when I was working for the Office of National Assessments, where I never saw even a single piece of what I would call hard intelligence to establish that there was any active cooperation between the two. I'd like to also impress upon those at this meeting with the Congressman that the issue now has it's moved on a little from Iraq, and it's now a broader issue about honesty in government and the fact that the Iraq mess has been characterized by what I would describe as a systemic exaggeration and twisting of the truth. And from time to time, even downright dishonesty. I think we're seeing some of that in these recent events over the claims and counter claims about the uranium out of Africa. And even if the last couple of days, the claims that the British have some most secret intelligence from a third country which they can't share which, given my experience I think is just a ridiculous proposition because my experience was that sensitive third country information which wasn't supposed to be shared was in fact shared routinely, given the extraordinarily close intelligence relationship between the U.K. and the U.S.

What were the real reasons Tony Blair joined us in our march to war with Iraq?
Over the months, many commentators have alleged that the war with Iraq occurred for one pre-eminent reason - because the United States wanted it. Clare Short recently said as much, too. But this claim has been laughed off by insiders. Now, though, Stothard has provided a compelling piece of evidence that the critics' charge was spot on.

The crucial passage occurs on page 87 of Stothard's diary-style narrative of the war. It comes as the author reflects on the political thought processes that had gone into the crafting of Tony Blair's widely admired speech at the start of the vital eve-of-war Commons debate on March 18. Stothard's reflections are contained in a relatively long passage, but it deserves to be quoted in full:

"Has Tony Blair become some sort of reckless crusader over Iraq? He thinks not. In September 2002 his analysis of relations between Washington, London and Baghdad was clear and cold. It rested on six essential points to which he and his aides would regularly return:

· Saddam Hussein's past aggression, present support for terrorism and future ambitions made him a clear threat to his enemies. He was not the only threat, but he was a threat nevertheless.

· The US and Britain were among his enemies.

· The people of the US, still angered by the September 11 attacks, still sensing unfinished business from the first Gulf war 12 years before, would support a war on Iraq.

· Gulf war 2 - President George W Bush v Saddam Hussein - would happen whatever anyone else said or did.

· The people of Britain, continental Europe and most of the rest of the world would not even begin to support a war unless they had a say in it through the UN.

· It would be more damaging to longterm world peace and security if the Americans alone defeated Saddam Hussein than if they had international support to do so.

"These six points - when scribbled on the back of an envelope or set out on a printed page - are not exceptional. What is exceptional is the certainty required to follow their logic. It is Tony Blair's certainty that has been the surprise for many Labour MPs."

Stothard sells himself short here. The six points are exceptionally important. First, because of the date. Second, because of the clear implication that Blair is the source of them (if he is not, then Stothard is sexing up his own dossier). And third, because it shows how passive British policy really was. Britain did not go to war to overthrow an evil regime, or even to control WMD. It went to war to keep on the right side of Washington.

When the 9-11 Report is released in the next couple weeks I'm hoping that this gets the attention it deserves:
As calls mount for a full-scale investigation into the Bush administration's manipulation of intelligence on Iraq's nonexistent nuclear and chemical weapons program, let's hope that the other casus belli on which the administration based its war -- the alleged link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein -- also gets the scrutiny it deserves.

While the link was hyped less by administration officials than by right-wing idealogues and the conservative press, an organized campaign was nonetheless launched to persuade the American public that such a connection was real -- and represented a mortal threat.

A hint of such orchestration came in a June interview between Meet the Press host Tim Russert and former Gen. Wesley Clark, as publicized by the press watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR):

Clark: "There was a concerted effort during the fall of 2001, starting immediately after 9/11 to pin 9/11 and the terrorism problem on Saddam Hussein."

Russert: "By who? Who did that?"

Clark: "Well, it came from the White House, it came from people around the White House. It came from all over. I got a call on 9/11. I was on CNN, and I got a call at my home saying, 'You got to say this is connected. This is state-sponsored terrorism. This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein.' I said, 'But -- I'm willing to say it -- but what's your evidence?' And I never got any evidence."

Clark has never said who called him, but we can identify others who were asserting the same connection both on television and in print at the same time.


CBS News' David Martin reported last September that ''[B]arely five hours after American Airlines Flight 77 plowed into the Pentagon, the secretary of defense was telling his aides to start thinking about striking Iraq, even though there was no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the attacks," FAIR pointed out recently. Martin attributed his account to contemporaneous notes by a Pentagon aide that quote Rumsfeld as asking for the "best info fast" to "judge whether good enough to hit SH at the same time, not only UBL [for Saddam Hussein and Usama bin Laden]." The notes then go on to quote Rumsfeld as urging that the administration's response "go massive... sweep it all up, things related and not."

This was the mindset that Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, brought with them to the administration's war council at Camp David four days later.

"Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz had been examining military options in Iraq for months but nothing had emerged" before 9/11, wrote The Washington Post's Bill Woodward and Dan Balz in their account of that meeting.

"Wolfowitz argued that the real source of all the trouble and terrorism was probably Hussein. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 created an opportunity to strike," according to the two reporters. "Now, Rumsfeld asked again: Is this the time to attack Iraq?"

"Powell objected," the Post account continues. "You're going to hear from your coalition partners, he told the president. They're all with you, every one, but they will go away if you hit Iraq. If you get something pinning 9/11 on Iraq, great -- let's put it out and kick them at the right time. But let's get Afghanistan now. If we do that, we will have increased our ability to go after Iraq -- if we can prove Iraq had a role." (emphasis added)

This was clearly taken as a challenge by Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. No sooner had they returned to Washington than they convened a two-day meeting of the Perle-chaired DPB on how the crisis could be used to attack Iraq. The meeting, which the State Department was not even notified of, included a "guest" appearance from Ahmed Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), on whose behalf Wolfowitz, Perle, Woolsey, and several other DPB members had been lobbying for years. According to the Wall Street Journal, several DPB members agreed that an attack on Iraq was indeed warranted, but that, following Powell's caution, it would be much easier to pull off if a link could be established between 9/11 and Hussein.

Is Chimpco pushing the US into a war with North Korea?
The streets of the capital are broad and the buildings monumental. Inside the grand state offices, a power struggle rages among the political elite, and the side that seems to have the upper hand is insulated, single-minded, and shamelessly belligerent. This clique supports a military-first policy that doesn't shrink from the first use of nuclear weapons, a stance that strikes fear into allies and adversaries alike. Nor are these fears soothed by the actions or rhetoric of the leader, a former playboy who owes his position to an irregular political process and the legacy of a more statesmanlike father.

Choose your capital: Pyongyang or Washington?

In the fun house of mirrors in which contemporary global politics is enacted, a strange resemblance has developed between George W. Bush and Kim Jong Il and between their respective war parties. That North Korea is one of the poorest and most desperate countries in the world and the U.S. is the undisputed economic and military leader makes this folie á deux all the more poignant and ridiculous. The weaker side has exited the Non-Proliferation Treaty and is rushing to develop a nuclear deterrent; the stronger side is after nothing less than regime change. This summer Washington is confronting Pyongyang with a policy of naval interdiction and a tightening chokehold of economic isolation. North Korea is perilously close to treating these encroachments on its sovereignty as tantamount to war. Neither side trusts the other; both refuse to blink.

Such a convergence of opposites is not unheard of in international relations. During the cold war, for instance, the U.S. and the Soviet Union both indulged in a terrifying symmetry of nuclear deterrence, third world interventions, and mistaken budget priorities. But even during the darkest days, Reagan and Gorbachev displayed a personal rapport. In contrast, George W. Bush has called Kim Jong Il a "pygmy" and a "spoiled child" and has confessed to journalist Bob Woodward that he wants to topple the regime in Pyongyang regardless of the consequences. North Korea has repeatedly warned of turning Washington (or Seoul or Tokyo) into a "sea of fire." The extraordinary gap in military and economic capabilities, like a difference in electric potential, has already produced sparks that may yet lead to a conflagration.


Although North Korea pursued its enriched uranium program in the latter days of the Clinton administration, analysts Joel Wit and James Laney suggest that the program accelerated only when the Bush administration cranked up its hostile rhetoric--suspending diplomatic contact, criticizing Kim Dae Jung's engagement policy, and ultimately including Pyongyang in its infamous "axis of evil." Whatever doubts remained in Pyongyang about U.S. intentions were dispelled by the war in Iraq, which led North Korean leaders to draw three conclusions. A nonaggression agreement with the U.S. was pointless. No inspections regime would ever be good enough for Washington. And only a nuclear weapon would deter a U.S. intervention.

This is not good news:
Fallujah, Iraq - He is a leader in Saddam's Fedayeen, the militia group that put up some of the strongest resistance to U.S. forces as they swept through Iraq, and he says he has organized recent attacks on American troops occupying Iraq.

The militia fighter is now living on the run and working toward the day when an Iraqi insurgency would drive American soldiers out of his country and return Saddam Hussein to power.

"We have many more people and we're a lot better organized than the Americans realize," said Khaled, 29, who gave an hour-long interview yesterday on the condition that only his first name be published. "We have been preparing for this kind of guerrilla war for a long time, and we're much more patient than the Americans. We have nowhere else to go."

Khaled described the workings of a loosely organized network of former Baath Party members, Iraqi soldiers, intelligence officers and other die-hard Hussein supporters who have been responsible for an unknown number of the attacks that have killed 29 U.S. soldiers and injured dozens since May 1.

Reading that story goes a long way towards explaining what happened this morning in Iraq:
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A U.S. soldier and an eight-year-old Iraqi child were killed in and around the capital Wednesday, while a Pro-American mayor of Hadithah in western Iraq was shot to death along with one of his nine sons, the U.S. military says.

The soldier was killed in a rocket-propelled grenade attack on a supply convoy west of Baghdad near the Abu Ghraib prison, a U.S. military spokesman said.

Pro-Saddam Hussein insurgents unleashed the string of violent attacks on the eve of a recently banned Baath Party holiday.

The grenade blasted into the soldier's truck, hurling him out, as the 20-vehicle convoy passed along a main highway Wednesday morning. Soldiers at first believed a bomb was remotely detonated as the convoy passed.


Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Things aren't going too well on the Iraq/Syria frontier either:
Soldiers on the Syrian side of the border said American soldiers shot dead two cousins, one Iraqi and one Syrian, as they crossed into Iraqi territory about three weeks ago. Since then, they said, two other Syrian civilians have been wounded in separate incidents this month. The Syrians said that American helicopters and planes routinely violate Syrian airspace while patrolling.

The events described at this Syrian border post are the latest in a series of incidents along the frontier. They include the American attack, on June 18, on a convoy suspected of ferrying loyalists of Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi leader.

That incident, along a smugglers' route about 30 miles from here, and the others have apparently fueled intense anti-American rage in the villages on the border. Among the signs of that anger is a series of video discs circulating through the villages exhorting viewers to attack the Americans in Iraq.

The more I read the more I am convinced that we are starting to see the end of the Bush admin before November, 2004:
How did we get into this mess? The case of the bogus uranium purchases wasn't an isolated instance. It was part of a broad pattern of politicized, corrupted intelligence.

Literally before the dust had settled, Bush administration officials began trying to use 9/11 to justify an attack on Iraq. Gen. Wesley Clark says that he received calls on Sept. 11 from "people around the White House" urging him to link that assault to Saddam Hussein. His account seems to back up a report last September, headlined "Plans for Iraq Attack Began on 9/11," which quoted notes taken by aides to Donald Rumsfeld on the day of the attack: "Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not."

But an honest intelligence assessment would have raised questions about why we were going after a country that hadn't attacked us. It would also have suggested the strong possibility that an invasion of Iraq would hurt, not help, U.S. security.


The story of how the threat from Iraq's alleged W.M.D.'s was hyped is now, finally, coming out. But let's not forget the persistent claim that Saddam was allied with Al Qaeda, which allowed the hawks to pretend that the Iraq war had something to do with fighting terrorism.

As Greg Thielmann, a former State Department intelligence official, said last week, U.S. intelligence analysts have consistently agreed that Saddam did not have a "meaningful connection" to Al Qaeda. Yet administration officials continually asserted such a connection, even as they suppressed evidence showing real links between Al Qaeda and Saudi Arabia.

And during the run-up to war, George Tenet, the C.I.A. director, was willing to provide cover for his bosses — just as he did last weekend. In an October 2002 letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee, he made what looked like an assertion that there really were meaningful connections between Saddam and Osama. Read closely, the letter is evasive, but it served the administration's purpose.


It gets worse. Knight Ridder newspapers report that a "small circle of senior civilians in the Defense Department" were sure that their favorite, Ahmad Chalabi, could easily be installed in power. They were able to prevent skeptics from getting a hearing — and they had no backup plan when efforts to anoint Mr. Chalabi, a millionaire businessman, degenerated into farce.

So who will be held accountable? Mr. Tenet betrayed his office by tailoring statements to reflect the interests of his political masters, rather than the assessments of his staff — but that's not why he may soon be fired. Yesterday USA Today reported that "some in the Bush administration are arguing privately for a C.I.A. director who will be unquestioningly loyal to the White House as committees demand documents and call witnesses."

We all know that Chimpy wants allll this Niger uranium thingy to just go away so he can "move on", but it's not going away. In fact, this scandal is just the tip of the iceberg:
After I wrote a month ago about the Niger uranium hoax in the State of the Union address, a senior White House official chided me gently and explained that there was more to the story that I didn't know.

Yup. And now it's coming out.

Based on conversations with people in the intelligence community, this picture is emerging: the White House, eager to spice up the State of the Union address, recklessly resurrected the discredited Niger tidbit. The Central Intelligence Agency objected, and then it and the National Security Council negotiated a new wording, attributing it all to the Brits. It felt less dishonest pinning the falsehood on the cousins.

What troubles me is not that single episode, but the broader pattern of dishonesty and delusion that helped get us into the Iraq mess — and that created the false expectations undermining our occupation today. Some in the administration are trying to make George Tenet the scapegoat for the affair. But Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group of retired spooks, issued an open letter to President Bush yesterday reflecting the view of many in the intel community that the central culprit is Vice President Dick Cheney. The open letter called for Mr. Cheney's resignation.
The glue that holds the Intelligence Community together is melting under the hot lights of an awakened press. If you do not act quickly, your intelligence capability will fall apart--with grave consequences for the nation.

By now you are all too familiar with the play-by-play. The Iraq-seeking-uranium-in-Niger forgery is a microcosm of a mischievous nexus of overarching problems. Instead of addressing these problems, your senior staff are alternately covering up for one another and gently stabbing one another in the back. CIA Director George Tenet's extracted, unapologetic apology on July 11 was classic--I confess; she did it.

It is now dawning on our until-now somnolent press that your national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, shepherds the foreign affairs sections of your state-of-the-union address and that she, not Tenet, is responsible for the forged information getting into the speech. But the disingenuousness persists. Surely Dr. Rice cannot persist in her insistence that she learned only on June 8, 2003 about former ambassador Joseph Wilson's mission to Niger in February 2002, when he determined that the Iraq-Niger report was a con-job. Wilson's findings were duly reported to all concerned in early March 2002. And, if she somehow missed that report, the New York Times' Nicholas Kristoff on May 6 recounted chapter and verse on Wilson's mission, and the story remained the talk of the town in the weeks that followed.

Rice's denials are reminiscent of her claim in spring 2002 that there was no reporting suggesting that terrorists were planning to hijack planes and slam them into buildings. In September, the joint congressional committee on 9/11 came up with a dozen such reports.

Secretary of State Colin Powell's credibility, too, has taken serious hits as continued non-discoveries of weapons in Iraq heap doubt on his confident assertions to the UN. Although he was undoubtedly trying to be helpful in trying to contain the Iraq-Niger forgery affair, his recent description of your state-of-the-union words as "not totally outrageous" was faint praise indeed. And his explanations as to why he made a point to avoid using the forgery in the way you did was equally unhelpful.

Whatever Rice's or Powell's credibility, it is yours that matters. And, in our view, the credibility of the intelligence community is an inseparably close second. Attempts to dismiss or cover up the cynical use to which the known forgery was put have been--well, incredible. The British have a word for it: "dodgy." You need to put a quick end to the dodginess, if the country is to have a functioning intelligence community.

So the problem is not those 16 words, by themselves, but the larger pattern of abuse of intelligence. The silver lining is that the spooks are so upset that they're speaking out.

The Defense Intelligence Agency has had town hall meetings in which everyone was told not to talk to journalists (thanks, guys, for naming me in particular). One insider complains: "In the most recent meeting, we also were told that, as much as possible, we should avoid `caveat-ing' our intelligence assessments. . . . Forget nuance, forget fine distinctions; they only confuse these guys. If that isn't a downright scary dumbing-down of our intelligence product, I don't know what is."

Intelligence isn't just being dumbed down, but is also being manipulated — and it's continuing. Experts say the recent firefight on the Syrian-Iraq border involved not Saddam Hussein or a family member, as we were led to believe, but just some Iraqi petroleum smugglers. Moreover, Patrick Lang, a former senior D.I.A. official, says that many in the government believe that incursion was an effort by ideologues to disrupt cooperation between the U.S. and Syria.

While the scandal has so far focused on Iraq, the manipulations appear to be global. For example, one person from the intelligence community recalls an administration hard-liner's urging the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research to state that Cuba has a biological weapons program. The spooks refused, and Colin Powell backed them.

Then there's North Korea. The C.I.A.'s assessments on North Korea's nuclear weaponry were suddenly juiced up beginning in December 2001. The alarmist assessments (based on no new evidence) continued until January of this year, when the White House wanted to play down the Korean crisis. Then assessments abruptly restored the less ominous language of the 1990's.

The latest issue of the Naval War College Review describes the ambiguities of the North Korean uranium program and argues that U.S. officials "opted to exploit the intelligence for political purposes."

Afer being sound asleep for the last 2 and a half years we're starting to see something of an awakening of US journalism.....
CHICAGO -- Just three months ago, America was Master of the Universe, the unassailable superpower feared by all. Today, it resembles a substitute teacher on the last day before Christmas break -- harried, confused and facing more troublemakers than it can hope to control.

The violence and chaos in Iraq have done more than short-circuit the administration's plan to bring peace and democracy to the Middle East. They've also called into question the president's vision of our international role. We thought we had the means and the will to force hostile regimes the world over to change or else be changed, at the point of an M-16. But the job now looks bigger than we bargained for.

Invading Iraq has been the obsession of U.S. policy ever since the war in Afghanistan. President Bush made it clear he would do whatever was necessary to eliminate the alleged threat posed by Saddam Hussein. But not only did the administration deceive the public about the danger, it deceived itself about what it would take to accomplish the mission.

Sneering at the Powell doctrine, which calls for overwhelming force, it decided to do as much as possible with as little as possible.


We need to decide if we want to commit ourselves to the huge responsibility of policing the world, and if so, start turning over a bigger share of our paychecks to cover the costs. Otherwise, we'll find ourselves badly overstretched, putting American lives at constant risk for no clear purpose, with no easy way out.

Come to think of it, we're already there.

James Pinkerton over at Newsday has a very good article comparing the travels and adventures of Don Quixote with the NeoCons and their failures in Iraq:
Disregarding prudence, precedent and honesty, they went off - or, more precisely, sent others off - tilting at windmills in Iraq, chasing after illusions of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and false hope about Iraqi enthusiasm for Americanism, and hoping that reality would somehow catch up with their theory. The problem, of course, is that wars are more about bloodletting than book learning.


After 9/11, the neocons went into overdrive. America had been attacked from al-Qaida in Afghanistan, but the intellectuals around President Bush had their own plan for war. According to Bob Woodward's book, "Bush at War," on Sept. 15, 2001, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz pressed the case to the commander in chief for an immediate attack on . . . Iraq. At that time, Wolfowitz asserted that there was just a "10 to 50 percent chance" that Iraq was involved in the terrorist attacks. But no matter, Iraq, not Afghanistan, was central to the neocon vision of "liberating" the Mideast. Bush wisely chose to move against the Afghan attackers, but apparently, at about the same time, the decision was made to move against Iraq, too.

Meanwhile, neocon word-creations, such as "moral clarity," "axis of evil" and "Bush Doctrine," spread far and wide. These word-weavings were repeated over and over again, in magazines, books and cable news shows. Bush became Winston Churchill, Saddam Hussein became Hitler, the Arabs were ripe for Americanization, and the U.S. military became the sword not only of vengeance, but also of do-gooding and nation-building.


But, in a world that's mostly gray, "moral clarity" becomes a synonym for tunnel vision. To see something complicated as simple requires that the seer leave out critical details. And thus amid all the intellectual intoxication, a lionized, neocon-ized Bush didn't worry about such variables as the world reaction to America's plan, not to mention the Iraqi reaction.

Is the US headed for a very nasty confrontation with North Korea? Former SecDef William Perry sure thinks so:
"I think we are losing control" of the situation, said Perry, who believes North Korea soon will have enough nuclear warheads to begin exploding them in tests and exporting them to terrorists and other U.S. adversaries. "The nuclear program now underway in North Korea poses an imminent danger of nuclear weapons being detonated in American cities," he said in an interview.


Only last winter Perry publicly argued that the North Korea problem was controllable. Now, he said, he has grown to doubt that. "It was manageable six months ago if we did the right things," he said. "But we haven't done the right things."

He added: "I have held off public criticism to this point because I had hoped that the administration was going to act on this problem, and that public criticism might be counterproductive. But time is running out, and each month the problem gets more dangerous."


The administration policy toward North Korea, however, has been characterized by fierce disputes among senior policymakers, which officials privately acknowledge have hampered the administration's response. "There is an ongoing search for consensus within the administration itself," said Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute. "The lack of a consensus to a significant extent has prevented U.S. policy from unfolding."

In a two-hour interview in his office at Stanford University, Perry said that after conversations with several senior administration officials from different areas of the government, he is persuaded that the Korea policy is in disarray. Showing some emotion, the usually reserved Perry said at one point, "I'm damned if I can figure out what the policy is."


From his discussions, Perry has concluded the president simply won't enter into genuine talks with Pyongyang's Stalinist government. "My theory is the reason we don't have a policy on this, and we aren't negotiating, is the president himself," Perry said. "I think he has come to the conclusion that Kim Jong Il is evil and loathsome and it is immoral to negotiate with him."

The immediate cause of concern, Perry said, is that North Korea appears to have begun reprocessing the spent fuel rods. "I have thought for some months that if the North Koreans moved toward processing, then we are on a path toward war," he said.


Monday, July 14, 2003

Dr. Dean will be the guest blogger at Prof. Larry Lessigs website this week. Ho-Ho gets it.......

William Rivers Pitt at LiberalSlant thinks that George Tenant shouldn't be the only one walking the plank in the wake of the Niger uranium debacle:
The CIA tried unsuccessfully in early September 2002 to persuade the British government to drop from an official intelligence paper a reference to Iraqi attempts to buy uranium in Africa that President Bush included in his State of the Union address four months later, senior Bush administration officials said yesterday. 'We consulted about the paper and recommended against using that material,' a senior administration official familiar with the intelligence program said."

We are supposed to believe that the Bush administration was completely unaware that their Niger evidence was fake.

We are supposed to believe George Tenet dropped the ball. Yet the CIA actively intervened with the British government in September of 2002, telling them the evidence was worthless. The CIA Director personally got the evidence stricken from a Bush speech in October of 2002. Intelligence insiders like Joseph Wilson and Greg Thielmann have stated repeatedly that everyone who needed to know the evidence was bad had been fully and completely informed almost a year before the data was used in the State of the Union address.

In an interesting twist, the profoundly questionable nature of Tenet's confession has reached all the way around the planet to Australia. I spoke on Sunday to Andrew Wilkie, a former senior intelligence analyst for the Office of National Assessments, the senior Australian intelligence agency which provides intelligence assessments to the Australian prime minister. Mr. Wilkie notes the following:

"In the last week in Australia, the Defense Intelligence Organization has admitted they had the information on the Niger forgeries and says they didn't tell the Defense Minister. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs has admitted they had the information on the Niger forgeries and didn't tell the Foreign Minister. The place I used to work, the Office of National Assessments, has admitted publicly that they knew the Niger evidence was fake and didn't tell the Prime Minister about it.

"You've got three intelligence organizations in Australia, the intelligence organizations in the US, and every one is saying they knew this was bad information, but not one political leader reckons they were told. All three organizations have said they didn't give this information to their political leaders. It is unbelievable to the point of fantasy."

Fire Rummy and Wolfie, says HDS Greenway at The Boston Globe"
The Iraq campaign, of which they were in charge, has been grossly mishandled. I use the word campaign because the overthrow of Saddam's army and regime was only the opening phase in what has to be, if this country is to maintain any credibility, an open and democratic society in Iraq. This may yet happen, but the current leadership of the Pentagon, through a fatal combination of hubris and incompetence, has so far bungled the job. If there were any accountability in the Bush administration, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz would be asked to resign.

First, the Pentagon civilians ignored advice early on from military men that more troops would be needed for the operation. This miscalculation of necessary troop strength left the lines of supply dangerously unguarded as American troops sped toward Baghdad. Once Baghdad fell, it was painfully obvious that there were not enough troops to maintain order.

Second, what policing was done had to be done by combat troops who are trained to kill, not police, so when demonstrations started, their only response was to shoot into the crowd. Rumsfeld dismissed the horrendous post-combat looting as just something that comes along with freedom - a comment that will remain around his neck like an albatross as the political and security situation in Iraq deteriorates. As the respected International Crisis Group said in a recent report: ''Even senior American civilians in Baghdad express consternation at the near-total absence of advance preparations for dealing with postwar needs.''

Bernard Weiner at "The Crisis Papers" weighs in with his thoughts about voting for a Dem this time around:

Look, folks, we're moving closer and closer to a fascist-type society -- all sorts of civil liberties and civil rights have been trampled under the Patriot Act, hustled through a traumatized Congress immediately after the 9/11 mass-murders; Patriot 2, believe it or not, is even worse. And, more and more, we're becoming an aggressive imperial power abroad, engaged --as Bush and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and Perle proudly proclaim -- in a permanent state of war.

And all of this is depleting our treasury, forcing the government into enormous deficits, ruining an already shaky economy, and thus permitting (as the HardRight extremists long for) the evisceration and eventual destruction of popular social programs such as Medicare, Social Security, Head Start, environmental protection measures, job-safety programs, support for the arts, etc. States and municipalities are going broke, having to cut their own social programs and infrastructure needs; the feds won't, can't, send them any backup funds because so much of the U.S. treasury under Bush is dedicated to wars abroad, homeland security at home, and giving huge tax breaks to the already wealthy.

And the Democrats, reflecting the populace at large, are terrified of connecting the dots and frontally taking on the Bush forces in power -- because they might be thought of as "unpatriotic" in a time of war. Given that we now are in a war without end, that situation will continue indefinitely -- with the middle class taking it in the neck financially, and the poor left more or less to fend for themselves -- unless somehow we can stop this extremist madness and try to turn this country back to its traditional middle-left to middle-right politics. Perhaps Bush&Co. will do us all a favor and resign -- but don't count on it. These guys will not give up power voluntarily.

Let's close with these words about Bush&Co. from Wade Hudson, recently returned from a Peace Team in Baghdad: "These power-hungry, authoritarians actually could create a totalitarian state if we let them fulfill their dreams...I am totally impressed with how serious the Bush people are. They are a qualitatively different breed from their predecessors. They are rigid, brutal, authoritarian, self-righteous, narrow-minded fanatics who have taken over the United States government in a secret, silent coup. They must be stopped, even if it means supporting a Democrat, virtually any Democrat."

For a look at the British perspective on the developing scandal over the war The Sunday Herald has a couple good articles in Sunday's papers. Here and here.

Here's a very thoughtful piece on the power of negative language used by the Chimpies that keeps us all afraid. Be very afraid:
Bush uses several dominating linguistic techniques to induce surrender to his will. The first is empty language. This term refers to broad statements that are so abstract and mean so little that they are virtually impossible to oppose. Empty language is the emotional equivalent of empty calories.

Just as we seldom question the content of potato chips while enjoying their pleasurable taste, recipients of empty language are usually distracted from examining the content of what they are hearing. Dominators use empty language to conceal faulty generalizations; to ridicule viable alternatives; to attribute negative motivations to others, thus making them appear contemptible; and to rename and "reframe" opposing viewpoints.

Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech contained 39 examples of empty language. He used it to reduce complex problems to images that left the listener relieved that George W. Bush was in charge. Rather than explaining the relationship between malpractice insurance and skyrocketing health care costs, Bush summed up: "No one has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit." The multiple fiscal and monetary policy tools that can be used to stimulate an economy were downsized to: "The best and fairest way to make sure Americans have that money is not to tax it away in the first place." The controversial plan to wage another war on Iraq was simplified to: "We will answer every danger and every enemy that threatens the American people." In an earlier study, I found that in the 2000 presidential debates Bush used at least four times as many phrases containing empty language as Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush Senior or Gore had used in their debates.

In that vein, are we becoming a nation of scared sheep:
It's ironic that this is the very same populace that a few years ago was glued to its TV sets as Congress impeached then-President Bill Clinton for fibbing about his sexual dalliances with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Clinton was vilified, even though his lie was one many men caught in a similar position wouldn't have thought twice about committing. (In fact, some of his most vituperative opponents, including Newt Gingrich, hid their own sexual affairs.) Eventually, Americans wearied of the drawn-out impeachment process, and the Senate acquitted Clinton. Still, many thought -- and still think -- that his lie undermined the integrity of the presidency. A more recent example is Martha Stewart. Many Americans believe Stewart should be punished for allegedly lying about the sale of roughly $240,000 in ImClone stock.

Why is it that Americans have given Bush a pass on his seemingly misleading and trumped-up evidence about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, when they pilloried Clinton and Stewart for far less devastating transgressions? The answer may be simple: It's human nature. We're hard-wired to forgive some lies more than others.

Mosie on over and say howdy to fellow Oregonian Reach-Em High Cowboy Network.