Thursday, July 24, 2003

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.