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.