Sunday, July 13, 2003

Howard Dean is in Arizona today. Click here to see some pictures from yesterday's campaigning.

Maureen Dowd at The New York Times puts the BLAST to Bushco:
W. built his political identity on the idea that he was not Bill Clinton. He didn't parse words or prevaricate. He was the Texas straight shooter.

So why is he now presiding over a completely Clintonian environment, turning the White House into a Waffle House, where truth is camouflaged by word games and responsibility is obscured by shell games?

The president and Condi Rice can shuffle the shells and blame George Tenet, but it smells of mendacity.

Mr. Clinton indulged in casuistry to hide personal weakness. The Bush team indulges in casuistry to perpetuate its image of political steel.

Dissembling over peccadillos is pathetic. Dissembling over pre-emptive strikes is pathological, given over 200 Americans dead and 1,000 wounded in Iraq, and untold numbers of dead Iraqis. Our troops are in "a shooting gallery," as Teddy Kennedy put it, and our spy agencies warn that we are on the cusp of a new round of attacks by Saddam snipers.

Why does it always come to this in Washington? The people who ascend to power on the promise of doing things differently end up making the same unforced errors their predecessors did. Out of office, the Bush crowd mocked the Clinton propensity for stonewalling; in office, they have stonewalled the 9/11 families on the events that preceded the attacks, and the American public on how — and why — they maneuvered the nation into the Iraqi war.

How much planning was done for winning the peace in Iraq? Not much:
WASHINGTON - The small circle of senior civilians in the Defense Department who dominated planning for postwar Iraq failed to prepare for the setbacks that have erupted over the past two months.

The officials didn't develop any real postwar plans because they believed that Iraqis would welcome U.S. troops with open arms and Washington could install a favored Iraqi exile leader as the country's leader. The Pentagon civilians ignored CIA and State Department experts who disputed them, resisted White House pressure to back off from their favored exile leader and when their scenario collapsed amid increasing violence and disorder, they had no backup plan.

Today, American forces face instability in Iraq, where they are losing soldiers almost daily to escalating guerrilla attacks, the cost of occupation is exploding to almost $4 billion a month and withdrawal appears untold years away.

"There was no real planning for postwar Iraq," said a former senior U.S. official who left government recently.

Lots of fingerpointing going on within the Bush admin over that yellowcake stuff:
WASHINGTON (AP) The Bush administration is engaged in frantic finger-pointing as it tries to explain how its handling of faulty intelligence on allegations of Iraqi nuclear smuggling produced so few red flags.

CIA Director George Tenet tried to end the finger-pointing Friday night by pointing the finger at himself, taking responsibility for allowing into President Bush's State of the Union address an erroneous claim that Iraq had tried to buy nuclear material in Africa.

''These 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the president,'' he said in a statement. ''This was a mistake.''

Earlier, Bush and his national security adviser had been unequivocal in blaming the CIA. ''I gave a speech to the nation that was cleared by the intelligence services,'' Bush had told reporters in Uganda.

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice was blunter. ''The CIA cleared the speech in its entirety,'' she said. If Tenet had concerns about the information, ''these doubts were not communicated to the president.''

Republicans in Congress were also directing heat at Tenet. ''The director of central intelligence is the principal adviser to the president on intelligence matters,'' Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CNN's ''Inside Politics.''

''He should have told the president. He failed. He failed to do so,'' Roberts said.

The State Department and CIA both had information as early as March 2002 casting doubt on British claims that Iraq was seeking uranium in Africa.

Yet the White House says neither Tenet nor Secretary of State Colin Powell stopped Bush from using the intelligence as a justification for the war.

The CIA raised only one objection, to a reference to the kind of uranium Iraq was said to be seeking, but it did not insist the reference be deleted, Rice told reporters on a flight with Bush from South Africa to Uganda.

As for Powell, she said he did not discuss his misgivings with her or any member of her staff between Bush's State of the Union speech in January and his presentation to the U.N. Security Council a week later.

A former diplomat hired by the CIA to check into the merits of the allegations has added his own twist. He says Vice President Dick Cheney's office knew in 2002 that the diplomat was unable to substantiate the intelligence.

Some of that finger pointing is heading in the direction of Britain:
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. The British government rejected the U.S. suggestion, saying it had separate intelligence unavailable to the United States.

So with all this lying going on, Dubya's poll numers are headed south as people begin waking up:
Finally, there is the continuing mess on the ground in Iraq: the almost daily deaths of American soldiers, the failure to restore order and public services, the anger in military families over the extended commitment of their loved ones to a war zone. Even the war's strongest supporters are saying that the administration's postwar strategy was deeply flawed.

A CBS News poll released yesterday showed that public doubts are growing. Approval for Bush's handling of the situation in Iraq fell from 72 percent in May to 58 percent. For the first time, a majority -- 56 percent -- say they believe the administration overestimated the number of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

An administration rarely on the defensive since 9/11 found itself forced to explain and explain. When the president was asked in South Africa whether he regretted using false information in his State of the Union speech, he evaded the question and criticized "attempts to rewrite history." A bizarre response, because it was the White House that rewrote history by admitting that the president's earlier statement was now inoperative.

That's OK!! The Chimp-in-Chief says this issue is over done let's put it behind us nothing to see here:
Bush considers the matter closed, said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer. "The president has moved on," he said.

That's it? No explaination? Does anybody but Dubya actually believe that this is over? I think it's just beginning.....

Lies lies and more lies.

Josh Marshall sums it all up:
But a lie is, well … that’s really more an exaggeration. Unless, of course, it’s a misstatement. Except in cases involving weapons of mass destruction, when often it’s simply a matter of “over-hype.”

Actually, it’s all fairly hard for me to keep up with. All I know is that under George W. Bush the pundits who had no trouble calling Bill Clinton a liar have suddenly decided lying is a very subtle, hard-to-define, complex matter.