Join 3,561 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Who's the fall guy gonna be?
July 8, 2003 9:21 AM   Subscribe

White House admits fudging Niger documents. The administration today admitted that forged evidence of Iraq's attempts to buy nuclear material should not have been presented as valid. This came about as a result of an atypically harsh period of questioning from the press following the publication of this editorial over the weekend... [more inside]
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly (119 comments total)

 
I post this not to start another Bush-bashing thread, but to invite speculation as to what the admin's political strategy is likely to be. I saw them fingering a fall guy lower down (like Tenet) and presuming to be as shocked by the rest of us, but that seems precluded by today's admission that this went as high up as Cheney.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 9:22 AM on July 8, 2003


but to invite speculation as to what the admin's political strategy is likely to be.

I don't think there's speculation; this statement is their strategy. They're not looking to spin "we had the wrong information;" "we had the wrong information" is the spin for "we flat-out lied about having justification for going to war."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:26 AM on July 8, 2003


I, for one, am shocked! Shocked, I say...

I think the regime's plan for whitewashing the whole WMD debacle as a whole is pretty plain - claim that weapons they had pre-Gulf War 1 were what they were really talking about, dig some more "O"- rings out of gardens, and accuse our Intel community of being so piss-poor that they were led on - by gross incompetence - to the inescapable conclusion that they just HAD to act.

"It's a big enough umbrella, but it's always me that ends up getting wet
..." - George J. Tenet

posted by Perigee at 9:32 AM on July 8, 2003


Strategy: "With 20/20 hindsight, it is easy to be right"

No mention to the fact that they were the *minority* standing behind the wrong idea, of course
posted by magullo at 9:34 AM on July 8, 2003


I post this not to start another Bush-bashing thread...

I applaud your boundless optimism. I predict 100 odd inflamatory comments (at least one of which will start with "O defenders of all things Dubya"),and very little content. I would love to be proved wrong and I really do admire your intent.

*Pours out a forty for Jonmc, wanders back to the Simeone thread*

posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:34 AM on July 8, 2003


I would love to be proved wrong and I really do admire your intent.

Who's to say I wasn't lying? Just kidding. We can all be pretty cynical about what we do talk about, if we feel the need. I had always thought, like others above, that intelligence would be the "fall guy," even if it wasn't all tied to an individual, but these statements seem to show that they knowingly used th bad information, which eliminates the possiblility of blaming it all on the CIA, State Intell., etc.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 9:39 AM on July 8, 2003


the reference ... should not have been included in the State of the Union speech."

I love it when the passive voice accomplishes so much. This whole article is about the Herculean feats of the passive voice, including pretending to answer the pressing questions "Who?" and "When?." Can't you just see the little translucent gremlin/ghost running away from the State of the Union, sporting its ever-popular label, "Mistakes Were Made"?
posted by soyjoy at 9:39 AM on July 8, 2003


None of this changes the fact that Saddam was in violation of all those cease fire agreements, treaties, and UN resolutions.
posted by techgnollogic at 9:41 AM on July 8, 2003


Does it really matter? If they had or hadn't included it, nothing would have changed. Man, I'm bitter.
posted by agregoli at 9:42 AM on July 8, 2003


None of this changes the fact that Saddam was in violation of all those cease fire agreements, treaties, and UN resolutions.

Um, unless he wasn't. 1441 is the only relevant one (to the specific case and timeframe for this war), and there seems to be little evidence that he was wholly non-compliant. If someone is more or less complying, despite a few violations, doesn't that show that--on some level--it is actually working? And I return to my favorite analogy for waging war as a way to find contraband: it's like setting the haystack ablaze before you go in for the needle. And guess what, it didn't work!

All that aside, this war was not fought to defend international institutions, laws, and treaties, it was fought at their expense.

And even more so, whether or not Hussein was a bad guy is hardly the whole issue. It reminds me of the OJ Simpson case: there is just something short-sighted about trying to frame a guilty person.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 9:46 AM on July 8, 2003


techgnollogic Why was the rush justified again? Why wasn't the UN's timetable not acceptable?

Talking about violations of cease fire ... did the UN authorize the no-fly zone & its enforcement by the US/Britain?
posted by magullo at 9:47 AM on July 8, 2003


None of this changes the fact that Saddam was in violation of all those cease fire agreements, treaties, and UN resolutions.

So.... you're saying what? That it's okay for the U.S. to lie because Iraq lied? I guess that justifies the dozen or so other countries in violation of countless UN resolutions that we didn't deem worthy enough to bomb the hell out of.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:48 AM on July 8, 2003


Please, everyone, vote. I mean, seriously.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:52 AM on July 8, 2003


I like the point that even if the White House found out after the speech that the contents were incorrect, they STILL did nothing about it. And why not?

I don't think they have a stradegy with regard to this except to pawn the blame off on someone, anyone, who can take the fall. However, the CIA sounds like they're not taking this lying down.

Maybe (and this is probably a false hope) this will rile up some news organizations to acually do investigative reporting, since our Congress won't do it for political reasons, so we can acually get to the bottom of this.
posted by aacheson at 9:54 AM on July 8, 2003


Iggy - Four men rob the Bank on Main street, by force of arms. In cowing the crowd, the bank manager is shot and killed. Inspector Columbo gets on the case.

After painting one culprit into a corner, he admits to being involved... but claims he only drove the getaway car.

I don't see this as a complete admission of guilt - as others have pointed out, this is a soft soaped "regrettable accident" statement that allows them to claim to be jake when they dump the major load on somebody else's shoulders. I think the very reason they've done this is to plant in the public mind that they ARE playing it straight, and therefore will be honest when it comes down to the big point of blame.
posted by Perigee at 9:54 AM on July 8, 2003


The administration "fudged" the documents? I didn't see that in the text. "Fudging" is a willful act, and while whether or not the administration "fudged" is an important question, they certainly didn't concede to it.
posted by trharlan at 9:55 AM on July 8, 2003


I predict 100 odd inflamatory comments (at least one of which will start with "O defenders of all things Dubya")

Nofundy loves pinkstainlesstail. He makes me laugh. Thank you.
posted by nofundy at 9:58 AM on July 8, 2003


I suppose you're right, trharlan. Fudged the presentation of the documents is better, perhaps?

Perigee- Good point.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:00 AM on July 8, 2003


Fudged the presentation of the documents is better, perhaps?

"Oh! A Bullshit Artist. Did you bullshit today? Did you try to bullshit today?"
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:04 AM on July 8, 2003


None of this matters. Facts!?! God, Yahweh, the Big Guy told Dubya to smite the Babylonians! God spoke, George listened. Yes, this is the Year of the Lord, 2003.
posted by Mondo at 10:18 AM on July 8, 2003


Um, unless he wasn't. 1441 is the only relevant one (to the specific case and timeframe for this war), and there seems to be little evidence that he was wholly non-compliant.

First of all, 1441 wouldn't have existed had he been compliant with whichever 13th or so resolution requiring him to disarm, which wouldn't have existed if he'd been compliant with the one before that, etc., all the way back to the end of the first gulf war. They're all relevant.

Secondly, when the resolution itself says anything less than full compliance equals non-compliance, and Saddam then goes out of his way to produce incomplete, inaccurate reports, to restrict inspections and harrass and obstruct UN interviews, and to grudgingly agree to destroy an insignificant number of HUGE MISSILES he forgot about, then there is no partial non-compliance and he got what he deserved. This "well he sorta complied with the fourth sentence of the fifth paragraph... the resolutions are working! lets give it more time" attitude is exactly what he was looking for, and the popularity of that attitude in Europe and under Clinton and elsewhere is why this dragged out over twelve years. Saddam got away with murder for over a decade, but as soon as Bush steps up to hold him accountable, Bush is somehow rushing to war? I don't get it.
posted by techgnollogic at 10:18 AM on July 8, 2003


Why don't they just plant some fake WMD and be done with it? This Iraq thing is soooo 1980's.
posted by insomnyuk at 10:22 AM on July 8, 2003


Bah. UN Resolutions? Sheesh, that is so passe`. Only when it is an enemy does it matter. How many UN Resolutions as the US admin kiboshed?
posted by Mondo at 10:24 AM on July 8, 2003


he got what he deserved.

1) That's not the issue - it's whether our unprecedented and otherwise illegal pre-emptive strike was based on bullshit, which it (at least partially) was.

2) There are those who might say he deserved more than what he apparently got.
posted by soyjoy at 10:30 AM on July 8, 2003


O defenders of all things Dubya, I here say upon thee, beware the ides of November 2004.
posted by billder at 10:37 AM on July 8, 2003


when the resolution itself says anything less than full compliance equals non-compliance, and Saddam then goes out of his way to produce incomplete, inaccurate reports, to restrict inspections and harrass and obstruct UN interviews, and to grudgingly agree to destroy an insignificant number of HUGE MISSILES he forgot about, then there is no partial non-compliance and he got what he deserved.

All true, but none of this changes the fact that the Bush Administration knowingly used false information to create support for an invasion.

as soon as Bush steps up to hold him accountable, Bush is somehow rushing to war? I don't get it.

Don't be coy. I agree that a confrontation with Saddam was long overdue, but if the Bush gang felt that Saddam truly represented an imminent threat then they should have made their case with facts rather than conjecture. Of course, that would’ve required actual consensus building, something the Bushies don’t really seem to have the time or talent for. By misrepresenting the threat, the Bush gang have made all of us less safe, as the int'l community will be all the more skeptical the next time we cry "nuke."

And anyway, this thread is way late. Didn't you folks get the memo? The war wasn't about WMD anymore, it was about "Iraqi liberation." Down the memory hole.
posted by Ty Webb at 10:38 AM on July 8, 2003


How is attacking someone who violates his cease fire with you a preemptive strike? Saddam never got off the hook he climbed up on in the first place. There was never a return to a state of rest between the United States and Iraq. We never left. The sanctions never lifted. The no-fly zones never went away.

Now you can discuss the ramifications of the president making decisions based on bad intelligence all you want, because it's a real threat and it happens and it can't be avoided because you can't have perfect intelligence all the time, but you can't possible assert that the decision to take out Saddam was based on the forged Niger documents. Trying to turn a tacked-on bit of bad intelligence mentioned in the SOTU address into a scandal seems like desperation to me.

Where does it say they knowingly used bad information? They've acknowledged that the Niger documents have turned out to be false, but they've specifically stated that they didn't know that at the time, and that if they knew then what they know now, it wouldn't have been included in the speech. Now you can call them liars if you want, but there's nothing in the record to prove anything scandalous.
posted by techgnollogic at 10:44 AM on July 8, 2003


Sadder still is that because of our actions, we have turned what was a secular, non-threatening (to our interests, anyway) country, into a fundamentalist tide-pool. The Shiites that Saddam so terribly oppressed are the same ones that are currently the most vocal in their opposition to U.S. occupation, and will demand the U.S. live up to its "democratic" reputation by forcing free elections. The fundamentalists will win in a landslide, and, just like in Algeria, we will have a wonderful little terrorist state churning out its home-grown violence to the rest of the world.

Great. Fucking. Job.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:44 AM on July 8, 2003


Saddam got away with murder for over a decade, but as soon as Bush steps up to hold him accountable, Bush is somehow rushing to war?

I thought we were talking about UN resolutions. Not that I would be opposed to one, but none of the resolutions at play here are about being a murderer, but rather about developing and stockpiling weapons. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell have all individually lied about the extent to which that occured.

Did you ever consider that the reason that the "let's just give them more time" mentality held out so long is that it was working? They had significantly reduced their usable stockpiles, no?

In any case, as you so aptly pointed out, Hussein has been cheesing off the UN for years, hence the necessity of a special case for an immediate, unliateral, pre-emptive war. Such a case was made, and it hinged on imminent threats and connections to Al Qeada, both of which were lies.

Again, you say that Hussein is a bad guy, again I say that's all the more reason not to frame him or lie about him. We could have sold this war to the world honestly, but it may not have arrived in time for fall '04, and wouldn't have made people forget our failure to apprehend bin Laden.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:49 AM on July 8, 2003


"they've specifically stated that they didn't know that at the time"

Sorry - incorrect. If not a flat-out lie...

Try this on for size.

For those who prefer an encapsulation:

"It was my experience in Africa that led me to play a small role in the effort to verify information about Africa's suspected link to Iraq's nonconventional weapons programs. Those news stories about that unnamed former envoy who went to Niger? That's me. "

"In late February 2002, I arrived in Niger's capital, Niamey, where I had been a diplomat in the mid-70's and visited as a National Security Council official in the late 90's."

"I spent the next eight days drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people: current government officials, former government officials, people associated with the country's uranium business. It did not take long to conclude that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place."

"In short, there's simply too much oversight over too small an industry for a sale to have transpired."

"Before I left Niger, I briefed the ambassador on my findings, which were consistent with her own. "

"I thought the Niger matter was settled and went back to my life. (I did take part in the Iraq debate, arguing that a strict containment regime backed by the threat of force was preferable to an invasion.) In September 2002, however, Niger re-emerged. The British government published a "white paper" asserting that Saddam Hussein and his unconventional arms posed an immediate danger. As evidence, the report cited Iraq's attempts to purchase uranium from an African country.

Then, in January, President Bush, citing the British dossier, repeated the charges about Iraqi efforts to buy uranium from Africa.

The next day, I reminded a friend at the State Department of my trip and suggested that if the president had been referring to Niger, then his conclusion was not borne out by the facts as I understood them. He replied that perhaps the president was speaking about one of the other three African countries that produce uranium: Gabon, South Africa or Namibia. At the time, I accepted the explanation. I didn't know that in December, a month before the president's address, the State Department had published a fact sheet that mentioned the Niger case.

Those are the facts surrounding my efforts. "

If they SPECIFICALLY stated they didn't know that at the time, Techno - the SPECIFICALLY lied.
posted by Perigee at 11:03 AM on July 8, 2003


It noted that the CIA had already debunked this intelligence, and questioned why an official British government intelligence dossier published four months before Bush's speech included the allegation as part of an effort to make the case for going to war against Iraq. ~ source

So I guess the fall guy in this equation is the British government, who knew the info was previously debunked, but still used it in a report anyway ... which led Bush to using the information himself (without looking into it first). Who the hell really knows what goes on in the minds of the top politicos though?

And on peview ... ditto what Perigree said.
posted by Orb at 11:07 AM on July 8, 2003


Damn that NOT ME! He's struck again!

Many many years of Family Circus is bad for you.
posted by graventy at 11:08 AM on July 8, 2003


Josh Marshall covers this issue very well for those who are interested in the subject.
posted by nofundy at 11:12 AM on July 8, 2003


Here's a better tidbit on the subject matter that should be widely reported (damn liberal media) and definitively places the blame squarely on Bush for lying about it:

An intelligence consultant who was present at two White House briefings where the uranium report was discussed confirmed that the President was told the intelligence was questionable and that his national security advisors urged him not to include the claim in his State of the Union address.

"The report had already been discredited," said Terrance J. Wilkinson, a CIA advisor present at two White House briefings. "This point was clearly made when the President was in the room during at least two of the briefings."

Bush's response was anger, Wilkinson said.

"He said that if the current operatives working for the CIA couldn't prove the story was true, then the agency had better find some who could," Wilkinson said.


Spin that one, O' Defenders of All Things Duhbya!
posted by nofundy at 11:27 AM on July 8, 2003


....but they've specifically stated that they didn't know that at the time, and that if they knew then what they know now, it wouldn't have been included in the speech.

Gee, maybe you and the administration could give us a new definition of "is" or "sexual relations" too.

Bush had damned well better know what he is talking about if he is going use that information to kill thousands. Do you get it?

Take your pick of criminal incompetence or flat out lies.

And stand by for a blast. This ain't no partisan little witchhunt over something as globally significant as whether Clinton held festivals o' fellatio in his office. This is the blood of Americans and Iraqis that THIS VERY DAY would pump tidily through intact arteries and veins instead of laying splattered all over Mesopotamia, were it not for the actions of a criminally stupid and/or criminally lying group of people and their dim supporters.

Manipulating or lying about intelligence data in order to invade another sovereign nation, if proven, is about as "high crime" as impeachable crimes come:

President George W. Bush has got a very serious problem. Before asking Congress for a Joint Resolution authorizing the use of American military forces in Iraq, he made a number of unequivocal statements about the reason the United States needed to pursue the most radical actions any nation can undertake - acts of war against another nation.

Now it is clear that many of his statements appear to be false. In the past, Bush's White House has been very good at sweeping ugly issues like this under the carpet, and out of sight. But it is not clear that they will be able to make the question of what happened to Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) go away - unless, perhaps, they start another war....

These investigations are certainly appropriate, for there is potent evidence of either a colossal intelligence failure or misconduct - and either would be a serious problem. When the best case scenario seems to be mere incompetence, investigations certainly need to be made.

Senator Bob Graham - a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee - told CNN's Aaron Brown, that while he still hopes they find WMDs or at least evidence thereof, he has also contemplated three other possible alternative scenarios:

"One is that [the WMDs] were spirited out of Iraq, which maybe is the worst of all possibilities, because now the very thing that we were trying to avoid, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, could be in the hands of dozens of groups. Second, that we had bad intelligence. Or third, that the intelligence was satisfactory but that it was manipulated, so as just to present to the American people and to the world those things that made the case for the necessity of war against Iraq."

Senator Graham seems to believe there is a serious chance that it is the final scenario that reflects reality. Indeed, Graham told CNN "there's been a pattern of manipulation by this administration."

Graham has good reason to complain. According to the New York Times, he was one of the few members of the Senate who saw the national intelligence estimate that was the basis for Bush's decisions. After reviewing it, Senator Graham requested that the Bush Administration declassify the information before the Senate voted on the Administration's resolution requesting use of the military in Iraq.

But rather than do so, CIA Director Tenet merely sent Graham a letter discussing the findings. Graham then complained that Tenet's letter only addressed "findings that supported the administration's position on Iraq," and ignored information that raised questions about intelligence. In short, Graham suggested that the Administration, by cherrypicking only evidence to its own liking, had manipulated the information to support its conclusion.

Recent statements by one of the high-level officials privy to the decisionmaking process that lead to the Iraqi war also strongly suggests manipulation, if not misuse of the intelligence agencies. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, during an interview with Sam Tannenhaus of Vanity Fair magazine, said: "The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason." More recently, Wolfowitz added what most have believed all along, that the reason we went after Iraq is that "[t]he country swims on a sea of oil."

posted by fold_and_mutilate at 11:35 AM on July 8, 2003


If you're going to lie and manipulate intelligence like that, why bother doing it with something as insignificant as this "attempted to buy uranium from an african country" line? Or did that line swing way more people into the pro-war camp than I previously thought?

Seems to me that the only two possibilities are it was either:

a) honest mistake. shouldn't have been included in the speech but ended up there anyway. oops. no harm done.

or

b) Bush is a crazy liar willing to risk his neck and manipulate a conspiracy to spread rumors about meaningless intelligence tidbits tacked onto speeches for no apparent gain.

Are you people under the impression that this was something Bush needed to lie about to get the war going?
posted by techgnollogic at 11:38 AM on July 8, 2003


Truth and facts don't matter to the current administration. That is clear. This is old news to many here. Those who haven't read this definitely should.
posted by wsg at 11:41 AM on July 8, 2003


"He said that if the current operatives working for the CIA couldn't prove the story was true, then the agency had better find some who could," Wilkinson said.

This is a terrific smoking gun for those of us who look to see the perpetrators of this deadly hoax get their just desserts.

Unfortunately, I can't verify this with any other source. I googled "Terrance J. Wilkinson" (and, yes, "Terrence") and came up empty. Same with the quote. Unless "Capitol Hill Blue" has some secret pipeline to CIA sources that other media don't have, this smells a little bit hoaxy, I'm sorry to say.
posted by soyjoy at 11:43 AM on July 8, 2003


The question - which is no longer a question - Tech, is:

Did he do it?


The answer is yes.

Is there more than enough evidence that he knew it was fictitious when he spoke it?

The answer is yes.

It's not our place or our problem to assign motive (although I'm sure we all have our own ideas about that); but it is sufficient to see the action for what it is - immoral, unjustified, and of dubious legality.

He can explain his motives himself, in his autobiography. God grant it sees print sooner rather than later...
posted by Perigee at 11:44 AM on July 8, 2003


Here's a better tidbit...

I tend to view with skepticism anyone who writes an article, and doesn't attach their name to it.

Or someone who publishes a whole set of articles, none of which have names attatched.
posted by SweetJesus at 11:45 AM on July 8, 2003


Techgnollogic -

This is not one innocuous little white lie all on its own. This is what the administration's ominuous and incredibly vague threats about Saddam Hussein's potential danger boiled down to: "something as insignificant as this 'attempted to buy uranium from an african country' ". And then, even then, when we finally cleared away all that other bullshit and vaguery, even this little nugget at the core turned out to be a weak lie. It is staggering that anyone can think this is some sort of forgiveable "mistake".
posted by badstone at 11:46 AM on July 8, 2003


Whether or not Iraq was actively building a nuclear program is hardly "insignificant."
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:48 AM on July 8, 2003


Saddam then goes out of his way to produce incomplete, inaccurate reports...

So, in the report he presented to the UN which was edited before release by the US, what exactly was missing? Was it evidence that WMD's were destroyed? Why not release the whole thing, mewonders?
posted by dash_slot- at 11:50 AM on July 8, 2003


Is there more than enough evidence that he knew it was fictitious when he spoke it? The answer is yes.

Perigee - I'd love to be able to answer "yes." But where is this evidence? If the "Wilkinson" quote of what Bush supposedly said were in a bylined article in a credible publication, I'd call that evidence. But it's not. What other evidence is there?

I'm not being contentious. I want to see that evidence. Just like Bush with WMDs, I feel certain that my interpretation of the situation is correct. But unlike Bush, I need actual evidence before stating my interpretation as fact.
posted by soyjoy at 12:04 PM on July 8, 2003


So question the source if you don't agree with what it says? OK, fair enough. Would a fellow at the CATO Institute be enough to satisfy the defenders of all things Duhbya? Can't get much more right wing than that and still maintain any credibility can you? Here is an excerpt:


Thus, in their view, once someone is elected president, he or she faces no legal or political constraint. The president doesn't need congressional authority; Washington doesn't need UN authority. Allied support is irrelevant. The president needn't offer the public a justification for going to war that holds up after the conflict ends. The president may not even be questioned about the legitimacy of his professed justification. Accept his word and let him do whatever he wants, irrespective of circumstances.

This is not the government created by the Founders. This is not the government that any believer in liberty should favor.

It is foolish to turn the Iraq war, a prudential political question, into a philosophical test for conservatism. It is even worse to demand unthinking support for Bush. He should be pressed on the issue of WMD - by conservatives. Fidelity to the Constitution and republican government demands no less.


Give it up.
Bush Lied.
People Died.

posted by nofundy at 12:05 PM on July 8, 2003


Um... techgnollogic...

(a) Bush told us we were going to war because Iraq had and was expanding their WMD program.
(b) To support this assertion he used evidence that Iraq had contacted an African country to get necessary materials. (b+ not to mention the tubes of doom that also made it to the sotu speech, but were refuted (graf3) well before then)
(c) Point "b" was a lie.

How does the President of the United States make "honest mistakes" on materials that have already been refuted about vital intelligence that is being used to justify a war?

Kinda reminds me of Dr. Condoleezza Rice on NPR last night calling the public furor over the lack of WMDs "revisionist history." So... 15+ years of intelligence says they have WMDs, despite UN directives to destroy such weapons, so we go to war over WMDs today and can't find any... and she thinks we're being revisionists?
posted by VulcanMike at 12:05 PM on July 8, 2003


the human
war is
never ending.
posted by Satapher at 12:07 PM on July 8, 2003


i suppose this is a good time in the thread to go here...
posted by VulcanMike at 12:10 PM on July 8, 2003


techgnollogic said: a) honest mistake. shouldn't have been included in the speech but ended up there anyway. oops. no harm done.

No harm done? Thousands of Iraqi civilians dead. A few hundred of our troops dead, with more dying every day. Our political credibility with the rest of the civilized world gone. The entire Middle East wanting to stab us. That's no harm done? Sheesh, I'd hate to what would make you say, "Gosh, that's bad."
posted by RylandDotNet at 12:14 PM on July 8, 2003


Soyjoy,

Perhaps this is the piece of the puzzle you are looking for:

The White House first claimed that the CIA just hadn’t told them about its findings.

But in the last several weeks lots of people from the national security and intelligence apparatus have been coming forward to say that’s just not true.

First there was Nick Kristof in The New York Times on June 13th. His sources told him that while CIA head George Tenet may not have told President Bush himself that the documents were fakes, “lower C.I.A. officials did tell both the vice president’s office and National Security Council staff members.”

And that wasn’t all. The State Department’s intelligence arm (the Bureau of Intelligence and Research) came to the same conclusion. A recently retired I&R staffer, Greg Thielmann, told Kristof he was “quite confident” that that judgment was passed all the way to the top of the State Department — presumably to Colin Powell.

Then last week in The New Republic, the unidentified former ambassador to Niger confirmed to authors Spencer Ackerman and John Judis that the CIA had in fact sent his report to the vice president’s office. “They knew the Niger story was a flat-out lie,” he told the magazine.

Some administration defenders now say that no one involved in writing the speech knew that the documents were forgeries. But it’s pretty hard — scratch that, impossible — to believe Cheney didn’t see the speech before it was delivered. And even though the veep is supposedly trying to build a shadow NSC in his office, it’s still not that big an operation. Could CIA have sent the report to Cheney’s office without Cheney himself getting wind of it?

On June 19th, NPR’s Tom Gjelten added yet another piece to the puzzle. Apparently the intelligence folks even made their concerns known during the writing of the speech. “Earlier versions of the president’s speech did not cite British sources,” a senior intelligence official told Gjelten. “They were more definitive and we objected.”

At that point, according to Gjelten’s source, “White House officials” said “‘Why don’t we say the British say this?’”

posted by nofundy at 12:16 PM on July 8, 2003


Soy - I'm basing the evidentiary feature on the statement of Joeseph Wilson, who was sent by the CIA to Niger to investigate these claims back in February of '02, as recorded in the link I provided above - and again right here.

He was the CIA's hand-pick to investigate the claim, returned with his considered opinion - which matched those of the Ambassador and staff on site - were reported to the CIA at the beginning of March '02.

The linking claim would be found here, and is perhaps the only weakness:

"Though I did not file a written report, there should be at least four documents in United States government archives confirming my mission. The documents should include the ambassador's report of my debriefing in Niamey, a separate report written by the embassy staff, a C.I.A. report summing up my trip, and a specific answer from the agency to the office of the vice president (this may have been delivered orally). While I have not seen any of these reports, I have spent enough time in government to know that this is standard operating procedure."

Of course, a man who spent 23 years in the foreign service would be pretty much aware of S.O.P., so I'm willing to accept his explanation of information trail as valid.

Under that circumstance, the CIA would have had his report, along with the corroberating opinion of the Nigerian embassy, and that information would have/should have been passed on to the office of the Vice President. He also made his findings known to the State Department African Affairs Bureau. The State Department would later state that "were doubtful of the claims that Mr. Hussein had sought uranium."

Wilson's trip is documented, his purpose in the trip is documented, and his findings are documented - and all of this took place 10 months before the State of the Union speech popped out. The CIA gathers our intelligence - they sent Wilson - Wilson said no. In March of 92. Seems to me that pretty much zips up the question of what was known when.
posted by Perigee at 12:36 PM on July 8, 2003


So question the source if you don't agree with what it says?

Don't jump to conclusions, jackass. I'm not defending Bush. Didn't you ever have to write a paper in high school, and complete a bibliography? I've been told for years not to trust sources who don't bother to put their names next to their writing. It's an accountability thing, not a political thing.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:45 PM on July 8, 2003


What none of you seem to understand is that the case for invading Iraq was far larger then the "immediate" threat of WMD. The immediate threat of WMD was hyped because the last 12 years had shown there was no way the UN was going to do anything about Hussein. One could not approach the UN and ask to remove the dictator on its own merits, the UN doesn't do that sort of thing. And one couldn't ask to remove him because of the continued ceasefire violations, the French, the Russians, and the Chinese had made clear for years they'd rather continue supporting Hussein.

Look, the status quo in the Gulf was untenable. I mean, come on, OBL cited the large US troop presence in Saudi Arabia as one of the causi belli of the 9-11 attacks. A troop presence that only came to region after the '91 Gulf War, and was maintained at the request of the Saudis to ensure they were protected from Iraq, a nation that had aggressively attacked four out of six of its neighbors.

People were starving and dieing in Iraq because the Hussein government used the generous food aid under the Oil-for-Food program as a political weapon, and refused to live up to the terms of the '91 cease-fire, which would have lifted sanctions. The suffering of the Iraqi people under the sanctions regime and Hussein's horrific manipulation of Oil-for-Food aid was already being used by Al-Queda and other radical groups as an anti-American rallying cry. There were already mass movements underway in Europe and the US asking to have sanctions lifted, as well as political manouvering to that same end at the UN by the French and Russians. Clearly the sanctions regime had to come to some sort of conclusion, but I don't see how it could have helped the region to remove sanctions on the Hussein government while it had still (in both the UN and the US's estimation) refused to live up to any of the resolutions passed post 1991.

Whether or not the threat from WMD was immediate, the Hussein regime had shown a remarkable drive to aquire WMD. Let me repeat...Hussein was willing to let his nation suffer 12 years of sanctions because he refused to live up publically to the terms of the previous post '91 UNSC resolutions calling on him to disarm. Look, maybe he did unilaterally disarm in late 2002, but he preserved no evidence of this and had no way to conclusively demonstrate he had disarmed. In the past, when he had made statements to a similar effect, the international community has always discovered he was lying, like in 1995, when, after the Hussein government denied for four years the presence of a bioweapons program, UN inspectors stumbled across it. The Hussein regime showed ever indication that they were ready and willing and able to produce and acquire WMD if the sanctions regime were ever lifted or the world's attention wander to far from Iraq.

Additionally, Hussein was one of the largest backers of the Palestinian terror groups, directly financially supporting the families of sucide bomber.

Hussein also contributed legitamacy to the theocracy in Iran, by providing a clear and present danger on Iran's western border, and thus providing a rationale for the mullah's to retain tight central power.

This just deals with the international security dimensions of the Hussein government, not even the horrific domestic repression he practiced on his own people.

You can argue that the Bush administration did a piss-poor job selling this war (there were reasons they were forced to go the UN/WMD/Inspections route) and has done remarkably poor follow-through after the fighting. You can argue that a war to eliminate the Hussein regime was uneccessary, and that there was some other, more tenable solution that addressed the above problems.

But none of you have argued this. In fact, I haven't read any critique of the war that offers a plausible alternative other than "wait a few months more before attacking and rally more international support." Well, at some point the buck had to stop and the fighting had to start. There was always going to be a limited amount of international support.

And you're not going to convince those of us who supported and continue to support the war effort that this was a mistake until you address the broad array of rationale behind this conflict and offer a plausible alternative solution.

Lastly, there seem to be two types of people here, those of feel that war is a regrettable but necessary form of foreign policy, and sometimes the correct solution to a problem, and those who abhor war, and choose to write in lurid detail about its horror (like the blood flowing through arteries comment above.) Those of us who supported this war effort believe two things: first, Iraqi civilians were already dying, and if there death could serve a larger prupose, such as the removal of there government, so be it; second, that war is necessary and useful tool, and that death on behalf of all sides is sometimes necessary to move towards a brighter future.
posted by pjgulliver at 12:47 PM on July 8, 2003


Man. I remember when "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" was a Big Fib(tm).
posted by pzarquon at 12:48 PM on July 8, 2003


Seems to me that pretty much zips up the question of what was known when.

Sorry, but the question remains unzipped. What we want to be able to say credibly (and many on this thread have already said) is: BUSH LIED.

But to lie is not just to disseminate false information; it must be information you know to be false. So we need evidence not that the CIA knew, not that Cheney knew (or, as nofundy's second link puts it, should have known), but that Bush knew. Then we can credibly say he lied, and get on with the impeachment procedings. Without any primary-source account (e.g. the mysterious "Wilkinson" from Capitol Hill Blue) of Bush being aware of the facts, we're left saying "it's pretty clear he must have known," which is not equivalent to being able to state that he lied. And if we do state that without credible evidence, the defenders of all things Duhbya have every right to slam us for unsupported conjecture.

On preview: I imagine that may be just what pjgulliver is doing, though I haven't yet invested the 20 minutes in reading that comment.
posted by soyjoy at 12:52 PM on July 8, 2003


OK, it didn't take 20 minutes, and I was wrong, it was just the standard "it was never about the WMDs" crapola. But the question "What did Bush know and when did he know it" is still unzipped.
posted by soyjoy at 1:00 PM on July 8, 2003


~Whew~ Soy... boy, yer one tough audience, son... On those terms, of course, you're dead right - and it's pretty unlikely we'll ever break the bounds of deniability, no matter how implauseable.

I don't suppose Cheney might wanna show up with an unlaundered blue dress... ~sigh~
posted by Perigee at 1:00 PM on July 8, 2003


When did Roosevelt know that the US was unquestioningly going to enter WWII? When did he decide that the official strategy would be to defeat Germany first, and then Japan, before Pearl Harbor I presume?? When did he realize that there was no way in hell the Russians and the UK were going to be able to pay back all the money and material loaned under Lend Lease, probably when the massive program was initiated, despite protestations to the countrary to the populace?

Granted, Bush isn't Roosevelt, not even close. But the fact is that politicians often choose to focus their arguments on the most sensationalistic rationale in public, while there might be numerous other rationale, still discussed publically, but not the focus of the immediate PR campaing.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:05 PM on July 8, 2003


And Soyjoy, why is "it wasn't about WMDs" crappola? Clearly, by stating that Bush lied, you are directly implying that the war, in fact, was not about WMDs.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:06 PM on July 8, 2003


SweetJesus,

Perhaps you should have slightly expanded your quote to this:
So question the source if you don't agree with what it says? OK, fair enough.

"OK, fair enough" sound like a "jackass?" Did they also teach you for years to do careful reading? I agreed with you! And, BTW, I was addressing soyjoy so your self importance might be reflected in your name calling. :-)
posted by nofundy at 1:08 PM on July 8, 2003


pjgulliver:

As regards the overall lack of alternatives that you perceive, I will link, for the hundredth time on MeFi, to Jessica Matthews paper on "coercive inspections." Granted, after the war has begun it is a little pointless to throw around other options, but this was published well before the calculated rush to war.

The above is an alternative that would address the root problems, without all of the nasty side effects (you know, like anarchy, a breakdown in international diplomacy, a brewing political scandal).

I understand your frustration at not seeing alternatives, but many of us have simply tired of their being ignored. So if Hussein did, indeed, have WMD, and we can not find them after the war, what does that say? Perhaps that they have fallen into hands that are even less accountable than his were. At least Saddam had to answer to geography: we always know where Iraq is.

soyjoy:
Bush may not have known his information was forged (though that seems either irresponsible or dishonest), but he was still lying when he said that he knew it to be a fact. Either he understood that the material was questionable at best, or his level of involvement and knowledge is so low as to suggest that he doesn't really know anything for sure.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 1:12 PM on July 8, 2003


probably & presume may be good enough for you, pjg.

It ain't good enough for me.
posted by dash_slot- at 1:14 PM on July 8, 2003


Sorry IJR, I've never consider Carnegie's "Coercive Inspections" a realistic alternative to war.

1) Coercive inspections were what was tried after '91, note the no fly zones. What happens is the world gets bored, removes their assests, and its left to the US to play the bad guy. The French used to participate in the no-fly zones, sharing the cost. They stopped in the mid 1990s.

2) Coercive inspections don't deal with the route issue, which is Hussein. He had to be removed. Removing Hussein became official US government policy in 1998, under Clinton, in a measure that passed both the House and the Senate with broad bipartisan support.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:17 PM on July 8, 2003


Granted, Bush isn't Roosevelt, not even close.

More importantly, Sadaam isn't Hitler. Not even close. Those in support for the war have yet to provide a single reason why it should be of such paramount importance at that specific time. "We have to get him now." But why now? What was the pressing problem that required intervention?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:18 PM on July 8, 2003


I think what Soy was saying, PJ, is that it was sold to the world and us citizens as being all about WMDs - when, in fact, it was not.

(Not to put words in his mouth, of course.)

In other words, we were sold a bill of goods: Bait and switch. Hell, Sears and Roebuck can''t get away with it, but the Government can. You can give me all the possible noble whys and wherefores, but it doesn't change the fact that we were sold a pig-in-the-poke about the immenent threat of these tons of Chemical and Biological weapons that were just raring to be shoved down our throat.

To paraphrase the pres - "we better act before the next warning sign we get is a mushroom cloud."

Twern't so, Magee - but that's how we were sold a 200 Billion dollar war.
posted by Perigee at 1:20 PM on July 8, 2003


You can argue that the Bush administration did a piss-poor job selling this war (there were reasons they were forced to go the UN/WMD/Inspections route) and has done remarkably poor follow-through after the fighting.

I would and do argue those.

Lastly, there seem to be two types of people here, those of feel that war is a regrettable but necessary form of foreign policy, and sometimes the correct solution to a problem, and those who abhor war, and choose to write in lurid detail about its horror (like the blood flowing through arteries comment above.)

How about those of us who fit neatly into both of those categories? I abhor war, but recognize that it is, regrettably, sometimes the least worst option. There's certainly no contradiction in supporting the war's aims, as I did and do, and believing, as I do, that the Bush gang should be punished for knowingly misrepresenting evidence of WMD in order to create public support. It's true that imminent threat of WMD wasn't the only rationale for war, but it was the necessary rationale for invasion, the rationale which created urgency.

I agree in part with the principle of "preventive war," given the new reality of the war against terror. But by its dishonesty, the Bush admin. has alienated much of the int'l community at a time when we dearly need their confidence and support to wage this struggle.
posted by Ty Webb at 1:28 PM on July 8, 2003


Lastly, there seem to be two types of people here, those of feel that war is a regrettable but necessary form of foreign policy, and sometimes the correct solution to a problem, and those who abhor war, and choose to write in lurid detail about its horror

I'm a member of the first camp, and I think that the war in Iraq was ill-conceived, counter-productive effort that in the long run will hurt our national interests. Instead of spending billions of dollars on bombs for Iraqis, we should be spending billions of dollars on port security, domestic and international law enforcement, and nuclear threat reduction. In any event, we shall how things turn out, since the die is cast.

This issue is larger than Iraq, however. The government of the United States should not lie to its public. Just because it has in the past is no excuse for it to do so in the present or future. The people in public office have an obligation to base their policies on sound reason and fact, and to pay attention to all evidence, even if it goes against the pet theories of certain people in office.

Some people will argue that politics is all about lying. Well, it is only that way because the public allows them to get away with it. It doesn't have to be that way. We can make them accountable.

That is why this is important. No administration, republican, democrat, green, whatever, should be allowed to get away with lying, or fudging, or not telling the whole truth. We ask people who get on the witness stand in court to "tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." We should hold our political leaders to the same damned standard.
posted by moonbiter at 1:30 PM on July 8, 2003


In my view CD, the pressing problem was mutliple:

1) 9-11 made it clear that stability and growth had to be brought to the Middle East, and soon, because the anger generated by years of corruption, autocracy, dictatorship, and economic stagnation finally spilled onto US shore causing massive damage. For all the reasons I cited, I believe removing the Hussein regime was a vital first step to sorting out the Middle East.

2) I, and others, are, and have been, extremely worried about the state of the Saudi monarchy for some time. Read the March (or April) Atlantic's "Fall of the House of Saud" for a broad overview. If the Saudi government fell, and oil exports from the kingdom were reduced or halted, the world economy would quite simply collapse. Saudi oil is the lubricant that keeps the world economy going because Saudi Arabia is the only country with significant excess production capacity, and thus the only country able to control its output so to ensure a stable price, and make up for other global difficiencies such as unrest in Venzuela.

And yes, yes, yes, the world needs to ween itself from oil. But that's going to be an expensive and time consuming process. Even if every developed world government invested massively in alternative energy starting tommorrow, it would still be decades before even the wealthy countries had significantly reduced their consumption.

Bottom line, if Saudi production capacity was disable, the world would face massive price rises in oil, which would probably lead to a global depression, causing hardship in the developed world and massive starvation throughout the developing world.

Therefore, other sources of excess production capacity need to be brought online in a hurry as a hedge against the instability that is tearing at the heart of Saudi society. Iraq possesses such supplies and potential.

And no, this doesn't mean the war was a quest to grab oil. I don't think anyone in the White House or the Pentagon cares WHO owns the Iraqi oil, or whether it's pumped by a State Oil Company, TotalFinaElf, or Exxon-Mobil. What people do care is that the oil is available to be bought and sold on international markets.

Which was not going to happen under sanctions, which effecitively means it was not going to happen with the Hussein government still in power.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:31 PM on July 8, 2003


NO NO NO! Everyone look over HERE!

The Prez who cried wolf(owitz).
posted by stonerose at 1:31 PM on July 8, 2003


pjgulliver:
Try reading the link. It has nothing to do with "no-fly zones," and in fact would involve calculated military strikes that would disable Hussein's power structure.

If your second point is that it is not the duty of the UN to determine the fitness of, and then remove by force, rulers of svoereign nations, than we are in total agreement.

I don't doubt that those would have been your reasons for going to war, nor do I doubt that there is some validity to each point you raise. The real question, though, is two-fold:
1. What were their reasons (i.e., those who forced the timeframe for war)?
2. What was their case, as presented. What were its merits and shortcomings?

When a representative government takes a wild and unprecedented course of action--with popular support--then the rationale with which they sold the policy actions in question are really more important than the real or potential reasons for said action. Not that that makes any sense, grammatically and what not, but I think you probably know what I mean.

This kind of thing happens a lot when people get personal. I don't doubt the honesty and conviction with which you supported the war, but that is a wholly separate matter from the memes or intentions which the action to happen in the first place.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 1:33 PM on July 8, 2003


And, BTW, I was addressing soyjoy so your self importance might be reflected in your name calling

Yeah, SweetJesus, how dare you think you're as important as me? But uh, seriously, nofundy, that's disappointing, because when I first read the comment, I thought it was a brainless knee-jerk response to my comment, then thought: Oh, nofundy was probably typing that to someone else while I was posting mine. But now I see my initial assessment was correct. Please read my comment: It says explicitly that it's exactly because I agree with what it says that I question the source! I want to have evidence Bush lied. Or that Cheney lied to Bush. Or some such. But so far, everything's circumstantial, leaving room for people like pjgulliver to obfuscate and equivocate about a clear-cut issue of (what appears to me to be) the intentional defrauding of the American public.

And yes, pjg, that's what I'd call it if I had the evidence. Apparently you would too, because you seem to take it as a given that we were deceived, in order to make your point that the deception was worth it. It would be good to see you admit the former point. Then we can move on to address the "worth it" concept.
posted by soyjoy at 1:37 PM on July 8, 2003


Stonerose: That's about as feasible as the Sudanese aspirin factory, the Iraqi Childrens jail and Niger yellowcake. The NYT admits the info comes from a dissident group which seeks to promote regime change.

I hope the brass hats in the White House have learnt their lesson... but I'm not holding my breath.
posted by dash_slot- at 1:41 PM on July 8, 2003


Fine. For the record, I admit that the Bush administration hyped the immediacy of the WMD threat, relying on unproven, and, in some cases, demonstrably false intelligence, to pursue the PR battle to convince the public that a war in Iraq was necessary.

There was never a chance pre 9-11 and there has not been a chance post 9-11 that I would vote for this President. I did not in the past election and I will not in the future.

But that doesn't change the fact that I believe the war was justified, that I think the administration was justified in focusing their PR campaign the way they did. I don't think Dems are going to get anywhere second guessing every piece of intelligence used in the lead up.

We'll get somewhere by contructively proposing legitimate foreign policy alternatives to future problems.

If we put the amount of brainpower towards solving problems that we put towards criticizing the Bush administration the world would be a much better place.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:43 PM on July 8, 2003


There's a strange standard that Bush's supporters are holding him to, especially since he's supposed to be our "CEO President". Consider:

The CEO of Megacorp initiates a hostile takeover of Microcorp, claiming that they're about to release a new product that will push Megacorp out of the marketplace and severely damage their finances (a bit of a stretch, but bear with me). The hostile takeover goes through, only it turns out Microcorp doesn't have the product, nor did they have any means to produce it- nothing other than an "idea". Moreover, the company is a shambles, and Microcorp, upon auditing the books, finds out they paid too much for the assets.

What happens? The CEO gets fired by the board, that's what. No questions asked, just shown the door. He's the one who is accountable.

So why does the POTUS get a pass?
posted by mkultra at 1:44 PM on July 8, 2003


"I believe the war was justified, that I think the administration was justified in focusing their PR campaign the way they did. "

I'm getting a little dizzy here, PJ - let me make sure I heard you right...

...did you just say that you think that it's perfectly fine to mislead the American people and the world in general if it helps to forward a less-popular agenda that an administration deems as "neccessary?"
posted by Perigee at 1:52 PM on July 8, 2003


mkultra: The CEO gets fired by the board, that's what. No questions asked, just shown the door. He's the one who is accountable.

Or, well, maybe not.

But your point is well-taken.
posted by trharlan at 1:55 PM on July 8, 2003


...did you just say that you think that it's perfectly fine to mislead the American people and the world in general if it helps to forward a less-popular agenda that an administration deems as "neccessary?"

yes, he did. It is OK to fool the sucker electorate into sending their children off to die "for their own good."

What if Clinton was just protecting a vulnerable populace from discovering that their leader had funny marks on his thingy?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 1:57 PM on July 8, 2003


Y'know, Iggy, they tell ME that I should move to Russia... ~sigh~
posted by Perigee at 2:01 PM on July 8, 2003


No harm done?

RylandDotNet: Only if you believe that the war would not have happened if African uranium had never been mentioned can you attribute the "harm done" to Bush's statement. Until you show me the people that became convinced to overthrow Saddam after hearing Bush mention African uranium in the SOTU, I fail to see what significance the "lie" had one way or the other to the cause of generating support. Therefore, I cannot understand why Bush would consider it a worthwhile risk to intentionally lie about such a minor detail.
posted by techgnollogic at 2:07 PM on July 8, 2003


"OK, fair enough" sound like a "jackass?" Did they also teach you for years to do careful reading? I agreed with you! And, BTW, I was addressing soyjoy so your self importance might be reflected in your name calling. :-)

Maybe I overreacted, but I thought you were responding to me, and that you called me a Bush apologist.
posted by SweetJesus at 2:10 PM on July 8, 2003


What if Clinton was just protecting a vulnerable populace from discovering that their leader had funny marks on his thingy?

More likely he didn't want to broadcast the fact that he points to the right.
posted by soyjoy at 2:10 PM on July 8, 2003


On further reading, and re-reading, exactly where did you agree with me?
posted by SweetJesus at 2:16 PM on July 8, 2003


More likely he didn't want to broadcast the fact that he points to the right.

Hell yes! Now that's funny.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 2:17 PM on July 8, 2003


"Until you show me the people that became convinced to overthrow Saddam after hearing Bush mention African uranium in the SOTU, I fail to see what significance the "lie" had one way or the other to the cause of generating support."

And RylandDotNet becomes a news source? Or simply another mouth in the void, just like us?

Funny thing about Landslides and Avalanches... Taken one bit at a time, its just a rock, or a clod of dirt. If you explain each one away as inconsequential... why there was no damage at all!

And all this time the Red Cross has been wasting time and money.
posted by Perigee at 2:22 PM on July 8, 2003


1) 9-11 made it clear that stability and growth had to be brought to the Middle East

But we haven't ensured stablilty in the Middle East. We have done just the opposite. We have taken a country that was stable -- one of the few countries in the area, I might add, that was ruled by a secular authority -- and created a new womb for fundementalist unrest. Sadaam held the religious nuts in check with an iron fist, certainly, but it was working just fine until we came along and screwed up the balance of power in Iraq. Now we have only two options: keep our military presence there, which increases fundementalist antagonism (the very same reason why 9/11 happened -- our continued presence in the Middle East); or our second option: we turn over the power to a ruling electorate, who's legitimacy is instantly called into question by the fundementalist Shiites who will claim their government is simply a pawn for the United States. The next election cycle comes and the fundementalists are in power. Bingo, you've got another Algeria, only this one sits in a terribly important strategic area, on some terribly important strategic oil. Fan-fucking-tastic.

2) I, and others, are, and have been, extremely worried about the state of the Saudi monarchy for some time.

Me, too. I'm also worried about Egypt, but for different reasons (its location versus its natural resources). But as the rather vocal enemies of the Faud's would tell you, the reason they're mad is because of continued U.S. involvement in what is seen as a tyranical regime. By placing a U.S. puppet state right next door, we are not going to make any new friends among the dissidents. Indeed, this will only serve to anger them more. Despite what FOX news says, the people of Iraq and its surrounding neighbors do not see us as saviors, we are invaders, pure and simple. Throughout history, no better threat can unify disparaging elements in a country like forieign occupation.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:38 PM on July 8, 2003


There is no meaning to democracy, if the consensus holds that it is prudent for a leader to mislead the populace when seeking their consent.

If popular sovereignty is more than just an elaborate ruse, then this principle is certainly not to be abrogated in matters of war, when citizens will be called upon to fight, kill, and die as a consequence.
posted by jann at 2:41 PM on July 8, 2003


Well, CD, first, I never watch Fox news. Thanks for the lowbrow swipe though.

Second, I completely disagree with both of your points. I believe the region is in far better shape now with Hussein removed. I also feel you are treading on really weak moral ground stating implicitly that Hussein's version of the "iron fist" was a good thing.

I also disagree with you analysis of why the Saudi monarchy is falling. Its not because of ties with the US, though the Saudi regime tacitly attempted to deflect disatisfaction among the populace towards the US. The cause of the instability is the blantent corruption of the government, its complete disregard for traditional Saudi morals, the outright theft of the countries oil revenues by an ever growing royal family, and the percepitious drop in GCP per capita over the past 20 years.
posted by pjgulliver at 2:48 PM on July 8, 2003


Remeber Jann, this country was never supposed to be formed as a popular democracy, it is Republic. The public has no say in whether we go to war. That is decided by the Houses of Congress and the President.
posted by pjgulliver at 2:50 PM on July 8, 2003


Thanks, jann. That's the best I've heard it put.
posted by soyjoy at 2:50 PM on July 8, 2003


That is decided by the Houses of Congress and the President.

Or at least it was until a couple of years ago.

People (by which I do not mean "pjgulliver") tend to frame Congress' forfeiture of their ability to declare (or not declare) war in terms of some sort of sacrifice of privilege. This misses the point entirely. In doing so, Congress abdicated their greatest responsibility. The giant mess of competing interests and ideologies that has always been our legislature can be long-winded and overly procedural, but in times of war that can all just add up to the deliberacy that the situation warrants.

In no way did the framers of our constitution or government intend for one executive to have the power to wage war. This is the historically significant and frightening point, in my eyes.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 3:03 PM on July 8, 2003


pjg - The "lowbrow swipe" wasn't intended, sorry if it was construed that way.

As for the region's stability -- well, I guess we'll just have to wait and see. In matters of politics, I'm pretty pragmatic. "Stability", at least as I see it, doesn't have U.S. soldiers getting sniped at every day. Stability doesn't include looting. Stability doesn't include religious fundementalists decrying occupation and calling for jihah against the U.S.

As for my shakey morality -- I find it amusing that someone so concerned with morality would give the president a free pass to lie to the American people and goad terrorists into killing our people because he feels the need to prove to the world that he's got a big dick ("bring it on").

And while your assessment of the current affairs of Saudi Arabia provides good reason for civil unrest, it betrays the fact that the fundementalists are not attacking us because the Saudi Government is corrupt. They're attacking us because of our air bases and troops that are stationed in the area (supporting the Fauds). Nearly every "tape" Osama bin Laden has sent out clearly states that the Islamic fundementalists want the U.S. out of the area. So how exactly is our occupation of Iraq going to help matters?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:13 PM on July 8, 2003


Nevertheless, a representative republic is still a form of government in which the ultimate sovereignty is supposed to reside with those being represented through regular, open, and honest elections.

A representative republic without public justification of policy is a sham. When "hype" or, as I prefer to term it, intentional misrepresentation is allowed to pass for public justification, the mechanisms of republican representation have become irrelevant.

Either way you slice it, this should be unacceptable.
posted by jann at 3:16 PM on July 8, 2003


techngnollic said: Until you show me the people that became convinced to overthrow Saddam after hearing Bush mention African uranium in the SOTU, I fail to see what significance the "lie" had one way or the other to the cause of generating support.

The Bush administration leaped from justification to justification for their war, as one justification was questioned and became useless they lept to the next - the African uranium story was just one in a string of justifications. So no, the African uranium story in and of itself wasn't the one single thing that Bush used to garner support, but it was part of the overall pattern of cherry-picking the intelligence reports to support their desire to go to war. You offered two alternatives - believing the uranium story was either an "honest mistake" or an overt lie. Either way, there was harm done.
posted by RylandDotNet at 3:33 PM on July 8, 2003


Until you show me the people that became convinced to overthrow Saddam after hearing Bush mention African uranium in the SOTU, I fail to see what significance the "lie" had one way or the other to the cause of generating support. . ."
--techgnollogic

I have a letter from one of my US Senators that bases his support of 'urgent and swift' action against Iraq squarely on the threats posed by 'purchases of uranium' and purchases of aluminium tubing 'for use in constructing the means of refining uranium into weapons grade materials' by Iraq.

Either he's in on the joke or else that's one fairly influential person convinced by this fabricated evidence.
posted by Fezboy! at 5:50 PM on July 8, 2003


Heh... now I wish I had kept the form letters I got back from Kay Bailey Hutchison and Phil Gramm when True Majority faxed them on my behalf.
posted by RylandDotNet at 6:08 PM on July 8, 2003


pjg writes: there seem to be two types of people here, those of feel that war is a regrettable but necessary form of foreign policy, and sometimes the correct solution to a problem, and those who abhor war, and choose to write in lurid detail about its horror (like the blood flowing through arteries comment above.)

Nope. False dichotomy. Plenty of people oppose this war who do not oppose all war. Thanks for playing.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:01 PM on July 8, 2003


On a side note, I too feel that I should admit to fudging. I have fudged on numerous occasions, sometimes with glazing, and once... and I'll regret this until the day I die... once, I churned.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:42 PM on July 8, 2003


Only if you believe that the war would not have happened if African uranium had never been mentioned can you attribute the "harm done" to Bush's statement.

You say (perhaps correctly) that this particular lie wasn't *the* lie that tipped the pro-war scales for millions of Americans. So we shouldn't be discussing it, even in the context of trying to place it in the overall pattern of deception and/or gross incompetence?

What was the pressing problem that required intervention?

I just had this vision. We put the Boy King into a bare room, one camera and hot lights pointed at him, and ask over and over for hours, "Why did we invade Iraq?"

I'd like to see the various stages of his mental descent as he moves from smirking to squirming to eventually yelling for his Daddy to get him out of there.

Didn't you folks get the memo? The war wasn't about WMD anymore, it was about "Iraqi liberation."

Ah, yes, and how they have welcomed their liberating overlords.....

What I'd really like to read here is what you'd do now, if you were a significant Democratic politician, to force policy changes and forge a better plan for proceeding from here.

Because as distressed as I am to see my fears from last winter coming true, the reality is we are stuck with this big, bloated, economy-sucking, life-endangering "post-war" mess. What the bleep do we do now?
posted by NorthernLite at 8:45 PM on July 8, 2003


You churned the truth? How exactly do you churn the truth?
posted by graventy at 9:03 PM on July 8, 2003


I think that regimes that violently suppress opposition, exploit the well-being of the populace as an opportunity for monetary gain, and attack their neighbors should be confronted at the world scale. I also think that a large international economic interest such as Saudi Arabia should be protected, and that its own political climate should be a concern for all parties who do commerce with the Saudis.

However, I tend to doubt that the best course of action to accomplish these goals would involve military action against the offender when a forum of world leaders are opposed to such action, and the immediate result is to bring about fundamentalist strife in a region where religious tensions run high.

Billions of dollars spent on military supplies, training, and intelligence, and we're still stuck with "hit 'em hard and fast?" If this region is of such importance, then how come the planning seems to have been based on knee-jerk claims, and the first question on everyone's lips is "When are the troops coming home?"

I realize the notion of doing something right or not at all is a little shallow when it comes to something of this scale, but I've never seen the gravity of the situation accurately addressed by anyone.
posted by mikeh at 9:04 PM on July 8, 2003


NL: First, we pull out. Yep, just pack up and leave. If they want peace keepers, they know the U.N.'s number. If they want democracy, they now have the ability to choose it for themselves, and look, they didn't even have to take Sadaam out themselves.

On the home front: We tax the fuck out of the top quintile. They aren't spending their tax break money, they're just hoarding, waiting for the real estate market to collapse to buy up land on the cheap so they can rent it out to the bottom ("suckers!") quintile. Screw them.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:06 PM on July 8, 2003


Mikeh - Don't blame it on the US military. They didn't ask for the invasion of Iraq. The White House called the shots on this ugly little war. The question is - what were they smoking? - power?
posted by troutfishing at 10:04 PM on July 8, 2003


Lastly, there seem to be two types of people here, those of feel that war is a regrettable but necessary form of foreign policy, and sometimes the correct solution to a problem, and those who abhor war, and choose to write in lurid detail about its horror (like the blood flowing through arteries comment above.) Those of us who supported this war effort believe two things: first, Iraqi civilians were already dying, and if there death could serve a larger prupose, such as the removal of there government, so be it; second, that war is necessary and useful tool, and that death on behalf of all sides is sometimes necessary to move towards a brighter future.

That is some of the most silly tautology I've heard throughout this whole fiasco PJ.

First you set yourself away from the fray, as though you are only an objective observer:

Lastly, there seem to be two types of people here, those of feel that war is a regrettable but necessary form of foreign policy, and sometimes the correct solution to a problem, and those who abhor war, and choose to write in lurid detail about its horror (like the blood flowing through arteries comment above.)

Pray tell, who doesn't "abhor" this war thing you write of? Who doesn't abhor it? Name names. Notable names. I want to see who you come up with.

Secondly, that's what the spillage of blood does. It makes people unable to think. Think about it PJ (I mean you still can), what is the one fundamental ingredient that allows you to post here?

The internet? Electricity? Fingers? Coffee? Freedom? I'm sure we can all come up with more. But what do you need to come up with just any old idea, even stupid ones?

Blood! Yeah. Blood. No blood to the brain, you don't get to think.

So chew on this: Because you have blood coursing through your brain right now, you have the wherewithal to be unconcerned with those who no longer have what you do.

Life.

And then, (completely inexplicably to me how you can 180 in philosophical direction yet retain such a rigid position) admonish us on just what a beneficent side "The Pro War Side(TM)" is for saying that exact thing you "didn't" say in your attack on the enemies of the Bush administration:

Those of us who supported this war effort believe two things: first, Iraqi civilians were already dying, and if there death could serve a larger prupose, such as the removal of there government, so be it; second, that war is necessary and useful tool, and that death on behalf of all sides is sometimes necessary to move towards a brighter future.

So you will take life away from someone as long as it is you who continue to live, getting to continue to have opinions. Yet when one does have an opinion with which you do not agree, it's invalid, and especially so if it depicts the reality of war (ie: This is the blood of Americans and Iraqis that THIS VERY DAY would pump tidily through intact arteries and veins instead of laying splattered all over Mesopotamia. . .) and therefore not conducive to life. Life being that thing that allows one opinions.

In other words. Hipocrisy.

For a servant of the American people to lie in order to go to war is much much worse. Be careful on which side you want to find yourself after this is all over. You cannot defend or liberate anyone with violence and bloodshed. There are millions of children emotionally scarred forever because of a dispicably named "Shock and Awe" campaign of speeding, shearing metal and explosives.

I cannot begin to beg those of you who supported this invasion of full-scale neurosis we have brought on so many people enough, to at least try and look at it from the lens of the scariest moments of your own childhood. And for god's sake multiply that by multiples of ten in each instance a child felt the pressure related sensation and horrific noise of one of our multi-million dollar warheads. One can never be truly liberated from a neurosis. And that is what we have, a city of millions that is in a state neurosis. It's only going to get worse. You have to face that simple, natural fact.

Again, one can never be truly liberated from a neurosis brought on by prolonged fear and uncertainty.

Thank you and good night. . .

(Oh. And no word on any of the local TV news sites I've checked so far about this intelligence "bombshell". Plenty of the Iranian siamese twins though. . . But at least they are covering something regionally specific to the middle east I guess.)
posted by crasspastor at 10:40 PM on July 8, 2003


I am surprised and pleased at the civility of this discussion. Well done.

We could have sold this war to the world honestly, but it may not have arrived in time for fall '04, and wouldn't have made people forget our failure to apprehend bin Laden.

Ignatius J. Reilly hits the nail on the head. I suspect this is how historians will see this war as well, no matter who wins the next election. Ironic, is it not, that despite his flaws and failures, William Jefferson Clinton's middling presidency may, in a generation, be ranked far higher than George Walker Bush's. We have opened Pandora's box with this war, and from it many more creatures are yet to fly forth. Mark my words.
posted by y2karl at 10:47 PM on July 8, 2003


SweetJesus and soyjoy,

My apologies to you both for the inference that you might have been Bush apologists. I phrased the statement as a question so as not to be accusatory but to imply a possible motive. Again, my apologies.

May I address one point about the question of corroboration to the story I linked to?
The capitolhillblue link did in fact name the individual making the statement so it was not an "anonymous source."
That makes this article infinitely more credible than the scores of articles apearing in the NYT, WaPo, and the WSJ during the hunting of our last elected president. During that period it became fashionable to publish a front page story based on a rumor from an anonymous source known to be a partisan enemy or even lying for money. Two sources be damned was the ethic of the day and that extended all the way to the halls of Congress. Why should two reliable and factual eyewitness sources now be the standard with which to judge the accuracy of what a public servant says when it is detrimental to the Executive branch?

Not that I disagree with your premise just why should a double standard exist for politicians of a different stripe?
posted by nofundy at 5:12 AM on July 9, 2003


Not that I disagree with your premise just why should a double standard exist for politicians of a different stripe?

It's not about a double standard, but about having standards at all. Anyone who read the article knows that it names the source; it is the author who is anonymous. I think that we all know that an anonymous author is a little shady.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 7:23 AM on July 9, 2003


nofundy, I don't want to bog us back down in this sourcing debate, but the Monicagate fiasco doesn't excuse any given article from journalistic standards today - at least, not if I'm going to cite it (which, of course, I want to be able to do). The capitolhillblue piece named a name, but was uncredited; the name didn't seem to connect to any other piece of journalism I could find (I just did a Nexis search in addition to my earlier Google search); no dice. The Josh Marshall piece, being bylined (and being Josh Marshall), was more credible, but 1) didn't contain a firsthand account of Bush admitting knowledge of the intelligence problems, and 2) relied almost entirely on anonymous sources. We saw how that can be manipulated in the case of Judith Miller.

24 hours later, it looks like the White House has done a splendid job of spinning this "admission" so that it's off the front pages of most papers. Congrats all round.
posted by soyjoy at 8:20 AM on July 9, 2003


More information about Capitol Hill Blue is here at creator Doug Tompson's site. Perhaps he can tell us where this information came from...

"He said that if the current operatives working for the CIA couldn't prove the story was true, then the agency had better find some who could," Wilkinson said.
posted by VulcanMike at 2:19 PM on July 9, 2003


Perhaps he can tell us where this information came from...
He was conned. Of course, the damage has been done.
posted by darukaru at 8:28 PM on July 9, 2003


I have nothing to say to this thread, except as a Greek Chorus sorrowfully echoing Y2Karl's last remark:

"We have opened Pandora's box with this war, and from it many more creatures are yet to fly forth....

Mark my words......

Mark my words..........

Mark my words..................."

posted by troutfishing at 10:01 PM on July 9, 2003


Any news publication exists on the trust of its readers. Because I depended on a source that was not credible, I violated the trust that the readers of Capitol Hill Blue placed in me.

Man, first the New York Times, now Capitol Hill Blue. What is American journalism coming to?
posted by soyjoy at 8:30 AM on July 10, 2003


Yeah, I can't believe that idiot had been relying on the same faulty, creepy source for 20-plus years. I'm pleased that I had never heard of the site before. Maybe they can hire Judith Miller, so as to achieve a better balance of made-up bullshit news.

Shameful.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 8:59 AM on July 10, 2003


This isn't worth a separate FPP, but it hits the nail on the head:

U.S. changes reason for invading Iraq
posted by soyjoy at 10:10 AM on July 10, 2003


Erasing the stories doesn't erase the fact that we ran articles containing information that, given the source, was probably inaccurate. And it doesn't erase the sad fact that my own arrogance allowed me to be conned.

It will be a long time (and perhaps never) before I trust someone else who comes forward and offers inside information. The next one who does had better be prepared to produce a birth certificate, a driver's license and his grandmother's maiden name.

Any news publication exists on the trust of its readers. Because I depended on a source that was not credible, I violated the trust that the readers of Capitol Hill Blue placed in me. I was wrong. I'm sorry.


Again, props to the guy for the balls to put up his hand to admit he was wrong. That underlines his journalistic ethics.

I still think Bush is a lying sumbitch, I didn't rest my assessment on this alone.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:28 PM on July 10, 2003


I was wrong. I'm sorry.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:55 PM on July 10, 2003


psychic prediction #23594: Cheney will take the heat and step down as veep bec. of this and the other things that will come out.

psychic prediction #23595: Bush/someone Hispanic will be the 2004 repub. ticket
posted by amberglow at 4:35 PM on July 10, 2003


amberglow, you might be right with #23594. Cheney's gotten enough established on this side of the revolving door that it can only help him to nip over to the other side again and reap more benefits. Meanwhile, the trail is slowly drawing closer to Bush himself, but there's still no documentation anywhere near good old "Terrance Wilkinson's" quote.
posted by soyjoy at 8:30 PM on July 10, 2003


i think if Blair actually fell, soyjoy, then Bush would be in trouble, but until that happens we're stuck with him.
but...check this out.
posted by amberglow at 9:34 PM on July 10, 2003


On Blair: Possible, but Blair is not looking too solid right now. This could be a crucial point, as the White House is explicitly pointing its finger back at the CIA and we'll see if the CIA accepts it and offers a scapegoat, or takes a "Bring it on!" stance. There's not much ground in between.
posted by soyjoy at 9:04 AM on July 11, 2003


« Older A little coffee shop in a little North Carolina to...  |  British Columbia joins Ontario... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments