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It just keeps unravelling
October 19, 2005 9:24 PM   Subscribe

It just keeps unravelling...Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Mr Powell until last January, said: “What I saw was a cabal between the vice-president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made". I suppose now we have extra proof of the bumbling and fumbling of GWB, but now it's almost overkill.
posted by Kickstart70 (56 comments total)

 
...almost?
posted by odinsdream at 9:25 PM on October 19, 2005


Not overkill at all. It's just beginning. Great link. Thanks.
posted by digaman at 9:33 PM on October 19, 2005


Hrrrm, what was that document that Cheney and Rumsfeld signed?

What are those people called again?

Oh yeah.
posted by wah at 9:36 PM on October 19, 2005


> made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made

we all benefit when bureaucracy is well-informed.
posted by dand at 9:42 PM on October 19, 2005


Burn the Witch ! ! ! Buuurrrrnnnn Thheee Wiiiitttcchhhhh ! ! !
posted by mk1gti at 9:45 PM on October 19, 2005


Direct link to the transcript linked in the article, just to make any of the apologists that happen to come along read his words directly.
posted by Kickstart70 at 9:47 PM on October 19, 2005



It's just like in 24 and how Jack Bauer calls all the shots.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:01 PM on October 19, 2005


We can stop MetaFilter now:

"1 posts tagged with cabal"
posted by Mikey-San at 10:26 PM on October 19, 2005


I have to admit, this is one of those time when I start to think about all the shoes that are waiting to drop and it almost makes my brain hurt. How the hell did we get here?

Ah. Got it:

"The only hope now, I felt, was the possibility that we'd gone to such excess, with our gig, that nobody in a position to bring the hammer down on us could possibly believe it. ... When you bring an act into this town, you want to bring it in heavy. Don't waste any time with cheap shucks and misdeameanors. Go straight for the jugular. Get right into felonies."
posted by spiderwire at 10:28 PM on October 19, 2005


But I'm not an expert in hurricanes :-(
posted by elpapacito at 10:45 PM on October 19, 2005


huiriricainies.
posted by wakko at 10:52 PM on October 19, 2005


Sorry, there's no one more disgusted by the Bush Adminsitration than I am, but these "charges" make no rational sense. Last I checked, Cheney was elected VP of the U.S. of A. (lets take the shouting match about the validity of the elections to another thread) and the elected president selected Rumsfeld to serve in his cabinet. One man's "cabal" is another's "management team," and new administrations make policies all the time without genuflecting before the civil service. "Bumbling and fumbling"? Sure, but that has everything to do with their values and specific decisions, and nothing to do with the fact that they made their decisions and implemented them without "building support" in the government bureaucracy.
posted by twsf at 11:05 PM on October 19, 2005


Why did Wilkerson choose now to blow his wad? It's career suicide, and timeing is everything. What forum is the transcript from?
posted by stbalbach at 11:15 PM on October 19, 2005


Well, twsf, it seems to me that the pissed-off bureaucrats are now saying "I told you so, dipshit."

The Bush Cabal Management team could have listened to the advice of, and maybe played ball with, some of the folks who actually make the government function for a living. There's no conspiracy here, just an incompetent management team led by a CEO in over his head. Business as usual in the good ole USA.
posted by Neologian at 11:16 PM on October 19, 2005


twsf: It seems to me that Wilkerson's criticism is that the VP's office made bad decisions out of their depth -- he gives examples like our disastrous Iran and NoKo policies.

Really, this criticism is no different than that levied by Richard Clarke and Paul O'Neill with regards to our terrorism and economic policies (respectively) -- that the Administration makes "faith-based" decisions, or decisions based on a calculus that is not in the interests of the nation, but rather in the interests of their 'cabal,' whatever that might entail. It's a fair charge.
posted by spiderwire at 11:16 PM on October 19, 2005


stbalbach:
The comments, made at the New America Foundation, a Washington think-tank, were the harshest attack on the administration by a former senior official since criticisms by Richard Clarke, former White House terrorism czar, and Paul O'Neill, former Treasury secretary, early last year.
posted by spiderwire at 11:17 PM on October 19, 2005


You know, daddy must be pulling a ton of strings, trying to keep the family name from being completely destroyed by his idiot child.

George must be one helluva disappointment to George.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:42 PM on October 19, 2005


spiderwire, neologian: no disagreement on how misguided the administration's policies and actions have been, just disputing the characterization of the mistakes as being a function of disregarding the bureaucracy. The statement that "secret decision-making was responsible for (emphasis mine) mistakes such as the long refusal to engage with North Korea or to back European efforts on Iran" is a non-sequiteur. There are lots of big philosophical and policy differences between the Bushies and the bureaucracy - they acted in secret explicitly because they figured they would be opposed and jammed and undermined by the bureaucracy.
posted by twsf at 12:07 AM on October 20, 2005


they acted in secret explicitly because they figured they would be opposed and jammed and undermined by the bureaucracy.
No, they acted in secret because they were aware that what they were doing was unethical at best and criminal at worst. Had they been open with their mad plans everyone, not just the bureaucrats, would have been up in arms.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:21 AM on October 20, 2005


twsf: Seems to me that the point is implicit in the critique of letting the ends guide the means of your policy, as it were. If you want foreign policy done right, you leave it to the State Department (where Wilkerson was). If you're doing foreign policy outside of the State Department, something is messed up in the process. Same thing applies to Paul O'Neill and the Treasury.

The problem with this Administration, to my mind, is that the political wing is driving the policy (as the guy who used to run Bush's faith-based programs put it). If the VP's office has to override the State Department's decisions, then they need to put someone else in at State. Under no circumstances should the VP's office be driving foreign policy. That's not "overriding the bureaucracy." The whole issue is that they were messing around where they shouldn't have been in order to forward their own agenda. It's pretty simple.
posted by spiderwire at 12:22 AM on October 20, 2005


There's no conspiracy here

Um, yes there is.

Cheney and Rummsfeld didn't just make a policy decision and then implement it.

They lied through their fucking teeth, in a concerted effort to sell a war on false pretenses. Further, they seem to have done it while keeping many people, who saw this sham for what it was, quiet through intimidation and worse. Further still, they did it over the objections of the few people in the White House who had some sense of ethics. They may, or may not, have done this with the consent of the actual boss, the President.

Then, to add even more arrogant hubris, when the shit went bad and their lies were exposed in the lack of WMD, they conspired yet again to get that labeled as an "intelligence failure" and pin the blame on somebody else.

Your goddamn right that's a conspiracy. That's way more than bumbling and mismanagement. These guys have moved the goal-posts of responsible government so far that even rational people are starting to get confused about what is right and wrong.

And, incidentally, it seems they may have broken a few laws along the way, so it might even be a criminal conspiracy.
posted by teece at 12:38 AM on October 20, 2005


Wilkerson's view of the decision making process before the invasion seems to strengthen the story told by CIA insiders and Karen Kwiatkowski very early on in this bondoogle about the Office of Special Plans and the 'stove piping' of intelligence into the Vice President's office.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 12:58 AM on October 20, 2005


If you want foreign policy done right, you leave it to the State Department (where Wilkerson was).

Why not just hand the whole country over to the bureaucrats then? Who needs elections?
posted by srboisvert at 1:07 AM on October 20, 2005


Damn, I forgot the main point in my tangential rant. You'll notice something about the names Rummsfeld and Cheney: neither of them are in the State Department. And yet, they routinely made State-departmnent-type decisions, without State's knowledge, or anyone's knowledge, apparently.

That's part of why the word 'cabal' is being used here. This is not business as usual. You're ignoring a hell of a lot if you think it is.

The Bush administration is a fuck up on a scale that most people can not begin to imagine. This is only scratching the surface.
posted by teece at 1:30 AM on October 20, 2005


So, i'm sad to say, its our fault. We knew a lot about Bush before his first term and we knew a lot more before his second term. And we certainly knew a lot about Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al. Yet we were inept enough and lazy enough to allow both those terms to happen and for the cabal to continue their not so merry dance along the way. Maybe this time we will get off our asses and see that, at least, their control of the congress will be ended.
posted by donfactor at 2:41 AM on October 20, 2005


You know, daddy must be pulling a ton of strings, trying to keep the family name from being completely destroyed by his idiot child.

George must be one helluva disappointment to George.


Unless the son's bungles are a flagrant distraction from (or a superficial part of) whatever dad is currently up to. Dad was head of the CIA, after all. Besides, Dad pulled all these strings to get him to where he was so that he wouldn't embarrass the family any further.

OH...and don't forget that as far as Saddam Hussein, you always hear about how he tried to kill George Sr. and how he was a horrible and cruel tyrant, but rarely do you hear about who was responsible for him being in power in the first place.
posted by deusdiabolus at 2:44 AM on October 20, 2005


Hrrrm, what was that document that Cheney and Rumsfeld signed?

What are those people called again?


The Project for the New American Century: this Reich will last a thousand years.
posted by Livewire Confusion at 3:18 AM on October 20, 2005


No surprise. GWB has a vacuous mind and is incapable of making decisions on his own. The country is pretty much being run by default. Regan/Iran Contra makes GWB/Iraq look like Jim/Taxi.
posted by disgruntled at 4:09 AM on October 20, 2005


Hmm... and we've got three more years of this shit..
posted by c13 at 4:25 AM on October 20, 2005


twsf: ...One man's "cabal" is another's "management team," and new administrations make policies all the time without genuflecting before the civil service...

Man, you're just begging someone to go all Godwin on your ass, aren't you.

It's not about the abstract equivalencies of organizational sructures. It's about the extremism that was unleashed in this particular case. Everyone makes mistakes or "bumbles". Not everyone makes the "greatest strategic blunder in American history" for megolamaniacally ideological motives.
posted by mondo dentro at 5:39 AM on October 20, 2005


When I left the US ~10 years ago it was in Clinton's lecherous, but reasonably well managed hands. I've been watching the unravelling from a European, Asia, and now Australian perspective. Happy to not be in the US to experience it first hand. Sadly, I can't sit and watch while the infection in the US takes root in all the places I'd rather live.

It's time to figure out how absentee voting works.
posted by michswiss at 5:43 AM on October 20, 2005


Clinton's lecherous, but...

I'm not a huge fan of Clinton, but...

How lecherous was he, really? He had a pathetic affair. Really, so what? So have have lots of people. Including those attacking him. Including lots of us posting here (maybe even some non-pathetic affairs, I dare say...)

The lying neocons are trying to say that Fitzgerald is "criminalizing politics". Well, the Hunt for Clinton's Cock was all about criminalizing human nature.
posted by mondo dentro at 5:55 AM on October 20, 2005


I wouldn't take Daddy Bush out of the picture. As deusdiabolus said George Sr. had almost everything to do with who our current President is. He recruited Karl Rove back in the early 1970s and is up to his eyeballs in Saudi oil. In this case the apple does not fall from the tree...remember Iran Contra.
posted by sultan at 6:06 AM on October 20, 2005


Oh, I agree with you on that. It was more a statement that Clinton's following his urges isn't the same as the reasonable competence he and his team demonstrated over an eight year period. In my opinion GHWB, while I disagreed with his politics, was also a competent leader.
posted by michswiss at 6:10 AM on October 20, 2005


rarely do you hear about who was responsible for him being in power in the first place [link claims CIA was responsible]

Do you have any actual evidence for this? It's claimed by a bunch of badly written fringe sites, but it all seems to rest on the word of Roger Morris, a former foreign service officer who was on the NSC staff during the Johnson and Nixon administrations. It doesn't make sense to me; when Saddam was hanging around the American embassy in Cairo in the early '60s (along with every other exile, conspirator, and wannabe in town) he was nobody, a law student from the Iraqi backwoods—why would the CIA bother with him? And when he actually took power in '68, he immediately turned to the Soviets—does that sound like a CIA stooge? I'm all for bringing the skeletons out of the closet, but I'm not buying this one until I see better evidence. (You can read an interesting interview with a well-informed biographer here.)
posted by languagehat at 6:11 AM on October 20, 2005


twsf writes "Last I checked, Cheney was elected VP of the U.S. of A. (lets take the shouting match about the validity of the elections to another thread) and the elected president selected Rumsfeld to serve in his cabinet."

You *do* know about Cheney and Rumsfeld's shared history, don't you? Bush didn't choose Rumsfeld, Cheney did. For more information look up "Ford Presidency" on Google or something.
posted by clevershark at 6:35 AM on October 20, 2005


Metafilter: [inaudible - coughing]
posted by odinsdream at 6:59 AM on October 20, 2005


Do you have any actual evidence for this?

Saddam Key in Early CIA Plot:
U.S. forces in Baghdad might now be searching high and low for Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, but in the past Saddam was seen by U.S. intelligence services as a bulwark of anti-communism and they used him as their instrument for more than 40 years, according to former U.S. intelligence diplomats and intelligence officials.
A Tyrant Forty Years in the Making:
Forty years ago, the Central Intelligence Agency, under President John F. Kennedy, conducted its own regime change in Baghdad, carried out in collaboration with Saddam Hussein.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:28 AM on October 20, 2005


What Teece said.
posted by MetaJohn at 7:44 AM on October 20, 2005


Mr Wilkerson said former president George H.W. Bush “one of the finest presidents we have ever had...”

How can you not like a guy who refuses to eat broccoli?
posted by BlueMetal at 7:55 AM on October 20, 2005


Teece said it nicely, except what do you call a conspiracy when they do it right out in the open? The PNAC statements of purpose have been public knowledge for longer than the current administration.
posted by Balisong at 8:24 AM on October 20, 2005


Ever notice how something like there's no one more disgusted by the Bush Adminsitration than I am is always followed by an apology for Bush & co.? It's like the thread where someone responded to me with I'm not going to get personal, then proceeded to speculeate on whether my sister had been molested.

It's nice of them to put the excessive protestations up front, so we know that what follows is BS.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:27 AM on October 20, 2005


kirkaracha: Thanks for the links, especially the first one (I was aware of Morris's take on things). I'm not saying it's impossible, but it all rests on anonymous statements by people steeped in lies and coverups ("former CIA officials said..."). I'm prepared to believe almost anything of the CIA, including stupid bungles like this, but I'd like to see harder evidence; maybe something will come out during the trial (though of course that would be contrary to the game plan of the people running it).
posted by languagehat at 8:59 AM on October 20, 2005


100k iraqis+2k americans dead+no wmd+no democracy+no progress= billions looted.
posted by cell divide at 9:08 AM on October 20, 2005


Why do you hate America, cell divide?
posted by phearlez at 11:35 AM on October 20, 2005


Video of Wilkerson's speech, and Washington Post commentary. Larry Wilkerson was one of Colin Powell's colleagues that were interviewed in a June 2004 GQ article (highlights; discussed here) that was a source for one of my favorite quotes about administration infighting:
I can tell you firsthand that there is a tremendous barrier between Cheney and Powell, and there has been for a long time...It's like McCain saying that his relations with the president are 'congenial,' meaning McCain doesn't tell the president to go fuck himself every time.
maybe something will come out during the trial (though of course that would be contrary to the game plan of the people running it).

Yep, I'm pretty sure the plan is to convict Saddam Hussein and kill him as soon as possible, before anything embarassing comes up.

languagehat, I don't know how much definitive information we can expect to get about covert activities during the 1960s.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:39 AM on October 20, 2005


I don't know how much definitive information we can expect to get about covert activities during the 1960s.

Very true, but you never know what might turn up. Look at the trove of information released when the Iranians took over the embassy.
posted by languagehat at 3:08 PM on October 20, 2005


from dictionary.com:

[French cabale, from Medieval Latin cabala. See kabbalah.]

Is "cabal" ever used with anti-semitic undertones? [serious question]

cabal

n 1: a clique (often secret) that seeks power usually through intrigue [syn: faction, junto, camarilla] 2: a plot to carry out some harmful or illegal act (especially a political plot) [syn: conspiracy] v : engage in plotting or enter into a conspiracy, swear together; "They conspired to overthrow the government" [syn: conspire, complot, conjure, machinate]
posted by mecran01 at 3:25 PM on October 20, 2005


Well Cheney did net 8 mil in profits last year from his Halliburton stock.

And Twsf, Wilkerson was working directly with Colin Powell, then the Secratary of State. Selected By W hisself.
posted by Max Power at 4:00 PM on October 20, 2005


rarely do you hear about who was responsible for him being in power in the first place

Let me clarify this statement.

Saddam was for a time a tool of Egyptian intelligence under Nasser, whose Mukhabarat was set up and trained by the CIA; Miles Copeland, Jr. was probably Nasser's closest American contact during this period, and Copeland knew about and had contact with Hussein during the period. I haven't read his books, but apparently in his retirement he became a cantankerous cynic and spilled a lot about his career. The only reason the CIA didn't object was that they thought our enemies would consider it disinformation.

At any rate the US was well aware of Hussein's role as an attempted assassin (aged 22) of the nationalist coup leader Qasim. (He failed and fled to Cairo.) Later, though, the Ba'ath party -- initially advocating the merger of Egypt, Syria and Iraq as the UAR -- took power from Qasim in an operation that the CIA apparently knew not a damn thing about (the Egyptians may have known). They (Egypt, technically) then sent Hussein back to Iraq with men and weapons to go around and massacre all the communists, so they couldn't seize power in the confusion.

What role the US or Egypt played in the later accession of Hussein to prominence in the Ba'ath party and then supreme power is unknown to open-source intelligence. (At any rate Hussein was a cousin of al-Bakr, the longtime Ba'ath leader.) After 1972 Iraq became a Soviet client, but Hussein's own coup did not make them a US ally.
posted by dhartung at 5:32 PM on October 20, 2005


Seymour Hersh, Selective Intelligence, New Yorker, May 2003 (my emphasis):
They call themselves, self-mockingly, the Cabal--a small cluster of policy advisers and analysts now based in the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans. In the past year, according to former and present Bush Administration officials, their operation, which was conceived by Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, has brought about a crucial change of direction in the American intelligence community.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:29 PM on October 20, 2005


Thanks, dhartung -- most informative.
posted by languagehat at 7:19 PM on October 20, 2005


After 1972 Iraq became a Soviet client, but Hussein's own coup did not make them a US ally.

Actually you could easily argue, and without irony, that Iran in 1979 made Iraq a US ally.
posted by clevershark at 8:36 PM on October 20, 2005


These are the kinds of actions that the Executive Order 13233 were intended to hide from view. (http://www.archivists.org/news/actnow.asp if you want more specifics, though it's been covered here.).

The control of the records of the Office are the means of keeping accounts of this kind of behavior away from [HEALTHY] criticism by us Great Unwashed Masses.
posted by aldus_manutius at 3:53 AM on October 21, 2005


“Ever notice how something like there's no one more disgusted by the Bush Adminsitration than I am is always followed by an apology for Bush & co.? It's like the thread where someone responded to me with I'm not going to get personal, then proceeded to speculeate on whether my sister had been molested.”
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:27 AM PST on October 20 [!]


I totally hate when people correct grammar and spelling and stuff. That really drives me nuts. People like that are entirely too anal. But it’s “speculate.”

----------------



I blame the troops for all this. They should have researched, years ago, all of the political persons who could have gotten elected and their past histories and made an extrapolation as to what could potentially occur years later as a result, before signing up. They should have realized that the apparatus put in place by the constitution could be circumvented by a small group of fanatic power elites. And then of course they should protest the war every day. Damn babykillers.

Ah well, back to work.


Seriously tho - the real shame is there is no opposition with the juice to bring start investigations and bring charges.
The issue is as soon as you control a party - whatever party (although, admittedly despite or perhaps because of their efficiency the Republicans are more vulnerable to it) - you can control the politicians because you ultimately control how much money they get for re-election, etc. etc.
Do that and you ensure that once your guys are in power they do your bidding, or at least stay off your back.


It appears that someone has found the combination to subvert the apparatus of government.
I wonder if the damage can be undone without radical changes.
Campaign reform would be a nice start. So would encouraging other political parties.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:39 AM on October 21, 2005


What needs to happen is for the Democrats to slide to the right. For the past several decades they've been far closer to Republican ideals than the Republicans themselves, especially as regards financial matters.

This would kill the existing Republican party, which is something that seems to need doing: it has been hijacked too well by the religionists and corporatists to be allowed to survive.

Then the real lefties, who are basically completely marginalized by today's two-party system, would form the new Left/Liberal party.

It would be the first time in a long time that the USA had a true left/right division between political parties.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:03 AM on October 21, 2005


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