Call Me Irresponsible
November 12, 2005 12:46 PM   Subscribe

"It is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began." As part of the administration's "campaign-style" strategy against criticism of the decision to invade Iraq, President Bush's Veteran's Day speech, which is basically the same speech he gave last month, does a little history-rewriting of its own. The president said that "a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs," and that Democrats "had access to the same intelligence." Neither assertion is wholly accurate. [more inside]
posted by kirkaracha (33 comments total)

The president misrepresents the findings of "Phase One" of the Senate Intelligence Committee report, and the Washington Post points out that:
the only committee investigating the matter in Congress, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has not yet done its inquiry into whether officials mischaracterized intelligence by omitting caveats and dissenting opinions. And Judge Laurence H. Silberman, chairman of Bush's commission on weapons of mass destruction, said in releasing his report on March 31, 2005: "Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers, and all of us were agreed that that was not part of our inquiry."
And most Congress members did not see the same intelligence. On October 5, 2001, President Bush restricted disclosures to Congress to "the Speaker of the House, the House Minority Leader, the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, and the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Intelligence Committees in the House and Senate."

According to a detailed account in the June 2003 New Republic, the classfied version of the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq "was balanced in its assessments" of the Iraqi threat. Then-Senate Intelligence Committee charman Bob Graham asked for a declassified version "that could guide members in voting on the resolution."

Senators Graham and Durbin "were outraged to find that it omitted the qualifications and countervailing evidence that had characterized the classified version and played up the claims that strengthened the administration's case for war...While Graham and Durbin could complain that the administration's and Tenet's own statements contradicted the classified reports they had read, they could not say what was actually in those reports." (This New Republic article is mentioned in the Libby indictment.)

The president also claimed that Congress approved his decision "to remove Saddam Hussein from power," but the Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq does not mention removing Saddam Hussein from power, and when Congress approved the resolution he said that "approving this resolution does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable," and that military action would be a "last resort." Previewing the speech, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley flat-out lied that "Congress, in 1998, authorized, in fact, the use of force based on that intelligence." The Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 says, "nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize or otherwise speak to the use of United States Armed Forces."
posted by kirkaracha at 12:46 PM on November 12, 2005

Awww damn it. Did he lie again?
posted by dazed_one at 12:50 PM on November 12, 2005

That does it! I'm not going to elect THAT guy to be MY president.
posted by Balisong at 12:57 PM on November 12, 2005

That WaPo line, "Neither is wholly accurate," is an aspect of what bugs me about modern ideas of journalistic impartiality.

No one but the most dishonest of partisans would say anything but "Bush is full of shit." Sure, the WaPo can't say that, but a lack of equivocating would be nice, as this situation calls for. "Both of these claims are false" is what the WaPo should have said. Shame on them. (But still, the WaPo story is much better than simply overlooking this Bush whopper, as they have done in the past).
posted by teece at 1:07 PM on November 12, 2005

blatantly dishonest is more like it.
It's really wonderful to see he's just trying to do what worked in the past. "I lie my ass off, and you pissants shut your frakking mouth about it."

Except people aren't just sighing, they're getting angry at continual attempts at brainwashing. Calling dissent treason is a wonderful way of painting your way into a corner, as well.
I have never heard "we welcome all opposing viewpoints, naturally, it's the foundation and strength of our culture in America" and "dissent gives aid and comfort to the enemy, and demoralizes our troops" so closely together as I have in the last week.
posted by Busithoth at 1:12 PM on November 12, 2005

The speech so nice, he gave it twice.
posted by emelenjr at 1:15 PM on November 12, 2005

The speech so nice, he gave it twice.

Well if you keep repeating something for long enough...

... it still doesn't make it true.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 1:20 PM on November 12, 2005

Maybe a third time will be the charm. Like, he'll give the speech again, and the Iraqi's will break out all those flowers they've been holding back.
posted by bashos_frog at 1:20 PM on November 12, 2005

Maybe if he actually gave the time to give a speech TO the Iraqi people, instead of around and about them.
posted by Balisong at 1:29 PM on November 12, 2005

The speech so nice, he gave it twice.

I saw that yesterday and had a different thought. Maybe he's having a hard time finding speech writers still willing to write this crap for him so he re-ran an old speech and hoped no one would notice. Or maybe the white house is in such disarray that they just forgot to tell someone to write a new speech and had to grab an old one at the last minute.
posted by octothorpe at 1:32 PM on November 12, 2005

The mofo lied then, and he's still lying now. Can we invent a new word -- "notnewsfilter"?
posted by clevershark at 1:33 PM on November 12, 2005

How quickly we forget?

"C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action."


"President Bush said he had not decided whether to invade Iraq but that it was only a matter of days before a U.N. Security Council vote on a U.S.-backed resolution authorizing force.

Our mission is clear in Iraq," the president said. "Should we have to go in, our mission is very clear: disarmament. It will mean a regime change. No doubt there's risks in any military operation. I know that."

Mr. Bush insisted that he had not decided whether to invade Iraq and said it was up to Saddam: "It's his choice to make whether or not we go to war. He's the person that can make the choice of war or peace. Thus far he's made the wrong choice."

The Bushies in 2003 were playing a clever game of 'gotcha' wrt Saddam & Sons, 'course now we're on the hook for a $250B+ war, 2,060 soldiers dead, 15000+ wounded.

Thanks, Ralph.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:39 PM on November 12, 2005

Chronicling the full measure of the Bush administration's mendacity with regards to the war is a difficult task -- not because of a dearth of evidence for it but because of its so many layers, all its multidimensionality. It's almost like one of those Russian egg novelties in which each layer opened layer reveals another layer beneath it...
...The judgement of history hangs over this guy like a sharp, heavy knife. His desperation betrays him. He knows it too.

Talking Points Memo

"It has become clear that if we still have 140,000 ground troops in Iraq a year from now, we will destroy the all-volunteer army,"

U.S. 'can't maintain Iraq troop levels'

Strategic Redeployment differs from other plans for what to do in Iraq by recognizing that Iraq is now connected to a broader battle against global terrorist networks - even though it was not before the Bush administration's invasion.

Fact Versus Fantasy in Iraq
posted by y2karl at 2:00 PM on November 12, 2005

I thought you lot were supposed to be likably lefty. Maybe the Voice meant lickably.
posted by Rothko at 2:53 PM on November 12, 2005

Rothko writes "I thought you lot were supposed to be likably lefty. Maybe the Voice meant lickably."

Sorry Alex, but being told by President Bush that we're "revising history" is a bit like being told by Jeffrey Dahmer that you shouldn't eat meat.
posted by clevershark at 3:12 PM on November 12, 2005

The speech so nice, he gave it twice.

Repeating the same shit over and over again long after it's been effective is referred to as 'staying on message'.
posted by my sock puppet account at 3:23 PM on November 12, 2005

Well, he was a History major at Yale, so he would know.

"History, we don't know. We'll all be dead." -- President George W. Bush
posted by kirkaracha at 3:24 PM on November 12, 2005

The speech so nice, he gave it twice.

More like, the speech so great, he gave it half of eight.

Aside from Friday and October 6th, he'd actually given that same base speech on October 25th and 28th as well.
posted by snarkywench at 3:27 PM on November 12, 2005

I do smell the pungent aroma of TurdBlossom in Bush's use of the phrase "rewriting history." It's genius, really: inoculation against the truth by using the phrase describing what you've been doing.
posted by digaman at 4:12 PM on November 12, 2005

digaman, it is their M.O., but I'm seriously questioning the genius of it. It's pretty contingent on reporters being spineless sycophants (check) and the opposition afraid to accurately accuse them of the crime (in this case, rewriting history, as opposed to flip-flopping, not understanding the nature of the war on terror, etc...)

It's as if the worst thing that could be yelled out in Washington is "jinx!" or "I said it first, come up with something original."
posted by Busithoth at 4:23 PM on November 12, 2005

These six [things] doth the LORD hate: yea, seven [are] an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness [that] speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. Proverbs 6!6-19

I say it isn't looking good for a certain so-called Christian world leader in the opinion of someone that supposedly matters to him.
posted by caddis at 5:16 PM on November 12, 2005

It's funny that he blamed Kerry in his speech--maybe the right is done blaming Clinton for their problems?
posted by bardic at 5:21 PM on November 12, 2005

Yes this definitely has Rove's fingerprints all over it: lash out at your perceived accusers, sully them, create false dichotomies that provide only concordance or treason.

But you know what, these days a majority of American citizens are the ones accusing this administration of misrepresentation and malfeasance.

Lashing out at the public should produce some, ah hem, interesting results.
posted by Mr T at 5:23 PM on November 12, 2005

"A poll conducted for the Associated Press found that most Americans say they aren't impressed by the ethics and honesty of the Bush administration. The poll, released Friday, found:

•57% said they don't think the administration has high ethical standards. The same portion said President George W. Bush is dishonest."
posted by halcyon_daze at 5:39 PM on November 12, 2005

Caddis, great citation!* (One suspects it's not in Mr. Bush's abridged heavily redacted, graphic version of the O.T.)
*The actual citation is Proverbs 6:16-19.
posted by rob511 at 8:03 PM on November 12, 2005

I know; that was a pretty bad typo, and it's not like the ! key is even close to the : key. I am still trying to figure out how I pulled that one off. Anyway, thanks.
posted by caddis at 8:20 PM on November 12, 2005

Thank you kirkaracha . . . it's useful to have so many references brought together on this pitiful debacle.

My questions to y'all: didn't *we* know most of this before the last election? And they won anyway! So how are we going to get back our country? How many of us are willing to work to see this whole fraudulent regime come down? Blogging is fine and good, but somebody had better start organizing the blockwalks and door-to-door drives to pop the bubble of paralysis & turn the buggers out of congress in '06. Just sayin . . .
posted by ahimsakid at 8:48 PM on November 12, 2005

ahimsakid: The last election was just a bit too soon. Given 6 months to a year, there would have been not a single, solitary thing Bush or Rove could have done to save his presidency.

But Nov. 2004 was just a bit too early. The people of the US are only slowing waking up from a bad trip induced by 9/11, and they were still groggy last November. Kevin Drum has stated this very succinctly.

It's also important to recognize the power of incumbency in the office of the presidency in the US. A sitting president in America simply will not lose unless they are absolutely atrocious, or have some really nasty world events conspire against him. A sitting president that has a 100% compliant congress willing to use all their power to help set the agenda is going to have to be a colossal and obvious failure to lose the office. Rove was still able to paper over the cracks in 2004, especially with the bonus of being able to hammer a mediocre candidate like Kerry.

Bush's showing in 2004 was still truly pathetic for an incumbent against the opponent he had.

For all the idiot talk on the right and in the media of Bush having gotten a mandate, the reality is that Bush came into his second term as the weakest president in at least a 100 years, if not all of the union's history. His major and many missteps since then have easily plummeted him into pariah territory, but he was teetering on the brink even in Nov. 2004.

So, Bush lost one election, but got put in office by a technicality, and won another in a pathetic showing, even with all the benefits that incumbency provides. The American people's support for Bush is not exactly solid.
posted by teece at 11:43 PM on November 12, 2005

As for being judged by history, Bush has still managed to put two of his lads on the Supreme Court and get a number of tax cuts that disproportionately favor the wealthiest.

So even if everything else he touches (esp. relating to the War on Terror, Social Security, fiscal responsibility, civil liberties and small government, etc.) turns to ashes, his base (the religious right, big biz, neocon interventionists) will continue to think fondly of him for generations to come.
posted by darkstar at 3:08 AM on November 13, 2005

So he's now reduced to lying about lying.

And approval ratings in the mid 30s in spite of everything the Mighty Wurlitzer can throw at the public via the "media."

I can remember when the media would characterize a president as "exceptionally unpopular" for higher approval ratings that this.

A miserable failure, I'd say. And an unrepentant damn liar.
posted by nofundy at 10:21 AM on November 13, 2005

To me, Bush's strategy here was to push buttons he already knows work. When the Times wrote about this, they did not contradict any of Bush's statements, giving him free reign to push the buttons he knows work for his base - Democrats are hypocrites, criticism is treason, etc. Then we get soundbites from Kerry and Kennedy which are bound to enrage Republican's.

It's irresponsible of news agencies not to contradict the politicking, designed to mislead, coming from the White House. Given the way things have worked in the past, I really expected hallelujah's praising him.

I guess you can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all the people all the time.
posted by xammerboy at 6:42 AM on November 14, 2005

Teddy Roosevelt said:
The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:12 AM on November 14, 2005

From the White House: Setting the Record Straight: The Washington Post On Pre-War Intelligence. It's pretty confusing, because the section about the PBD/NIE supports the Post's criticism, and the section on committe reports restates what the Post's orginal article said.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:59 AM on November 14, 2005

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