Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Is Bush A Liar Or Just Stupid?
Paul Gauguin. Eve. Don't Listen to the Liar. 1889.
Watercolor and paste. Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX, USA.
Where is the knowledge that is lost in information?
Where is the wisdom that is lost in knowledge?
but wisdom lingers.
---Alfred, Lord Tennyson
The mountain of release is such that the
ascent's most painful at the start, below;
the more you rise, the milder it will be.
And when the slope feels gentle to the point that
climbing up sheer rock is effortless
as though you were gliding downstream in a boat,
then you will have arrived where this path leads.
I think we all should agree by now that even if President Bush is a pretty stupid guy, the people behind him who shield him, writing his lines and US policy, are NOT. Nobody gets rich, plundering the planet as (s)he goes---or stays rich very long, by being stupid. What I know to be the case about the great war of liberation of Iraq is it's a pre-emptive war. The stuff about Sadam and bringing democracy to these fine people were afterthoughts. We launched Shock and Awe on Baghdad when the Administration started talk of mushroom clouds over Manhattan---arriving from Iraq in under an hour.
But look here: it was our first pre-emptive attack upon a nation with whom we were not at war. The first in American history. When a smart Administration...with SMART bombs...initiates such a massive innovation in foreign policy, do not these intelligent people consider all the consequences and ramifications? If they say we know things you don't know and we can't tell you what they are, do they not realize one day history will reveal what those things are...and whether or not they were correct? Wouldn't you think about that even if you only were forming a clique against somebody in grade school? When the Principal catches you torturing that poor classmate, would you say, "OK, we were wrong about the kid, but we can't stop hurting him now"? We all know what kind of greed and hatred rage inside a bully.
And so it is I am delighted with the publication of 2 articles yesterday. One is the belated but strong editorial in the New York Times. The Times isn't calling Bush a liar, but asserts this most recent stance definitely is denial~~~
November 15, 2005
Decoding Mr. Bush's Denials
To avoid having to account for his administration's misleading statements before the war with Iraq, President Bush has tried denial, saying he did not skew the intelligence. He's tried to share the blame, claiming that Congress had the same intelligence he had, as well as President Bill Clinton. He's tried to pass the buck and blame the C.I.A. Lately, he's gone on the attack, accusing Democrats in Congress of aiding the terrorists.
Yesterday in Alaska, Mr. Bush trotted out the same tedious deflection on Iraq that he usually attempts when his back is against the wall: he claims that questioning his actions three years ago is a betrayal of the troops in battle today.
It all amounts to one energetic effort at avoidance. But like the W.M.D. reports that started the whole thing, the only problem is that none of it has been true.
Mr. Bush says everyone had the same intelligence he had - Mr. Clinton and his advisers, foreign governments, and members of Congress - and that all of them reached the same conclusions. The only part that is true is that Mr. Bush was working off the same intelligence Mr. Clinton had. But that is scary, not reassuring. The reports about Saddam Hussein's weapons were old, some more than 10 years old. Nothing was fresher than about five years, except reports that later proved to be fanciful.
Foreign intelligence services did not have full access to American intelligence. But some had dissenting opinions that were ignored or not shown to top American officials. Congress had nothing close to the president's access to intelligence. The National Intelligence Estimate presented to Congress a few days before the vote on war was sanitized to remove dissent and make conjecture seem like fact.
It's hard to imagine what Mr. Bush means when he says everyone reached the same conclusion. There was indeed a widespread belief that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons. But Mr. Clinton looked at the data and concluded that inspections and pressure were working - a view we now know was accurate. France, Russia and Germany said war was not justified. Even Britain admitted later that there had been no new evidence about Iraq, just new politics.
The administration had little company in saying that Iraq was actively trying to build a nuclear weapon. The evidence for this claim was a dubious report about an attempt in 1999 to buy uranium from Niger, later shown to be false, and the infamous aluminum tubes story. That was dismissed at the time by analysts with real expertise.
The Bush administration was also alone in making the absurd claim that Iraq was in league with Al Qaeda and somehow connected to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That was based on two false tales. One was the supposed trip to Prague by Mohamed Atta, a report that was disputed before the war and came from an unreliable drunk. The other was that Iraq trained Qaeda members in the use of chemical and biological weapons. Before the war, the Defense Intelligence Agency concluded that this was a deliberate fabrication by an informer.
Mr. Bush has said in recent days that the first phase of the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation on Iraq found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence. That is true only in the very narrow way the Republicans on the committee insisted on defining pressure: as direct pressure from senior officials to change intelligence. Instead, the Bush administration made what it wanted to hear crystal clear and kept sending reports back to be redone until it got those answers.
Richard Kerr, a former deputy director of central intelligence, said in 2003 that there was "significant pressure on the intelligence community to find evidence that supported a connection" between Iraq and Al Qaeda. The C.I.A. ombudsman told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the administration's "hammering" on Iraq intelligence was harder than he had seen in his 32 years at the agency.
Mr. Bush and other administration officials say they faithfully reported what they had read. But Vice President Dick Cheney presented the Prague meeting as a fact when even the most supportive analysts considered it highly dubious. The administration has still not acknowledged that tales of Iraq coaching Al Qaeda on chemical warfare were considered false, even at the time they were circulated.
Mr. Cheney was not alone. Remember Condoleezza Rice's infamous "mushroom cloud" comment? And Secretary of State Colin Powell in January 2003, when the rich and powerful met in Davos, Switzerland, and he said, "Why is Iraq still trying to procure uranium and the special equipment needed to transform it into material for nuclear weapons?" Mr. Powell ought to have known the report on "special equipment"' - the aluminum tubes - was false. And the uranium story was four years old.
The president and his top advisers may very well have sincerely believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But they did not allow the American people, or even Congress, to have the information necessary to make reasoned judgments of their own. It's obvious that the Bush administration misled Americans about Mr. Hussein's weapons and his terrorist connections. We need to know how that happened and why.
Mr. Bush said last Friday that he welcomed debate, even in a time of war, but that "it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began." We agree, but it is Mr. Bush and his team who are rewriting history.
Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
The other is at TruthOut written by Larry Johnson, who worked as a CIA intelligence analyst and State Department counter-terrorism official. He is a member of the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
Cooking the Books and Politicizing Intelligence
By Larry C. Johnson
t r u t h o u t Perspective
Tuesday 15 November 2005
Like a passenger who just leaped from the Titanic into the icy waters of the North Atlantic, George Bush is frantically looking for a rescue boat. Understandably, he keeps pointing at the dinghy nearby - i.e., last year's report issued by former Senator Chuck Robb and Judge Laurence Silbermann under the title, "Final Report on Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction." However, that boat don't float too good and Bush's credibility will continue, along with his Presidency, to sink beneath the weight of lies used to bamboozle America into a pre-emptive war.
Hopefully, most Americans will take time to read the report and understand the limitations of the Robb and Silbermann effort. While I agree with the commission's conclusion that analysts made mistakes, the Robb and Silbermann report clearly demonstrates that none of the intelligence analysis from the CIA suggested that Iraq's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction had reached a critical point requiring a pre-emptive strike.
Unfortunately, Robb and Silbermann want Americans to accept the nonsense that politics played no role in the intelligence analysis. They ask America to accept the sorry picture of a President and legislators who, apparently, were willing idiots being spoon-fed wrong information by incompetent analysts. If we accept this fairy tale we will have learned nothing from the fiasco in Iraq.
Consider what is presented in the chapter on the Iraq failure (which Robb and Silbermann concede is the most important issue). According to the report, the analysts said:
The pre-war estimate of Iraq's nuclear program, as reflected in the October 2002 NIE "Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction," was that, in the view of most agencies, Baghdad was "reconstituting its nuclear weapons program" and "if left unchecked, [would] probably have a nuclear weapon during this decade," although it would be unlikely before 2007 to 2009. The NIE explained that, in the view of most agencies, "compelling evidence" of reconstitution was provided by Iraq's "aggressive pursuit of high-strength aluminum tubes." The NIE also pointed to additional indicators, such as other dual-use procurement activity, supporting reconstitution. The assessment that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program and could therefore have a weapon by the end of the decade was made with "moderate confidence."
Pay close attention. The analysts believed, incorrectly, that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program. But there were important caveats. First, Iraq would only have a nuke if left "unmolested" to develop such a capability. Did anyone see the words, "therefore Mr. President, you must invade?" Nope. Second, the analysts concluded that, even if left unmolested, Iraq would not have acquired a nuke until at least 2007. And how strong was this judgment? The analysts made it with "moderate confidence."
So, rather than restart or continue with inspections we now know were effective, President Bush opted for war. It was the policymakers, not the analysts, who made the decision to go to war and who oversold the October estimate to a gullible public.
I am not exonerating the CIA for its failures. There were major mistakes of leadership. For example, Robert Walpole, the man who led the drafting of the October 2002 estimate, surrounded himself with true believers who shared the view of Bush administration policymakers at the NSC and Department of Defense that military action in Iraq was required. This National Intelligence Officer did nothing to ensure that dissident voices within the CIA and other parts of the intelligence community were heard. But to pretend that the flaws in the intelligence explain why President Bush took us to war requires that we ignore a host of other uncomfortable facts.
CIA analysts got it right on the lack of operational relationship between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Yet, notwithstanding the correct judgment of the analysts, President Bush and Vice President Cheney have continued to insist that there was such a relationship. In their words, the war in Iraq was an extension of the war on terrorism.
Analysts also got it right in dismissing as nonsense the claim that Iraq was trying to buy yellowcake uranium in West Africa. The analysts who briefed Congress in October 2002 said there was no truth to the allegation. Yet, the White House wanted to run with it. We know that George Tenet had to call Stephen Hadley and Condi Rice to insist that a reference to the Iraq/Niger claim not be included in a speech the President planned to deliver in Cincinnati.
The CIA analysts consistently warned the administration that the information the Brits had also was unreliable and the reports of Iraq's trying to get its hands on a nuke were wrong. The director of WINPAC at the CIA, Alan Foley, repeatedly warned NSC official Robert Joseph that the Niger claim was unreliable. Undeterred, Joseph inserted the bogus 16 words into the President's 2003 State of the Union address.
But the policymakers did not want to hear it. In fact, Don Rumsfeld and his minions were briefing TV and newspaper pundits just two weeks before the President's 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium in Niger.
Here is the bottom line. There is no such thing as perfect intelligence or perfect analysis. However, we do not serve the security of this country by perpetuating the myth that we went to war in Iraq because a couple of analysts believed Saddam's acquisition of aluminum tubes was part of a secret program to build a nuke. Going to war was and remains a political decision made by a President.