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June 25, 2007

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hilzoy: I think Gonzales was WH Counsel at that time, not AG.

Good point ;)

Will update.

Well, it was the only thing I felt like saying after reading the articles and your posts that wouldn't violate the posting rules and possibly get me, well, in trouble. Fortunately, it looks like the next two parts of the series focus on econ/environmental issues, which aren't as likely to get me upset (tho who knows).

I will just note that this series makes Bush look like a buffoon (not that that wasn't obvious before), is someone going to bring it up at the White House briefings (I would assume that happened today) or at his next press conference (assuming he ever holds another one).

"Mr. President, How does it feel to be the first figurehead President in United States history?"

"Mr. President, Should we just start adressing you as 'Mr. Sock-Puppet' from now on?"

"Mr. President, Cheney stole your job, what's next, your wife?"

etc.

Ugh: yeah; I have to go out to dinner soon, but the plan is a last post on what this says about Bush. That's why I left him out. But jeez: he's sort of like the antiparticle for leadership, or something.

I find Rice and Powell's response to the second example absolutely extraordinary
And by "extraordinary", you must mean "something that really needs to be explained."

Why does Cheney have more power over the President's mind than Rice -- who is *far* closer to Bush personally and politically? Why would she have to let him read her correspondence with her subordinates and make policy changes behind her back?

I'm not saying I necessarily leap to the idea of blackmail, but his power must be coming from *somewhere*.

Karl Rove?

Which is why Gonzales, Cheney, and Bush all must be impeached. I don't care if it can't be accomplished in the time left in their terms. I especially don't care if it might hand dead-ender Republicans another freaking grudge to act out on the next administration, which will be a Democratic one.

The only way to make sure that it's a democratic one, and I mean the small d, is to begin impeachment proceedings NOW.

You don't deal with a junta by ignoring its crimes and looking to the next election. You impeach the m*****f*****s.

Apropos of the Washington Post's exploration of Dick Cheney's role in the development of interrogations policy, TPMmuckraker has obtained a document from the 2002 trial of John Walker Lindh -- the American captured in Mazar-e-Sharif in 2001 fighting for the Taliban -- in which Donald Rumsfeld's general counsel, William J. Haynes II, is said to have advised the commander of U.S. forces in Mazar to "take the gloves off" when interrogating him.

The Los Angeles Times's Richard Serrano, in June 2004, first described the document, a statement of fact by Lindh prosecutor Paul McNulty (yes, that Paul McNulty) entered into the court record, about the circumstances behind Lindh's interrogation. But to our knowledge, this is the first time the document has become publicly available.

In the weeks after 9/11, the Bush administration feverishly debated what was legal and appropriate treatment for interrogations of al-Qaeda detainees. The Post reports today that the effort began with allowing the CIA access to interrogation techniques not permitted under the Geneva Conventions, but that Cheney and Rumsfeld wanted military interrogators to have the same expanded authority, a position shared by Haynes. According to the document, months before President Bush issued a February 2002 order calling for detainees to be treated humanely "subject to military necessity," Haynes instructed military interrogators to "take the gloves off" on an American citizen. From McNulty's discovery filing:

(An individual identified as U.S. Army #6)'s understanding was that he could not collect (intelligence from Lindh) that could be used in a criminal court. After the first hour of interrogation, he gave the admiral in charge of Mazar-e-Sharif a summary of what the interrogators collected up to that point. The admiral told him that the Secretary of Defense's counsel had authorized him to "take the gloves off" and ask whatever he wanted.

As Serrano and others reported, Lindh, an American citizen, was "was kept in harsh conditions, stripped and tied to a stretcher, and often held for long periods in a large metal container." When a Justice Department ethics attorney, Jesselyn Radack, told a counterterrorism prosecutor that Lindh could not be questioned without his lawyer present if DOJ wanted to build a criminal case against him, she was promptly pushed out of her job. The case against Lindh eventually came down to a 20-year sentence based on a plea bargain, prompting many to speculate that Lindh's harsh treatment -- apparently approved by Rumsfeld's top aides -- ultimately scotched the chances for a successful prosecution on bigger charges than his ties to the Taliban.

"We know he was tortured," says human-rights attorney Scott Horton. "There's no beating around the bush. This is clarifying that the authority was given at the highest levels for torture to occur. The strong suggestion here is that it's Haynes doing that, and the strong suspicion is that the authority for him to do so comes from the secretary of defense." The further suspicion, according to the Post piece, is that the authority for Rumsfeld's attorney to have authorized the abuse of an American citizen came from Vice President Cheney.

- TPM 6/25/2007

UN-FUCKING-BELIEVABLE!!!!!

Nurse Ratched?

and that would make Powell the big dumb chief that used all his strength to break free and run away?

and we are ALL jack nicholson...

karl rove is ellsworth toohey.

As usual, nicely put. I confess to complete bafflement about why,
as Jack Balkin also put it, Cheney always wins. All that comes to mind is that he does have some kind of blackmail-like hold on GWB--or else that GWB finds Cheney's absolute certainty (and apparent command of facts) persuasive. I do remember thinking, watching Cheney during the campaign debates, that if I didn't know better I'd think this guy was incredibly well-informed and clued-in; how else could he be so certain. We do know that GWB operates very much on the "how do I feel about this person" level, as opposed to :"does this person make sense".

All this said, the inability of Rice to have an impact is a mystery. I suspect she was incapable of threatening to leave--since if she lost, her career was likely over (from her standpoint).

Not letting them know what that position was risked letting them destroy their credibility completely

Wouldn't this imply that they had any credibility to begin with? Becuase, especially with Rice, I haven't seen that much.

Really, the idea that Rice has a crush on Bush is as good an explanation as any.

But even without going there, she knows quite well who loses in any Cheney v. Rice showdown. And her reputation's already too shattered for a resignation to do much good. Her memoirs promise to rival Tenet's in shamelessness.

"Really, the idea that Rice has a crush on Bush is as good an explanation as any."

It's pretty damn sexist, though. Every sort of vile criticism of Dean Acheson possible was said of him and Harry Truman, but no one considered the possibility, or suggested, that Acheson's alleged failings -- "losing China," say -- came because of his crush on Harry.

"These articles should be assigned to management classes as studies in what not to do. They describe the exact sort of decision-making process that reliably leads to disaster, and the kinds of personal dynamics that enable it. It's a model of complete organizational breakdown, and it should be studied for generations to come, so that it is never repeated."

Of course, they also go against Dick Cheney's advice:

[...] When James A. Baker III was tapped to be White House chief of staff in 1980, he interviewed most of his living predecessors. Advice from Cheney filled four pages of a yellow legal pad. Only once, to signify Cheney's greatest emphasis, did Baker write in all capital letters:

BE AN HONEST BROKER

DON'T USE THE PROCESS TO IMPOSE YOUR POLICY VIEWS ON PRES.

Cheney told Baker, according to the notes, that an "orderly paper flow is way you protect the Pres.," ensuring that any proposal has been tested against other views. Cheney added:
"It's not in anyone's interest to get an 'oh by the way decision' -- & all have to understand that. Can hurt the Pres. Bring it up at a Cab. mtg. Make sure everyone understands this."

In 1999, not long before he became Bush's running mate, Cheney warned again about "'oh, by the way' decisions" at a conference of White House historians. According to a transcript, he added: "The process of moving paper in and out of the Oval Office, who gets involved in the meetings, who does the president listen to, who gets a chance to talk to him before he makes a decision, is absolutely critical. It has to be managed in such a way that it has integrity."

The third part is up, as you doubtless know.

Posting rules, Garth

Of course, that advice from Cheney was for the chief of staff. Later came greater wisdom:

[...] Former Army secretary John O. Marsh Jr. said Cheney knew that he needed to control the process by which the president makes choices to ride "the rushing river of power" that winds through the West Wing to the Oval Office.

"Dick's major concern, one of them was, and I agree, that there needs to be a greater and more effective role for the vice president," Marsh, a longtime Cheney friend, said in an interview. "He holds the view, as do I, that the vice president should be the chief of staff in effect, that everything should run through his office."

Of course it should. Obviously.

A shame Dan Quayle never thought of this. Or Spiro Agnew. Or John Nance Garner.

Or that, more to the point, for them, that their respective presidents, and others, didn't buy this.

the inability of Rice to have an impact is a mystery.

No it's not. What on earth had she ever done that would make anyone think she was up to the job of National Security Advisor even in a normal administration?

She's no different than a thousand functionaries who'd have been in over their heads, with the crucial difference that her race and gender make it very difficult for people to say "She's in way over her head."

""Really, the idea that Rice has a crush on Bush is as good an explanation as any."

It's pretty damn sexist, though. Every sort of vile criticism of Dean Acheson possible was said of him and Harry Truman, but no one considered the possibility, or suggested, that Acheson's alleged failings -- "losing China," say -- came because of his crush on Harry."

Rice's case is a little different. Correct me if I'm wrong, I'm relying on memory, but Rice has in a press conference accidentally referred to Bush as "my husband", and she has accompanied the Bush family on some of it's vacations. Just to hang out, you know.

I don't know if that's a crush but it's kind of weird.

DBake: Not at anything so public or verifiable as a press conference. That was a gossipy anecdote, unsourced, supposedly something she blurted out at a dinner party in DC.

I don't know or care what the psychodynamics of her relationship with W are.

She'd be in over her head in her current and previous jobs no matter what, and she's there because she's both a convenient criticism-deflector and because Bush feels comfortable with her "loyalty" (willingness to look like a liar, fool, or lying fool as needed to defend the Bush policy of the moment).

Correct me if I'm wrong, I'm relying on memory, but Rice has in a press conference accidentally referred to Bush as "my husband", and she has accompanied the Bush family on some of it's vacations. Just to hang out, you know.
I'll correct you. :-) Slightly. It wasn't a press conference, but a report of a dinner party. (Really, if it were a press conference, don't you think it would be on YouTube?)
[...] So the world wondered after New York reported what it benevolently called a "poignant faux pas" committed by Rice at a recent D.C. dinner party. What Rice reportedly said was this: "As I was telling my husb—" before abruptly breaking off and correcting herself: "As I was telling President Bush." Jaws dropped, we're told. And though nobody thinks Bush and Rice are "actually an item," we were nevertheless reminded that the unmarried Condi does regularly spend weekends with the president and first lady.
But next 'graph:
[...] Whether this happened exactly as reported has since been questioned in a second leak—and in fact it seems that while Rice said the first thing, she didn't go on to say, "As I was telling President Bush." But as we see, whenever politicians make (or are suspected of making) Freudian slips, the media get very wound up.
I highly recommend reading the entire piece, as it's entirely on point, most specifically summarized here:
[...] If the media get whipped up when politicians make slips of the tongue, lining up to play the interpretation game, it's like co-dependents handing a corkscrew to an alcoholic: a form of complicity.
In other words, it's dumb to make much of tiny bits of of phrases and speculation about the insides of other people's heads.
I don't know if that's a crush but it's kind of weird.
People do all sorts of weird things without having crushes on each other. Bohemian Grove and Skull & Bones are full of weirdness, but I don't believe most members have crushes on each other. Some, but not most.

Whatever Condi Rice's flaws are, and there appear to be quite significant ones, reducing the systemic problems of the Bush administration's foreign policy to an explantion that the primary, or even a significant, cause is someone's sexual "crush," as if everyone involved were in a freshman high school class, doesn't strike me as a particularly helpful, or on-point, focus of analysis. YMMV.

"What on earth had she ever done that would make anyone think she was up to the job of National Security Advisor even in a normal administration?"

That, on the other hand, I think is somewhat unfair, in the sense that prior to the Bush administration, her credentials for the job were perfectly within line and reason with past jobholders, such as Zbigniew Brzezinski, Henry Kissinger, Walt Rostow, Richard Allen, Robert McFarlane, John Poindexter, Anthony Lake, Frank Carlucci, McGeorge Bundy, and the like.

First of all, I wouldn't claim all of these folks were shining examples of brilliant good judgment (Richard Allen? John Poindexter?) or American ideals (Henry Kissinger?), or that their reigns were all masterpieces of competence (Iran-Contra? Bay of Pigs? Iranian hostage crisis?), and I imagine you'll agree, and second of all, their previous credentials were similar: academic study of national security issues, mixed with previous lower level foreign policy/national security government jobs.

In Rice's case, she had been a Soviet and Eastern Europe expert/official on the NSC, including serving as Senior Director Soviet and East European Affairs, as well as Provost of Stanford. She'd been Special Assistant to the Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and on the Council on Foreign Relations, as well as a variety of other positions in government, business, and academia.

On paper, prior to holding the job, her credentials were as perfectly reasonable as anyone else's who has held the job.

Beyond that, the only really important criteria, after all, is being who the president wants, anyway. How good or bad the NSA actually then is at their job is an entirely different question.

So far as I can see, the appointment was reasonably defensible/respectable on paper; at least, no less so than Reagan's choices were.

Without doubt as more memoirs are written, and documents emerge, and investigations are launched and eventually completed, we'll know far more of the details of where and how she failed.

Thanks for clearing this up. I'll do my best not to spread poorly supported rumors in the future. I take some issue with the end though:

"Whatever Condi Rice's flaws are, and there appear to be quite significant ones, reducing the systemic problems of the Bush administration's foreign policy to an explantion that the primary, or even a significant, cause is someone's sexual "crush," as if everyone involved were in a freshman high school class, doesn't strike me as a particularly helpful, or on-point, focus of analysis. YMMV."

Is it not helpful because these people act more grown up than freshman?

So we're willing to explain the behavior, especially the blatanty irrational behavior, of famous dictators and such by referrring to their psychologies, and the weird dynamics governing how the people in their inner circle inneracted. For some reason we ought not to think that the psychologies of our own elites play any role in policy though. Even when the policy is blatantly irrational. Is this because we're a government of laws and not men, or what?

Another way of putting this: Come on, you don't think petty and silly psychological quirks of those in charge play a role in determining how government acts?

Thanks for clearing this up. I'll do my best not to spread poorly supported rumors in the future. I take some issue with the end though:

"Whatever Condi Rice's flaws are, and there appear to be quite significant ones, reducing the systemic problems of the Bush administration's foreign policy to an explantion that the primary, or even a significant, cause is someone's sexual "crush," as if everyone involved were in a freshman high school class, doesn't strike me as a particularly helpful, or on-point, focus of analysis. YMMV."

Is it not helpful because these people act more grown up than freshman?

So we're willing to explain the behavior, especially the blatanty irrational behavior, of famous dictators and such by referrring to their psychologies, and the weird dynamics governing how the people in their inner circle inneracted. For some reason we ought not to think that the psychologies of our own elites play any role in policy though. Even when the policy is blatantly irrational. Is this because we're a government of laws and not men, or what?

Another way of putting this: Come on, you don't think petty and silly psychological quirks of those in charge play a role in determining how government acts?

Thanks for clearing this up. I'll do my best not to spread poorly supported rumors in the future. I take some issue with the end though:

"Whatever Condi Rice's flaws are, and there appear to be quite significant ones, reducing the systemic problems of the Bush administration's foreign policy to an explantion that the primary, or even a significant, cause is someone's sexual "crush," as if everyone involved were in a freshman high school class, doesn't strike me as a particularly helpful, or on-point, focus of analysis. YMMV."

Is it not helpful because these people act more grown up than freshman?

So we're willing to explain the behavior, especially the blatanty irrational behavior, of famous dictators and such by referrring to their psychologies, and the weird dynamics governing how the people in their inner circle inneracted. For some reason we ought not to think that the psychologies of our own elites play any role in policy though. Even when the policy is blatantly irrational. Is this because we're a government of laws and not men, or what?

Another way of putting this: Come on, you don't think petty and silly psychological quirks of those in charge play a role in determining how government acts?

Either Rice or Powell might easily have been in a position in which they had to represent the position of the United States Government on detention and interrogation. Not letting them know what that position was risked letting them destroy their credibility completely. This is not a minor detail.

Nor was it a minor detail when the same BS was pulled with Christine Todd Whitman, whose credibility as head of the Environmental Protection Agency WAS destroyed completely, after she made an ass of herself in front of the American public and EU ministers, stating pro-environment policies that were then denied by the White House.

Of course, she at least had the self-respect to resign. Eventually.

One thing that Bush and Bill Clinton have in common is that neither one can control his Dick.

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