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March 11, 2008

Comments

"Real men go to Tehran".

Buckle up.

and it's one two three
what are we fightin' for?
don't ask Bush he don't give a damn
next stop is Teheran

---

The Great Patriotic War on Ayatollahland will make an excellent rationale for "postponing" the 2008 general election, don't you think?

The Great Patriotic War on Ayatollahland will make an excellent rationale for "postponing" the 2008 general election, don't you think?

Speaking purely for myself, that might be the time to hit the streets. Whatever that ends up meaning.

We're already way past the "enough is enough" point.

I can't imagine why they'd think they could get away with it, but I could say that about pretty much every other thing that's happened over the last seven years.

So, we'll see.

Thanks -

Personally, I think it much more likely that they will simply rig the election to ensure that McCain gets into the White House, as they did for Bush in 2004 and 2000, and continue business as usual.

I think that the outright drop into fascist dictatorship, "postponing elections", is not likely to happen so long as the crew who've worked with Bush for the past 8 years are confident that they can repeat their success, get the President they've picked rather than the one who was elected, and continue with business as before.

I think Bush is still quite confident he's going to be "justified by history" - that in 20 years time he'll be thought of as one of the great Presidents - and while I don't think most of his coterie believe that, I do believe that none of them are quite dumb enough to think that setting Bush up as President-for-Life would be a good idea.

It's no country for old men.

It's a mess.

If it ain't, it'll do 'til a mess gets here.

I don't think they'll try to postpone the 2008 elections either. If you have a shooting war with Iran along with what I'm guessing will be multiple terrorist attacks in the U.S. (think the OK City bombing) - then McCain gets much traction vs. the Democratic nominee, IMO.

But I don't think they would do it just to boost McCain, they want to deal with Iran militarily, and they can't be assured that the next president will commit to doing so, then they'll bomb.

Heck, they might even do it as lame ducks as a final "fnck-you" to the american people.

. . .they will simply rig the election to ensure that McCain gets into the White House, as they did for Bush in 2004 and 2000, and continue business as usual.

Good grief.

Ackerman mentions McChrystal as a potential replacement. If he is nominated, the Senate should not confirm him without knowing more about his involvement in prisoner torture. He was the head of Special Operations Command while special forces task forces that did not answer to CJTF-7 were torturing prisoners in Iraq, & a former interrogator has told Human Rights Watch that he saw McChrystal at Camp NAMA. I suppose I should provide links to let people know what the heck I'm talking about....no time now but if he's nominated to head CENTCOM I sure will.

CIA moved to DoD like NSA and those bad wire taps. Plame did a lot of that domestic survellience at NSA. McChrystal. Oooh,,,,,,,,,,, like Mc Irish or Mc Scottish or Mc English or whatever and crystal like in crystal palace. NSA, CIA plame, and McDonalds it works out nicley.

Joint taks force means like the US and something foreign,right? So, the foreign parts should be there or the US is torturing?

Officials said the last straw, however, came in an article in Esquire magazine by Thomas P.M. Barnett, a respected military analyst, that profiled Admiral Fallon under the headline, “The Man Between War and Peace.”

I have to say that'd be the last straw for me, even if I were, say, Bill Clinton. I'd guess that an officer of his rank doesn't ever make a statement of opinion that doesn't put on the appearance of military policy. Imagine reading his interview in that context.

Was the interview authorized, I wonder?

I have to say that'd be the last straw for me

Fallon's resignation and/or firing may be justified professionally for the reasons you outline, but that doesn't detract, for me anyway, from the implication that a military strike against Iran is the approach the Administration favours.

I'm with spartikus.

Slarti's point is apt. Fallon publicly taking a position that departs from the administration's foreign policy is, minimally, problematic. His resignation is not shocking, purely on those merits.

It's also a great big red flag.

Thanks -

Sen. Webb's statement on Fallon's resignation.

Slarti,

Shortly before Clinton was elected, Powell in his capacity as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, wrote an oped in the NYT that explicitly warned against intervention in Bosnia. After Clinton was elected, Powell wrote a long article for Foreign Affairs describing the Powell doctrine. The article dictated under what conditions the US should employ military force. I'll note that no straws were broken. I suppose its OK if you're a republican or maybe its only OK if you're publicly contravening foreign policy statements made by a democratic president.

Bob McManus to the white courtesy phone please. Robert M. McManus, to the white courtesy phone please.

Powell in his capacity as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, wrote an oped in the NYT that explicitly warned against intervention in Bosnia.

Which is here, for the curious.

no straws were broken

I thought it was the camel's back that was supposed to be broken, not the straw.

Steve Clemons:

Stop Hyperventilating: Fallon Fired but Iran War Not Back On
...
My sources in the intelligence arena, in various command staff operations, near Defense Secretary Gates, and even in the White House tell me that nothing structural has changed in America's stance towards Iran.

Thanks for the link spartikus; unfortunately, the Foreign Affairs piece remains paywalled.

KCinDC, thanks for correcting my straw references. In any event, no spines were smashed due to Powell's humiliatingly public efforts to set America's foreign and military affairs agenda.

I agree with those who say the election won't be outright cancelled; that's literally the last thing the Powers-That-Be will do, if they can possibly avoid it. As long the peons think they have a say, it makes it whole lot easier to keep control. And McCain not making it to Oval Office has an upside as well: Hillbama gets to deal with/take the blame for the looming national disaster.

It should also be noted that it's fairly clear George Bush doesn't want to be President-For-Life. I'm sure it hasn't occured him, though, that the most useful role he can now play for his handlers is the Heroic Martyr...

"In the coming days and weeks, I hope that we can call on Admiral Fallon to more directly share his thoughts and concerns with the American people."

Sen.">http://snipurl.com/21jh9">Sen. Webb on the consequential move. He speaks of Fallon as a brilliant strategist, who he had hoped to see exercising stronger oversight of operations.
Having retired, he can speak openly. A bombshell in the making. Lame duck or cornered rats, look out.
From Kc’s link.

‘But Defense Secretary Robert Gates says it would be "ridiculous" to suggest that Fallon's resignation signals that the United States is planning to go to war with Iran.

Gates also says he sees "no differences at all" between Fallon's and the administration's approach to Iran.’

AP">http://snipurl.com/21jim">AP via Information Clearing House

Bob McManus to the white courtesy phone please. Robert M. McManus, to the white courtesy phone please.

Steve Clemons, Matt Yglesias, Ezra Klein and other have guaranteed me that there will be no attack on Iran. I know they would not have made such statements, considering the consequences of being mistaken, and precluding the possibility of mass protests and pressure on Congress to prevent an attack, without absolute certainty.

I trust that they knew their professional careers were at stake.

No attack on Iran is going to happen.

I trust that they knew their professional careers were at stake.

Much like Kristol, Brooks, Krauthammer, O'Hanlan, etc. etc. etc.

Much obliged, bob.

Much like Kristol, Brooks, Krauthammer, O'Hanlan, etc. etc. etc.

Don't know about you, but I hold Matt, Steve, Ezra in much higher regard than those people.

This probably was the most important call they will make in their lifetimes. They could have said "I don't know"

I will not want them making more calls, offering further analysis, proffering more advice after being wrong on this one. And no, they don't get to say in October or November:"Omigod, they really are crazy!" As the bombs were dropping, I know I would slink away in shame.

It could have been, could be, prevented. They made the effort seem unnecessary. They are responsible.

Bob,

Those writers never said that they know for a fact that an attack against Iran will not happen. They said that based on what they've heard, they don't expect it to happen.

I trust that they knew their professional careers were at stake.

I'm not aware of any professions where one's career is lost when one guess wrong, provided that one carefully explains that they are guessing and the answer must be uncertain. Can you think of any?

Do you think engineers have their careers ruined when managers ask them for a quick guess and they guess wrong? Do you think doctors are stripped of their licenses when they tell a patient that surgery has extremely low risk but the patient dies in the OR anyway? Do you think lawyers are disbarred when they tell their clients that they expect to win in court if they lose?

...ask them for a quick guess and they guess wrong?

They had years to assess George Bush and the range of his possible actions, and at least months.

The attack-that-will-not-happen could have had a range of consequences depending on the scale of the attack, but could mean World War & Depression. Even a minor mission could raise oil prices and cause deaths in the third world.

On a blog so that so blithely condemns Hillary Clinton and a host of others for guessing wrong on Iraq, I am supposed to ignore the unnecessary (unnecessary because what would it have cost to withhold judgement) guesses on an event that could mean the deaths of tens of millions? I suppose if they are your foggedy-con buddies.

We could be talking about how to get a madman out of office before he blows up the world. Thank god it isn't necessary.

Boring. All boring.

They had years to assess George Bush and the range of his possible actions, and at least months.

And the best assessment that can be made is that Bush is unpredictable.

The attack-that-will-not-happen...

No one has said that the attack cannot happen: what people are saying is that there is little evidence to believe that an attack is likely before Bush leaves office. If you disagree with that assessment, please provide links to such evidence.

On a blog so that so blithely condemns Hillary Clinton and a host of others for guessing wrong on Iraq, I am supposed to ignore the unnecessary (unnecessary because what would it have cost to withhold judgement) guesses on an event that could mean the deaths of tens of millions? I suppose if they are your foggedy-con buddies.

Clinton had access to a classified NIE that proved that the Iraq WMD case was garbage. None of the bloggers you cite have access to highly classified government information that proves one way or another what Bush is planning for Iran.

"Robert M. McManus, to the white courtesy phone please."

I'm not familiar with Mr. McManus, but is this like saying "Beelzebub" three times?

In any event, no spines were smashed due to Powell's humiliatingly public efforts to set America's foreign and military affairs agenda.

Sure. But I expect that few here would have objected if Powell had been fired because of what he wrote. Powell served at the pleasure of the President, which means the President has the ability to choose to keep him, even if he didn't care for what he had to say.

I assume that last to be the case, even if it turns out not to be.

Fallon's resignation doesn't support the conclusion that the President intends to wage war on Iran, no matter how hard you might want it to.

Fallon's resignation doesn't support the conclusion that the President intends to wage war on Iran, no matter how hard you might want it to.

I'd be extremely pleased to find that the President has no intention of attacking Iran. My general sense, lately, is that he has none.

Your analysis of why Fallon might have resigned, or been asked to resign, short of a desire to remove an impediment to attacking Iran, is welcome.

Nonetheless, the news has gotten my attention.

We could be talking about how to get a madman out of office before he blows up the world.

Splendid.

I think the only available remedy is impeachment. Are you aware of any others?

I'm asking quite seriously.

Thanks -

bob: Don't know about you, but I hold Matt, Steve, Ezra in much higher regard than those people.

So do I, but I don't expect that they're going to disappear into the sunset should it turn out they made the wrong call on the likelihood of Mr. "Fnck Saddam, we're taking him out!" launching a third failed war.

Maybe I'm wrong and they will, but I doubt it.

Clinton had access to a classified NIE that proved that the Iraq WMD case was garbage.

Really? When was this?

Clinton had access to a classified NIE that proved that the Iraq WMD case was garbage.

That's not what I read.

(U) Conclusion 1. Most of the major key judgments in the Intelligence Community's October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction, either overstated, or were not supported by, the underlying intelligence reporting. A series of failures, particularly in analytic trade craft, led to the mischaracterization of the intelligence.

Clinton had access to a classified NIE that proved that the Iraq WMD case was garbage.

I believe the classified NIE was only available to the Senate intelligence committee, or perhaps to a joint House-Senate intelligence committee. Bob Graham discusses the history here.

The classified NIE was, apparently, far more candid than the unclassified one in presenting the mixed quality of the intelligence justifying the decision to go to war.

I don't know if Clinton was on the intelligence committee at the time, or not.

Thanks -

Two cents:

Fallon leaving does not mean an attack on Iran is imminent. It has long been my read that no such attack is forthcoming due to the vulnerability of US forces in the region, and lack of solid options to retaliate should Iran hit us hard post-attack.

I may be naive, but I believe that even Bush has come to this conclusion. Gates and, to a lesser degree, Rice, also have been pushing this interpretation.

That being said, having Fallon tout this position in public probably undermines the fear of the saber they keep swinging around in an effort to cow Iran.

It has long been my read that no such attack is forthcoming due to the vulnerability of US forces in the region, and lack of solid options to retaliate should Iran hit us hard post-attack.

I would find this more comforting if we hadn't already seen that rationality (at least if you're assuming a desire for something other than chaos) and planning weren't involved in the attack on Iraq.

Follow up:

I've been saying for about three years that no attack is imminent, despite several reports from people like Sy Hersh that preparations were underway.

That being said, I only have to be wrong once.

Which is to say that even though I don't believe an attack is in the cards (and Fallon's departure doesn't really change that much), it is still vitally important that we all emphasize how disastrous a mistake it would be to conduct an attack.

Regardless, hammering away at that point is a good thing.

it is still vitally important that we all emphasize how disastrous a mistake it would be to conduct an attack

I have no disagreement with that position, Eric.

Fallon being cashiered doesn't necessarily signal war with Iran is imminent. As we've seen before, the neocons have their own ideas as to how "imminent" is defined.

The larger issue is that of the military's independence. GEN Shinseki?

But KC, we've been supposedly on the verge of attacking Iran for about four or five years now...and yet?

Iraq was much, much different. There was nothing near the institutional pushback that we're seeing now. Not from the Pentagon, not from the intel agencies. They were mostly on board, and gung ho, last time.

There was also nothing like the shortage of resources that we're faced with now (what troops would we use, and from where, should Iran hit us back in a way that necessitates retalitation?). The budget was in surplus, the military more or less preserved due to the limited footprints in Afghanistan.

There was nothing like the vulnerability we have now: our forces are right next door, in Iran friendly, Shiite dominated Iraq. A Shiite uprising in Iraq would greatly jeopardize our position. Sadr has already warned that he would attack us if we struck Iran. And ISCI is even closer to Iran than Sadr!

There was also nothing like the level of public opposition/exhaustion. Quite the opposite. The public was in full war frenzy mode. Someone had to pay for 9/11, and Saddram was behind it, etc...

Those factors make a difference, even to the Bush administration.

Don't get me wrong, he'd love to bomb Iran. I just don't think he can, and even he knows it.

That being said, my point remains: we should still be broadcasting the insanity of attacking Iran.

That being said, having Fallon tout this position in public probably undermines the fear of the saber they keep swinging around in an effort to cow Iran.

I think Eric is on to something here - as he usually is - Whether or not an attack on Iran is "imminent" or not: there are few downsides (IMO) to giving the Iranians a subtle reminder that that option is NOT "off the table". The very public departure of a ranking officer like Adm. Fallon can serve two purposes at the same time: politely axe a dissident commander - and also remind Tehran that while we may be waving carrots around, we aren't ready to put all our sticks away yet.

Jay C, another way of describing that would be to say that yet again we're giving Ahmadinejad an excuse for whipping up anti-American sentiment and strengthening his political position. He and Bush have a symbiotic relationship.

I agree with that KC.

The saber-rattling policy has been mostly counterproductive over the past five-plus years.

There was a time, immediately after the invasion of Iraq, that our threats were potent, but now Iran understands our limitations. That's why they've been acting emboldened.

Now is the time to be realistic in pursuit of an acceptable modus vivendi. It's that last point that the Bush team hasn't fully grasped yet, and so they insist on rattling their feeble little sabers while Iran kind of shrugs.

I took the Fallon axing as part of this pointless process.

Eric, yes, I'm very glad that this post of mine hasn't become any more relevant in the past two years. I agree with most of what you're saying. I just don't think that "Bush won't attack Iran because it would be an incredibly stupid idea" is as persuasive as it would have been before Iraq.

russell,

The classified NIE was available to any member of congress who wanted to see it. Dana Priest of the Washington Post wrote:

In the fall of 2002, as Congress debated waging war in Iraq, copies of a 92-page assessment of Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction sat in two vaults on Capitol Hill, each protected by armed security guards and available to any member who showed up in person, without staff.

But only a few ever did. No more than six senators and a handful of House members read beyond the five-page National Intelligence Estimate executive summary, according to several congressional aides responsible for safeguarding the classified material.


dutch, given what Senator Graham has said, I'm extremely skeptical of your assertions. I need to look in more detail at your source but at the moment, I can't tell if it is commenting on the unclassified excerpt (which was very very different from the classified version) or the actual classified NIE. I'll note that the classified version was strong enough to convince Graham to vote against the war.


Slarti, I think we all appreciate that the President can fire people in the executive office. That doesn't strike me as something new or novel. My original comment was intended to demonstrate cases where behavior far worse than Fallon's did not ensure termination as you suggested it would. Also, I'm not sure why you think I believe that Fallon's departure raises the probability of an Iran attack. My thoughts on that subject are basically as Eric described, as should be obvious from my exchange with Bob.

I hear ya KC. But it's not just a "stupid idea." There are other factors, some of which I listed, that present actual logistaical/institutional impediments beyond strategic thinking/foresight where mere stupidity could wreak havoc.

But I think we are mostly in agreement. And both pushing in the same direction. And we both want your post to disappear into the memory hole. No offense to your post, it's just...well, you get the idea ;)

I think we all appreciate that the President can fire people in the executive office.

Great. We all agree.

My original comment was intended to demonstrate cases where behavior far worse than Fallon's did not ensure termination as you suggested it would.

...or maybe we don't.

Powell is not Fallon; Powell's case isn't all that much like Fallon's, Clinton isn't Bush, and even if the situations were exactly the same, people react differently to similar situations at different times, depending on what led up to the situation in question. It looks as if you're, in effect, imagining a set of rules for this sort of thing. Which kind of goes against the "serves at the pleasure of" notion that you say you understand.

The classified NIE was available to any member of congress who wanted to see it.

...that had clearance, and need to know. Unless it was redacted, in which case it was a redacted NIE. This is an idea that Priest somehow managed not to touch on at all. I can see that possibly all of the Senate Intelligence committee might have been authorized to read an unredacted NIE, but that isn't a given.

Not necessarily defending Clinton, here, just picking apart something that looks to be not-quite-right.

I need to look in more detail at your source but at the moment, I can't tell if it is commenting on the unclassified excerpt (which was very very different from the classified version) or the actual classified NIE.

The differences are listed here.

It looks as if you're, in effect, imagining a set of rules for this sort of thing. Which kind of goes against the "serves at the pleasure of" notion that you say you understand.

Yes, I do believe there are a set of informal norms that govern these things. For example, even though the "serve at the pleasure of the President" bit would permit a President to decide to fire all Jews on the same day, for no other reason than the fact that they are jewish, I don't expect such an outcome to ever occur. I'm not saying there are explicit rules that must be followed, but I am saying that there are norms that are, in general, observed. One norm commonly thought to exist is that senior military officers cannot publicly contravene the President on matters of foreign policy; if you don't believe that norm exists, then I'm confused as to why it should matter what the Esquire article said. Many people though believe that this norm is important for preserving proper civilian control of the military. I don't disagree with that but I don't think this norm exists, or at least, I don't think it exists when democrats are President.

Regarding the NIE, do you have any evidence whatsoever that the classified version was not available to all Congressmen? Bob Graham, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence committee begged all Senators to read the classified NIE while making a floor speech:

"Friends, I encourage you to read the classified intelligence reports which are much sharper than what is available in declassified form," Sen. Graham reports stating on the floor of the Senate in October 2002.

"We are going to be increasing the threat level against the people of the United States." He warned: "Blood is going to be on your hands"

It seems rather strange to encourage all Senators to do something that most senators are not permitted to do, doesn't it?

See video: Why Fallon's Resignation is Frightening Defense Secretary Robert Gates did not have to accept Admiral Fallon's resignation. "The military people think basically that Admiral Fallon was PUSHED OUT" - Mark Thompson Time Magazine National Security Correspondent
Fallon is described as "the one person in the military or Pentagon standing between the White House and war with Iran."

Regarding the NIE, do you have any evidence whatsoever that the classified version was not available to all Congressmen?

Um...this NIE was classified Top Secret. You cannot legally show that to anyone not cleared for TS. If everyone in Congress is cleared at TS, then I have no argument.

It seems rather strange to encourage all Senators to do something that most senators are not permitted to do, doesn't it?

Yes, it does. This report seems to imply that Congresscritters don't, by default, get elevated clearances. Kind of odd that it also implies that members of Congress had, under certain circumstances, been permitted access to classified information without first being cleared. So, you know: possible, but odd. In my experience, which admittedly does not encompass dealings with Congress.

Slarti,

This article quotes Leahy as saying that he read the classified version and on that basis decided to vote no. Leahy has never sat on any intelligence committees. Other information in the article also appears to indicate that all Senators had the opportunity to read the full classified report.

Given that the report was specifically requested by congress to provide a basis for supporting their votes on the war, it makes very little sense to believe that congress requested a report that almost no one in congress was authorized to read. I think overly simplistic assumptions about how precisely the report was classified should be discarded given the facts at hand. Unless you're willing to suggest that Leahy committed a crime by reading the report?

Tom,

Of course he was pushed out. Is anyone really disputing that?

But there are other reasons for the "pushing" than the desire to start a war with Iran during the next 7-8 months. Compelling reasons (from a Bush admin perspective at least).

Unless you're willing to suggest that Leahy committed a crime by reading the report?

No, I just find it odd. I mean, it's pretty evident that that NIE was, in fact, originally classified Top Secret. Unless I've got the wrong one, that is.

And of course I could be wrong; Congress might be somehow excepted from the general rule that you have to be cleared for the level of information you're seeing. If Leahy did read the TS version, I am one wrong individual. It'd explain quite a lot, actually, in the way of information leaks from Congress.

dutchmarbel,

I've reviewed your earlier link describing the differences and this article by the Carnegie Endowment as well, which claims:

A close comparison of the unclassified version (CIA White Paper: "Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs," published in October 2002) and the original classified NIE (parts of which were declassified and released after the war), reveals striking differences. In addition to changes presumably made to protect sensitive sources and methods, the differences are of two types. Some convey the impression that the intelligence community was much more confident and more united in its views than it actually was. Others appear designed to portray a sense of heightened threat, and particularly of a threat that could touch the U.S. homeland. Sentences and phrases in the classified NIE expressing uncertainty were deleted while new formulations alluding to gathering danger were added.

Regarding this particular bit:


(U) Conclusion 1. Most of the major key judgments in the Intelligence Community's October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction, either overstated, or were not supported by, the underlying intelligence reporting. A series of failures, particularly in analytic trade craft, led to the mischaracterization of the intelligence.

Even if the classified NIE's statements were unsupported by the underlying intelligence, there's no reason to believe that the classified NIE made a strong case for war. We know that it exaggerated the case for war, but we don't know that it exaggerated significantly enough to make a good case for war. People like Graham and Leahy who read it at the time certainly didn't think so.


I stand by my original statement that the full document seriously undercut the case for war. Moreover, I'd add that the fact that there were so many differences unrelated to national security needs between the two documents undercuts the case for war: good ideas don't need lots of lies to justify them. Finally, I'd point out that both Leahy and Graham have said that their decision to vote against the war was strongly based on reading the classified NIE. Perhaps Senator Clinton would have acted as they did had she read the classified NIE, but she didn't bother to do so. Presumably she decided to ignore the pleas of her democratic colleagues on the intelligence committee because of her extensive 35 years of experience.

no straws were broken

I thought it was the camel's back that was supposed to be broken, not the straw.

And how much straw do you think remains unbroken after the camel falls?

I keep warning you guys about failing to assess the unintended consequences (broken straw) of major actions (broken camel), but do you ever listen?

Apparently not.

This is nothing, IMHO, other than an administration taking appropriate action to keep foreign policy where it should be-in the hands of the civilians. Fallon can dissent in private all he wants and he should. He went too public from what I understand and advocated explicit reassurances to the Iranians that we wouldn't attack.

Leaving military action on the table is not the same as sounding the guns of war. Fallon advocated a position contrary to the administration and did so to AL JAZEERA. Why should we let military commanders set the tone of international policy in public? Isn't that State's job? Would any of the pro-Fallonites feel the same if the issue were reversed (e.g. a Patton "beat the crap out of the Iranians" type of comment?). And I mean in the "let State do its job" sense, not on the merits.

He also didn't get along with Petreaus. Why is this controversial? I understand why the merits of his comments are controversial. No problem here. Or concerns that generals aren't free to express opinions behind closed doors. But Al Jazeera?

Why should we let military commanders set the tone of international policy in public? Isn't that State's job?

Is this a complete strawman or are you able to point to a significant number of comments in this thread that are objectively "pro-Fallonite"? Most of the people here seem to be discussing what, if anything, Fallon's departure tells us about future Iran plans of the Bush administration.

He also didn't get along with Petreaus. Why is this controversial

In general, failing to get along with your subordinate is rarely grounds for termination. But hey! If it is, perhaps the President should resign since he didn't seem to get along with Fallon!

Or concerns that generals aren't free to express opinions behind closed doors. But Al Jazeera?

My personal issue is that in practice, generals are perfectly free to directly contradict the President on matters of foreign policy, provided that the President is a democrat. I actually don't care which standard we apply, but I do find the fact that the standard changes based on the party of the President to be rather galling. If you would like to argue that Fallon's statements were nowhere near as bad as Powell's statements during the Clinton administration, please do so.

Finally, please don't slag Al Jazeera without citing some evidence of their wrongdoing. I know that ignorant Americans love to pretend that they know all about Al Jazeer because Fox News once made up some random lies about them and because arabs are too stupid to have their own TV network, but AJ is actually a fairly serious journalistic endevour. It was staffed by ex-BBC WorldService correspondents when the BBC shut down in the middle east and it operates with more freedom from political interference than most American cable news networks. Finally, any journalistic enterprise capable of luring away and hiring US military officers serving as spokesman during the Iraq War must be, at the very least, interesting.

Slartibartfast: If Leahy did read the TS version, I am one wrong individual. It'd explain quite a lot, actually, in the way of information leaks from Congress.

I agree with Slarti that we could use some authoritative clarification from people familiar with Congressional access to various degrees of classified documents.

Since it was pressure from the Senate Intel Committee that got any NIE prepared at all, I'm open to believing that only the members of that committee ever had access to the Top Secret version of the NIE.

But given that there was an unclassified version, then the business about the signing-in logs doesn't make sense to me. Would such a procedure have been required even for the unclassified NIE?

Question for Slarti: Which information leaks from Congress are you referring to?

Finally, please don't slag Al Jazeera without citing some evidence of their wrongdoing . . . It was staffed by ex-BBC WorldService correspondents

Presumably of the same lineage as those at the BBC that showed false footage purporting to be the demolition of the home of the terrorist that murdered the students at the seminary in Israel.

if you would like to argue that Fallon's statements were nowhere near as bad as Powell's statements during the Clinton administration, please do so.

Oh, boy would I! :) Any president would be justified in terminating a general speaking out against the administration in public, especially to Al Jazeera. That's my point. I'm not arguing the merits of the subject of discussion. I'm not changing the standard.

As for specific Powell statements, well, be specific.

Presumably of the same lineage as those at the BBC that showed false footage purporting to be the demolition of the home of the terrorist that murdered the students at the seminary in Israel.

I asked you for specific evidence that explains why AJ is bad. Instead you give me a story about something that the BBC did. Do I need to explain how non-responsive that answer is?

Are you now saying that the BBC is as bad as Al Jazeera is now?

Oh, boy would I! :) Any president would be justified in terminating a general speaking out against the administration in public, especially to Al Jazeera. That's my point. I'm not arguing the merits of the subject of discussion. I'm not changing the standard.

Please see my earlier comments in this thread regarding Powell's actions. Since Presidents can fire anyone for anything, I don't think its a question of what was "justified". What matters here are how consistently norms are observed and reported in the media.

Again, can you please explain why Al Jazeera is so bad in this context? Numerous government officials have appeared there in the past...Note that I'm asking about Al Jazeera and not the BBC or CNN or any other network. I thought this was clear in my last comment, but apparently it was not.

I'm with Turbulence on Al Jazeera getting a bad rap. Our real beef with AJ is that they show the other perspective. That's a big no-no in news coverage - especially Middle Eastern news coverage.

Like during the first siege of Fallujah when AJ had cameras broadcasting from inside the city - showing the massive carnage, including from aerial bombings occuring while our military spokesman claimed there was a cease fire. Simultaneously, on a split screen!

No surprise, I guess, that our planes began to target the AJ broadcast signal every time it popped up in Fallujah after that. It was a few weeks later that Bush began discussing targeting AJ's Qatar operations with Blair.

The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by reports that an Al-Jazeera cameraman held at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for more than five years without charge is in failing health.

Sami al-Haj, an assistant cameraman for Al-Jazeera who has been on hunger strike since January, has lost nearly 40 pounds, suffers from intestinal, and other ailments, and his mental health is deteriorating, according to recently declassified information provided by his lawyer Clive Stafford Smith.
[cut]
Al-Haj, the only known journalist imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, was detained by Pakistani authorities at the Pakistan-Afghan border on December 15, 2001, while covering the U.S.-led fight to oust the Taliban. He was transferred to U.S. custody and then transported to Guantanamo Bay in June 2002, where he has remained without charge. U.S. military authorities have accused him of working as a financial courier for armed groups and assisting al-Qaeda and extremist figures. Stafford Smith has called the accusations baseless and contends that U.S. interrogators have focused almost exclusively on obtaining intelligence on Al-Jazeera and its staff. At one point, he said, military officials told al-Haj that he would be released if he agreed to inform U.S. intelligence authorities about the satellite network’s activities. Al-Haj refused, he said.


From a journalist at St Petersburg Times (February 3, 2008):

Afew days ago, I clicked on a computer photo of an "enemy combatant" at the detention center at Guantanamo, and I was shocked. It was someone I knew, a journalist named Sami al-Haj. - I'd met Sami at the Marriott in Islamabad in early December 2001. Like most of us there, he was a journalist going in and out of Afghanistan to cover the U.S. invasion after 9/11. - A tall African man in a white shalwar kameez the traditional billowy knee-length shirt and pants of Afghanistan, he stood out as he floated across the beige marble lobby of the hotel. His U.S. pals would see him coming, and yell, "It's the al-Qaida reporter!" - At the time, everyone, including him, laughed at the silliness of the comment. But it ceased to be funny when he fell off the planet.
I'd read about the U.S. military base in Guantanamo, where 770 men, believed by the Pentagon to be terrorists from all over the world, were kept for years without due process. I'd read about their well-documented torture - though some won't call it that - and extreme sensory deprivation. Their sad attempts at protest through suicide and hunger strikes. Their "passive suicides," a clinical term that came out of the Holocaust in World War II for people so stripped of dignity, purpose and hope that they do nothing but wait to die.

This is nothing, IMHO, other than an administration taking appropriate action to keep foreign policy where it should be-in the hands of the civilians.

A couple of thoughts here.

In the context of the last seven years, there is nothing unremarkable or "business as usual" about Fallon's resignation. We're already in the thick of one major, years-long war, which we entered based on falsehoods. There are many folks, including apparently the vice president, who advocate strongly for military action against Iran, nuclear program or not, and without regard for the consequences.

Let the chips fall where they may. It's creative destruction. We need to shake that part of the world up.

We have every reason to be suspicious of Bush's intentions towards Iran, and every reason to question whether Fallon's resignation implies a shift back toward a more belligerent posture.

Leaving military action on the table is not the same as sounding the guns of war.

Fallon, from the Esquire article, in answer to the question, "And if it comes to war?:

"Get serious," the admiral says. "These guys are ants. When the time comes, you crush them."

A novel version of appeasement.

The military option is always on the table. Everyone, everywhere, understands that.

What has also been on the table for the last seven years is the cowboy version of the 'crazy man' strategy. As in, 'You better do what we want you to do, because there's no telling what the crazy man with his finger on the trigger might do'.

The crazy man strategy is an interesting exercise in a game theoretical context, but in real life, folks tend to take you at face value and just assume you're nuts.

You don't deal rationally and in good faith with a crazy man. You tell him whatever will make him calm down, then you do whatever you need to do to defend yourself.

Does that remind you of anything in our current foreign policy situation?

Fallon had serious differences of opinion with the stated policy of the administration, on matters vital to the national security of the nation, and on matters in which he had some expertise. He spoke out publicly, and when that compromised his position, he stepped down.

That all sounds damned reasonable to me.

Thanks -

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