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April 24, 2006

Comments

While picking my jaw up off the floor after reading that JMM post, it occurred to me that the admin keeps demonstrating my lack of imagination and acumen. I had long thought that there were multiple reasons for the war, WMDs being only a unifying one and useful as a selling point, and that they had assumed we would find (if not a major program) enough shreds of half-baked or old stuff to point to while they established the Chalabi regime. But that there was something so cut and dried as a high-level leak in the Iraqi govt disputing the WMD claim would not have occurred to me.

I wonder what John Kerry is thinking tonight. If this had come out before the election, it would have made (so it seems to me anyway) a devastating ad. If I were running for office today, I'd put that soundbite up over a picture of my opponent shaking Bush's hand. So I also wonder what Drumheller was thinking last year.

In a democracy, you do not get to lie about decisions of this magnitude.

Yes you do; you get to make whatever lies the electorate is willing to believe. Or, in the case of Iraq, desperate to believe.

Peter: what evidence do you have that the US electorate was desperate to believe that the US had to go to war with Iraq? That is, evidence that predates the lies Bush and his administration told them about Iraq being connected with 9/11 or that Iraq was an imminent threat to the US because of the stockpiled WMD?

And, general question: Is lying to the US public and to Congress about the grounds for war in and of itself grounds for impeachment? (Not that one would expect the Republicans in Congress to support impeachment no matter what it was proved Bush had done, so this is purely an academic question.)

I share Drumheller's opinion of the foolishness of invading Iraq. I also, unfortunately, find his story quite believable.

This is what I find most disturbing.

There appears to be a huge conflict between the intelligence community and the executive, and more recently between the professional military and the executive, which is increasingly being played out in public. This is not a good thing, on so many levels it makes my head spin.

I doubt that folks like Drumheller and McCarthy, or like the "dissident" generals, are eager to step into the limelight like this. Maybe one or two, but not in the numbers we see.

The people who should be doing this -- who should be calling "bullshit" on our foreign policy and the justifications for it -- are the members of Congress. The people who can answer the question of why none of this stuff appeared on the Robb-Silverman or Roberts reports are Robb, Silverman, and Roberts.

We actually have a lever to use when members of Congress fail to do their duty. We know who they are, we can call them up, write them, go to their offices. Ultimately, we can vote them out.

We will never, ever, ever get any kind of straight answer from Bush or anyone in the executive on anything like this. The place to apply the heat is on the folks who are supposed to be providing oversight.

The wheels are coming off. Time to insist on accountability. We won't get it from Bush, so we should squeeze it out of Congress.

For the record, to reply to Jesurgislac, IMO impeachment would be a freaking disaster. Again IMO, the better goal is to work to take away Bush's Congressional majorities so we can cut him off at the knees for the remainder of his term.

Russell: For the record, to reply to Jesurgislac, IMO impeachment would be a freaking disaster.

...which doesn't actually answer my question.

Is lying to the US public and to Congress about the grounds for war in and of itself grounds for impeachment?

Probably, but think how reckless it would have been to have launched an invasion of Iraq if we had really thought that they had weapons of mass destruction. In a way it is sort of a relief to discover that Bush did not take the sort of reckless gamble that he pretended to take.

 

And, general question: Is lying to the US public and to Congress about the grounds for war in and of itself grounds for impeachment?

I honestly think the best answer is: it is iff Congress thinks it is.

I suspect the response from the Right will be along the lines of: (1) he has a book to sell; (2) does the moonbatty left really expect us to take the word of one of Saddam's ministers regarding whether Saddam has WMD?

The former point has been done to death. The latter point raises a common theme: intelligence is inherently unreliable, you never really know if information is accurate, so it's always better to launch a war "just in case."

Every supporter of military action against Iran invariably starts by outlining the worst-case scenario - Iran builds nukes, gives them to al-Qaeda, etc. - and demands that those who oppose military action GUARANTEE, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that that scenario will never take place if we do nothing. Needless to say, it's a hard standard to meet.

Jesurgislac --

"..which doesn't actually answer my question."

Right you are, my apologies.

The basis given for impeachment in the Constitution is treason, bribery, or high crimes and misdemeanors.

I don't think presenting a case for war that is known to be false rises to treason or bribery. The curious phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors", however, is something of a term of art that derives from English law.

Impeachment was a tool used by Parliament to curb the power of the king. English royal officials were, apparently, successfully impeached under color of "high crimes and misdemeanors" for what amounted to abuse of the powers of office, or of the public trust. Commission of a statutory crime was not necessary.

So, my take on this is that knowingly presenting a false case for war is an impeachable offense.

I think the real answer to this is Anarch's. If Congress thinks it's impeachable, it is. It's not a criminal proceeding, but a procedural, intra-governmental one. If they can muster the votes, it's a go.

Thanks -

Wars of aggression are the worst crimes against humanity. The ICC was created because gov'ts are often too intimidated and fearful of domestic disruption to act against their domestic war criminals, and a refusal to sign on should not enable atrocity. Eichmann, Pinochet, and Milosevic should be the instructive examples, and jeopardy should not disappear after offices have been vacated. We should be working with our friends overseas in preparation.

Unlike the present administration, I hope the Clinton administration would not threaten war with Belgium or Germany in respinse to a just abduction.

Hello?

Oh. And Iraq was a "policy mistake" much like the invasion of Poland. Darn, Hitler screwed that up huh. But hey stuff happens, and I am sure Adolf's heart was in the right place and his intentions benevolent.

Whew! That's a relief! I've been unable to post for two days.
Anyway I don't know if lying about the reasons for going to war constitutes grounds for impeachment--I suspect not, but let's pretend for discussion's sake that it is. If it is, then I do not see why impeachment would be a disaster. Impeachment would be a cleansing process, and affrimation of truth and a demonstration that the basic structures of our government were intact and functional. Not impeaching ( out of fear of what?) would be the disaster since lack of action would mean that the powers were no longer separated, the Presidency had become imperial, and there was no will to stand up to villiany.
But I don't know if the offense is impeachable.
The immediate problem is people who, for whatever reason, still cannot allow themselves to admit that Bush distorted intel to justify the invasion and people who misuse their positions in the media or in Congress to surpress the evidence of Bush's distortions.

MY Quotes Fukuyama

"...that during the 1990s "There was actually a deliberate search for an enemy because they felt that the Republican Party didn't do as well" when foreign policy wasn't on the issue agenda. MY, TPM

With prior knowledge that there was no credible strategic threat from Iraq, knowledge I did not share FWIW, this was a war for profit, political and financial. That the source of financial gain was the American taxpayer, or that Bush WH officers did not directly benefit financially is not particularly relevant. They will be taken care of. I see no theoretical difference between the invasion of Iraq and the invasions of Poland or Kuwait.

The proper venue for this is not impeachment, but int'l tribunals and courts. It is important that the American people reassert their responsibility to the int'l community by submitting to processes not completely under our control. We desperately need to surrender some sovereignty as an act of good faith.

I wonder where Naji Sabri is today.

McManus beat me to it, which is well and good.

"Policy Mistake" and "beyond shameful" are phrases used here which the Bush enablers will place forth as evidence that Hilzoy is a leading light in the "moonbat angry Left".

The Right should get down on their whore's ungrateful knees and beg Hilzoy's forgiveness for those charges (and for Rilkefan's nonplussedness), for she is an ethicist by profession and a nice, civil person by avocation.

Posting rules, civility, the need for all of us to live together someday when the smoke clears, the idea of spending time in GITMO while I should be raising my son, and various international agreements preventing me from blowing up the world tie me down.

So I'll stick with suggesting "Deliberate Policy Mistakes" and "We Left Shameful Behind a Long Time Ago" as alternative phraseology.

There is a punching bag in the exercise room at the fitness place. I'm going to go beat the crap out of it.

anarch is right: impeachment is purely a political act, not some sort of criminal justice proceeding. What happened to Clinton surely is proof enough of that.

And even if one considers the actions of the Bush administration to be war crimes nearly on the scale of, say, some of the recent atrocities in what-used-to-be-Yugoslavia, one must also question whether impeachment -- even if it were politically possible, which of course it is not -- would be good for the country &/or the rest of humanity. And on that question, I gotta agree with russell that it would be a disaster, for many reasons, including that it would so energize the Cult of Bush that, e.g., Jeb could waltz into the WH in '08. I'm quite sure that Karl Rove, in his nightly prayers to Satan, asks that Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of San Francisco, tries to impeach Gee Dubya.

What's needed is not some dramatic, if emotionally satisfying, political Armageddon. What's needed is a continuing process of more sunlight, more information being spread widely by credible sources, so that the tide of public opinion, which already has turned pretty sharply against the Bush cabal, continues to flow away from them.

And to hilzoy's question, the demonization of Drumheller is likely IMO to take two paths. For the reality-based community, he's a disgruntled former CIA agent upset that the WH is finally reining in what was becoming a rogue agency, and he's pimping his book. And for the logically differently abled, if there really were a problem, why wouldn't more people be speaking out? Besides, he's sworn to secrecy -- he should be jailed for saying things like this!

Don't forget that Drumheller was director of covert operations in Europe. Many European countries are socialistic, and being stationed in Europe is a plush posting: obviously he's a decadant champagne socialist.

Time was we referred to someone who gave the same explanation over and over regardless of the facts as "sounding like a broken record." Nowadays, of course, broken records (CDs) don't loop, they only skip. Even a tape loop is old hat... there are looped samples but somehow it doesn't carry the same connotation of a sharp jerking sound at the start/end of the repeat.

To me it appears the "partisan Democrat defectors flogging books" defense is wearing thin. I thought the list was pretty long in 2004 -- Richard Clarke, Joseph Wilson, Gen. Zinni, Gen. Shinseki. The list continues to grow. I guess there must be a lot of aspiring authors in the government and an insatiable appetite for books.

What I wonder is, what more is there to come out? From this secretive, vindictive administration where loyalty is higlhy prized, we have had leaks of secret prisons, torture, kidnapping and dishonesty about the justification for war. What's left? E. J. Dionne writes,

As one outside adviser to the administration said, the danger of a Democratic takeover of at least one house of Congress looms large and would carry huge penalties for Bush. The administration fears "investigations of everything" by congressional committees, this adviser said...

What's left?

Sex.

Of course it's impeachable. A regular crime can be dealt with in a court of law.

Imagine a guy who gets elected and instead of running the country decides to watch ESPN all day and drink beer. People try to drag him to National Security meetings and he says, "yeah, yeah, just drop some bombs and call me later."

He's not breaking any laws -- but he is in violation of his oath of office at the very least. And Congress has the impeachment clause to say "Wow. This guy just cannot do this job at all, and he is endangering our country." (That ex-President would never be prosecuted, but he'd be signed to some corporate boards and maybe do a reality show).

Our system is failing because Congress is not willing to call a spade a spade. And because nobody wants Cheney. Or Pelosi.

But going to war "just because" and getting soldiers killed is ample reason to impeach. Deliberately ignoring evidence that would undercut a reason to go to war is unforgivable.

(Violating the Constitution by establishing secret prisons, denying people basic legal rights, blowing off treaties, wiretapping without warrants and not reporting to Congress when legally required....are all impeachable offenses....)

Beyond shameful? Well, yeah. But I'm beyond outrage. It's good this is piling up and going mainstream. But it will only mean anything if it causes the public and Democratic politicians (particularly Congressional and Senate candidates, and presidential aspirants) to call the administration on their current set of lies to whip up a war:

- that there's a "nuclear crisis" with respect to Iran

- that they're "committed to diplomacy" to resolve it

- that their planned war on Iran has anything at all to do with weapons.

In order for there to be any accountability before the next war is launched, Democrats must retake at least one house of Congress in November. To do so, they cannot shy away from the issue of Iran, or run to Bush's right on it, or buy into the idea that there is any urgent crisis at all other than the one Bush is trying to whip up.

And Democrats ought to be able to gather enough spine from the accumulated evidence that this administration intended to invade Iraq from the moment they took office and lied to get us there to be prepared to know and say the truth: that the same people are now doing the same thing to lay the groundwork for an attack on Iran.

The only hope this regime has of delaying accountability is to retain their majority of rubber-stamping Republicans. The best case scenario about the "Iran crisis" they're whipping up is that they aren't entirely committed to a real attack, but want to use it as a political bludgeon against Democrats the way they did with Iraq in 2002. The only way for Democrats to avoid falling into that trap is to tell the truth:

There is no crisis. This isn't about weapons. And war isn't the answer.

Well, if anyone was still wondering, I think we definitely know why the war was conducted as if WMD was the last of the Pentagon's concerns.

Where are the conservatives who sniff derisively when someone mentions that Bush, et al. lied us into this war, and how the Republicans are the Party of Ideas?

The Bush administration is more corrupt than Nixon, and pinheads to boot.

Just to play devils'advocate for a little bit.

The administration is convinced that Iraq has WMD's. They have plenty of evidence to back this up (at least according to them.)

They find out that someone high in the Iraqi government has truned and is willing to help us. They are overjoyed.

They then learn that this guy is trying to peddle the story that Iraq has no WMD's. Well, obviously this guy isn't real and is trying to get his country out of being attacked by spreading some falsehood.

Therefore, they are going to ignore him.

Working from the initial premise, this makes sense. Might be wrong, but it makes sense.

Also, from the story that has been put out, it appears that the decision to ignore this evidence was made by a working committee and it is possible (in fact probable) that Bush never heard about it.

Okay, enough about playing devil's advocate.

The reality is that this is one more example that a thorough look into the evidence about WMD's was not taken into account by the decision makers. But why would they?

This was not about WMD's. They were just the bogey-man used to frighten the US citizenry into being willing to support the invasion.

I cannot read minds, so to say exactly why Bush and Company wanted to go into Iraq is beyond me. I can come up with all sorts of reasons based upon an attempt to create a psychological representation of Bush, but they would all be guesswork.

And I am not going to minimize the wrongness of that decision.

However, to me, even worse than going to war is the criminal negligence in which the administration has waged this war. And with that is the criminal negligence by every member of Congress who has been against sincere investigations of both the run up of the war, and the criminal way it has been managed.

Every time they have said to criticize the effort is to give aid and comfort to the enemy, they have been responsible for the deaths of thousands of people.

It is conceivable that if this adminsitration had had its feet held to the coals earlier on, that changes could have been made and lives saved.

Despite Charles optimism with the semi-formulation of a government, there is still chaos and bloodshed with no end in sight.

Unfortunately, I think Nell is wrong if she thinks we can stop an attack on Iran by electing a Democratic majority in either or both houses in November. If it even looks like that is likely to happen, the attack will occur before the elections can even take place.

Re: impeachment, Anarch is right, which means that it is just useless yanking to talk about impeachment when the people who would be sitting in judgment over such a claim have already heard the evidence and didn't find it worth even mentioning in their report on prewar intelligence.

It has been clearly shown that party discipline can nullify the separation of powers model.The legislature is currently providing no meaningful check on the authority of the executive.

Speaking of foreign policy mistakes, I'm suprised there hasn't been more blogchatter about the real consequences of Hu's visit. This will have repercussions far more significant than the har-de-har-har humor of the WH protocol team's failure to distinguish between Cola and Uncola (I'm referring here to the anthem gaffe) or the Boy Prince's insistence on leading Hu around by the arm like a CEO showing off a trophy wife.

Unlike HRM Elizabeth II and entourage, Hu's visit was deadly serious. He and his team were almost certainly here largely to take the measure of this administration, and particularly the inner circle of the WH, up close and personal. Very high level diplomatic reconnaissance based on personal contact between heads of state is an example of the sort of "deep" risk assessment I was advocating the other day. What he found was bumbling, incompetent, and delusional. Notwithstanding the embarassments it must have been a very satisfying and productive trip.

If the administration's real purpose was to demonstrate that the US really really couldn't care less what China thinks, or even more sneakily that the US is a totally unpreditable rogue state led by a madman, then I suppose it was a smashing success. But I'm having trouble believing that this was anything other than incompetence resulting from the FEMAfication of the WH protocol department. And I suspect that Mr. Hu is orders of magnitude more canny about these things than I am.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I must be suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome to say something like that...

@John Miller: I don't think we can avoid an attack on Iran by electing Democrats. I think we won't succeed in electing many Democrats if they let themselves be boxed in on Iran the way they did on Iraq.

The administration wants people to accept the frame of the strong dad willing to do anything, even nuke, to protect us. The truth, and the only effective counter, is that he's a weak, unpopular, incompetent "decider" who's playing double-or-nothing with our national security for partisan gain.

This administration isn't going to get any authorization of force, much less a declaration of war, for the Iran attack. See William Arkin's piece last summer on the military's new setup for "global strike" (first strike attack) from July 2005.

The war on Iraq was undertaken for, among other objectives, permanent U.S. bases there (to replace the ones in Saudi Arabia). We've got 'em. Its timing was for electoral purposes. Karl Rove freely said as much to a gathering of Republican candidates in January 2002; when Ted Kennedy reported and denounced that, he was roasted. It's as true now as it was then, only now it's also politically safer to say it -- and tons of evidence in the meantime backs it up.

The war on Iran will be undertaken for the same underlying goal as the one on Iraq: strategic control of central Asia and the middle east. The timing will be political.

st: The legislature is currently providing no meaningful check on the authority of the executive.

Billmon quotes Robert Kaplan to good effect on this point (probably not what Kaplan had in mind):

National elections combined with weak, easily politicized institutions produce a lethal mix -- dictators armed with pseudo-democratic legitimacy. And they come in many shapes and forms.

Just to clarify, when I said:

This administration isn't going to get any authorization of force, much less a declaration of war, for the Iran attack.

I meant they're not going to seek one before attacking. Congress could, if it wished to exercise its constitutional role, pass a resolution affirming its war powers, i.e., that forbids any military strike against Iran without an authorization of force (or war declaration).

But this Congress won't. A future one might. It might not be enough to stop a strike against Iran. But we'd know where we were then...

Nell, this President has already stated that any law that Congress passes doesn't really mean much, adn even if they did pass such a resolution and were able to override any veto, he would say the same thiong he did on the torture amendment. He still has discretion to do what he thinks is necessary to defent the US.

Personally, I don't think the defense of the US is important to him.

Clinto was accused of the "wag the Dog" syndrome. To me, it is even more obvious that this administration is involved in that type of activity. The basic Rovian philospophy appeas, IMO, to be simple: "There is no action that is too immoral or unethical to be used in order to gain votes and subsequently power."

What Radish said. Here's an article by Michael Klare, arguing that the Bush admin is driven by concerns about China and here is an article about Iran and India joining the SCO.

He still has discretion to do what he thinks is necessary to defent the US.

Are you saying his way of defending is already halfway to defeat?

He still has discretion to do what he thinks is necessary to defent the US.

Are you saying his way of defending is already halfway to defeat?

It may actually be a derivative of the little known "fent," meaning one of a system of units comprising "fence" (see Kliban, Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head), in which case de-fent-ing the US is putting holes in its security.

My God! Bush is a secret terrorist! Alert the blogs!

Freud would have a field day with most of my typos.

I think bleh might have hit on something, though.

Dear Blank (you know who you are!):

You seem to be attempting to draw a bright line between intelligence analysis done by analysts and whatever it is that policy makers do with intelligence. But I would argue that what they do is in fact analysis, and that there is not only nothing wrong with that, but that it could not be any other way.

Intelligence is information. It is used to inform policy. Because we know (or think we know) a particular fact or set of facts, we devise a policy to deal with those facts. When policy makers do that, they are analyzing intelligence, in the sense that they are interpreting it, and acting on their interpretations.

The logical conclusion of your argument seems to be that only professional analysts, working in offices and organizations set up for the purpose, should ever analyze intelligence. In your world, it is illegitimate for anyone but a certified analyst to analyze and interpret intelligence. But wouldn't this make analysts into policy makers? If they were the sole arbiters of truth, then policy makers would have no choice but to act on the interpretations of the analysts. In which case, there would be no need and no purpose for policy makers.

Maybe an example will clarify what I mean. Newspaper reports in the long run-up to the Iraq war were full of accounts (sourced anonymously, of course) that intelligence analysts didn't think Saddam Hussein posed much of a threat. He was contained, his WMD programs were stalled, he would only attack if provoked, etc. They based this on open-source material and on intelligence.

Policy makers, looking at the same information, came to a different conclusion than the analysts. They thought Saddam did pose a threat. Ultimately, the President agreed. And he made policy accordingly.

Isn't that his right? Isn't that what the people elected him to do? No one elected the analysts. The analysts are hired to serve the President and his statutorily appointed aides. There is no legal, constitutional, moral or prudenatial rule which says that the analysts must be heeded. Often they are. Their work is appreciated even when they are not. But, in the final analysis, it falls to others to make the final analysis.

All Hersh has described is a yet another unit in DoD that anaylizes intelligence. Super-hawks don't like the analysis that they are getting elsewhere. They are more suspicious of the world and more convinced of the omnipresence of threats. Isn't that their right? Aren't the allowed--no, obliged--to think through all the information before them and draw conclusions to the best of their abilities, even if the professional analysts disagree?

Antongiavanni | May 12, 2003 | 05:37 AM
http://www.claremont.org/weblog/000270.html

From the West Coast Neocon bLog The Remedy Ah, I remeber theses discussions, so well. Please visit the thread...quite a peak into history. West Coast NeoCons are sooo slick.

There is no legal, constitutional, moral or prudenatial rule which says that the analysts must be heeded.

You can't tell me what to do! You're not my Momma!

Democrats are not gaining control of a house of Congress, any more than Kerry could have become President. This is not pessimism about Democrats or the country, at least in the usual sense. This is simply about understanding the enemy.

Republicans and Bush get a look in their eye, which is indeed fear. However it is not a fear of losing, but a fear of how far they will have to go, what steps they will have to take to win. I doubt it will take very much.

OTOH, reports say Bush left his meeting with HU "ashen-faced." Hu may have persuaded Bush not to attack Iran.

Jackmormon: I wonder where Naji Sabri is today.

According to Wikipedia, he's in Qatar, teaching journalism of all subjects.

SomeOtherDude,

Is it their right to decide the policy, then look for reasons, no matter how flimsy, to support that policy? This is a rather different exercise from the one you describe.

I'm not saying it's not their right (I have no idea), just asking.

Rob G.,

Policy makers, looking at the same information, came to a different conclusion than the analysts. They thought Saddam did pose a threat. Ultimately, the President agreed. And he made policy accordingly.

I think they believe that it is the President's right to use his (and his advisor's) instinct. His (and their) gut. Because "the people" have elected him to do so. If they don't like his decision making capacity they will use their democratic powers to put curbs on him. Outside of that…the Alpha-Male is free to terrorize outsiders.

Imagine Frederich Nietzsche becoming Republican activist.

Wow, SomeOtherDude, there is at least one amazingly huge equivocation in that line of reasoning that I am amazed hasn't been pointed out a million times already. Analyzing evidence and crafting policy are two distinct activities. So in response to this:

In your world, it is illegitimate for anyone but a certified analyst to analyze and interpret intelligence. But wouldn't this make analysts into policy makers? If they were the sole arbiters of truth, then policy makers would have no choice but to act on the interpretations of the analysts. In which case, there would be no need and no purpose for policy makers.

the simple reply out to be that analysts should analize and policy makers should make policy and that matters that require truth to have arbiters probably ought to at least recommend that the arbiters be professionally trained in that field as well, and not just some schmuck who will always give unbalanced assesment.

That is, wouldn't we rather policy bent to truth rather than truth bending to policy.

Having said all that, it looks like you are merely passing interesting amusing tidbits back from the fringe so this may all be rather a moot point.

SomeOtherDude, you really should use quotation marks (or some similar convention for indicating quoted material). Wouldn't want people thinking those were your words, would you?

Gromit,

Oh sh!t...I see what you mean....hey, the above block of words were written by famous West Coast NeoCon Anton Giavanni, and not unknown leftist troll SomeOtherDude.

Go to link any way...great stuff!

They believe a certain moral character has the insight and instinct to see through the BS, immoral tyrants use to hide their deeds. Brave moral men of action will never be fooled!

The enlightenment and liberal values are really reserved for moral ethical people who are primarily American. The Enlightenment and liberal values were really not meant for liberals because they did not know how to really use them, because they are incapable of sifting through the esoteric meanings of truths.

(See, I know all this because I totally understand the esoteric meanings of truth.)

(See, I know all this because I totally understand the esoteric meanings of truth.)

Sadly, without a knowledge of mark up language for blogs, it's all meaningless. ;^)

liberaljaponicus wrote,

Sadly, without a knowledge of mark up language for blogs, it's all meaningless.

I totally understand the hidden meanings behind this statement!

(You will attack a nation very soon, and must be stopped!)

Only a short mention in NYT other than the CBS program, so the majors ignored it. No sense aggravating those declining W approval ratings unnecessarily, I suppose. Lots of left-leaning blogs thought it was newsworthy, but the major media (aside from CBS) thought otherwise.
This is the problem, not Hindrocket whoever that may be.

Point #1 was sort of fair (but mostly not), but your excessively one-sided post went downhill pretty quickly from there, Hil. Drumheller's primary source was Sabri where, a month ago, the following was reported by MSNBC:

The sources say Sabri’s answers were much more accurate than his proclamations to the United Nations, where he demonized the U.S. and defended Saddam. At the same time, they also were closer to reality than the CIA's estimates, as spelled out in its October 2002 intelligence estimate.

For example, consider biological weapons, a key concern before the war. The CIA said Saddam had an "active" program for "R&D, production and weaponization" for biological agents such as anthrax. Intelligence sources say Sabri indicated Saddam had no significant, active biological weapons program. Sabri was right. After the war, it became clear that there was no program.

Another key issue was the nuclear question: How far away was Saddam from having a bomb? The CIA said if Saddam obtained enriched uranium, he could build a nuclear bomb in "several months to a year." Sabri said Saddam desperately wanted a bomb, but would need much more time than that. Sabri was more accurate.

On the issue of chemical weapons, the CIA said Saddam had stockpiled as much as "500 metric tons of chemical warfare agents" and had "renewed" production of deadly agents. Sabri said Iraq had stockpiled weapons and had "poison gas" left over from the first Gulf War. Both Sabri and the agency were wrong.

So, in this case, either 60 Minutes is distorting the story or Drumheller is giving a skewed account, or both. The fact is that the intelligence services got information from different sources, and those different sources presented differing and conflicting accounts. It is also true that some sources were given more weight than deserved, and some less. Generally, the minority view on the lack of WMDs and stockpiles and whatnot--particularly from the State Department--proved to be the most accurate, and Bush paid a heavy political price. The fact, also, is that Tenet looked Bush in the eye and used the phrase "slam dunk" on the WMD intelligence. The fact, also, is that Tenet was referring to Sabri here:
In a speech in February 2004, then-CIA Director George J. Tenet referred to Sabri, although not by name, when he said the CIA had obtained information from "a source who had direct access to Saddam and his inner circle." Tenet said that source described Hussein as covertly seeking to get a nuclear weapon and having stockpiled chemical weapons while his scientists were only "dabbling" with biological weapons development with little success.
Note that the piece was written by Pincus, a man with no history of fondness toward the Bush administration. Pincus also wrote this: "The White House was far more interested in trying to get Sabri to defect than in the information he was providing on Iraq's weapons programs, in part because the intelligence community did not trust him, another former intelligence official said."

The Weekly Standard is right when they called it 60 Minutes of Distortion. If this were truly big news, it would've been on CBS Evening News, not 60 Minutes, but CBS has a meme to push and a Republican administration to tarnish (payback for Rathergate perhaps?), and Drumheller has a book to sell.

Once again, so many of you are so eager to ply the "Bush lied!" waters that you're either unable or unwilling to see the rest of the picture. We have two bi-partisan reports with consensus conclusions, we have the Blix report and we have the Duelfer report. In addition, there's the Chicago Tribune doing the phase two work of the Senate Intelligence Committee. As for Drumheller feeling disregarded by investigative committees, he can get in line behind the other axe-grinders such as the folks at Able Danger.

Generally, the minority view on the lack of WMDs and stockpiles and whatnot--particularly from the State Department--proved to be the most accurate, and Bush paid a heavy political price.

No he hasn't. He's been roundly castigated for incompetence, but for the most part the shocking intelligence failures have been described within his base as exactly that -- failures of his subordinates and not of him. In fact, AFAICT, he's paid precisely nothing from his supporters when it comes to the botched intelligence... as your post makes rather clear, in fact.

The sources say Sabri’s answers were much more accurate than his proclamations to the United Nations, where he demonized the U.S. and defended Saddam.

I tell you, if I were the spy in Sadaam's inner circle, I'd make damn sure that you didn't catch me hemming and hawing in public. Is that really that hard to understand? Or has our intelligence apparatus gotten so rusty at running agents that it doesn't realize that information always comes with a perspective. Or we were to expect a man who was taking the chance of being fed feet first into a plastic shredder (the better to see his expression) say 'guys, don't worry about anything, just leave Sadaam alone cause he's a paper tiger. And I'll just figure out which of his sons I should side with'

Tenet said that source described Hussein as covertly seeking to get a nuclear weapon and having stockpiled chemical weapons while his scientists were only "dabbling" with biological weapons development with little success.

I keep seeing Colin Powell holding up that vial and intoning 'dry anthrax'.

To add to Anarch's comment above.

Bush has not paid any price. In fact, if I remember correctly, he was actually re-elected despite it being known he was wrong.

The price has been paid by close to 20,000 servicepeople and their families. The price has been paid by tens of thousands of Iraqis and their families. The price will continue to be paid by future generations of Americans who will have to drag this country out of debt incurred by our fearless leader.

The reality is, as pointed out by a conservative writer, Zakaria (sp) in 2003, the intelligence at the time we went to war was all indicating that Ssddam did not have any WMD's. But anybody indicating dufferently was branded as a traitor.

And BTW, the Tenet "slam dunk" quotation comes from Woodwar who is not particulatrly the most respected of journalists any more. And there is some question as to whether or not Tenet meant that it was a slam dunk that there were WMD's or that it would be a slam dunk to convince the American people that there were WMD's.

And BTW, the Tenet "slam dunk" quotation comes from Woodwar who is not particulatrly the most respected of journalists any more. And there is some question as to whether or not Tenet meant that it was a slam dunk that there were WMD's or that it would be a slam dunk to convince the American people that there were WMD's.

Tenet later regretted this.

this is one more bit of evidence that the administration lied about its reasons for going to war. If we turned Iraq's foreign minister, checked him out and found him credible, and he told us that Iraq had no WMD programs, then at the very least that should have created enough doubt that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney should have stopped talking about smoking guns turning out to be mushroom clouds.

It is amazing to me that so many of the liberals who are jumping all over this story show such naivety. Have you never watched Alias? Any spy movie whatsoever? If you had, you might be familiar with the concept that we can't always trust the word of a foreign agent who shows up and tells us a convenient story. What do you know, foreign agents sometimes turn out to be less than honest.

Point is, maybe for all Bush and Tenet knew at the time, Sabri was just playing a role in a clever scheme to try to cover up Saddam's misdoings. Sabri's story is not a reason to leap to the "Bush LIED" conclusion.

I never would have thought that fictional TV shows and spy movies were a useful template for the conduct of foreign policy, but I guess that just goes to show what a naive liberal I am.

No, the point is that even utter ignoramuses who have never read anything whatsoever about intelligence work might have heard of double agents and disinformation through various movies and TV shows.

Neils, how could it have been a clever scheme to cover up Saddam's misbehavior when it turns out that there were, in fact, no WMD's? he said they ween't there ad they weren't. There is't any basis for trying to read a double agent ploy into things.

"And there is some question as to whether or not Tenet meant that it was a slam dunk..."

Considering the reporter and the sources, I question whether it was ever said at all. To protect the Presidency, people of very high integrity have lied. That means Tenet, of course.

**cough** curveball **cough**

Niels: note that I did not say we should have trusted Sabri, no questions asked. I said that if he said this, and we checked him out hand he proved credible, then that should have created not certainty, but enough doubt that Bush et al should not have gone on talking as though they were certain.

I meant 'and', not 'hand'.

Completely OT: I had to fax my '05 and '04 tax returns to someone, and Kinkos was so expensive that it was cheaper to buy a fax machine. Something is wrong with this picture.

"Something is wrong with this picture."

Ahh, but it is a very big picture. High American service prices are paying for dirt-cheap East Asian imported consumer products? Or something like that. The two prices are connected, not in conflict. I am not sure yet there is anything wrong with the picture.

Welcome to the global economy.

Krugman on the Dollar ...via Mark Thoma, an actual new academic work by Krugman, rather than a column. I spend too much time on stuff like this.

Completely OT: I had to fax my '05 and '04 tax returns to someone, and Kinkos was so expensive that it was cheaper to buy a fax machine. Something is wrong with this picture.

Since three years we do all our tax-information via the internet. Download the forms, upload them when ready. Though I still disagree with their slogan ('we can't make it more fun, but we CAN make it easier') it does smoothen the process.

Some folks will appreciate this post from the Iraq War Was Wrong blog:

Josehua Micha-Marshall is all over this one folks so not much I need add. Basically they(Bushies) got a guy from Iraq and he said "stop! no WMD's!" but they invaded anyway. Yes you heard that right.

How can you invade a country if some a person VERY HIGH UP from that country calls you up and promises to you they don't got WMD's. Your about to invade his country, then prior to, mystirously he(high-up person from the country your going to invade) contact's, "hey guy's, we don't have WMDs"- well gees "nuff said" you cancel the invasion right than an there. Period.

If a country(Iraq) had WMDs then maybe its a good idea to invade them lickety spit(ok not really- still wrong if its Iraq we're talking about) but if they don't ? Then why do you invade them. Dumb. RELLY dumb. (To invade a country with no even WMD's). And this guy said they don't. That should of been teh end of it. "Ok guy, we read you, it's off". That's waht a sane (reality-base) adminitrations would.

Sometime's its like the dhingers just don't know anything about any kind of stragety of thing's. Its good that there's guys like Joshua-Micha to keep on it and remind us waht REAL military strategical thinking is all about.

Speaking for myself, I didn't think the argument of the post could be worse than the grammar... and I was right. But it was a photo-finish.

Anarch -- you do realize, of course, that the argument (though not the grammar) in the quoted post is believed (or espoused) by most of the commenters here.

Niels: that the argument (though not the grammar) in the quoted post is believed (or espoused) by most of the commenters here.

The argument appears to be: If a senior government minister says there are no WMD in his country, the invasion of that country should be called off immediately.

That argument has not, to my knowledge, been either believed or espoused by any of the commenters here. (I admit it's hard to figure out the argument of the post given the grammar is so awful, but I think that's what this person is saying.)

Speaking for myself, the argument as I see it is that if you get contradictory information from someone in a position to know, check it out.

Slarti,

I am going to agree with Jes on this. The ungrammatical one said, "To invade a country with no even WMD's). And this guy said they don't. That should of been teh end of it."

The position you state (that we should have done more to verify) is the one the majority of anti-war persons here have taken, especially once the inspectors were unable to find any WMD's, even when we were telling them where to look.

Slarti

Ah, I should have been more clear. What I meant was, how I interpret the position of various posters here is as I outlined in my previous comment.

The opinion voiced by the ungrammatical one should, I have to suggest, be regarded as a strawman erected by a parody site. I'm pretty sure I'm right on this.

It's so hard to tell parody from reality nowadays.

Whoa, all that people were saying was, "I wish they had done further investigation of Sabri's claims"? I could have sworn that immediately after the post went up, the commenters immediately started talking about 1) Bush lied and is "more corrupt than Nixon," 2) standards for impeachment and the advisability thereof, 3) war crimes against humanity, etc., etc.

Niels,

Can I borrow your time machine? I am stuck here in 2006, with far different knowledge of the world than I had in 2002-03.

Dantheman: Are you trying to make the point that hindsight is always clearer, and that you can't accuse someone of lying if it turns out years later that they were mistaken? Can't argue with that.

Niels: Are you trying to make the point that hindsight is always clearer, and that you can't accuse someone of lying if it turns out years later that they were mistaken?

I do believe Dantheman is making the point that, while in 2003 we might have thought the Bush administration was only mistaken when they claimed there were stockpiled WMD in Iraq, in 2006 with the benefit of much more information about what the Bush administration knew in 2002/2003, we know they were lying.

...this is one more bit of evidence that the administration lied about its reasons for going to war.

About this time three years ago that was clear enough for me. But there were still some good theories about WMD floating around.

That would've been a lot funnier if it didn't have a huge math error in it.

Hint: the correct answer is just a hair under three-quarters of an inch. An actual Scud, being more like ten meters long, would've shrunk to just under two and a half inches.

Being an engineer positively sucks all the humor out of certain things. It's a curse.

Actually my point was that we (the general public) did not know what the Bush Adminstration knew in 2003. They indicated they had sources of information not available to the general public that were telling them there certainly were WMD.

However, opposite was true, they had sources of information not available to the general public which were telling them there certainly were not WMD. While that information should not have ended their inquiries, it should have led them to inquire further, instead of stopping them.

Slarti: it is a known fact that people who are great at math have absolutely no sense of humor, or is it vice versa.

Anyway, because of that basic law of nature, anything written for the sake of humor cannot have any mathematically correct information in it.

An actual Scud, being more like ten meters long, would've shrunk to just under two and a half inches.

Any mouse that couldn't carry a 2.5 inch missile wouldn't get through basic training.

This is what happens to Scud-carrying mice.

you do realize, of course, that the argument (though not the grammar) in the quoted post is believed (or espoused) by most of the commenters here.

Except that they're not, which was my point.

Well, the commenters are on the same intellectual wavelength. Why else would so many people start assuming that because Sabri said there were no WMDs, therefore impeachment is in order? The necessary assumptions behind that line of thinking are that 1) there were no indicators of suspicion about Sabri; 2) therefore, at the time, the Bush administration should have known that Sabri was telling the truth (and that he wasn't a double agent); and 3) the fact that the Bush administration nonetheless pursued the Iraq war makes them guilty of some sort of war crime.

None of you could even conceivably know all of the details about this story. Do you know how Sabri was turned, exactly what Sabri said to the Bush administration, etc.? No. Perhaps he seemed nervous and suspicious while being interviewed. Perhaps he said certain things that were known to be inaccurate. Perhaps his story seemed internally inconsistent in some way. Perhaps the Bush administration DID look deeper into Sabri's story, and wasn't convinced that he was on the level.

None of you have any way of knowing these things. In such ignorance, how on earth can you take the Sabri story as immediate proof that Bush lied, that impeachment is in order, that the Iraq war was a crime, etc.? Only on the logic expressed in the spoof post: That Sabri should have been automatically believed.

"Well, the commenters are on the same intellectual wavelength."

Niels, if it is too much trouble for you to actually read what people have written in response to your comment the first time, why is it not too much trouble for you to put words in their mouths?

This is what happens to Scud-carrying mice.

Given that the Geneva Convention forbids the use of dum-dum bullets you can't seriously argue that weapons like that are permissible. Feline Scud-busters are clearly the way to go.

Dantheman: Is it too much trouble for you to come up with something substantive to say? I did read what the commenters said in response to me, but it was unconvincing. When all of the previous discussion has been "Bush lied," and "let's impeach," and "war crimes," it simply isn't true to claim that everyone has merely been saying, "Oh, gee, they should have made further inquiries." For that matter, no one here could conceivably know that no one in the Bush administration or the CIA made further inquiries. That's my point: You're leaping to the conclusion that you want (for partisan reasons) to believe. It's just wishful thinking.

Niels,

So you do read what people say, you just assume you know better than they do what they really mean? Sorry, I don't feel like playing with you any more.

Niels: I actually wrote: "If we turned Iraq's foreign minister, checked him out and found him credible, and he told us that Iraq had no WMD programs, then at the very least that should have created enough doubt that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney should have stopped talking about smoking guns turning out to be mushroom clouds." If this is the argument you keep talking about in disguise, I'd love to know how.

The original story contains this, about checking Sabri's word:

""This was a very high inner circle of Saddam Hussein. Someone who would know what he was talking about," Drumheller says.

"You knew you could trust this guy?" Bradley asked.

"We continued to validate him the whole way through," Drumheller replied."

Why I said that I thought that this was evidence that Bush lied is this: they spoke as though they were certain that Iraq had WMDs. Cheney (iirc) said not only knew that they existed; he knew where they were. In fact, the administration knew that there were serious reasons to question this. However, they didn't care. This certainly shows that they lied about WMD being a reason for going to war (had it been, they would have cared whether Saddam had any), and also that they lied about being certain.

Cheney (iirc) said not only knew that they existed; he knew where they were.

Rumsfeld also declared that he knew exactly where they were, and even went so far as to offer the general localities ("north and west of Baghdad", IIRC) during the first week of the war.

One of my favorite Donald Rumsfeld lines:

We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.

Secretary Rumsfeld Remarks on ABC This Week with George Stephanopoulos, March 30, 2003.

I prefer to focus on Rumsfeld in the present

A full 10 seconds of silence passed after a reporter asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld what the intense secrecy and security surrounding their visit to Iraq signified about the stability of the country three years after the U.S.-led invasion. Rice turned to Rumsfeld to provide the answer. Rumsfeld glared at the reporter.

"I guess I don't think it says anything about it," he snapped. He went on to say that President Bush directed him and Rice to go to Iraq to "meet with the new leadership and it happens that they are located here," referring to the heavily-fortified Green Zone where U.S. officials -- and many Iraqi leaders -- live and work.

No he hasn't.

Yes, he has, Anarch. A president with 33% job approval has an agenda stuck in neutral.

Charles, you initially stated he has paid a political price because his claims about the WMDs turned out to be wrong.

Wrong then and wrong with your statement above.

First because, if he and his coterie had actually handled this fiasco in any sort of competent way, most Americans, unfortunately, wouldn't have cared if WMDs were found or not.

Secondly, what part of his agenda is stuck in neutral. A couple more tax cuts?

Other than the social security fiasco (there is that word again showing up in talking about Bush and Co) what has he wanted that he hasn't gotten? I mean something that actually had a snowball's chance in Hell of passing (which his SS plan didn't)?

And if the Republicans keep control of either house of Congress, do you think he will still be emasculated?

Of course not. Any Repubs that are currently backing off of supporting Bush are only doing so to get re-elected. Once that happens they will be his lap dogs again.

Yes, he has, Anarch. A president with 33% job approval has an agenda stuck in neutral.

I didn't say he was popular. I said he hadn't paid any price for the intelligence failures amongst his base -- and further that his base tried their damnedest to ensure that no such price would ever be paid -- and until you can demonstrate a correlation more profound than an unrelated datapoint, I'm sticking with that.

Lying to the Senate to get us into war was among the wrongs discussed by the framers of the Constitution when they dealt with issues of impeachment. Not that this was the only "separation of power" type wrong that can be so supplied.

The sentiment of many -- including Al Franken for what that is worth -- is that we need to focus on getting Democrats in power so that we can have true oversight and kick the feet from under the President in other ways.

"Impeachment" would just be counterproductive -- seen as extremism and obviously "out there." Ironically, sigh, Clinton will be used (by some quite cynically) as a reason not to "go there." You can have your cake and eat it too, I guess.

But, impeachment comes in stages. The first is impeachment investigations -- the sort of "oversight" and "real investigations" many want to occur. So, it is somewhat a question of semantics here.

Anyway, even with a Democratic Congress, the 2/3 necessary to remove is unlikely. I would add that I don't quite trust the Dems (with at best a fairly thin majority) would be THAT tough ... with Barack Obama types calling for "unity" and "reason" especially.

The best argument for impeachment is that it will be a political -- in the best sense of the word -- message that THIS SHALL NOT BE ALLOWED. Lying us into war -- and many against impeachment forthrightly say this happened -- is not just a nasty thing worthy of "concern" or our ire. It is a basic violation of basic principles.

If it truly occured, esp. given the results, the leaders on some basic level cannot be allowed to remain in power, even in a weakened state. It would be like "cutting the legs under" an assassin, but allowing him to stay free all the same with some power remaining.

Impeachment, I fear, is null and void these days. If lying us into war etc. does not warrant it -- perhaps because it will hurt a certain party -- what will? The President personally killing or torturing someone?

"The President personally killing or torturing someone?"

Are you kidding? There's a sizeable number of people, including pundits and some in Congress, who'd say it just proves what a Big Strong Man he is. Chris Matthews, who practically had an orgasm on-air after the Captain Codpiece photo-op, would melt into a little puddle of adoring goo.

I suspect that if the Justice Department begins making moves against journalists on National Security grounds ( various secrecy Act prosecutions, etc.), the question of Bush's agenda being in neutral will be moot.

With the press completely intimidated and back on its heels and no gains for Democrats in the next election, he could hand over all of the National Parks to Six Flags and make noises about the parks being havens for terrorists and there will be not one word (perhaps some cooing) of it in the press.

If Democrats gain some ground and can press investigations in 2007, any mention of impeachment will considered by this White House and Justice Department to be subversion of the Commander in Chief's War on Terror.

Don't be juked by the affable references to "celluosic materials". Unlike Nixon, who was actually afraid of his enemies, this guy likes having enemies. It puts him right with God. It informs his smirk. It is his replacement for alcohol.

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