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July 18, 2003
Okay, one more before I go
If you will forgive the language, this shit is seriously fucked up. From Creative Loafing:
"That was my mom," I tell them. "The FBI's coming for me." They laugh; it's a good joke, especially when the FBI actually shows up. They are not the bogeymen I had been expecting. They're dressed casually, they speak familiarly, but they are big. The one in front stands close to 7 feet, and you can tell his partner is built like a bulldog under his baggy shirt and shorts.
Here's the article that got the author in trouble. Tell me again about how the innocent have nothing to hide...?
(My cartoon runs in both of these papers. Wonder if reading it will qualify somebody for a visit from Agent Trippi someday?)
July 17, 2003
Here's my hat, what's my hurry
A busy weekend ahead, and then I'm off to the Emerald Isle. I'll try to get a few posts up as circumstances allow, but for the most part, this site now officially returns to energy saver mode for awhile. (And you'd probably be smart to hold off on emailing me until I get back, lest your message get lost in the inevitable avalanche.)
As they used to say on The Prisoner: be seeing you.
Make of this what you will
Judicial Watch was one of the conservative groups that went after Clinton, on Richard Mellon Scaife's dime, back in the day. At the time, founder Larry Klayman stated, ""I take it to heart when I see the government not telling the truth, not doing the right thing and covering up."
And what do you know? It looks like he meant it.
(Washington, DC) Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption and abuse, said today that documents turned over by the Commerce Department, under court order as a result of Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit concerning the activities of the Cheney Energy Task Force, contain a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as 2 charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.” The documents, which are dated March 2001, are available on the Internet at: www.JudicialWatch.org.
Afterthought: if this is on the level, the implications are extraordinary. I always had it in the back of my mind that Cheney was stonewalling on the energy task force to hide the corruption, the ties to Enron and so on. But what if the sons of bitches were sitting around deciding how to divvy up Iraq? What if that most reductionist of slogans is a simple statement of fact: it's all about the oil?
Update: I am informed that the lawsuit was filed jointly by Judicial Watch and Sierra Club, a fact which Judicial Watch did not choose to highlight in its press release.
Seven Stories just sent me a copy of Micah Ian Wright’s collection, You Back the Attack, We’ll Bomb Who We Want! It’s great to see all of these pieces collected in one volume, with accompanying commentary, and even an index which reprints the original posters he used for source material. I was also interested to learn that Wright is a vet who spent "four years invading other countries as an Airborne Ranger." My only quibble is that Wright’s work really deserves a larger format than 6x9, but don’t let that stop you from buying it.
(I’m not sure why more publishers don’t send me relevant releases, given this site’s large and extremely targeted audience, cough cough hint hint.)
A new era of responsibility
A remarkable exchange between the White House Press Corps and Ari's replacement, Scott McClellan (for which we are indebted to Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo--so go spend some time over there, okay?)
QUESTION: Regardless of whether or not there was pressure from the White House for that line, I'm wondering where does the buck stop in this White House? Does it stop at the CIA, or does it stop in the Oval Office?
This is interesting
(Note: I've bumped this up on the page due to the update at the bottom of the entry.)
WASHINGTON -- CIA Director George Tenet told members of Congress a White House official insisted that President Bush's State of the Union address include an assertion about Saddam Hussein's nuclear intentions that had not been verified, a Senate Intelligence Committee member said Thursday.
More. Seems unlikely that Durbin would make this up out of whole cloth, though I suppose it is, as Tony Blair might say, "not beyond the bounds of possibility."
What we need now is for somebody to leak a name…
UPDATE: Looks like the name was leaked.
Durbin said that during the closed-door hearing, Tenet told the lawmakers that a White House official insisted the State of the Union address include the assertion about Saddam’s nuclear intentions. Durbin said that person’s identity could not be revealed because of the confidentiality of the proceedings, but sources, who spoke with NBC News on condition of anonymity, said that Tenet “reluctantly” identified the official as National Security Council member Robert Joseph. One source said that the revelation led to a series of questions about Joseph’s role.
I'm not sure if Tenet's reluctant revelation is new as of this NBC report (dated today), but NSC Special Assistant to the President Robert Joseph (who is apparently the staffer who reports to Condoleeza Rice on nuclear proliferation) was reported as denying that he said any such thing as early as July 13. If the denial does pre-date Tenet's allegation--and I repeat, as a lone blogger just trying to piece together news stories, I don't know if it does--perhaps it was pre-emptive.
At the very least, ladies and gentlemen, I think we have another candidate for "fall guy."
As Drudge would say, "Developing..."
One more update: The NBC evening news is reporting that the White House may use executive privilege to keep Joseph from testifying before the intelligence committee. Not that they have anything to hide, mind you.
Er, not exactly
Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe:
Let's see. Before the current frenzy over those 16 dubious words in the State of the Union address, there was the frenzy over the inability of allied troops in Iraq to find a weapons of mass destruction ''smoking gun'' - stockpiles of banned nerve gas and lethal biological agents.
The actual lowball estimate at this point is 13,000 from the storage room, and another 47* from the exhibition room.
Of course, it is technically true that 13,047 is closer to 50 than it is to 170,000...but I don't think that's what he meant.
(And you gotta love the dismissive reference to a "frenzy over the inability" to find WMDs. As if anyone who actually expected the administration to find the very rationale for the war is just some kind of hysterical nincompoop.)
*This number was initially reported in an AP article as 47,000, but all the subsequent articles I've seen on the topic report it as 47, so my guess is that the AP report was a typo. More bad information to muddy the water, unfortunately, though I'm sure there are plenty of people who will be willing to split the difference and call it, well, 33.
Timothy Noah wonders:
But what makes the yellowcake lie so special? That it was a justification for going to war? Then what about Bush's comic insistence in May that "We've found the weapons of mass destruction"? That lie was arguably worse than the yellowcake lie, because it was retrospective rather than speculative, and more demonstrably untrue. What about the cost of the war, which the Bush administration insisted couldn't be estimated in advance? Larry Lindsey reportedly lost his job as chairman of the National Economic Council for blabbing to the Wall Street Journal that the war would cost between $100 billion and $200 billion. Mitch Daniels, then White House budget director, scoffed at Lindsey's estimate and said the cost would be more like $50 billion or $60 billion. But now the Washington Post is estimating the cost of the war and its aftermath at … $100 billion.
That’s part one, and you should go read the rest. In part two, he answers his own question:
The yellowcake lie landed on Page One solely because it occasioned a brief and fatal departure from the Bush White House's press strategy of stonewalling. "Bush Claim on Iraq Had Flawed Origin, White House Says" read a New York Times headline on July 8. Glancing through the story, Chatterbox initially puzzled over its Page One placement. Didn't we know already that Bush's yellowcake line was a lie? Then Chatterbox realized that the novelty component wasn't the lie, but the Bush administration's admission that it had told a lie. In the Bush White House, this simply isn't done. Observe, for instance, how the new Bush press secretary, Scott McClellan, handled a question yesterday about Bush's weird statement that we went to war because Saddam refused to admit weapons inspectors into Iraq:
They're going to try to gaslight you
For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it refers to the classic film of the same name, in which Charles Boyer tries to convince Ingrid Bergman she is going mad, by sneaking around in crawlspaces and making strange noises and causing the gaslights in the house to flicker, and various things like that, and then denying any awareness of these odd goings-on, telling her she must be imagining it all.
That’s what the Bushies and their sycophants are doing, and will be trying to do, to you and me.
They want to convince you that there’s a perfectly plausible explanation for the whole yellowcake thing—such as the idea that the reference wasn’t to Niger at all, but some unnamed other African nation, or that there’s no reason for all this hand-wringing since Tony Blair still sticks by his story (even if he has recently downgraded his defense to saying that it was "not beyond the bounds of possibility," a caveat which could equally encompass dancing elephants giving a performance on the observation deck of the Empire State Building—but I digress.) They want to convince you that the media is just on a witch hunt, there’s nothing to the story at all. They want to convince you that the intelligence was good, that this is all a tempest in a teapot and not worth anyone’s attention at all, move along, move along, there’s absolutely nothing happening here and we certainly didn’t notice the gaslights flickering, no indeed.
July 16, 2003
Speaking of children's prisons
NEVER again did families in Baghdad imagine that they need fear the midnight knock at the door.
Just to play devil's advocate...
Let's say that the media are unfairly piling on the administration on the yellowcake story. Let's say they really did have some secret evidence of, say, a different African nation selling uranium to Iraq.
But if that's the case, is this (from Donald Rumsfeld) really the best the administration can come up with in its own defense?
"It didn't rise to the standard of a presidential speech, but it's not known, for example, that it was inaccurate. In fact, people think it was technically accurate."
"Technically accurate"? Isn't that what Bill Clinton argued in defense of his "I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky" line? And, gosh, remind me again--how many people died when Clinton lied?
Apparently the international space station was booked
According to the Wall Street Journal (print edition) this morning:
Georgia said Sea Island has been chosen to host next year's G-8 summit, in line with recent venues from which protesters can be kept easily.
Running government like a business
WASHINGTON, July 15 — The White House today projected a $455 billion budget deficit in the current fiscal year, by far the government's largest deficit ever and $150 billion higher than what the administration predicted just five months ago.
"Serious spending displine." As is often the case these days, I really don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
There were simply no better lies left to tell
(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)
I know I'm mostly vapor lately, due to miscellaneous work, crises, and other assorted chaos. But I just had to point out Wednesday's Washington Post article explaining out the reason for the biggest Big Lie (among many others, less noticed as of yet) in the State Of The Union address:
Bush Faced Dwindling Data on Iraq Nuclear Bid
GOP mouthpieces can play down the lie all they want -- as if Bush had plenty of other juicy stuff to convince us that Saddam was about to nuke us all to hell.
Um... no. False. Wrong. What they're saying simply isn't true. So at least they and Bush have something in common.
It was just 16 words, they say, as if the dozens of other lies simply aren't there. And Watergate was just a "third-rate burglary"...
Bottom line: we know -- we know -- that Bush and his flack claque PNAC had been planning military action in Iraq since long before 9/11.
And there's Bush, finally with his military in position, readying for the attack, the very day before his State Of The Union address... and suddenly (as we only later learn), pretty much everything else the White House has to paint Iraq as an imminent threat quite plainly falls apart, in ways the outside world already knows...
Gosh, what to do, what to do.
We all know what happened next.
July 15, 2003
War, lies and yellowcake
I’m not enough of a social scientist to fully understand why the yellowcake uranium story has finally taken hold like it has, but honestly, I don’t really care. It should have been obvious to any reasonably bright pre-adolescent that the entire case for this war was built on a mountain of lies and deceit, and if this is the wedge, the faultline that finally brings it all crashing down, it’s fine with me. They got Al Capone on tax evasion, after all.
Look, all the pieces of the puzzle have been out there in the open for a long time. We know that Rumsfeld and Perle and Wolfowitz forced round pegs of intelligence into square holes of preconception. We know that those same gentlemen have been advocating an invasion of Iraq since the mid-1990s, in order to establish a foothold in the region—the same old dream, held dear by Western imperial powers for most of a century. (A dream which is, in a nutshell, pretty much why we now live in a world where we have to live in fear of madmen hijacking airplanes and flying them into skyscrapers, but that’s another rant.)
We know that stories of Saddam’s involvement with al Qaeda and 9/11 are tales for children and simpletons, no more worthy of our concern than tales of monsters under the bed and ghosts in the closet.
We know that we are being led by ideologues, who came into office with a couple of clear, simple goals—cut taxes, roll back regulations, and if things really worked out well, invade Iraq—and that they've continued to pursue those goals both before and after 9/11, and as the economy sinks lower and lower and the jobless rate hits, I believe, its highest point in nine years—in short, no matter what problem we find ourselves facing, no matter how circumstances may change, they continue to offer the same, unchanging solutions. I believe this is at least close to a technical definition of madness.
My sense is, they really did believe they were going to find WMDs, and that it was therefore okay to lie about it beforehand, because they knew they’d ultimately be vindicated. Of course, they also thought they could just install Ahmed Chalabi as some sort of Presidential Puppetman and retreat into the sunset to a soundtrack of cheering Iraqi throngs. This is what happens when you have CEO’s running a government like a business: no one around them is in a position to tell them that they are living in a fantasy world. And when reality fails to conform to their fantasies, they are perhaps the most shocked of all.
It’s not about whether the yellowcake business was a lie if Bush believed it at the time, or whatever it is the pro-war weasels are arguing. There was so much evidence to the contrary, if he did believe it he should probably be impeached on grounds of sheer incompetence, but that, too, is another rant. No, they knew they were lying—maybe, just maybe not the boy President, whose grasp of current events seems shaky at best (see post below)-- but for damn sure Uncle Karl and that nice Mister Cheney knew it was a lie, and this is the point: it’s still a lie even if it was a lie told in the service of what they believed to be a greater truth.
And now that greater truth is revealed for the ideological fantasy it always was, and a lot of people have lost their lives, and our occupation is costing about a billion dollars a week—a week--and there is no light currently visible at the end of the tunnel.
So the sycophants can amuse themselves debating the technical meaning of a "lie," or spinning elaborate stories about "flypaper strategies" on the basis of three thoughtless belligerent words, but it’s not going to change the very simple fact: Bush lied, people died. I’m glad the media are finally waking up to this, though honestly, they should get about as much credit for it as MSNBC should get for firing Michael Savage, which is to say, none at all. We never should have ended up here in the first place. Where the hell were these people six months ago? Flaunting their damned flag lapel pins and giving us breathless puff pieces about military hardware and presidential determination, and debating whether the antiwar protestors were traitorous dogs or simply mindless dupes. It’s better to be skeptical late than not at all, but it’s a bit like the old saw about closing the barn door after the livestock have escaped. People are dead and we are stuck in Iraq, and that’s the facts, Jack.
From Joe Conason's Journal in Salon:
"We gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in."
July 14, 2003
William Greider is blogging
Well, sort of blogging. But it's good news in any case.
July 13, 2003
Another cartoon collection you could buy
Well, that was fun
As I expected, the book is now settling into more modest numbers on Amazon—but hey, it was a taste of what’s possible. For a few hours there, it was sitting at #13, one below Hillary Clinton.
In his novel, The Palace of Wisdom, Bob Marshall-Andrews sets the stage with this opening paragraph:
My master beat Galileo at marbles. True, the great apostate was dying and my master was no more than eight years of age, the very best age for marbles. Thereafter it entitled him to say, with some justification that, for a moment, he knew more about the movement of spheres than any man alive. Not a bad story.
I feel a little like that right now. For a moment, my book was up there on the chart, one notch below Hillary Clinton’s million-seller.
Not a bad story.
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