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The end of an administration...

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    The end of an administration...

    Wow.. this stuff just keeps getting deeper and deeper for these folks. I've tried to make clear that I was for an Iraq war, so long as it was done right. As of summer 2002 it was becoming obvious that it wouldn't so I went to ripping every misstep publicly known. Now we find ourselves neck-deep in the African uranium saga. Add to that retaliatory strikes against the people who tried to check the far end of the balance (Ritter becoming a pornfreak, Blix being burned, Wilson's wife losing a job, Tenet taking the heat, more in the works), with blatant incompetency. Now the 9/11 report is coming out and says definitively that there never was anything to warrant so much as a hypothetical Iraq-al Qaeda link. What was once the domain of rabid left-wingers is now becoming an argument of moderates and administration allies; namely Rumsfeld and Rice, perhaps others, need to go.

    We are witnessing the end of an administration. Let's hope that their self-destructive incompetence doesn't further harm the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the rest of the World for that matter.

    Supporting articles to follow...

    9/11 report: No Iraq link to al-Qaida
    Former Democratic Georgia Sen. Max Cleland, who was a member of the joint congressional committee that produced the report, confirmed the official's statement.

    Asked whether he believed the report will reveal that there was no connection between al-Qaida and Iraq, Cleland replied: "I do ... There's no connection, and that's been confirmed by some of (al-Qaida leader Osama) bin Laden's terrorist followers." ...

    "The administration sold the connection (between Iraq and al- Qaida) to scare the pants off the American people and justify the war," said Cleland. "What you've seen here is the manipulation of intelligence for political ends." ...

    Although the committee completed its work at the end of last year, publication of the report has been delayed by interminable wrangles between the committees and the administration over which parts of it could be declassified.

    Cleland accused the administration of deliberately delaying the report's release to avoid having its case for war undercut.

    "The reason this report was delayed for so long -- deliberately opposed at first, then slow-walked after it was created -- is that the administration wanted to get the war in Iraq in and over ... before (it) came out," he said.

    "Had this report come out in January like it should have done, we would have known these things before the war in Iraq, which would not have suited the administration." ...

    [A government official who's read the report] went on to suggest that the conclusions drawn from the information about [a key piece of alleged evidence for a Iraq-al Qaida connection] was indicative of a wider- ranging problem with the administration's attitude to intelligence on the alleged Iraq al- Qaida link.

    "They take a fact that you could draw several different conclusions from, and in every case they draw the conclusion that supports the policy, without any particular evidence that would meet the normal bar that analytic tradecraft would require for you to make that conclusion," he concluded.


      Interesting insider info on the CIA-NSC war from today's Nelson Report ...

      9. Until or unless the President steps in to provide leadership, the long- awaited showdown between the "neoconservatives" and the "pragmatists" will soon reach crisis proportions…this, due to CIA director George Tenet's extraordinary decision to name the President's staffers responsible for misleading, or false, pre-Iraq war intel, Administration sources confirm today.

      -- and the war has just begun, intelligence community sources warn. The Iraq/Niger debacle is but one of "a whole series of stories which are ready to break", a source told us today, adding, "I've never seen such hostility and disdain as now being expressed between the White House and the CIA. Never…" ...

      11. As one Administration source put it, privately, today: "Between Tenet and Hadley, Condi now has the choice of saying she's a fool, or a liar…if not both. Bottom line is she failed to protect the President…look at all this lame stuff about him not being a 'fact checker'. It's just incredible."

      -- even before last week, a source close to the White House told us, "the President now sees that he's exposed on the intel problems. And he now sees who's been manipulating him, and he's not happy about it. No president likes to be embarrassed, but this stuff goes to the heart of all the reservations, pre-9/11, about his intelligence, his attention span, and his interest in foreign affairs."

      12. Three weeks ago, this source speculated that it would be "difficult" for Bush to fire the senior officials responsible, for obvious reasons, since they would include Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Rice, at a minimum, and that Tenet seemingly had so ingratiated himself at the personal level, he could escape punishment.

      -- today, while no one wanted to speculate about Rummy and Cheney, in the absence of new disclosures, disparate Administration sources confirm that it is "generally accepted" that Tenet will be fired from the CIA, if only because of what he started last week.

      13. Where this gets really interesting is the apparent response of neoconservatives: just prior to Hadley's self-destruction yesterday, a source reported talk of trying to replace Tenet with Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz; replacing Wolfowitz with Hadley; and moving Bob Blackwill immediately up to Deputy NSC advisor…even though Blackwill is not a neo-con.

      -- parenthetically, sources explain that for neo-cons, Blackwill enjoys the considerable virtue of loathing, and being loathed by, the "leaders" of the pragmatists, Secretary of State Powell, and Deputy Secretary Armitage. State sources say Blackwill was "fired" as Ambassador to India, due to his management of the Embassy, and how he worked with Armitage in various India/Pakistan crises.


        THE PLOT THICKENS: Several reporters, to their credit, questioned White House press secretary Scott McClellan today over which "senior administration officials" leaked to Robert Novak that Valerie Plame was an undercover CIA operative. (See here for more.) Below is the transcript of McClellan's responses, which should raise a lot of questions.
        Q. The Robert Novak column last week identified the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson as a CIA operative who was working on WMD issues. Novak said that identification is based on information given to him by two administration sources. That column has now given rise to accusations that the administration deliberatively blew the cover of an undercover CIA operative, and in so doing, violated a federal law that prohibits revealing the identity of undercover CIA operatives. Can you respond to that?

        MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you for bringing that up. That is not the way this President or this White House operates. And there is absolutely no information that has come to my attention or that I have seen that suggests that there is any truth to that suggestion. And, certainly, no one in this White House would have given authority to take such a step.

        Q. So you're saying --

        MR. McCLELLAN: I'm saying that that is not the way that this President or this White House operates, and I've seen no evidence to suggest there's any truth to it.

        Q. Are you saying Novak was wrong in saying that it was two administration sources who were the source for --

        MR. McCLELLAN: I have no idea who "anonymous" is. I often wish --

        Q. It's not anonymous. He says senior administration officials.

        MR. McCLELLAN: That would be anonymous.

        Q. Well, that would be senior administration --

        Q. Like the guy who briefed us last week?

        MR. McCLELLAN: Whether it's anonymous senior administration officials or just anonymous sources, it's still anonymous.
        It's worth pausing here to clear up some terminology. "Senior administration officials," as many of our readers know, is a term of art used by both the press and by the administration. When reporters cite "senior administration officials," they generally mean the vice-president, the cabinet secretaries, those with cabinet-rank, the chief of staff, maybe the deputy chief of staff, and a couple of other really senior advisors. It's a fairly limited pool. Likewise, the White House will sometimes offer briefings with top officials -- sometimes even to groups of journalists -- on the condition that they be identified only as "senior administration officials." So it's preposterous for McClellan to pretend that this is some kind of made-up, meaningless term. Hence that last question above. To continue:
        Q. Is Novak lying? Do you think he's making it up?

        MR. McCLELLAN: I'm telling you our position. I'll let the columnist speak for himself.

        Q. You're saying, flatly, it did not happen, nobody --

        MR. McCLELLAN: I'm telling you, flatly, that that is not the way this White House operates. I've seen no evidence to suggest that there's any truth to that.

        Q. That's different from saying it didn't happen. Are you saying, absolutely, it did not happen?

        MR. McCLELLAN: I'm saying no one was certainly given any authority to do anything of that nature. And I've seen no evidence to suggest there's any truth to it. I want to make it very clear, that is simply not the way this White House operates.

        Q. If it turns out that somebody in the administration did do that --

        MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not even going to speculate about it, because I have no knowledge of any truth to that report.
        Let's translate, shall we? Note the use of passive voice and indeterminate references. He says "no one was given any authority." Well, who would be the person to give such authority? McClellan doesn't say. He does say that he, personally, has seen no evidence of any truth to "it." What does that mean? Does it refer to the "authority"? Or does it refer to the fact of the leak, which is indisputable? Moving on:
        Q. What's the extent of your knowledge? Don't you want to get some more facts? I mean, how do you know that no one in the administration -- Robert Novak has been around for a long --

        MR. McCLELLAN: If I could go find "anonymous," Terry, I would.

        Q. Does the President support a criminal investigation --

        MR. McCLELLAN: Did you have something?

        Q. Can I follow on that?

        MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, Richard.

        Q. I'm not following.

        MR. McCLELLAN: You answer his question and -- (laughter.)
        Hah hah. It's a good question, though: Shouldn't it be someone's job in the White House to find out who leaked this sensitive information to Novak?

        Here's a thought. To help McClellan out, the White House press corps should jointly put together a list of all the "senior administration officials" they've been briefed by in the last two years. It's not going to be more than a dozen or so people. And Novak's two people are on that list. How hard will it be for McClellan -- assuming he wants to know what happened -- to call up those 12 or 15 people and ask which one was the source of the leak?


          Hard to find a decent plumber these days....


            america never had any case against iraq to go to war. only bush's arrogance and revenge forced him to wage war against iraq. link between iraq ans al-qaeda was never proved and all they did was we think. we believe, we know etc, which was and is nothing but a load of BS. but then coming from this administration, what can you expect except BS :~)


              Nice complilation of articles and a good comment up top.
              "Don't guess a person's character on his present situation because time has the power
              to change an ordinary coal into a precious diamond"


                Just read the whole thing. That really is a great compilation of articles, meticulously collected.

                Do you mind if i ask - do you get this from somewhere or do you do it yourself?

                "They take a fact that you could draw several different conclusions from, and in every case they draw the conclusion that supports the policy, without any particular evidence that would meet the normal bar that analytic tradecraft would require for you to make that conclusion."
                While reading the 9-11 report (second post), i received the impression for some reason that - even these revelations may not seem to influence the people of the US that much. If the congressional report definitively and publically arrives at the conclusion that there is NO link between Iraq and alQaeda, what sort of response will come from the American people? i doubt there is going to be much of an uproar. Generally speaking it's so engrained, in the US, in the collective psyche to demonize everything related to Iraq, that even with one damn lie after another being exposed, public confidence in Bush still remains relatively high.
                i desperately hope i am wrong, though...and that these deceptions and official lies spell the end of this administration's power.



                  Well thought out thesis.

                  Perhaps this article from the washington Post will put it in a little more perspective:

                  A Handle On Scandal
                  'Uranium From Africa' Doesn't Have the Smell of 'I Am Not a Crook,' but It Has at Least a Whiff of Flap

                  By Joel Achenbach
                  Washington Post Staff Writer
                  Thursday, July 24, 2003; Page C01

                  People in the nation's capital don't use the word "scandal" lightly. Here, a scandal is an almost sacred thing. It has formal structures. It has institutionalized traditions. Corruption at the highest levels -- its ritualized exposure and punishment amid a media frenzy that humbles the mighty and turns obscure government employees into cult figures -- is a cherished part of our community heritage.

                  If certain criteria aren't met, the thing in question is not a scandal, but merely a controversy, or a furor, or something even more trivial than that: a flap.

                  At present there is abundant disputation in Washington over the president's use of incorrect information about Iraq in his State of the Union address. Building his case for war against Iraq, President Bush said, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

                  The White House has acknowledged that this was bad information and shouldn't have been included in the January speech. Intelligence agencies had already dismissed the sketchy reports of Iraqi attempts to buy "yellowcake uranium ore" in Niger. The Central Intelligence Agency said this week that it had specifically warned White House staffers last October that the Niger allegation was unsupportable and should be removed from a presidential speech. Critics say the administration repeatedly abused intelligence data and exaggerated the Iraqi threat in the run-up to war.

                  A scandal?

                  Or just . . . flapdoodle?

                  Naturally there are partisan differences. William Kristol, editor of the conservative journal the Weekly Standard, has derided Democrats for scandalmongering, and ridiculed the news media for their "hyperbolic, rush-to-judgment, believe-the-worst" coverage of the issue. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has argued that the line in Bush's speech was "technically correct." National security adviser Condoleezza Rice said the president's mistake was "about a single sentence, a single data point," and was just "16 words."

                  The "16 words" defense sent up a red flag for those on the other side of the political spectrum.

                  "A lame attempt to diminish it is always a good sign of a scandal," says Paul Begala, co-host of CNN's "Crossfire" and a former Clinton administration aide. The phrase "just 16 words" reminds him of a line about Watergate: "just a third-rate burglary."

                  Begala says the climate is right for an authentic scandal.

                  "I see all of the storm clouds gathering. For one thing, it's summer. Scandals do gather more in the summer. There's nothing else to do."

                  Liberal pundit Alan Colmes of Fox's "Hannity & Colmes" isn't quite ready to use the S-word.

                  "To call it a scandal would be premature, but clearly a full and open investigation would be warranted. I don't believe the president necessarily lied, but someone certainly made him look bad. And I don't understand why he doesn't loudly proclaim that he wants to get to the bottom of this," Colmes says.

                  One person familiar with scandal, former White House counsel John Dean -- instrumental in sinking the presidency of his boss, Richard Nixon -- points out that a scandal by definition requires not only improper behavior but also public offense. Action and reaction are equally essential.

                  "Watergate initially was not a scandal," says Dean, now a full-time writer, when reached at his office in Beverly Hills. "When the break-in occurred" in June 1972, "other than The Post, everyone in the media ignored it. Try as he would, George McGovern couldn't get anyone to pay attention to the problem. It didn't become a scandal until the spring of '73, when the cover-up falls apart of its own weight, then everyone jumps on it and it becomes a scandal. And then it's a scandal right through Ford's pardon."

                  Asked if the current issue is a scandal, Dean says, "It's close." He also thinks it could lead to impeachment.


                  Still, the administration has managed to keep the tempest going by changing its story about how the problem came about. The White House initially blamed the CIA for the blunder, before conceding that the CIA had bird-dogged the bad information. An excellent technique for initiating a Washington scandal is to get on the wrong side of the Agency.

                  In a real scandal, the scandalmongers ask, "What did the president know, and when did he know it?" but that does not easily apply in this case, in part because the administration's opponents cannot imagine the president as a mastermind of anything. Nor does the president hold himself out as a details person. On the finer points of who had what weapon when, the president doesn't sweat the specifics, and his expression and body language conveys the message of Whatever . . .

                  The story does have one classically scandalous element: a dead body. British arms expert David Kelly, who had been a source for a BBC report that questioned the Blair government's allegations about Iraqi weapons, was found dead last week, an apparent suicide -- a tragedy that incited comparisons to the suicide of Vince Foster, the Clinton family friend and White House lawyer. Foster's death, and the mysterious disappearance of files from his office, led to the appointment of a special prosecutor in the Whitewater case, and thenceforth scandal became institutionalized at the Clinton White House.

                  The critics of the administration would argue that the WMD case meets a crucial scandal requirement: the possibility of a pattern of abuse of power. They'd argue that the Sixteen Words were but a snippet of a vast catalogue of disinformation.

                  "If there's an abuse of intelligence here, it's certainly a scandal," says Blumenthal, author of "The Clinton Wars."

                  He sees signs of nefarious activity at multiple nodes of the government. The vice president is in the thick of it, behind the scenes, Blumenthal believes. Figures from the Iran-contra scandal have resurfaced with jobs in the Bush administration, he says.

                  "The character of this is more like Iran-contra than it's like anything. It's a serious question involving breaches of national security policy," says Blumenthal.

                  Those who perceive a scandal will argue that the stakes are high, even if the details are sometimes a bit dry. William Rivers Pitt, managing editor of the online journal Truthout, says: "This doesn't have sex, this doesn't have the definition of 'is,' it doesn't have stained dresses. What it's got is an increasing number of dead American soldiers."

                  The president's defenders say there's nothing here at all, except a desperate attempt to undermine the president and his war policy. One former Republican political appointee said yesterday, "It's a nothingburger."

                  Passions intensify as elections near.

                  "Some in the Democratic Party feel the need to discredit the president on the issue of the war in order to put him within reach politically in '04," says Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.).

                  Scott McClellan, Bush's new press secretary, charged last week that Democratic candidates are trying to exploit the situation, but added, "The bottom line is, America is safer, more secure and better prepared than we were on September 11, 2001."

                  There are growing calls among Democrats for a full-blown bipartisan investigation, but the Republicans control Congress and have so far refused to hold hearings. What happens next may well depend on events in Iraq. Military success could push the story to the back pages, and then eventually exile it to a few redoubts on the Internet.

                  For an administration that has seen public support for its Iraq policy eroding, the deaths of Saddam Hussein's sons this week offered an unexpected burst of good news. But the guerrilla war continues: Two more American soldiers died in separate attacks yesterday.

                  The worst-case scenario for the administration is that the story takes on a life of its own. Consider one scandal expert's description of how that process works:

                  "The wildest accusations have been given banner headlines and ready credence as well. Rumor, gossip, innuendo, accounts from unnamed sources of what a prospective witness might testify to, have filled the morning newspapers and then are repeated on the evening newscasts day after day.

                  "Time and again, a familiar pattern repeated itself. A charge would be reported the first day as what it was -- just an allegation. But it would then be referred back to the next day and thereafter as if it were true.

                  "The distinction between fact and speculation grew blurred. Eventually, all seeped into the public consciousness as a vague general impression of massive wrongdoing, implicating everybody, gaining credibility by its endless repetition."

                  The expert was, naturally, Richard Nixon, speaking to America, and ready to put Watergate behind him once and for all.

                  Boycott Venezuelas State owned Citgo.

                  Buy Royal Dutch Shell gasoline!


                    Do American people realize that they were fooled twice within 18 months? I don't think so. American public usually believe in the sincerity/truthfullness of their administration unless proved completely wrong, very gullible I think. They are celebrating the death of two sons, the ones Iraqis feared very much. Beginning of war was because Iraq was a threat to the 'civilization', to the nations around the world.... after the war American public forgot all that and are happy because the regime which was only a threat to its own public and no other nation is gone which in one way is good but bad in many other ways.


                      OG, excellent article
                      I agree with it on almost all points, as a description of the present. As the article points out, there remains a possibility for all or one of these things gaining speed in the future. The proper elements are there.. "John Dean... points out that a scandal by definition requires not only improper behavior but also public offense." It is hard to argue sensibly that there was no improper behavior. What will determine if this becomes anything is if the public offense materializes.

                      My fear is that a token success, such as killing Uday and Qusay, will render inaudible the administration's ineptitude on all other matters Iraq and allow it to fall to pieces.


                        Nadia, those three pieces above I initially found in weblogs (the links are there in the last two). I've been pulling together a lot of stuff for a project lately so I keep finding more. I'll try to post some links later since most of it is relevant.

                        Agreed on your points also.. the public has been all too willing to buy whatever is flashed in front of them as long as it's simple and fits their existing bias. Here's something from another blog:

                        THE ADD PROBLEM
                        I agree with Stupid’s [a respondent to an earlier post] observation that the Democrats and Bush’s critics in the media suffer from attention-deficit disorder when it comes to this administration. But really, what is one supposed to do? Policies based almost exclusively on extremist ideology — either pro-business or pro-religious fundamentalist — and defended with dishonesty are the rule, not the exception. How to keep attention on every outrage at once, particularly in a country that is more interested in Kobe Bryant’s sex life than the threat of North Korea’s nukes? Nobody’s been able to figure this out, and that, alas, is part and parcel of the Bush/Rove genius.



                          As I have stated before, there are large pendulum swings in American politics, with the pendulum rarely visiting the middle for long.

                          After 9/11 Bush had abnormally high approval ratings for a very prolonged period. It will take a "flap" like this to move things back to a more normal range. He is simply falling off the pedestal, and it is now politics as usual in the Capital.

                          Unfortunately the Democratic candidates for president are pathetic, and the field is very divided. Bush's ability to raise money is extraordinary. At best the White House has a stubbed toe, but the current White House staff is very disciplined and savvy. This speed bump can be easily conquered. Blair is in much more trouble...
                          Boycott Venezuelas State owned Citgo.

                          Buy Royal Dutch Shell gasoline!


                            Originally posted by Ohioguy:

                            Unfortunately the Democratic candidates for president are pathetic.
                            Oh I disagree, but we can save this discussion for down the road.


                              Apparently this is the only thread where I mentioned Valerie Plame.. oh well, it's a good thread, worth bringing back up.. more info on that finally. This is from a blog, the guy seems a bit too excited but he has the proper elements together (I'm too lazy to write my own review):

                              Whammo! NBC has a late report that the CIA has asked the Justice Department to investigate whether the White House broke federal law by exposing the identity of one of its undercover employees, Valerie Plame, to retaliate against her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson.

                              Wilson of course is the former foreign service officer who made the trip to Niger to investigate those claims of uranium sales to Iraq.

                              The way this works is that the CIA does its own investigation to determine whether there is reason to believe laws were broken. But the CIA has no law enforcement powers itself. So it makes a referral to the Justice Department, which obviously does have law enforcement powers. If the folks at Justice concur in the Agency's determination that there is reason to believe that laws were broken, they then task the FBI with mounting a formal criminal investigation. ...

                              On it's face, this news tonight almost certainly means that the CIA's internal investigation concluded that laws were broken or that there was sufficient evidence of wrong-doing for a criminal investigation to be undertaken.

                              The decision on whether to task the FBI with investigating the White House is now in hands of John Ashcroft. Once that happens -- if that happens -- it's not a matter of blogs and chat shows, but subpoenas and depositions.