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Iraq'd

| 52 Comments | 3 TrackBacks
Lots of folks are pointing to the new TNR blog, Iraq'd. I'm of two minds on it (as I am on many things), so let me hit the three points that define the gap. The blog opens with a strong statement:
If you're a pro-war liberal, chances are you're probably feeling burned right now. The case for the Iraq war rested on three pillars: The danger of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, with the clock ticking on a nuclear capability; the danger of Saddam Hussein's connections to Al Qaeda; and the human rights imperative of deposing one of the world's most despicable regimes and assisting newly-freed Iraqis in building a democracy. Well, it turns out that Saddam didn't have much in the way of WMD, or even ongoing WMD programs. And it also appears that his ties to Al Qaeda were tenuous at best. So all that's left for the war rationale is the human-rights-and-democracy argument, which for liberals is intuitively appealing (or should be).
Uh, no. In fact, hell no. The case for the war in Iraq was made on September 11, 2001, in New York City.
Earlier, less powerful arguments had been made in Beirut, the Red Sea, Dhahran, and again in New York City. The notion that each of the increasing in scope acts of terrorism against Americans and American interests was an independent act is a charming conceit, much like that which suggests that the rash of murders that periodically break out in disputed gang territories are individual acts of passion. We are confronted with a multinational terrorist enterprise that has declared war on us. Much as I might ignore a twelve-year old who announces his intention to rob me, and even treat his efforts to attack with amusement when they are limited to taking swings at me as I hold him away by his forehead, I am likely to feel and act differently when he shows up with a loaded shotgun. We have to dismantle this terrorist enterprise, and to do so will take a long time, a lot of money, and not a few lives. Some of them will be American, although I wish it were not the case. I believe that we will not win until we manage to dismantle the philosophical outlook and social conditions that have bred it, but that while we figure out how to do that we also need to keep the bad guys away from our homes. I believe that the Clinton Administration - who I disliked because I felt they had sold out to corporate interests and were not populist or liberal enough to suit my politics - did a pretty good job of mobilizing international sentiment and working the international system. The FBI, for all its failings, worked damn hard to bring the terrorists they could find to justice, and met with not a little success. But it didn't stop 9/11. And little that they proposed or could have done would have, because 9/11 was a doctrinal failure. It was a doctrinal failure at a tactical level on three of the four planes, where the passengers did what they were supposed to do and sat and waited for the grownups to take care of things. And it was a doctrinal failure at a national security policy level as well, because the international efforts and criminal prosecutions hadn't blocked the growth of the movement. The national security doctrine failed because as long as the terrorists had the tacit support of state actors, our criminal justice system and the international criminal justice system were essentially helpless. So we had to remove that support. On March 16, I wrote:
...I believe the answer is to end the state support of terrorism and the state campaigns of hatred aimed at the U.S. I think that Iraq simply has drawn the lucky straw. They are weak, not liked, bluntly in violation of international law, and as our friends the French say, about to get hung pour l'ecourager les autres...to encourage the others. Now this may seem like a week reed on which to base a war. But it is stronger than it appears. First, there is a legitimate case for regime change in Iraq, regardless. I'll refer the reader back to Salon in 1998...
And nothing since then has come close to changing my mind. The war was briefer and less bloody than I anticipated, a testimony to the effectiveness of our men and women in the military (soon to be joined by my son). The aftermath, while chaotic, and less simple than some may have wished, is moving slowly in the right direction. I certainly held no illusions that Tikrit would, a week after we invaded, suddenly become Anaheim. This is going to be a long, slow, painful, and messy process. And what we need more than anything is an 'iron butt' - the clear willingness to simply sit it out and win. And here, the Iraq'd blog has a point to make.
But then along comes the Bush administration's November 15 Agreement to relinquish sovereignty by June 30, which tells the Iraqis that, owing to election-year considerations, the United States can't be bothered right now to midwife a democracy. You might say you've been Iraq'd. ... One of the premises of Iraq'd is that the U.S. decision to cease nation-building jeopardizes our own national security as well as Iraq's. After all, if we believe that Iraqi democracy would be a model for the region, then the converse is also true: If we leave behind a failing state in Iraq, then we provide Middle Eastern autocrats with a pretext for cracking down on the reformers and liberals in their midst, since they can point to the chaos in Baghdad as the likely fruit of democracy. And since Islamist terrorism feeds in part on Middle Eastern tyranny, then we're in a lot of trouble.
Yes. In fact, hell yes. I also wrote:
Look, for me it's simple. I'm willing to overlook a lot of what I don't like about the Bush Administration because I believe that he's the only candidate whom I believe (today) is resolute about this whole war thing. The second it looks like he's planning to 'declare victory and leave,' I can promise you that Atrios will look like Karl Rove in comparison to me. That's because I'm convinced that decision leads almost certainly to nukes in the U.S. and then the real possibility of a genocidal war abroad.
Now on one hand, I tend to have a high tolerance for 'fluff' or spin; it's the language of modern politics. And it's certainly possible to make pronouncements about how things are to be turned over o the Iraqis by a deadline of X, and mean it in the narrowest legalistic sense, as a sop to both the Iraqis and to the opponents of the war here in the US. But I'm damn concerned that that's not what's going on, and there I'm happy to see Iraq'd holding the Administrations collective feet to the fire. On the third hand... There's something disingenuous about the antiwar left that, on one hand, howls at the human and financial cost of the war and occupation, and with the next breath, busts Bush for cutting and running. I don't know this blogger, and don't know his or the magazine's history on the war. But when the anti-war, anti-Bush side (and note that I haven't begun to get my head around this election yet) plays this game, it's somewhere between annoying and infuriating to me. It's dishonest at best, and if that's in fact what's going on I mean to call people on it.

3 TrackBacks

Tracked: February 4, 2004 5:03 AM
Tolkien's Ace in the Hole from Blogcritics
Excerpt: In response to my cross-posting of Armed Liberal's excellent "Iraq'd" article (our "Best Of..." category now has a new entry),...
Tracked: February 4, 2004 5:16 AM
Iraq Update from porphyrogenitus.net
Excerpt: Ralph Peters writes on the bombings in Kurdish Iraq as an attack on freedom and a desecration of faith:Terrorists who pervert their religion to justify atrocities aren't waging holy war. Islam doesn't permit the slaughter of the innocent. And the
Tracked: February 4, 2004 12:10 PM
WAR: Why War In Iraq? from Baseball Crank
Excerpt: I made this comment over at Roger Simon's site, but it bears repeating here because this issue keeps coming up. In the course of addressing a broader point, Simon said "there were always two major arguments for War in Iraq-the...

52 Comments

I know what you mean. Some of what the President does seems inspired, almost divine. Then with his next breath, he says or does something so dense it's incomprehensible in light of his earlier action. We're left wondering if it's a Rove or a Bush or a Rumsfeld adminimstration after all. Then he plays the illegal immigrant wild card. WTF? I love the guy, but I can't figure him out.
Can you?

AL, I agree with you about the second point. If Bush is going to cut and run, he lost my vote. I likely won't vote fore Kerry in the election, but I certainly won't vote for Bush. I wouldn't be able to trust him afterward.

However, the are several other possible reasons for the recent US moves. Before I will get into them, I would point out that current plans call for at least 80,000 troops to stay inside Iraq after that date. Which means we won't be "pulling out." Rather, it means that we may have simply started to hand back power to Iraqi's in dribbles, Iraqification, as it were. This will help reduce criticism that the US "conquered" Iraq and is intent on turning it into a puppet state.

Secondly, at some point the US is going to have a lot of troops in Iraq, as the replacements for the units currently in Iraq will get there before the others leave. Which means the US will have something like a quarter million troops in place. The perfect time to begin pressuring Syria and Iran. And if the US starts to hand back authority to the Iraqi people, it should reduce resentment inside Iraq and make it easier to govern. Thus enabling us to free up even more troops for a possible move into the Bekka valley, and perhaps support a push to remove the Mullahs inside Iran.

Speculation? Absolutely. Wishful? Possibly. But sometimes hope is all we have.

We're never going to leave Iraq. Never -- well, not in our lifetimes, anyway. We're still in Japan, for Chrissake.

But frankly, this TNR blog -- because of the tendency AL identifies at the end of his entry -- is a great example of why even a superficially attractive Democrat can't be trusted with our lives at this juncture. The magazine's tentative support for invasion reverted, as soon as Saddam's statue fell (and often earlier, as many succumbed to quagmire-itis around day six) back to peer-group reflexes: scattershot political point-scoring motivated by no coherent and consistent idea of what the greater war is about.

The administration is never going to take their criticisms seriously because it's not meant to be taken seriously. It's meant to soften up Bush where he has the biggest electoral advantage.

Anyway, the sooner Iraqis realize their lives are in their own hands -- and the responsibility inherent in this -- the better. (Of course, this is one of the huge failings of Arab culture, so...) Meanwhile our current tussle with Sistani about the June interim representation should surely dispel notions that the plan's to "cut and run" then... Except for the chicken little left, which just sees an opportunity to rant and regurgitate quagmire-journalism cliches about how we've already blown the whole thing by failing to understand the local cultures, blah blah blah.

I would be very interested to find out why the case for war on Iraq was made on Sept 11th 2001.

Hey, someone, I think I'd save the gloating until we've succeeded before making fun of people who say we've blown it. (Or is tithing two soldiers and a billion dollars a week "success".) You guys look stupid enough on the WMD.

Andrew Lazarus: Who's gloating? "Iron butt" is all.

Perhaps one should call it the "iron butt test". A prerequisite to being taken seriously in an Iraq/WoT policy discussion.

I've said it before...I'll say it again.

AL you will be ultimately disappointed by the current leadership. The same reasons you were angered by Clinton ("I felt they had sold out to corporate interests") is present in the current administration in spades!

Besides, have we heard at all about any of the close family relatives of our governiong elites joining in on the fight? Are any of the grandchildren of GHWB part of the "generational" commitment our country has (supposedly) made to further the interest of liberal democracy in Iraq? Besides the 24 yr old 2001 Yale grad who now is in charge of the entire Iraqi Stock Exchange (?), where are the non-uniformed young elites of America today? The CPA is under staffed, over worked, and not present in Iraq beyond the limits of the Green Zone. Yet, this USG organization is charged with placing a safe, secure Iraq on a path to being a free nation with rights for all. But, the CPA's mandate ends on 30 Jun 2004!

We are told we are at war, but I argue that (with excpetion of the uniformed military and their families) we are not. No war tax to cover the outrageous operational costs incurred in Iraq (instead tax cuts!), no real expansion of the armed forces (except for 2+ years of stop-loss), no shared sacrifice by all Americans (except maybe for frequent flyers who have to remove their shoes at airports), and worst of all, no concensus of public will to back our current strategic direction. A nation at war requires REAL leadership that gathers, unifies, and strengthens support. Despite our woeful literacy rate, Americans are not dumb. They will follow REAL leadership when the goals of that leadership are finite, achievable, and in the best interest of the nation. Since 12 Sep 01, I have watched this Administration squander its huge advantage in the "battle of ideas" with its strategic approach, its willingness to dismiss criticism as treasonous, and its blatant politicization of apololitical national-security concerns.

The plan for Cut-N-Run was part of the overall scheme for OIF from the beginning. How else can one reconcile the excessively optimistic post-war assumptions, the willful ignorance to complete long-term post-war planning, the failure to recognize a rapidly growing insurgency, and the approval of a turnover policy based on dates not milestones. My conclusion long ago was that our current leadership has no intnetion of doing the real job needed in Iraq and that we pay the blood tithe every day because of it. The question Ameircans need to ask is "Who will be the man to ask another American to give his life for a mistake?"
SP

Expat -

Well, I'd suggest reading the part of the post below the break, and following the link to the post I wrote back in March.

That's a case; if you think it's inadequate, you're certainly welcome to make an argument as to why.

A.L.

Human beings are not omniscient. We cant make decisions based on information we dont have. Everyone had the same data pre-war, especially the white house, Tony Blair, and senior congressional leaders. I-(thump)-dentical. Bill Clinton had the same data. The fact that that data turned out to be flawed is a serious security and intelligence matter. NOT a politcal matter. No-one was burned. When we are looking for villians to blame this on, one man keeps being forgotten. Saddam Hussein. He ran the police state, he intentionally made the world believe he had WMD, he intentionally refused to live up to the UN resolutions, he intentionally retained the massive WMD infastructure detailed in the Kay report. He made even his own senior officers believe these weapons existed and were going to be used in the coming battle. Its a cheap politcal trick to turn this on GW Bush. We all were going on the same data. And why? BECAUSE TO IGNORE THAT DATA WOULD HAVE BEEN FOLLY, MADNESS, INSANITY! Lets call a spade a spade, everyone who was for this war believed in a certain threat. The only way we could eliminate, or even establish the existance of this threat was through invasion. How do i know that? Because damn near everything else from diplomacy to sanctions to bombings to inspections to spying to defectors was tried! To go further was an intolerable risk, do mainly to our lack of knowledge. After the first Gulf War, we found Iraq had a WMD far far beyond what our intel had suspected. HOW COULD WE ASSUME THE OPPOSITE WOULD BE TRUE FOR THIS WAR? That is insanity. If one concluded that these weapons in Husseins hands were an intolerable threat, just the possiblilty that he had them (knowing what we know of the man) was intolerable. Turning this into a politcal gotcha game is absurd, and displays a streak of unseriousness in foriegn policy that the American people do not tolerate, particularly at this time.

The New Republic was cautiously pro-war before, during, and immediately after the spring campaign. Not all of the writers, and not even all of the editors (TNR has an embarrassing surfeit of editors - classic too-many-chiefs situation) - but the preponderance of serious voices were pro-war. It's a neo-lib magazine, after all - they endorsed Lieberman after it was painfully obvious that he was never going to get the nomination.

Ackerman himself... seems to be a "balking hawk", to use Josh Marshall's contemptuous terminology. Here's a piece arguing how to build a multilateral coalition for an Iraq war in 2002. Very few opinion pieces between then and the run-up to the war and the war itself. A lot of personality-study pieces like this Powell story. Ackerman was concentrating on journalism for most of the period of debate, and then came out in the summer with a series of opinion-journalism pieces like this one which concentrated on tap-dancing on the scalps of the administration.

ExPatEggHead:

Do a Google advanced search, in English only, for the complete phrase, "Salman Pak".

Here are some of the pertjnent URL's, in order from the top of the search results, and then I'll quote from the Guardian article (that's right - this was printed in the GUARDIAN!), followed by my comment:

www.globalsecurity.org/military/ world/iraq/salman-pak-east.htm

www.intelmessages.org/Messages/National_Security/ wwwboard/messages/830.html

http://politics.guardian.co.uk/archive/article/0,,4296646,00.html

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/gunning/interviews/khodada.html

Guardian article (November 11, 2001) quotation:

"In Ankara, Zeinab was debriefed by the FBI and CIA for four days. Meanwhile he told the INC that if they wished to corroborate his story, they should speak to a man who had political asylum in Texas - Captain Sabah Khodad, who had worked at Salman Pak in 1994-5. He too has now told his story to US investigators. In an interiew with The Observer, he echoed Zeinab's claims: 'The foreigners' training includes assassinations, kidnapping, hijacking. They were strictly separated from the rest of us. To hijack planes they were taught to use small knives. The method used on 11 September perfectly coincides with the training I saw at the camp. When I saw the twin towers attack, the first thought that came into my head was, "this has been done by graduates of Salman Pak".'

Zeinab and Khodad said the Salman Pak students practised their techniques in a Boeing 707 fuselage parked in the foreigners' part of the camp. Yesterday their story received important corroboration from Charles Duelfer, former vice chairman of Unscom, the UN weapons inspection team.

Duelfer said he visited Salman Pak several times, landing by helicopter. He saw the 707, in exactly the place described by the defectors. The Iraqis, he said, told Unscom it was used by police for counter-terrorist training. 'Of course we automatically took out the word "counter",' he said. 'I'm surprised that people seem to be shocked that there should be terror camps in Iraq. Like, derrrrrr! I mean, what, actually, do you expect? Iraq presents a long-term strategic threat. Unfortunately, the US is not very good at recognising long-term strategic threats.'

At the end of September, Donald Rumsfeld, the far from doveish US Defence Secretary, told reporters there was 'no evidence' that Iraq was involved in the atrocities. That judgment is slowly being rewritten.

Many still suspect the anthrax which has so far killed four people in America has an ultimate Iraqi origin: in contrast to recent denials made by senior FBI officials, CIA sources say there simply is not enough material to be sure. However, it does not look likely that the latest anthrax sample, sent to a newspaper in Karachi, can have come from the source recently posited by the FBI - a right-wing US militant. 'The sophistication of the stuff that has been found represents a level of technique and knowledge that in the past has been associated only with governments,' Duelfer said. 'If it's not Iraq, there aren't many alternatives.'

If the emerging evidence of Iraqi involvement in 11 September becomes clearer or more conclusive, the consequences will be immense. In the words of a State Department spokesman after Powell's briefing by the Czech leader on Friday: 'If there is clear evidence connecting the World Trade Centre attacks to Iraq, that would be a very grave development.'

At worst, the anti-terrorist coalition would currently be bombing the wrong country. At best, the world would see that some of President Bush's closest advisers - his father, Powell and Vice President Dick Cheney, to name but three - made a catastrophic error in 1991, when they ended the Gulf war without toppling Saddam.

The case for trying to remove him now might well seem unanswerable. In that scenario, the decisions Western leaders have had to make in the past two months would seem like a trivial prelude."

My comment:

It was public knowledge in 1996 that Iraq was training non-Iraqi terrorists at Salman Pak in how to hijack airliners.

There was a wonderful article in The New Republic on events in Baghdad immediately following 9/11. The place was filled with foreign businessmen trying to cut deals in the expectation that UN sanctions would soon be gone.

Almost all of them left in the week after 9/11, and they did not come back.

I.e., people whose income depended on selling stuff to Iraq had made the call that the 9/11 hijackers were trained at Salman Pak.

Whether or not they were trained by Iraq, my point is that there was no fucking way after 9/11 that we could tolerate the continued existence of a regime which trained foreign terrorists in how to hijack airliners.

If you don't understand that, it is because you don't want to.

"The method used on 11 September perfectly coincides with the training I saw at the camp. When I saw the twin towers attack, the first thought that came into my head was, "this has been done by graduates of Salman Pak".'"

I'm not especially anti-war, but there's nothing disingenuous about the antiwar left's attitudes. They point out rightly that Bush never said anything about $80B / year before the war and that the whole thing would have paid for universal health care for decades before it's done. They also point out rightly that now that we're in we have to spend the $80B / year or things get even worse than they are now. Both are true - it's Bush that painted himself into this corner. He could have sold the war honestly with talk of sacrifice and duty, or he could have stayed out of the war, but he chose "the middle way" of sheer fecklessness. Any disingenuousness here is Bush's and no one else's.

"$80B / year before the war and that the whole thing would have paid for universal health care for decades before it's done. "

You've got to be kidding me. Ok, the prescription drug bill alone is 'projected' to cost 400 billion over ten years, but nobody believes that. 1 TRILLION is the consensus, which is 100 billion a year, just on prescriptions, just for old people, and not even all of them, and not even paying for all their prescriptions. Laugh, laugh, laugh. Canada spends over a hundred billion a year on universal healthcare, and theyre what, a fifth of our population?

I opposed the Gulf War and I opposed the Iraq War not because I am a pacifist but because I did not believe that the U. S. had the stomach to do what would be required to bring either of these wars to an outcome that was worth expending American lives or American money for.

I believe that events (including the failure to follow the routed Iraqi army into Baghdad, leaving Saddam Hussein in power, allowing him to kill the Marsh Arabs, etc.) vindicated my position.

The verdict isn't in on the Iraq War. I believe that a free, democratic, and properous Middle East would be worth expending American lives and treasure for. Would another Iranian style Islamic Republic be worth such a sacrifice? How about an expanded version of the Bekaa Valley?

A.L.,

Riddle me this:

Why is the Media that is jumping up and down with baited breath over the intelligence failures of Iraq absolutely silent regards the intelligence failures and national security policy root causes leading to 9/11/2001?

The answer is simple, it would reflect badly on their team, AKA the Clinton Administration.

The reason Bush's intelligence people failed in Iraq is that he has the same people who failed Clinton in the run up to 9/11/2001.

If Bush had a real loyal opposition on national security he could be cucified for it.

Unfortunately he has the current Democratic Party instead. Everyone knows that they would do worse than Bush, so why bother?

Trent, what can I say except I agree?

A.L.

Sure, Trent and A.L. That's why the Bush Administration has been stonewalling the 9/11 Commission, out of solidarity with the Clintons. And to think I had suspected it had to do with discovering that the Bush Administration had been heedless, more so (even more so, if you prefer) than Clinton. I mean, Bush had been president for some eight months, his first meeting on this issue was going to be chaired by Cheney in mid-September.

We're jumping up and down about the Iraq intelligence failures because they are so utterly obvious. The failure of our 9/11 intelligence doesn't have the same almost comic aspect, unless Clinton insisted vehemently for months that Al Qaeda couldn't attack us (or whatever you find equivalent to Rumsfeld's "We know where they are" falsehood) and I somehow missed it.

[A.L., I'm pretty disappointed in your agreement here.]

Andrew, even I believe that the 9/11 commission was a setup by the Democratic Congressional leadership to hammer Bush before the elections...as was noted in several memos, as I understand it.

Had I believed that there was a snowball's chance in hell of a genuinely nonpartisan investigation, I'd be riding this one hard.

A.L.

Uh, no. In fact, hell no.

The case for the war in Iraq was made on September 11, 2001, in New York City.

Uh, no.

Based on all documentation presented by the current administation, it is apparent that Iraq did not participate in 9/11.

Justify the retaliation of the US as you wish, but the fact remains that Boy George Bush STARTED TWO WARS WITHOUT A CONGRESSIONAL DECLARATION OF WAR.

The fact also remains that the reason(s) given for US military action against Iraq have not been substantiated. No WMD, no link to Al Qaeda.

Yes. Saddam had been brought down. And, yes, this is probably a good thing. However, consider these facts:
-542+ dead US soldiers
-A billions+ dollar deficit that does NOT include costs of the current war(s)
-Halliburton has ALREADY forfeited 20+ Million dollars for cheating the US government. (And this is only in the last month!)
-A portion of the Patriot Act has been declared unconstitutional, yet Bush has declared his intention to expand this (unconstitutional) act of government.

I am saddened to see that some otherwise-rational human beings can accept these transgressions due to their fear of the outside world.

Consider this possibility: The US would have had MORE support in its endeavors against terrorism, and therefore been more secure if it had not acted like a Texas Cowboy with a chip on his shoulder.

Boy George Bush STARTED TWO WARS WITHOUT A CONGRESSIONAL DECLARATION OF WAR.

Are you actually arguing that Bush exceeded his constitutional authority because, even though Congress specifically authorized the use of military force, they didn't use the specific words "declare war"?

That's a total non-starter, bud.

The fact also remains that the reason(s) given for US military action against Iraq have not been substantiated. No WMD, no link to Al Qaeda.

You mean "not much WMD" and "no proven links to al Qaeda". Although it seems the only reason there weren't huge stockpiles of WMD is because Saddam was duped himself.

-542+ dead US soldiers

About 350 or so combat deaths, but I won't really quibble.

-A billions+ dollar deficit that does NOT include costs of the current war(s)

I'm not happy about this one, myself.

-Halliburton has ALREADY forfeited 20+ Million dollars for cheating the US government. (And this is only in the last month!)

Of course, if Bush had started this war just to please his Halipals, you'd think they'd be GETTING AWAY WITH CHEATING INSTEAD OF GETTING CAUGHT.

-A portion of the Patriot Act has been declared unconstitutional, yet Bush has declared his intention to expand this (unconstitutional) act of government.

It's been declared illegal by the 9th Circuit, the most reversed circuit in the land. And do I really have to point out that even assuming the contested portion is eventually struck down by the SCOTUS, that leaves all the rest intact?

The US would have had MORE support in its endeavors against terrorism, and therefore been more secure if it had not acted like a Texas Cowboy with a chip on his shoulder.

1) Your implication that "Texas Cowboy" carries a negative connotation is more an indictment of you than of Bush.

2) To the extent you meant to suggest we were reckless, going off half cocked, I suppose you slept through the whole time we were at the UN?

But if you really mean that if we had decided to just sit on our hands, that we'd have more French politicians mouthing empty condolences and falsely professing their sympathy, then you're probably right.

Tom Holsinger:

Do a Google advanced search, in English only, for the complete phrase, "Salman Pak".

Yes do, and marvel at the power of the mighty Wurlitzer. A zillion stories based on the claims of INC-sponsored defecter Sabah Khodada, a lot of glee on 2003-04-06/07 when the Marines captured Salman Pak and found the rusting airliner shell; since then -- zip. Try finding any confirmation of Khodada story, 2003-04-08 or later.

'. . . a former C.I.A. station chief and a former military intelligence analyst said that the camp near Salman Pak had been built not for terrorism training but for counter-terrorism training. In the mid-eighties, Islamic terrorists were routinely hijacking aircraft. In 1986, an Iraqi airliner was seized by pro-Iranian extremists and crashed, after a hand grenade was triggered, killing at least sixty-five people. (At the time, Iran and Iraq were at war, and America favored Iraq.) Iraq then sought assistance from the West, and got what it wanted from Britain’s MI6. The C.I.A. offered similar training in counter-terrorism throughout the Middle East. “We were helping our allies everywhere we had a liaison,' the former station chief told me. Inspectors recalled seeing the body of an airplane—which appeared to be used for counter-terrorism training—when they visited a biological-weapons facility near Salman Pak in 1991, ten years before September 11th. It is, of course, possible for such a camp to be converted from one purpose to another. The former C.I.A. official noted, however, that terrorists would not practice on airplanes in the open. 'That’s Hollywood rinky-dink stuff,' the former agent said. 'They train in basements. You don’t need a real airplane to practice hijacking. The 9/11 terrorists went to gyms. But to take one back you have to practice on the real thing.'

"Salman Pak was overrun by American troops on April 6th. Apparently, neither the camp nor the former biological facility has yielded evidence to substantiate the claims made before the war." (Seymour Hersh, New Yorker, 2003-05-12).

Here's a challenge for your google skills: try finding any confirmation of the Salman Pak story, 2003-04-08 or later.

A.L.:

Every time this comes up it worries my sleep. I sometimes get the impression that Bush doesn't even bother understanding the arguments made FOR his policies, let alone give them any help. And the political skills of the Bush team, and of Carl Rove, are decidedly over-rated. Had they any decent political skills they'd be using them in Iraq, instead of being harried from piller to post by some obscure cleric. I'm not sure whether the gaps I see in this Presidency are figments of my impatient imagination, or they're real. But it concerns me that the fellow is like an ink blot for people inclined to see in him what they want to see.

So my take on what you're saying, with which I entirely agree, is that there is no "honorable opposition." The political conditions are nearly as screwed up as they were in the 1850s. And a "dishonorable opposition" amounts to a block against the possibility of really first rate policy. It makes me wish the Democrats would hurry up and finish themselves off so a decent opposition could emerge, that wasn't so mesmerized by their expectations that they couldn't insist on at least "banking the curves" for the emergence of liberalism in the Middle East. It's tough, but it can't be that tough. Can it?

Abu Frank,

Tell that to the UN. I repeat part of the Guardian article posted above, and my comment:

"... Yesterday their story received important corroboration from Charles Duelfer, former vice chairman of Unscom, the UN weapons inspection team.

Duelfer said he visited Salman Pak several times, landing by helicopter. He saw the 707, in exactly the place described by the defectors. The Iraqis, he said, told Unscom it was used by police for counter-terrorist training. 'Of course we automatically took out the word "counter",' he said. 'I'm surprised that people seem to be shocked that there should be terror camps in Iraq. Like, derrrrrr! I mean, what, actually, do you expect? Iraq presents a long-term strategic threat. Unfortunately, the US is not very good at recognising long-term strategic threats.'"

My comment above:

"... my point is that there was no fucking way after 9/11 that we could tolerate the continued existence of a regime which trained foreign terrorists in how to hijack airliners."

Seymour Hersh hasn't been a reliable source for many years.

Pre-emption means elimination of probable threats before they bite. You guys don't accept that. You never will.

I sometimes get the impression that Bush doesn't even bother understanding the arguments made FOR his policies, let alone give them any help.
...
But it concerns me that the fellow is like an ink blot for people inclined to see in him what they want to see.

Physician, heal thyself.

Bush pressed for war against Hussein even though that meant that he would be spending a great deal of political capital. That is, he knew that there would be a great amount of opposition internationally and domesticly. Americans do not like the idea of being in a war, regardless of whether they agree with the rationale for military action. The administration has done a good job of just sitting tight while being criticized by celebrities and the mainstream media. Many of Bush's WoT supporters do not support his domestic policies, but think that it is very fortunate and important that the president is willing to risk his political career in order to make a stand against terrorism.

magores:
The US would have had MORE support in its endeavors against terrorism, and therefore been more secure if it had not acted like a Texas Cowboy with a chip on his shoulder.

If by this you are referring to US pre-war diplomacy over Iraq, I'd say you're mistaken.
Certainly there are a good many people who preferred Clinton to Bush on grounds of party, perceived policies, and even place of origin. Which may partly explain why some on the left in the UK and Europe accepted the Kossovo/Serbia operation, but baulked at Iraq.

Just possibly, better presentation and PR could have won over, say, Germany, where public opinion was important. There appealing to pacifist opinion and the anti-western left seemed politically smart to a shaky government.

But it had zero chance of winning over the French government. Not Bush nor anyone else could have done so. Their policy was not based on public opinion, or hurt feelings, but was a the strategies of professional politicians and diplomats with a variety of objectives, in Europe, Iraq and the Middle East, and in other areas.
It was expressed in an all-out attempt to block action authorised by the UNSC, involving the flagrant breaking of prior agreements with Secretary of State Powell and Foreign Secretary Straw.

It was President Chirac's statement that France would veto a 'second' resolution come what may that led a large segment of British opinion, including Labour supporters like myself, to give up on the UNSC.
A remarkable achievement by M. Chirac, actually; the British Labour Party constitution includes a committment to collective security through the UN.

This aside, France, Germany, and Russia have continued to actively co-operate over the terror side of things, if not over Iraq and US mid-east policy in general. Quite rightly, they continue to see Islamist terrorists as the general enemy of the civilised world, and a specific threat to Europe as well as the US.

Who else might have co-operated, that has been alienated by Bush administration policies, rhetoric or attitudes? (Or just being Texan, for that matter).
Saudi Arabia? Syria? Iran? North Korea? Who?
Libya, at the least, is more co-operative now.

As for Muslim populations rather than state, there is no evidence that appeasement rather intervention reduces support for terrorism and fanaticism.
A sucessful free Iraq is the best weapon in that campaign, and one I hope our leaders are fixed upon.
If not, may they be punished as they deserve.

France not only wont help with our security, they simply cant. Here is another question democrats are going to half to answer this election: would you feel safer with our relationship with France back to the status quo of the year 2000, assuming Libya, Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia would be back to the pre-Iraq status quo as well. We're disarmed Libya. That is a major accomplishment. We've scared Syria crapless, and now there are pro-reform rallies in the streets of Damascus. Same with Iran. Our troops are out of Saudi Arabia (one of the major 'rational' for 9/11), and our dependence on their oil drops ever time a barrel comes out of Iraq. Mr Kerry, Mr Edwards, would you trade all of these security improvements in order to have our old relationship with France intact?

Tom Holsinger:

I repeat part of the Guardian article posted above

The Guardian article is dated 2001, so, 0 out of 1 on the googling challenge.

More substantively: Duelfer and reporters embedded with the Marines saw the plane, they have no information on what it was used for. The only sources for the "terrorism school" interpretation are: for terrorism training, two INC-sponsored defecters, Abu Zeinab al-Quarairy and Sabah Khodada.

As is now well known, INC-sponsored defectors were responsible for much of the false intelligence on Iraq used to support the invasion; "many of them have a tendency to exaggerate their personal knowledge and importance to guarantee pensions, protection and employment in their new host countries" (Observer, 2002-03-17); their reliability was one of the bones of contention between Cheney and the Office of Special Plans (OSP) on the one hand, and the professional intelligence services on the other (Seymour Hersh again, New Yorker, 2003-05-12), and the professional intelligence services were right. The plausibility of the Salman Pak story was one of the bones of contention between the OSP and the CIA (Washington Post, 2001-10-23, NewsMax, 2003-01-30)

You're out of synch on this one: today's theme is that the CIA was to blame for exaggerating the threat; the Salman Pak story is part of yesterday's theme, that "The CIA is blocking critical intelligence . . . and . . . weakening President Bush's case for war against Iraq".

Seymour Hersh hasn't been a reliable source for many years.

Hersh is as good as his sources, which happen to include several in the US intelligence community. They can be right or they can be wrong, but on the Iraq issue they've been largely vindicated.

So you are suggesting the plane being used for counter terrorism exercizes is a resonable explanation knowing what we know of how Iraq was run? You sound a lot like the people who find it reasonable that Iran is building a nuclear reactor for 'peaceful' purposes, considering they live on one of the largest oil reserves in the world. Bit naive my friend.

Abu Frank,

Now you are being silly. Does the fact that your birth certificate was issued many years ago in any way reduce the probability that you were born?

That you use such an argument is evidence that you can't refute what I said.

I repeat that your real dispute is with the concept of pre-emption. You don't like it and so raise nonsensical barriers to it.

>The failure of our 9/11 intelligence doesn't
>have the same almost comic aspect, unless
>Clinton insisted vehemently for months that Al
>Qaeda couldn't attack us (or whatever you find
>equivalent to Rumsfeld's "We know where they
>are" falsehood) and I somehow missed it.

Andrew,

So what do you think Janet Reno's denying FBI agents computer wire tap authority to look into the computer of a 9/11 plotter before the attack was?

An act of "cultural sensitivity?"

The Clinton Administration fostered a politically correct atmosphere around Islamic fund raising here in the States that hindered the prevention of 9/11/2001. The Bush Administration has yet to fully root out that bit of PC stupidity from the national security and counter-intelligence bureaucracies.

The real root of the Bush Administration's intelligence failures was its following the "Tailhook precident" in using the CIA and FBI.

Clinton used the Tailhook scandle to muscle Navy Chief of Staff Kelso to put women into navy combat ships and warplanes. The theory was "You terminally screwed up, so your soul is now ours."

The death of substandard women naval pilots was one outcome. The other was the politically correct military environment that drove many mid-level military officers in all the services to leave at 10 years in the later 1990's.

Like Clinton before him, Bush is now been bitten in the ass by the screw ups -- Tenet at CIA and the FBI director Freeh influenced FBI -- he kept on.

Given the poisonous environment in the Senate and House Intelligence committees, a join commission with published results before the election will be nothing except pointless.

Mark Buehner:

So you are suggesting the plane being used for counter terrorism exercizes is a resonable explanation knowing what we know of how Iraq was run?

Yes. Iraq and Iran sponsored terrorist groups against other; of course they'd take counter-measures. In particular, Iran is believed to be behind the hijacking of an Iraqi aeroplane in 1986, as noted above; it eventually crashed in Saudi Arabia, killing everyone on board. It makes perfectly good sense that Iraq would take precautions against a repetition.

Tom Holsinger:

try finding any confirmation of the Salman Pak story, 2003-04-08 or later

Does the fact that your birth certificate was issued many years ago in any way reduce the probability that you were born?

The significance of the date is this: that since 2003-04-06, the Salman Pak site has been under US control, and the US has had the opportunity to put the defectors' story to the test.

you can't refute what I said

Sitting here at a computer in North America, I can't certainly verify or refute a story about terrorist training activities in West Asia. I can say that, as far as public information on the internet goes, the balance of evidence is against it:

(1) The only sources for the story are two INC-sponsored defecters, Abu Zeinab al-Quarairy and Sabah Khodada.

(2) In general, reports from such defectors are not reliable:

(2.1) They had an incentive to lie, to exaggerate their own importance and secure better treatment from the Western sponsors.

(2.2) Their sponsor, the INC, had an incentive to gain favour from its sponsors, Perle, Cheney, et al., by feeding them anti-Saddam stories no matter how unreliable.

(2.3) And in fact, it is now well known that many of the defectors' stories were fabrications.

(3) While there is no direct proof, there is indirect evidence that US intelligence professionals judged the Salman Pak story false:

(3.1) Believers, such as Laurie Mylroie (NewsMax, above) and Jim Hoagland (Washington Post, above) complained about the CIA's lack of belief.

(3.2) From two intelligence professionals via Seymour Hersh, we have a credible account confirming and explaining their lack of belief in the Salman Pak story.

(3.3) Despite the administration's need and desire to present the strongest case for war, the administration never publicly used the Salman Pak story to support its case. Since the amateurs and ideologues and Defence civilians were pushing the INC material hard, it must have been the intelligence professionals disbelieved it and quashed it.

(4) The administration's silence since the conquest of Iraq is tacit evidence that the Salman Pak story is false:

(4.1) The administration has been keen -- some might say over-keen -- to publicise every scrap of evidence that might support ex post the case for war. If it had found anything that even looked like confirmation for the Salman Pak story, they would have publicised that likewise. In this case, silence is proof of absence.

(4.2) It's highly unlikely that the US could obtain reliable information on activities in Iraq when Saddam controlled the country, but not when the US itself controlled it. The fact that the US hasn't got it now implies that it didn't have it then.

(4.3) Abu Zeinab and Khodada claimed to be persons of rank and experience with intimate knowledge of the Salman Pak training. They should have been able to point US investigators to an abundance of persons, material evidence, and records that would corroborate their story. Some of these might be absent/hidden/destroyed, but hardly all. That no corroboration has been found implies that none exists.

In short: unreliable sources; reports judged false by professionals; no post-conquest corroboration. Conclusion: no credible case.

Refute that!

"I repeat that your real dispute is with the concept of pre-emption. You don't like it and so raise nonsensical barriers to it."

The problem he seems to be raising is, what if the reasonable evidence upon which we base our suspicions turns out to be, in fact, wrong? To me, this seems like a substantive, rather than a nonsensical, barrier.

This is the case with Iraq; it was reasonable to assume before the war that Saddam was hiding WMD. We now know that those assuptions, while reasonable, were incorrect --- Iraq did not in fact have stockpiles of WMD, nor active programs. The threat which we thought we were pre-empting did not exist.

Iraq's behavior was egregiously suspicious, and its circumstances were unique, it being under an international mandate to provide proof that its weapons were destroyed or be subject to sanction and the possibilty of invasion. I am not aware of another country in like circumstance. This being the case, if we were to conduct another war on the basis of pre-emption, we would have to conduct it solely on the strength of our intelligence, and even if our intelligence gave us reasonable cause for suspicion, we might again be proven wrong. Invading a country on the basis of such a standard of evidence, we are likely to be viewed as the aggressor, and if proven wrong again, it would probably cause other countries become fearful and suspicious of us, and even to ally against us. Heck, even if we were but partly vindicated in our perception of the threat we faced it would probably have this effect, as people would precieve such an invasion as an overreaction. There seem to me to be grave risks in a strategy of pre-emptive war.

The point I have raised here is but one objection; there are others. Principally, there is the question of whether invading countries believed to possess WMD is truly an effective tactic in preventing WMD from reaching the hands of terrorists. Aum Shinryko was able to manufacture several types of biological and chemical weaponry while being based in Japan, a state which does not itself, I believe, possess them. The Soviet nuclear materials which pose such a dreadful danger are not held in countries with regimes which opposse the United States, but merely poor ones with lax security. I could go on, but I think I'll stop.

Abu Frank,

I said to you: "I repeat that your real dispute is with the concept of pre-emption. You don't like it and so raise nonsensical barriers to it."

Mark Buehner then asked you: "So you are suggesting the plane being used for counter terrorism exercizes is a resonable explanation knowing what we know of how Iraq was run?"

You replied to Mark: "Yes. Iraq and Iran sponsored terrorist groups against other; of course they'd take counter-measures. In particular, Iran is believed to be behind the hijacking of an Iraqi aeroplane in 1986, as noted above; it eventually crashed in Saudi Arabia, killing everyone on board. It makes perfectly good sense that Iraq would take precautions against a repetition."

Further comment is unnecessary.

Tom Holsinger:

I repeat that your real dispute is with the concept of pre-emption.

Excepting pacifists, I don't know of anyone who disputes the concept of preemption. I regard the issue of when to apply the concept, as one over which reasonable people can and do disagree. I regard the (much smaller) issue of the truthfulness of the Salman Pak allegations as one on which reasonable people can reach consensus; and I'm grateful to you for giving me occasion to make that case, for the benefit of third parties to our discussion.

As one of the third parties referred to immediately above, thanks for the informative back and forth, and the links provided in support.

Given what was in the public domain up to March 2003, and also, presumably, what was known to Western intelligence services, Salman Pak was an extremely suspicious place. As pointed out by obliw (5:37am 2/5/04), this standard of evidence, by its nature, will not turn out to be consistently in line with the facts, once they become known. We--the vulnerable, pre-emptive West--will be treading the line between too-forceful and too-late for a long time to come.

Abu Frank, your numbered-points post (3:56 am, 2/5/04) is a good example of what web debate should be. I suspect that many of these points will be refuted by the time the history books are written, but that's my opinion, nothing more. We have to begin with the facts...you seem to have them in support of your position.

I think the last few posts have brought up some excellent points. Here is (I hope) another. The way that we and our allies handled intelligence regarding Iraq was by no means unusual, and will be done the same in the future. Hopefully it will be more accurate, but it will rarely if ever be more definitive. Intelligence by its nature is imprecise, it is extremely extremely rare where you have a situation like WWII where you are actually reading enemy code or have a trustworthy spy at some critical place. And even sources like that have potentially deadly pitfalls (see Battle of the Bulge). Demanding definitive intelligence before launching a preemptive war is simply another way of ruling out preemptive war, because there is no such intelligence. Intel is basically like a huge jigsaw puzzle, except that you dont know what picture you are trying to build and not all the peices even fit the puzzle. Especially when dealing with a brutal police state, you simply arent going to get what is called 'actionable intelligence' very often, if ever. Its hard to talk somebody into spying when the penalty is seeing your children fed into a plastic shredder. The intelligence we did end up with was flawed, nobody is arguing that. But it was flawed for very good reasons. One of them is that the 'picture' they were putting together had a whole bunch of peices indicating WMD, so much so that the vast majority of the worlds agencies agreed with us. To ignore that picture would have been nuts.

Clinton and the Democratic Party is the main reason 9/11 was allowed to happen.

The DEMons destroyed the military and Intelligence capability by taking away money to feed their incessant and futile social re-engineering programs.

Clinton spent more time leading the DEMolisher Party and it's agenda than he did being the President of the USA. The Constitution says that the economy is the Legislative Branch's responsibility, not the President's. Yet while the Towers were burning in 1993, Slick Willy continued with his schedule and gave a speech about his Party's plan for the economy, the attack on the Towers got a very brief mention.

The real failure came when Billy refused to declare the attack a National Security threat and instead declared it a criminal matter. The FBI did a great job of bringing the surviving terrorists to justice, but the FBI was prevented from sharing the info gathered with the CIA and other agencies because it was a criminal matter. The CIA got most of the FBI info from trial transcripts. Slick Willy did nothing during his two terms to strengthen National Security and he never risked political capital in properly performing his assigned duties. Clinton was a great DEMolition Party leader, but was a miserable President.

Yes, Bush pushes his Party' agenda too, but nothing distracts him from his Constitutionally appointed tasks; Commander in Chief and Foreign Policy Director. Bush's Homeland Defense(HLD) and Patriot Act(PA) legislation should allow the free flow of information between agencies and prevent the same lapse that allowed 9/11. Bush has risked a lot of political capital to do his duty, fight then WOT and keep America safe. Something we have not seen from the DEMon President since the early sixties. 40 years without a true leader from the DEMolition Party. I don’t see a leader in the current crop of pretenders either.

The DEMons claim that Bush put together a false Coalition for Iraq. A majority of the G7 countries, a majority of NATO countries and a majority of the EU countries are part of the "False" Coalition. They are all Bush's puppies and lap dogs, Yea Right! The UN is full of corrupt and despotic countries. France has never cared much about whether we liked them, why should we care if they like us. Now it turns out that half of the UN, including France’s leaders, were taking bribes from Saddam in violation of the UN sanctions and international law. I wouldn’t want these corrupted countries fighting alongside our American soldiers, that would somehow taint the whole effort. I am glad we finally have a President that realizes that America is a sovereign country that does not need the permission of France or the UN to do what ever it takes to prevent or end terrorist attacks on US soil.

The current crop of DEMonic contenders are all claiming that they want to reverse all of the anti-terrorist progress made by Bush. They claim to be protecting civil rights. They forget the Republicans enjoy civil rights too. There have been very few civil rights abuses, when you consider America is at war. If elected any of these fools will forget their real duty, just like Billy Bob Clinton.

If the DEMons want to play with the economy, raise taxes and continue their failed social re-engineering projects, they will need to take back the House and Senate, not the White House. The Republicans in charge of the Legislature will continue to run the economy, set the tax rates cut social programs even with a DEMon in the White House.

The DEMons want to find fault with the Iraq war and rebuilding. They want to find fault with Bush’s handling of it. The Iraq war needed to be done, even most DEMon’s believe that

The true measure of the success of Bush's policies and leadership is the FACT that not one person has died on American soil since 9/11 and the anthrax attacks. NOT ONE. Bush has revived the age old American tradition of fighting our wars on enemy soil and not our own.

One more point (for the pro-intervention side, for a change): Salman Pak is not a case of intelligence failure. In effect, the administration made the right call on SP before the invasion (ref. point 3.3 above). SP belief is not and was not the administration position, but an ultra-hawkish dissent from / addendum to the administration position, pushed externally by Laurie Mylroie, Stephen Hayes, etc. We don't even know for sure whether the Cheneys and Lotis within the administration pushed it internally; on general grounds it seems likely that they did, but there's no direct evidence. Since no one from the administration ever adopted it publicly, doves can't use it to support the bad intelligence -> no preemption argument.

Can I take a minute this morning to shake my head in amazement and approval at the discussion happening here?

In case any of you wonder why I blog, this thread would stand as sufficient justification. Don't stop, but please accept my appreciation for an incredibly high standard of discussion...

Thanks.

A.L.

A.L.

Well Said! I DO NOT AGREE with a
lot of what is written above,
especially Abu Frank, but I do
agree that it is interesting
reading.

I'm too strapped for time to see if any other commenters covered this, but I feel a need to point out some possibly flawed reasoning with this:

"There's something disingenuous about the antiwar left that, on one hand, howls at the human and financial cost of the war and occupation, and with the next breath, busts Bush for cutting and running."

It's entirely possible to have been against this war because the reasons given for it were either specious or not particularly strong, but be against cutting and running because we've mucked up the place and feel a responsibility to fix it back up so it doesn't become a breeding ground for terrorists a la Afghanistan? That strikes me as responsible, not disingenuous. But maybe I'm missing something.

A.L., we must not be thinking of the same 9/11 Commission. The one I'm thinking of is half-Republican. The New Republic picked up today on this attempt to smear them as nutcases.
Giving the American people a full accounting during an election campaign could hurt President Bush. It was as naked as that. And yet conservative journalists took the president's side. Consider the The Wall Street Journal, which on January 30 published an editorial titled "the 9/11 ambush." The "membership and behavior of the current 9/11 commission," it began, "have always looked like a political crackup waiting to happen." What about the Commission's membership did the GOP-aligned Journal find so offensive? Five of the Commission's ten members, including its chairman, are Republicans--appointed by the president or the congressional GOP. Its staff director, Philip Zelikow, served on the Bush administration's transition team and co-authored a book with Condoleezza Rice. The Journal mentioned none of this. Instead, it implied the opposite. "Richard Ben-Veniste, one of the commission's highly partisan Democrats, is ... claiming that the Bush administration hasn't been cooperative enough," said the editorial. "Commission Democrats," it went on, "were asserting that literally millions of pages hadn't been delivered to their desks with sufficient alacrity." But it was Chairman Tom Kean, the former Republican governor appointed by President Bush, who last fall repeatedly warned the administration to stop withholding key documents and witnesses. In October, Commissioner and former Republican Senator Slade Gorton criticized the "indifference" of some Bush administration agencies, noting that "this lack of cooperation, if it extends anywhere else, is going to make it very difficult" to meet the May deadline. And, last week, Republican Commissioner and former Reagan Navy Secretary John Lehman said he "can't for the life of me understand why this administration is so negative on this commission." To buy the Journal's logic, you not only had to believe the Commission's Democrats care more about hurting President Bush than they care about the truth; you had to believe it about the Commission's Republicans, too.
I can't really add much to that. Your approach, and that of the conservative press, seems to start from the conclusion that the Bush Administration is not to blame, or at least much less to blame than Clinton, and then reason that any finding that jeopardizes this conclusion must be biased. (I'm strongly reminded of Justice Scalia's argument that recounts had to be halted lest they cast a shadow on the legitimacy of Bush's election, a most exquisite example of affirming the consequent.)

Steve Herbert: In the hope that you might grow up a little, try Googling for "fallacy of induction". Then answer the question: if there is another terrorist attack within the USA this year, does that mean that GW Bush is indeed a miserable failure? (Incidentally, my own answer is No. He is enough of a failure on other counts.)

Abu Frank: Amazing post on Salman Pak. Thank you.

Trent Telenko: Condi Rice said "I don’t think anybody could have predicted that these people... would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile." Actually, our intel suspected this very thing. Is she an example of promotion of incompetent women into places where they have no business?

And no, I don't think that Janet Reno's misjudgment (and I agree, even without 20/20 hindsight, it looks like a bad play) is in any way equivalent to this Administration's repeated unequivocal avowals of intimate knowledge of Iraq WMD, which just yesterday Donald Rumsfeld explained were really just suspicions and conjecture that somehow got misphrased. (Yeah, sure.) Can you truly not tell the difference between a mistake and a deception? Or are you trying to imply that Reno refused permission to search the computer out of covert terrorist sympathies.

This is the president's investigation. He has the legal right to appoint whoever he desires. Congress has every right to call for hearings, subpoena documents, compel witnesses, grant immunities, and establish an independant commission of their own. This is not a criminal investigation, there is no mechanism for an independant counsel for a political dispute (thank god). If the democrats are so upset by this, here's an answer. Go win back some branch of government. Sorry but that's the reality. Bush isnt under any impetus to appoint his political enemies to investigate his agencies.

Andrew, you must not have read the same Democratic memos that I read, which made it clear to me (as someone with a modicum of experience in political operations) that the Democrats weren't interested in an investigation unless it could be used to prove their pre-existing conclusions.

And I said that I'd really likie a real investigation...go back and read what I wrote. That's because I haven't made up my mind as to what happened and who was to blame.

But there's a cost to investigations, as there's a cost to any process, and absent some convincing - that no one has done yet - that the Dems want to have a real investigation, instead of a hunting party, I'm not going to rend my garments about it.

A.L.

Andrew Lazarus,

No, If there was an attack on the US by terrorists today. I would say that GWB had done everything possible to prepare and prevent the attack. He is a President, not a genie and he cannot magically transform the USA into an invincible fortress.

GWB did not slash the intel communities or military's budget. GWB did not spend his whole Presidency trying to promote socialist causes or defending himself from adultery charges. GWB did not flinch from tough choices to protect his future electability and his spouses political aspirations.

I am not a card carrying Republican, but I am an Anti-Democrat, Anti-ACLU and Anti every other group which is trying to pass it's deviant behavior as normal. Any good these groups do, is overwhelmed by the damage they do.

Go ahead, you foolish little deviant atheistic communist, vote for John "The Flip Flop King" Kerry. I wonder which, of the many, John Kerrys you expect to take the oath. It wouldn't be the one we see on campaign. Campaign promises, the oath and you, the misguided voter, would be forgotten as soon as he sits behind the desk in the Oval office.

But wake up, that is a dream, because GWB will be elected for a second term. Kerry won't be able to withstand the heat once he is nominated.

PS I looked up the reference you ask me to. It’s whole premise is that my statements are known to be false, which they are not. I see that YOU do chose to take opinion pieces and present them to support your “facts”. You liberals seem to have a very hard time separating opinions from actual facts

Steve, generally your personal epithets would mean that I'd ignore you, but I can't resist pointing out that you have completely misunderstood the fallacy of induction.

Your first argument praised George Bush because there had been no further terrorist attacks on American soil. (The 9/11 attack did occur on his watch, while he was too busy arranging the ruin of the governmental fiscal sanity to pay attention to terrorism, but according to the rules of right-wing thinking, this attack must be blamed on the Clenis.) The fallacy is not that the facts you work with are false, but that you have assumed inductively what you wanted to prove, that Bush's actions will prevent an attack tomorrow. It all becomes clear when you blame Democrats' handling of the military and intel agencies for 9/11, but say that even if Osama attacked us tomorrow you wouldn't blame Bush. Your admiration for Bush is quite independent of whether we're attacked or not. As best as I can tell from your hysterical tone, Bush speaks better to your panicky concern over our precious bodily fluids.

A.L., I don't understand this idea that because of the enormity of 9/11, the opposition party should refrain from slamming the ruling party over its possible blunders. I must admit, this practice has occurred when the Democrats are in the minority (never vice versa) under the euphemism of "bipartisanship". Would you be surprised if we could find memos of the Republican members urging a stonewall, or how to shift as much blame as possible onto Clinton? Doesn't the pitifully circumscribed charter of Bush's WMD-oops commission, not to mention its post-election deadline, suggest that you hold the Democrats to a much higher standard?

Steve - Ya know, I've complimented commenters before because they engaged in interesting arguments and, most important, engaged with each other's arguments instead of calling names...[hint, hint].

Andrew -

My issue is that the staff memos suggested that the Democrats had a) decided what their outcome was going to be, in the best Judge Roy Bean fashion (we're gonna have a fair trial and then a hangin'), and b) that the internal discussions were about how to manipulate the process so as to have the maximal effect on the election.

I could live with b); it's the way the game is played. But on a matter this serious, I can't live with a), and no sane person would trust the results of a process where a) is the case.

Do you see why this is so damaging?

A.L.

A.L., I agree with your last comment, except I reserve the right to disagree that (a) was in fact the Democrats' predetermined plan.

Andrew, did you read the staff memos?

here is the key one:

"We have carefully reviewed our options under the rules and believe we have identified the best approach. Our plan is as follows:

1) Pull the majority along as far as we can on issues that may lead to major new disclosures regarding improper or questionable conduct by administration officials. We are having some success in that regard.

...

We will identify the most exaggerated claims and contrast them with the intelligence estimates that have since been declassified. Our additional views will also, among other things, castigate the majority for seeking to limit the scope of the inquiry. The Democrats will then be in a strong position to reopen the question of establishing an independent commission (i.e. the Corzine amendment).

...

Intelligence issues are clearly secondary to the public's concern regarding the insurgency in Iraq. Yet, we have an important role to play in the revealing the misleading -- if not flagrantly dishonest methods and motives -- of the senior administration officials who made the case for a unilateral, preemptive war."

...my emphasis.

I don't see how any reasonably objective person could suggest that this doesn't suggest that the staff position (which in legislative work tends to lead the elected positions) wasn't 'try em' and then hang 'em".

The Democrats lost an amazing opportunity - actually two of them - when they allowed this to happen, and again when they failed to jump on this when it came out and denounce it.

A.L.

Andrew,

OK OK, I am sorry for the disparaging remarks, but you started it!

Just kidding. I Am sorry.

The fiscal ruin, as you call it, is who's fault? Why isn't it the Democrats fault for enacting social programs the Federal Government should not be involved in and never will be able to pay for without neglecting it’s Constitutional responsibilities. Why isn’t the Democrats fault that they raised taxes again and again to the point that one half of the average working man’s pay goes to taxes and FICA. AMERICA elected Republicans so they will cut taxes and cut unnecessary entitlement/welfare programs. In short, to reverse forty years of Democrat societal meddling.

Previous Conservative Administrations have tried to pare these adventures in socialism and Federal interferences in the State's authority, by attempting to cut the programs. Either the programs are never cut and/or the money is allocated to other programs. Bush is trying it another way. The same way that has worked in many states. He, with the help of the Republican controlled Legislative Branch, is cutting taxes, creating a cash flow shortage and forcing the cutting of programs. This also prevents the re-allocation of the money to other programs. Keep in mind. Bush would not be able to any of this without the cooperation of the Legislative Branch. Bush cannot introduce bills or legislation, he needs Congressmen and Senators to do that.

The Democrats lost both of the Legislatures because of their own policies. Alienating the common worker by promoting leftist social causes and values, he or she does not embrace. The Democrats have taxed America and moved so far left, it is no longer the Party of the People. It has become the Party of the Socialists, the Greedy Entitleists and the Social Deviants. The various individual and group welfare programs created by the Democrats have turned into entitlements. All of a sudden you are not on the dole, you are owed that money. Without controlling the Legislature, the Democrat Presidential Candidates will not be able to, if elected, make good on any of their economic promises, they need the Legislature to do that.

The Federal Government was set up in 1776 to protect the common interests of the States. Tariffs, Self Defense, inter-state commerce, etc. The Federal Government was formed to serve the States, not the other way around. It is so bloated by special interest policies, it no longer resembles the original. We fought the Civil War over State's Rights and just because the South lost does not make their State's Rights argument invalid.

I have begun to ramble,

Time to stop,

See Ya

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