Saturday, November 19

Congress goes Bizarro over Iraq

Yesterday Republicans attempted to head off serious debate of resolving the Iraq War by offerring a sham version of Rep Murtha's House Resolution to withdraw and redeploy our troops in Iraq into a fall back position "in six months".

To Recap.

Murtha's Public Statements:

The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We can not continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.

General Casey said in a September 2005 Hearing, “the perception of occupation in Iraq is a major driving force behind the insurgency.” General Abizaid said on the same date, “Reducing the size and visibility of the
coalition forces in Iraq is a part of our counterinsurgency strategy

I said over a year ago, and now the military and the Administration agrees, Iraq can not be won “militarily.” I said two years ago, the key to progress in Iraq is to Iraqitize, Internationalize and Energize. I believe the same today. But I have concluded that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is impeding this progress.
Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence. U.S. troops are the common enemy of the Sunnis, Saddamists and foreign jihadists. I believe with a U.S. troop redeployment, the Iraqi security forces will be incentivized to take control. A poll recently conducted shows that over 80% of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops, and about 45% of the Iraqi population believe attacks against American troops are justified. I believe we need to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis. I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy. All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free. Free from United States occupation. I believe this will send a signal to the Sunnis to join the political process for the good of a “free” Iraq.

My plan calls:

To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces. To create a quick reaction force in the region.
To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines. To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq

Murtha's resolution:

Whereas Congress and the American People have not been shown clear, measurable
progress toward establishment of stable and improving security in Iraq or of a
stable and improving economy in Iraq, both of which are essential to "promote
the emergence of a democratic government";

Whereas additional stabilization in Iraq by U, S. military forces cannot be achieved without the deployment of hundreds of thousands of additional U S. troops, which in turn cannot be achieved without a military draft;

Whereas more than $277 billion has been appropriated by the United States Congress to prosecute U.S. military action in Iraq and Afghanistan;

Whereas, as of the drafting of this resolution, 2,079 U.S. troops have been killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom;

Whereas U.S. forces have become the target of the insurgency,

Whereas, according to recent polls, over 80% of the Iraqi people want U.S. forces out of Iraq;

Whereas polls also indicate that 45% of the Iraqi people feel that the attacks on U.S. forces are justified;

Whereas, due to the foregoing, Congress finds it evident that
continuing U.S. military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the
United States of America, the people of Iraq, or the Persian Gulf Region, which
were cited in Public Law 107-243 as justification for undertaking such

Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives
of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That:

Section 1. The deployment of United States forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is hereby terminated and the forces involved are to be redeployed at the earliest practicable date.

Section 2. A quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S Marines shall be deployed in the region.

Section 3 The United States of America shall pursue security and
stability in Iraq through diplomacy.
And here's the GOP "rewrite":


Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately. Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.
After first having a fight on whether they would vote on the issue or not which ended with a 210-204 party-line split with Democrats and 6 Republicans opposed to voting on the GOP resolution, the GOP version of was eventually voted down 3 to 403, but not after a rather contentious debate...

Courtesy of the Stakeholder:

The Speaker Pro Tempore: The gentlelady from Ohio is recognized for one

Ms. Schmidt: Yesterday I stood at Arlington National Cemetery attending the funeral of a young marine in my district. He believed in what we were doing is the right thing and had the courage to lay his life on the line to do it. A few minutes ago I received a call from Colonel Danny Bop, Ohio Representative from the 88th district in the House of Representatives. He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message, that cowards cut and run, Marines never do. Danny and the rest of America and the world want the assurance from this body - that we will see this through.

[Note by kos -- the whole chamber went nuts at this point, with Democrats shouting and booing Schmidt down]

The Speaker Pro Tempore: The house will be in order. The house will be in order. The house will be in order. The house will be in order. The house will be in order. The gentlelady will suspend. And the clerk will report her words. All members will suspend. The gentleman from Arkansas has demanded that the gentlelady's words be taken down. The clerk will report the gentlelady's words.

The Speaker Pro Tempore: The house will be in order. Members pleas take seats. The gentlelady from Ohio.

Ms. Schmidt: Mr. Speaker, my remarks were not directed at any member of the House and I did not intend to suggest that they applied to any member. Most especially the distinguished gentleman from Pennsylvania. I therefore ask for unanimous consent that my words be withdrawn.

The Speaker Pro Tempore: Without objection. The gentlelady's words will be

From the AP:

Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn., charged across the chamber's center aisle screaming that it was an uncalled for personal attack. "You guys are pathetic. Pathetic," yelled Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass.

Now Jean Schmidt (R-OH) has only been in Congress for a few months after narrowling winning a special election in her district against Democratic challenger (and Iraq War veteran) Paul Hackett in one of the most staunchly Republican parts of the state. Hackett is now running for Senate in 2006 and is already polling ahead of the incumbent.

During much of the House discussion, many Republicans called the GOP version which called for "Immediate withdrawal" a Democrat bill - and even the AP seemed to have become confused between Congressman Murtha's bill and the GOP alternative which was submitted by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA).

Some posters on Powerlineblog have commented that the "immediate" line in the GOP version of the withdrawal resolution opposed by Democrats is a "Distinction without a diffence"- in doing so they ignore Murtha's comments in the Q/A with reporters where he describes that it should take "about six months" to complete his proposed redeployment, as well as his comments that the "immediacy" of the shift be performed at the "earliest practicable date" and "consistent with the safety of U.S. Forces".

Ok, those are the facts - but what does it all mean?

Apparently, the GOP now has almost every House Democrat on record as opposing an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Yeah, and? No one, other than the GOP themselves had even suggested such a thing - Murtha only suggested 6-month pull back of forces - the real question, which they managed to avoid, is what is our long term Iraq Policy? Why is it that after two years we still don't have more than a single operational Iraqi Brigade?

Besides denouncing the "Swift-boating" of John Murtha, John Kerry has also laid out his own plan for a phased draw down of American troops from Iraq following the successful completion of elections in December. In response, 79 members of the Senate voted for an amendment to a pending bill stating that: 2006 should be "a period of significant transition" in which Iraqi security forces take the lead in protecting their citizens, creating conditions for a "phased" withdrawal of U.S. forces.

So the battle now is between leaving immediately or having a planned/phased reduction in U.S. forces in conjuction with a ramp-up of Iraqi forces. It's seems clear to me that we can't simply "cut and run" - but that the only thing continuing to hold our forces in Iraq, making them a target and instigator for the continued insurgency, is the complete and abject failture of the Bush Administration to get the Iraqi Forces trained and deployed. It should be a given that as Iraq's own military comes online, our forces should step back and be redeployed away from the front and into the rear areas.

But this isn't happening - and the real question is why not?

We shouldn't have these temper tantrams happening in Congress, we shouldn't have to wonder what's going on or what the plan is. The argument that stating our plans would embolden the terrorist to simply "wait it out" is ridiculous if they know that what would be in place to greet them once the waiting is over is a well-trained, strong and effective Iraqi Military.

The only way for them to realize that is for them to get to know the Iraqi Army now - right now - not simply wait until some far off day to yank our forces out and then plug in a bunch of inexperienced semi-trained Iraqis. That scenario would be exactly the "Recipe for Disaster" that the President is talking about - and no-one, except the House Republicans seem to be putting that idea on the table.


Thursday, November 17

Bush in a dive... Kerry punches back.

CLICK for detailsCrossposted on Dailykos:

Why are the Republicans and the President so angry and desperate in their most recent set of attacks on the Democrats?

Could it be the President horrible poll numbers?

CNN/USA Today/Gallup11/11-13/0537% Favorable

Dick Cheney, the American vice-president, has dismissed criticism of the Bush administration's use of intelligence in the build up to the Iraq war as "dishonest and reprehensible".

Dick Cheney
Mr Cheney accused opponents of lacking 'backbone'

Democrats have exploited rising anti-war feeling in the US in recent weeks and accused the administration of manipulating intelligence to justify the war and leaking classified information to discredit critics.

But the White House has launched an aggressive counter-attack, accusing Democrats - many of whom voted in favour of the invasion in 2002 - of "rewriting history".

Mr Cheney called Democrats "opportunists" who were peddling "cynical and pernicious falsehoods" to gain political advantage while American soldiers died in Iraq.

"The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone - but we're not going to sit by and let them rewrite history," he said.

President George W Bush, whose public approval ratings have dropped to the lowest point of his presidency, has given two speeches in the last five days attacking Democratic critics.

At a news conference in South Korea he backed his vice-president, one of the a principal architects of the war, and accused Democrats of irresponsibility.

Iraq factfile

"What bothers me is when people are irresponsibly using their positions and playing politics. That's exactly what is taking place in America," he said.

John Kerry Responds to the President:

The President even used the solemn occasion of Veterans Day to continue his campaign of misrepresenting the facts and throwing up smokescreens. His statement that Democrats saw and heard the same intelligence he did is just flat out untrue - unless of course the President and his Administration didn’t do their job and study the additional intelligence given only to them and not the Congress. As the Washington Post put it on Saturday, ‘Bush and his aides had access to much more voluminous intelligence information than lawmakers, who were dependent on the administration to provide the material.’

“But that whole discussion is nothing more than an effort to distract attention from the issue that matters most and can be answered simply: did the Administration go beyond what even the flawed intelligence would support in making the case for war? Did they use obviously inaccurate intelligence despite being told clearly and repeatedly not to? Did they use the claims of known fabricators? The answer in each case is yes. And the only people who are trying to rewrite that history are the President and his Republican allies.

“There is no greater breach of the public trust than knowingly misleading the country into war. In a democracy, we simply cannot tolerate the abuse of this trust by the government. To the extent this occurred in the lead up to the war in Iraq, those responsible must be held accountable. That is why Democrats have been pushing the Senate Intelligence Committee to complete a thorough and balanced investigation into the issue.

“When the President tried to pretend on Friday that the Intelligence Committee had already determined that he had not manipulated intelligence and misled the American public, he knew full well that they have not yet reported on that very question -- that is why Democrats were forced to shut down the Senate and go into closed session to make the Republicans take this issue seriously. When the President said that his opponents were throwing out false charges, he knew all too well that that these charges are anything but false.

“But the President and Republicans seem far more interested in confusing the issue and attacking their opponents than getting honest answers. Let’s be clear: there is no question that Americans were misled into war in Iraq. Simply put, they were told that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction when he did not. The issue is whether they were misled intentionally. Just as there is a distinction between being wrong and being dishonest, there is a fundamental difference between relying on incorrect intelligence and making statements that you know are not supported by the intelligence.

“The bottom line is that the President and his Administration did mislead America into war. In fact, the war in Iraq was and remains one of the great acts of misleading and deception in American history. The facts are incontrovertible. The act of misleading was pretending to Americans that they hadn’t made a decision to go to war, and would seriously pursue inspections when the evidence strongly suggests that they had already decided to take out Saddam Hussein, were anxious to do it for ideological reasons, and hoped that inspections, which Vice President Cheney had opposed and tried to prevent, would not get in their way.

“The President misled America about his intentions and the manner in which he would make his decision. We now know his speech in Cincinnati right before the authorization vote was carefully orchestrated window dressing where again he misled America by promising that “If we have to act, we will take every precaution that is possible. We will plan carefully.” He did none of these things.

“The act of misleading was just going through the motions of inspections while it appears he really couldn’t wait to just kick Saddam Hussein out of power.

“The act of misleading was pretending to Americans the real concern was weapons of mass destruction when the evidence suggests that his real intent was to finish the job his father wisely refused and remove Saddam Hussein to “remake the Middle East”.

The act of misleading was saying in his Cincinnati speech that “Approving this resolution does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable” when the evidence suggests that all along the goal was always to replace Saddam Hussein through an invasion. For most of us in Congress, the goal was to destroy weapons of mass destruction. For President Bush, weapons of mass destruction were just the first public relations means to the end of removing Saddam Hussein. For most of the rest of us, removing Saddam Hussein was incidental to the end of removing any weapons of mass destruction.

In fact, the President was misleading America right up until two days before launching his war of choice when he told Americans we had exhausted all other avenues. The truth is that on the Sunday preceding the Tuesday launch of the war, there were offers [to] Security Council members to pursue an alternative to war, but the Administration, in its race to go to war, rebuffed them, saying “the time for diplomacy is over.”

“By shortcutting the inspections process and sidestepping his own promises about planning, coalition building, and patience, the President used WMD as an excuse to rush to war. That was an act of misleading contrary to everything the President told Americans about the walkup to war.

The very worst that Members of Congress can be accused of is trusting the intelligence we were selectively given by this Administration, and taking the President at his word. But unlike this Administration, there is absolutely no suggestion that we intentionally went beyond what we were told were the facts. That is the greatest offense by the Administration. Just look at their most compelling justification for war: Saddam’s nuclear program and his connections with Al Qaeda.

“The facts speak for themselves. The White House has admitted that the President told Congress and the American public in the State of the Union Address that Saddam was attempting to acquire fuel for nuclear weapons despite the fact that the CIA specifically told the Administration three times, in writing and verbally, not to use this intelligence. Obviously, Democrats didn’t get that memo. In fact, similar statements were removed from a prior speech by the President, and Colin Powell refused to use it in his presentation to the UN. This is not relying on faulty intelligence, as Democrats did; it is knowingly, and admittedly, misleading the American public on a key justification for going to war.

This is what the Administration was trying so desperately to hide when it attacked Ambassador Wilson and compromised national security by outing his wife. It is shameful that to this day Republicans continue to attack Ambassador Wilson rather than condemning the fact that those sixteen words were ever spoken, and that so many lies were told to cover it up. How are the same Republicans who tried to impeach a President over whether he misled a nation about an affair going to pretend it does not matter if the Administration intentionally misled the country into war?

“The State of the Union was hardly an isolated event. In fact, it was part of a concerted campaign to twist the intelligence to justify a war they had already decided to fight. Again playing on people’s fears after 9/11, the Administration made statements about the relationship between Al Qaeda and Iraq that went beyond that what the intelligence supported. As recently reported by the New York Times, in a Cincinnati address the President said “we’ve learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases” despite the fact that the Defense Intelligence Agency had previously concluded that that source was a fabricator.

The President went on to say that ‘Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons’ despite the fact that the Air Force disagreed with that conclusion. As the Wall Street Journal reported, ‘the Air Force dissent…was kept secret even as the President publicly made the opposite case…before a congressional vote on the war resolution.’ That’s two more memos that Congress never got.

“In fact, when faced with the intelligence community’s consensus conclusion that there was no formal relationship between Saddam and Al Qaeda, the Administration set up their own intelligence shop at DoD to get them some answers better suited to their agenda. Again, there is a fundamental difference between believing incorrect intelligence and making up your own intelligence.

“Where would Republicans and the President draw the line? No where. How else would 70% of the American public be lead to conclude that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11? This was no accident. In fact, I had to correct the President in the first debate when he said it was Saddam Hussein who attacked us. Why else did Vice President Cheney cite intelligence about a meeting between one of the 9/11 hijackers and Iraqis that the intelligence community and the 9/11 Commission concluded never took place? Why else make false statements about Saddam’s ability to launch a chemical or biological weapons attack in under an hour without clearing that with the CIA - which mistrusted the source and refused to include it in the NIE? Why else would they say we would be greeted by liberators when their own intelligence reports said we could be facing a prolonged and determined insurgency? Why else tell Americans that Iraqi oil would pay for the invasion when they had to know that the dilapidated oil infrastructure would never allow that?


Loveletters from Harriet to George

Issue of 2005-11-14
Posted 2005-11-07

October 27, 2005
Hi! Just a quick note to say that you looked heavyish last time I saw you, which, come to think of it, was this morning, in the Oval Office, when you accepted my withdrawal (which you had secretly demanded) and ruined my life and dreams and spirit. I hope we can stay friends. And, again, I am sorry for vomiting on your desk. Best to your wife (Laurel??).

Harriet Miers, NOT a Supreme Court nominee

October 27, later on
It dawns on me that I may not have mentioned that you ruined my life. Or did I? Also, do you ever wonder where you’d be if it wasn’t for your father, who, when you think about it, was a really amazing person, who did SOOO much in his life, especially compared with you who have done so little? I read that you were a cheerleader once. Girls do that a lot. Eucalyptus is good for absorbing bad smells (like human vomit). That was a lot of vomit. But then I had a tough few weeks, in which I was humiliated in the national media, and you and your staff (some of whom may be indicted soon??) were not one scintilla of help. Friends forever!

October 27, quite late
Pinot Noirs are nice. This second bottle tastes better than the first, actually. Sometimes I pretend I’m the lead singer of the O’Jays (“People all over the world, join in, start a love train, love train”). Do you think I’m pretty? Once, I staged a mock wedding to you in my home, alone, except for Mr. Pickles, my cat. It was very, very late, like it is now, and I dressed in a fluffy white robe and walked slowly down the pretend aisle and said “I do” and closed my eyes and smooched your skinny, chapped lips because you were, to me, so perfect. I would like to file imaginary divorce proceedings against you now and withhold connubial favors. Let’s see what THAT does for that eye tic. Friends?

Your ex-wife, Harriet Miers

October 28, late
What do I mean by emotional break-down? I guess I mean that the edges of everything seem to be rounded and sound disappears if I look at a thing too long. What is dignity? The phrase “Pass the brownies, please” plays over and over in my head. I was happy once, just a few weeks ago.

I have no idea of the time or date or where I am.

It’s not really a bench, is it? I mean, there are chairs. You said it was going to be like Roberts. Why lie? Want to know a secret? I don’t believe in God.


October 28, the clock moves, as if on its own
I just spoke with Michael Moore. What an inquisitive, interesting man. He said that many of the things I shared with him about being White House counsel were very, very interesting to him. We made plans to meet for coffee soon, so that I can show him some papers. Do you know what phrase has less and less meaning for me with each passing second? “Attorney-client privilege.”

October 29
I have a question: Is Lewis Libby married? Because, if he’s not, he will be, in jail. Bye for now, friend!

— John Kenney

Libby Spin-Cycle

As discussed on Dailykos today:

A picture named Len-Downie.jpg
Downie Stonewalls
Video-WMP low res
(from Crooks &
Washington Post Editor Len Downee appears on Wolf Blitzer and does a little lets-try-not-to-step-into-the-grand-jury dance over the recent revelations that Bob Woodward had been told by someone in the White House that "Valerie Plame worked for the CIA" before "Scooter" Libby had spoken with Matt Cooper.

Meanwhile this recent soundbite has been running around the Mediasphere that Woodwards revelation "totally exeronates" Libby - and the Patrick Fitzgerald was wrong when he said Libby was the "First official to tell" Plame's indentity. From the Moonie Times.

Bob Woodward's just-released statement, suggesting that on June 27, 2003, he may have been the reporter who told Scooter Libby about Joseph Wilson's wife, blew a gigantic hole in Patrick Fitzgerald's recently unveiled indictment of the vice president's former chief of staff.

. . . [T]he heart of his perjury theory was predicated upon the proposition that Mr. Libby learned of Valerie Plame's identity from other government officials and not from NBC's Tim Russert, as claimed by Mr. Libby. Indeed, Mr. Fitzgerald seemed to have a reasonable case because Mr. Russert, a respected and admired journalist, with no vested interest of his own, denied that he discussed the Mr. Wilson's matter with Mr. Libby.

However, given Mr. Woodward's account, which came to light after the Libby indictment was announced, that he met with Mr. Libby in his office -- armed with the list of questions, which explicitly referenced "yellowcake" and "Joe Wilson's wife" and may have shared this information during the interview -- it is entirely possible that Mr. Libby may have indeed heard about Mrs. Plame's employment from a reporter.

. . . Accordingly, Mr. Fitzgerald should do the right thing and promptly dismiss the indictment of Scooter Libby.

But as it turns out, it's not that simple. Beside the fact that the Libby Indictment clearly shows that Libby had already been told of Plame's status by the Undersecretary of State, the CIA and Dick Cheney on or before June 12th, Keith Olberman on MSNBC has shot the rest of that canard down with an elephant gun.

Keith Olberman:

[Scooter Libby's attorney Ted] Wells released a beautiful hunk of "chaff" -- the stuff submarine captains expel to try to throw off enemy torpedoes -- in his claim about Woodward's announcement that someone at the White House told him about Valerie Plame in June, 2003. Wells made it seem as if Woodward had just proved that Libby was not the first to leak Plame's name and/or job to a reporter, and that in so doing, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's case had just tumbled to the ground.

But he did it only by altering the truth. Wells issued a statement at midday, the key passage of which concludes that Woodward's "disclosure shows that Mr. Fitzgerald's statement at his press conference of October 28, 2005 that Mr. Libby was the first government official to tell a reporter about Mr. Wilson's wife was totally inaccurate."

But Fitzgerald never said that. The transcript of Fitzgerald's news conference is not disputed -- nobody from his office has called up trying to get it altered after the fact. On October 28, Fitzgerald actually said: "Mr. Libby was the first government official known to have told a reporter" about Ambassador Joe Wilson's wife.

"The first government official known to have told..." is a huge difference from "The first government official to tell..." . . . This is no one-word parsing nonsense. Not only does that meaning of "known" change entirely the meaning of Fitzgerald's statement, but its related root words (know, knowing, knowingly etc) have been the keys to whether or not anybody was indicted for revealing Plame's covert status at the CIA.

The problem, of course, is that such subtlety can shoot right past those who either want to miss it, or are in too much of a hurry to check the transcript. I read Wells' quote and thought `that doesn't sound right.' The producers of ABC's World News Tonight read Wells' quote and evidently didn't hear any such alarm bells. The transcript is not yet out, but at 6:30 ET tonight, Elizabeth Vargas stated -- and I am paraphrasing -- that the Woodward revelations were important because they contradicted Patrick Fitzgerald's statement that Libby was the first to leak.


Tuesday, November 15

Iraq Pushback: Soundbites Work

Nevermind detailed and throughtful analysis - what gets a message across is a clear and concise soundbite. Simple. Direct. To the Point. So here are just a few on the Iraq Intelligence Controversy.

  • Congress does not receive copies of the "Presidential Daily Briefing" on Intelligence.

  • The Senate and House Intelligence Chairmen and Commitee members receive information that is not available to the full House and Senate.

  • Neither the Senate Intelligence Report or the Robb-Silbermann report analyzed how intelligence information was used and possibly distorted by the Administration. That analysis was postponed until "Phase II" of the investigation.

  • The National Intelligence Estimate that was eventually given to Congress just days prior to the Iraq War vote was not voluantarily provided by the Administration and only occured as a result of pressure from Senators Graham and Durbin.

  • All indications of connections between Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein came from a single source, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, who was exposed as a fabricator by the Defense Intelligence Service in Feburary of 2002.

  • All indications of continued Iraq WMD developement programs came from a single informant code=named "Curveball", a source who both German Inteligence and the DIA consider to be "not reliable".

  • Both the Senate Intelligence Report and the IAEA found that the Niger-Uranium purchase documents were most likely "A forgery", and the matter was referred to the FBI for Investiation.

  • The National Intelligence Estimate included a rebuttal by the INR analyst to claims that Saddam was attempting to reconstitute his Nuclear program as "inadaquate to support such a judgement".

  • Inspectors on the ground in Iraq during late 2002-2003 claimed that U.S. Intelligence on Iraqi WMD's was "garbage" right until Feb of 2003, one Month before the War began.

  • Many countries did not agree with the Bush Analysis, including Britain who said "the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran." in the Downing Street Minutes - while France, Russia and Germany all voted against increasing pressure on Saddam prior to the War.

    Democrats need to learn that soundbytes WORK.


  • Bush Re-Lying on Iraq

    Last Friday on Veteran's Day and again yesterday the President fired his harshes attacks ever on critics of the Iraq War and Intelligence failures which lead us into this conflict. On Meet the Press, the President has been supported by John McCain "I don't think the President lied"...

    "While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decisions or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began," the president said in a Veterans Day speech in Pennsylvania.

    "The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important for politicians to throw out false charges," he said. "These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will."
    But was it the truth?
    Bush: "Some Democrats and antiwar critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war," he said. "These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs. They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein."
    Well, that's isn't entirely true now is it? The Washington Post on Saturday responded to the Presidents claims:

    President Bush and his national security adviser have answered critics of the Iraq war in recent days with a two-pronged argument: that Congress saw the same intelligence the administration did before the war, and that independent commissions have determined that the administration did not misrepresent the intelligence.

    Neither assertion is wholly accurate.

    But Bush and his aides had access to much more voluminous intelligence information than did lawmakers, who were dependent on the administration to provide the material. And the commissions cited by officials, though concluding that the administration did not pressure intelligence analysts to change their conclusions, were not authorized to determine whether the administration exaggerated or distorted those conclusions.

    National security adviser Stephen J. Hadley, briefing reporters Thursday, countered "the notion that somehow this administration manipulated the intelligence." He said that "those people who have looked at that issue, some committees on the Hill in Congress, and also the Silberman-Robb Commission, have concluded it did not happen."

    But the only committee investigating the matter in Congress, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has not yet done its inquiry into whether officials mischaracterized intelligence by omitting caveats and dissenting opinions. And Judge Laurence H. Silberman, chairman of Bush's commission on weapons of mass destruction, said in releasing his report on March 31, 2005: "Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers, and all of us were agreed that that was not part of our inquiry."

    In the same speech, Bush asserted that "more than 100 Democrats in the House and the Senate, who had access to the same intelligence, voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power." Giving a preview of Bush's speech, Hadley had said that "we all looked at the same intelligence."

    But Bush does not share his most sensitive intelligence, such as the President's Daily Brief, with lawmakers. Also, the National Intelligence Estimate summarizing the intelligence community's views about the threat from Iraq was given to Congress just days before the vote to authorize the use of force in that country.

    In addition, there were doubts within the intelligence community not included in the NIE. And even the doubts expressed in the NIE could not be used publicly by members of Congress because the classified information had not been cleared for release. For example, the NIE view that Hussein would not use weapons of mass destruction against the United States or turn them over to terrorists unless backed into a corner was cleared for public use only a day before the Senate vote.

    The New York Times on the issue of "Pressure applied to analysts".
    Mr. Bush has said in recent days that the first phase of the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation on Iraq found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence. . . . Richard Kerr, a former deputy director of central intelligence, said in 2003 that there was "significant pressure on the intelligence community to find evidence that supported a connection" between Iraq and Al Qaeda. The C.I.A. ombudsman told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the administration's "hammering" on Iraq intelligence was harder than he had seen in his 32 years at the agency. . . .
    Further the Senate Report included information which was later revealed as Under Secretary of State John Bolton attempting to bolster reports of Cuban Wmd's.
    (U)When Chairman Roberts asked whether analysts had been pressured to change their assessments at a Committee hearing on June 19,2003,one [INR] analyst stood up and said that he had some encounters involving some pressure ”but noted that he had not changed his assessments as a result of that pressure.The analyst agreed to meet with Committee staff following the hearing to discuss the issue.

    (U)The analyst told Committee staff that his concerns about being pressured were not related to Iraq,but rather to an incident that had occurred with the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security concerning Cuba ’s BW program.The analyst had received a routine request to declassify language concerning Cuba ’s BW program for a speech that the Under Secretary intended to give in an open forum.The analyst told Committee staff that the text of the Under Secretary ’s speech contained a sentence which said that the U.S. believes Cuba has a developmental,offensive biological warfare program and is providing assistance to other rogue state programs.The text also called for international observers of
    Cuba ’s biological facilities.The analyst said the portion of the speech he was given contained top secret codeword information.
    There was also a report on a Pentagon "Desk Officer" in the Office of Special Plans who I strongly suspect is actually Lt. Col Karen Kwaitkowski who has been extremely vocal in her criticism of the Iraq War and Bush Administration.
    (U)Committee staff contacted a former desk officer in the Office of the Deputy Under
    Secretary of Defense for Special Plans and NESA who had come to the Committee ’s attention through press accounts of the desk officer ’s experiences.

    (U)The desk officer told Committee staff that she never worked the Iraq issue and had no direct knowledge of any attempts to pressure or coerce intelligence analysts. She obtained the information that she provided to Committee staff based on looking at the secret level intranet in the Pentagon and through discussions with colleagues.

    (U)The desk officer told Committee staff that a DIA senior intelligence analyst had told her that he had been pressured by the Deputy Under Secretary to change a briefing he was giving on Iraq and that he refused to change the briefing because the intelligence did not support the Deputy Under Secretary ’s conclusion.She said that after this incident the senior analyst was excluded from bilateral exchange visits.Committee staff interviewed the DIA senior intelligence analyst (See page 280)who said that he had not been asked to change any briefings on Iraq, but said he was asked not to use the word “assassinations ”when giving a brief on the Israeli Defense Force.He provided no information to show that he had been excluded from the bilateral visits because of his analysis.
    It's interesting to note that the "Desk Officer" heard one thing, but when the person she heard it from was brought before the commitee - he denied everything. If there was in fact pressure, one of the key elements of that pressure would have been to "deny the pressure". It's the cornerstone of any cover-up.

    "First Rule of Fight Club: You do not talk about Fight Club. Second Rule of Fight Club: You do not talk about Fight Club".

    What the British Government felt according to the Downing Street Minutes:
    It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.
    And then you have other countries such as France, Russia and Germany who voted in the UN against the invasion of Iraq and were accused by Bush's supporters of doing so because they'd received kick-backs from Saddam Hussein via the Oil-for-Food program. An allegation that has proved uniformly false.

    Bush says now that Congress received the same intellegence, but there are many reasons to doubt that claim.
    Media Matters: It should be further noted, that the Bush Whitehouse initially refused to supply any Intelligence Information to the Congress -- the White House reportedly objected to the production of such a [National Intelligence Estimate] at the time. An article in the September 22, 2003, edition of The New Republic described how the then-chairman of the committee, Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL), and Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) pushed for the NIE after reviewing a classified CIA assessment of the Iraqi threat that reportedly took "the most aggressive view of all available information":

    Stunned by what they read, Graham, Durbin and others on the committee intensified their demands for [then-director of central intelligence George J.] Tenet to produce an NIE on the Iraq threat. It was not a request that Tenet could easily fulfill. "The White House didn't want it," says a source with direct knowledge of the effort. "They wanted to draw their own analytical conclusions

    In short, Bush's claim that Congress received the same information as the White House is simply false. They don't get the same information, and even what they did get they had to beg in order to get. But all of this back and forth sometimes obscures the core issue -- why was the intelligence so wrong?

    Well it turns out that if you looked closely at it - it wasn't wrong. What started this entire hullabaloo with the President is the recent declassification of a DIA report concerning an detainee who repeatedly claimed that Iraq was working with Al-Qaeda - who simply "wasn't credible".
    On November 6, both the Post and the Times reported on a newly declassified document proving that the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) had voiced strong doubts about the credibility of an Al Qaeda operative whose statements provided the basis for many of the administration's prewar claims regarding Iraqi training of terrorists. The DIA report -- produced and distributed in February 2002 -- raised serious questions about the first interrogation report on the operative and determined that "it is more likely this individual is intentionally misleading the debriefers." Both newspapers noted that administration officials, in late 2002 and early 2003, repeatedly cited the alleged chemical and biological training as proof of an Iraq-Al Qaeda connection but never noted that the DIA considered this intelligence suspect. Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), who released the new materials, stated "that he could not be certain that White House officials read the DIA report, but his 'presumption' was that someone at the National Security Council saw it because it was sent there," according to the Post
    More on this Detainee from William Rivers Pitt.
    The operative, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, was exposed as a liar by the Defense Intelligence Agency in February of 2002. Their report bluntly stated that al-Libi was deliberately misleading interrogators, and any information he provided was not to be trusted. By 2004, al-Libi had completely recanted all of his testimony.

    "The (Defense Intelligence Agency) document provides the earliest and strongest indication of doubts voiced by American intelligence agencies about Mr. Libi's credibility," reported the Times. "Without mentioning him by name, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, and other administration officials repeatedly cited Mr. Libi's information as 'credible' evidence that Iraq was training al Qaeda members in the use of explosives and illicit weapons. Among the first and most prominent assertions was one by Mr. Bush, who said in a major speech in Cincinnati in October 2002 that 'we've learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and gases.'"

    This is information that the Administration possessed, but certainly didn't share either with the American people or Congress. Even when you look at the information that was eventually provided to the Congress via the NIE - there was a substantial section questioning the conclusions on Iraq's Nuclear Threat supplied by the State Departmentt.
    NIE "key judgments" had included a lengthy dissent on behalf of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) regarding the claim that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program.
    That dissent had included the likelyhood that the Niger Uranium documents were forgeries.

    Other information provided in that report was found by the Senate Intelligence Committee to be "totally wrong", particularly when the informant Curveball was relied upon.
    In a scathing report released Thursday, President Bush's intelligence commission found that the CIA "failed to convey to policy-makers new information casting serious doubt on the reliability of a human intelligence source known as 'Curveball."' The commission found that several agency officers said they had doubts about the source and raised those doubts with senior leadership, including then-CIA Director George Tenet. In separate statements Friday, Tenet and former acting CIA Director John McLaughlin denied the accounts. "It is deeply troubling to me that there was information apparently available within CIA as of late September or October of 2002 indicating that Curveball may have been a fabricator," Tenet said in a detailed seven-page rebuttal. "There is nothing more serious or galvanizing in the intelligence business than associating the word fabricator with a human source." McLaughlin said "unequivocally" that he wouldn't have allowed Curveball's information to be used "if someone had made these doubts clear".

    Despite the apparent concerns, the commission found that information from Curveball remained a centerpiece of former Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the United Nations about the need to attack Iraq, as well as in an authoritative intelligence estimate prepared for policy-makers in the run-up to the Iraq war.
    From the Dulfer Report on Curveball.
    ...the Dulfer Report showed... that many key allegations of WMD activity by Saddam all came from a single source, code-named Curveball. A source that his own German intelligence handlers found "not credible", yet his claims of mobile laboratories and imminent mushroom clouds still managed to find their way into Presidential Speeches and public comments by Secretary Powell, then-NSA Chief Condoleeza Rice and even Clinton Admin hold-over George Tenet, Director of the CIA.
    So we have one liar in Guantanemo (al-Libi), another liar in Germany (Curveball) and a set of forged documents from Niger that apparently no one noticed except for members of the INR. Only the DIA had noted al-Libi's fabrications and only the DIA had even bothered to actually go visit Curveball "face-to-face" - the result of that meeting was a complete loss in confidence in that source by those who took the trip to Germany. CIA had no clue, and apparently neither did Congress.

    Meanwhile the President and his chief Adversers ignored (or were blocked from learning) of warnings coming from the DIA in Feb 2002, the INR and Joe Wilson's report to the CIA on uranium sales - and continued making wildly inaccurate claims:
    Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.

    - Dick Cheney, 8/26/2002
    There is already a mountain of evidence that Saddam Hussein is gathering weapons for the purpose of using them. And adding additional information is like adding a foot to Mount Everest.

    - Ari Fleischer, 9/6/2002
    We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.

    - Condoleeza Rice, 9/8/2002
    Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.

    - George W. Bush, 9/12/2002
    Iraq has stockpiled biological and chemical weapons, and is rebuilding the facilities used to make more of those weapons. We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons - the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have.

    - George W. Bush, 10/5/2002
    And surveillance photos reveal that the regime is rebuilding facilities that it had used to produce chemical and biological weapons.

    - George W. Bush, 10/7/2002
    After eleven years during which we have tried containment, sanctions, inspections, even selected military action, the end result is that Saddam Hussein still has chemical and biological weapons and is increasing his capabilities to make more. And he is moving ever closer to developing a nuclear weapon.

    - George W. Bush, 10/7/2002
    We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas.

    - George W. Bush, 10/7/2002
    Iraq could decide on any given day to provide biological or chemical weapons to a terrorist group or to individual terrorists ...The war on terror will not be won until Iraq is completely and verifiably deprived of weapons of mass destruction.

    - Dick Cheney, 12/1/2002
    If he declares he has none, then we will know that Saddam Hussein is once again misleading the world.

    - Ari Fleischer, 12/2/2002
    We know for a fact that there are weapons there.

    - Ari Fleischer, 1/9/2003
    The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.

    - George W. Bush, 1/28/2003
    Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent.

    - George W. Bush, 1/28/2003
    We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more.

    - Colin Powell, 2/5/2003
    There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more. And he has the ability to dispense these lethal poisons and diseases in ways that can cause massive death and destruction. If biological weapons seem too terrible to contemplate, chemical weapons are equally chilling.

    - Colin Powell, 2/5/2003
    If Iraq had disarmed itself, gotten rid of its weapons of mass destruction over the past 12 years, or over the last several months since (UN Resolution) 1441 was enacted, we would not be facing the crisis that we now have before us ... But the suggestion that we are doing this because we want to go to every country in the Middle East and rearrange all of its pieces is not correct.

    - Colin Powell, 2/28/2003
    Let's talk about the nuclear proposition for a minute. We know that based on intelligence, that has been very, very good at hiding these kinds of efforts. He's had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.

    - Dick Cheney, 3/16/2003
    Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.

    - George W. Bush, 3/17/2003
    Well, there is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly ... all this will be made clear in the course of the operation, for whatever duration it takes.

    - Ari Fleischer, 3/21/2003
    We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.

    - Donald Rumsfeld, 3/30/2003

    Yet, when UN Inspectors re-entered Iraq in the Winter of 2002 following the passage of HJ 141 (The Iraq War Resolution) and UN Security Council Resolution 1441 -- they found nothing (except a few missles whose range was 15 miles beyond sanctioned limits).

    CBS News - Inspectors Call U.S. Tips 'Garbage'

    Feb. 20, 2003
    U.N. weapons inspectors prepare to investigate a
    private battery acid plant outside of Baghdad. (AP)

    So frustrated have the inspectors become that one
    source has referred to the U.S. intelligence they've
    been getting as "garbage after garbage after garbage."

    (CBS) While diplomatic maneuvering continues over
    Turkish bases and a new United Nations resolution,
    inside Iraq, U.N. arms inspectors are privately
    complaining about the quality of U.S. intelligence and
    accusing the United States of sending them on
    wild-goose chases.

    CBS News Correspondent Mark Phillips reports the U.N.
    has been taking a precise inventory of Iraq's
    al-Samoud 2 missile arsenal, determining how many
    there are and where they are.

    Discovering that the al-Samoud 2 has been flying too
    far in tests has been one of the inspectors' major
    successes. But the missile has only been exceeding its
    93-mile limit by about 15 miles and that, the Iraqis
    say, is because it isn't yet loaded down with its
    guidance system. The al-Samoud 2 is not the
    800-mile-plus range missile that Secretary of State
    Colin Powell insists Iraq is developing.

    In fact, the U.S. claim that Iraq is developing
    missiles that could hit its neighbors – or U.S. troops
    in the region, or even Israel – is just one of the
    claims coming from Washington that inspectors here are
    finding increasingly unbelievable. The inspectors have
    become so frustrated trying to chase down unspecific
    or ambiguous U.S. leads that they've begun to express
    that anger privately in no uncertain terms.

    U.N. sources have told CBS News that American tips
    have lead to one dead end after another.

    Normally Senior Advisers such as Tenet and Powell would be relied upon to provide information to Congress directly, either in report format or via testimony. Although the full investigation of how or why intelligence information may have been manipulated within the Bush Administration has yet to take place -- it seems clear based on many reports and most obviously the treatment of Joe Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame as well as comment by the CIA ombudsman that in the cases of Tenet and Powell, their were mid-level politcal appointees who were prioritizing, de-prioritizing and coloring certain reports which fit their own agenda and preeferred opinion - rather than the facts.

    Bush argues "Garbage in - Garbage out", but it's not really that simple. It's common today to sort your garbage prior to simply throwing it into the can -- and apparently it was the sifting, filtering and vetting process to seperate the credible information from the flat-out incredible that broke down -- or was deliberately subverted.

    How much Bush was involved or aware of this at the time remains an open question -- but his comments now, in the face of such overwhelming amounts of information show that whether or not he was deliberately lying then - he's definately lying now.