Wednesday, January 23, 2008

935 Luftballoons

Didja hear that "two non-profit organizations" have undertaken a study that demonstrates that the Bush administration lied 935 times about weapons of mass destruction and misled us into war? Shocking. Just shocking.

Did you know that the "Center for Public Integrity" is funded by George Soros? As is the "Fund for Independence in Journalism." Do you think that mentioning that might be somehow relevant to understanding the story that the AP, CBS News, the New York Times, etc. are hawking this morning?

935 is an impressive number. It sounds really daunting, really damning. But it's meaningless. One could find at least 935 separate attacks on the Bush administration from George Soros and his constellation of front groups. And that's fine. I don't know what the Bushes ever did to George Soros to make him as p.o. 'ed as he is at them, but it ultimately doesn't matter. He is certainly free to spend millions on attacking the administration, for whatever reason. He can even create a series of organizations with Orwellian names that provide steady employment for perpetually aggrieved leftists. People like that need jobs, too.

All that matters is that we recognize it for what it is. These organizations are "non-profit" for two reasons - to avoid paying taxes even though they are engaged in political activity; and because you couldn't make a profit selling this crap. Even if the media these people chide are always willing to swallow it whole.


Dan S. said...

Soros is funding the "Center for Public Integrity," eh?

In related news, I am pleased to announce the launch of my new organization --- the "Center for Weight Loss and Hair Growth."

Mark said...

Can I join, Dan?

A. Truck Driver said...

I'll supply my credit card at the mere mention of a hair loss remedy. I have taken to pointing out to my children the many contributions of the bald community to our world. (Look, there's Dave Alvin, one of rock's great bald guitarists; Y.A. Tittle, the greatest bald quarterback in NFL history)

If your point about the 935 theses is that this should not be billed as an impartial survey, that's fine. However, I think it could be profitable to look beyond the motives of the messenger and assess the message. (I have noted that a favorite technique of the Sean Hannitty and his Fox friends is to assail the character of those critical of Bush, and to ask the token liberal if they agree with the latest comments of the leftist equivalents of the Ann Coulter's of the world, rather than address the facts stated about Bush)

I didn't need George Soros to tell me that Bush and his administration engaged in a calculated plan of lying to the American people and exploiting the 9/11 tragedy for purposes of engaging in the war with Iraq that they so desparately wanted, and that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 (apart from the fact that it diverted our internal resources). I have spoken to people in Wisconsin who do not read and get all their information from Fox News who will argue that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, and their confusion is no mystery, but is rather the product of a carefully orchestrated campaign by the Bush Administration. I have read a half dozen book which are either written by or are based on interviews with people who were inside the Bush Administration who consistently note that from day one the Bush foreign policy team was focused on Iraq (to the exclusion of, oh, Osama Bin Laden), that as soon as 9/11 occurred, the White House began pressing the intelligence community for evidence that Iraq was behind 9/11 despite being repeatedly told that Iraq had nothing to do with it, and that Cheney was particularly active in pressuring the CIA to find evidence to support his preconceived notions, that the Bush Administration repeatedly cited "evidence" supplied by discredited crackpots with questionable motives to support their assertions of a connection with 9/11 and of Iraq's nuclear program, and that Colin Powell's complicity in repeating the Administration's theories against his better judgment was a shattering experience for him.

I also vividly recall the many times Bush would invoke 9/11 in the same sentence with Saddam Hussein, never actually saying that Hussein was connected (that was Cheney's job).

You can argue all day about whether the world will be a better place because we invaded Iraq, but you cannot argue that the American people have either been deceived, or that the Bush himself was deceived. The only real question is if he is a liar, or an idiot.

A. Truck Driver

Mark said...


It sure seems like you watch Fox News more often than I do. I don't really watch it that much, as I get most of my news from various (and I mean various) Internet sources. One might think you even enjoy it. But I'll set that aside.

You can believe what you want about Bush's motives, or the motives of others within his administration. But to assume that what he and his people did was an orchestrated campaign to intentionally deceive the American people, you have to ask yourself a few questions. The most important of which is, why would they do that? What would be the benefit of intentionally deceiving people, when it would be almost impossible to keep the deception from becoming public? And given the verdict that history would render on such a decision, and the effect that such a deception would have on everyone in the world, it seems highly unlikely that what Bush et al. set out to do was to intentionally deceive people. It wouldn't work.

The Occam's Razor is explanation is that Bush and his people honestly believed that focusing on Iraq was the best way to deal with the staggering variety of issues at play. Were they wrong? Perhaps, but we won't know that for a long time, in fact until well past the time Bush leaves office.

I know that Soros and company believe that Bush et al. intentionally set out to deceive the entire world. I also know that a lot of other people who oppose this adminstration believe it, too. But again, given the stakes of such a deception, and the almost certainty that trying to orchestrate such a deception would fail, it doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al. would even try.

And, I sure don't know how to address "discredited crackpots with questionable motives." Who precisely do you mean? And who decides on what basis someone is a discredited crackpot? And who determines whether or not someones' motives are questionable? I'm not trying to be a jerk about this, good sir - you have to explain what you mean when you say things like that.

The truth is this - there's a hell of a lot we still don't know and even more that will only become clear as time goes forward. You may be right about all of it. George Soros may be, too. But we don't know that yet. And the "study" that he paid for doesn't prove the case.

A. Truck Driver said...

Fox is part of my regular surfing rotation, although I do not consider it a news source. I just sit in fascination at the thought that people watch it as their exclusive news source. I am not saying everyone on the right does so, but I think it is a powerful tool for purposes of influencing a fairly large segment of the population, and I don't believe there has ever been any "news" organization as dedicated and blatant about conveying a singular idealogical outlook.

The crackpot sources I am referencing are people like Chalabi, and other people in the middle east whose motivations and credibility were deemed highly suspect by the intelligence community, but who provided the "raw intelligence" that Cheney demanded when the intelligence analysts for the CIA did not reach the conclusions about Iraq that were desired by the Bush Adminsitration. This also included the people whose unverified reports were listed in the "Chinese menu" that the Bush Administration's political team wanted Colin Powell to use when he went before the U.N. Much of this is documented in the book "Hubris," which does in fact suggest that Cheney and others in the adminstration were not engaged in a plan to intentionally deceive the American people, but were instead delusional, self deceiving, arrogant and myopic on the subject of Iraq and its WMD's and its links to 9/11. I do not take great comfort in the viewpoint that the American people were grossly misinformed because our leaders were similarly misinformed.

However, I would not give a pass to Bush on whether they were simply confused. The constant refrain in the buildup to the Iraq was was to link the phrase "the lessons of 9/11" and the terrorist attack in Iraq as a justification for attacking Iraq, or linking Hussein and Bin Laden, sometimes in subtle ways, and sometimes in blatant statements (usually by Cheney) and this unquestionably continued LONG after it is irrefutable that they knew Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. There might have been some attempts to maintain plausible deniability about this, but I do not think there is any question about the intent to link Iraq with 9/11 in the public's mind or to cherry pick intelligence to justify a forced conclusion that Iraq was an imminent threat, and do not think it is any accident that a large portion off Bush supporters who are out of the know when it comes to world events think Iraq was linked to 9/11.

The motives for deceiving the public? We can only guess. The published reports show that a large segment of the Bush foreign policy and defense team were part of a fairly radical and untested school of thought which had long believed that attacking Iraq was a good idea. The feelings generated by 9/11 were then exploited to help build public support for something that they wanted to do and that they thought was the right thing to do, but which otherwise might have been hard to sell to the American people. Call me a dreamer, but I am a little troubled by the fact that the country that I regard as the greatest force for good in the world is/was being led by idealogical extremists who devised a propoganda program that was broadcast to the American people and to the world to justify invading a country under the false pretense that it posed an imminent threat to us because of their grand theories about how they could remake the world in our image. That is conduct I would expect from the old Soviet Union, or the modern China, but I thought we were better than that.


Mark said...

The problem, ATD, is that the business about all of this happening under false pretenses is tendentious at best. You still don't know that. You even admit it to a certain extent in your post. But it still bothers you. I can't change that, nor will I try.

We continue to learn more about the events that have taken place. Just yesterday we saw the statements of the man responsible for interrogating Saddam Hussein, who confirmed something that a lot of us have understood for a long time - that while Saddam's weapons of mass destruction were essentially dismantled in 1998, he still had the know-how and the ability to restart the program at any time. And if the intelligence was faulty, it's not surprising. Presidents of both parties have dealt with this issue ever since Frank Church and his band of reformers gutted the CIA back in the 1970s. And it's been biting us in the ass ever since.

For example, Clinton bombed Sudan in 1998 because he thought bin Laden was still there, even though bin Laden had left long before. Clinton was many things, but he wasn't a fool and he wouldn't have taken the actions he did if he'd known the truth. In 2002, no one except Saddam and a few of his top lietenants knew the truth about WMDs. Should Bush and Cheney have known? Hell yes, it would have been much better if we had known. But you didn't, I didn't and Bush and Cheney didn't either. Absent some revelation that indicates otherwise, you're simply engaging in Monday morning quarterbacking, good sir.

As for Chalabi - his motivations were pretty clear. He was an enemy of Saddam and wanted him out, for a variety of reasons, not least of which was Saddam's well-documented propensity for killing Shiites. My friends and I back in my B of A days used to refer to Chalabi as "Keyser Sose," since he seemed to be in the middle of everything, kinda like Harriet Myers was in the Bush adminstration. I don't think very highly of Chalabi, either, based on what I know of him. His motives weren't especially noble, nor did they necessarily dovetail with our interests. But that's how it goes when you're dealing with actors on any stage.

Bush and Cheney misread some things based on bad information, faulty assumptions and in some cases misplaced faith. Kinda like Clinton did with Arafat, or Bush 41 and Reagan did with the Saudis, or a long line of presidents with the Shah. What do you do about it going forward, good sir? How do you help ensure that President Obama doesn't do the same thing, or at least minimize the chance of it happening? For me, that's a better and more important question.

ATD said...

We don't know what they knew, although the information that has been coming out in drips and drabs has suggested that they were told there were grave questions about the extent of a WMD program, and I certainly think it was clear to them that Hussein was not an imminent threat, and that was not the way he was being portrayed. I think the simple fact is that they viewed getting rid of Hussein as something that was in our long term interest as a matter of geopolitical strategy, and rather shamelessly used 9/11 as a way of generating public support for their plan and to create the missapprehension that Hussein was an imminent threat. Hey, I think it's great that Hussein's dead, and I hope the surge works. I just think that there was an eagerness to go to war in Iraq that was unseemly, and that the decision to do so has compromised our defense capacity with regard to true imminent threats, harmed our standing around the world, served as a boon to Al Queda recruiters. It was also clearly very poorly planned with respect to what would happen once Hussein was gone.

Going forward? For me, the first good thing is that the people who devised this "strategy" will be out of power, and hopefully we will get someone in office who will be strong but also project wisdom and competence, which are not words I would assign to Bush. I do not sense, from what I have read, that the higher levels of the foreign policy and defense team now in place are the type to immerse themselves in details and gain a thorough understanding of the world. Rather, they appear to be highly ideological, given to grand theories in no way grounded in fact, and are not good at disguising their contempt for the rest of the world.

We are going to be dealing with Muslim extremists for the rest of my life in terms of our military and intelligence personnel (who I think are considerably better at what they do than the upper levels of the Bush team). I just think we got off on the wrong foot on that with Bush's frolic in Iraq.

Mark said...

Unseemly is a long way from a "calculated plan of lying to the American people." I would call that progress, good sir.