sometimes, I honestly don’t know what to say…

A quick question: if you were told that a British memo was leaked that said that Bush had already decided to invade Iraq as early as July of 2002, knew that the WMD case was less threatening than North Korea, Lybia and Iran, and was having the intelligence and analysis molded to fit their case for war, do you think it would be news? Regardless of whether you thought the war was otherwise justifiable, would this be problematic for you?

Another question: Did you know that exactly that memo came out last Friday? It was finally picked up yesterday in the American press, but has gotten virtually no visibility. Anyone have any answers to any of my questions?


6 responses to “sometimes, I honestly don’t know what to say…

  1. This is rock-ribbed proof that the administration lied intentionally, systematically, and in total defiance of most principles of democratic governance. There is no response to this memo. Paloma? You out there? What do you say? Moderate Jamal, you still feeling moderate?

    And no, don’t try to say that the official report this envoy made to Tony Blair about the status of the US’s foreign policy was just Beltway gossip. This is not marginal data, this is the ACTUAL MOMENT in which the governments communicated. This is THE word from the US on which Britain based its policy. And the word was: We’re getting ready to lie like no democratic government has ever lied before; and we’re going to start a war that way that may have bigger unintended consequences than any war in history (yes, ANY in absolute numbers of people affected — note that this war will inspire much future terrorism).

    It is also proof — since it’s been a full week without any major news organ doing a thing with it (thank God for Knight-Ridder, who’s been on the outs with the White House for some time and therefore actually reports things) that the media is spoon-fed its substance by the White House alone, and is despicably lazy and unaware of what matters.

    I’m not sure at which institution we should harbor more anger.



  2. Grounds for impeachment? I mean, Clinton lied about a fucking blow job…Where the hell are the Democrats on this? Am I overreacting here?

  3. The American people will never impeach a President who, despite continued conflict in Iraq, is percieved as having won a war.

    I think the more important question is this: the the jury is still very much out, democracy in Iraq appears to be having some very positive effects on the region. Assuming this ends up bringing long term stability and liberty to the Middle East, would this have been sufficient justification for war?

    Further, if that was what the President had in mind, was it wrong for him to use the WMD red herring? And if the answer to that question is yes, what do we say about Roosevelt, Lend-Lease, and WWII?

  4. Yes.

    To the FDR question, I say “Pearl Harbor.” It’s an interesting thought experiment to ask What if he’d provoked a naval battle — but he didn’t, and there’s a reason for that.

    Lying the nation into war is wrong.

    I’m not saying that that was FDR’s only reason for not being more provocative in the North Atlantic, but it was on the list. He did lie about Yalta, though — everyone should read Eric Alterman’s book about that.

    Also on the list is the fact that if you get caught you lose in a big way on the home front. It’s clear that FDR would have been pilloried in that isolationist environment; less clear what price the President’s party will pay for his dishonesty.

    I only pray that this story starts to develop some visibility — not because I care a huge amount about upcoming partisan outcomes, but on principle. No one should be allowed to delude themselves any longer about the honesty of this administration.

    As to the potential outcomes, I’d say that it’s only in the very very long term that we can be optimistic. Plenty of new terrorists with true propaganda to recruit more.

    Anyway, I’m a deontologist. (Look it up. Basically it means I demand principles.) And I’m steamin’!


  5. Given that it was also British intelligence that told us that Iraq had, and planned to use, WMD– I would be skeptical as to the reliability of the information. The British can write whatever opinion they like in their internal memos and can leak them to whomever they please, but this does not make them fact.

    The FDR examples posted previously point to the fact that even the cynical gaze of revisionist history cannot diminish ultimately positive results. The nature of national security decisions is to be based on facts, principles and expediency. The nature of the facts of national security is such that nobody outside of a very few peopel will ever have enough information to judge whether a decision was factually based, and whether concerns of principle and expediency were correctly assessed in light of those facts.

    Jim’s demand for principles is more than a little dodgy given his stated desire for terrorists increase their numbers through increased recruitment, so I choose to ignore it. I suspect when Jim says he demands “principles” he means “orthodox partisanship”, a line to which he seems to be cleaving closely. “RAGE!” is hardly a “principle,” nor is it a sound, reasoned moral refuge. It’s just a gut reaction, and as Democrats last time around demonstrated, an extremely ineffective political strategy.

  6. “Given that it was also British intelligence that told us that Iraq had, and planned to use, WMD– I would be skeptical as to the reliability of the information. The British can write whatever opinion they like in their internal memos and can leak them to whomever they please, but this does not make them fact.”

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    This is pure self-parody. I love it! British INTELLIGENCE is unreliable! British INTELLIGENCE is unreliable! “Oh, we can’t know what the US government thought and did! Somewhere, in a bunker, the US government could be hiding its principled and fully honest rationale — it just won’t produce it! We just can’t know these things; only a few people have all the intelligence, and we have to trust their judgments about what the intelligence says the intelligence said.

    “Pay no attention to that intelligence that said that intelligence didn’t matter! What are you going to trust — intelligence about intelligence, or publicly produced intelligence personally vetted by Colin Powell? The minutes of the meetings of the British government? Ha! Those were cooked up by the boys to throw the terrorists off the scent. They’re purely INTERNAL documents — they have nothing to do with how the government actually functions! They’re just internal!

    “Oh, what, you think this document that the British government has acknowledged as the minutes of its highest-level officials meeting can be trusted? And yet you say other documents, crayon diagrams strongly suggesting that Saddam bought a pound of uranium yellowcake in a Nigerese duty-free shop, can’t be trusted? Well, make up your mind! Can documents be trusted or can’t they? You can’t have it both ways!

    “Oh, yes, you partisan ideologues just LOVE to pick and choose your intelligence. You just cherry-pick it to suit your own ends. INTERNAL government documents describing meetings? Ha ha! You think policy is set in MEETINGS? What a naive set of good-government liberal bleeding hearts you are!

    “Oh, and I suppose you think the British had some kind of special access to the foreign-policy plans of the US early on in this process, huh? It hasn’t occurred to you that there are wheels within wheels, that the British may have been wildly deluded, deluding themselves, just like the liberals, thinking that intelligence had NOTHING to do with the decision to go to war when in fact the decision to go to war was entirely predicated on the intelligence that shows any decision to go to war could not POSSIBLY have been based on faulty intelligence. It’s really very simple, but of course if you could understand you’d probably have won the election, since voters care more about analytic rigor and competence than anything else.

    “Also, George Tenet gave the president bad information. YOU thought there were WMD in Iraq yourself, you crazy liberal flip-flopper! Didn’t you? And WHERE did you get that stupid idea? You believed it when the government told you that? Ha ha! That was foolish of you! Next you’ll be trusting that British internal documents reflect things the British actually have been told to believe through diplomatic back channels about the making of US foreign policy for which British support is needed. What a joke you liberals are!

    “And by the way, it’s clear that when you say ‘democracy’ what you really mean is ‘communistic anarchy run by Wahhabist kleptomaniacal sex fiends.’ Don’t try to hide behind your deceptive terminology. It’s just like when you claim that an INTERNAL (ha — can’t believe you think this) an INTERNAL British document could have anything to do with US foreign policy, even though US foreign policy is not only external to Britain — it’s external TO THE US ITSELF. That’s why they call it foreign! Nothing that happens inside the US can tell us anything about US foreign policy; it’s all determined by threats that the president discerns keenly from his perch with his binoculars. It’s all out there! Scary people! With plastic explosives!

    “Now honestly, stupid liberals: if this war wasn’t about WMD, why do you think we were SO painstakingly careful to protect the highly dangerous weaponry that the IAEA told us they had secured within Iraq and urged us to take good care of? There were seven hundred billion tons of Iraqi weaponry chopped up into little bits, by hand, by the Cabinet in one of their meetings. Yes, perhaps 100 tons of high-grade plastique slipped through the cracks — but you don’t understand, this is a big country. It’s not like we saw those explosives but had orders to leave it there since it didn’t serve our PR purposes, and so just kept on marching to Baghdad, or anything.

    “And another thing — it’s obvious that you don’t understand how complex our government is. There’s no possible way you can get reliable intelligence about how it works. Look how unreliable the intelligence about IRAQ’s highly primitive stockpiling system was. And do you know how many batshit ideas are stockpiled inside the US government? Tons of them! And somewhere among them, in a tiny canister, I promise you, left over from the first Bush Administration, there is a germ of an idea that bears some small inkling of promising to someday mean something about how this war was honestly promulgated and nobly pursued by the civilian leadership. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    “Presence of evidence? Proof that the government lies, and even has the audacity to TELL buddies in other governments that they’re GOING to lie in advance? Presence of evidence isn’t evidence of anything. In this dishonest political climate, in which democratically re-electable governments will deceive their peoples for years at a time, how can you trust such evidence? How can you be so naive as to think that anything in the world can possibly allow your mind to interact with the functioning of your government?

    “The nature of national security decisions is to be based on facts, principles and expediency. And what you do with those things is interact them until the first two are all gone. And then you accuse the people who ask where they went of ROOTING FOR THE TERRORISTS. What’s so hard to understand about that? Our government is quite simple, really, it operates on simple governing principles, why do you have to make everything so complicated? You’re really defensive, you liberal mudslingers!

    “I find all of this really rather dodgy, anyway, coming from a person who personally blew up seventeen Jewish babies in the process of writing his previous post to this website. I’m just sayin’ is all. He certainly cleaves closely to the opinions held by terrorists; what a partisan hack he is! He probably voted for some kind of fundamentalist warmonger to run the US government in the last election! The very notion of entrusting this great land of ours to someone that might set foreign policy on pure faith and start blowing things up without any consideration for rationally established national interests makes me sick — and this liberal gentleman unquestionably lives under such a government now! How can you trust him?”

    “We had rock-solid intelligence that said that there was no way that any intelligence later produced to suggest that the rock-solid intelligence was actually the flimsiest kind of fake plastic could possibly be anything but faulty. Do you suppose that British intelligence could possibly be superior to our highly sensitive rock-solid intelligence production backed by Colin Powell himself? I suppose you think there are certain types of people that just can’t be trusted, certain races even. Well I don’t believe that. I believe in the promise of an America in which all intelligence about intelligence can’t be trusted, while the intelligence of people who have our best interests at heart and support our troops is esteemed, as it should be, against all partisan attacks. I believe in an America in which no intelligence can undermine intelligence that had dibs on bearing some relation to reality first, and called it fair and square. That’s just simple fairness. Can’t we have an up-or-down vote among the populace as to which is truer, the intelligence itself or the intelligence that says the intelligence was false?

    “There’s your answer. Looks like you Democrats have lost another vote. Maybe someday you’ll get your facts straight so that voters can trust you. You seem to have that chronic problem with the truth, you know, and it hurts you at the ballot box.”

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