And rams them down your throat

by Henry on November 9, 2005

The title of the latest Norman Podhoretz “diatribe”:http://www.commentarymagazine.com/Production/files/podhoretz1205advance.html, approvingly linked to (surprise, surprise) by “Glenn Reynolds”:http://instapundit.com/archives/026737.php.

*Who Is Lying About Iraq?*

The short answer to this timely question: “Norman Podhoretz”:https://crookedtimber.org/2005/08/12/trahisons-des-clercs/.

Number whatever the hell it is in a series of simple answers to unnecessarily complicated questions.

Update: See also “this”:http://www.prospect.org/weblog/archives/2005/11/index.html#008302 from Matt Yglesias at Tapped. To misquote _To Kill a Mockingbird_, it would seem that the truth is not in the Podhoretzes.

{ 75 comments }

1

BigMacAttack 11.09.05 at 11:27 am

Why?

I mean

A) Norman Podhoretz’s diatribe seems mostly correct.

and

B) It really doesn’t matter.

So why? It seems to be a ridiculously narrow and so mostly pointless issue and to top it off your side of the argument is far less persuasive.

Actually, what is far worse is that it distracts from learning deeper lessons. If Bush was a liar, then we can just remove Bush, and the problem is solved.

But if systematically, we greatly over estimate these sorts of threats and respond with disproportionate force, then we have a lot to do.

I realize many folks want 1 and 2 but the sad truth is that 1, Bush is an evil, bad, liar, by undermines 2, it provides an out for reasonable people. I know people want to have their cake and eat it too, but you can’t.

2

Robin 11.09.05 at 11:41 am

Bush and co. really believed that Iraq was moving much closer to nukes?!?!? Apart from some hearsay from Wilkerson about DGSE or whatever French intel agency, Pohoretz has no evidence on that, but simply moves back and forth between WMD (broadly speaking) claims and nukes. The IAEA wasn’t buying the nukes claim in the lead up to war.

We may “greatly over estimate these sorts of threats”, but the mechanism through which we did so in this case seems to be deception.

3

JR 11.09.05 at 11:43 am

Not good enough and not what we’ve come to expect from Crooked Timber. “Podhoretz is a lying lie-face” is fun to say but doesn’t refute a single point he makes.

4

Rob 11.09.05 at 11:45 am

Refuting Podhertz is like refuting an ID proponent. Open mockery works better.

5

Martin L. Martens 11.09.05 at 11:56 am

The talking points and memes pushed by the Republicans and Right-wingers in the USA worked so well for so long that they appeared to be shocked and unprepared for a meme that goes against their world-view.

6

Jeff R. 11.09.05 at 12:09 pm

Given the distressingly high number of people who disbelieve evolution, it’s readily apparent that open mockery isn’t working better in any meaningful sense (or any sense at all other than allowing the mocker to feel better about himself…)

7

Grand Moff Texan 11.09.05 at 12:32 pm

“Podhoretz is a lying lie-face” is fun to say but doesn’t refute a single point he makes.

We already did that. We’re through with these people.
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8

abb1 11.09.05 at 12:39 pm

Is there really any doubt that they lied? No lawyering can change it, so enough already.

Yawn.

Let him defend this one, just for laughs:

http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2004_cr/s012804b.html
…I, along with nearly every Senator in this Chamber, in that secure room of this Capitol complex, was not only told there were weapons of mass destruction–specifically chemical and biological–but I was looked at straight in the face and told that Saddam Hussein had the means of delivering those biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction by unmanned drones, called UAVs, unmanned aerial vehicles.

Further, I was looked at straight in the face and told that UAVs could be launched from ships off the Atlantic coast to attack eastern seaboard cities of the United States.

Is it any wonder that I concluded there was an imminent peril to the United States?

9

russell 11.09.05 at 12:47 pm

I don’t know whether Bush “lied” to us. I don’t even know whether it was ineptitude or irresponsible zealotry that moved the administration to build a case for war at the UN that relied on intelligence the reliability of which had been internally called into question. But when a President and his VP make the case for exempting the CIA from anti-torture legislation, and when we learn that there may be CIA prisons in ex-soviet countries, I say we have a pusillanimous president.

10

nick s 11.09.05 at 12:47 pm

Dear Glenn Reynolds: please do lecture other people on political expediency. Laughter is, after all, the best medicine.

11

Henry 11.09.05 at 12:53 pm

jr – the reason I didn’t address the substantive ‘argument,’ such as it is, is that we’ve already thrashed it to death. For the argument that it isn’t a lie if you _really_ believe that there are nukes out there, see “here”:https://crookedtimber.org/2005/06/21/stitch-ups/. For the question of whether misuse of dodgy evidence on Niger uranium, lies about Iraq’s links to al Qaeda etc played an important role, see _passim_ – you can start by doing a search for ‘uranium’ (or ‘paella’). Podhoretz’s account of the Niger story meets, if it doesn’t exceed, his usual standards of dishonesty. We’re finally left with a ‘well Democrats thought that there were WMD too’ argument which to the extent that it’s true (probably true in part), is entirely irrelevant to the question of whether the Bush administration lied.

12

John Lederer 11.09.05 at 12:58 pm

One problem of many with the current argument that the Bush administration “duped” democrats by lying to them is that the Clinton administartion would be guilty of the same thing.

Substantial parts of the intelligence was wrong. That is not the same thing as lying. The investifation of that intelligence revealed that there was no pressure put on the intelligence agancies by the administration to twist their reporting.

The allegation seems to be a very unprincipled one driven more by a need for political cover than anything else.

13

Matt Weiner 11.09.05 at 1:08 pm

The investifation of that intelligence revealed that there was no pressure put on the intelligence agancies by the administration to twist their reporting.

No, there was no investigation into whether the administration pressured the agencies. Pat Roberts insisted on delaying intelligence of those questions into a Phase II report on Iraq intel, to be conducted after the election, and then refused to hold the Phase II investigation. Links.

14

Grand Moff Texan 11.09.05 at 1:14 pm

One problem of many with the current argument that the Bush administration “duped” democrats by lying to them is that the Clinton administartion would be guilty of the same thing.

Um, unless you’re saying that Bush and Clinton were president at the same time and did the same thing to support the same policy: no. “Lied us into war” refers to the present war, you know.

Substantial parts of the intelligence was wrong. That is not the same thing as lying.

Which is a good thing, since it’s not the accusation. Having been told that their information was bunk, they continued to use it. That’s called “lying.”

The investifation of that intelligence revealed that there was no pressure put on the intelligence agancies by the administration to twist their reporting.

I’m sorry, when was this investigation of which you speak? That’s right. I saw Kristol try the same trick a few nights ago. You’re either dumb enough to fall for it, or dishonest enough to use it.

See? This is what I mean by “done with these people.” They’re either ignorant or dishonest, but I really don’t care which.
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15

Grand Moff Texan 11.09.05 at 1:16 pm

Refuting Podhertz is like refuting an ID proponent.

Actually, they bear a closer resemblance to holocaust deniers.
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16

BigMacAttack 11.09.05 at 1:21 pm

Henry, It seems to you, that Bush lied like a policeman, isn’t a very convincing argument.

Abb1, that somebody else feels Bush lied isn’t exactly proof that Bush lied.

Much more importantly the issue of did Bush lie is quite irrelevant in yet another way. It really doesn’t matter if there are examples of instances where Bush clearly lied, and I don’t know of a single one. (And please remember it seems to you and hey this person also believes Bush lied don’t constitute instances of Bush lying.)

On the substantive question of did Iraq have a lot of really, really, dangerous stuff it is pretty clear that Bush genuinely thought so. He might have lied about this or that specific and that might not be, I don’t think it would be, acceptable behavior, but it is pretty clear that that on the whole on the important substantive question of did Iraq have a lot of really, really, dangerous stuff it is pretty clear that Bush(and pretty much everyone else) genuinely thought so.

And it is also pretty clear that absent whatever exaggerations and lies you imagine Bush committed, if presented with a case for war with Iraq, based upon just the stuff that was believed to be true about Saddam’s decision making and WMD, we still would have gone to War with Iraq.

And again to cackling fools who make ‘wingnuts’ look reasonable, I couldn’t care less about Bush, my issue is that Bush lied is a side issue, that detracts from the bigger issue of what the F went wrong. It is an easy out to a tough question.

17

Grand Moff Texan 11.09.05 at 1:32 pm

On the substantive question of did Iraq have a lot of really, really, dangerous stuff it is pretty clear that Bush genuinely thought so. He might have lied about this or that specific and that might not be, I don’t think it would be, acceptable behavior, but it is pretty clear that that on the whole on the important substantive question of did Iraq have a lot of really, really, dangerous stuff it is pretty clear that Bush(and pretty much everyone else) genuinely thought so.

Is that the substantive question? Considering the lack of preparation to actually meet with “a lot of really, really, dangerous stuff” in actual, you know, BATTLE (just ask the UK’s MoD) I’m not sure that your statement is adequately informed by the facts.

But it’s also not “the substantive question.” In fact, I think your focus on what Bush may or may not have believed is itself “an easy out of to a tough question.” The fact is that the occupation of Iraq was on the agenda for Bush’s WH meetings before the end of January 2001. There was a war motion before the UNSC before there was an NIE from the CIA (either version, just in case you’re wondering).

Let me spell it out: Invasion plans were prior to WMD concerns. Invasion preparations ignored the supposed WMD threat. So why in the wide world of sports are we still having this “debate”?

What the F went wrong? We failed to stop them. We continue to fail to punish them.
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18

Shelby 11.09.05 at 1:36 pm

grand moff texan:
Having been told that their information was bunk, they continued to use it. That’s called “lying.”

Your argument is bunk. I presume you will now stop using it.

The problem is, there was conflicting evidence that called for interpretation. The tricky part is to (a) set aside one’s partisanship, and (b) not use ex-post-facto information to assess pre-facto decisionmaking. The problem is that many people on both sides of this argument (assuming two primary “sides”) insist only the information that cuts their way is valid. Alas, not true.

19

goatchowder 11.09.05 at 1:41 pm

I’m getting fond of the Kunstler theory of the Iraq war: nobody lied to anybody, and we need to stop whining about it, because it misplaces the blame… and the responsibility for corrective action.

We were all (are still all?) in denial about the end of cheap oil, and so we believed whatever bullshit we needed to believe in order to justify taking over a sovereign country and take their oil. In other words, we were complicit in ShrubCo “lying” to us, because most of us here in the United States of Suburbia are still largely in denial about our addiction to oil.

Indeed, I’d like to see Libby, Rove, Cheney, and even Shrub in jail for conspiracy to obstruct justice, committing perjury, etc. But those schmucks are the symptom, not the problem. The problem is that the USA has no energy policy to speak of, and the cause of that is our violent rejection of the truth and its implications for our current “easy motoring” lifestyle.

20

Grand Moff Texan 11.09.05 at 1:42 pm

Your argument is bunk. I presume you will now stop using it.

Gee, after that refutation how could I aught else?

My reasoning is not ex post facto. I was aware of the continued use of disinformation at the time. I was also aware of a quasi-creationist vetting of such “conflicting evidence” in order to arrive at a pre-determined conclusion. In fact, I’ve already mentioned the two NIE’s. Is it possible that your grasp of the basic facts mirrors your mastery of basic logic.

Blaming “partisanship,” btw, is an attacking the bias fallacy.

I’m sorry, did you have anything substantive to say? Were you planning on starting any time soon?
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21

Grand Moff Texan 11.09.05 at 1:43 pm

I will admit to one error: I have omitted a question-mark.
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22

abb1 11.09.05 at 1:45 pm

Abb1, that somebody else feels Bush lied isn’t exactly proof that Bush lied.

Say what? Are you saying that the absurd ‘Iraqi drones attacking eastern seaboard cities’ story wasn’t a lie?

23

Shelby 11.09.05 at 1:47 pm

grand moff,

I don’t need to. You’re self-refuting.

24

Grand Moff Texan 11.09.05 at 1:48 pm

Abb1, that somebody else feels Bush lied isn’t exactly proof that Bush lied.

Say what? Are you saying that the absurd ‘Iraqi drones attacking eastern seaboard cities’ story wasn’t a lie?

No, he’s not saying that. He’s changing the subject to something totally irrelevant (i.e., someone’s “feelings”).

I wonder why?
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25

Grand Moff Texan 11.09.05 at 1:51 pm

grand moff,

I don’t need to. You’re self-refuting.

This is the sound of you continuing to argue nothing. Safer for you that way, I guess.
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26

BigMacAttack 11.09.05 at 1:58 pm

Grand Moff Texan,

Why not just provide the link? I don’t know this MoD’s phone number. If by adequate information, you mean I haven’t gulliblely swallowed every bit of minutia you are convinced supports your case, you are correct.

If you mean I haven’t read stuff like the Downing Street Memo you are incorrect.

Yes the plans pre-dated Bush. They were on the Clinton agenda. Talk about not being adequately informed.

27

Uncle Kvetch 11.09.05 at 2:02 pm

The problem is, there was conflicting evidence that called for interpretation.

The administration never acknowledged that there was conflicting evidence, nor that there was any need for interpretation. Rather, the administration went to the American people claiming that the evidence was irrefutable, incontrovertible, and in no way subject to differing interpretations.

And that was a lie.

Yes the plans pre-dated Bush. They were on the Clinton agenda.

Clinton didn’t take us to war. Bush did.

This is not a trivial detail.

My God. Sometimes it’s like trying to reason with a bunch of four-year-olds.

28

Grand Moff Texan 11.09.05 at 2:04 pm

Link, bma? In case you don’t remember, there wasn’t a single piece of Brit or Aussie armor equipped for NBC combat. US infantry was inadequately prepared for same. I’m sorry if you didn’t get the reference, but I’m not running a remedial class. Yes, you were not adequately informed. Now you are.

And if you’re going to take a Congressional statement of standing support for the removal of Saddam Hussein as being the same thing as an invasion Clinton didn’t launch (or to equate different policies based on different intel) then I think you’ve answered my question about whether you are ignorant or merely dishonest.

“Gullible”? “Minutia”? If you need to wave your hands like that then you really haven’t brought anything to this fight, have you?
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29

BigMacAttack 11.09.05 at 2:05 pm

Abb1,

You have the burden of proof not me.

At this point, I think it is entirely plausible, that Bush more or less believed such nonsense.

And again this or that lie really doesn’t matter.

On the crucial question of did Saddam have a bunch of really bad stuff? It appears Bush (and almost everyone else) honestly thought so. See the Downing Street Memo.

Despite Grand Moff Texan’s vague(vague is being polite) assertions and dot connecting about this and that WMD attack preparation.

30

Grand Moff Texan 11.09.05 at 2:05 pm

My God. Sometimes it’s like trying to reason with a bunch of four-year-olds.

Playing dumb and changing the subject to issues of tone are really the only spider-holes they have left. Poor dears.
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31

Grand Moff Texan 11.09.05 at 2:10 pm

It appears Bush (and almost everyone else) honestly thought so. See the Downing Street Memo.

Ah, that would explain why the intel had to be “fixed,” right?

Despite Grand Moff Texan’s vague(vague is being polite) assertions and dot connecting about this and that WMD attack preparation.

This is neither a complete sentence, a summary of the statements being referred to, nor an argument.

Were you planning on making one?
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32

BigMacAttack 11.09.05 at 2:19 pm

‘Clinton didn’t take us to war. Bush did.

This is not a trivial detail.’

Actually given the context it is a completely trivial detail. The discussion isn’t should we have gone to war?, the discussion is did Bush believe Iraq had a bunch of really, really nasty stuff?

That Clinton had a plan to invade, indicates that both Clinton and Bush, thought the answer to this question was yes.

33

Brendan 11.09.05 at 2:27 pm

Watching Blair’s performance on Channel 4 news tonight (‘I am right. Everyone else is wrong. Right right right I tell you.’) I could well believe that he (and Bush) had managed to persuade themselves that Saddam really was the threat that they said he was. Who gives a shit? Hitler genuinely believed that the Jews and the Bolsheviks were in charge of a global conspiracy to destroy Germany. Stalin seems to have genuinely believed that the people he murdered were guilty. So what?

The key point is not what they believed, but whether their views corresponded to the facts, which, we now know (in all three cases) they did not.

Or is the much stronger (and false) claim that ‘everyone’ believed that Saddam had WMD’s also being alluded to?

Incidentally, could someone tell me what Clinton’s plans to invade Iraq were? I mean the detailed plans that must have existed if he really had such a plan. Troop numbers, battle plans: that sort of thing.

34

abb1 11.09.05 at 2:27 pm

Well, I agree that it is entirely plausible that Bush more or less believed such nonsense, but who cares? Somebody was running the show. Somebody was leaking nonsense to the newspapers to escalate fearmongering. Somebody had to dig out those Iraqi exiles, bathe them, shave them, and feed them to Judy Miller. Someone did it, someone in Bush’s administration. Nixon was drunk all the time, but it didn’t help him get off the hook.

35

Grand Moff Texan 11.09.05 at 2:31 pm

That Clinton had a plan to invade, indicates that both Clinton and Bush, thought the answer to this question was yes.

Non-sequitur. There are all kinds of contingency plans for all kinds of policy reasons. Consider the present plans for Syria: what do they “prove”?

Again, Clinton pursued a different policy based on different intelligence (spies among the weapons inspectors). The Bush administration, conversely, tried to shut down the weapons inspection regime from day one.

Why? Why repeat bogus claims about blue tubes and yellow cake? Why present an international consensus on Iraq’s WMD that didn’t exist? Why cite the presense of an international terrorist among Saddam’s enemies in the mountains and whom Bush had decided not to kill as a “connection” between Saddam and terrorism? Why stovepipe bogus intel to a pliant member of the press? Why if not to lie?

They weren’t just lies, they were howlers.

Again, not everyone was dumb enough to fall for this stuff at the time, so it’s no use pretending that everyone else is indulging their hindsight just because something is news to you.
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36

John Quiggin 11.09.05 at 2:32 pm

BMA some new information arose in late 2002 and early 2003. UN inspectors were readmitted, went to the sites nominated by intelligence, and found nothing.

Bush and Blair responded by presenting new, fabricated evidence which managed to convince most people that there was a real threat.

37

BigMacAttack 11.09.05 at 2:33 pm

Grand Moff Texan,

So you accept the Memo’s summary that the

‘the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.’

But you reject the memo’s clear implication that the adminstration clearly believed Saddam possesed WMD

‘For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.’

You are quite a creative/selective reader.

38

Grand Moff Texan 11.09.05 at 2:35 pm

Well, I agree that it is entirely plausible that Bush more or less believed such nonsense, but who cares?

And when, exactly, is he supposed to have formed this belief? Was it before or after he discussed invading Iraq in 1999? Was it before or after his State Department publically declared that Iraq wasn’t a threat even to its neighbors?
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39

Grand Moff Texan 11.09.05 at 2:42 pm

You are quite a creative/selective reader.

No, I am familiar with that sentence, bma, you can fabricate all the triumphs and gotchas your fragile position needs. In fact Saddam used chemical weapons before, so it’s no wonder people would entertain such speculation. Your reading, of course, has to ignore that fact in order to assign a special meaning to it.

Weak.

But if you’re going to argue that ‘what if…’ = ‘Saddam has…’ then by all means: knock yourself out. In fact, that’s what you’d be doing.

Yes, the intelligence and facts HAD to be fixed around the policy because they were inadequate to recommend that policy. Funny how my interpretation accounts for both statements but yours requires a special reading of one. And I’m supposed to be the selective reader? Please keep projecting your selective readings on me. Right now, it’s the only thing you’ve got going for you.

I had been under the impression that this site was frequented by academics.
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40

abb1 11.09.05 at 2:45 pm

And when, exactly, is he supposed to have formed this belief?

He doesn’t exactly seem like an analytical type. I suppose his adviser or his ‘gravitas’ VP tells him every morning what the truth is today and that’s it. Why do you think he’s aware of what his State Department declares or what the State Department is for that matter.

41

Grand Moff Texan 11.09.05 at 2:48 pm

Why do you think he’s aware of what his State Department declares or what the State Department is for that matter.

You’re right, it was an unwarranted assumption on my part.
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42

BigMacAttack 11.09.05 at 2:51 pm

John Quiggin,

So? Bush was looking to make a sale. I am not denying that. Clinton/Gore whoever might or might not have decided to invade. (Clinton, much too his credit, has been very good about stating, that his administration pretty much shared Bush’s threat assessment regarding Saddam.)

But at very least there is strong possibility that they would have given the believed information. And even if Bush had played it ‘straight’ he would have made his sale.

What? Another team always makes such narrow judegement calls correctly? Nonsense. Perhaps( I doubt it) but just perhaps that one call. But not over and over again.

So what placed us in a position where at best we are relying on a very narrow judgement call. What is wrong with us and our systems that we ended up in such a place?

That seems to me to be the bigger more interesting question. And Bush lied is a distraction from it.

43

abb1 11.09.05 at 3:06 pm

And Bush lied is a distraction from it.

To end the distraction and concentrate on the important stuff, let’s just agree that he did.

44

Grand Moff Texan 11.09.05 at 3:06 pm

Clinton, much too his credit, has been very good about stating, that his administration pretty much shared Bush’s threat assessment regarding Saddam.

Yes. They were the same. Clinton just didn’t need to exaggerate selected portions of it in public after being told not to by his own intelligence services in support of an invasion he didn’t undertake.

Other than that: peas in a pod.

Previous teams had, in point of simple fact, made this narrow judgment call correctly, so we don’t need to speculate.

As for the notion that Bush would have made the sale without the straining of the evidence that you are now apparently conceding (unless I misread you earlier), this is wrong. There was no majority support for the invasion of Iraq until the shooting actually started. Moreover, much of what minority support there was was based on the widespread but mistaken belief that Saddam was responsible for 9/11.

The problem with us and our systems is that they were not able to compensate for a knot of individuals hell-bent on a policy that was both unjustified AND ill-conceived. Making this sale, as you put it, is not a distraction. It’s why we’re here now.
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45

BigMacAttack 11.09.05 at 3:07 pm

‘For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.’

Failed the SATs. What a shame.

‘You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait.’

See the speculation in the above paragraph is about how he would use his WMD. It is accepted that he, ‘his WMD’, has WMD, and it is accepted by the Defence Secretary.

Your semantic hand waving will have to be better than that.

46

Grand Moff Texan 11.09.05 at 3:15 pm

I’m sorry about your SAT’s, bma, but you’re still equating speculation with certainty.

This deficiency of your reading would certainly explain the poor quality of your offerings here.

I have now indeed done better than “semantic hand waving,” and you have yet to contruct an argument on this thread.

Wanna see it again?
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47

Uncle Kvetch 11.09.05 at 3:17 pm

BMA, may I politely suggest you channel your energies into something a little more constructive? More specifically…

it’s time for The Road to Damascus! And your country needs you! So stop wasting your time on this thoroughly worn-out and irrelevant discussion of Iraq, and get your warmongering on! Whatever you can find, related or unrelated! Smoking guns! Aluminum tubes! Mushroom clouds! It’s all good! “True”? “False”? Those are pussy words! There will be plenty of time for that later, once Our Boys are being showered with rose petals by a grateful liberated nation!

48

Grand Moff Texan 11.09.05 at 3:26 pm

Mushroom clouds. I especially enjoyed that one.

BMA has yet to explain why, if the adm so fervently believed in the threat of WMD in Iraq, they failed to prepare for it. Strange how my interpretation not only accounts for the whole of the content of the documents bma is trying this very moment to don as a fig leaf, it also does not require ignoring the facts, deeds, and outcome of the invasion itself, which have in the meantime taken place in something sometimes referred to as “the real world.”

I also don’t need to alternate between denying and conceding that the truth was stretched to meet a particular end. That’s because I actually know what I’m talking about. I find it helps.

I suspect, uncle kvetch, that this is indeed the most constructive use to which he can put his modest talents: an unceasing rearguard action to delay the inevitable realization that he was fooled and we weren’t. He can pretend to want to get the bottom of what went wrong, but so long as he has to avoid the importance of misinformation in this whole affair, he’ll continue wandering in the wilderness.
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49

Grand Moff Texan 11.09.05 at 3:32 pm

I await the return of the quibbling inadequacy who calls himself bigmacattack.

Where O where can he be?
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50

BigMacAttack 11.09.05 at 3:49 pm

Grand Moff Texan,

Again the speculation is about how he would use his WMD not about if he had them. Either CT comments readers are smart enough to see that or they aren’t. At this point there is nothing more I can say that will change that.

Please, remind me of time, when after a massive terrorist attack on US soil, Clinton was faced with the decision of invading Iraq.

What was that Senate vote again?

Again your say so that they failed to prepare for WMD attacks on US troops doesn’t really convince me. Let alone the following jump from any such imagined failure to proof positive Bush didn’t believe Saddam had WMD. Why not just provide a link?

Uncle Kvetch, I am pretty sure Abb1 and Grand Moff Texan are trolls who don’t believe 1/2 of what they say. But I worry that you really do only see in caricature vision.

As I have repeatedly stated in the past, I was never really on the war bandwagon, and I am not now. (Are you or have you ever been a war supporter? Don’t bother answering commie, we know your a liar.)

51

Grand Moff Texan 11.09.05 at 3:51 pm

Hello? BMA?

Crap, and I was having so much fun repeatedly answering the same question you kept having to ask because you couldn’t accommodate the results with your doomed position.

Hell, I was even willing to overlook how many data points I had presented that you couldn’t respond to, just to watch you twist on those subjects where you had actually thought you could make a stand.

And now I have to be away from the computer for a while.

Crap.

Oh, well. Don’t disappoint me! Please have some nice retreads of old talking-points for me to fisk when I get back. The slaughter continues apace.

regards,
-GMT
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52

Uncle Kvetch 11.09.05 at 4:24 pm

NY Times, November 6, 2005:

A top member of Al Qaeda in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to newly declassified portions of a Defense Intelligence Agency document. […] 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.

You know this as well as I do, BMA. And you know I could supplement the above with a dozen more examples of “the facts being fixed to fit the policy” in about 10 minutes. And somehow I’m the “caricature.”

Breathtaking.

53

BigMacAttack 11.09.05 at 4:44 pm

Uncle Kvetch,

I am sorry have you read and comprehended anything I have written in this thread?

Really?

I mean you do realize that I am not particularily concerned with debating if Bush lied and whether or not Bus lied isn’t central to any claims I am making?

(Though again no one has really written anything that convinces me Bush lied.)

So ok Bush lied. He is big fat mean liar man. Ok.

Now that doesn’t change anything. He (and so did pretty much everybody including the CIA and Clinton) still truly believed Saddam had lots of very bad stuff.

(Or is your claim that Bush knew Saddam didn’t have WMD? GMT siddles up to it but won’t say it.)

Based on the accepted intelligence, not the stuff Bush made up, the decision to go to war, following 9/11, was at best a very narrow judgement call. Clinton toyed with the idea prior to 9/11.

My question is what is wrong with us and our systems that such a high probability of going to war would exist.

My contention is that Bush lied distracts from this question. Just look at this thread.

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John Lederer 11.09.05 at 5:03 pm

For those of you arguing that there has been no investigation of whetehr pressure was put on the intelligence community to “flavor” their analysis to support the administration. There are two reports currently available: The Senate Intelligence Committee Report and the report of The commission headed by the former Secreatry of Defense under Clinton.

The Senate Report had as its “jurisdiction” these questions:
* the quantity and quality of U.S. intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programs, ties to terrorist groups, Saddam Hussein’s threat to stability and security in the region, and his repression of his own people;
* the objectivity, reasonableness, independence, and accuracy of the judgments reached by the Intelligence Community;
* whether those judgments were properly disseminated to policy makers in the Executive Branch and Congress;
* whether any influence was brought to bear on anyone to shape their analysis to support policy objectives; and
* other issues we mutually identify in the course of the Committee’s review.

During the investigation the following issues were added for “Phase II”:

* the collection of intelligence on Iraq from the end of the Gulf War to the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom;
* whether public statements and reports and testimony regarding Iraq by U.S. Government officials made between the Gulf War period and the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom were substantiated by intelligence information;
* the postwar findings about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and weapons programs and links to terrorism and how they compare with prewar assessments;
* prewar intelligence assessments about postwar Iraq;
* any intelligence activities relating to Iraq conducted by the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group (PCTEG) and the Office of Special Plans within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; and
* the use by the Intelligence Community of information provided by the Iraqi National Congress (INC).

The critical finding in Phase I, agreed to unanimously (including Carl Levin and other critics):

“TERRORISM PRESSURE CONCLUSIONS

(U) Conclusion 102. The Committee found that none of the analysts or other people interviewed by the Committee said that they were pressured to change their conclusions related to Iraq’s links to terrorism. After 9/11, however, analysts were under tremendous pressure to make correct assessments, to avoid missing a credible threat, and to avoid an intelligence failure on the scale of 9/11. As a result, the Intelligence Community’s assessments were bold and assertive in pointing out potential terrorist links. For instance, the June 2002 Central Intelligence Agency assessment Iraq and al-Qaida: Interpreting a Murky Relationship was, according to its Scope Note, “purposefully aggressive” in drawing connections between Iraq and al-Qaida in an effort to inform policymakers of the potential that such a relationship existed. All of the participants in the August 2002 coordination meeting on the September 2002 version of Iraqi Support/or Terrorism interviewed by the Committee agreed that while some changes were made to the paper as a result of the participation of two Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy staffers, their presence did not result in changes to their analytical judgments.”

Chairman Roberts has subsequently stated:

As part of a report released last year by his committee that found widespread intelligence failures on Iraq’s weapons capabilities, “we interviewed over 250 analysts and we specifically asked them: ‘Was there any political manipulation or pressure?’ Answer: ‘No,’ ”

2. Phase II of the report is not yet released and is rancorous. Part of the delay has been non-coooperation by the DOD after murmurs were made that it had illegally conducted intelligence operations. Part of the delay was a fierce squabble when the Republicans introduced some 500 statements to be “assessed” with the authors unidentified. Some were by democratic senators and former administration officials. The Democrats vigorously protested having to assess the statements without authors identified.

55

Uncle Kvetch 11.09.05 at 5:12 pm

I am sorry have you read and comprehended anything I have written in this thread?

Apparently, up to now I had read, but not comprehended. Now I finally understand where you’re coming from: “Maybe Bush knowingly took the nation to war on the basis of falsehoods, and maybe he didn’t. Who really cares?” Am I getting warmer?

No, what’s really important to you is:

My question is what is wrong with us and our systems that such a high probability of going to war would exist.

Well, I guess that’s where we part ways. See, if I were asking “How did we end up in this mess?” my first inclination would be to focus on the words and deeds the people who led us into war against Iraq, not “our systems,” and not Bill Clinton, who, as has been repeatedly pointed out, did not lead us into war against Iraq. For instance, you might ask why not just one but several members of the administration continued to peddle “information” from someone they knew to be a fabricator, in the pursuit of their agenda.

Unfortunately, you seem to have already ruled that line of inquiry out, and decided that responsibility for the godawful clusterfuck that is American foreign policy, 2001-2005, must be placed at the feet of someone other than George W. Bush and his advisors. And all I can say to that is, good luck with your search: I’m sure one day you’ll find the real killer, and then we’ll all be sorry.

Based on the accepted intelligence, not the stuff Bush made up, the decision to go to war, following 9/11, was at best a very narrow judgement call.

It was not presented as a very narrow judgment call. It was presented as a slam-dunk, irrefutable, incontrovertible, etc. etc. The people were repeatedly told that the administration “knew” (not “believed”) things to be true at the very same time that there were any number of highly knowledgeable people casting very serious doubt on those things.

While I don’t for one second believe that Iraq was a “judgment call” for Bush–given the evidence that he and the people around him wanted this war and would do whatever it took to get it–I agree with you on one thing, BMA: In the abstract, it would be a much nicer world if we could somehow guarantee that no President would ever have to make narrow judgment calls on life-or-death issues. That way, we wouldn’t be in nearly as much danger every time some smirking, incurious halfwit stumbled his way into the highest office in the country.

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BigMacAttack 11.09.05 at 5:27 pm

Uncle Kvetch,

My fault. Thank you for your courtesy.

I think the notion that our institutions aren’t hollow suits, that the character of the men, starting with the president, who make up those institutions is important, is a very conservative one. So I certainly understand your point of view.

I am not trying to blame the war on Clinton. I just feel that given the circumstances and Clinton’s documented dealings with Iraq, that there is a very real probability, 25%? – 75%? a Clinton or Gore or whoever would have gone to war. Which leads me to believe the issue is less related to Bush’s lack of character and more a systematic issue.

57

Daniel 11.09.05 at 5:49 pm

56 comments, crikey. I am a) a welshman and b) in the financial industry. Both of which give me a tendency toward a certain bluntness of manner. Hence, forgive me for making the following rather simplistic point.

They weren’t fucking there, were they?

d’you know, there are some industries in the land where if you get things badly wrong and it costs 85 billion dollars, you lose your job? Not government, obviously.

58

Doctor Slack 11.09.05 at 6:52 pm

I just feel that given the circumstances and Clinton’s documented dealings with Iraq, that there is a very real probability, 25%? – 75%? a Clinton or Gore or whoever would have gone to war.

Yeah, I highly doubt it. The Cheney Administration had to publicly dismantle, intimidate, browbeat and circumvent its own bureaucracy and intelligence community to an extent that bespoke a near-psychotic commitment to the Iraq adventure. It weathered unprecedented broadsides and expressions of doubt from within its own party and even from within the serving military in order to make the invasion a reality. It exposed itself to serious legal jeopardy (though perhaps unwittingly so, in that they didn’t foresee an actual non-partisan prosecutor getting past the Justice Department) the better to silence dissenting voices.

I, for one, find it difficult to imagine a Democratic administration going to all of that trouble to invade Iraq. This is not, of course, to say that there weren’t serious and systematic problems with America’s Iraq policy before Cheney. And of course, the fact that the Cheney Administration was able to happen in the first place bespeaks pretty serious problems with the US political system that will need addressing. But Operation: Mission Accomplished was not, in fact, a logical and near-inevitable continuation of what went before it, and I don’t think it’s helpful to frame it that way.

59

Ted H. 11.09.05 at 7:02 pm

Yglesias (in the linked post): “But surely if there’s any justice on earth we can all agree that you can’t cite an article that calls Bush a liar as evidence that he did nothing wrong.”

Matt is guilty of fallacious reasoning here. Of course you can (reasonably, honestly, etc.) cite something that condemns X for being an F as evidence that X is not an F. In citing an author you needn’t be relying on the author’s entire argument. The bit of Pollack’s discussion on which Podhoretz was relying does not include the conclusion that Pollack drew.

(If his article had been put forth in an academic context, we could fault Podhoretz for not demonstrating that he understands the full text that he cites. But Commentary is not an academic forum, and Podhoretz’s article is clearly not meant as a contribution to scholarship.)

I agree with Henry and most others here that the Bush administration lied in some of the arguments that it made for war (primarily about the Saddam/alQaeda connection, I believe, less so about WMD). But our — anti-Bush, anti-this-war — side is not well served by the promiscuous and irresponsible use of the term ‘liar’ that these posts, both Henry’s and Matt’s, exemplify.

(Since I’m not party to it, I’ll not comment on whether the other side is well served by its equally irresponsible rhetoric. I had hoped that we wouldn’t sink to that level.)

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Grand Moff Texan 11.09.05 at 7:35 pm

John: red herring. Findings not in keeping with the predetermined conclusion were simply ignored.

Thank you for playing.
.

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Grand Moff Texan 11.09.05 at 7:44 pm

Or is your claim that Bush knew Saddam didn’t have WMD? GMT siddles up to it but won’t say it.

The above statement is so fraught with illogic and problems of its evidence that I would not say it. How would I know that he knew that something was not? What would evidence of that look like?

My position is that WMD were not part of the thinking behind the policy, they were merely part of selling the policy. The actions of this administration bear that out, so I don’t need to speculate about what they believed, nor do I need to whine about tone. Being familiar with the subject means that I don’t have to change it.

Oh, and when we ever get around to investigating the role of the OSP and INC, I will be very interested to see what Mr. Lederer has to say.

In the meantime, those responsible for what’s happened in Iraq must be punished. For now, that’s what’s wrong with our systems.
.

62

BigMacAttack 11.09.05 at 9:52 pm

Real quick.

The notion that Bush needed to intimidate the CIA int believing that Saddam had a lot f serious stuff doesn’t pass the laugh test. Not CT’s lame and over used laugh test but a real laugh test.

And finally provide the fing link. No? Didn’t think so troll.

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Doctor Slack 11.09.05 at 10:50 pm

BMA: Damn, you were actually looking half-reasonable there for a second. Better not be throwing around the word “troll” too freely, given the silliness you just engaged in.

Here’s a little hint: ask yourself where I said, above, that “Bush needed to intimidate the CIA into believe that Saddam had . . . serious stuff.” If you don’t see that phrase or its equivalent anywhere, take a deep breath ask yourself if maybe you should be asking me more specifically what I meant instead of kicking over a convenient straw man. Who knows, if you do this I might even give you some links! You like links, don’t you?

64

BigMacAttack 11.09.05 at 11:27 pm

Here yea go –

‘Yeah, I highly doubt it. The Cheney Administration had to publicly dismantle, intimidate, browbeat and circumvent its own bureaucracy and intelligence community to an extent that bespoke a near-psychotic commitment to the Iraq adventure.’

Yea you didn’t actually say intimidate. Heck you didn’t even type it but you did type browbeat and circumvent its own intelligence community.

Pardon me if I summarized that as intimidate. What ever was I thinking? How horrible unfair of me.

65

Doctor Slack 11.09.05 at 11:40 pm

Yea you didn’t actually say intimidate.

No, I did actually say “intimidate,” as part of “dismantle, intimidate, browbeat and circumvent.” So “intimidate” wasn’t the silly part. Try again.

(Hint #2: the phrase “bureaucracy and intelligence community” might not be simply interchangeable with a specific agency you mentioned in your post.)

66

Terry 11.10.05 at 1:48 pm

Say — has anyone on this thread actually read the Iraq War Resolution? You know, the authorization from congress (JR 114) that allowed Bush to actually fight the war?

67

HP 11.10.05 at 4:03 pm

Here’s my question: I’m not particularly well educated (I have a bachelor’s degree in music), nor do I have access to any classified information. I’m not obsessive about politics or international affairs, and spend no more time on the news of the day than the average college graduate. In 2002, I took it upon myself to learn a little bit about Iraq. Over the course of a few months I read a few broad (article length) histories of modern Mesopotamia, and I skimmed the various articles in the news media and linked from various blogs about Iraq’s weapons capability. I read some interviews with weapons inspectors and other experts. I came to the conclusion, based on publicly available information that any layperson could understand, that Saddam had no significant WMD capabilities, and that whatever trivial capacity he had did not constitute a threat to the United States.

In other words, I was right.

My question is, how is this possible? To go by what I keep hearing from the pro-war apologists, a rational person would not have come to the same conclusion I did. And yet I was right on all the facts, and all the rational people were wrong. Was it merely a lucky guess on my part? Because it didn’t feel like a guess; it felt like a reasoned, informed conclusion. How is it possible that my delusions correspond to reality, and the hawks’ reasoned analyses correspond to fantasy?

68

abb1 11.10.05 at 4:52 pm

Why do you hate America?

69

Steve Burton 11.10.05 at 4:57 pm

hp: without knowing which particular “histories,” “articles” and “interviews” you read, and which ones you did not read, and without knowing what particular preconceptions you brought to the task, it is, quite obviously, impossible to tell whether or not you just got lucky.

Did you, by any chance, undertake a similar course of study at the time of the first Gulf War, and did you, by any chance, conclude that, at that time, Western intelligence agencies had grossly *underestimated* Iraq’s WMD capabilities? I mean, before everyone else discovered the same thing?

If so, perhaps the C.I.A. (or somebody) should hire you.

If not, perhaps not.

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derrida derider 11.10.05 at 7:15 pm

hp’s right. To swallow the admin’s line took *wilful* ignorance – that is what I absolutely cannot forgive war supporters for. That and the abuse directed at anyone who said the emperor had no clothes – “treason”, “idiotarian”, “Islamo-fascist fellow traveller”, “objectively pro-Saddam”, etc. (though of course the abuse simply highlighted the strength of the abusers’ will to believe).

To those who supported the war, the best way you can atone for it is to boycott Rupert Murdoch’s media, to vote the war criminals out, and to be deeply, deeply suspicious of politicians who try to manipulate your patriotism and your fears.

71

John Quiggin 11.11.05 at 4:42 am

Steve, no-one much did any study of Saddam’s WMD capabilities at the time of the first Gulf War since the casus belli was the Saddam had invaded Kuwait.

I don’t know if hp examined the issue at the time, but if so, I suspect he concluded that Saddam had indeed invaded Kuwait.

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John Lederer 11.11.05 at 2:20 pm

Hp.

I think you reasoning would prove that Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Jaques Chirac, Gerhard Schroeder, the UN inspectors, Tony Blair, John Kerry, William Cohen, Nancy Pelosi, Tom Daschle, George Tenet, Joseph Lieberman, Joseph Biden, Sandy Berger, Madeline Albright and assorted others were all irrational hawks.

All concluded that Saddam had WMD programs BEFORE G.W. Bush was president and presumably had the ability to work his wicked seductive delusions upon them.

Or is the question one of becoming anticipatorily duped?

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Uncle Kvetch 11.11.05 at 2:50 pm

All concluded that Saddam had WMD programs BEFORE G.W. Bush was president and presumably had the ability to work his wicked seductive delusions upon them.

True. However, by the time Bush was making the case for regime, the evidence on which all of those people had based that conclusion had been cast into serious doubt, if not completely disproven. And even after the inspectors went in and cast further doubt on the evidence–they found nothing, remember?–Bush continued to present the case to the American people as a slam dunk, a case of incontrovertible fact.

But I suppose Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Jaques Chirac, Gerhard Schroeder, the UN inspectors, Tony Blair, John Kerry, William Cohen, Nancy Pelosi, Tom Daschle, George Tenet, Joseph Lieberman, Joseph Biden, Sandy Berger, Madeline Albright would have done exactly the same thing in Bush’s shoes, and gone ahead and invaded Iraq anyway.

At least I think that’s what you’re saying.

My head hurts.

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Uncle Kvetch 11.11.05 at 2:51 pm

“the case for regime change,” that is

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HP 11.11.05 at 3:29 pm

John, thank you for answering my question. Apparently, hawks are people who rely on politicians to tell them what to think. “Oh, please tell me what to believe, authority figures! I’m so lost without my political leaders to tell me which side of the issues I’m on!”

Something on this thread smells like stale urine.

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