Everyone's talking about Ezra Klein's apologia
for supporting the Iraq misadventure. The Atlantic makes a game
out of it. BooMan
apologizes for not being more vocal in opposition. Salon
argues that Twitter would have given non-hawks a stronger voice. (I doubt that.)
What bugs me about Klein's mea culpa is that it -- like the war itself -- is based on a lie. Shrift requires a ruthless honesty; if you're going to maintain a hoax, no absolution for you. To understand what I'm getting it, allow me to reprint a few paragraphs from Klein's piece. He references Kenneth Pollack, author of The Threatening Storm
and the former "go to" guy for liberal-ish hawks:
The lack of WMDs, Pollack continued, was a “complete surprise.” The intelligence community -- with the exception of United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter -- was simply wrong.
In a retrospective for Foreign Policy, Stephen Hadley, Bush’s national security adviser, said, “It never occurred to me or anyone else I was working with, and no one from the intelligence community or anyplace else ever came in and said, ‘What if Saddam is doing all this deception because he actually got rid of the WMD and he doesn’t want the Iranians to know?’ Now, somebody should have asked that question. I should have asked that question. Nobody did. It turns out that was the most important question in terms of the intelligence failure that never got asked.”
Of course, it wasn’t asked. “Everybody knew” that Hussein had WMDs.
Here's the most annoying bit:
But to Pollack, the Bush administration’s failures were also a shock. “Early on especially, I looked at this administration and I really thought it was my daddy’s Bush administration.
Yeesh. Is it really true that, ten years ago, Americans paid attention to should-we-go-to-war commentary written by a couple of youngsters who think of Poppy Bush as a president of their fathers'
generation? Shouldn't fetuses like Pollack and Klein gain a little
more maturity before we bestow any importance on their words?
That may be the real lesson of the Iraq debacle: Toss out all advice from commentators who lack grey hairs. Ten years ago, we needed to hear from some influential greybeards who might have reminded people of how LBJ ramped up the Vietnam War based on the Tonkin Gulf fraud. Nowadays, we've seen the ascendance of one group of jackass kids who consider themselves Der Supermen because Atlas Shrugged
went straight to their underdeveloped little heads, while another group of jackass kids ruined the Occupy movement by insisting on "consensus" and "leaderless rebellion" and other ideas with a long track record of failure. The world would be a safer place if everyone under 40 were forbidden from expressing an opinion on any topic other than pop culture, sex or food.
If Baby Ezzie and Lil' Kenny had asked their elders about Daddy Bush, they would have known that Poppy was never anything but a devious, deceitful asshole. If memory serves, CIA veteran Miles Copeland once referred to him as "one covert motherfucker." Hell, the assassination of Letelier back in the 1970s should have taught the world to regard the Bush label the way one would regard an opaque brown bottle bearing the image of a skull and crossbones.
What we got from Dubya was precisely what we should have expected: A massive fraud perpetrated by the intelligence community.
And that brings me to the lie at the heart of Klein's piece. He stands with those who keep saying that the intel community "got it wrong." No, they got it right. Their job was to gin up a war the old-fashioned way: By paying a small cadre of pundits to repeat brazen government fibs. The spook battalions accomplished this task with admirable efficiency.
Here's the part Klein and his kin won't tell you: The spooks weren't deceived -- they were deceivers.
Fresh evidence is revealed today about how MI6 and the CIA were told through secret channels by Saddam Hussein's foreign minister and his head of intelligence that Iraq had no active weapons of mass destruction.
Tony Blair told parliament before the war that intelligence showed Iraq's nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programme was "active", "growing" and "up and running".
A special BBC Panorama programme tonight will reveal how British and US intelligence agencies were informed by top sources months before the invasion that Iraq had no active WMD programme, and that the information was not passed to subsequent inquiries.
It describes how Naji Sabri, Saddam's foreign minister, told the CIA's station chief in Paris at the time, Bill Murray, through an intermediary that Iraq had "virtually nothing" in terms of WMD.
Sabri now denies the Panorama account, but plenty of evidence backs up the claim. Panorama is hardly a haven for conspiracy theorists.
The programme says that MI6 stood by claims that Iraq was buying uranium from Niger, though these were dismissed by other intelligence agencies, including the French.
It also shows how claims by Iraqis were treated seriously by elements in MI6 and the CIA even after they were exposed as fabricated including claims, notably about alleged mobile biological warfare containers, made by Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, a German source codenamed Curveball. He admitted to the Guardian in 2011 that all the information he gave to the west was fabricated.
There have been any number of articles indicating that George Tenet comprehended that Dubya was set on using lies to start a war. Contrary to popular belief, CIA never got into the conga line of people shouting "Beware of Saddam's WMDs!" Throughout 2002 and 2003, every official statement from the Agency on that topic was carefully hedged. The parsed language provided a mega-humungous clue as to what was really
going on; we didn't need the Downing Street Memo to get the picture. Back in 2003, lots of well-informed people (not
just Scott Ritter) warned the world that Bush was going after Iraq for reasons that had nothing to do with WMDs.
Hell, the Downing Street Memo itself upends Klein's contention that the intel community got it wrong. By this point, everyone should know by heart the key line from that memo: "But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.
" There's a world of difference between intel that is fixed
and intel that is wrong
Ezra Klein: You and your fellow apologia-writers will get the forgiveness you seek -- the moment you start telling the goddamned truth