Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Iraq war: Regrets and lies

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.
The Bush criminal syndicate has been spooked up for at least three generations. Poppy Bush may be the most evil s.o.b. to ever occupy the White House, and that's saying something. I will go to my grave believing he tried to off Reagan a month after they took the oath of office, so he could sit in the big chair.

The whole operation in Iraq which has pretty much destroyed that country and which has gutted the economy of the US for the next 50 years was based on nothing but lies and deceit. As another person (currently behind bars) has said: "We hanged the wrong man in Iraq." Saddam Hussein was a criminal and a mass murderer, but not even he was guilty on a scale equal to the genocidal crimes of the Bush White House.
Klein, kleiner, am kleinsten..
.. and smoke and obscurants.
If You carefully read the article
You might see some dots.
What will sell more soap flakes the news program anchor telling us about the latest missing blond high school cheer leader or grainy video of a laser guided piece of ordinance taking out an orphanage of blind Middle Eastern children?

The print and broadcast journalists sure as hell knew the fix was in for Bush the Lesser's murder spree.

On a different note if your pet is suffering from constipation, spread out the Op-Ed pages from the New York Times or the Washington Post. Your pet will be loose in no time. I like to line the bottom of my birdcage with Maureen Dowd's screed, budgie is quite the media critic.
Anon: Are you saying the Kleins are related? Also, can you can work in a pun involving Eine Kleine Nachtmusik?
Don't forget the 16 famous words (2003 SOTU)

Here is a rare bit of non-compliance from NYT.

"Senior administration officials familiar with the writing of the speech said today that Mr. Tenet never read the draft section that dealt with the uranium before Mr. Bush delivered it in late January. However, the officials said, Mr. Tenet personally spoke with Stephen J. Hadley, the deputy national security adviser, in early October to warn against having Mr. Bush declare, in a speech about the Iraqi threat, that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy 550 tons of uranium ore in the African nation of Niger. The reference was omitted when Mr. Bush gave the speech in Cincinnati on Oct. 7.

"Administration officials had previously said that the White House was warned by the C.I.A. against mentioning the uranium issue in the Cincinnati speech. But they never before said that Mr. Tenet was a central player in that process.

His involvement indicates that both he and White House officials were aware of the doubts about the intelligence three months before the State of the Union speech."

Somehow this stopped almost no one from saying 'There is no doubt'.


I was convinced back then that there were no WMD's, and of course people thought I was nuts. Maybe it was my interest in conspiracy theories that made me doubt all the assertions from the Bush administration (having read all about their history and intel connections), but frankly it just seemed like common sense to me that a country that had been bombed by the US for the past 10 years, embargoed for almost the same amount of time, crawling with inspectors in that time frame, and still recovering from our first war with them, would not have any capability to make such weapons at all. I don't get much satisfaction about being right all this time, since too many people in this country STILL think he shipped them to Syria or wherever right before the invasion. Or, barring that, that it was all just bad intelligence and we went in for all the reasons stated and the most powerful and experienced intelligence agencies on the planet just somehow missed the obvious. Right.
I recall that the CIA was split. There were many analysts to did not believe Saddam had WMD, while another faction was pushing the story that he did. I also recall some analysts saying the Cheney and Rumsfeld were pressuring them to slant their reports to support the administration's claims. The blogs I read back then provided links to print stories that reported those claims (Walter Pincus at WaPo wrote some of those stories). But the media's job is not to connect dots or provide context. Their job is to stage a script written by their paymasters. What makes media perfidy during the Iraq run up more depressing is the knowledge that they will do it again (as they are doing with "reporting" on the "budget crisis").
911 killed Vietnam syndrome. That was a major sudden and unreversed effect.

Short-term, it provided cover for the Zionist tank invasions of West Bank cities over the next few days, which killed the obnoxious Gaza-and-casino piece of deception known as 'Oslo'.

Not even fake mea culpas in the UK. The other day, I looked over the shoulder of someone who was reading the Sun, a Murdoch tabloid in the 'tits and TV and bomb the foreigners' mould. They were running an article by Tony Blair, over a photograph of a big fire, probably caused by an explosion. Blair was saying how terribly worse things would be now if 'we' hadn't 'gone to war' against Iraq. In other words, laughing in people's faces and continuing to justify himself. The gall of this disgusting excuse for a man!

'Go to war' is a standard term now here, connoting gritty bravery in respect of British involvement in imperialist crusader wars. In modern usage, it was introduced in respect of Gulf War 3. It isn't used, or is hardly ever used, in respect of any other government's involvement in a war, such as e.g. Germany 'going to war' in Poland, or the US or USSR 'going to war' in Vietnam or Afghanistan. It is a right fuck-face's usage if ever there was one, as of course is 'we'.
Kathleen, you point to an aspect of my story which needed more work. The intelligence community aided the Great Bush Lie that got us into war, but the CIA also had to worry about its future as an institution. Tenet knew that the Agency would hold the blame bag in the end. So he tried to square the circle. The CIA issued statements which never really said that Saddam had WMDs, but at the same time they never really contradicted what the Bush story.
Joseph: "Are you saying the Kleins are related?"
Anonymous : 10:05 PM :
Have You read the article?

Have you? Ezra isn't mentioned.
You need to read col. Pat Langs piece on this. I think its the definitive account of how the intelligence was fixed around the war. Look it up on his site, sic semper tyrannis.


Thanks for that link Harry. Lots of information in one article.
DICK CHENEY, Elliot Abrams, Richard Armitage, John Bolton, Richard Perle, Stephen Bryen, Douglas Feith, Frank Gaffney, Fred Ikle, Robert Kagan, Zalmay Khalilzad, William Kristol, Michael Ledeen, Bernard Lewis, Peter Rodman, Donald Rumsfeld, Gary Schmitt, Max Singer, Casper Weinberger, Paul Wolfowitz, David Wurmser and Dov Zakheim. Bastards all.
"...If there had not been a cataclysmic event that tipped the balance, it is possible that the war party would never have won the struggle to have their point of view accepted as policy. It was the attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, that provided the neocons with the opportunity to turn dreams into reality..."

Anonymous : 6:56 PM
I have read the article, when it
was first published.
Do You remember the missing Alamos
And the subsequent transfer of
California University regentship over Alamos to Texas University?
Sometimes, the missing dots are more significant than the dots.
Missing dots are the signature of
apriory thinking.
I will leave it at that.
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