Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 28, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

WHAT'S THERE TO TALK ABOUT?....George Tenet says no one in the White House ever had a serious conversation about whether invading Iraq was a good idea. Dan Bartlett says they had plenty of them. James Fallows isn't buying:

I say plainly: that is a lie. To be precise about it, no account of the Administration's deliberations, by anyone other than Bartlett just now, offers even the slightest evidence that this claim is true. Innumerable accounts offer ample evidence that it is false. I have asked this direct question to many interviewees who were in a position to know: was there ever such a meeting or discussion? The answer was always, No. The followup challenge to Bartlett should be: show us a memo, show us a policy paper, show us a scheduled meeting, show us notes taken at the time to substantiate the idea that the Administration ever seriously considered what the nation would gain or lose by invading Iraq, and what the alternatives might be. What the Administration actually considered, according to all known evidence, is how it would invade Iraq, and when.

Goodness. So shrill. Come on, Jim, it was only a trifling little Mideast war. Wouldn't a "memo," as you so quaintly call it, have been rather a lot of overkill?

Kevin Drum 4:14 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (87)

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Comments

Finally, someone calling these people what they are--liars. They lie reflexively. They don't even care if the evidence is against them and everyone can can tell they're lying--they still lie.

Posted by: Joel on April 28, 2007 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Fallows has some clout. He has sources. For him to use the word lie is enormously bad for the administration. Things are slowly turning.

Posted by: Mudge on April 28, 2007 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, can't you just call up Mr. Bartlett and ask him to provide the proof? A response or a lack of it should clarify everything. Why is it so hard?

Posted by: gregor on April 28, 2007 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

gregor, since what Bartlett is claiming is contradicted by everyone how has investigated the matter, it is up to him to provide some proof.

Or are you of the view that the Bush administration never lies?

The idea there were deliberations is just rediculous. By early 2002 it was clear just about everyone that the White House had made up its mind to go to war.

Posted by: bobo the chimp on April 28, 2007 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

All the discussions took place in the PNAC.

Posted by: chance on April 28, 2007 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

bolo

I understand this. Just have it come from the horse's mouth.

Posted by: gregor on April 28, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

What? Should we really expect a lame press to report more than the "Did, too!" "Did not!" smackdown between a lame administration & its lame former intelligence chief? Wake me when this one is over.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on April 28, 2007 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

What was it Gonzalez said? Decisions were made, but nobody actually made them?

SOP, I guess.

Posted by: Grumpy on April 28, 2007 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Bartlett just gets out there and spews forth the ridiculous "rebuttals" that never ring true.
He's the official in charge of emesis--spitting out the talking points as the administration mishandles governance, if they do governance at all.
I am watching a replay of Tuesday's House Commerce Subcommittee's much needed meeting on food contamination and inspection. Why do we need gluten from China?
The democrats are actually performing tasks of governing as the administration seeks to wage war--the Bush and Dick war.

Posted by: consider wisely on April 28, 2007 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Chance: All the discussions took place in the PNAC.

My good fellow... you are forgetting Cheney's secret energy commission.

These guys thought they would be controlling Iraq's oil flow from barrel to barge. Sort of like how Jetro Clampett often thinks he has a got a great idea too...

Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAO on April 28, 2007 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Just have it come from the horse's mouth.

But it's Dan Bartlett you're talking about here - an entirely different end of the horse.

Posted by: Stranger on April 28, 2007 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone who has ever worked in the White House Communications office is a liar. Why is that?

Posted by: undecided on April 28, 2007 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Soon as they produce the "memo" demanded, a forensic ink analysis should immediately be performed because it will be a ginned up fake made yesterday.

Posted by: bmaz on April 28, 2007 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

"what the nation would gain or lose by invading iraq"

why would they discuss that? the war was never about this nation. it's all about george, dad, power and the gop, never, never about this nation.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on April 28, 2007 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

LOL. I love it when you're sarcastic, Mr Drum.
As low an opinion as I've held of the Bushites since they rolled into Austin umpteen years ago, the notion that they didn't even debate the wisdom (or folly) of invading Iraq boggles even my mind. It's perfectly plausible, I suppose, but just so damn scary.

Posted by: jussumbody on April 28, 2007 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

". . . show us . . . that the Administration ever seriously considered what the nation would gain or lose by invading Iraq, and what the alternatives might be."

That can't be shown because the only thing considered was what would Bush, Cheney, and the Republicans gain or lose by invading Iraq. The hell with this nation and the American people.

Posted by: Mazurka on April 28, 2007 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

the meetings were cheney's secret energy meetings.

Posted by: linda on April 28, 2007 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Chance has it right. All the discussion took place in the 90's among PNAC members. And ROTFLMLiberalAO, Cheney was a member of that group, if I remember correctly (how could he not have been?) and the whole group had long ago decided that 'preemptive' war was the way to go to secure US energy needs well into the 21st C.
Remember Rumsfeld all set to attack Iraq on 9/11?
That's why I tend to think that Bush isn't just 'stalling' in getting out of Iraq. These guys still want their prize and will stay in Iraq until they can think of a way to get it. I just hope that Democratic candidates (deep down) don't share the same worldview, particularly HC and her 'residual' force idea.

Posted by: nepeta on April 28, 2007 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

The only hope is that the congressional democrats continue to expose scandals and lead the progressive policy changes; the year will move quickly and these bozos will be in their final throes.
Recall the billboard "Thanks!!-- from Halliburton. Sorry about your kids."
That will be the legacy of this administration

Posted by: consider wisely on April 28, 2007 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

Serious conversations in the White House?

How about:

"What are you benching, buff guy?"

That's as deep as Stupid goes....

Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAO on April 28, 2007 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

The eight minutes that elapsed after Andy Card whispered, "America is under attack" and the FEMA videoconference call after Katrina tell you all you need to know about George W. Bush's management skills and ability to reason through alternative courses of action - he has none. He is a retard. Impeach him.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on April 28, 2007 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

..the notion that they didn't even debate the wisdom (or folly) of invading Iraq boggles even my mind. It's perfectly plausible, I suppose, but just so damn scary.

You are right to be afraid, jussumbody.

There was no internal debate on 'whether'.

We know from the attempts -- while Ground Zero was still burning -- to connect that attack to Iraq that it was a done deal.

If the WTC still stood today, some other Iraqi 'provocation' would have been ginned up, probably just in time to salvage the 2002 mid-term elections.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on April 28, 2007 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

If I recall correctly PNAC is really just Perle or whoever was the one dude who was really behind it mailing out a form letter requesting support from like-minded individuals.

Most of the discussions, I think, take place on golf courses and those kinds of places, among friends and to children growing up- they just learn that it's a neat idea having the military go and kick the asses of a bunch of poor brown people we don't respect and they don't learn to think of things like consequences- as long as we're doing something like that, it's better than not. That's the attitude, I think.

It's really kind of a bland distinction, I guess- there are a lot of established neocon thinkers that have been writing in foreign policy journals for a while and a lot of right-wing oriented research groups, as I'm sure you all have heard of, but my point is just that PNAC isn't actually someplace you walk into, like a non-profit big lobbying organization- if I'm correct.

Posted by: Swan on April 28, 2007 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

You're right, Swan. PNAC is not a 'place.' It's a group who came up with a 'Project.'

Posted by: nepeta on April 28, 2007 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, sh*t, I didn't know PNAC had a web site! Now I've got to go read some of it. Guess I'll start with the Middle East. There's a map of the globe on the first page with points of interest to PNAC. Here's the link if you're so inclined to do the same:

PNAC Web Site

Posted by: nepeta on April 28, 2007 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

The US invasion of Iraq was about as noble and well thought out as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Our occupation has been equally successful.

Posted by: anciano on April 28, 2007 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

So I just read a piece by Jim Lobe that says PNAC closed its 'shop' in Jan, 2005 because its mission had been accomplished. Interesting. Lobe says an obit in the Washington Post was in order.

Posted by: nepeta on April 28, 2007 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

That can't be shown because the only thing considered was what would Bush, Cheney, and the Republicans gain or lose by invading Iraq. The hell with this nation and the American people.

Bush is casting about, trying to save his legacy... If he had one breath of honest humanity in his body, he'd be able to see the best way forward for the country: withdraw the US forces, then resign.

Instead, he stubbornly sends more men and women to their deaths, rather than face his responsibility.

Never was a leader, never will be. Just a selfish little fuck from a family of selfish little fucks. And that is the legacy he will leave, because he's too small to sacrifice himself.

Posted by: Wapiti on April 28, 2007 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

Nepeta, my point isn't that PNAC isn't a place, it's that I heard that it's not even realy an organized group of people. It was (if it's really closed) more like Rudy Giuliani's fake firefighter group- one guy mailing a request to other people to sign his petition, sort of. You might have a letter signed by Cheney in PNAC's name in the '90s, but did he ever do anything for them? Or did he just endorse an opinion they put out when they asked him to? That's what I'm talking about. There's a lot of talk of a lot of people being in PNAC, but from what I read or heard it was more like one guy with a very detailed opinion about things, asking other guys who agreed with his conclusion to help him promote it in a really low-effort way, although the other guys may not have thought at all about all the details / come to the same conclusions on the details as the organizer did. Neoconism is one thing for the intellectuals behind it, but for a lot of conservatives who support it, it might be something more just like racial prejudice.

Posted by: Swan on April 28, 2007 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

I say we take off, and nuke the GOP from space. It's the only way to be sure.

Posted by: craigie on April 28, 2007 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

Strangely, Cheney's name isn't on the letter to Clinton that was drafted by Wolfowitz for the PNAC:

Letter to Clinton

Maybe Cheney had some doubts, as he did in a rare moment of clarity when asked in 1991, about why Saddam wasn't taken out in 1991:

ABC This Week

Cheney replied: "I think for us to get American military personnel involved in a civil war inside Iraq would literally be a quagmire. Once we got to Baghdad, what would we do? Who would we put in power? What kind of government? Would it be a Sunni government, a Shia government, a Kurdish government? Would it be secular, along the lines of the Baath party, would it be fundamentalist Islamic? I do not think the United States wants to have U.S. military forces accept casualties and accept responsibility of trying to govern Iraq. I think it makes no sense at all."

I don't believe oil was the primary reason for the likes of Wolfowitz & Rumsfeld, but perhaps the prospect of Iraqi oil fields did convince someone like Cheney that Iraq would be a worthwhile venture.

Posted by: Andy on April 28, 2007 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

C'mon, you guys!

You really need to ask yourself, why anyone who takes himself or herself seriously would bother with such trifles, especially over over a little overseas escapade that was:

* Called a "slam dunk" by the then-CIA Director (or by a White House with a then-63% approval rating -- take your pick) prior to its then-celebrated commencement in March 2003;

(Wow. I made it sound almost ceremonial -- do you think maybe I could get a job working for Mr. Rove?)

* Characterized as a "piece of cake" by then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz;

* Predicted by the then-Defense Secretary, Field Marshal Donald von Rumsfeld, to last "[w]ho knows? Six days, six weeks -- I doubt six months";

* Declared over and "Mission Accomplished" by President George W. Bush four years ago next Tuesday, on nationwide TV from the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln; and

* Finally described as "in its last throes, as it were" by Vice President Dick Cheney about eighteen months ago?

I mean, really. Just think about it -- what could possibly go most horribly motherfuckin' WRONG!!!, when such fine and upstanding adults as these aformentioned outstanding specimens of American manhood are in charge?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii, BBQ-ing his pound of neocon flesh on the hibachi on April 28, 2007 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Andy- I was throwing his name out as an example, but I wasn't sure and I didn't bother to check.

Yeah, it's interesting.

Posted by: Swan on April 28, 2007 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I think what happened w/ Cheney was this:

A guy like Cheney tends to have a better idea off the top of his head what the reality, militarily, of a situation is than do liberals. When people were calling for Baghdad to be occupied in Gulf War I they were just wrong. Now, Cheney just kind of changed his mind and saw things as he wanted to see them, and liberals who get a better idea of a situation when they turn their minds to it figured out that conquering Baghdad would be a bad idea.

Posted by: Swan on April 28, 2007 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

Andy,
Do you know who else is missing from that letter? Shooter, Scooter and Jeb are all missing from the letter you quoted. What they aren't missing from is the Statement of Principles. That was the biggie. You'll notice the lead signitore is Bill "William the Bloody" Kristol. A great group of people, eh?

Posted by: Joe Klein's conscience on April 28, 2007 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

So that's why liberals aren't hypocrites for recommending that more be done about Iraq and its human rights abuses in the past, prior to the second Gulf War. They didn't know it would turn out bad because they hadn't thought about it enough; all they knew was it looked bad and like we were abandoning the Kurds.

Posted by: Swan on April 28, 2007 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

"I don't believe oil was the primary reason for the likes of Wolfowitz & Rumsfeld, but perhaps the prospect of Iraqi oil fields did convince someone like Cheney that Iraq would be a worthwhile venture." - Andy

When people, like Noam Chomsky, speak of oil as the motivation for the Iraq war, they're not talking about a war for oil, in the small sense of going to war for US oil company profits (although that appears to be a consequence in most scenarios). They're saying that Iraq is a natural resource war, a war aimed at protecting and controlling ME oil. Here's Chomsky in a 2007 Foreign Policy in Focus interview:

"It’s very hard to predict the Bush administration today because they’re deeply irrational. They were irrational to start with but now they’re desperate. They have created an unimaginable catastrophe in Iraq. This should’ve been one of the easiest military occupations in history and they succeeded in turning it into one of the worst military disasters in history. They can’t control it and it’s almost impossible for them to get out for reasons you can’t discuss in the United States because to discuss the reasons why they can’t get out would be to concede the reasons why they invaded.

We’re supposed to believe that oil had nothing to do with it, that if Iraq were exporting pickles or jelly and the center of world oil production were in the South Pacific that the United States would’ve liberated them anyway. It has nothing to do with the oil, what a crass idea. Anyone with their head screwed on knows that that can’t be true. Allowing an independent and sovereign Iraq could be a nightmare for the United States. It would mean that it would be Shi’ite-dominated, at least if it’s minimally democratic. It would continue to improve relations with Iran, just what the United States doesn’t want to see. And beyond that, right across the border in Saudi Arabia where most of Saudi oil is, there happens to be a large Shi’ite population, probably a majority.

Moves toward sovereignty in Iraq stimulate pressures first for human rights among the bitterly repressed Shi’ite population but also toward some degree of autonomy. You can imagine a kind of a loose Shi’ite alliance in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, controlling most of the world’s oil and independent of the United States. And much worse, although Europe can be intimidated by the United States, China can’t. It’s one of the reasons, the main reasons, why China is considered a threat."

Chomsky, Foreign Policy in Focus, Feb. 16, 2007


Posted by: nepeta on April 28, 2007 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

If Bartlett wants to convince us that they had many substantive discussions, perhaps he could release all the relevant e-mails.

Posted by: N.Wells on April 28, 2007 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK

Bartlett is a Republican. Therefore he lies. Logic 101.

Posted by: della Rovere on April 28, 2007 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK

"Strangely, Cheney's name isn't on the letter to Clinton that was drafted by Wolfowitz for the PNAC:"

Not so strange, I don't think. Cheney had been Secretary of Defense under Bush I, who decided against an invasion of Iraq in the Gulf War. I think that explains why his signature isn't on the Clinton letter and also why he appeared to be so smart in those 1991 interviews. He was supporting the policy decisions of Bush I, The Smarter.

Posted by: nepeta on April 28, 2007 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

Swan,

I think PNAC was much more organized and much more powerful than you suppose. I'll leave it at that.

Posted by: nepeta on April 28, 2007 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

Reading upthread, I guess I am a little surprised.

The same names keep popping up all over the place, so if you haven't yet connected the Heritage Foundation, AEI, PNAC, The Weekly Standard and more together....

Just follow the names and the money. Cheney, Perle, Wolfowitz, Kagan, Kristol, Yu, etc., etc. You can't miss it if you look. They all have web sites, and they all list their trustees, members, associates, benefactors, and the rest.

This administration has performed for this extra-government body. The masons could learn from this crowd. The difference is that it is all out there in reports, papers and the Weekly Standard's "letters" and updates, etc.

As a group they're as dangerous as their paranoia leads them to believe the "enemy" is.

Posted by: notthere on April 28, 2007 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

here's a nice quote:

From Dana Priest's February 12, 2003 story in the Washington Post.

begin quote:

CIA Director George J. Tenet, questioned about the value of ongoing inspections by the United Nations, said there is "little chance you'll find weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq unless Hussein cooperates with inspectors. On the other hand, Tenet said he would expect U.S. troops "will find caches of weapons of mass destruction, absolutely," were they to invade the country.

If the United States decides not to go to war with Iraq and instead waits on inspectors, Hussein will continue developing weapons of mass destruction, Tenet said. "He will continue to strengthen himself over time," he said. "It never gets any better with this fellow, and he's never been a status quo guy."

Tenet also elaborated on the CIA's understanding of Iraq's link to al Qaeda, a central issue in the administration's case for going to war against Iraq in the near future, as opposed to waiting months longer for the U.N. inspectors to do more work. Tenet described Abu Musab Zarqawi, the main character in the administration's case that Iraq is working with al Qaeda now, as it had not done in the past, as a "senior al Qaeda associate." Zarqawi sought medical care in Baghdad, has met with Osama bin Laden, has been financially supported by al Qaeda and has taken "sustenance" from Iraq. But Zarqawi, he pointed out, is not under the control of Hussein.

endquote

The U.S. debated the war from 1991 until the invasion in 2003.

Wasn't this part of the debate?

Also, isn't the word "absolutely" pretty consonant with the phrase "slam dunk" -- but applied here to the actual weapons, not a presentation of them?

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on April 28, 2007 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

"This administration has performed for this extra-government body. The masons could learn from this crowd." - notthere

Haha. You do have a way with words. And I couldn't agree more with what you say.

Posted by: nepeta on April 28, 2007 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

Tenet is a traitor. Hans Blix said that Saddam WAS cooperating well with inspections. I want that Medal of Freedom back!

Posted by: nepeta on April 28, 2007 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

more debating points from the past:

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) September, 2002): “[Saddam] has ignored the mandates of the United Nations, is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them.”

Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WV), October, 2002: “There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons. And will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years.”

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), March, 2003: “Bill, I support the president's efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein. I think he was right on in his speech tonight. The lessons we learned following September 11 were that we can't wait to be attacked again, particularly when it involves weapons of mass destruction. So regrettably, Saddam has not done the right thing, which is to disarm, and we're left with no alternative but to take action.”


Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), September, 2002: “Saddam Hussein, in effect, has thumbed his nose at the world community. And I think that the President's approaching this in the right fashion.”

The idea that there was no debate is absurd.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on April 28, 2007 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

MatthewRMarler --

First Feb '03 puts Tenet in the thick of the "lie and convince the US public" mode.

Second, (back in October, I think) US intelligence, via the State Dept., also told Blix they would lead him to the weapons. He chased around on their leads, all to no avail. Obviously the US never wondered why?

Third, if you are outright lieing or your present assessment is completely incorrect, whether in fact of weapons or your opponent's state of mind, making predictions about the future is likely to wrong also; in fact, could only be correct by luck, not judgement.

Fourth, the al-Qaeda link has been so thoroughly debunked that Tenet's assertion runs counter to the CIA's own specialist, showing that Tenet was standing in the administrations poop up to his eyebrows.

Fifth, it may have slipped your mind, the Downing Street Memo, the report from MI6 (UK CIA) to the Prime Minister -- following top-level meetings in Washington -- evaluated that the US was set on war no matter what in September 2002.

Sure, the would-be-king was going to give honest intelligence appraisal a chance. Sure.

Believe what you want but I have never been able to misunderestimate the kid-idiot and his cronies. They are always able to sink lower than I can imagine.

Posted by: notthere on April 28, 2007 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

Those statements don't sound like 'debate' to me. Aren't there supposed to be two sides in a debate?

Posted by: nepeta on April 28, 2007 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

Marler,

The original post states that Tenet says no one in the White House ever had a serious conversation about whether invading Iraq was a good idea; Bartlett refutes Tenet's statement. Fallows calls Bartlett a liar.

You trot out the names of 4 Democratic Senators. What do their statement prove regarding actions inside the White House?

Posted by: Wapiti on April 28, 2007 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

MRM --

...has ignored the mandates of the United Nations....

If by mandates he meant resolutions (I hope he did as I don't think the UN has given Iraq a mandate to do anything), then, of course, one has to point out the many, many UN resolutions ignored by others, espacially Israel. No prob there, of course.

...unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons....

Poor old Rockefeller was regurgitating what the administration had told him and given him access to. I seem to remember back then a stream of complaints, at least from the Dems and especially Rockefeller, about the paucity of briefings and information. Either way, he had no independent evidence.

For anybody who voted yea on the War Powers resolution (which, despite what Republicans want to claim now, is not a direct vote for war), all you are pointing up is that Bush set out to dupe all he could -- the legislature and the public -- and, to a great extent, succeeded.

The whole of Congress should be a metaphorical lynch mob at this point. So should all those who have lost loved ones. And so should all the rest of us.

Posted by: notthere on April 28, 2007 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

matthewrmarler, read what kevin wrote, why doncha? the question is whether there was an internal debate/discussion/serioius conversation.

the idea that we had a public "debate," by the way, is deranged: how can you even try out such a ridiculous remark?

Posted by: howard on April 28, 2007 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

MatthewRmarler: The idea that there was no debate is absurd.

Yes there was public debate, but that's not the point.

One would expect some evidence of deliberations within the administration addressing the question "Should we invade Iraq...?" before--or at least concurrent with--addressing the question of "When we invade Iraq...?"

Fallow's and Tenet's assertion is that there was no serious deliberation within the administration addressing the first question. The record appears to support their assertions.

Posted by: has407 on April 28, 2007 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

what howard said... note to self: remember to reload page before posting

Posted by: has407 on April 28, 2007 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

nepeta & howard, both, thanks for the reminder.

Perhaps a better term would be a considered appreciation as to the facts as they stand, the possibilities of actions, and the range and probability of outcomes and effects.

Not as concise as debate, but that's what was needed. Now, if some Defense/State dept. professional had said that, I guess the preznit's eyes would have glazed over before it was half way through, brain would have shut down, and he'd be back to the dreamworld where he is "The Uniter". No! "The War Preznit." Wait! "The Decider."

Well, doesn't really matter what as long as he sees crowds of people cheering and waving flags, and all for him.

In his mind's eye.

Oh, and god by his side.

Posted by: notthere on April 28, 2007 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

The original post states that Tenet says no one in the White House ever had a serious conversation about whether invading Iraq was a good idea; Bartlett refutes Tenet's statement. Fallows calls Bartlett a liar.You trot out the names of 4 Democratic Senators. What do their statement prove regarding actions inside the White House?

You'll have to forgive Matt, he has a little difficulty following the nuances of an argument. I guess you can only engage in full blown cognitive dissonance for so long before it melts your brain.

Statistically speaking.

Posted by: trex on April 28, 2007 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

CIA Director George J. Tenet, questioned about the value of ongoing inspections by the United Nations, said there is "little chance you'll find weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq unless Hussein cooperates with inspectors. On the other hand, Tenet said he would expect U.S. troops "will find caches of weapons of mass destruction, absolutely," were they to invade the country.

Tenet could've just wanted us to invade. If you weren't sure at all there were actually WMD but you were all about securing the oil from the Shias as Chomsky described in nepeta's excerpt, you would have said we won't find WMD (because you would prove yourself wrong if you said otherwise) if Saddam doesn't do more to cooperate with the UN, but you would say sure we'll find the stuff if we invade.

Just rationale to reach a result.

Posted by: Swan on April 28, 2007 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

Swan: Tenet could've just wanted us to invade.

Tenet shouldn't get that much credit for having an opinion or a backbone. He allowed himself and the CIA to be bent beyond reason in support of the administration's agenda.

Posted by: has407 on April 29, 2007 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

Has everyone seen the Olberman that is up on C & L? The Senate Intelligence Committee knew four years ago that there were no WMDs but they let the neocons launch an illegal war anyway.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 29, 2007 at 12:30 AM | PERMALINK

BGRS -- Durbin said the much the same in June 2003; from The Selling of the Iraq War -- The First Casualty:

Graham and Durbin had been demanding for more than a month that the CIA produce an NIE on the Iraqi threat--a summary of the available intelligence, reflecting the judgment of the entire intelligence community--and toward the end of September, it was delivered. Like Tenet's earlier letter, the classified NIE was balanced in its assessments. Graham called on Tenet to produce a declassified version of the report that could guide members in voting on the resolution. Graham and Durbin both hoped the declassified report would rebut the kinds of overheated claims they were hearing from administration spokespeople. As Durbin tells TNR, "The most frustrating thing I find is when you have credible evidence on the intelligence committee that is directly contradictory to statements made by the administration."

... Five of the nine Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, including Graham and Durbin, ultimately voted against the resolution, but they were unable to convince other committee members or a majority in the Senate itself. This was at least in part because they were not allowed to divulge what they knew: While Graham and Durbin could complain that the administration's and Tenet's own statements contradicted the classified reports they had read, they could not say what was actually in those reports.

Posted by: has407 on April 29, 2007 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK

I know. But it doesn't make me any less angry. I draw a parallel between their maintained silence and an officer who obeys an illegal order. Maybe I'm wrong to do so, but that's how I see it.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 29, 2007 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK

As soon as I read BGRS' piece on Durbin and went to read/see, I was thinking about all those meetings that were "for your eyes/ears only' briefings and I was thnking that you could still come outof those meetings and say "All is not as it seems. I voting against." That should have been enough to convince at least your own party members.

So what was said and to whom?

I'm with BGRS. So now we know: senators have no more backbone than flag offices. It's endemic.

What to do?

Posted by: notthere on April 29, 2007 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

Durbin voted against the resolution. That exposed him politically as much as anything else he might have said or done, and was the ultimate action, short of resigning or breaking the law (as he interpreted it)--especially as he was one of the few SSCI members with access to the classified reports. If that wasn't enough to make people think twice--especially fellow SSCI members--I'm not sure what would.

Posted by: has407 on April 29, 2007 at 2:24 AM | PERMALINK

I like to think that I would have stepped up, proclaimed out loud, and suffered the consequences. (But Derbyshire thinks he would have tackled a psychotic gunman who fired 170 rounds in 9 minutes, too...)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 29, 2007 at 3:19 AM | PERMALINK

You'll have to forgive Matt, he has a little difficulty following the nuances of an argument. I guess you can only engage in full blown cognitive dissonance for so long before it melts your brain.


Since the U.S. debated the issue for 10 years, the lack of a debate inside the White House wouldn't be that disturbing to me, especially not the absence of a memo outlining the pros and cons, which were already well rehearsed.

But is Tenet credible on this issue? He told everyone that Iraq had WMDs, and after the Pres had given speeches listing multiple goals for an invasion Tenet told him to focus publicly on the WMD threat.

In the summer of 2002 the administration had telegraphed its intention to invade Iraq (don't forget, this course of action had been urged upon him by John Kerry, among other Democrats, who advocated transfer of resources and attention from Afghanistan to Iraq), and was actively preparing the invasion. Objections to the invasion were publicly enunciated, including some enunciated in the Congress when the vote was taken; all the Congressmen and Congresswomen who voted in opposition explained why.

Within the Lincoln administration there was no debate about recognizing the confederacy or invading it: Lincoln refused to recognize and insisted on invading, and that was about it. There were a few mildly conciliatory early overtures by Seward, and Lincoln quickly overruled them, and reunification by force was the only policy. Similarly in WWII, the only debates within the FDR administration were about details; there was no doubt from the start that the goal was conquest.

Back to the more recent past, Sens. Kennedy and Byrd called for a long debate in Congress, but got only a short debate.

The U.S. had the debate. That there was little debate within the Bush administration was not a flaw. There were other flaws, but that was not one of them.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on April 29, 2007 at 3:22 AM | PERMALINK

George Tenet says no one in the White House ever had a serious conversation about whether invading Iraq was a good idea.

Is Tenet credible? His story is that he helped Bush sell a case to the American public when he believed it to be false. But he is on record elsewhere in 2002 as claiming that Iraq certainly had WMDs. He seems to be prevaricating about what he actually believed and told the president at that time, while simultaneously confessing to a wrongful act.

That's a curious strategy. His book apparently omits almost everything from the summer of 2001, except one meeting with Rice, in which his current story contradicts his sworn testimony to Congress given during their investigation. For someone who now claims to have been so concerned with al Qaeda at the time, he was complacent about the Arabs taking flying lessons. FBI agents knew, and Tenet knew; but upper management at FBI overruled the agents, and Tenet never let upper level FBI know. Was he waiting for Bush to order him to tell the FBI, or take some other effective action?

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on April 29, 2007 at 3:39 AM | PERMALINK

mrm: Was he waiting for Bush to order him to tell the FBI, or take some other effective action?


is gwb the decider?

or not?

Rice Received Al Qaeda Warning Before 9/11 - State of Denial - Bob Woodward 10/3/06


"All right. You've covered your ass, now." -President Bush 8/6/2001 to a CIA briefer who informed him of the P.D.B. titled - “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”

Posted by: mr. irony on April 29, 2007 at 5:51 AM | PERMALINK

The U.S. had the debate. That there was little debate within the Bush administration was not a flaw. There were other flaws, but that was not one of them.

The U.S. did not have the debate. The public did not consider invading Iraq in the 1990's. Iraq was contained, as many generals will tell you. Dick Cheney himself closed the book on an invasion in 1991. Invading Iraq was not even a remote possibility.

And when the Bush administration put out false WMD claims and tied Iraq to 9/11 to scare people into an invasion, the public still wanted to avoid an invasion with inspections. The British, the Germans, CIA agents, Scott Ritter, the IAEA and others all refuted the WMD claims -- and STILL there was no debate within the White House on whether to invade.

That Bush planned an invasion was a foregone conclusion. He told his would-be biographer and longtime family friend before he was elected that he intended an invasion of Iraq to gain "political capital" and not be a one-term president like his father. O'Neill and others said finding a way to invade Iraq was an "obsession" from the first week in office -- no debate, just an obsession. One of the documents from the Cheney energy meetings was a map of Iraqi oilfields and companies who would be interested in developing them. Rumsfeld told his aides to "sweep it up massive" to try and find any way to tie Iraq to 9/11, much to their chagrin as they knew Iraq was not the culprit.

Invading Iraq was plan one of this administration from the get go. There was no need for debate because the plan was based on an agenda, not intelligence or threats.

Posted by: trex on April 29, 2007 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

"That there was little debate within the Bush administration was not a flaw."

I wrote up a long post responding to this bit of inanity but in the end I discarded it as simply unnecessary. The statement is so self-fisking, so supremely idiotic, that it requires no action on my part.

For goodness sake, Matthew, review the history of this war, the shutting out of the State Department, the "stovepiping" of the intelligence, the refusal to consider worst-case scenarios, the refusal to consider the side-effects, the refusal to plan for the aftermath, the refusal to listen to the experts in the field, the refusal to listen to other countries, the refusal to listen to the generals and military experts, the pressure on intelligence analysts, the silencing or belittling of all opposing voices, both internal and external, and on and on, ad nauseam.

The fact that there was no real debate inside the Bush administration was the single biggest flaw in this whole catastrophic experience. And you have the sheer gall to pretend otherwise? The mind boggles at the cluelessness of that remark.

Posted by: PaulB on April 29, 2007 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Dec 14 04'. GT you do not get a pass when you stood next to Bremer and Tommy Franks and smiled prettty for the cameras as gb awarded you "the highest civilian honor", the pResidential Mdal of Freedom.

As my mother could not bring herself to even consider buying anything written by Robert McNamar, I feel the same way about a growing list of former governement officials trying to cash in on their "but, but I didn't agree" books.

You should have done something when you had the opportunty. Your loyalty was horribly misplaced.

Tim

Posted by: Tim on April 29, 2007 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Tenet shouldn't get that much credit for having an opinion or a backbone. He allowed himself and the CIA to be bent beyond reason in support of the administration's agenda.

Whoa, that's one way of putting it. Couldn't it be he just wanted the same things they wanted?

Posted by: Swan on April 29, 2007 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Couldn't it be he just wanted the same things they wanted?

Possibly they were in concert. So? That makes it even worse for him.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 29, 2007 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

"Possibly they were in concert"

Yeah, and all thought they were playing "The 1812 Overture" instead of the "Unfinished Symphony".

Posted by: thethirdPaul on April 29, 2007 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

paulb says most of what needs to be said, but let us also encourage matthew to disabuse himself of the ridiculous notion that we had a "debate" between 1991 and 2003 about whether to invade iraq.

no, we most assuredly did not. wherever do you get such foolish ideas?

Posted by: howard on April 29, 2007 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

The fact that there was no real debate inside the Bush administration was the single biggest flaw in this whole catastrophic experience.

Ayup. In the Army we used something called the Military Decision Making process to analyze different courses of action and then to continue on to formulate a plan. You could speed up the process or slow it down, depending on the amount of time you had. But if you just skipped steps like "analyze the courses of action," things typically went south.

When the commander decides on a course of action like "invade Iraq, overthrow Saddam, and ..." all subordinates assume that the commander and his staff have determined that the course of action is feasible. The problem is, Bush and his staff never figured out the ... part of "invade Iraq, overthrow Saddam, and ..." And if you don't know what "..." is, how can you know whether it's feasible?

And now men and women die every week, for nothing except Bush's pride, because that debate, thought process, whatever, was seemingly never done by our national leadership.

Posted by: Wapiti on April 29, 2007 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

paulb says most of what needs to be said, but let us also encourage matthew to disabuse himself of the ridiculous notion that we had a "debate" between 1991 and 2003 about whether to invade iraq.

Hell, even many of the lawmakers who voted for the AUMF understood it to authorize force ONLY if there was a direct need to defend the United States.

Barring that, there was never any public debate about invading Iraq for hegemonic reasons, to improve the president's poll numbers, or just to while away a lazy Sunday.

Posted by: trex on April 29, 2007 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

here's a good quote from Yahoo! news:

For the first time, Tenet offers an account of his own view of a historic moment in the run-up to war: Secretary of State
Colin Powell's February 2003 speech before the
United Nations, with Tenet sitting just behind him.

"That was about the last place I wanted to be," Tenet recalls. "It was a great presentation, but unfortunately the substance didn't hold up," he says of the performance, in which Powell charged Iraq had WMD stockpiles.

"One by one, the various pillars of the speech, particularly on Iraq's biological and chemical weapons programs, began to buckle," he writes. "The secretary of state was subsequently hung out to dry in front of the world, and our nation's credibility plummeted."

Tenet helped prepare Powell's performance. What does he mean it was the last place he wanted to be? If he now says that he didn't want to publicly support a presentation that he helped to prepare, why does he also say that it was a great presentation?

Tenet comes out of these self-descriptions seeming kind of pliant, passive, and indecisive. In his public utterances he always seemed certain that Iraq was an actual ("gathering", though not "imminent") threat.

PaulB: For goodness sake, Matthew, review the history of this war, the shutting out of the State Department, the "stovepiping" of the intelligence, the refusal to consider worst-case scenarios, the refusal to consider the side-effects, the refusal to plan for the aftermath, the refusal to listen to the experts in the field, the refusal to listen to other countries, the refusal to listen to the generals and military experts, the pressure on intelligence analysts, the silencing or belittling of all opposing voices, both internal and external, and on and on, ad nauseam.

According to Tenet he was passing along information about worst case scenarios and all that. "Silencing or belittling" opposing voices is an obvious acknowledgement that the opposing voices were in fact voiced; in fact, opposing voices made their way into tv and radio every day, and into web pages and congressional testimony. The only thing actually lacking in the way of debates was something like Debate Day, like a college debate, where at the end of the day there is a score and the "pro" side and the "anti" side get points. There was, for example, the "large invasion" vs. "small invasion" debate, and the decision was for the small invasion; it's hardly the case that opposing views were not aired -- the issues of supply and speed of movement favored the small army. There was a debate about disbanding the Iraqi army: the issues of corruption of the officer corps (bribes from criminal gangs) and loyalty to the Baathists supported disbandint the army. It's hardly the case that these points were not raised at the time. Details of occupation/reconstruction were debated, with different proposals supported by DoD and State, with lots of ideas proposed by stateside Iraqis who went over there to help. There is no aspect of this war that wasn't debated, inside government and outside government, persistently, before and after decisions were made.

Another note about Tenet's quote. He said that he never heard a "serious" debate. It would be interesting to know his definition of "serious", and his recollections of some "unserious" debates that he heard. This is the guy, after all, who helped the President of the U.S. prepare a "slam dunk" case that Iraq had WMDs because he knew that's what the President wanted; and who did so after publicly saying that Iraq had WMDs for sure. That was perhaps his best opportunity to contribute a serious comment, and he was either dishonest or he just blew it completely. In his telling, he doesn't seem to have regarded intelligence as a basis of action, but merely something to be bandied about. And he did that after Congress had granted Bush the authority to go to war. Tenet contributed actively to building support for the invasion. Didn't he know that's what he was doing? He is one who sounds unserious.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on April 29, 2007 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Six years of lying liars! Nothing new here! cleve

Posted by: cleve on April 29, 2007 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK
...Tenet contributed actively to building support for the invasion....MatthewRmarler at 5:41 PM
Tenet is a loyal Bushie. That's why the Medal of Freedom. That's why his criticism mainly goes to Cheney and Rice. However, this part of his story confirms statements by Paul O'Neill and Richard Clarke; The planning for war began after 9-11, but without serious discussion of the probable outcome and necessity for such a war. No, there is no doubt. Bush wanted war and he was determined to have it. He believed that being a war president was the way to being a successful president. Posted by: Mike on April 29, 2007 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Larry Johnson at noquarter.com and others sent a too little/too late notice to Tenet worth reviewing.
Tenet is responsible for sending people's kids to their death, and damn well it should weigh heavily on his mind.
As I said too, Tenet's story supports other voices from the administration, as Mike posted above, and that remains the positive feature.
It exposes an imperial presidency full speed ahead

Posted by: consider wisely always on April 29, 2007 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

Mike: Tenet is a loyal Bushie.

Curious thing to say about a Clinton appointee. He briefed the Congress before Bush was elected President, and before Bush began mobilizing American forces for the invasion of Iraq.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on April 29, 2007 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

There is no aspect of this war that wasn't debated, inside government and outside government, persistently, before and after decisions were made.

No, you're just asserting that's the case. You haven't provided any evidence of that and you're simply ignoring the evidence to the contrary, including numerous eyewitnesses who were there who said explicity there WASN'T any debate.

Silencing people who are cautioning you is not debate, in fact it's the exact opposite.

So the people who work in the White House testify that there was no debate on whether or not to attack, and everyone else was forced to debate a false scenario framed by jiggered NIE's, utterly false scenarios and unsupported claims of threats that were devised precisely to paint of picture of the necessity of war.

Debating the number of troops or the day of the invasion or the color of Bush's tie for the press conference is not "debate" on whether or not to invade, although that's pretty clever of you to try and twist the meaning there. Besides, history has shown that an invasion was a foregone conclusion.

And to top it off, now we KNOW that Bush and Cheney knew the evidence was bullshit and used it anyway. Once you've embarked on selling a war to the public based on false evidence, the question of whether you debated lies or not is pretty fucking moot.

Posted by: trex on April 29, 2007 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

Another bit of evidence that this was a unilateral decision around which there was no debate:

"Fuck Saddam, we're taking out!"

-- George W. Bush, March 2002

Bush offered his pithy judgment after sticking his head in the door of a White House meeting between National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and three senators who had been discussing strategies for dealing with Iraq through the United Nations. The senators laughed uncomfortably at Bush’s remark, Time reported. [Time story posted March 23, 2003]

It now is clear that Bush never intended to avoid a war in Iraq, a conflict which has so far claimed the lives of at least 85 American soldiers and possibly thousands of Iraqis.


Posted by: trex on April 29, 2007 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

Nobody watched the Tenet interview on 60 minutes? Or read Michael Scheuer's piece in the Washington Post this morning?:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/27/AR2007042702052.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

"...But as with Rice and the warnings in the summer of 2001: Now he tells us. At this late date, the Bush-bashing that Tenet's book will inevitably stir up seems designed to rehabilitate Tenet in his first home, the Democratic Party. He seems to blame the war on everyone but Bush (who gave Tenet the Medal of Freedom) and former secretary of state Colin L. Powell (who remains the Democrats' ideal Republican). Tenet's attacks focus instead on the walking dead, politically speaking: the glowering and unpopular Cheney; the hapless Rice; the band of irretrievably discredited bumblers who used to run the Pentagon, Donald H. Rumsfeld, Paul D. Wolfowitz and Douglas J. Feith; their neoconservative acolytes such as Richard Perle; and the die-hard geopolitical fantasists at the Weekly Standard and National Review.

They're all culpable, of course. But Tenet's attempts to shift the blame won't wash. At day's end, his exercise in finger-pointing is designed to disguise the central, tragic fact of his book. Tenet in effect is saying that he knew all too well why the United States should not invade Iraq, that he told his political masters and that he was ignored. But above all, he's saying that he lacked the moral courage to resign and speak out publicly to try to stop our country from striding into what he knew would be an abyss..."

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on April 29, 2007 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

Saw it Doc - was not inspired. I have been preoccupied watching a local tragedy unfold.

I was especially offended by the guy on after Tenet who doesn't think we should report mental illnesses to a database of prohibited gun purchasers. Especially in light of todays events in KC.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 29, 2007 at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, things are gettin' mighty weird and mighty sideways. Makes me wonder about the prophetic tone of Stone's "Natural Born Killers" and especially irony-wise Leonard Cohen's music score - "The Future". Even the Sopranos tonight touched on these themes somewhat. Wow, it is the "New Alienation".

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on April 29, 2007 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

"According to Tenet he was passing along information about worst case scenarios and all that."

So? If the information was not listened to, taken seriously, or considered in a reasoned debate, what good does it do?

"'Silencing or belittling' opposing voices is an obvious acknowledgement that the opposing voices were in fact voiced"

Oh, give me a flipping break... This is just dumb, Matthew. Look up the definition of the word "silenced" and then come back and see just how silly you're being.

"in fact, opposing voices made their way into tv and radio every day, and into web pages and congressional testimony."

No, Matthew, they didn't, which is why we're in the mess that we're in. Moreover, even if you were correct, you're still evading the real issue -- the debate within the Bush administration.

"The only thing actually lacking in the way of debates was something like Debate Day, like a college debate"

Bullshit, Matthew. The thing actually lacking was a real opposition with a real voice whose points were actively considered by a Bush administration willing to have an open mind and consider all points of view.

"it's hardly the case that opposing views were not aired"

Really? Then you should be able to prove it. Thus far, all I've seen is a lot of handwaving and assertions.

The rest of your post wasn't worth the trouble to respond to. This is idiotic Matthew. Is this really the best you can do? You're just digging that hole deeper and deeper.

Posted by: PaulB on May 1, 2007 at 2:06 AM | PERMALINK

Depraved Indifference versus 'Support the Troops'
.
It is well documented that the State Department prepared a post Iraq invasion plan that pointed out the likelihood of Sunni on Shia civil strife/slaughter.This document was shelved and ignored.The Military general staff was forbidden on pain of being fired from preparing a full G-4 or post-invasion plan which would with 100% certainty have warned of this civil slaughter danger.
There is a crime in this duplicitous action to send human targets into battle but hide known consequences that were politically inexpedient.
This action ended up causing thousands of deaths and injuries to purposefully unprepared U.S. troops. This crime is called 'Depraved Indifference.'
All mankind now knows that Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld organized a propaganda network which cherry picked intelligence to deliberately deceive the American public. (That somebody from this large organized propaganda cabal, in this case Cheney's Chief of Staff, was eventually convicted of felonious behavior should not be surprising. But those who support a Scooter pardon should be made to publicly declare that they are in essence declaring that they support, then and now, the propaganda program that lied American and Iraqi citizens into this spiraling deathtrap called Iraq. But I digress.)
Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld et al not only cherry picked false fear-based intelligence that led to this conflagration they also deliberately buried the the dangers that our troops would face.They put the troops in harms way. Plenty of documentation exists that the neocon cabal did not 'Support our Troops' by providing the normal and required prewar planning.
Had the political agenda of the neocon cabal been made subservient to proper war planning, thousands of our troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis would not now be dead or maimed.
This depraved indifference should have its day in court.
Craig Johnson
Labels: Bush Admin, cognito_rex, craig johnson, criminal incompetence, depraved indifference, impeachment, Iraq, Libby, propaganda, support the troops, war crimes

Posted by: craig johnson on May 1, 2007 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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