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The George Romney Democrats

James Kirchick writes that the Democrats are trying to lie their party to victory, and the country to defeat in Iraq:

In 2004, the Senate Intelligence Committee unanimously approved a report acknowledging that it "did not find any evidence that administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgments." The following year, the bipartisan Robb-Silberman report similarly found "no indication that the intelligence community distorted the evidence regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction."

Contrast those conclusions with the Senate Intelligence Committee report issued June 5, the production of which excluded Republican staffers and which only two GOP senators endorsed. In a news release announcing the report, committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV got in this familiar shot: "Sadly, the Bush administration led the nation into war under false pretenses."

Yet Rockefeller's highly partisan report does not substantiate its most explosive claims. Rockefeller, for instance, charges that "top administration officials made repeated statements that falsely linked Iraq and Al Qaeda as a single threat and insinuated that Iraq played a role in 9/11." Yet what did his report actually find? That Iraq-Al Qaeda links were "substantiated by intelligence information." The same goes for claims about Hussein's possession of biological and chemical weapons, as well as his alleged operation of a nuclear weapons program.

Four years on from the first Senate Intelligence Committee report, war critics, old and newfangled, still don't get that a lie is an act of deliberate, not unwitting, deception. If Democrats wish to contend they were "misled" into war, they should vent their spleen at the CIA.

Yes. Bill Clinton's CIA, since George Bush foolishly left George Tenant in charge of it, even after 911, and never even seriously attempted to clean house, other than the failed attempt by Porter Goss. The president got bad intelligence. But the Democrats are being mendacious in their selective memory and rewriting of history.

I loved this:

A journalist who accompanied Romney on his 1965 foray to Vietnam remarked that if the governor had indeed been brainwashed, it was not because of American propaganda but because he had "brought so light a load to the laundromat." Given the similarity between Romney's explanation and the protestations of Democrats 40 years later, one wonders why the news media aren't saying the same thing today.

I assume that the last phrase is simply a rhetorical flourish. There's no reason to wonder at all.


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john smith wrote: cites a database
of 700 statements by Bush and his staff that were
provably inconsistent with the intelligence then being

Scott McClellan even wrote a book about how the
Administration chose to "sell" the war.

Sigivald wrote:

Thanks, John.

Too bad your "provably inconsistent with the intelligence then being reported" isn't actually true.

For instance, from that lame propaganda, "In July 2002, Rumsfeld had a one-word answer for reporters who asked whether Iraq had relationships with Al Qaeda terrorists: "Sure." In fact, an assessment issued that same month by the Defense Intelligence Agency (and confirmed weeks later by CIA Director Tenet) found an absence of "compelling evidence demonstrating direct cooperation between the government of Iraq and Al Qaeda." What's more, an earlier DIA assessment said that "the nature of the regime's relationship with Al Qaeda is unclear.""

Note that "had relationships? Sure." is not proven false by "[an absence of] compelling evidence demonstrating direct cooperation".

Given that Rockefeller's report and every other available investigation suggest that DIA and CIA were sure there was communication and some sort of relationship, I am left with three possible explanations for your claim (in order of increasing culpability) about "inconsistent with the intelligence then being reported":

a) Ignorance (which is a bad thing to combine with assertions of surety and implications of knowledge - and far less justified than that of the President and Congress in 2002/3)

b) Gullibility - not checking the inept logic behind claims like the one I just pointed out, and swallowing the implication of "they lied!" behind "They said things that turned out to be wrong!"

c) Mendacity - deliberately telling us something you know is false.

Which will it be?

(PS. "Selling the war" is both what the Executive is supposed to do when the President and the Intelligence Community believe it's prudent to go to war, and not the same as lying.)

Josh Reiter wrote:

"700 statements by Bush and his staff that were
provably inconsistent with the intelligence then being

Then, why wasn't such compelling evidence a part of the senate's committee reports? Why would Rockefeller then have to commit the fallacy of a non-sequitur. I can tell you why -- the religiosity that Democrats hold in regards to their hatred of all things Bush. This makes them feel as though it is quite acceptable to create the definition of their conclusions directly from their own causes.

Leland wrote:

Based on what Sigivald quoted, then it's no more than 699 statements, considering this cite:

What's more, an earlier DIA assessment said that "the nature of the regime's relationship with Al Qaeda is unclear."

"Unclear" is not the same as "no relationship". So if Sec. Rumsfeld response was "sure", then he was accurately responding to what his own DIA told him. No elaboration or expansion into areas of propaganda or lie, just an acknowledgement of what was known at the time.

My problem with the whole "lied us to war" and Democrat's "we were misled", is how far these people are willing to lie themselves. It's hard to take these people seriously when they have no problem making demonstrably false statements in order to further the meme that "Bush lied, people died".

Also, a book written for profit by an estranged staffer is not objective fact. If Mcclellan says he lied for the administration, then his proper action is to have gone straight to Congress. Instead, he kept such information from Congress and US citizens for several year until he was able to secure a book deal. Congress should investigate Mcclellan.

Carl Pham wrote:

I think part of the reason the Democrats get so hysterical about the President's forthrightness is pure green envy. See, he has an undentable reputation among the public as being a straight guy, one who calls it like he sees it, and doesn't bullshit around with the meaning of words like certain recent Presidents.

People might think he was wrong, or stupid, but they don't generally think he was bullshitting.

Democrats, habitual "fake but accurate" serial liars, look at that kind of trust and wish they could have it. Boy, if people trusted us like that, just think what we could accomplish.

Karl Hallowell wrote:

No offense, but why continue to blame the CIA when it was well known, even from before the invasion of Iraq, that much of the intelligence community, including the CIA, was being bypassed by the Bush leadership through means such as the Office of Special Plans?

As I see it, the worst of the pre-war intelligence failures happened because the administration took the CIA out of the loop. This is not to say that the CIA was accurate, but the Bush administration used information that was so bad that even the CIA wouldn't buy it. For example, a lot of pre-invasion information came from Ahmed Chalabi has turned out to be outright lies possibly cooked up by Iranian intelligence. The Office of Special Plans was the primary vehicle for transporting this "information" to Rumsfeld and other decision makers.

The sheer convenience of this intelligence-gathering process for rationalizing the decision to invade Iraq indicates to me a strong likelihood that many higher up members of the Bush administration were engaged in lying and deception. Obviously, nobody said anything on the record that proves it, but I think it's foolish to assume incompetence with what was at stake (and the relatively mild penalty for being caught lying).

Habitat Hermit wrote:

So what Karl? Just about every intelligence agency on the planet were in agreement anyway; at least the French, the Germans, the English, the Italian, and the Israeli.

The differences were not about the facts as understood at the time but about the political reaction to them (military vs. "containment"). Go ask Carl Blix if you don't believe me.

Karl Hallowell wrote:

Hermit, the issue was why did James Kirchick bash the CIA when a) foreign intelligence agencies agreed with the CIA's assessments, and b) the worst US intelligence failures were caused by bypassing the CIA and other intelligence agencies?

Further, it's not clear to me that these other intelligence agencies were backing what the US was saying. Several had an interest in supporting US claims while the rest were more interested in angling for a US concession than disproving US intelligence. There are numerous reports of these other agencies discounting intelligence (particularly the Chalabi-based sources, the alleged Saddam/Al Qaeda meeting in Europe prior to 9/11, and the Niger yellowcake issue). My take is that the US sexed up their UN presentation with this unreliable evidence (which the US might have known was fake). The usual suspects, China, France, Germany, and Russia didn't care as long as the US coughed up the appropriate bribe.

Habitat Hermit wrote:

Well I guess it makes a difference if one thinks that the more or less final US argument conducted by Colin Powell in the UN was of utmost importance or that the public US rationales as used were the best ones (maybe they were and maybe not).

From my perspective it wasn't and pales in comparison to all that went on before it*: what the relevant UN agencies themselves saw as facts combined with what the world's intelligence agencies did agree upon and most of all Saddam and the Bath regime's behavior which we now know intentionally tried to portray all of that as correct to scare off Iran while playing diplomacy games with the UN (which they were convinced they would win).

* And for that matter I'm not thrilled about how the US made their case in the first place (the UK did slightly better) but I do recognize that it was one of the few approaches that had any chance of overcoming the diplomatic inertia and public stupidity that had been going on for decades (and which is still in fashion).

I watched all the live unedited coverage of the public portions of the UN Security Council meetings that were available through BBC World News and CNN international. I wish all that material was publicly available on the internet as it would clarify quite a few things to anyone who watched it all. YouTube came too late.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on June 16, 2008 7:56 AM.

The Way Forward was the previous entry in this blog.

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