June 23, 2003

SPINNING....Glenn Reynolds quotes David Adesnik today about the missing WMD: "....the question everyone is now asking is 'Did Bush lie?' rather than 'Did the United States have good cause to invade Iraq without the express written consent of the Security Council?'" Glenn comments:

Read the whole thing, which suggests that there's as much spinning going on from self-justifying antiwar revisionists as there ever was from the Bush Administrations.

So I did, and apparently he missed David's very next paragraph:

While I suspect that Bush himself did not lie, there is considerable evidence that high-ranking officials, possibly including the Vice President, knew in advance of the State of the Union address that Iraq had not purchased uranium from Niger. If so, all of the officials involved in that process of deception should be severely disciplined.

David is right to say that Saddam's non-cooperation remains a mystery if he really didn't have any WMD, but I think it's safe to say that the spinning these days is coming from the pro-war crowd, not the other way around. After all, so far there's no WMD, there's no al-Qaeda connection, we've caved into Osama by withdrawing troops from Saudi Arabia (which remains our best pal in the region), and our dedication to the democratic reconstruction of Iraq is starting to look kind of ragged.

Of course, as always, there's a way to put all this to rest: Bush could show us the intelligence reports that demonstrated Iraq's WMD programs and al-Qaeda connections. If they look reasonable, he's vindicated, even if they don't pan out. It's funny how many little mysteries there are that could be cleared up in exactly that way, and equally funny that in every single one of those cases Bush has done nothing but stonewall.

Funny indeed.

Posted by KEVIN DRUM at June 23, 2003 10:00 AM | TrackBack


Comments

Bottom line: A sufficiently underinformed Bush can maintain plausible deniability. Nice. I can picture the fingers in ears, and the "la la la" being shouted while the intelligence reports come in...

Posted by: Ross Judson at June 23, 2003 10:14 AM

Glenn sure does suffer from poor reading comprehension, doesn't he? Makes me wonder how he got that law professor job.

Posted by: Barry at June 23, 2003 10:28 AM

From now on, I think we should just refer to him as "Glenn Al-Sahaf." Sheesh...

Posted by: Yuval Rubinstein at June 23, 2003 10:29 AM

"David is right to say that Saddam's non-cooperation remains a mystery if he really didn't have any WMD"

As to Saddam's personal reasons for non-compliance, we'll likely never know. but there is a strong argument that its not much of a mystery.

1. The first round of weapons inspectors was riddled with US spies.

2. The US likely used that intelligence for targetting in the US/British cruise missile attacks.

3. Much of the administration rhetoric over the last year was to the effect that Saddam would have to leave power. Remember regime change?

4. Saddam was a ruthless dictator who had launched poison gas against dissidents in his own country, and who needed to keep the perception of power to keep his control.

Given these factors, why cooperate? My fact-free guess is that the embargo actually worked but he was afraid to disclose how crippled his own country was, because he suspected (rightly, it turned out) that the US was coming no matter what he did.

Posted by: FDL at June 23, 2003 10:29 AM

I still don't see what the big mystery is about Saddam's arguing over the inspections. Saddam's vice-president claimed that inspectors were spying for the CIA and the Mossad. And since US officials admitted that the CIA had indeed infiltrated UN weapons inspectors teams in Iraq a few years earlier, those claims don't seem outlandish.

Posted by: Avram at June 23, 2003 10:37 AM

Whups, took too long to compose my message, and FDL beat me to it.

Posted by: Avram at June 23, 2003 10:38 AM

The New Republic says:

"Had the administration accurately depicted the consensus within the intelligence community in 2002--that Iraq's ties with Al Qaeda were inconsequential; that its nuclear weapons program was minimal at best; and that its chemical and biological weapons programs, which had yielded significant stocks of dangerous weapons in the past, may or may not have been ongoing--it would have had a very difficult time convincing Congress and the American public to support a war to disarm Saddam."

David Adesnik from OxBlog says:

"While still within the realm of the possible, TNR's speculations directly contradict the results of multiple opinion polls: that if Saddam was hiding chemical and biological weapons, then the United States should go to war."


Does anyone else see the enormous leap Adesnik makes, or am I imagining things?

TNR says: if the administration told people "we suspect, but don't actually know", they might have a hard time selling the war. That's obvious, I think.

Adesnik says: Everyone agrees that if Saddam is hiding weapons, we should go to war.

But Adesnik's "hiding" is the kind of hiding where we know what he's hiding. In other words: if we know Saddam is lying, we should go to war. That's quite a bit different from the "we don't really know" that TNR is speculating about. Feel free to correct me.

Posted by: ChrisL at June 23, 2003 10:42 AM

the question everyone is now asking is 'Did Bush lie?' rather than 'Did the United States have good cause to invade Iraq...?

Lame attempt at misdirection. Those are both legitimate questions, we shouldn't have to focus on one or the other.

'Did the United States have good cause to invade Iraq without the express written consent of the Security Council'

Funny to see this quote from somebody (Adesnik) who is trying to make the point that everyone is forgetting about resolution 1441, since that resolution was deliberately designed to requre Security Council concent for an invasion.

...self-justifying antiwar revisionists...

Wan't that ('revisionists') Rice and Bush's talking point from last weekend?

Posted by: cs at June 23, 2003 10:52 AM

Glenn is developing something of a history of ignoring the parts of arguments that he can't defeat with witty rejoinders. So this isn't shocking.

Another example: His constant harping about Mugabe disarming the populace of Zimbabwe being one of the primary reasons that Mugabe gets away with his brutality (and, therefore, a defense of the 2nd ammendment, of course). Except he constantly ignores that Saddam was just as brutal, and had a heavily armed populace. Well, he just ignores the last part. He loves telling the anti-war crows how brutal Saddam was.

Posted by: JoeF at June 23, 2003 10:55 AM

Quoth Prof. Reynolds:

"Indeed"

"Heh"

"Read the whole thing"

(once in a while: "Asshat")

Why people bother reading him is completely beyond me.....Kevin, you are CLEARLY superior.

Posted by: Ad Hominem Attack Bot at June 23, 2003 11:02 AM

Bush's intel reports are kept secret because in a conservation measure they were printed on the backside of minutes of Cheney's energy meetings.

Posted by: Andrew Lazarus at June 23, 2003 11:08 AM

The mystery about why Saddam acted the way he did (assuming he's halfway rational) if he didn't have WMD doesn't seem that deep to me:
1. Most chemical weapons are, ultimately, juiced-up pesticides.
2. It wouldn't take much to turn pre-existing capacity in legitimate chemical production into a quick and dirty weapons production system.
3. Saddam probably did have some small, off-the-shelf weapons capacity--enough to kill some Kurds though nothing that could thereaten even a fourth-rate military power--but nothing major and no delivery system for out-of-country use.
4. He probably did have plans, people, and facilities that could be put into motion if the need for a more serious WMD capacity presented itself.
All of this would have been a violation of UN disarmament resolutions, and all of it would have proved that Saddam was a very bad person, so Saddam wouldn't want it discovered, but none of it was the kind of beg deal threat that warranted an invasion rather than a regime of keeping the UN proctoscope deep in Saddam's anatomy until either we found something or found proof that Saddam was jerking the world around.

Posted by: C.J. Colucci at June 23, 2003 11:09 AM

Talking head Glenn al-Reynolds spurts simplistic ideological spin. The party faithful line up. Black is white. War is Peace. Nothing to see here, move along...

Posted by: squiddy at June 23, 2003 11:10 AM

Because I don't believe it's a "lie" if you are saying something you honestly believe, i don't believe that Bush "lied" in advance of the war, although i have no doubt that he and his administration "exaggerated" and "cherrypicked." In fact, it takes an extreme level of denial to doubt that (a level of denial with which Prof instanitwit is fully equipped) based on what we know already.

But what is inarguable is that Bush lied about the trailers being "weapons of mass destruction," as in "we've found them."

We could speculate why he lied - cynicism towards the american public, an attempt to mislead the american public, an inability to understand the difference between weapons labs and weapons - but we don't have to speculate whether he did.

And it's not that there's any doubt about his willingness to lie in a tight spot - else why did he repeat the "trifecta" lie some 13 times (and notice, i'm using the official so-called liberal New York Times description of lying, which is a pure untruth and not simply, like the tax issue, an "emphasis").

Posted by: howard at June 23, 2003 11:34 AM

Whoa! Check this from Adesnik's conclusion:

[E]ven those of us who supported the war knew that the President's rhetoric went too far

Can anyone, anyone, on either side of the debate cite an example in which someone who supported the war acknowledged that "the President's rhetoric went too far"?

Posted by: Gregory at June 23, 2003 11:36 AM

Oh, just hear it in a sentence;

Even conservative hawk David Adesnik admitted that "the president's rhetoric went too far."

Posted by: SamAm at June 23, 2003 11:55 AM

I have an entry about this up - Adesnik's main point, which is brutally wrong, is that we were justified in invading because Saddam hid whether or not he was a threat. Now, to my moderately-capabale mind, the lack of confirmation of someone being a threat does not constitute a threat in and of itself.

Posted by: jesse at June 23, 2003 11:59 AM

I agree with FDL and Avram.

As for who's being revisionist, I'll take the right's current campaign to shine up McCarthy over the left's legitimate questioning of how Bush dragged this country into Iraq.

Posted by: casadelogo at June 23, 2003 12:14 PM

No matter what your view on the issue is, it's not unreasonable to expect Congress to look into potential lies justifying a war by the Presdent of the United States. Given the wealth of information we already have, one could say it's madness not to investigate.

Posted by: Emma at June 23, 2003 12:30 PM

Might Hussein also have been unwilling to comply with the inspections, *despite* not actually having much of a WMD program left to speak of, for geopolitical reasons? My thinking is that, given the greatly reduced state of Iraq's conventional forces since the end of Gulf War I, the spectre of WMD may have been what Saddam hoped would keep the Iranians from attempting anything.

Not that this was neccessarily likely, of course - I doubt Iran really had plans at any time during the 90s to try invading Iraq - but from where Hussein sat there's no way of knowing that and he might have been concerned that eventually the Iranians would step in any want to 'liberate' their Shia co-religionists.

Posted by: Downunder at June 23, 2003 12:50 PM

we've caved into Osama by withdrawing troops from Saudi Arabia

Huh? The majority of the "Why do they hate us?" crowd said one of the reasons we were attacked was because of our presence of troops in Saudi Arabia.

And good God almight people, if all you can do is use these points as an excuse to engage in petty insults thrown at Reynolds ("Oh golly gee Vern. I's don know how that Reynolds became a law professor an all. He's so stuuuuuupid.") then why waste Drum's server space?

Posted by: Jay Caruso at June 23, 2003 12:50 PM

Jay- you're absolutly right

And you liberals should be ashamed of yourselves. Remember the Liberal Code, Section 8.A7) liberals may never make fun of egregious or unintentionaly revealing selective reading or mischaracerization by conservatives.

Certainly Reynolds never engages in petty and unfair insults at those who have the temerity to disagree with him. You all should follow his sterling example.

Posted by: SamAm at June 23, 2003 01:02 PM

Something ironic that I'm having trouble tying together but maybe someone more caustic than I will be able to pull it off.

Saddam's unwillingness to comply with the UN should not necessarily be taken as evidence that he had WMDs.

Bush's unwillingness to show the evidence he had for wanting to invade Iraq could very well be hiding the fact that he had no evidence whatsoever.

Posted by: Jaybird at June 23, 2003 01:14 PM

I'm not sure withdrawing from Saudi Arabia counts as "caving into Osama." For one, we're still on the Arabian Peninsula (Qatar), which was technically his complaint...we're now in a less offensive position from his perspective, but still around. And the Saudis wanted us "over the horizon" to begin with - that rule was only violated because of Saddam's invasion of Kuwait.

Also, while I agree people shouldn't see SA as an American enemy the way they sometimes do (their internal policies notwithstanding), I'd hardly call them "our best pal in the region." Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Jordan and Israel all spring to mind.

Posted by: Brian Ulrich at June 23, 2003 01:16 PM

Bush lied. The question is:

What kind of lie did Bush tell this time?

The blatant kind? The technically-not-a-lie lie? The not-quite-the-truth-lie? All of the above?


(Thought I would indulge in a loaded question.)

Posted by: tristero at June 23, 2003 01:30 PM

What kind of lie did Bush tell this time?

it doesn't matter because the polls say it doesn't.

Posted by: ChrisL at June 23, 2003 01:50 PM

But, Jaybird, the "benefit of the doubt" went just the other way from the way you phrased it - Saddam's reluctance was defined as guilt, while Bush's past and current reluctance is being defined as prudent, an issue of national security.

I think the cautions that George Will outlined in his recent editorial regarding the level of proof necessary to take preemptive action is very significant. This also goes to the heart of some of the questions Michael Ignatieff has brought up regarding "virtual war" - Ignatieff wonders how much"easier" it will be for nation's to engage in armed combat when the risks faced by their own troops is minimal. Now, I understand that I would not consider the loss of my son or daughter in armed combat as a "minimal loss" but this does not mean that the nation's leaders or, even the broader public, will be able to judge the costs of a couple hundred US troops vs. a couple thousand Iraqi lives vs. the potential for the loss of a couple hundred thousand lives.

George Will is right - the evidence for preemptive strikes has to be clear, compelling and - I would argue - transparent . . . The stakes for everyone both in terms of human life as well as national integrity are just too high.

Posted by: Shoe Shine at June 23, 2003 01:53 PM

It's not clear to me why people keep referencing the Instapundit site- Reynolds is just not a very perceptive or convincing observer.

Posted by: peter jung at June 23, 2003 02:23 PM

One thing that has received little notice so far in this whole debate is the very probable deception and/or lying that is taking place at this very moment in the Bush administration with respect to what they know NOW about the WMDs and WMD programs.

Consider all the evidence that has been amassed since the war about these programs, both on the ground in Iraq, and through the countless interviews they have conducted with various members of Saddam's regime, including the generals who were successfully bribed to take a dive in the war. Does ANYBODY believe that the American people are getting an honest, impartial assessment of this evidence from the Bush administration?

I suspect that the evidence by now is pretty damn conclusive that those WMDs don't exist, but we will NEVER hear this from the Prevaricator in Chief and his minions.

Posted by: frankly0 at June 23, 2003 02:31 PM

It seems to me that it is Kevin who has missed Glenn's point.

"Indeed. Read the whole thing, which suggests that there's as much spinning going on from self-justifying antiwar revisionists as there ever was from the Bush Administrations."


His point is that both sides have tried to spinning... and just from this site it seems to be proven to be accurate.

It seems that the driving sentiment is Bush lied and now it has to be proven.

After all the bogus reporting at the beginning of the war one would think that we might all take a wait and see approach as opposed to getting out the tar and feathers.

Posted by: Mark Cates at June 23, 2003 02:33 PM

His point is that both sides have tried to spinning... and just from this site it seems to be proven to be accurate.--

Wow. Just...wow. That's completely inaccurate, but whatever.

Reynolds is saying that the side declaring that Bush misled/exaggerated/fabricated the threat is spinning just as much as the Bush administration is. Even Adesnik admits Bush exaggerated the threat - the question is, to what degree did he? "Bush lied", while technically true (lied about a 1998 IAEA report and the tubes from Niger), may be overstating the case. But, unlike Bush, we have proof that the person we're after actually did something and continues to do something that we find objectionable.

This is one of those "moderate" arguments that Glenn trots out often wherein he can't hide that conservatives did something wrong, but it's sure as shit that liberals did something too, by gum!

And Jay - please. Just stop.

Posted by: jesse at June 23, 2003 02:39 PM

>>His point is that both sides have tried to spinning...

If Bush had done his job as LEADER and adequately and honestly prepared the country for the war, instead of treating as a cross between "marketing new products" and dominating the 2002 election season, we wouldn't be having this whole issue and conversation.

This whole episode, which has divided us, NOT united us, illustrates both the moral bankruptcy of the pre-emptive war doctrine (invade first, make up the reason why afterward) and the complete paucity of Bush as a leader.

Posted by: Andy at June 23, 2003 02:43 PM

His point is that both sides have tried to spin... and just from this site it seems to be proven to be accurate.--

Reynolds is saying that the side declaring that Bush misled/exaggerated/fabricated the threat is spinning just as much as the Bush administration is.

Thanks for letting me know how inaccurate I was...
could you please elaborate on how our comments above are different...

and thanks for validating that spinning is taking place... claim other person is wrong... say almost the same thing... say your right... nice spin...

Posted by: Mark Cates at June 23, 2003 03:00 PM

Let's try this, Mark:

Bush: said Iraq tried to purchase uranium from Africa. evidence: correspondence on topic from Niger. assessment: evidence was forged. additional information: a US diplomat knew it was forged and knows the vice president's office was told about it prior to Bush's citation in the SotU.

Conclusion: (the) Bush (administration) lied.

Anti-war opponents: Bush lied. evidence: see above. assessment. see above.

Conclusion: anti-war opponents are not lying.

This is hard how, exactly?

Posted by: Mark S. at June 23, 2003 03:29 PM

Andrew Lazarus wrote: "Bush's intel reports are kept secret because in a conservation measure they were printed on the backside of minutes of Cheney's energy meetings."

Actually, I think they dispensed with the printing, and just pulled them straight from Cheney's backside.

- Jon

Posted by: Jon H at June 23, 2003 03:32 PM

..."Saddam's non-cooperation remains a mystery if he really didn't have any WMD"...

Maybe it is me who is in left field on this, but can someone give me ONE example that Saddam was not-complying?
If the only answer is by *not producing conclusive documentation of VX gas stores from the 1980's(!)*....or *insisting on interviews between scientists and inspectors be recorded*... then I'd have to say that those might be technical, but not substantive violations.
Enough to invade? An imminant threat?

Just becuase Bush said it everyday and the media parrotted it, doesn't make it true. I've read the UN report and it tells a different story about compliance. Hundreds of inspections and no obstruction.

I believe we really had NO REAL EVIDENCE. That's why we didn't want to share it with the UN, that was the basis of international opposition after they saw our best case (not that France wanted to protect it's oil deals - did all the countries that opposed us have secret deals, when they had more to gain by cooperating with a generous USA)...and that's why nothing is being found now.

Can ANYONE tell me ONE good piece of evidence?

Sorry for the tone, but either I or almost everyone else in the country is way off here.
What I really think is going on here is cognitive dissonance. It is hard to go backwards and believe that although Bush and our media said, every day, "Saddam is not-complying" and "Saddam has WMD" that both statements are actually (or at least to an overwhelming degree, substantively) false.

Posted by: andrew at June 23, 2003 04:49 PM

Sorry, I just can't reach that conclusion.

I am keeping an open mind about everything until all of the facts are in. Then I will make a decision.

What's hard about doing that? Anyone can take a slice of information and reach the wrong or right conclusion.

Maybe that is just the scientist in me coming out...

Posted by: Mark Cates at June 23, 2003 05:25 PM

I am keeping an open mind about everything until all of the facts are in. Then I will make a decision.
What's hard about doing that?

I don't know. That's what people were trying to ask Bush. But he made up his mind that he was gonna take Saddam "out" anyway.

Posted by: ChrisL at June 23, 2003 05:30 PM

'scuze the spew...but,

He wasn't pretending to have the WMD to keep his neighbors guessing. He wasn't hiding anything to use against us. He tried to save some face for the domestic audience (important for a guy who rules by fear)...but turned over everything in early December, in that *document dump.* Humiliating to give into the demands, but he knew he had only one chance. Die, or cooperate and maybe still die.

The document dump (like 37,000 pages) even included digs at the western nations who had supplied his military (including the US - we tried to stop the release of them). Most was from the 1980's. They also included documentation of the dreaded drone of death, and the al Samoud missiles - both of which we pointed to later as evidence that he was *hiding things*...Ari Fleisher said "if he was hiding these (missiles) what else was he hiding"..a blatant lie which no one picked up on.

He allowed the overflights, inspections unfettered (even the palaces), allowed the interviews, destroyed the missiles. What didn't he do?

We gave whatever evidence we could stretch to the UN beforehand, they went to the sites (this in in the UN report) and found nothing. You know we have since been to every site where we had a hope of finding something, and we've got nothing. You know this has been a priority, and still nothing has shown.

The nigerian story is almost trivial. Except that it was blatant, and the rest was vague. It wasn't that some evidence was fudged, or Bush knew or didn't know. We never had any. None. If someone else has seen something that I haven't, please tell me. Everyone keeps saying, "well we knew he had them"...or "well, why wasn't he complying then"...does anyone really know either of these things?

It's strange to be having a national conversation about this for 6 months now, and no one has seen any facts that SH had the WMD or was stonewalling. Am I going looney?

Obligatory Disclaimer: the war might turn out to be a "good thing" anyway. There were apparently waay less Iraqi casualties than I expected, so I was way wrong.

Posted by: andrew at June 23, 2003 05:36 PM

I just can't read the evil intent into this that you guys can.

Some of you sound like the Clinton Basher's i the 90's....

It does sound looney to me...

Posted by: Mark Cates at June 23, 2003 06:21 PM

How does anyone here account for all of the Clinton era claims of WMD?

I recognize this is a forum to bash Bush, but I am really just trying to separate the logical from the bashing...

Posted by: Mark Cates at June 23, 2003 06:23 PM

Mark,

The reason people are responding poorly to you is because you are conflating two separate questions in exactly the way warhawks do. They do it purposefully; people here suspect you are doing it purposefully as well.

The two questions are:
1. What happened to all the WMDs?
2. Was Iraq a threat sufficient to require preventive war to defeat it?

You seem to keep worrying about (1), saying you'll wait until the facts are in and so on. Fine. Great. I hope we find some, too, and I hope it's more than two hydrogen-making trucks.

People on this thread, though, are talking about (2), and it's on point (2) that the stuff about the forged Niger documents, and the frequent visits of Mr. Cheney to the CIA, and the Pentagon's Team B, and the aluminum tubes, and the Billmon list of everybody saying they knew for sure where those WMDs were, becomes relevant.

There is a lot of evidence to show that people in the administration used slanted intelligence, and sometimes flat-out made-up evidence, to sell the American public on a war it would not otherwise have countenanced. You are entitled to think this is not a terribly interesting question, but then you need to write more clearly about what precisely it is you think is the interesting question. Also it wouldn't hurt to be willing to face disagreement on that score with a little more dignity and a little less name-calling.

You're giving me a bad name...

Posted by: Mark S. at June 23, 2003 06:38 PM

and thanks for validating that spinning is taking place... claim other person is wrong... say almost the same thing... say your right... nice spin...--

You're saying that both sides are spinning. I'm saying that one side is looking at the other side, pointing out verifiably that spinning was going on, and declaring it. We'd be saying almost the same thing if I was saying something completely different.

Of course, the scientist in you thinks "Iraq was a threat" in an argument - in total. Try the spin points when they apply, but you can't just say that we're saying the same thing because you're not reading and/or misrepresenting what I'm saying.

Posted by: jesse at June 23, 2003 08:23 PM

"While I suspect that Bush himself did not lie" but his whole administrations was simply busy lying all around him.... Oh Jeebus

Poor stupid bitch er I mean Bush. It must be horrible being so damn stupid while having the burden of being a US president all at the same time.

Kenny boy was just as stupid all the while he was telling Enron employees nothing was wrong with the company as he quickly sold all his Enron stock but was freezing all the employees stock selling options.

Really, it's just too bad that Bush didn't know what his administration was doing but I don't see that as my problem but rather Bush's. This Bush was so damn stupid he couldn't understand anything his administration was doing is really quite the piss poor excuse.

I've heard of folks using an insanity plea but never an "I was too stupid plea" and it WOULD be coming from the F---ing President of the US?

David Adesnik is talking BS and Glenn never stops discussing BS commentary.

Kevin why do you read this rubbish and that write about it? Don't you have a mind? What is wrong with this picture about how Bush wouldn't lie even if his whole administration is lying???.

Well I guess that is just to bad Bush being so stupid and all.

This bit were the papers title went something like Bush May Have Exaggerated, but Did He Lie? and columist are saying Bush wouldn't really lie or when is misleading Americans a lie is getting quite old really.

When it came to nuclear programs in Iraq Bush didn't exaggerate, he lied--end of story. If Bush doesn't understand the difference between exaggerations and lies and if he really is in fact mentally incompetent then we should be asking ourselves why the F--- is he President of the US? A job the cleary requires someone with mental fitness. How the hell did Bush get though Yale or Havard?

Is Bush planning to playing the stupid card or are we Americans expected to shallow the stupid card without Bush every having to play it? I vote we let Bush tell us all that he is too stupid to understand what is going on.

Posted by: Cheryl at June 23, 2003 08:35 PM

Bottom line: A sufficiently underinformed Bush can maintain plausible deniability. Nice. I can picture the fingers in ears, and the "la la la" being shouted while the intelligence reports come in...

Ross Judson was trying to tell you something here Kevin. Ross is making a valid point that I'm sure would be totally lost on InstaPundit or David Adesnik. I'm hoping it isn't lost on you too.

Posted by: Cheryl at June 23, 2003 08:41 PM

"It's All Clinton's Fault" (tm)(R)

What was the question?

Posted by: squiddy at June 23, 2003 10:03 PM

Nothing much to add here other than to say previous commenters have been right (IMO) about two things:

1. Saddam's "non-cooperation" was not nearly as full and thorough as conventional wisdom seems to suggest. He cooperated quite a bit, well more than he wanted to, I suspect, and as much as he thought he safely could.
2. To the extent that he didn't cooperate, it is not some big mystery. It is perfectly understandable--particularly when you adopt the perspective of a paranoid, power-mad dictator shithead. He could not be seen by his own subjects and the world as a) caving in to the great satan, and b) weaponless and largely powerless.

"He's an imminent threat lying through his teeth about his enormous WMD programs" was simply NOT the only available pre-war interpretation of Saddam's behavior.

Posted by: Realish at June 23, 2003 10:52 PM

What's funny is that Bush is often called (by suck-ups in the media) the "CEO President".

But if a CEO got the company into such a clusterf*ck, bleeding money by the billion, with no end in sight, loads of downside risk and not much upside, he quite likely would be out on his ass.

I don't think the board of directors and shareholders would be quibbling over whether the CEO had lied, or had merely 'exaggerated'.

(Also, the lie vs. exaggeration, knows vs. doesn't thing is quite a bit like Enron. All that creative accounting: lie? or exaggeration? Legal? Or illegal? Kenneth Lay: did he know? Or was he taken advantage of by crafty, unethical underlings?)

Posted by: Jon H at June 23, 2003 11:51 PM

Realish wrote: "To the extent that he didn't cooperate, it is not some big mystery. It is perfectly understandable--particularly when you adopt the perspective of a paranoid, power-mad dictator shithead"

You don't even have to go that far.

The US, IT powerhouse, with logistical wizards at the Pentagon, seems to have lost track of $1 trillion worth of stuff:

"Army lost track of 56 airplanes, 32 tanks, and 36 Javelin missile command launch-units."

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2003/05/18/MN251738.DTL

It's not exactly hard to imagine that Iraq could lose track of a few things, if we managed to lose *that* much stuff.

Posted by: Jon H at June 23, 2003 11:56 PM

For what it's worth, Hans Blix said Saddam wasn't cooperating. I think that's meaningful, so if there's no WMD there really is a mystery here.

On the substantive question of whether Bush knew the intel was bogus: you gotta have a smoking gun. That's just the way the game is played, and so far we don't. Reagan weaseled out of Iran/Contra the same way, even though no reasonable observer can seriously believe that he didn't know what was going on.

On a related topic, I realize that I write from a tactical perspective frequently (maybe too much), but....

From a tactical perspective we have to be careful about making flat statements that "Bush lied" unless there's clear proof. There are lots of voters who might be convinced that Bush pulled a fast one, but if they think that the whole thing is just a partisan witch hunt they won't buy it, and calling someone a liar without clear proof is a fast way to convince them of that. The Republicans discovered this during the Clinton impeachment, and we should learn from their lesson.

Always remember: a lot of people think Bush is a trustworthy person. We have to convince them otherwise, but we won't do it with harsh accusations unless they are watertight. Instead we'll just turn them off to our cause. But we still have 17 months to build the case, and doing it slowly and steadily has a good chance of working.

Posted by: Kevin Drum at June 24, 2003 12:02 AM

As far as tactics go, it is, to say the least, far from obvious that accusing Bush of lying is likely to backfire.

Democrats are ALWAYS wringing their hands over whether they will be thought to engaged in a "partisan witch hunt". The thing is, the Republican will accuse them of that no matter how tame and well grounded their criticism may be.

What the Republicans know, but Democrats haven't learned, is that truth and rationality is only a small part of the political game. An accusation with a grain of truth, but only a grain, is an enormously effective tactic politically. How many Americans believe, e.g., that Saddam was involved in 9/11? How many believe that WMD have already been found in Iraq?

Your advice to be so very careful about accusing Bush of lying is exactly the sort of admonition that makes Democrats pull their punches again and again.

And how did the partisan accusations against Clinton backfire exactly? He was impeached. His vice president lost the election (well, whatever), in part because he could not be to0 closely asoociated with Clinton. His reputation is to this day pretty much in the toilet even though the peace and prosperity of his administration was extraordinary. Hardly a single Republican who went after him was punished in any way by the voters -- Indeed, the highly partisan Republicans are instead only MORE in the driver's seat than they ever were before, having INCREASED their numbers both in the House and Senate.

May the Democrats someday have their own accusations against Bush "backfire" like this!

Posted by: frankly0 at June 24, 2003 06:29 AM

Well at least Krugman's nails Bush's BS policy today with his lastest column, Denial and Deception.

Politics is full of ironies. On the White House Web site, George W. Bush's speech from Oct. 7, 2002 — in which he made the case for war with Iraq — bears the headline "Denial and Deception." Indeed.

There is no longer any serious doubt that Bush administration officials deceived us into war. The key question now is why so many influential people are in denial, unwilling to admit the obvious.

when Bush told us of Saddam's nuclear program it was clearly a lie and to say he exaggerated or embroidered....which all means to overstate, inflate, embellish or simply put LIE is already common public knowledge.

Krugman: In particular, there was never any evidence linking Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda; yet administration officials repeatedly suggested the existence of a link. Supposed evidence of an active Iraqi nuclear program was thoroughly debunked by the administration's own experts; yet administration officials continued to cite that evidence and warn of Iraq's nuclear threat.

Kevin: From a tactical perspective we have to be careful about making flat statements that "Bush lied" unless there's clear proof.

We already have been repeated told that Bush was "embroidering" (The Washington Post) before the war in Iraq. Bush had no proof and yet continued to insist the these lies he made up were in fact real.

Lawyer John Dean says: To put it bluntly, if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked. Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be "a high crime" under the Constitution's impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony "to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose."

This question here is DID BUSH "defraud" the public or in other words did he exaggerated, embroidered, overstate, inflate, embellish or deliberate misuse national security intelligence data?

The answer is already YES, Bush certainly did and we already know that he did this.

Posted by: Cheryl at June 24, 2003 06:48 AM

Rant continued:

The problem with Democrats is that they are just altogether too concerned with being thought of as fair and moral. No doubt this explains in part why it is that they are attracted to Democratic policies to begin with. The notion that they might overstep what they can justify is a fairly horrifying prospect for most Democrats; they would feel as if they have sullied their own good name, which is infinitely precious to them.

I will say though that one of the signs of true maturity in a person is the realization that it is entirely OK to be thought of by some as a real bastard. If you fight for what is rightfully your own, that simply is going to happen, and that's ultimately just fine.

I think that it is time that the Democrats realize that engaging in partisanship is not a bad thing, even if that's what voters think they are doing. (In fact, of course, that's what the voters are going to think they are doing in any case, because the Republicans will tell the voters so.) Can anyone believe that the voters have no reason to think of the REPUBLICANS as partisan? Are they thought of by the American people as any more partisan than the Democrats, even they obviously DON'T fret about being so regarded? (When's the last time you heard about the Republicans expressing any anxiety about being thought of as partisan?)

Personally, I'm sick of the constant warnings from all quarters of the dangers of "partisanship" for the Democrats. It's little more than a way of guaranteeing that Democrats remain the nice guys who finish last.

Posted by: frankly0 at June 24, 2003 06:57 AM

Indeed,

I remember being shocked at the level of "nonpartisanship" during the 2000 election, particularly during the 2nd and 3rd debates Presidential debates and the VP debates. I asked someone in the know what was going on.

He told me: "all of the polling and focus-group data, apparently, indicates people want more agreement and less partisanship."

Bad move. I yelled at the poor messenger for about ten minutes. I used to do opinion research. I've written focus-group guidelines and done polling analysis. Asking people, particularly in the climate of 1999-2000, if they think partisanship is a 'bad thing' is only a few orders below asking if they think racism is a 'bad thing.' This is particularly true in focus groups, where they worry even more about the opinions of their peers.

But just because people SAY that they don't like partisanship (or attack ads) doesn't mean they don't respond to it... especially when base turnout appears increasingly crucial in elections.

So, yeah. Long-winded story echoing frankly0's comments :-).

Posted by: dhn at June 24, 2003 07:43 AM

We have to change "the way the game is played." The cards are stacked right now. Republicans are partisan, Dems can't be. Republicans spread bogus rumors and almost unseat a President after more-or-less crippling him; Democrats high-mindedly sit on their hands until a smoking gun shows up.

It's a double standard. Repubs play full-contact basketball, Dems play 50's-style basketball, and if the Dems show any signs of fighting back, the media, the Republican hit men, and the moderate Dems scream bloody murder.

We can't live by the conventional wisdom. We have to change it.

Posted by: zizka at June 24, 2003 08:45 AM

Still seems that this is very negative thread...like so many... and that's unfortunate.

I was hoping for a productive discussion... but there is so much name calling and conclusions based on such little information that can be interpreted so differently.


"The reason people are responding poorly to you is because you are conflating two separate questions in exactly the way warhawks do. They do it purposefully; people here suspect you are doing it purposefully as well."

If you read my post I am the one who said that I was bringing up another issue to get an opinion. I said I wanted to try and separate the bashing from the logic that is being used. I was open and honest about it. Since, you assumed evil intent you got your expected result even though I stated my intention out in the open.

That is spin in my opinion...


"You're saying that both sides are spinning. I'm saying that one side is looking at the other side, pointing out verifiably that spinning was going on, and declaring it. We'd be saying almost the same thing if I was saying something completely different."

Your sarcasm isn't useful. Yes, that is what you keep saying, but I think it is clear that both sides are spinning. That's my point and I think the point Glenn was making. Just part of my reasoning for that opinion... all the Dem's that jumped up and supported Clinton have all back tracked and now are saying the opposite things because it is Bush who is in charge. All the Dem's before the election who supported the war are now critical. That is blatantly misleading the public about their real opinions and now they have to spin in order to not look like liars.

Hence, my point that we are saying the same thing. The difference is I am accepting the fact that everyone is spinning in order to further their own agenda. Most of the people on this threat are not willing to accept that perception.

Posted by: Mark Cates at June 24, 2003 09:32 AM

That's right Mark. And if a case ever rises when one side is right and the other is spinning, you'll miss it, because "it's all spin" is your postmodern mantra. And then you'll say "That's the scientist in me". And then you'll complain about sarcasm and negativity. You poor little victim you.

Posted by: zizka at June 24, 2003 01:27 PM

Sorry, Mark, but that doesn't wash. A lot of Democrats and liberals supported the war on Iraq primarily because of the case that the administration made that Iraq was an imminent threat that had to be dealt with. Had they engaged in the behavior you describe, "saying the opposite things because it is Bush who is in charge," then 50% of this country and most of the Democrats in Congress would not have supported the war.

Now we're finding out that the administration lied, cherry-picked and exaggerated in its analysis of the threat posed by Iraq. Those who supported the war based on these false analyses now want to know what the hell was going on. Those who opposed the war also want to know what the hell was going on. This is not spin by any reasonable definition of that term nor is it "blatantly misleading the public about their real opinions." That's just a nonsensical reading of the situation.

Posted by: PaulB at June 24, 2003 02:02 PM

I don't appreciate you telling me what I will do.
It seems that you have resorted to name calling and being rude as opposed to talking about the issues. I am not sure how you could possible believe that politicians don't spin in order to achieve their objectives.

I am not complaining about your sarcasm and negativity. I am pointing out how it is unproductive.

I am not a victim. I have very happy with myself and my life.

Posted by: Mark Cates at June 24, 2003 02:41 PM

Just because your perspective of the facts is different than mine, doesn't make my opinion nonsensical.

But, we are not finding out that the administration lied and cherry picked. That's what some people are claiming. There is no proof of that. That is part of the spin that is going on. The facts are not in on the issue. That's why I believe the Congressmen and women are spinning so hard right now to achieve their agenda.

Can no one here acknowledge the media's role in misrepresenting the beginning of the war and how poorly it was going?

Have we not as a country learned that maybe we should withhold our opinions about the deceit and the cover up until we have more information?

I can acknowledge that people want to know exactly what is going on and should, but I also believe that we need time to let the pieces fall together before rushing to judge others.

I don't believe there are many here willing to do that...

How many of you here can say that you are giving
Bush the benefit of the doubt before you convict him?

How many of you can say that you are willing to let the situation settle down and let the fog of war clear some more before presuming the Bush administration lied?

And I can't understand for the life of me the need to belittle other people's opinions.

Posted by: Mark Cates at June 24, 2003 02:56 PM

Mark, you wrote: "All the Dem's before the election who supported the war are now critical. That is blatantly misleading the public about their real opinions and now they have to spin in order to not look like liars."

How on earth can you possibly justify a statement like that? You are guilty of precisely the same thing you are accusing us of ("giving [someone] the benefit of the doubt before you convict him"). I stand by my statement that this is a nonsensical reading of the situation.

As for the rest of your comments, actually we do know, Mark. How much evidence do you need? I'm not talking about whether we will ever find any chemical or biological weapons in Iraq; I'm talking about what the administration specifically claimed. We *know* that some of those claims were false. And we have excellent reason to believe that the administration knew that some of them were false.

I'll go into more detail later, since I'm late for an appointment, but suffice to say that once you look at the Nigerian documents, the aluminum tubes, the doctored tapped phone conversation, the very specific claims about weapons programs locations, all of which have been shown to be false, and the CIA analysts who complained months ago that their work was being politicized, it takes a real disconnect from reality to *not* think that something was fundamentally broken in this process.

Last, but not least, remember what a former President said, "The buck stops here." Bush can plead ignorance all he wants but at the end of the day, he's the one in charge and he's the one responsible.

Posted by: PaulB at June 24, 2003 03:26 PM

...the difference is I admit my biases and would hope that everyone could do the same... its claiming that we don't spin things to meet our perception that I find odd and unrealistic.

We now know that French intelligence concurred with Secretary of State Colin Powell (and disagreed with some U.S. and international experts) that the aluminum alloy tubes were probably destined for a nuclear program.

...so even though experts disagree you seem confident you know the answer about the tubes...

The British claim that Iraq could fire WMD warheads within 45 minutes of Saddam's order now appears linked to an active senior Iraqi officer, not a dubious defector as critics believed.

... so the British were in on the lies, too... read the verbage carefully... we shouldn't jump to a conclusion in either direction just yet as information is still coming out...

Of the nine Democrats running for president, four voted for the resolution authorizing Mr. Bush to use force against Iraq: Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri and Sens. John Edwards of North Carolina, John Kerry of Massachusetts and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.

...but now they (Probably shouldn't include Lieberman in there with the others.) are going after him for something they supported based on the information they had available... it seems that Clinton, U.N., French, German, CIA and Bush all presented them with the information...

In New Hampshire the other day, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said President Bush broke his promise to build an international coalition against Iraq's Saddam Hussein and then waged a war based on questionable intelligence.

From the official congressional record: Warned Of Saddam Nuclear And Biological Capabilities:

"It is not possible to overstate the ominous implications for the Middle East if Saddam were to develop and successfully militarize and deploy potent biological weapons. We can all imagine the consequences. Extremely small quantities of several known biological weapons have the capability to exterminate the entire population of cities the size of Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. These could be delivered by ballistic missile, but they also could be delivered by much more pedestrian means; aerosol applicators on commercial trucks easily could suffice. If Saddam were to develop and then deploy usable atomic weapons, the same holds true." (Sen. John Kerry, Congressional Record, 11/9/97, pp. S12254 -S12255)

Use Of Force Against Saddam Justified To Prevent WMD Production:

'[Saddam Hussein] cannot be permitted to go unobserved and unimpeded toward his horrific objective of amassing a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. This is not a matter about which there should be any debate whatsoever in the Security Council, or, certainly, in this Nation."(Sen. John Kerry, Congressional Record, 11/9/97, pp. S12254 -S12255)

Military Force Should Be Used Against Suspected WMD

"In my judgment, the Security Council should authorize a strong U.N. military response that will materially damage, if not totally destroy, as much as possible of the suspected infrastructure for developing and manufacturing weapons of mass destruction, as well as key military command and control nodes. Saddam Hussein should pay a grave price, in a currency that he understands and values, for his unacceptable behavior. This should not be a strike consisting only of a handful of cruise missiles hitting isolated targets primarily of presumed symbolic value." (Sen. John Kerry, Congressional Record, 11/9/97, pp. S12254 -S12255)

U.S. May Have To Go It Alone To Stop Saddam:

"Were its willingness to serve in these respects to diminish or vanish because of the ability of Saddam to brandish these weapons, then the ability of the United Nations or remnants of the gulf war coalition, or even the United States acting alone, to confront and halt Iraqi aggression would be gravely damaged." (Sen. John Kerry, Congressional Record, 11/9/97, pp. S12254 -S12255)

U.S. Must Do What It Has To Do, With Or Without Other Nations:

"[W]hile we should always seek to take significant international actions on a multilateral rather than a unilateral basis whenever that is possible, if in the final analysis we face what we truly believe to be a grave threat to the well-being of our Nation or the entire world and it cannot be removed peacefully, we must have the courage to do what we believe is right and wise." (Sen. John Kerry, Congressional Record, 11/9/97, pp. S12254 -S12255)

.... would the real John Kerry please stand up...

...at one point it was a good idea for the Security Council to authorize a strike. At one point he believed there was an "infrastructure for developing and manufacturing weapons of mass destruction...

... I find his stand now confusing...

...Yet, now to judge by the political rhetoric, Bush made the whole thing up. The truth, which falls short of riveting sound byte, is that we don't know what happened to the weapons. We may find them in Iraq or stashed elsewhere; we may discover that our intelligence was flawed...

... so my nonsensical readings come from seemingly opposite statments made by the Democratic leaders. He truly sounds like he is spinning ...

... should I find quotes for more of them... or is that enough to make my point

... I stand by my statements with one modification... not all Democrats are currently spinning... just many of them...

It is true that I don't know all the answers... I am not even sure of the right questions we should be asking, but I don't think anyone else does either...

I recognize my opinions need more time to materialize and more details about the facts... I think it would be truly productive if more could admit the same.


Posted by: Mark Cates at June 24, 2003 05:25 PM

Mark, i for one would take your arguments more seriously if you acknowledged that - stunningly enough - the world isn't the place it was in 1997.

As for your references to the French and the aluminum tubes - help us out here. Where did you find that? It's new to me, and i've tried to follow that one carefully.

The 45 minutes story is so obviously not true that it doesn't matter where it came from (not that i recognize your unsourced comment on that one either). If it were true, we'd know that by now - iraq being the size of california or not.

The degree of danger - the threat assessment - of Iraq was clearly overstated by Bush.

You can claim that it was merely prudent, but please don't tell us that it was fine because of things that John Kerry said in 1997.

Posted by: howard at June 24, 2003 06:33 PM

So I'm now supposed to preface every post I make with a disclaimer about my biases? Sorry, but I don't play that game. I'd find your "holier-than-thou" approach more convincing if you weren't doing precisely what you accuse us of doing. For the record, by the way, I can't seem to find your admission of your biases anywhere on this thread. Care to direct me to it?

"its claiming that we don't spin things to meet our perception that I find odd and unrealistic."

Since nobody here has made that claim, I find your claim to be "odd and unrealistic."

By the way, if you're going to plagiarize material from this site, don't you think you ought to point us to it?

"We now know that French intelligence concurred with Secretary of State Colin Powell ... that the aluminum alloy tubes were probably destined for a nuclear program."

Do we? I'm unable to find a confirmation for that. Colin Powell certainly said that "Most U.S. experts think they are intended to serve as rotors in centrifuges used to enrich uranium," something that was not, and is not, true.

"...so even though experts disagree you seem confident you know the answer about the tubes..."

Actually, yes, but you're still missing the point. The specific claims that the Bush administration made about those tubes are demonstrably false.

"The British claim that Iraq could fire WMD warheads within 45 minutes of Saddam's order now appears linked to an active senior Iraqi officer, not a dubious defector as critics believed."

Again, no confirmation. Moreover, what has that got to do with anything? Again, the specific claim made by Tony Blair (and subsequently by Bush) was false.

"... so the British were in on the lies, too... read the verbage carefully... we shouldn't jump to a conclusion in either direction just yet as information is still coming out..."

I will not jump to conclusions about the existence (or lack thereof) of some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. I do not need to "jump to conclusions" to note that the specific claims made by Bush and Co. have already been proved false.

"Of the nine Democrats running for president,"

And again, some unattributed plagiarism. This came from this site.

"...but now they are going after him for something they supported based on the information they had available"

This is bizarre. The information came from the Bush administration! And it's already been shown to be false. Of course they're going after him. Why the hell wouldn't they?

"In New Hampshire the other day, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said President Bush broke his promise to build an international coalition against Iraq's Saddam Hussein and then waged a war based on questionable intelligence."

I'm assuming that the above either came from the Drudge Report or from the Southern Fried Mind website. And, like the quote above, it does nothing to support your case. Kerry was basing his earlier remarks in Congress on the information that was provided to him by the Bush administration. Now that we know that the information was false, of course he's changed his position.

I could keep doing this but I'm not going to bother. Mark, you've done nothing to prove your point. All you've demonstrated is that you have a real problem with reading comprehension.

Posted by: PaulB at June 24, 2003 06:53 PM

I acknowledge that thw world is a different place than 1997. It is far more dangerous.

Please, tell me you are not going to try and argue that point. I truly would just have to stop if you want to go there...

I almost included links... but I just figured this crowd would discount them... I actually have a healthy appreciation of your scepticism.

http://www.unc.edu/depts/diplomat/archives_roll/2003_04-06/feaver_leader/feaver_leader.html

The 45 comment comes straight from Whitehall


http://politics.guardian.co.uk/iraq/story/0,12956,970680,00.html


I truly believe the danger was understated...


Posted by: Mark Cates at June 24, 2003 06:57 PM

"Yet, now to judge by the political rhetoric, Bush made the whole thing up."

Since nobody has claimed that, this is just another strawman argument of yours. What we are claiming is that Bush lied about a couple of things (the Nigerian documents, the doctored tapped phone call, the IAEA report), exaggerated others (the amount of chemical and biological weapons, the location of these weapons, the specific information about the state of the weapons programs), ignored disclaimers (the aluminum tubes, the trailers), and generally presented a very clearly distorted picture of the state of affairs in Iraq.

"The truth, which falls short of riveting sound byte, is that we don't know what happened to the weapons."

Correct. But since the administration claimed that it did know and since much of that information was very clearly wrong, we can already made our case, regardless of what we find in the future.

"We may find them in Iraq or stashed elsewhere; we may discover that our intelligence was flawed."

We have already discovered the latter, Mark.

Posted by: PaulB at June 24, 2003 06:59 PM

Okay, I'll play your game. Please support your opinion that the world is a "far more dangerous place" than it was in 1997. It's difficult to argue against it when you haven't even made the case for it.

So let's see...no chemical or biological or nuclear weapons, no ties to Al Quaida and you're claiming that the danger was "understated?!"

Wow...how much does it cost to live in your world?

Posted by: PaulB at June 24, 2003 07:02 PM

It's not holier than thou...

I wasn't trying to prove a point... I was trying to offer up more perspective.

Which is why I am not rude and sarcastic.

And I never claimed that I was quoting myself. It was very obvious that I pulled stuff from other sites.


...can't seem to find your admission of your biases anywhere on this thread. Care to direct me
to it?

Yes, your responce shows you read my admission...

Posted by: Mark Cates at June 24, 2003 07:05 PM

I hate it when I make typos. Sorry.

Posted by: Mark Cates at June 24, 2003 08:02 PM
Post a comment









Remember personal info?






Powered by
Movable Type 2.63