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July 15, 2003

MORE SPINNING....Oh, please, not again:

In a new dispute over interpreting intelligence data, the CIA and other agencies objected vigorously to a Bush administration assessment of the threat of Syria's weapons of mass destruction that was to be presented Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

....U.S. officials told Knight Ridder that [Undersecretary of State John] Bolton was prepared to tell members of a House of Representatives International Relations subcommittee that Syria's development of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons had progressed to such a point that they posed a threat to stability in the region.

....Bolton's planned remarks caused a "revolt" among intelligence experts who thought they inflated the progress Syria has made in its weapons programs, said a U.S. official who isn't from the CIA, but was involved in the dispute.

....The first U.S. official said that after months of complaining about pressure to skew their analyses, rank-and-file intelligence officials "have become emboldened" by the recent public debate over Iraq.

"People are fed up," he said.

Well, I'm fed up, that's for sure. What the hell is going on in the Bush administration?

Posted by Kevin Drum at July 15, 2003 08:56 PM | TrackBack


Comments

Can I just say that John Bolton is insane and a public menace and really ought to be locked up and sedated for the rest of his natural life.

I'm sure he fit right in at AEI.

Posted by: Jon H at July 15, 2003 09:14 PM | PERMALINK

You say please not again... I say bring it on.

It's all ballast for when the scales of justice finally sink these liars.

Yeah our credibility is shot. But the sooner we clean house, the sooner we can earn it back.

Good for the spooks.

Posted by: GeorgeG at July 15, 2003 09:19 PM | PERMALINK

Unfucking believable. These people are desperate for war.

Posted by: Mike S. at July 15, 2003 09:19 PM | PERMALINK

One of the most obvious things that is going on is an utter inability to plug leaks from the intelligence agencies. This is a story in itself.

Posted by: Thersites at July 15, 2003 09:21 PM | PERMALINK

A few posts below, Kevin discusses the structural deficit in fiscal policy.

What we have here is an intellectual structural deficit in foreign policy. We have people who believe what they believe, and who reject anything that doesn't fit their preconceptions.

The important sign here, though, is the revolt of the intel analysts community. After the way the Bushies pushed Tenet out there, there is no such thing as a quiet intel analyst on the politicization of intelligence.

Since the Knight Ridder folks have done two great pieces in a row (the pathetic state of postwar Iraq planning and now this one), it seems pretty clear that they've cultivated some good sources, so my bet is that this is far from the last one of these stories we will see.

Posted by: howard at July 15, 2003 09:23 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure what's going on, Kevin, but I think it's a pretty scary thing when the intelligence agencies take it upon themselves to reign in the administration.

And considering the fact that these people probably know better than most what's going on, I think that's one of the scariest things of all.

Posted by: Jonathan at July 15, 2003 09:28 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.sethkushner.com/bolton.jpg

no comment necessary

Posted by: Troy at July 15, 2003 09:35 PM | PERMALINK

What the hell is going on in the Bush administration

It seems clear that it's the subordination of any kind of objective intelligence analysis to the needs of ideology and politics.

You know, business as usual for those guys.

Posted by: Ed Fitzgerald at July 15, 2003 09:38 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.sethkushner.com/bolton.jpg

Jesus wept

Posted by: Mike S. at July 15, 2003 09:38 PM | PERMALINK

Troy
I don't know how or why you found that but it is obvious this guy needs Monica

Posted by: Mike S. at July 15, 2003 09:40 PM | PERMALINK

Wasn't it Bolton who, a few months ago, claimed that Cuba had an advanced bioweapons program (and was slapped down by Jimmy Carter)?

Posted by: P. Clodius at July 15, 2003 09:43 PM | PERMALINK

P. Clodius:

From the article:

"Bolton set off a controversy in May 2002 when he asserted in a speech that Cuba has a biological warfare program. A State Department intelligence expert, Christian Westermann, recently told a closed-door Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that available intelligence data don't support that assertion, U.S. officials have said."

Posted by: Brian A. at July 15, 2003 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

Battleship Potemkin on the Potomac.

Posted by: squiddy at July 15, 2003 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

Why didn't Bolton just suggest a compromise where he would precede every assessment of Syrian WMD with "The British government has learned that..."? Then nobody in the administration would have protested.

Posted by: Haggai at July 15, 2003 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

The Busheviks are alienating people much faster than Nixon's gang did.
I see leaks springing and threads unraveling at a quicker pace than they did during Watergate.
It's a hopeful sign considering all the hell Bush has put us through for two and a half years. The mistrust his administration has engendered is infinitely deserved.

Posted by: DavidB at July 15, 2003 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

Did anybody listen to All Things Considered tonight (7/15), specifically the interview with the analyst from Intelligence Professionals for Sanity? He (and the organization) called for Cheney's resignation over the whole Iraq intel mess.

I can't get my husband's audio to work for me so I haven't listened to it again but it's on the website here:

http://discover.npr.org/features/feature.jhtml?wfId=1337947

I couldn't believe some of the stuff they let this analyst say on NPR. He compared analyzing Bush media communications to analyzing Soviet propaganda (his specialty in days of yore). Then he called for Cheney's resignation.

The tide is turning. I am happy to hear it.

Posted by: Leila A. at July 15, 2003 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

Leila A:
The full story (background and context)is at www.veteransforcommonsense.org. Scroll down a wee bit to the story titled "Former Intelligence Agents Demand Bush Fire Cheney." It's an enlightening read. And you're right -- the tide is turning. Bush and gang are crumbling faster than a dry leaf. At least I hope that's so.

Posted by: DavidB at July 15, 2003 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

The open letter to Bush from VIPS calling for Cheney's head.

Posted by: Linkmeister at July 15, 2003 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

In recent days, as the Bush administration has defended its assertion in the president's State of the Union address that Iraq had tried to buy African uranium, officials have said it was only one bit of intelligence that indicated former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was reconstituting his nuclear weapons program.
But a review of speeches and reports, plus interviews with present and former administration officials and intelligence analysts, suggests that between Oct. 7, when President Bush made a speech laying out the case for military action against Hussein, and Jan. 28, when he gave his State of the Union address, almost all the other evidence had either been undercut or disproved by U.N. inspectors in Iraq.

Start counting the words...

Posted by: PG at July 15, 2003 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

This is what happened when Carter went to Cuba.

Bolton is a shrieking loon. More about him here.

Ahem. We return you to your comments already in progress.

Posted by: julia at July 15, 2003 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

While the Administration likes to invade foreign countries, Tom Delay likes to meddle in other people's elections.

Posted by: Linkmeister at July 16, 2003 12:55 AM | PERMALINK

DavidB used the term "Busheviks"--I like that. The one thing I can say I'll miss about Bush is how easy it is to make fun of his last name. (rimshot)

Posted by: nota bene at July 16, 2003 12:57 AM | PERMALINK

I thought the VIPS memo was appropriately scathing. But was intrigued to read that two ex-CIA analysts resigned the organization over it.

They actually make a halfway decent case for moderation at this point. In CounterPunch, typically not a moderate journal.

http://www.counterpunch.org/christison07152003.html

Posted by: GeorgeG at July 16, 2003 01:12 AM | PERMALINK

One of the main reasons for the war in Iraq was to scare Bush's enemies. This is just another attempt to scare another 'rogue nation' into line.

I don't think they're desperate for war - they're desperate to be feared.

Posted by: Ryan at July 16, 2003 02:28 AM | PERMALINK

Who ever said the State Department was on America's side? Excuse me. They're not. And, the suggestion to medicate Boulton would be a start; but the best thing we can do is FIRE THE WHOLE DEPARTMENT!

Why do you think BUsh is now their enemy? Because he's not willing to roll over. He's a very interesting man. He didn't buy Enron's blackmail and give them a bailout ... as our Congress AND State Department have been doing with despots for 60 years.

When the books are written no one will blame Bush. We've got an old, old problem. That's entrenched. And, the Saudis are nervous ... so my guess is they're paying off all the sources that deliver.

Iran's a real menace. And Tony Baloney has been trying to 'fix' things his way. He's 'for' Arafat. And, 'for' talking with his friends, the arabs. IN both Iraq and Iran. Small time politico. And, a drag on all of us.

Because this is an ongoing, not short cycle, fight against terrorism, it's being done about as best as one can figure. Destabilizing Iraq IS working! Yeah. Saddam's alive and living in a hole.

If that's your measure of success, Osama's alive and living in a hole.

And, it seems the Saudis are digging one. With all that oil they've become a debtor nation. They need high oil prices to survive (but so does Mexico, Venezuela) ... and other spots on the globe that went way overboard on nonsense when they did have money in their coffers.

It's not just nukes that's the worry, anymore.

And, all you can do when you're at war is count the good stuff. Where you're alive. WHere your troops are in place. ANd, where the slaughter doesn't look like the Maginot Line.

Our problems began after WW1. And, how diplomacy has been shitting up everything ever since.

As to Bush controlling the news, nothing could be further from the truth. Because of the insane politics of hatred fought between republicans and democrats, the White House NEEDS to be in photo-op mode. Otherwise they'd always have to put our fires.

Perhaps it's Bush's strength that he doesn't talk all that much, anyway?

But at a time we should be getting serious ... we're still the sheep that the politicians buy so we can be slaughtered after they get into office.

ANyway, anybody whose gonna get the job of president is gonna face the same stuff. Everybody just hangs around waiting for the guy to slip up.

IT'S EITHER A GOOD WAY TO LOSE CONFIDENCE ALL AROUND. OR IT BUILDS CONFIDENCE. I THINK BUSH GETS SUPPORT. I think most of us know there's little a president can do with an out-of-control agency. CIA, FBI, or State. They operate on different wave lengths.

And, for the most part, when this information travels mainstream, but doesn't pick up momentum (against the president), the president wins. And, we win. By definition.

What would I really like to know? I'd really like to know what Bush thinks of Blair now that he got to know him so well in the run up to Iraq. And, those three 'summits' following Saddam's going into his hole. Bush is certainly learning stuff on the job.

Posted by: Carol Herman at July 16, 2003 04:12 AM | PERMALINK

What the hell is going on in the Bush administration?

Meltdown, perhaps?

Posted by: penalcolony at July 16, 2003 04:46 AM | PERMALINK

When the 911 Report gets released, the spinning will reach new heights. Only 16 words? How about 16 CIA/FBI warnings that were ignored? How about 16 incompetent responses, and that's on 9/11 itself, never mind the following days? Methinks it's time for a new gyroscope.

Even Ari would have trouble with it. TIPPING soon at a media frenzy near you.

Posted by: RonZ at July 16, 2003 05:37 AM | PERMALINK

Just how much rope are they going to let us give them?

Posted by: Harry Tuttle at July 16, 2003 05:59 AM | PERMALINK

This is a very old story for these guys--they've beeen pulling this stuff since the mid-70's. Back in those days, many of the same players were involved in the creation of a "Team B" for assessing intelligence on the Soviet Union--the CIA's regular analysts were supposedly too soft on communism. They grossly overestimated the strenght of the Soviet economy (on no better evidence than ideological preconcentions)and therefore Soviet potential for a military buildup. The result was the one-sided "arms race" of the Reagan years--a huge and largely useless military buildup, with serious adverse consequences for our economy. The Soviet Union collapsed, and examination of the old Soviet records revealed that the "Team B" estimates were completely wrong--but somehow these guys retained credibility, claiming, for example, that Reeagan's counterproductive policies had actually won the Cold War.

Here we are again, still not having learned the lesson that intelligence ought to tell you what's happening rather than what you want to hear.

Posted by: rea at July 16, 2003 06:01 AM | PERMALINK

Well at least the press is out in front on this story, rather than engaging in pre-war questioning after the war "ends."

Posted by: Aaron W. Benson at July 16, 2003 06:25 AM | PERMALINK

Boy, that Miami paper sure does get all the angry CIA scoops. Could that be connected to Graham? I know he's itching to say stuff he can't say.
Where are the administration apologists in this thread? I want their lying comments, please.
Bolton is at AEI? That's where CNN's Bill Schneider is, the guy who "interprets" the poll data so CNN viewers know what America thinks. My recent favorite was his explanation that the 38% Democrat base he pullled out of his ear and the 38% of America who felt Bush manipulated the WMD evidence were the same, oh, 100 million people.

Posted by: John Isbell at July 16, 2003 06:33 AM | PERMALINK

They are truly the boys who called Wolfowitz once to often.

Their credibility is totally shot.

Posted by: tristero at July 16, 2003 06:47 AM | PERMALINK

What's going on, you ask? Simple == Bush wants to win handily in 2004 and distract the American public from raising questions about his shaky domestic and economic poliicies. It is clear that he and his administration are prepared to compromise the integrity of government institutions, including our intelligence agencies, for political gain.

Busheviks...very nice.

Posted by: Lisa at July 16, 2003 08:30 AM | PERMALINK

Welcome to the first US war timed to the Presidential election cycle.

Posted by: Roger Bigod at July 16, 2003 08:45 AM | PERMALINK

The degree of naivitee displayed here be the extreme left is absolutely astounding. It is as if you all expect intelligence to be an absolute.

You would think that ostensible intelligent people would understand that intelligence involves disagreements in the ordinary course. Some people think that evidence points one way, some people think it points another way. Which side is right? Who knows - you look at it and make your best judgement.

But that's not what the extreme left does - anybody who disagrees with the Bush Administration is AUTOMATICALLY correct. No need to look at any facts (even if you could, which you can't since they're all classified). The very fact that someone disagrees with Bush Adminstration figures makes that person presumptively correct, and the Bush Administration presumptively lying/spinning/misleading/whatever.

Take the Carter example - could it possibly be that Bolton took one assessment and the State Department took a different one? Why does that automatically make State right and Bolton wrong? How would any of you have any idea? The answer is that you wouldn't, except to fulfill your delusional fantasies about Bush lying/spinning/misleading/whatever.

Posted by: Al at July 16, 2003 09:14 AM | PERMALINK

Please, a plan for action only, not a "well I wouldn't do blah blah blah" with no alternatives offered.

Posted by: spc67 at July 16, 2003 09:21 AM | PERMALINK

>>The degree of naivitee displayed here be the extreme left

Define "extreme left" please.

Posted by: Andy at July 16, 2003 09:21 AM | PERMALINK

Calpundit: Objectively Pro-Syria

Posted by: Realish at July 16, 2003 09:28 AM | PERMALINK

The degree of naivitee displayed here be the extreme left is absolutely astounding.

are you sure you're in the right place? i don't think anyone here could be labelled "extreme left", not on any rational scale.

surely you can't be concluding that anyone who disagrees with Bush (or you) must AUTOMATICALLY belong to the "extreme left", right? 'cause if you were, why that would be astoundingly naive.

Posted by: ChrisL at July 16, 2003 09:31 AM | PERMALINK

Please, a plan for action only, not a "well I wouldn't do blah blah blah" with no alternatives offered.

spc67, you coming to a weblog for policy ideas? Sure thing. Try Howard Dean's blog.

When I announce my candidacy, I'll put forth my platform. Until then, I'm just happy to help Bush dig a hole so deep he'll never see daylight again.

Posted by: zippy at July 16, 2003 09:31 AM | PERMALINK

Zippy,

Glad to see your constructive approach.

Posted by: spc67 at July 16, 2003 09:36 AM | PERMALINK

We were beginning to think you had given up, guys.

"Extreme Left", indeed. You need to read Chomsky for some perspective, bud.

The issue, of course, isn't the postmodernist rationalization that no intelligence is absolute. Of course it isn't. However, that's beside the point:

1) Intelligence comes with varying degrees of certainty, from "virtually no evidence to support it" to "we saw it with our own two eyes".

2) If you knowingly spin the former into the latter in order to support an agenda, it's dishonest and reckless, and you deserve to be called on it. If you're a trusted official and it's your job to present the whole story and you do the above, you deserve to be canned.

3) If you're the President and you knowingly spin the former into the latter in order to get us into a war, it a complete betrayal of the American People's trust. Again, people trust and rely upon you to present the whole story and make balanced decisions. If you can't, you also deserve to be canned.

Given the specious canard you floated above, it seems to me that the posters on this board aren't the ones who are willing to take anything on face value that supports a given position.

spc67 -- Yet another specious argument. By your logic, for example, you shouldn't criticize the work your local auto mechanic did if you couldn't have done better yourself. That's simply silly.

But I'll bite. How's this for a plan for action: let's not attack Syria?

You know, a little common-sense diplomacy used to be seen as a worthwhile thing. I dare say we got a lot of mileage out of it, too...

Posted by: Jonathan at July 16, 2003 09:41 AM | PERMALINK

spc67, just what "plan of action" do you think is required here? For that matter, isn't the "plan of action" already implied by the article, e.g., listen to your intelligence analysts and don't pressure them to skew their analyses?

Posted by: PaulB at July 16, 2003 09:45 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry folks, I posted my second to last on the wrong thread *doh*

To those of you who offered constructive comments anyway, thanks...*slinking away in embarrassment*

Posted by: spc67 at July 16, 2003 09:50 AM | PERMALINK

Let's see - definition for "extreme left"? Howabout anyone associated with "Counterpunch.org" (such as this VIPS group) and anyone who would give such people any credibility.

Posted by: Al at July 16, 2003 09:54 AM | PERMALINK

What the hell is going on in the Bush administration?

Just the natural consequenses of staffing the Executive branch with a posse of liars, thieves and delusional ideologues.

These are precisely, I believe, the people Eisenhower was trying to warn us all about with his "military industrial complex" speech.

Posted by: Hart at July 16, 2003 09:59 AM | PERMALINK

Howabout anyone associated with "Counterpunch.org"

Yes, we know all good, middle of the road Americans get their news from the AEI...

Posted by: Hart at July 16, 2003 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

"Let's see - definition for "extreme left"? Howabout anyone associated with "Counterpunch.org" (such as this VIPS group) and anyone who would give such people any credibility."

Suprious indeed, Al. Attacking the messenger and guilt by association, with nothing at all save your assertion to back it up. Such feeble argumentation is scarcely worthy of a response, but I'll go ahead, just to demonstrate how silly and wrong you are.

The VIPS group was "associated" with Counterpunch.org inasmuch as the latter reported on the former. A member of VIPS's steering committe was also interviewed yesterday evening on NPR -- are they, too "extreme left"? And if so, how so? Moreover, VIPS is made up of former intelligence professionals -- career officers, not political appointees. The thrust of VIPS' argument is that policitcal operatives (Cheney, for example) pressured intel analysts to abandon their duty to present objective analysis and instead provide only intel that backed the Administration's predetermined position. This contention has been reported from several quarters; Google it yourself and see.

So the question for you is manifold: Do you deny that any political pressure was brought to bear on the intelligence apparatus? Do you deny that the Administration apparently disregarded a vast amount of intelligence and apparatus undermining their preconceptions in favor of carefully-parsed misrepresentations of intelligence that supported them? Or do you admit that those occurred and condone it?

Perhaps if you can make a good case to answer those questions, your so-called argument would be worthy of serious consideration, but for the present it falls quite short. Have a nice day.

Posted by: Gregory at July 16, 2003 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

One would have to completely blind to compare Counterpunch's degree of extremism with AEI's... I doubt, for example, that AEI has put out any papers comparing Clinton to Hitler, like Counterpunch has with respect to Bush (http://www.counterpunch.org/lindorff02012003.html).

So, yeah, if you are involved with an outfit that it comparing your political opponents to Hitler, you are an extremist.

Posted by: Al at July 16, 2003 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

"The VIPS group was "associated" with Counterpunch.org inasmuch as the latter reported on the former."

Ummm, no. Nice try deceiving us all, but wrong, Gregory. VIPS is intimately related to Counterpunch.

Take but one example: what is VIPS's e-mail address? It is vips@counterpunch.org. (See http://www.counterpunch.org/vips02082003.html)

Posted by: Al at July 16, 2003 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

So, yeah, if you are involved with an outfit that it comparing your political opponents to Hitler, you are an extremist.

do you mean the article that only mentions Hitler in the title and the last paragraph, and then only to say:

It's going a bit far to compare the Bush of 2003 to the Hitler of 1933. Bush simply is not the orator that Hitler was. But comparisons of the Bush Administration's fear mongering tactics to those practiced so successfully and with such terrible results by HItler and Goebbels on the German people and their Weimar Republic are not at all out of line.

?

whew. that's pretty radical stuff, accusing Bush of fear-mongering.

Posted by: ChrisL at July 16, 2003 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Chris L, comparing Bush to Hitler is fine and dandy as long you just do it a little bit, right?

Posted by: Al at July 16, 2003 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Al,

I'll stand corrected inasmuch as VIPS has an email account at Counterpuch, but I would hardly go so far as to call a matter of Internet hosting that "intimately connected." I also suggest you tone down the "deceiving us all" rhetoric. I see nothing to indicate that you have not been treated with courtesy, despite the aforementioned fallacies in your argument (which, I notice, you completely fail to address). If you're going to insist on repaying courtesy with insult, you're going to mark yourself as unworthy of acknowledgement, let alone polite conversation.

That said, VIPS has been reported on elsewhere; so once again, are these various organizations also all "extreme left"? And does that canard also apply to the veteran intelligence professionals who make up the organization? And even if it does, in what way does it render their allegations incorrect?

Your attack-the-messenger fallacy is as transparent as it is ineffective. The question before you is, was or was not intelligence about Iraq politicized, and if so, do you condone it?

Posted by: Gregory at July 16, 2003 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, and with regard to ChrisL's comment, Al, once again you engage in fallacy without addressing the argument. The article compares Bush's propaganda technique with those employed by the German government. Your objections raise the question: In what way is that untrue?

[And please note for the record that I am not asserting that Bush's propaganda techniques *are* like the Nazis', I'm merely wondering if you can produce an actual argument to support your position.]

If you can demonstrate that the comparison is invalid, your objection holds water; otherwise, why should anyone take it seriously?

Posted by: Gregory at July 16, 2003 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Here, I'll help you out. I'll be more specific:

The article says:

"Comparisons of the Bush Administration's fear mongering tactics to those practiced so successfully and with such terrible results by HItler and Goebbels on the German people and their Weimar Republic are not at all out of line."

Your argument implies that they are. The obvious question is, in what way?

Posted by: Gregory at July 16, 2003 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Chris L, comparing Bush to Hitler is fine and dandy as long you just do it a little bit, right?

yup - especially when he doesn't even compare Geroge Bush to Adolph Hitler. his article is on the Bush administration's propaganda efforts leading up to the Iraq war.

just for the record: i'm not defending that article, since i don't think it was exceptionally well written or insightful. but i at least read it - did you?

Posted by: ChrisL at July 16, 2003 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Just for fun.

Posted by: nota bene at July 16, 2003 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Good one, Gregory. And all Silvio Berlusconi said was that the German MP would be a good person to play the part of Nazi concentration camp commander in a movie- which is not the same as calling the guy a Nazi or anything, right? Puh-leaze. I don't intend to get into a discussion about whether Bush is like Hitler... I'll just leave that for you extreme lefties to kick around among yourselves.

Posted by: Al at July 16, 2003 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

The problem with Godwin's Law is that people like Al routinely invoke it to pretend that all comparisons of anyone at all to Hitler or Nazi Germany are inherently invalid, regardless of any resemblances that might or might not exist.

(Unless, of course, the individual so compared is a person with whom the Bush administration wishes to start a war, in which case copious Hitler comparisons are right, just, and entirely in order.)

Posted by: Canadian Reader at July 16, 2003 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Is there a corollary to Godwin's Law that accounts for comparisons to other comparisons to Nazis? Jeez. WTF does Berlusconi have to do with this?

Posted by: nota bene at July 16, 2003 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

And Silvio Berlusconi got in trouble because comparing someone to a Nazi concentration camp guard is rude. In the interests of good diplomatic relations, governments are required to be careful about when and where they are rude to high officials of other governments. The question about whether the German MP did in fact have a bearing that invited such comparisons is entirely separate. Maybe he did -- I know nothing about the man.

Similarly, when an aide to Chretien grumbled that Bush was a moron and was subsequently forced to resign, that didn't mean Bush wasn't a moron, or that discussions about the US President's intelligence ought to be forbidden. It just meant that, as someone associated with the Canadian government, it was not part of her job description to make rude remarks about the head of state of a friendly neighboring state.

Posted by: Canadian Reader at July 16, 2003 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

As long as we're talking about fascist tactics, check this out. I'm not sure how seriously to take this, but if any of this is true, it puts the lie to the humanitarian argument for going to war in Iraq.

The Russian Foreign Minister had a good line back in March. He said "Iraq does not need democracy brought on the wings of a Tomahawk."

Posted by: nota bene at July 16, 2003 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

I don't intend to get into a discussion about whether Bush is like Hitler.

No one's asking you to. The question was whether you could support your implied contention that, as the article actually said, Bush's wartime propaganda was like Goebbels'. Apparently not.

I've also repeatedly invited you to address the core question here -- Did the Administration politicize intelligence, and if so do you condone it? You've just as repeatedly dodged that question with non sequitirs, red herrings and ad hominems.

As such, you're entirely absolved yourself from being taken seriously. Have a nice day.

Posted by: Gregory at July 16, 2003 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

See, Canadian Reader, you are missing the whole point about "Godwin's Law". Perhaps there may be some vaguely valid comparison to Nazis in some case or another. But the point is that generally people who make such comparisons to Nazis are so extreme that one are not going to get anywhere by discussing the matter, so one ought not waste one's time trying.

And I think that point applies perfectly here.

Posted by: Al at July 16, 2003 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, Godwin's Law applies to comment boards, Usenet, etc. Godwin never in hell meant it had anything to do with anything else. Reporters, journalists, hell, even politicians are all held to a higher standard than yahoos like you and me scribbling on bulletin boards. Internet discussions have a tendency to get pretty rowdy, because it's like a conversation, only you don't have to worry about being punched in the mouth. So Nazi comparisons come thick and heavy sometimes. In any event, you're still dodging questions.

Posted by: nota bene at July 16, 2003 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

And the difference between "comments boards, Usenet" and this comment section is what, exactly?

Posted by: Al at July 16, 2003 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

God, you're good at missing the point. You brought up the counterpunch/VIPS thing. I'm saying those guys, not being on comment boards, aren't covered by Godwin's Law.

Posted by: nota bene at July 16, 2003 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Bringing up Hitler hardly qualifies as a discrediting factor, of course. And it's not as though that's all Counterpunch has ever done. Furthermore, being linked to an organization that has done that is hardly a sign of an extremist organization. Finally, it makes little sense to write off everything someone who might be linked to an organization who made a reference to Hitler says.

Talk about your non sequiturs.

Al, do you have any intention of answering any of the legitimate questions put to you, or are you just trolling?

Posted by: Jonathan at July 16, 2003 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Fine, nota bene. The Counterpunch people can publish whatever they want comparing Bush to Hitler. And I can ignore Counterpunch as a bunch of extremists for publishing that crap. Not the same as "ending the thread", but it follows the same general principle.

In any case, I think that the lefties here trying to defend Counterpunch's Hitler comparison DO fall under the "ending the thread" principle...

Posted by: Al at July 16, 2003 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

Al,

As I see it, no so-called "leftie" here is defending a comparison between Bush and Hitler. Indeed, myself and others have explicitly disclaimed any defense, while pointing out that a) the article did not, in fact, conflate Bush with Hitler, and b) challenging you to demonstrate why the comparison of tactics is, in fact, inappropriate. I submit that if -- and please note that I said if -- Bush's scare propaganda is indeed similar to Goebbels', that the comparison is fair to point out. You have dodged that question repeatedly.

Need I also remind you that once again you refuse to go on record as to whether you acknowledge or condone Bush's politicizing of intelligence?

You're withing your rights to "ignore Counterpunch as a bunch of extremists." However, until you stop ignoring the substantive questions on this thread -- including the veracity of the accusations made by VIPS -- your arguments are simply so much hot air.

Posted by: Gregory at July 16, 2003 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

That article doesn't even mention Hitler until the last paragraph. They're talking about propaganda techniques. They might as well be talking about any other government that's used propaganda. This is a war, after all--what makes you think there isn't propaganda floating around? And don't you think you should be examining it critically?

Posted by: nota bene at July 16, 2003 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

nota bene--

I think I've been polite enough to indulge in a cheap shot at Al's expense, but I think the obvious answer to your question is no, he seems to have no intention of examining it critically.

Al, if you answer the questions I've posed, I'll cheerfully stand corrected.

Posted by: Gregory at July 16, 2003 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Greg, I think you're sitting, and I think you're already correct. Ta-dum.

Posted by: nota bene at July 16, 2003 01:06 PM | PERMALINK

Don't know what to tell ya, Gregory. Any comparison between Bush and Nazis - whether it relates to their media tactics, or to their war-like behavior, or to their haircuts - is an invocation of Godwin's Law, as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: Al at July 16, 2003 01:19 PM | PERMALINK

Al,

It seems you don't indeed know what to tell me. You're free to consider any comparison between Bush and the Nazis as an invocation of Godwin's Law. You're free to discount the entire article because of its offhand mention in its concluding paragraphs. You're free to extend that attitude to the entire site that hosted the article. You're free to impugn the credibility of any person or organization associated with that site (and I'll grant that having email hosting is an association, although I won't go so far as to say an intimate one; however, you've far from established that VIPS has any control over Counterpounch's editorial policy). And you're free, apparently, to reject the mounting evidence that Bush and Company politicized intelligence because a group of people whose email is hosted by a Web site that contained an article with a passing comparison between Bush's propaganda style and that of Goebbels -- the validity of which you're free to refuse to even consider.

And we're free to accord that stance the credibility it deserves: zero.

Have a nice day.

Posted by: Gregory at July 16, 2003 02:05 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry --

This sentence should read "And you're free, apparently, to reject the mounting evidence that Bush and Company politicized intelligence because a group of people whose email is hosted by a Web site that contained an article with a passing comparison between Bush's propaganda style and that of Goebbels -- the validity of which you're free to refuse to even consider -- say so.

Got lost in my dependent clauses. However, my conclusion remains the same.

Posted by: Gregory at July 16, 2003 02:07 PM | PERMALINK

>>The degree of naivitee displayed here be the extreme left

You think Kevin is the extreme left?

Gloriosky.

What a fine balanced group you must spend your time with.

Posted by: julia at July 16, 2003 07:35 PM | PERMALINK

Something that gets forgotten is that John Bolton was personally responsible for scuppering treaties on the proliferation of biological weapons, chemical weapons and small arms; and for the ousting of the chairman of the independent chemical weapons anti-proliferation body. This was in the pre-Sept-11 era, when Bolton's rationale was that no filthy foreigners would be allowed to inspect American facilities working on potential chemical and biological agents, and that American arms dealers ought not be burdened with accounting for the guns they shipped to the world's war zones.

In short, the man is run through with an axis of evil.

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Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are `It might have been.

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