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November 08, 2003

POLITICIZING INTELLIGENCE....Given what we've learned since the war ended, it's now pretty obvious even to hardened partisans that the administration politicized intelligence about Iraq before the war. They exaggerated the threat of nuclear weapons and other WMD, they insisted on al-Qaeda connections that never existed, and they attacked the patriotism and moral purpose of anyone who questioned what they were doing.

Even the traditionally bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee has gotten in on the politicization act, desperately trying to blame intelligence failures solely on the CIA in order to prevent any investigation into the president or his administration. "The executive was ill-served by the intelligence community," said Pat Roberts, chairman of the committee, explaining his point of view a couple of weeks ago while trying to keep a straight face.

Unsurprisingly, Democrats on the committee are unhappy about this and want a wider ranging inquiry that actually tries to get to the truth of what happened. What's more, it turns out they actually have a plan to force this to happen, a plan that some Republican staffer seems to have came across while rooting through Capitol Hill trash cans.

Republicans are pretending to be outraged. But I read the memo, and while it's always a bit embarrassing to have internal strategy discussions made public, there's really nothing even remotely to be ashamed of in this one. If you don't believe me, just go ahead and read the memo itself. Here it is, along with a translation:

The Memo

What It Means

We have carefully reviewed our options under the rules and believe we have identified the best approach. Our plan is as follows:

1) Pull the majority along as far as we can on issues that may lead to major new disclosures regarding improper or questionable conduct by administration officials. We are having some success in that regard. For example, in addition to the president's State of the Union speech, the chairman has agreed to look at the activities of the Office of the Secretary of Defense as well as Secretary Bolton's office at the State Department. The fact that the chairman supports our investigations into these offices and co-signs our requests for information is helpful and potentially crucial. We don't know what we will find but our prospects for getting the access we seek is far greater when we have the backing of the majority. (Note: we can verbally mention some of the intriguing leads we are pursuing.)

We should work with the majority whenever we can. We've had a bit of success doing that already.

2) Assiduously prepare Democratic "additional views" to attach to any interim or final reports the committee may release. Committee rules provide this opportunity and we intend to take full advantage of it. In that regard, we have already compiled all the public statements on Iraq made by senior administration officials. We will identify the most exaggerated claims and contrast them with the intelligence estimates that have since been declassified. Our additional views will also, among other things, castigate the majority for seeking to limit the scope of the inquiry. The Democrats will then be in a strong position to reopen the question of establishing an independent commission (i.e. the Corzine amendment).

However, we've also run into quite a bit of stonewalling in order to protect the president, so we should be prepared to release a minority report showing how and where the administration exaggerated pre-war intelligence.

3) Prepare to launch an independent investigation when it becomes clear we have exhausted the opportunity to usefully collaborate with the majority. We can pull the trigger on an independent investigation at any time -- but we can only do so once. The best time to do so will probably be next year either:

In addition, while we should give the Republicans every possible chance to do a fair job, in the end we should be prepared to call for an independent investigation if they refuse.

A) After we have already released our additional views on an interim report -- thereby providing as many as three opportunities to make our case to the public: 1) additional views on the interim report; 2) announcement of our independent investigation; and 3) additional views on the final investigation; or

We can either do this after the interim report is released....

B) Once we identify solid leads the majority does not want to pursue. We could attract more coverage and have greater credibility in that context than one in which we simply launch an independent investigation based on principled but vague notions regarding the "use" of intelligence.

....Or we can do it once we've got some especially solid evidence to pursue.

In the meantime, even without a specifically authorized independent investigation, we continue to act independently when we encounter foot-dragging on the part of the majority. For example, the FBI Niger investigation was done solely at the request of the vice chairman; we have independently submitted written questions to DoD; and we are preparing further independent requests for information.

Of course, in the meantime we should continue to fight Republican stonewalling whenever it crops up.

Summary
Intelligence issues are clearly secondary to the public's concern regarding the insurgency in Iraq. Yet, we have an important role to play in the revealing the misleading -- if not flagrantly dishonest methods and motives -- of the senior administration officials who made the case for a unilateral, preemptive war. The approach outline above seems to offer the best prospect for exposing the administration's dubious motives and methods.

Summary
These issues aren't the biggest thing on the public's mind, but revealing the way that Republicans politicized intelligence before the war is still an important thing to do.


Bottom line: Republicans want to limit the investigation in order to protect the president. Democrats are fighting this because they think the president had a lot to do with the misuse of prewar intelligence.

There's nothing wrong with this, and it wouldn't have happened if Republicans had been willing to conduct a fair and thorough investigation in the first place. So let's save the mock outrage, OK?

Posted by Kevin Drum at November 8, 2003 02:03 PM | TrackBack


Comments

As a righty, I keep tying to work up outrage over this. But I keep reading and rereading the memorandum, and there just is not much here. There may be nothing at all here.

Kevin, your point three isn't quite fair, there is no "if" in the memo, it's a "when," but that's a very minor quibble. Good post.

Posted by: spc67 at November 8, 2003 02:09 PM | PERMALINK

Agreed. There just isn't that much within the memo. Nothing about elections, for example.

Thus, I cannot imagine this story having legs -- unless the Republicans do as Josh Marshall suggests they might -- and use this as an excuse to shut down the investigation.

Of course, if the Republicans do shut it down, the memo already outlines the Democratic strategic response. It would merely hasten the independent investigation they already intend to perform.

Posted by: Rodger at November 8, 2003 02:23 PM | PERMALINK

You've done an admirable job carrying water here, since there's really not much you can do.

I see that your hyperlink to the post suggests that you buy the assertion that the memo must have been found in the trash. (no qualifications in your language, are there?) You don't consider that there's a chance that a staffer (or congressman) on the Dem side released the memo because he or she feels that the plan laid out in the memo would be wrong, huh? How likely is it, do you think, that such memos make it to the trash without being shredded?

Your use of the word 'if' when the memo says 'when' is noted.

Your re-write of the summary is beautiful, especially the first sentence, where you take their comparison of the relative importance of intelligence issues to public opinion and spin it as a comparison of public opinion of intelligence issues and stability in Iraq.

It's really too bad that the Republicans got ahold of this memo, they need to be held accountable for their failures. Or perhaps I should say that it's too bad the only people who could have been in a position to hold them accountable are the people who would produce a memo like this.

Then again, maybe this memo really never was distributed. Maybe.

Posted by: MattJ at November 8, 2003 02:26 PM | PERMALINK

How likely is it, do you think, that such memos make it to the trash without being shredded?

it's not uncommon

Posted by: ChrisL at November 8, 2003 02:30 PM | PERMALINK

Admirable job of carrying water there MattJ. The spreading of the rumor of some outraged staffer releasing this because its beyond the pale, priceless. Pretending that there actually is something there without actually showing it, again beautiful. and pretending to be a non-partisan and finding such harsh language to affect your delicate sensibilities, wow.

Posted by: Rob at November 8, 2003 02:33 PM | PERMALINK

it's not uncommon

That's a joke, right? You're claiming that CNN got the memo out of someone's trash, instead of from someone directly?

Are you also saying that internal memos between members of the intelligence committee just get tossed?

Posted by: MattJ at November 8, 2003 02:33 PM | PERMALINK

I guess I see it a lot worse than you do. The memo, to me, makes it clear that the Democrats are not interested in investigating our intelligence problems, but rather in using the results of the investigation to attack the President. In the course of a war, while intelligence is of the utmost importance, it seems to me that we should be concentrating on making sure that we fix our intelligence problems... but apparently that's not what Democrats are interested in.

To me, this is far, FAR more important that the "outing" of an intelligence analyst whose network was closed up in 1994 when she was ORIGINALLY outed by Aldrich Ames. She is merely one cog - and certainly not an important cog, given that her network was ended years ago. Yet the lefties seems to think she is important, while using an investigation of our overall intelligence problems as merely a partisan act as "nothing even remotely to be ashamed of". OK... well at least we know that you phony outrage about Plame is just that -- phony. You obviously don't care at all about intelligence, just about attacking Bush.

Posted by: Al at November 8, 2003 02:35 PM | PERMALINK

PS - the Foxnews reporter has said that he got the memorandum legitimately - not from the trash or from unauthorized access to someone's computer.

Posted by: Al at November 8, 2003 02:37 PM | PERMALINK

The flack from the memo serves up the proof that the right thinks just like they communicate - in sound bites. The only words they saw were "pull the trigger" "best time" "next year". Smoking gun!

Posted by: Poputonian at November 8, 2003 02:39 PM | PERMALINK

You're claiming that CNN got the memo out of someone's trash, instead of from someone directly?

i'm not claiming anything like that. i'm saying memos get leaked, often. who cares if it came from the "trash" ?

Posted by: ChrisL at November 8, 2003 02:42 PM | PERMALINK

it seems to me that we should be concentrating on making sure that we fix our intelligence problems... but apparently that's not what Democrats are interested in.

that's cute.

say, how's the 9/11 report going?

Posted by: ChrisL at November 8, 2003 02:44 PM | PERMALINK

Oh please, Al, spare us the self-righteous garbage. Were you as indignant when the Republicans actually shut down the government in a botched attempt for political gain in 1995?

Of course there is a political component to this, there is a political component to anything Congress does. But saying that Democrats aren't interested in knowing what intelligence failures
occurred is crap. The specter of another 9/11 hangs over every member of Congress, regardless of party, and any intelligence failure has to be looked upon as a matter of national security. If the Democrats are suspicious of the White House's motives in twisting this intelligence for their own purposes, how can you possibly blame them? Whether they are lies, misrepresentations, or simple errors, the fact remains that what the administration told the American people leading up the war is stunningly disconnected from reality, and an investigation is both appropriate and warranted.

Even the Army, not known for its extreme partisanship, routinely investigates itself after operations in order to find out what they did wrong and what they can do better next time. If you want to accuse anyone of partisanship, better do it of the Republicans if they continue to stonewall the investigation.

Posted by: Ted at November 8, 2003 02:54 PM | PERMALINK

What is the opinion about those words "pull the trigger" "best time" "next year"?

A. Unfortunate choice, no malice intended.
B. A warning shot; the matter won't be dropped.
C. We've got leverage to impact the election

Posted by: Poputonian at November 8, 2003 02:55 PM | PERMALINK

FYI, the intelligence about suspected upcoming bombings in Saudi Arabia, unfortunately, was right.

Posted by: ChrisL at November 8, 2003 03:19 PM | PERMALINK

Oh Kevin, it's such a great thing that you float between the Repug world and the Demies too.

Got to love ya love you dude. (did you think maybe the Dem's wanted the Repugies to find that stupidly (as--especially that moron Sen. Kyl--to find this thing) I mean really, what a riot.

Great breakdown Kevin, you're such a jewel. I wonder, I really do, What will NRO say??? Get to your keyboard Jonah Goldberg. Now would be good!

And what about Glennuendo (n.). What will he say? (and does anyone beside me think that sounds like some kind of Mexican food entree?)


Posted by: Cheryl at November 8, 2003 03:28 PM | PERMALINK

Al, let me educate you on the difference between this memo and the outing -- no scare quotes needed, thank you -- of Valerie Plame.

The latter is a felony; the former is not.

Clear enough?

Posted by: Gregory at November 8, 2003 03:33 PM | PERMALINK

Bob Kerrey (former Democratic Senator and vice-chairman of the Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence) described the memo as "an example of the destructive side of partisan politics" and said that claiming that the Republicans are also partisan "is neither a comfort nor a defensible rationalization". He concluded that "for the sake of peace and security, Americans should hope and insist that this cynical memorandum be used as a wake-up call to push the partisan politics out of the work of these committees."

Kevin Drum says "there's nothing wrong with this" memo, and blames all of the partisan games on the Republicans. He concludes "let's save the mock outrage, OK?"

How sad is it that Democratic Senators can be more honest about this being inappropriate partisanship than supposedly fair commentators?

Posted by: Frank at November 8, 2003 03:39 PM | PERMALINK

There is, of course a political component to this. But it's in response to the rather obvious political stonewalling from the Republicans. Basically, the memo just says that if Republicans are going to play their side, then so will we. It's really not very remarkable, and even the language of the memo is pretty mild.

Obviously, both sides are interested in using this for political advantage, but it strikes me that if there's a party to accuse of not being interested in truly investigating the full scope of our intelligence failures, it's the Republicans. They only want half the story.

One more note: after I read the memo, my first thought was "What's the big deal?" I held off for a couple of days writing about it because I was afraid maybe I had missed something important. Maybe there was something in there that was pretty sleazy and I just didn't realize it.

Nope. There's just nothing there, and I think the best way to show that is to reproduce the memo itself in full.

Posted by: Kevin Drum at November 8, 2003 03:39 PM | PERMALINK

josh marshall has some good posts on this. Their reaction to this will demonstrate whether or not the Congressional Democrats have shed their pink tutus.

Posted by: roublen vesseau at November 8, 2003 03:43 PM | PERMALINK

Its amazing how people are upset with the Democrats are using the fact the adminsitration used lies to get the US into war for political reasons in a political way and not the fact the administration lied to get the US into a war for political reasons.

Posted by: Rob at November 8, 2003 03:45 PM | PERMALINK

From the Washington Post website:

"Frist Freezes Senate Probe of Prewar Iraq Data"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A14010-2003Nov7.html

In brief: Unless some Democrat steps forward and grovels at the feet of Roberts, Frist isn't going to let the investigation go forward.

Posted by: Michael at November 8, 2003 03:47 PM | PERMALINK

To me, this is far, FAR more important that the "outing" of an intelligence analyst whose network was closed up in 1994 when she was ORIGINALLY outed by Aldrich Ames. She is merely one cog - and certainly not an important cog, given that her network was ended years ago.

It isn't clear whether she was outed by Ames. According to one account, the Agency prodently decided to act as if she had, or might be later. Clearly, they aren't going to give details. And the story about ames could be a deception.

And whether Ames had outed her is irrelevant. If I rob a bank and the vault turns out to be empty, this doesn't make me innocent.

Posted by: Roger Bigod at November 8, 2003 03:54 PM | PERMALINK

Roger's comment is quite correct. Recall that Novak said *two* Administration officials blew her cover; the fact that one did hardly exonerates the second one.

And the crime is *more serious* than merely leaking classified data. Or perhaps, Al, you're accusing Bush Senior of bogus outrage when he likened the crime to treason and personally pushed for the law in question.

Posted by: Gregory at November 8, 2003 03:55 PM | PERMALINK

One anonymous Democrat claims "that Republicans had probably stolen the memo from a trash can or a computer file". From this overwhelming evidence, Kevin Drum concludes that it is an established fact that the memo is something that "some Republican staffer came across while rooting through Capitol Hill trash cans".

This doesn't say much for Mr. Drum's credulity, does it?

The memo states that they should "prepare to launch an independent investigation when it becomes clear we have exhausted the opportunity to usefully collaborate with the majority". It then cautions that they can only pull this off once, so they must carefully pick the optimal time for maximal political gain.

Kevin Drum "translates" this as "we should be prepared to call for an independent investigation if they refuse".

I can't believe that Mr. Drum's reading comprehension is honestly this poor. All of his "translation" is pure spin.

For me, this memo provided a litmus test for Calpundit: Can it be a reliable source for information from a liberal but open-minded viewpoint?

Now I have my answer...

Posted by: Frank at November 8, 2003 03:57 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, have you noticed that the people who praise you as a "rational Democrat" tend to turn on you when you disagree with them?

SPC67 is an exception today. Good for him.

To review the last 200 years or so of American history: one reason we have a two-party system is so that the two parties can monitor one another. It's an aspect of the adversarial check-and-balance system I was taught about in eighth grade.

To put it in simple language, partisanship is a good thing. If Kerrey disagrees with me, too bad for Kerrey.

Bush has shown himself to be incompetent and dishonest. The Republicans aren't going to dump him so it's the Democrats duty to do so. (I bet that a few Republicans are hoping and praying that we will). That's what the two-party system is for. (People unhappy with our American two-party system can go somewhere where there's a one party system -- e.g., China -- or where there's a a no-party system -- e.g. Saudi Arabia.)

Bush has screwed things up bad enough that nobody knows how to fix it. Getting him out of there is the place to begin. The Republicans want to make the C-in-C untouchable, and they demand that the Democrats say exactly how they're going to clean up his mess.

But what they're doing amounts to rewarding Bush for failure. And this from the "accountability-and-results" "the adults are in charge" folks!

Posted by: Zizka at November 8, 2003 03:57 PM | PERMALINK

"(People unhappy with our American two-party system can go somewhere where there's a one party system -- e.g., China -- or where there's a a no-party system -- e.g. Saudi Arabia.)"

Yep, covered all the possibilities there, didn't we?

Posted by: sc at November 8, 2003 04:07 PM | PERMALINK

I'm guessing that the reason the memo uses "when", rather than "if", is that its authors have been paying attention.

Posted by: Nick at November 8, 2003 04:15 PM | PERMALINK

Frank: I don't know about the trashcan thing, but it seems likely. An actual leak from a Dem staffer seems extremely improbable.

As for "when" vs. "if," the context seems pretty clear. The staffer who wrote this thinks the Republicans are going to continue to stonewall -- a pretty reasonable conclusion -- and says the Dems should be prepared for that. They will call for an independent investigation only when all other avenues have been exhausted. That seems pretty plain.

Also: I read Kerrey's op-ed piece because, as I mentioned, I was looking to see if I'd missed something that someone more knowledgable would pick up on. But Kerrey didn't say anything. He just said partisanship was bad without explaining what was so bad about the memo. Ironically, it was after reading Kerrey's piece that I decided my initial reaction was probably correct.

Posted by: Kevin Drum at November 8, 2003 04:20 PM | PERMALINK

I'm guessing that the reason the memo uses "when", rather than "if", is that its authors were intending to launch an independent investigation (for purely political reasons) no matter how cooperative the Republicans on the committee were.

My "guess" is based on the actual words in the memo, which seem pretty clear to me.

That's really the whole point. The memo makes it clear that whoever wrote it is more concerned with exploiting this issue for partisan gain than with fixing any problems in our intelligence gathering capabilities.

That's wrong, and it deserves condemnation. As Kerrey (and others) have tried to explain, such partisanship is NOT the norm on the intelligence committees. These committees literally CAN NOT properly function in such a partisan environment.

For bloggers who are outraged over the Plame affair to shrug this off as business as usual (which it isn't) speaks volumes about their real priorities.

Putting partisanship ahead of national security is disgraceful no matter which party does it. I would have hoped more Democratic loyalists were capable of seeing that.

Posted by: Frank at November 8, 2003 04:40 PM | PERMALINK

So let me get this straight:
The Democrats are planning to take a course of action (agressive investigations of pre-war intelligence) that is inherently good for the country, and try to make political profit from it.

Those scoundrels!

Reminds me of all those conservatives who decried Elliot Spitzer's investigations into Wall Street because he was "politicaly ambitious".
If only we had more "politicaly ambitious" souls in Washington.

Mark me down as being staunchly pro "ferretting out corruption and then gaining politicaly from the ensuing coverage".

Posted by: WillieStyle at November 8, 2003 04:47 PM | PERMALINK

For me, this memo provided a litmus test for Calpundit: Can it be a reliable source for information from a liberal but open-minded viewpoint?

Now I have my answer...

The delicous air of irony-free preening self-righteousness in this post is just adorable.
Thanks for the chuckle.

Posted by: WillieStyle at November 8, 2003 04:53 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I've gotta disagree with you on this one.

Here's why.

The memo says:

"...may lead to major new disclosures regarding improper or questionable conduct by administration officials."

It doesn't say:

"...may lead to major new disclosures that will tell us what intelligence failues let to the catastrophe."

...I could go on, but the point's the same.

Now I don't want to get into whether this is worse than Plame or not; I don't know enough about Plame yet. But this definitely sucks.

A.L.

Posted by: Armed Liberal at November 8, 2003 05:00 PM | PERMALINK

Regardless of how the memo is interpreted, when you compare its verbiosity to the concise nature of Kevin's translation, is it not clear that Senators really need to go on a plain english course?

Posted by: Gracho at November 8, 2003 05:02 PM | PERMALINK

"So let me get this straight:"

Keep trying...

"The Democrats are planning to take a course of action (agressive investigations of pre-war intelligence) that is inherently good for the country, and try to make political profit from it."

No, the Democrats are planning to politicize what should be a non-partisan investigation. Actual substantive improvements to our intelligence capabilities are (at best) secondary to them to political gain. There is nothing even remotely admirable about this.

Posted by: Frank at November 8, 2003 05:06 PM | PERMALINK

How dare the democrats look for questionable conduct by administration officials. The Republicans have *never* held committee hearings looking for such a thing. And, My God, as the minority party they have infinite power to enact this dirty plan!

I'm turning in my party membership card. This is shocking, shocking, particularly since the memo was never even circulated!

Those bastards!

Posted by: Atrios at November 8, 2003 05:07 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican senators have done nothing but stonewall for the past sixth months. Senator Rockefeller has been nothing but patient and reasonable with Bush and Senator Roberts. But at same point, even Rockefelle couldnt take it anymore. After 7 months of no wmd found, no conclusive evidence of wmd from David Kay's report,and repeated shifting justifications from the administration and no outrage fom the GOP side of the aisle after all this, the Democrats had to go to plan B. Not to mention the fact that Dick Cheney admitted on Meet the Press last month that he did in fact make multiple visits to the CIA. During the Democrat hearing on the Plame outting, the three witnesses said it was unprecedented for a vice president to make personal visits to Langley and sit down with analysts and go thru intell data. The three former intelligence officers each aid in all their time working in the CIA they have never seen that. But this didnt bother Roberts and the GOP side of the aisle. I remember Dennis Kucinich made a proposal for congress to look into Cheney's visits to the CIA and many republican congressmen called it a 'cheap shot'. How much stonewalling did the GOP think they could get away with before the Democrats were going to get fed up?

Posted by: dee at November 8, 2003 05:10 PM | PERMALINK

"Regardless of how the memo is interpreted, when you compare its verbiosity to the concise nature of Kevin's translation, is it not clear that Senators really need to go on a plain english course?"

Most of the memo is actually reasonably concise. Kevin's "translation" seems more concise because it omits or alters much of what the memo says.

Posted by: Frank at November 8, 2003 05:11 PM | PERMALINK

This memo is a nonissue.

People/Republicans are acting like this is the first time political considerations have ever been explicitly mentioned in an internal memo.

I mean...come on, "politics" doesn't have the connotation of "considering the issues thoroughly and objectively". Politics = horse trading.

I'd bet my life savings that hundreds or thousands of Rove memos explicitly mentioned poll numbers, how to hurt the Democrats, or that kind of thing when pushing a policy. I mean - look at the steel tariffs. Can anyone doubt that policy was pushed for nakedly political reasons?

As for the contention that all such political maneuvering should stop when it relates to life & death issues like intelligence...well, perhaps that might be applicable to the White House , whose stonewalling is nakedly political.

Posted by: DLCdem at November 8, 2003 05:27 PM | PERMALINK

How likely is it, do you think, that such memos make it to the trash without being shredded?

I've no doubt that the Repugs routinely dumpster dive the Democrats trash searching for anything they can to hopefully disparage them with. I've also no doubt that an experienced diver can easily tape together a shredded document.

PS - the Foxnews reporter has said that he got the memorandum legitimately - not from the trash or from unauthorized access to someone's computer.

And you naturally believed him right. You probably also believed the boy king when he claimed hat he is "a uniter not a divider".

The real reason for the so-called "outrage" at this memo is to use it as a transparently handy excuse, a vehicle to shut down the Democrats questioning and investigating of Bush's many lies to get the U.S. into a war with Iraq. If they bring up the lies next year they will be accused of "playing politics". PROVE that you're not biased by giving Bush a free pass. That's the REAL and ridculous outrage.

3) Prepare to launch an independent investigation when it becomes clear we have exhausted the opportunity to usefully collaborate with the majority

Note that this is an ongoing investigation, it didn't begin today. The Democrats have been stonewalled all along - a much used tactic for this administration - thus they are frustrated and rightly so. And thus the "when". They obviously expect to be further stonewalled and the Repugs, no doubt, have every intention of continuing the stonewall until at least AFTER the '04 election. But seeing the writing on the wall as to the political reasons WHY they are being stonewalled they are reserving the right to an independant investigation if and when they continue to get no cooperation from the administration. Note also that the Democrats are not calling for a independant investigation now, they are still giving Bush & Co. time to get with the program. And if they did there would be no need for an independant investigation now would there? But it should not be allowed to just drag out indefinitely especially since repeatedly and knowingly lying to get the country into a war costing hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives is a very serious matter. The case ought to be put before the American people.

Note to Democrats in D.C., I wouldn't put anything past this current crop of Repuglicans.

Posted by: df at November 8, 2003 05:37 PM | PERMALINK

No, the Democrats are planning to politicize what should be a non-partisan investigation.

Why should this be non-partisan. It seems to me that it is precisely because of situations like this (where one party has an incentive not to bring certain embarassing facts to light) that we have a two party system.

Actual substantive improvements to our intelligence capabilities are (at best) secondary to them to political gain. There is nothing even remotely admirable about this.

So they care about intelligence failures (admirable) but care about making the oppossition look bad even more (morally neutral).
What's the problem?

Posted by: WillieStyle at November 8, 2003 05:40 PM | PERMALINK
"...may lead to major new disclosures regarding improper or questionable conduct by administration officials."
It doesn't say:

"...may lead to major new disclosures that will tell us what intelligence failues let to the catastrophe."

So they begin with the assumption that there was wrong doing on the part of the administration.
Why is this a bad thing?

Posted by: WillieStyle at November 8, 2003 05:42 PM | PERMALINK

People/Republicans are acting like this is the first time political considerations have ever been explicitly mentioned in an internal memo.

and what is happening, precisely, is that people/republicans acting this way are engaging in ... politics. shocking.
truly

Posted by: ChrisL at November 8, 2003 05:42 PM | PERMALINK

3) Prepare to launch an independent investigation when it ... becomes ... clear ... we... have ... exhausted ... the opportunity to ... usefully ... collaborate ... with ... the ... majority.

I see no smoking gun here.

Posted by: Dan at November 8, 2003 05:50 PM | PERMALINK

Whether the memo itself is wrong — whether the memo itself is illegal — I find it supremely telling that conservative partisans here immediately try to tie it to Valerie Plame's outing — after numerous retired and active CIA officials and agents, government officials, and the President himself have said that it was illegal and wrong for her to be outed — in order to somehow diminish the effect of that scandal.

Shame on those of you who did that. You're unamerican.

Posted by: Kenneth G. Cavness at November 8, 2003 05:52 PM | PERMALINK

I think I answered Armed Liberal and Frank before they spoke. From time to time there always will be some venal, sinister opportunist with an axe to grind who will say, for reasons of his or her own which we need not go into, that partisanship is a bad thing -- but as I explained, it's not.

In a one-party state, information doesn't get out. And in fact, in our two-party state information doesn't get out either, if the same party controls both the executive and the legislative branches. That's what I fear will happen, whereas I suspect that that's what Frank and our life-long Democrat A.L. hope will happen. (The Plame affair is too complex, don't know enough about it, let's wait another few months before we make up our minds. Ya sure).

The fake indignation is especially disgusting given the way that the Rove White House politicizes everything and squeezes the P.R value out of everything (viz. Diulio's first statement, before he found the horse's head in his bed). Look at Jessica Lynch, or the carrier landing.


SC -- a multi-party state would be fine with me, but that's not the U.S. The people I'm arguing against are corporatists who want to minimize political discussion.

Posted by: Zizka at November 8, 2003 05:53 PM | PERMALINK

"The memo makes it clear that whoever wrote it is more concerned with exploiting this issue for partisan gain than with fixing any problems in our intelligence gathering capabilities."

No, the memo makes it clear that if the Republicans continue to protect the President instead of doing their job, the Democrats will take what means they may to counter them. You have to parse words in a manner to make Clinton blush in order to see something sinister here.

Posted by: kevin at November 8, 2003 06:11 PM | PERMALINK

Just to add to the fine thoughts already articulated by kevin drum, zizka, williestyle, plain ol' kevin, and others: the investigation has already been politicized and made partisan by the stonewalling of the gop. Roberts gave the game away 2 weeks ago, even though he tried to backtrack. It is already the conclusion of the majority that it was all intel's fault.

As it happens, we all know enough to know how untrue that is. It's amazing to me at this late date that people like al and frank are trying to pretend otherwise.

Posted by: howard at November 8, 2003 06:25 PM | PERMALINK

My, what a nice, balanced and level-headed assessment. Of course, if Republicans had done this then calpundit would be proclaiming it the final nail in the coffin of American Democracy.

Anyway, why are Democrat staffers leaving intelligence committe material lying around in trash cans or on unsecured computers?

Posted by: rofl at November 8, 2003 06:27 PM | PERMALINK

I have to agree with some that there appears to be a double standard here. It seems that first it must be understood what the memo-writers intention was. Kevin's post which others have praised so much is on this point. He analyzes the sentences but he ignores the loaded words. I don't know if Kevin is trying to say he "sees the loaded words but they don't mean anything", or if he sees them, but you can't read intent, like the quarterback who intentionally grounds the ball.

If the Democrats meant to politicize this by using the committee to go after Bush, I think we have to concede this one. Unless you want to say that it's OK to use the committee for partisan purposes, which is a different argument.

Oh, and two wrongs don't make a right.

Posted by: duncerthantheaveragebear at November 8, 2003 06:38 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think this memo is too big of a deal, but I think it is pretty easy to glean from it that they are hoping to pick up some more dirt from this to throw at Bush when the election picks up. KDs glosses thicker than usual though, the paraphrases aren't very good.
I think what the big deal is is that the intelligence is supposed to be completely nonpartisan.

I have no doubts that had this been a Republican memo showing similar partisan organization to investigate a Democratic president, KD would be up in arms claiming another breach of long established Washington procedural norms.

Posted by: Reg at November 8, 2003 06:44 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and two wrongs don't make a right.

Two wrongs?! What two wrongs?

The way I see it:
Doing something bad (stonewalling intelligence investigations) for partisan reasons: Bad. Very, very bad.

Doing something good (pushing for agressive investigations of intelligence failures) for partisan reasons: Good. Oh so very, very good.

Posted by: WillieStyle at November 8, 2003 06:46 PM | PERMALINK

I think what the big deal is is that the intelligence is supposed to be completely nonpartisan.

Again I must ask, why in heaven's name do you think this should be nonpartisan?
It's precisely for situations like this (where the party in power doesn't want its screw-ups made public) that partisanship was written into our constitution.

Posted by: WillieStyle at November 8, 2003 06:50 PM | PERMALINK

If the intelligence committee wasn't confining its investigation to the CIA, this memo wouldn't be necessary. Look, Hagel's a good guy. Partisanship sucks. But huge intelligence failures like this one need to be fully investigated.

Posted by: sym at November 8, 2003 06:55 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans and others have said the committee has always, for important reasons, stayed above the partisan fray. I have not heard any Democratic official deny that, or suggest that this has changed.

Posted by: duncerthantheaveragebear at November 8, 2003 07:02 PM | PERMALINK

If what sym says is true then the Dems just need to say, ok you caught us, now grab your ass because we're coming after you.

Posted by: duncerthantheaveragebear at November 8, 2003 07:05 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe after we get past the stonewalling by the Republicans, we can go and vote on Judicial nominees instead of stonewalling them with filibusters. Mabye...

Posted by: Brian at November 8, 2003 07:05 PM | PERMALINK

Duncer, are you kidding? Are we supposed to think this is a serious set of comments?

The GOP majority on the committe, in the person of its chair, pat roberts, has ALREADY decided its conclusion: it's all intel's fault.

They have decided this without even looking at the behavior of the backbone administration.

This is both partisan in extremis - since the clear purpose of their stonewalling is to protect george bush - and a disgraceful failure to fulfill their responsibility to the american people.

There is no equivalence between hiding the truth (since we all know that there was manipulation and politicization of intel by the backbone administration prior to the war) and attempting to shine a light on the truth.

What is it with the enabling of disgraceful conduct?

(Reg, this applies to you, too, but we've already been down this path at matthew's place.)

Posted by: howard at November 8, 2003 07:13 PM | PERMALINK

Howard. I'm telling you, I really am duncer. If the minority is simply trying to get to the proverbial truth, then why doesn't someone just say the memo used a poor choice of words? Maybe somebody has. But even Kevin was silent, and therefore imo, ambiguous about the loaded words.

Posted by: duncerthantheaveragebear at November 8, 2003 07:23 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, dunce. The Dems should just write "We only want the truth and have no bad partisan intentions" at the top of every page two or three times. Because that would settle it and everyone would be happy!

Nothing the Dems could do but shut up, surrender, and disappear would make the Republicans happy, and it would be unpatriotic for them to do that in this case.

Posted by: Zizka at November 8, 2003 07:36 PM | PERMALINK

Well, another thing I don't understand is why the dems leaked it. Seriously. What was the purpose?

Posted by: duncer at November 8, 2003 07:44 PM | PERMALINK

duncer, since zizka basically beat me to the response, i'll just add this: where is your outrage about the gop conduct of this investigation? Are you trying to tell us that you actually think the gop is seriously investigating anything? Where's your concern about Pat Roberts already announcing the results of the investigation some 2 weeks ago?

We all know what the truth, in broad outline, is: seymour hersh's new yorker article is the best single summary, but there was also the excellent (albeit buried by pro-war-biased editors) washington post reporting all through the pre-war period, and there have been plenty of other news reports and findings. The NIE alone - and Rice's admission that neither she nor bush actually stirred themselves to the exhausting effort of reading 94 pages - makes clear exactly how the admin cherrypicked intelligence to make its phony case.

But what outrages you is that the dems might actually want this story told, leading to your projection onto "loaded" words.

Denial is a painful thing to watch, especially when there's so much of it around.

Posted by: howard at November 8, 2003 07:58 PM | PERMALINK

Outrage about the republican stonewalling is a different debate. Kevin said there is nothing to the memo. If there is nothing to the memo, why hasn't someone put their face to it and said so? The implication of no one taking ownership of it is that there is something to it, even if the 'something' is simply that it was poorly worded. You can't be silent on the contrary evidence...pretending like it's not there. It's has to be explained in some fashion.

As far as the pursuit of the truth, it seems the minority has the upper hand as suggested by the memo. The timing of the election works to the disadvantage of the majority. That's why I'm trying to understand if the memo was leaked intentionally as a veiled threat, or just what. Eitehr way, the majority hand is weak.

Posted by: duncer at November 8, 2003 08:26 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah you freeper clones, it's just so shocking that a Dem staffer might write a memo about the partisan political implications of intelligence. Repugs would NEVER do that.

Oh look. Here's a powerpoint floppy dropped by Karl Rove. He's telling the party faithful how they can all cash in on 9/11 in the 2002 elections.

As I said, the Repugs would NEVER write such an underhanded memo. How could you think that?

Posted by: Satan luvvs Repugs at November 8, 2003 08:34 PM | PERMALINK

Pat Roberts just has no credibility whatsoever. His job is first and foremost to protect the President. He will not allow any investigation by his committee into whether the White House politicized the intelligence. That much seems quite obvious given his behavior up to now.

As for Rockefeller, I don't blame him one bit for playing hardball in trying to get to an independent investigation. When you don't control any house of Congress you have only one access to recourse: public opinion. And what the GOP fears more than anything else is Rockefeller standing up to Rice, Cheney, etc. and saying, "What is it you have to hide?"

Posted by: Elrod at November 8, 2003 09:08 PM | PERMALINK

I guess I'll have to agree with all of the commenters who have said that all of this SHOULD be partisan. They're right, nothing should be above partisanship... not intelligence matters, nothing.

Which is why I'm calling on John Ashcroft to shut down the Plame investigation immediately. It can only hurt Bush politically, so, in the best interests of partisanship, he should immediately shut it down. After all, the most important thing it what is best for the GOP politically.

Also, all documents to be given to any investigation, including the 9/11 investigation, should be reviewed for anything that might be remotely embarrassing; if any such document is found, in the best interests of partisanship, that document should be immediately shredded. After all, what is most important is is what is best for the GOP politically.

I could go on, but you get the point.

Posted by: Al at November 8, 2003 09:34 PM | PERMALINK

I could go on, but you get the point.

awww. it's always fun to see variations on a theme. you know, it's like the GOP's version of jazz: here's an old standard "The Buck Stops There Blues", now (as Randy Jackson would say) make it your own!

Posted by: ChrisL at November 8, 2003 09:39 PM | PERMALINK

The Dems on the intell committee have been pushing all along for a BIPARTISAN or independent investigation into intellgence failures or misuse. The repubs seem to think that this is such an absurd issue to pursue. And its not like Rockefeller is frothing at the mouth every day calling for Bush's impeachment, he has been quietly and prudently trying to cooperate with Roberts. Same deal in the congress with Jane Harman trying to be reasonable and patient with Porter Goss(whos trying to position himself as next DCI by the way). Rockefeller and Harman have tried to be as reasonable as one could possibly be.

Posted by: dee at November 8, 2003 09:48 PM | PERMALINK

What a sickeningly dishonest post that was, Al.

I'll try to put it in a way you can't distort (a slight variation on WillieStyle):

Screwing up an investigation and obscuring the truth to hurt the other political party = BAD

Defending yourself against that party's unprovoked partisanship to stop it from screwing up an investigation and obscuring the truth = GOOD

Partisanship on offense bad. Partisanship on defense good.

Obscuring truth bad. Shedding light on truth good.

Posted by: JP at November 8, 2003 09:58 PM | PERMALINK

Al, the Republicans don't need your moron opinion. They're already doing that without your help and advice. You're not indispensable; they have plenty of shitheads on the payroll figuring those things out.

Posted by: Zizka at November 8, 2003 09:59 PM | PERMALINK

duncer, the majority hand is so weak that they can shut down the investigation altogether, scream "partisan" at anything the dems do, and count on the so-called liberal media to handle the rest. That's some weak hand: i wish my personal finances were that weak.

Meanwhile, stop wasting time trying to figure out how the memo got public; it's irrelevant to the underlying issue....

Posted by: howard at November 8, 2003 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

I'm still wondering if Kevin just has poor reading comprehension abilities, or is being dishonest.

It's just difficult for me to believe that if this was a Republican memo during a Democrat administration that Kevin would be able to misread it so consistently (e.g. "usefully collaborate" = "do a fair job"), and would conclude that "there's really nothing even remotely to be ashamed of".

Posted by: Gil at November 8, 2003 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

3) Prepare to launch an independent investigation when it becomes clear we have exhausted the opportunity to usefully collaborate with the majority.

Translated:

Either you and your party stop stonewalling a lawful and very appropriate investigation into the so-called "intelligence" leading up to the war which has since proved to have been based on deliberate lies and half-truths or we will launch our own investigation and make sure that American people are in on the details so that they can make an informed decision come election day.

Hey if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear right? So why the stonewalling, it only makes you look afraid of what might be revealed.

Posted by: fd at November 8, 2003 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

Three words added.

Either you and your party stop stonewalling a lawful and very appropriate investigation into the so-called "intelligence" leading up to the war which has since proved to have been based on deliberate lies and half-truths or we will launch our own investigation and make sure that American people are in on the details so that they can make an informed decision come election day. It's your call.

Posted by: fd at November 8, 2003 11:44 PM | PERMALINK

To my fellow righties,

It should be irrelevant what the lefties would do if the situation was reversed. Whose political behavioral norms do we wish to live by? Our political opponents or our own? I loathe the "gotcha" game. We shouldn't play it while the nation is at war.
It should be irrelevant what is or is not happening with the Plame story/investigation. It has nothing to do with this memo.The question isn't whether Kevin Drum accurately described the memo.I think for the most part he did.

The question is, is there anything of consequence in this memo demonstrating the prioritizing by Democrats of political gain over prosecuting the war on terror? I see nothing.

That being the case, the correct thing to do is to forego any political gain possible and remain as unified as we can regarding the War on Terror. Lets move on. This is one of these situations where the national situation requires that partisan political matters which in peacetime might be worth pursuing be dropped in the name of national unity.

Posted by: spc67 at November 8, 2003 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

Spc, Iraq isn't part of the war on terror, or at least it wasn't in any way shape or form part of that war before we invaded. The Chicago Tribune last week reported that, in fact, both the U.S. troops in Iraq and most of the local residents are pretty darn insistent that tehre are almost no successful border crossings of militants, despite what the Bush Administration says. So, your argument that we should shut up and just work on the war on terror, to me, is invalid.

Secondly: when Pearl Harbor happened, did the U.S. wait until the end of the war to figure out what went wrong? Of course not. They got to the bottom of it. As fast as possible. No one complained when they went after the people who missed the intellgience. Nor should we freak out if someone goes after the people who made mistakes before Iraq.

Third; this is America, we have the right to ask questions. I'm still sitting around and waiting for the Bush Administration to give me an honest reason to say that I was wrong before the war when I said that Iraq was WMD unarmed. They have been able to give me none. For people who aren't as certain, or felt like htey should support the President beforehand, the issue about whether or not we were lied to or deceived is hugely important; it could decide an election. Imagine, if the President did deliberately lie, how unfortunate it woudl be if that info did not come out until after the next election? That'd be terrible for the country, but great for the President. That's why we have the right, and in fact need to get those questions answered.

Posted by: Balta at November 9, 2003 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

Balta, I think you and SPC67 are shouting in agreement. I've disagreed with Spc on many issues, but he's coming across as a model of calm common sense on this one. Only rightwingiest of wingnuts could possibly have anything against this memo, and I'm delighted to find that Spc isn't one of them.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 9, 2003 03:28 AM | PERMALINK

"The question isn't whether Kevin Drum accurately described the memo."

On the contrary, I think that when Kevin makes an elaborate production of "translating" the memo for the masses, the accuracy of his "translation" is certainly a relevant point of debate.

Why did he even feel a need to "translate" the memo in the first place? Does he have so little respect for his readers that he thinks that they are incapable of interpreting a reasonably clearly written memo? Or, more likely, did he simply feel a need to slant and spin what the memo says?

"I think for the most part he did."

Here's an alternate "translation" that is less flattering to the Democrats, but closer (IMO) to the true spirit of the memo:

Step 1: As long as the Republicans are willing to investigate, let's pretend to cooperate with them. The committee chairman is playing along nicely, so who knows, we might actually find out something we can use.

Step 2: Once we've played the Republicans on the committee for all the help we can get in attacking the White House, we'll pretend to cooperate with them on writing the committee report. Then we'll release our more partisan take on matters. While we're at it, we will "castigate the majority" for not being cooperative enough. That should discredit the Republicans on the committee enough to enable us to launch another investigation.

Step 3: Regardless of how cooperative the Republicans on the committee actually are during the ongoing investigation, we should definitely plan to launch another investigation next year before the election. If we actually have any solid leads to investigate that will be particularly sweet (option B), but if not we can still launch an "investigation" after we release our first round of partisan attacks (option A). This will give us as an excuse to rehash this several more times before the election.

Summary: We don't really need an investigation to know what OUR conclusions will be - the administration's dishonesty is to blame for everything. Since we aren't particularly concerned with actually investigating intelligence failures (as opposed to painting the White House as unflatteringly as possible), the approach outlined above seems to offer the best prospect for making political hay.

Posted by: Frank at November 9, 2003 03:53 AM | PERMALINK

"Only rightwingiest of wingnuts could possibly have anything against this memo"

Right. Like that well known right wing wingnut Bob Kerrey.

Posted by: Frank at November 9, 2003 04:02 AM | PERMALINK

The memo makes it clear that whoever wrote it is more concerned with exploiting this issue for partisan gain than with fixing any problems in our intelligence gathering capabilities.

Frank, as I read the memo, the Democrats feel that the Truth needs to be determined (so that errors can be fixed, maybe?) and that the Republicans are unwilling to investigate because the results of any honest investigation are almost certain to damage Bush and the Republican Party. So if the Republicans don't do the job, then the Democrats need to do it.

You seem to be concerned that an honest investigation of the Intelligence before the war will be favorable to the Democrats. It might be, and I almost completely expect that it will be. Does it matter to you that such a thorough investigation will also be of major benefit to the Nation? Or that protecting Bush and the Republicans will damage the Nation?

Or are you so partisan that the Nation does not matter if the actions to benefit the Nation damage the Bush administration?

Posted by: Rick B at November 9, 2003 04:14 AM | PERMALINK

"The question is, is there anything of consequence in this memo demonstrating the prioritizing by Democrats of political gain over prosecuting the war on terror? I see nothing."

The fact remains that a lot of claims made about Iraq in recent years appear to have been inaccurate. Some of the seemingly inaccurate claims were made by the current administration, but many members of Congress and the Clinton administration (with direct access to intelligence reports unfiltered by the current White House) have made similarly inaccurate claims.

How accurate were intelligence reports is a legitimate and important question. If many of the reports were in fact inaccurate, then "why?" and "how can we fix it?" are extremely important questions. These should not be inherently partisan questions, but they are unlikely to be properly answered if the investigation is plagued by partisan scheming.

Unfortunately, whoever wrote that memo is apparently more interested in "how can we best make the White House look bad before the election?", which is clearly a partisan question.

"Pin the blame on the White House and keep it in the press as much as possible before the election" is (at best) orthogonal to "Identify and fix any glaring deficiencies in how we gather intelligence". In many respects, these two goals are in direct opposition to each other. Any Senator who has that first goal as his primary objective is unfit to be on the Select Intelligence committee. Any Senator on that committee who has staffers that have been plotting based on such a goal should (at the very least) acknowledge that such plotting is inappropriate.

Posted by: Frank at November 9, 2003 04:15 AM | PERMALINK

"You seem to be concerned that an honest investigation of the Intelligence before the war will be favorable to the Democrats."

No, I am concerned that the Democrats do not appear interested in conducting an honest investigation into Intelligence failures.

They have prejudged who is responsible for any failures (the White House) and they have prejudged how to fix the failures (regime change).

How anyone could possibly confuse this memo for an honest plan to investigate Intelligence failures mystifies me.

Posted by: Frank at November 9, 2003 04:20 AM | PERMALINK


Like that well known right wing wingnut Bob Kerrey.

I should have added: And war criminals who know of their own experience that independent thorough investigation of their actions in wartime would have cost them their career. Bob Kerrey may be feeling the wind blowing down his own back.

No, I am concerned that the Democrats do not appear interested in conducting an honest investigation into Intelligence failures.

And aren't you rather more concerned that the Republicans are evidently completely uninterested in any investigation whatsoever? If the Republicans carry out a thorough and open investigation into what went wrong with the invasion of Iraq, then they have nothing to fear. If they try to cover up because they're afraid that a full investigation will tarnish Bush & Co's image, then the Democrats will push them for the full investigation. If what went wrong was the fault of Bush & Co cherrypicking intelligence, don't the American people deserve to know that?

To start off with: Was there an "intelligence failure"? What intelligence was available, and did the White House deliberately cherry-pick only the intelligence that suited their plans? Mere reading of the news suggests that this was the case, but it warrants investigation.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 9, 2003 05:27 AM | PERMALINK

Can anyone state with a straight face that both major parties aren't almost always looking to make the other party look bad? Didn't think so. If they can do so while also serving the national interest, where is the problem?

And how is it not partisan to stonewall an investigation that you are apparently afraid will make you look bad?

Posted by: jymm at November 9, 2003 06:34 AM | PERMALINK

Frank, sadly, any serious investigation will expose machinations and ideologically blinkered distortions of intel by the white house. This isn't really a question at this point: we know this from all sorts of sources. (If you have any doubts in your mind, please provide an explanation for rice and bush failing to read the full 94-page NIE - what an exhausting effort for people taking us to war - with its clear state department caveats never once expressed by the backbone administration.)

The people with their minds made up are the GOP members of the committee, who don't even want to look at White House behavior. If you want to be outraged about something, direct your outrage at the truly outrageous. Had the White House painted an accurate picture of what the intel really said, we wouldn't be needing to have this discussion - we might not even be at war right now.

They didn't, though, and we need to know exactly what happened: what errors were made by the intel services and what suppression of caveats and cherrypicking of intel occurred within the White House. If that embarasses George Bush, c'est la vie.

Posted by: howard at November 9, 2003 07:02 AM | PERMALINK

I think it's clear that Kevin was wrong in his analysis, that there is nothing to the memo. There is something to the memo.

Whether the memo was intentionally leaked or not tells us more about the intent of those loaded words. If the memo was intentionally leaked, then it appears that the intelligence committee is now openly partisan, which, apparently, breaks new ground. If it wasn't intentionally leaked, then we've given the majority a short-run advantage, like Frist's threat to cut the inquiry short.

If the Republicans scuttle the inquiry, however, it will make good fodder for either Dean or Clark, whoever gets the nomination. Dean might make more hay with the cover-up than he would with an actual report. Clark will emphasize it as a lack of transparency, more secrecy around the Bush cabal, and that, along with the mountain of other evidence of the radical right-wing agenda, will move independent and moderate voters into the democratic stable, or tent as Dr. Dean would say.

Either way, I don't think it's a pretty picture for BushCo.

Posted by: duncerthantheaveragebear at November 9, 2003 07:05 AM | PERMALINK

Thank you, frank, gil, and al for confirming my low opinion of Republicans and conservatives. Some people say that dialogue with your miserable kind is possible and desirable, but I say that it's a waste of time.

Posted by: Zizka at November 9, 2003 07:11 AM | PERMALINK

There will be no investigatiion, incredible:

http://www.prolog.net/webnews/wed/ae/Qus-iraq-weapons-probe.Rhap_DN8.html

Citing abuse, US Senate Republicans halt Iraq weapons probe Saturday, 08-Nov-2003 6:44PM Story from AFP / Maxim Kniazkov
Copyright 2003 by Agence France-Presse (via ClariNet)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WASHINGTON, Nov 8 (AFP) - The leader of US Senate Republicans has suspended a politically damaging inquiry into possible inadequacies or misuse of pre-war intelligence on Iraq, saying it was being manipulated "to politically wound the president of the United States."

The announcement by Senate Majority leader Bill Frist in a floor speech Friday capped a heated political row in the upper congressional chamber triggered by a leaked Democratic memorandum outlining a strategy for using the probe for political gain.

"At this moment of peril in our nations history, as our intelligence agencies and our armed forces in the Middle East are at war against our mortal enemies, those responsible for this memo appear to be more focused on winning the White House than they are on winning the war against terror," thundered the Tennessee Republican.

He demanded that the author of the document, a member of the Democratic staff on the Senate Intelligence Committee, step forward and identify himself or herself, and the intended recipient of the memo.

Committee Democrats are also being asked to disavow what Frist called "this partisan attack" on the panel's integrity.

Frist said the author must also issue a personal apology to committee chairman Pat Roberts for "the manipulative tone and injurious content of this document."

"Only with the fulfillment of the three steps mentioned above will it be possible for the committee to resume its work in an effective and bipartisan manner -- a manner deserving of the confidence of other members of the Senate and the Executive Branch," the majority leader concluded.

The inquiry, which has never acquired the status of an official investigation, grew out of the failure by the administration of President George W. Bush to discover weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, whose alleged presence in the country was used to justify the invasion.

In their queries, senators have been trying to determine whether the CIA and other US intelligence agencies seriously misjudged the importance of Iraqi clandestine weapons programs and whether members of the Bush administration deliberately hyped and twisted intelligence to suit their political agendas.

The ill-fated memo that hit the media circuit last Wednesday urged Senate Democrats to identify "the most exaggerated claims" made by members of the Bush team in the run-up to the war and contrast them with the intelligence estimates that have since been declassified.

It also advised Democrats to be prepared to launch their own investigation into the pre-war intelligence "once we identify solid leads the majority does not want to pursue."

To make matters more personal, the document implied that committee Democrats had succeeded in making Chairman Roberts carry water for them.

"The fact that the chairman ... co-signs our requests for information is helpful and potentially crucial," the memo stated.

Seeing himself cast as a Democratic Trojan horse, Roberts, was not amused.

"It was a direct assault on a concept of oversight that is the product of some of our countrys most trying days," the Kansas senator said.

Senator John Rockefeller, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said he was "really disappointed" by the decision to suspend the probe.

But he and other Democrats insisted the Republicans were trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. They said the memo had been written by Democratic staffers and had never been given any serious consideration by lawmakers.

"I just want to make sure that we have a full 100 percent investigation, WMD in Iraq, pre-war intelligence and was there any use or misuse of that by the executive branch," Rockefeller told MSNBC television.

The White House and its allies in Congress have been resisting any wide-ranging probe of pre-war intelligence and its use, fearing it could be hurt Bush's reelection chances next year.

mk/aln

US-Iraq-weapons-probe

Posted by: Adam at November 9, 2003 07:13 AM | PERMALINK

Why did he even feel a need to "translate" the memo in the first place?

Because the Republicans are trying to twist it to make it say something that it doesn't since it doesn't use exactly precise language.

Step 3: Regardless of how cooperative the Republicans on the committee actually are during the ongoing investigation, we should definitely plan to launch another investigation next year before the election.

Are you thick or something? The problem has been NON-cooperation.

"Pin the blame on the White House and keep it in the press as much as possible before the election" is (at best) orthogonal to "Identify and fix any glaring deficiencies in how we gather intelligence".

Yes but the consensus of what intelligence there was said that Iraq had no WMDs and yet the Bush admin ignored it anyway to make their case. That's not a case of bad intelligence but of distorting it to get what you want.

Posted by: Dan at November 9, 2003 07:56 AM | PERMALINK

Amazing. That last post about Frist suspending the investigation is absolutely chilling. WTF is going on in this country?

I personally agree with Kevin's interpretation of the memo (and Josh Marshall's). But I can also see how somebody looking for partisanship can find it. Hence the "Jane, you ignorant slut" types of exchanges.

But don't both of these approaches kind of miss the point? Where's the freaking investigation? Does the GOP want a serious inquiry, or not? Isn't that the story?

BTW--Let's assume that the memo was written with the most malicious, evil, partisanship intent. It was from a G.D. staffer! Rockefeller trashed the thing, and never circulated it. Who cares what a staffer says? The staffer works for the elected officials, who are ultimately responsible (well, one can hope) for what the minority on the Committee says and does. The elected official rejected the memo. Why isn't that the story? "Sen Rockefeller rejects approach politicizing intelligence inquiry."

As Josh Marshall suggests, the Dems should offer to produce ALL of their investigation materials, and in exchange the GOP will, and then the White House will, and we can get to the bottom of who is "politicizing" intelligence.

I am no Tucker Carlson fan, but he makes a point that I think is good. People and/or pundits are becoming more partisan, and less principled. It's either pro-Dem or pro-GOP. So the most heinous conduct of the GOP (or Dems) is defended, even if it wouldn't be if the shoe were on the other foot.

Consider the Florida recount. People in favor of continuing the recount were exclusively Dem, people opposing were exclusively GOP. Where is the principle in that? Where were the Dems that said, "you know, these varying recount standards are kind of a problem, and why aren't we recounting the votes in the GOP counties?" or the GOP that said, "gosh, what's wrong with getting an accurate count?"

The heck with issues or principles. My party, right or wrong.

Posted by: 537 votes at November 9, 2003 08:19 AM | PERMALINK

Committee Democrats are also being asked to disavow what Frist called "this partisan attack" on the panel's integrity.

There you go.

Translated:

HEY YOU, STOP ASKING QUESTIONS

Posted by: Dan at November 9, 2003 08:20 AM | PERMALINK

is it too late to let kissinger sort this out?

Posted by: danelectro at November 9, 2003 08:27 AM | PERMALINK

Clever strategy. Stonewall until the opposing party gets good and fed up, then when they begin to talk about conducting an independent investigation cry "politics!".

Disgusting.

Posted by: Dan at November 9, 2003 08:32 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, congratulations.

You've just become a Democratic hack.

Good work.

Posted by: Jay Caruso at November 9, 2003 08:36 AM | PERMALINK

"There will be no investigation"

See, now we can have our outrage. It's easy to know where the prevailing public opinion will fall on this one; it fits the rest of the pattern; stonewall on 9/11 documents, never hold press conferences, etc., etc., ad nauseum.

Patterns of behavior can be just as elucidating as whatever might be discovered in a single incident, and the patterns will be an issue in the election.

Posted by: duncerthantheaveragebear at November 9, 2003 08:47 AM | PERMALINK

Entertaining how you learned so much about Republican motives from a Democrat memo.

No wonder you guys are out of touch.

Posted by: John Cole at November 9, 2003 08:51 AM | PERMALINK

Our knowledge of Republican motives comes from a composite of what we see. The Republicans are straining because the core group (BushCo and the NeoCons) are playing an unwinnable hand. As a result, there is only one way to go: deter the truth-seekers; stonewall the ivestigations; ignore the press, etc. The public won't stand for it, especially with the drip, drip, drip from Iraq, that might become an open spigot.

Posted by: duncerthantheaveragebear at November 9, 2003 09:12 AM | PERMALINK

Entertaining how you learned so much about Republican motives from a Democrat memo...No wonder you guys are out of touch.

[that's a beautiful non-sequitur, John.]

you know what else is entertaining? the way people like yourself are apparently happy that the GOP has suspended the probe into learning how our intelligence service and the consumers of that intelligence got it so fucking wrong in Iraq: that's entertaining. as long as you get to wave your "Democrats Stink!" flag, you're perfectly content to ignore real issues. it makes not paying attention to you so much easier.

Posted by: ChrisL at November 9, 2003 09:16 AM | PERMALINK

Entertaining how you learned so much about Republican motives from a Democrat memo.

That's a very disingenuous comment. The assessment of motive comes from the surrounding context.

Posted by: Spinning Tops at November 9, 2003 09:16 AM | PERMALINK

Y'all can add John Cole and Jay Caruso. They were already on my list.

These are people who always pretended to respect Kevin because they thought they could work him. They're the same with Matt Yglesias. To the extent that either Kevin or Matt becomes effective, these dear, tolerant friends of his will denounce them.

It does not surprise me that John and Jay are willing to parrot the RNC talking points about the memo. It only surprises people who tried to keep a list of "reasonable conservatives" and "moderate Republicans" whom they thought were capable of reason and worth talking to. These are mythical beasts.

The job of the minority party is to monitor the party in power. Right now they're trying to do their job. Jay and John don't want to see that job done, as we can see. (Yeah, that's what the job of the partisan Republican is, all right. But these guys claim to be voices of reason and fairness, and they accuse other people of being political hacks).

"A reasonable Democrat" is one who can be worked by Jay or John.

Posted by: Zizka at November 9, 2003 09:46 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter John and Jay:

"Mommy, they're going to tell the truth about Daddy!

Mommy, they're going to use the truth about Daddy for their own evil purposes!"

"Mommy, tell them we don't have to answer no stinking questions! Mommy make them stop!!!!"

Posted by: Dark Avenger at November 9, 2003 09:58 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter John Cole: Kevin, When our guys try to spin our screups on your guys, you should just sit there and take it

Posted by: Boronx at November 9, 2003 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

spc67,

It's all well and good to keep our eyes on the ball on the war on terror - after all, the lefties sure aren't going to do it. However, I don't see the problem with pointing out the utter hypocrisy of people like Kevin, who post 800 items on the Plame affair (which, as I said, is far, FAR less important than determining what's wrong with our intelligence), and yet thinks that this memo is nothing.

Posted by: Al at November 9, 2003 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Al,

you really are a complete fool.

Posted by: ChrisL at November 9, 2003 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

Al, outing Plame was a crime.

This memo is not.

Can you comprehend the difference?

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 9, 2003 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

As a traditional conservative Republican, I have to say that I am shocked at my fellow Republicans' willingness to put a higher priority on our party's political advantage than our country's national security.

Everything changed after 9/11. If there were shenanigans pulled by the Bush Administration around intelligence on WMD, then those need to be investigated and aired out for the good of our country and our national security. The alternative is another 9/11 -- but bigger and more destructive. This time it could be a real nuclear mushroom cloud that would make 9/11 look like a cakewalk. We can't afford to politicize our intelligence in this post 9/11 world.

Our party is bigger than George Bush and for the sake of our own integrity we cannot sacrifice our standards for the sake of one man.

Posted by: The Fool at November 9, 2003 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Um, republican politicians are trying to divert attention regarding the Iraq escapade to a dem memo. Why are the dems allowing them to do that?

Posted by: raj at November 9, 2003 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

I reda what Calpundit says, and he closes with this:

Bottom line: Republicans want to limit the investigation in order to protect the president. Democrats are fighting this because they think the president had a lot to do with the misuse of prewar intelligence.

Nothing in the memo suggests anything of the sort regarding the Rpeublicans, which is why I made my comment. Kevin reads a Democrat memo and learns about Republicans motives. I happen to find that pretty damn amusing.

Posted by: John Cole at November 9, 2003 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Jeez, you're simple-minded, John. I kinda think that Drum had additional sources of information. You can just sit there laughing at the voices in your head for awhile. The men to take you someplace where you'll be safe are on the way.

Posted by: Zizka at November 9, 2003 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

"Al, outing Plame was a crime."

Prove it. (Jeez, do we really have to go through this again? It is far from clear that a crime was committed.)

In any case, this is a typical liberal response - right/wrong is defined by legal/illegal. Sorry, but I just don't believe that. Whether or not either of the actions is illegal, the Democrat memo is far worse than the Plame outing.

Posted by: Al at November 9, 2003 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

John, Pat Roberts already gave the game away. What position are you possibly defending? The majority has no interest in anything but blaming the intel services: the chair of the committee has already said so.

It is nice to see self-professed conservatives (who are really right-wing radicals) provide us with so many examples of the power of denial in human affairs....

Posted by: howard at November 9, 2003 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

John,
you say:
"I reda what Calpundit says, and he closes with this:
'Bottom line: Republicans want to limit the investigation in order to protect the president...' Nothing in the memo suggests anything of the sort regarding the Rpeublicans.."

Really? How about:
"Our plan is as follows:
1) Pull the majority along as far as we can on issues that may lead to major new disclosures regarding improper or questionable conduct by administration officials."
[I.e., by direct implication, we HAVE to 'pull' the Repubs to places they won't go on their own.]
"Our additional views will also, among other things, castigate the majority for seeking to limit the scope of the inquiry."
"3) Prepare to launch an independent investigation when it becomes clear we have exhausted the opportunity to usefully collaborate with the majority....The best time to do so will probably be next year....Once we identify solid leads the majority does not want to pursue."
"In the meantime, even without a specifically authorized independent investigation, we continue to act independently when we encounter foot-dragging on the part of the majority. For example, the FBI Niger investigation was done solely at the request of the vice chairman..."

How's that sound? Sound like the memo describes Repubs trying to limit the investigation, for the unspoken but perfectly obvious purpose of protecting the President? Sound like the memo suggests exactly what Kevin says it suggests? Does to me.
Is it the "in order to protect the President" part that you're having trouble with? You think you have a viable alternative explanation for the motivation for Repub efforts to limit the inquiry? Laziness? Squeamishness? Tee times that they simply can't miss?

Posted by: Brendan Lynch at November 9, 2003 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Prove it. (Jeez, do we really have to go through this again? It is far from clear that a crime was committed.)

Oh really? It is far from clear that it will be possible to prosecute the person who blew Valerie Plame's cover; a cover-up may succeed, Bush's lack of enthusiasm in finding the culprit may inspire the DoJ to fresh acts of apathy and indifference. But it is clear that someone inside the Bush administration blew the cover of a NOC CIA agent, and whether or not this is prosecutable, it remains a vile crime.

In any case, this is a typical liberal response - right/wrong is defined by legal/illegal.

The odd thing is, I remember when the Republicans used to define themselves as the party of law and order.

Whether or not either of the actions is illegal, the Democrat memo is far worse than the Plame outing.

That's just amusing. Faintly sickening, too, that you consider Democrats carrying out their democratic responsibilities to be worse than Republicans committing acts of treason, but on the whole, it's just too absurd to be anything but amusing.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 9, 2003 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Al,
I just don't get you. I mean, here you are, taking a principled stance - that objectively analyzing our intelligence failures ought to be more important to the Democrats than spinning intelligence for partisan advantage - and you're completely unable to get upset at the right people.
Let's just agree with you about one thing: whether outing Plame, which was a felony (and which possibly endangered the lives of her present OR former contacts, and thus really did matter after all), was in fact more important than Democratic staffers writing an unreleased memo in which they planned to pursue intelligence failures for possible partisan advantage, which was not a felony, we can stipulate that they're BOTH less important than the actual work of objectively analyzing our intelligence failures so that we can address them and prevent repeats. As you yourself said upthread,
"it seems to me that we should be concentrating on making sure that we fix our intelligence problems."
Al, here's the thing: the single party doing the most to avoid analyzing our intelligence failures (which is a necessary prelude to fixing them) is the GOP, not the Democrats. Even if using an investigation's results for partisan ends is a bad things, blocking a full and fair investigation from ever being conducted is surely much worse. Yet I don't see you expressing any anger at the GOP. What happened? Did your computer crash just as you were about to make that point? Did you figure it was so obvious that it didn't require stating? (BTW, if you understand that some things are so obvious that they go without saying, please speak to John Cole - see above.)
I mean, where is it, dude? Why so much energy denouncing what is, at worst, the second-worst aspect of the intelligence committee events?

Posted by: Brendan Lynch at November 9, 2003 01:02 PM | PERMALINK

?Honestly, how does this staffer?s mind set differ from Starr?s dogged pursuit of Clinton?

1) Let?s pursue any lead that will lead to disclosures of improper or questionable conduct by administration officials.
2) Let?s identify exaggerated claims, then contrast them with declassified intelligence, then castigate those seeking to limit scope of inquiry, then push for an independent commission.
3) Let?s launch an independent investigation when we are stymied in our ability to explore leads that will punch holes in the President?s arguments for taking action in Iraq.
4) Let?s pull the trigger next year
a) we?ll have 3 opportunities to dissimulate: interim report, announcement of investigation, final investigation
b) once we?ve actually dig up a sexed up lead, not some vague principled notion, we?ll be able to rally the public behind the need to launch an independent investigation to estabilsh once and for all that Bush lied in the lead up to a unilateral, preemptive war. That's our role

In the meantime, note our success in pushing the silly-assed Niger story.

Posted by: pshaw at November 9, 2003 01:41 PM | PERMALINK

?Honestly, how does this staffer?s mind set differ from Starr?s dogged pursuit of Clinton?

Uh, let's see. Maybe the crucial difference isn't related to mindset but is related to what is being investigated? I think that if a Dem or a Republican is going to take us to war on the basis of claims asserted on the basis of intelligence then I damn well want that intelligence to be subject to investigation whether it's on the basis of political or any other motivation.


Posted by: Pat M at November 9, 2003 02:54 PM | PERMALINK

Psaw--Just to to be a little more succinct. This is exactly the type of scenario where you want a Ken Starr type looking into every nook and cranny. It's freaking important.

Posted by: Pat M at November 9, 2003 02:59 PM | PERMALINK

Putting principles above politics. The Fool and spc67 seem to have the right idea.

Posted by: 537 votes at November 9, 2003 03:32 PM | PERMALINK

Well, aside from infering what isn't said in the document and conflating its release with random outrages, what have we really learned from the righties in this debate?

That they're very good at distracting from the lies and their body-count. Great work, guys. For a moment there I actually forgot that our pres lied his way into butchering a few thousand Iraqis at the behest of a think tank.

Maybe that's why you do it.

You know, if you read the document while sounding like Dr. Evil, it does conclusively prove that libruls just hate the president and care nothing about national security. It's obvious.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan at November 9, 2003 04:00 PM | PERMALINK

?I support an investigation into our intelligence gathering capabilities. It needs oversight. It needs overhaul.

At this particular juncture, I do not support an investigation into the "exaggeration of intelligence by the administration."

Posted by: pshaw at November 9, 2003 04:49 PM | PERMALINK

At this particular juncture, I do not support an investigation into the "exaggeration of intelligence by the administration."

Huh? This administration took us to war. Who else's exaggerations matter? Exaggeration by an Azerbaijani schoolgirl?

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan at November 9, 2003 04:59 PM | PERMALINK

pshaw, at risk of recapitulating points made over and over again in this thread, what juncture are you waiting for to look into the behavior of the white house?

we know the big picture: we know that intelligence was cherrypicked. we know that caveats were ignored. we know that assumptions were made and presented as facts.

all we don't know are the fine details and the who, and we need to find out, just as much as we need to find out in what ways intel was and was not accurate in the first place.

so, pshaw, what is it that you are waiting for to move us to a different juncture? a confession?

Posted by: howard at November 9, 2003 06:09 PM | PERMALINK

PShaw: ?I support an investigation into our intelligence gathering capabilities. It needs oversight. It needs overhaul. At this particular juncture, I do not support an investigation into the "exaggeration of intelligence by the administration."

Why do you want to prejudge the outcome of a government investigation? You appear to be assuming that the fault lies exclusively with the intelligence gathering agencies. Undoubtedly there are faults there (that the Pentagon is still relentlessly pursuing its anti-gay policies even when it means getting rid of valuable Arabic translators, for one). You're arguing, however, that the investigation must not look at the other possible area of fault: what the administration did with the intelligence provided.

Why not? Why should the administration, in your view, be immune from investigation?

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 9, 2003 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

Or are you so partisan that the Nation does not matter if the actions to benefit the Nation damage the Bush administration?

The word isn't "partisan." When one man's interests are seen as indivisible from a nation's interests . . . there are two words which can be used. The nice one is "monarchist."

Posted by: Kimmitt at November 9, 2003 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

All the spin in the world cannot hide a simple fact: all of it is written with the assumption that certain events will occur and certain outcomes will be evident. In other words, the dems are plainly and unequivocally pre-judging the issue; they have a pre-fabricated outcome. So no matter how open the white house is, they plan to scream cover up. No matter how accurate the intelligence was, they plan to claim the white house lied or exaggerated. It proves that at least to the writer of the memo, the truth doesn't matter.

And apparently it doesn't matter to Calpundit either.

The nuke program was exaggerated? Well, even Scott Ritter said that Saddam could have a nuke in 6 months if he only got fissile material and he rested all his hopes on controlling the borders of Iraq. Never mind that we can't even control our own borders, he hoped we could control Iraq's. Ha.

No Iraq-al-Qaeda connection? Yeah let's see here:

1) in 1998, the two met in order to coordinate activities.

2) in 2003, Uday's own paper praises a iraqi official for his role in "coordinating activities" with al qaeda.

3) Saddam had terror camps next to baghdad which trained al Qaeda personel in Sept of 2001.

4) when the war begins, who comes running to Saddam's aid? Al Qaeda.

Yeah, clearly there is no connection. Its funny how you give Saddam H. more of the benefit of the doubt than George W. Bush. Of course heaven forbid i suggest you are politicizing this isssue. Nah. Perish the thought.

Posted by: A.W. at November 10, 2003 06:07 AM | PERMALINK

I was never that outraged by the memo, but I think Kevin's overlooking some points.

1) The memo does not appear to even contemplate the possibility that the committee will be able to perform its work to the democrats' satisfaction. As unlikely at that possibility might be, a concession that it might be *possible* to resolve the issue without "pulling the trigger" would be a nice assurance of the author's good inentions.

2) The memo recommends publicizing the dems' disputes with the intelligence "sometime next year." That reminds me, isn't there something else happening next year?

3) Intelligence committee membership brings with it a special responsibility. It's distasteful to see members on either side of the aisle fall short of that responsibility.

4) I can't believe that Kevin, Josh, et al wouldn't be going ballistic if the shoe were on the other foot.

Posted by: J Mann at November 10, 2003 06:13 AM | PERMALINK

Why do I prejudge the outcome of a government investigation?

Yet, we have an important role to play in the revealing the misleading -- if not flagrantly dishonest methods and motives -- of the senior administration officials who made the case for a unilateral, preemptive war.

I simply have prejudged an investigation that has prejudged the Bush Administration.

I'm all for shoring up the intelligence community, making sure they have the means to do their jobs with greater precision. Interpreting Bush's selective reading of intelligence will be the jobs of historians once they get their hands on documents gathered under the Freedom of Information Act, say 10-15 years from now.

The American public was told Saddam had a stash of WMD, they're not there. The American public will judge accordingly in the next election.

If some dufus draft-dodging Texan pulls off what's perceived as impossible, peace and prosperity in the Middle East, he may very well earn a pass on the missing WMD.

If an Azerbaijani schoolgirl doesn't grow up to find herself in a mass grave or starved under sanctions, kudos to the neo-cons.

Posted by: pshaw at November 10, 2003 06:48 AM | PERMALINK

pshaw, nice non-responsiveness. The GOP has prejudged the outcome despite the facts; the dems simply want to shed light on a truth we already know. (If we knew nothing else than that Rice and Bush didn't read the NIE with its caveats, that would be sufficient.)

J Mann, projection is really silly. If the shoe were on the other foot - meaning that president gore and his team cherrypicked and manipulated intel to create a false threat assessment and took the nation to war on the basis of it, and a dem majority were suppressing any attempt to examine those machinations - i hope to heaven that the gop minority would do exactly what the dems are trying to do, and i hope they would do it quicker. And i'd be very surprised if Kevin, Josh Marshall, or many of the rest of us would do anything but be angry at he gore administration.

for what it's worth, the last historical parallel to this was LBJ lying about the Gulf of Tonkin: Dems were outraged, did hold hearings, and did oppose his policies, something not allowed in the current ideologically rigid gop.

Posted by: howard at November 10, 2003 07:48 AM | PERMALINK

The summary states:

"Yet, we have an important role to play in the revealing the misleading -- if not flagrantly dishonest methods and motives -- of the senior administration officials who made the case for a unilateral, preemptive war. The approach outline above seems to offer the best prospect for exposing the administration's dubious motives and methods." (Emphasis mine)

Note that this isn't put into the form of a thesis or question; Bush's medancity/deception/etc. is asserted as a foregone conclusion. Therefore, this effort appears to be framed by the memo writer(s) themselves as a fishing expedition; the conclusion is foreordained so let's cast our line into the water and hope something, anything bites. Supporting my contention is the conspicuous exclusion from the summary -- well, the entire memo for that matter -- of any call to use the obtained information for any additional purposes like -- oh, I dunno -- enhancing national security by fixing any data collection and interpretation problems by the CIA so that future unnecessary wars may be prevented.

Posted by: Tongue Boy at November 10, 2003 08:56 AM | PERMALINK

Bottom line: Republicans want to limit the investigation in order to protect the president. Democrats are fighting this because they think the president had a lot to do with the misuse of prewar intelligence.

In a prior post,I've highlighted a possible Democrative motive (politically motivated fishing expedition) based on the text of the memo. Kevin, please highlight points in the memo that support your conclusions regarding the motives of the various parties.

Posted by: Tongue Boy at November 10, 2003 09:08 AM | PERMALINK

"The GOP has prejudged the outcome despite the facts; the dems simply want to shed light on a truth we already know."

Sorry but even Bill and Hillary Clinton have admitted that the claims Bush made were supported by the intelligence circa Jan 2000. This claim that Bush oversold the evidence is simply a canard. indeed, if you actually read the SOTU speech you will notice that almost all his information on wmds comes from other sources, outside of the US government and are utterly factually correct representations of those sources (http://mysite.verizon.net/res1uo0x/id22.html). To hear the Dems tell it, everyone in the world thought Saddam had nothing, and the investigation is complete. Now on to reality. The reality is the whold world thought Saddam had them. And Kay has inspected less than 8% of the sites. So truth be told, the only honest answer is "we don't know" whether saddam had the WMDs or not.

Posted by: A.W. at November 10, 2003 09:59 AM | PERMALINK

The memo does not appear to even contemplate the possibility that the committee will be able to perform its work to the democrats' satisfaction.


Well, yes. Democrats like to deal with the real world, rather than building up a latticework of wishful thinking and calling anyone who disagrees antiamerican.

Posted by: Kimmitt at November 10, 2003 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

The above post was intended to be a bit over-the-snarky-top; I just realized that it came out a bit more bitter than snipe-y.

Posted by: Kimmitt at November 10, 2003 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

Tongue Boy and A.W., you really need to think a little harder, or at least review the evidence.

Bush asserted that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction; Cheney insisted that he had reconstituted his nuclear weapons program; Rumsfeld said we knew where the weapons are.

None of this was supported by intel: Rumsfeld has TOLD US SO in congressional testimony, when he said that we had no new information after '98, but we looked at the information we had differently, through the prism of 9/11.

We also know that the White House didn't even bother with an NIE on Iraq, normally the baseline for making the kinds of assertions they did, and when congressional democrats finally forced them to throw together an NIE, neither Rice nor Bush stirred themselves to read the full 94 pages (good grief, what do they do all day?), complete with its caveats from the State Department.

We also know that the White House was so eager to play up the nuclear threat that even they have acknowledged that they allowed the uranium claim into the SOTU without sufficient backing.

We don't need an investigation to validate these things: the principals have told us so.

We do need an investigation to find out the details: what did intel actually say, what caveats were ignored, what pressures did the White House put on the intel agencies, who did and didn't do their job.

Pat Roberts and his GOP peers don't want any of that: they want to blame the intel agencies and not even examine the performance of the white house.

This is a disgrace of extreme proportions, and it's equally disgraceful to pretend otherwise and continue to enable the mendacity.

Posted by: howard at November 10, 2003 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

1) The memo does not appear to even contemplate the possibility that the committee will be able to perform its work to the democrats' satisfaction. As unlikely at that possibility might be, a concession that it might be *possible* to resolve the issue without "pulling the trigger" would be a nice assurance of the author's good inentions.

.....

Note that this isn't put into the form of a thesis or question; Bush's medancity/deception/etc. is asserted as a foregone conclusion.

Once again, I think it's fairly obvious the the problem is that not only is there lots of evidence that the administration knowingly lied or at the very least greatly exaggerated the intelligence to the American people and to the world (via the United Nations) to get their war on but that they have since sought to stymie a legitimate investigation into those deliberate failures.

In other words, at some point you have to admit to yourself that you are getting nowhere and will continue to do so. It's seems to be a foregone conclusion by now that dealing with this dishonest administration is an exercise in futility. They could still decide to do the right thing and stop trying to throw up road blocks or looking for petty diversions (which is what this memo thing really is after all) but that doesn't seem likely.

Posted by: Dan at November 10, 2003 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Dan,

The whole *point* of the intelligence committee is that we need someone we trust to oversee intelligence without opening up the box for the rest of the world to see. Remember when we were all upset by Valerie Plame's outing?

The memo concedes that the dems are making progress by working with the republican members of the committee, but then assumes that, no matter how much progress the committee makes on a bi-partisan basis, there will come a point ("next year") when it will be in the Dems advantage to blow the lid on whatever they've found.

Now I'll grant you that it's *possible* that the administration has been up to something so heinous, and the committee is so toothless, that only a public investigation of US intelligence sources will clean house.

But it would be *nice* if the dems on the committee were willing to at least consider the *possibility* that the committee could do its job,

Posted by: J Mann at November 10, 2003 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

I love this. I saw this meme first on GOPUSA.com's web site ( I troll there occasionally ). Anyway, Sean hannity was up in arms about this memo that was a horrible afront to Democracy and freedom everywhere! he basically set the tone and created the talking points for the whole thing. The Republican Bots are simply rattling off their little arguments like nice little automotons. Before they had read the memo, they were convinced that it contained something dastardly. When I challenged them to read the memo, they all agreed that it must be dastardly.

But then there arguments were almost the verbatim set of arguments that the other Republicans were using. Then I got my Republican party email for the day - and low and behold, the same talking points. I love it. It is such a concerted effort to distort the truth and shift blame that all the little Bots buy the spin in spite of the reality.

I don't think that ALL these republicans got the same email, but I am sure they garnered their take on the issue from the same place. The spin on the memo is so far off from the actual content, I find it hard to believe that millions of imbeciles could all come up with such a creative take on this dastardly plot.

I really don't think there is any reason to argue the issue with them. They have their take on this whole thing. They have their programmed defense. They will continue to claim the moral high ground. Zell Miller will continue to sell out the Democratic party be lending credibility to idiotic spin. And the world ill keep turning.

I wish these Republicans would set aside partisanship for a minute. The Republicans are assuming that Bush could never lie or spin. They are assuming that he was lied to, but he would never spin. They have full faith in Bush and this administration - faith that no liberals put into people like CLinton or Zell Miller. Faith that is blind, stupid, and dangerous.

That kind of faith drove the Nazi party. While I hate to invoke Godwin's law here, I am really getting tired of people that are willing to sell their principles down the river to protect their poltical party.

Posted by: Scott Fanetti at November 10, 2003 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

A.W., I think you've got that the wrong way round. You claim: In other words, the dems are plainly and unequivocally pre-judging the issue; they have a pre-fabricated outcome. but in fact Pat Roberts, who is the one with the pre-fabricated story, is actually a Republican. You should pay more attention to the news, instead of regurgitating the faked-up stories trying to connect Saddam Hussein with al-Qaida.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 10, 2003 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

oh, and I just love the "Bill and Hillary said the same thing" canard. The difference between what Bill, Hillary, and anyone else said - and what was reality - was that we had inspectors on the ground before the war. If we wanted to verify our inteligence, we could have. Hans Blix was given reams of intelligence to investigate - he said that it was all full of crap. Bush decided that the threat was too great to let Hans Blix finish - which is what directly lead to this war. I supported Blix's mission. I supported keepin him in Iraq as long as he needed to be there. I did not buy the idea that Saddam was a growing threat - and that the only way to counter that threat was preemptive war.

You people cannot even offer an honest argument. You make me sick.

You talk about Salman Pak - like it was an unknown entity. Do you realize that we knew about Salman Pak? Did you realize that UNMOVIC went there? Did you realize that the one guy that said that Salman Pak was a training ground for Al Qaeda was brought to the surface by Chalabi? You know, the guy that said he had a government in exile that could be turned on as soon as we made it into Baghdad? The same guy that said we would be greeted as liberators?

Furthermore, did you ralize that the fuselage at Salman Pak was actually given to Iraq by the M16 in the 80s? You see, the CIA and the M16 were training Iraqi paramilitary units on how to raid hijacked aircraft. This was in response to an Iranian hijacking in the 80s. But I guess NEWSMAX was short on all those little details.

"And Kay has inspected less than 8% of the sites"

Bullshit. Maybe Kay himself has only visited 8% of the sites, but hans Blix and the U.S. inspectors scoured every suspect site in Iraq - finding nothing at all. In any case, Kay was a huge Hawk about htis whole affair. He was making broader claims than almost anyone else on the Republican side of the fence before the war. How can you really think he would be objective?

Even in his interim reports, he has claimed that old petri dishes with bacteria capable of producing boulism toxin were proof that Iraq had WMDs. Even though the bacteria could be grown in any refrigerator in America - and refining the toxin is an order of magnitude harder than growing the bacteria, he still made that claim.

The Republicans are playing to the greedy or the stupid. I think we know which group is on this board today.

Posted by: Scott Fanetti at November 10, 2003 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Professor Bainbridge has developed a far more plausible interpretation of the memo.

Posted by: pj at November 10, 2003 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

I continue to be amazed that you people actually believe the things you type.

Posted by: Kimmitt at November 10, 2003 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

But it would be *nice* if the dems on the committee were willing to at least consider the *possibility* that the committee could do its job

Hmmm, apparently you and I are reading two different memos.

An important point to keep in mind is that there is a time limit to this investigation.

The 10-member, bipartisan panel has until May to report on its investigation into lapses in national security relating to the plane hijackings that led to the deaths of about 3,000 people.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/3253401.stm


P.S. Remember that in 2001 both Powell & Rice Declared that Iraq Had No WMD and was Not a Threat

More: http://news.com.com/2010-1028_3-5101121.html
http://www.commondreams.org/views03/1103-08.htm

Posted by: Dan at November 10, 2003 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Excuse me, I apparently confused two different stonewalled investigations.

Posted by: Dan at November 10, 2003 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

pj, professor bainbridge's interpretation is the same drivel we're seeing over and over in this thread. The investigation, if you want to call it that, has a clear politicized agenda already set by pat roberts: the intel agencies failed, and there's nothing else to look at.

This is disgraceful, and the enabling that is going along with it is equally disgraceful. Stir yourself to read many of the comments above, including mine, to see that it's not a question whether the white house manipulated intel for its own purposes: they've already admitted it.

The only question is whether we're going to dig into it or pretend it didn't happen.

Posted by: howard at November 10, 2003 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

I love how plausible is such a flexible term these days. Both takes are plausible. That is, both interpretaitons are in the realm of ecxtreme possibility - in the same way that it is plausible that a comet will impact George Bush's ranch while he is clearing brush.

But this is only true if you live in a vacuum. In reality, we have other events that are going on at concurrently. These other events can lead us to a more likely interpretation of the memo.

The Republicans have been stonewalling. The whitehouse has been stonewalling. They both have been willing to skirt the truth to cover Bush's ass. The Democrats are saying that if the Republicans continrue to skate aroud the issue - and cover for Bush, they will look into the issue on their own.

Why do you idiots think that Bush is worth your faith and protection?

Posted by: Scott Fanetti at November 10, 2003 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Says Al: You [Democrats] obviously don't care at all about intelligence, just about attacking Bush.

Oh, Al, Al, Al! Of course we care about intelligence! That's WHY we attack Bush ... since it's a well-known fact that (a) he hasn't got any and (b) he doesn't care about the truth of what he's got.

Posted by: Temperance at November 10, 2003 04:44 PM | PERMALINK

It's also sadly apparent that flagrantly lying to the country in order to get it into a war costing thousands of lives and many billions of dollars is just no big deal to them.

Oh well.

Posted by: a at November 10, 2003 05:00 PM | PERMALINK

I guess there's still time to do a little planting in the desert before election day.

;)

Posted by: a at November 10, 2003 05:05 PM | PERMALINK

Every single assertion you make about the administration's use of intelligence and Congressional Republican acquiesence may be true. Perhaps these are fruitful topics for discussion. They are also non-sequitors to my argument with Kevin's interpretation of the memo.

Posted by: Tongue Boy at November 11, 2003 01:12 PM | PERMALINK

Nice to see that Atrios is still holding on to that first line of argument ("The Republicans did it too!")... I mean, only line of argument.

Posted by: HH at November 11, 2003 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

"Why should this be non-partisan."

If nothing else, perhaps because the Democratic leader in the Senate said it should? Just a guess.

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