Water Man Spouts

Monday, July 18, 2005

DU Street Memo (Top Secret)

"Americans trust the Republicans to do a better job of keeping our community and families safe. We can also go to the country on this issue because they trust the Republican party to do a better job of protecting and strengthening America's military might and thereby protecting America."-- Karl Rove; RNC meeting in Austin, Texas; January 19, 2002Within hours of Karl Rove being exposed as a weasal willing to expose the identity of a CIA operative who worked to keep our communities and families safe, in order to protect other criminal misdeeds that occured in bringing our nation into an unnecessary war, the neocon/far right republican machine went into high gear. Their goal was to confuse the issues involved in the Plame scandal. Their tactics were the "old reliables" that Rove himself has perfected over the years: distort, distract, misinform, and lie.Dozens of "reliable liars" were brought out of the attic, dusted off, and sent with orders to appear on Fox, CNN, and other networks. They began talking to reporters in an effort to keep the American public from recognizing that this administration is more corrupt than the Nixon White House, and more criminal than the Iran-Contra gang.A memo of republican "talking points" has been posted and commented upon by several alert and insightful DUers. Yet, sadly, we still have witnessed a number of threads which repeat what are, in fact, the neocon talking points. These include the "Did Wilson say Cheney sent him?" and "Is Wilson a Liar?" things that can only serve to distort, distract, misinform, and promote the outright lies of the extreme right wing republicans. (See: "Flies and the Lying Liars Who Eat Them" for more information.)Mark Twain once said that the problem with our society was not one of ignorance .... rather, it was one of people knowing so darned much that just wasn't true. Keeping that in mind, I have attempted to organize a few things that are true -- but which involve the worst damned liars in our nation's history -- in such a way that we can focus on why those "16 words" that Joe Wilson exposed as damned lies are so important.Simply put, the lie about Iraq attempting to acquire yellow cake uranium from Niger was the "icing on the cake" of lies the administration sold the American public, in order to justify their invasion of Iraq. More: Wilson's brave and entirely accurate essay in the NYT's op-ed section was the first time someone had the balls to publicly call the administration on their purposeful lying.Let's take a closer look at this, using two primary sources: Senator Robert C. Byrd's "Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency," and John W. Dean's "Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush." (Note that even in "double-extra-top-secret DU Street Memo's, we identify sources!)The neocon position that the USA had the right, and the need, to forcefully remove Saddam Hussein can be traced to those who felt betrayed by President Bush1's decision not to at the end of the Gulf War. Paul Wolfowitz in 1992 would begin to advocate "preemption" to curb the threat posed by the proliferation of WMDs, and this began to be blended with the call to remove Saddam.In 1998, Wolfowitz and his buddy-buddies in PNAC ( Project for a New American Century) called the Bush1 policy of containment in Iraq a "failure." That same year, Bush1 and his former national security advisor Brent Scowcroft co-authored "A World Transformed," a book that included a detailed analysis of why it would have been a serious mistake to try to take Saddam out and occupy Iraq: "Under those circumstances, there was no viable 'exit strategy' .... Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nation's mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be the occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different -- and perhaps barren -- outcome."Yet, as we know, on January 26, 1998, the PNACers sent President Clinton a letter advocating that he use his upcoming State of the Union address to announce plans to remove Saddam: "We urge you to articulate this aim, and to turn your Administration's attention to implementing a strategy to remove Saddam's regime from power." Of the 18 people who signed the letter, 11 would be given posts in the Bush2 administration.The neocons began to plan the Iraqi war from "day one" of the Bush2 presidency. From a number of sources, including republicans Richard Clarke and Paul O'Neill, we know that a war on Iraq was on the agenda from the very first NSC meeting in January 2001. These are not the "angry democrats from MoveOn" the republican talking points mention -- they are (ex-)members of Bush's administration.Yet they faced a harsh reality: there was no lawful way to justify a war in Iraq. The 1973 War Powers Resolution didn't allow Bush/Cheney to attack Iraq. The 1990 UN Security Control Resolution 678 didn't. Nor did the 1991 Gulf War resolution.Then came 9-11. The administration saw an opportunity to use S.J. Resolution 23 (passed on 9-14-02), along with the "national emergency" clause of the War Powers Resolution, to justify invading Iraq. To do so, they needed an "emergency threat."In the Jan 2004 edition of Vanity Fair, Paul Wolfowitz notes, "The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the US government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was the weapons of mass destruction as the core reason." And so it was. The administration began lying to the public, and making it seem like there was a real threat of Iraq using WMDs to attack America."Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction," VP Dick Cheney told the 103rd National Convention of the VFW on August 26, 2002. On page 102 of Dean's book, we find more information about Cheney in this telling footnote: "Investigative journalist Sy Hersh has reported at some length in the New Yorker -- for example, 'Who lied to Whom' (Mar.3,2003) and 'The Stovepipe' ()ct 27, 2003) -- about Cheney's out-of-channels intelligence-gathering operations. In addition, the information about Cheney's hidden intelligence-collection operations has been further puzzled together by Robert Dreyfuss and Jason Vest in Mother Jones (in 'The Lie Factory' jan-Feb 2004). Dreyfuss and Vest reported that dubious and untested intelligence was assembled by the Office of Special Plans, set up in the Pentagon (a 'shadow agency within an agency') and composed largely of neoconservative ideologues, assembled to make the case for war in Iraq, and did so when others in the government's intelligence community had no information justifying the cas that Cheney and Bush wanted to make."Thus, in early September of 2002, President Bush told the UN, "We cannot stand by and do nothing while danger gathers." However, the September 23, 2002 edition of Newsweek revealed that in the mid-1980s, the Reagan/Bush administration had sent Iraq viruses, bacteria, fungi, and protozoa which included the anthrax and botulinum that the administration now accused Saddam of having. Senator Byrd confronted Donald Rumsfeld with this article at an Armed Services Committee hearing that month; Rumsfeld denied ther acuracy of the article. Byrd countered by saying he personally knew of US shipments of West Nile fever virus and dengue fever to Iraq. But the rush to war crushed the truth into the ground, as that very day Bush sent Congress the first draft of his resolution for war against Iraq.A media consultant quoted by Byrd on page 143 notes that the networks fell in line behind Bush. Of 414 stories that followed, all but 34 originated in the White House, the Pentagon, or the State Department. Byrd notes that networks were advised that they could find it "expensive" to cover anti-war news events.It remained important to pretend Iraq was seeking nuclear weapons. Byrd notes on page 175: "Vice President Cheney had warned that Iraq verged on having nuclear weapons, directly contradicting the CIA view..." In order to support his lie to America, Cheney relied upon the forgeries known as the "yellow cake documents." And, although the administration knew they were discredited, John Bolton slipped the lie into the 12-19-02 State Department "fact sheet" justifying an invasion of Iraq. Someone saw the lie, and removed it, proving the State Department was aware of the two memos and one phone call from DCI Tenet saying the charge was not true.Yet, in his January 28, 2003 State of the Union address, President Bush would lie to America. Byrd describes it on pages 180-181: "Then the president's voice took on a different tone. He began to detail the horrible substances Saddam Hussein had not accounted for. To a hushed chamber, Bush recited the poisons: anthrax, enough to kill several million people; botulin toxin, enough to subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure; sarin, mustard, and VX nerve agent, enough to kill untold thousands. He went on to summon visions of prohibited munitions; mobile biological weapons labs designed to produce germ warfare; and an 'advanced nuclear weapons development program,' citing intelligence dating back to the 1990s."Then came the fateful and now famous sixteen words, 'The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quanties of uranium from Africa.' That statement was false, and known to be false by key advisors to Bush at the time he made it -- a desperate ploy by agenda-driven zealots to justify and lead the country into an unnecessary war."While Byrd goes on to describe Bush as a theatrical scoutmaster scaring children with ghost stories in hushed tones around a camp fire, the truth is that the yellow cake lie was essential in convincing the public that there was a reason to go to war in Iraq. When Wilson blasted this lie out of the water, the neocons began a savage attack. It included exposing the identity of a CIA operative who had dedicated her life to protecting our communities and families from dangerous enemies.And that, my friends, is my DU Street Memo for today. I look forward to your comments.


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