Above the Fray

Wednesday, February 25, 2004


OK DuH!Progressive Review :


'You don't hear the president in the Oval Office railing against the special interests,'

Mark McKinnon, the chief Bush media adviser, assured The Washington Post."

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

TIA All Over Again:

We knew this wouldn't go away.. too 'toothsome' for inteligence types doncha know. [words I love to hear.. the check is in the mail, we are doing this for your own good, and trust us, we wouldn't hurt you.]

"Congress eliminated a Pentagon office that had been developing this terrorist-tracking technology because of fears it might ensnare innocent Americans. Still, some projects from retired Adm. John Poindexter's Total Information Awareness effort were transferred to U.S. intelligence offices, congressional, federal and research officials told The Associated Press. In addition, Congress left undisturbed a separate but similar $64 million research program run by a little-known office called the Advanced Research and Development Activity, or ARDA, that has used some of the same researchers as Poindexter's program."...
Frum and Perle insist that the government can be trusted with such data because procedures could be developed to link the data to a specific name only if "probable cause" of criminal conduct exists. In other words, regardless of the vast temptation for political and bureaucratic abuse of such data, the authors blithely assume that government officials -- at least in the future -- will be angels.

Frum and Perle also call for a National ID card, including "biometric data, like fingerprints or retinal scans or DNA." Again, they shrug off any concerns about how such a system could be used to sabotage people's lives and privacy, asserting, "The victims of executive branch abuse will be able to sue the wrongdoers and collect damages; the victims of a mass terrorist attack will have no such recourse." This would be hilarious except for the possibility that people who watch Fox News might actually believe such a remedy exists....

The mandate of [COINTELPRO] was spelled out in one of the stacks of secret documents released by Senate investigators in 1976: to 'disrupt, misdirect, discredit, and neutralize' groups and individuals the FBI considered politically objectionable. Those targeted in nearly all cases were not foreign spies, terrorists or individuals suspected of criminal acts," [reference to the FBI program in the 60's and 70's]

Deja vu, anyone?'The resurrection of Tia

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Neo Conners Conned

How could they have forgotten this? Straus would be disappointed in them

On the wisdom of trusting exiles :

It ought to be considered, therefore, how vain are the faith and promises of those who find themselves deprived of their country. For, as to their faith, it has to be borne in mind that anytime they can return to their country by other means than yours, they will leave you and look to the other, notwithstanding whatever promises they had made you.

As to their vain hopes and promises, such is the extreme desire in them to return home, that they naturally believe many things that are false and add many others by art, so that between those they believe and those they say they believe, they fill you with hope, so that relying on them you will incur expenses in vain, or you undertake an enterprise in which you ruin yourself. Niccolo Machiavelli

Friday, February 20, 2004

Neo Conner 2

Straus would be proud [subtext]contempt, dismissive[/subtext]

An Iraqi leader accused of feeding faulty prewar intelligence to Washington said his information about Saddam Hussein's weapons — even if discredited — achieved the aim of persuading the United States to topple the dictator.

Ahmed Chalabi and his London-based exile group, the Iraqi National Congress, for years provided a conduit for Iraqi defectors who were debriefed by U.S. intelligence agents.

During an interview, Mr. Chalabi, by far the most effective anti-Saddam lobbyist in Washington, shrugged off charges that he had deliberately misled U.S. intelligence.

"We are heroes in error," he said in Baghdad on Wednesday. "As far as we're concerned, we've been entirely successful.

"Our objective has been achieved. That tyrant Saddam is gone, and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important."


Neo Conners

A Book review:

...No one will accuse Frum and Perle of a shortage of contempt. After a breathless summary of daily life in the Arab world, the authors declare, “This fetid environment nourishes the most venomous vermin in the Middle Eastern swamp.” The tone of The End of Evil brings to mind historian Thomas Macaulay’s quip on British poet laureate Robert Southey: “What theologians call the spiritual sins are his cardinal virtues — hatred, pride, and the insatiable thirst for vengeance.” The book contains more invocations of the Nazis than a Mel Brooks movie.

...This book is impossible to understand without recognizing the neoconservative concept of government. The key to ending evil, from Frum’s and Perle’s perspective, is to greatly increase the power of the federal government both at home and abroad.

Government becomes the ultimate force for the good — and distrust of government is the ultimate proof of a lack of sophistication.

The Neocon War on Peace and Freedom, Part 1: "Neocon War on Peace and Freedom"

Thursday, February 19, 2004

A Writing Exercise

Interesting concept. Probably hard to write too...

Revision Thing:

A history of the Iraq war, told entirely in lies
Posted on Saturday, September 20, 2003. All text is verbatim from senior Bush Administration officials and advisers. In places, tenses have been changed for clarity. Originally from Harper's Magazine, September 2003. By Sam Smith...
Revision Thing (Harpers.org):

Cracks in the Dam:

Earlier, I noted that there seemed to be a lot of news on the failings of the gangs strategy. An anomaly, since few mainstream reporters wanted to get on the 'list' for a smear job.

This article summarizes the events of the gathering storm. It does so with a bit of humor rather than the usual OTT rhetoric. Here are some cuts, but I suggest you read the whole article. A useful handout for the uninformed.
[note the rather condescending and dismissive response from Scalia]

...It's worth noting as well that Waas's information about the Novak leak comes via another leak - and in a super-secret case before a grand jury. It's but another sign of the anger bubbling up inside the Beltway. Many intelligence types and others have been deeply offended not just by Plame's outing by this administration, but by the visible lack of any desire on the part of the President to get to the bottom of the case....

...What's striking then is that Republican Senator Chuck Hagel and others suddenly jumped sides on the Intelligence Committee on this matter, opening the way for what will evidently be an investigation of the Office of Special Plans, the neocon intelligence operation set up in the Pentagon, and of the information provided by Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi exile organization, the Iraqi National Congress, information which, possibly via the vice-president's office, ended up in the National Intelligence Estimate that bolstered the war party. (I wonder who will play Chalabi in the future film, Sex, lies, and mushroom clouds?)...

....Scalia insists that neither his long friendship with Cheney nor the freebie shooting trip will bias his decision in the pending secret-records case [on Cheney's energy task force], and he dismisses any suggestion that he recuse himself. You don't have to know field game to smell a rotten odor here.

The justice himself had the following incisive comment on the matter:

"[The case before the court] did not involve a lawsuit against Dick Cheney as a private individual,' Scalia said in response to a question from the audience of about 600 people. 'This was a government issue. It's acceptable practice to socialize with executive branch officials when there are not personal claims against them. That's all I'm going to say for now. Quack, quack."

..To end, let me cite a joke that seems to catch a truth. This came to me via a friend's e-list from historian John Baick, who teaches at Western New England College. It was simply too amusing to resist:

"After reading President Bush's description of the American economy of the past ('It used to be, you know, crank somebody out of high school, and if they could run a backhoe, that's going to be fine') and considering former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's comments about the president's lack of interest in a 2001 economy briefing,

I realize that a new investigation should be added alongside the search for missing National Guard records: did George W. Bush attend any classes at Harvard Business School?"

Justice a l'Orange
I agree with the last observation.. W's lack of service and attendance in the National Guard is one thing. A germaine follow up would be to examine the attendance records for Harvard.

This headline is from today:
White House retreats from jobs forecast:The Bush administration yesterday backed away from its forecast that 2.6 million jobs will be created this year, but said it remained confident of robust though unspecified job growth for the year...."The president is not a statistician," McClellan said. Asked why Bush no longer stood behind the forecast, McClellan replied, "I think what the president stands behind is the policies that he is implementing, the policies that he is advocating. That's what's important."...The retreat comes a day after two Cabinet secretaries distanced themselves from the report.
Well, do we see a pattern here?

First, there appears to be more defectors in the civil service..[and Congress too]. And secondly, W's 'faith based governance', seems to be wearing a bit thin. [skipped out on his statistics course doncha know].

Just how did W get his degree? Inquiring minds want to know..

Wednesday, February 18, 2004


Monday, February 16, 2004
Fuzzy math? Bush spoke today about jobs at Nuair Manufacturing, located in Tampa Florida. Here's what he said:

...there are thousands of entrepreneurs in America, all over the country, making the same kind of decisions -- 40 workers here, five workers there begin to add up to excitement and new jobs.
It sure adds up. 40 + 5 = 45

uggabuggaSide note: I had a physics professor that had a favorite expression for this type of statement.. Grabbing at a gnat's ass!

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Getting Scared Yet?

January 20, 2004 National Debt:

Average when bush first took office: $500 per family

Average family’s share of the national debt five years from now: $84,000

Center for American Progress - Bush's Fiscal Meltdown

I came home this afternoon and saw this headline on the front page of the CNN website: "Bush says Democrats would threaten fiscal health."

The lede said Bush told a crowd in Florida that "Democrats would endanger America's fiscal health by raising taxes."

This is one of many reasons why President Bush is in trouble. On fiscal policy, he has not simply lost all credibility. With claims like these, he is right on his way to becoming the butt of jokes. And laughter and derision are in many ways the deadliest bogies in politics.

When the president came into office the budget surplus was over $200 billion. Now the deficit is over $500 billion.

Even my frail grasp of mathematics tells me that's a deterioration in the nation's fiscal health of roughly three-quarters of a trillion dollars in the three years he's been in office. And for almost all of that time the president's party controlled both houses of congress.

And he says the Democrats are a danger to the nation's fiscal health?

This is the arsonist in your house telling you that stranger outside with the hose can't be trusted.

Joshua Micah Marshall

Wednesday, February 11, 2004


This headline leaves me speechless:

Bush Supports Shift of Jobs Overseas
The loss of work to other countries, while painful in the short term, will enrich the economy eventually, his report to Congress says...

Outsourcing is good
An observation from Josh:
Given the president's record as a businessman, and since he's now run the country hopelessly into debt, isn't it about time he sells the country off to some rich friends who will swallow the loss so he can move on to greener pastures?
Talking Points Memo February 10, 2004 -- 12:41 PM

Friday, February 06, 2004

And Even More Geez

What is it today? Is there something in the water, or is it some cosmic event bombarding us with micro particles [smarmeticles]...

The normally even tempered, 'give folks a break' Josh has a brief note verging on the boundary of, can I say it?.. Bush Bashing, by those afflicted with Hatred memes [due to smarmenticles?].

President Bush," reads the lede of this new AP story, "asked Congress to eliminate an $8.2 million research program on how to decontaminate buildings attacked by toxins — the same day a poison-laced letter shuttered Senate offices." Oops.

And just when the president was on such a roll.

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall

More Bitter

This is an Irony Alert [message needed for those literal humorless BPD folks]

Students for an Orwellian Society
Because 2004 is 20 years too late...

SOS: Students for an Orwellian Society

And Another Public Rebuke

Today has not been the greatest for the gang. Now we hear from the clergy:

February 05, 2004
President Bush has his reward
President Bush addresses the National Prayer Breakfast

His remarks were largely in praise of the occupation of Iraq.

One well-known religious leader had the following comment:

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Matthew 6:5-6

Och Ouch Ouch
President Bush has his reward

Karnak and Round III

Yeppers, You saw it here first folks... Payback on the not so back channel level:

Tenet Targets White House

In a major speech this morning addressing the failure to find WMD in Iraq, CIA Director George Tenet said the intelligence community never told the White House that Iraq was an imminent threat to America – a stunning blow to the White House, considering its repeated and unequivocal claims that war was necessary because Iraq was an "imminent," "immediate," "urgent" and "mortal" threat.

While the White House has tried to say it never claimed Iraq was an imminent threat, the record proves otherwise.

Tenet's speech follows an interview last night on 60 Minutes II with the State Department's top intelligence officer Greg Theilmann, who said, "The main problem [before the war] was that the senior administration officials have what I call faith-based intelligence....[ROTFL

Center for American Progress - The Progress Report - Page


This, I would say is 'bitter'

February 03, 2004
HEADLINE OF THE YEAR. ...Still, this title says it all:

Our Basic Instincts Were Sound

A good slogan for the Iraq hawks, I think, and one which might fittingly be stenciled on every coffin the Pentagon flies into Dover Air Force Base in the dead of night.-Nick Confessore


Another Moderate Speaks

Another trend that has been spinning.. 'The Bush Haters'. The term was put out there to neutralize criticism of the gang. Anyone that has anything negative to say is really only exhibiting irrational, unreasoned hate and therefore can be dismissed [and anything they say] as crazy.

This is a very common technique used in situations different than politics. Anyone who has worked with family bullies, alchoholics, drug addicts etc. will recognize it as defense posture no. 1 or 2.

The has been a lot of over the top response to this. Here is a more reasoned response. Substitute 'bitter', for hate.

Brad DeLong, and the folks he quotes are not left wing crazies.. they represent the middle on both sides of the divide. I think his statement represents the real trend, at least I hope so. He is a bit harsh on all the others, but I think their reluctance to speak out represents the 'cannot imagine' flaw that I have talked about before. Regardless:

Why do so many of us who worked so hard on economic policy for the Clinton administration, and who think of ourselves as mostly part of a sane and bipartisan center, find the Bush administration and its Republican congressional lapdogs so... disgusting, loathsome, contemptible? Why are we so bitter?

After introspection, the answer for me at least as clear. We worked very hard for years to repair the damage that Ronald Reagan and company had done to America's fisc. We strained every nerve and muscle to find politically-possible and popularly-palatable ways to close the deficit, and put us in a position in which we can at least begin to think about the generational long-run problems of financing the retirement of the baby-boom generation and dealing with the rapidly-rising capabilities and costs of medicine. We saw a potential fiscal train wreck far off in the future, and didn't ignore it, didn't shrug our shoulders, didn't assume that it would be someone else's problem, but rolled up our sleeves and set to work.

Then the Bush people come in. And in two and a half years they trash the place. They trash the place deliberately. They trash the place casually. They trash the place gleefully. They undo our work for no reason at all--just for the hell of it. Reading Suskind's The Price of Loyalty shows just how casual and unthinking it was.

Jeffrey Frankel (and Others, Including Me) Lose It by Brad DeLong

A Rose by Any Other Name

Lots of spinning out there concerning military service. The best, and most objective view is represented by this 'article' by Orcinus [a writer out of Seattle].

The issues:

What is the record and does it represent a label of AWOL

Were the records doctored, suppressed, or lost

Is the issue important, why should we care

This issue was written about during the campaign, why did the press give it a pass.. Why have they been doing the same thing now [main stream press has ignored the issue until recently].

Talkin' AWOL

Eric Boehlert's piece in Salon about George W. Bush's military record is as thorough and definitive a piece as has been written yet. He really nails the core of the matter quite well...

The most revealing interview of the day, meanwhile, came courtesy of Aaron Brown of CNN last night, talking to James Webb, the former Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan:

..Finally, a quote worth remembering, for all those Republicans out there claiming Bush joined the Guard out of love of country and honor and all those good American things, and who are Democrats to question his service? Why, you're smearing everyone who served in the Guard! Well, here's Bush's own characterization of his choice, from an interview he gave the Houston Chronicle 1994:

"I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes."

NOTE: If you want to read articles in Salon [subscriber service], they have a day pass that only requires you to look at an ad, fairly painless. Gets you to the article. Also, you can read the rest of the articles, and search their archives!]

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Deja Vu All Over Again:

Being a biologist and psychologist, I am always asking questions about an event.. what went before, what is happening now, are these predictors of future events?

I have had my run in with Dick Cheney. I have always wondered where did this guy get his training..what influenced him ?

Well thrill seekers, this article is a nice short summary of history, an outline of a learning curve donch know. This explains a lot. I knew I had seen this before..

Here's a trivia question of no small consequence. When, about what event and by whom was the following statement made?
But out of the gobbledygook, comes a very clear thing: you can't trust the government; you can't believe what they say; and you can't rely on their judgment; and the—the implicit infallibility of presidents, which has been an accepted thing in America, is badly hurt by this, because it shows that people do things the president wants to do even though it's wrong, and the president can be wrong.

You could be excused if you said it was George W. Bush complaining about the recent revelations by WMD inspector David Kay, but you would be wrong. Actually, former President Richard M. Nixon uttered those fateful words during a meeting in the Oval Office with aide H.R. Halderman. [actually, I think it was Halderman who said this to Nixon] The date was June 14, 1971 and Nixon was obsessing over the publication a day earlier of the Pentagon Papers in The Washington Post.

I came across this remarkable quote quite by accident while doing research the other day. At first it simply struck me as ironic that three decades later another sitting president's pronouncements about the reasons and objectives for war had been publicly revealed to be false.

But then I realized that there might be something even more significant in this train of thought. Those closest to George W. Bush—notably Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld—learned some valuable lessons from the Nixon presidency and the events that led to its downfall.

After Nixon was forced from office, Cheney became White House chief of staff for Gerald Ford. It was during that job that Cheney first showed he had learned much from his former boss's downfall. While chief of staff for Ford, Cheney earned the code name "Backseat," a reflection of his insistence that his work remain behind the scenes and out of the public spotlight. Rumsfeld resigned his congressional seat to join the Nixon administration in 1969 as an advisor on domestic policy.

Both Cheney and Rumsfeld had front-row seats from which to watch the self-destruction of the Nixon presidency. Finding themselves in power again, both men well understood that it was not what Nixon and his cronies did that got them thrown out of office, but the evidence of what they did—the tapes, the memos, the testimony.

Lesson learned: So when Vice President Dick Cheney formed his Energy Task Force he made certain that its members—nearly all of whom hailed big energy companies, including Enron—would remain secret as would the advice they provided. When the General Accounting Office demanded the information they were told to mind their own business. Three years and several court challenges later it remains secret.

Back in 1971, when former RAND researcher Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers, Nixon tried to close the barn door by having then-Attorney General John Mitchell threaten The New York Times and The Washington Post with prosecution if they published any more from the once secret report. Of course, that didn't work and two weeks later the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 against the administration anyway.

Lesson learned: Once information gets loose it's too late. To make sure nothing like happens to this administration the whole operation has been virtually hermetically sealed. The power to classify information as Secret and Top Secret was expanded to every nook and cranny, including Agriculture and the EPA. Even within the Bush administration itself, information has become available strictly on a "need to know" basis. There would be no Daniel Ellsbergs leaving this administration with anything sensitive but what was in their heads—and therefore deniable.

After failing to stop further publication of the Pentagon Papers—which for those too young to remember, put the entire basis for and execution of the Vietnam War in doubt—Nixon's first instinct was to kill the messenger by turning one of the war's chief architects, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, loose on Ellsberg. Kissinger started spreading the word that Ellsberg had shot at peasants from helicopters while in Vietnam and, furthermore, that Ellsberg was gay. When neither rumor stuck Nixon went looking for real dirt, organizing a break-in at the offices of Ellsberg's psychiatrist.

When the White House came under suspicion, Nixon complained to his press secretary. Ron Ziegler, "Goddamn to hell, I didn't tell them to go fuck up the goddamn Ellsberg place."

Lesson NOT learned: The Bush administration had its own Ellsberg on its hands this year when former ambassador Joe Wilson publicly contradicted the Bush administration's oft-stated claims that Iraq had tried to buy uranium from Niger. The White House response was a ham-handed attempt to discredit Wilson by leaking to the press that Wilson's wife was a covert CIA agent who operated overseas undercover as an energy analyst.

Inevitably the smear blew back on the Bush White House, just as the Ellsberg break-in had, and now the administration is stuck with an investigation into just who leaked the story. It is illegal to reveal the identity of covert CIA operatives—for obvious, and often deadly, reasons.

Lesson learned: But when it comes to digging up sensitive information, this administration did learn at least one important lesson from the Ellsberg case: if you are going to break into someone's private life, make it legal to do so first.

In the wake of 9/11, Attorney General John Ashcroft spearheaded the administration's push to enact a bundle of new laws that came to pass in the form of the USA PATRIOT Act. The legislation greatly expanded the power of the FBI and CIA. Among the powers extended was the right to break into a person's home or office without a warrant or what the courts had up to now painstakingly defined as "reasonable cause" The FBI, citing Section 215 of the Patriot Act, can now demand "any tangible thing," including books, letters, diaries, library records, medical and psychiatric records. Had the Patriot Act been in force in 1973, Nixon might well have obtained Ellsberg's psychiatric records legally by simply citing national security.

And that brings us back to the here and now and one final lesson from the Nixon days that manifested itself in Senate testimony. When David Kay testified before the Senate in January, disclosing for the first time that there are not now, nor were they before the war, any significant weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Kay went out of his way to exonerate the president and those closest to him. Instead Kay shifted the discussion to failures of "the intelligence community," describing the president as a victim of bad intelligence. Kay, no stranger to the palace politics of Washington and the hardball tactics of the current administration, was anxious to tell the truth, but equally anxious not to end up like Joe Wilson—or Daniel Ellsberg.

Lesson learned.

Stephen Pizzo is a financial journalist who lives in Sebastapol, California.

Reprinted from TomPaine.com: http://www.tompaine.com/

So the pattern was laid three decades ago... and so it goes, busy, busy, busy!

'Nixon's children'

Today's Topics:

'Bush's empty bucket'

To skeptics, the Bush administration appears to be conducting a bold political experiment: government by illusion. The wonder is how they get away with it. This president is hardly the cleverest of sorcerers. By now, the chicanery has grown so brazen that one would expect the more independentminded grazing animals--horses, say, as compared to dairy cows or GOP "team leaders"--to suspect that they are being had. Last week, George W. Bush delivered himself of yet another thunderous whopper on the subject of Iraq...

On Anger and Hypocracy
Now I don't know about you, but it strikes me that people who talk this nonsense either have very short memories or they were doing a "Rip Van Winkle" from 1992 to 2000 - not to mention some of the vile things we've heard from these same screamers over the last three years or so. If you ask me, I think these people have a lot of nerve accusing the Left of being "negative."...But these same people found nothing wrong with morphing Tom Daschle's face with Saddam Hussein's in a commercial during the 2002 campaign.

They don't see anything wrong with Grover Norquist comparing the morality of the Estate Tax to the morality of the Holocaust.

They don't see anything wrong with Rush Limbaugh labeling liberated women "femi-nazis" or referring to Senator Clinton as "Hitlery."

How about Mike Savage (Weiner) and his comment to a gay caller that all gays should "die of AIDS?"

Or Ann Coulter lamenting that Timothy McVeigh didn't drive his truck bomb into the New York Times building?

Do statements like these by the right-wings' most admired spokespeople not ring of hate?....

'Flat Earth politics':
In the political corollary to this farce of human nature, we're about midway through the second act. It's no longer just dissident spooks, safe-seat Democrats, and weirdo peaceniks insisting that the notion of Iraq posing an immediate and grave threat to U.S. security was preposterous all along. Now we have people once loyal to the old order conceding that the new theory -- that Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction were destroyed in the mid-90's -- has more merit to it than our old understanding of things, with that mushroom cloud waiting with a U.S. city's name on it.

The counterattack is underway, but by this time it's more ridiculous than intimidating. Reasonably intelligent conservative pundits -- the Charles Krauthammers and John Leos and George Wills of the world -- have lined up this last week, one right after another, to bleat out a contorted line of reasoning that even they would have dismissed as ludicrous a week ago....

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Pessimisim from a Conservative Democrat:

..Well, as you can see, my first three druthers are all liberals, while I'm a conservative. That's because there are no conservatives in the race. Bush is not a conservative. No conservative would:

give the middle finger to long-time allies,
declare war on the world,
run record budget deficits and record trade deficits,
fail to secure our borders,
offer an incentive for even more illegal immigrants to come in,
pour pork into the hands of big corporations
and ravage the environment.

It's an indicator of how far left the political spectrum has shifted that of all the candidates, Bush included, Dean is the most conservative.

I agree with Oswald Spengler, who wrote "The Decline of the West" in the early part of the last century. We are transitioning from what he called an age of money to the age of Caesars. The old, cherished ideal of minimum government and maximum freedom will not be realized in our or our children's lifetimes.

John Adams said the Constitution was written for a moral and virtuous people, and for the most part today, we are neither.

All that is left for us to do is to try to choose a ruler who has brains and a good heart — an Augustus Caesar or a Marcus Aurelius rather than a Nero or a Caligula.

Charley Reese

What comes to mind is a passage from Idylls of the King: the Passing of Arthur,” Lord Alfred Tennyson. [I had to memorize this in high school].

And slowly answered Arthur from the barge:
'The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfils himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.

Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me?
I have lived my life, and that which I have done
May He within himself make pure!

But now farewell. I am going a long way
With these thou se st--if indeed I go
To the island-valley of Avilion;
Where falls not hail, or rain, or any snow,
Nor ever wind blows loudly; but it lies
Deep-meadowed, happy, fair with orchard lawns
And bowery hollows crowned with summer sea,
Where I will heal me of my grievous wound.'

Maudlin but just came to mind. and so it goes, busy busy busy!

Monday, February 02, 2004

More on the company

Pure speculation:

We listened to Ian Master's Background Briefing radio program today, and one of the guests was Ray McGovern, a twenty-seven year career analyst for the CIA and a co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

In a discussion on the WMD issue, the focus shifted to what George Tenet knows - and if that knowledge is what's keeping Bush from firing him. McGovern thought it might be the contents of the 6 August 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing.

From what McGovern said - plus some additional Google-related searching (Sunday Herald, Guardian, CNN, more), we think it looked something like this:
6 August 2001

Presidential Daily Briefing

al-Qaeda Determined to Strike in U.S.

An attack inside the United States is being planned by Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda.

The Saudi-born terrorist hopes to 'bring the fight to America' in retaliation for missile strikes on al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan in 1998.

British Intelligence says:

That in 1998 al-Qaeda operatives discussed hijacking a plane to negotiate the release of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman (the Muslim cleric imprisoned in America for his part in a plot to blow up the World Trade Centre in 1993).

The United States should expect multiple hijacking of aircraft.

We know there has been flight training by Muslim students.

We believe there are al-Qaeda cells currently in the United States.


The real culprits ?

These guys probably won't be part of the 'official' gang's investigation. Why? Because they were the ones sifting the data. This is a great chart outlining the flow of data. Look at the red arrows. Most, if not all the data went through this 'special' group. And who were these guys?... [suprise!]

The Intelligence Chain Illustration by Nigel Holmes

Shortly after 9/11, the Pentagon established a secret intelligence unit to build the case against Iraq. The unit's members -- many of whom were recruited from neoconservative think tanks, primarily the American Enterprise Institute and the Project for the New American Century -- funneled faulty information up the chain of command, often all the way to the White House. By early 2002, the unit had been incorporated into the Defense Department's Office of Special Plans.

The Intelligence Chain

The Company takes a second hit:

Well, I am not the only one that is watching this with amusement and coming to similar conclusions. The gang has very characteristically begun the blame game to cover their butts [games of blaming, up is down rhetoric, throwing dirt in the air, then complaining they can't see, delay, delay, delay..and more].

January 31, 2004 From a story on CNN yesterday evening: "Amid calls for an independent probe into prewar intelligence failures, Vice President Dick Cheney has called key lawmakers to say the administration is open to a range of options, sources tell CNN."

Why is the White House scrambling to get out ahead of these calls for an investigation and contain the potential investigation being called for?

Three data points framed as questions ...

1. Did the White House play fast and loose with the truth about the Iraq threat?

2. Are people in the Intelligence Community likely to know just how they played fast and loose?

3. Do people in the Intelligence Community feel ill-used by this administration?

Add them up.

And one other thing: how credible will an inquiry be if it covers the CIA but not the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Office of the Vice President?

Josh Marshall

January 31, 2004 -- This evening the Post has an article reporting that the White House has decided to support an independent probe of the intelligence failure over Iraqi WMD.

Here are the key grafs (emphasis added) ...

The details about the commission are not yet firm, including how much authority it would have to investigate not just the intelligence gathering apparatus but also how the administration used the intelligence it was given.

By joining the effort to create the commission rather than allowing Congress to develop its framework on its own, Bush will likely have more leverage to keep the focus on the CIA and other intelligence organizations rather than on the White House. Democrats have asserted that Bush exaggerated the intelligence on Iraq to justify going war, a theory that was boosted by recent allegations from former Treasury secretary Paul H. O'Neill that Bush had been contemplating the ouster of Hussein long before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

There it is. They want to wall off the investigation so it only scrutinizes their political enemies at the CIA and the rest of the Intelligence Community.

The gang are doing it again..open warfare with the Company, geez this should be very interesting indeed. BTW, Josh Marshal is an excellent journalist and a weblog that is well worth putting on your list. He did an excellent job in detailing the Phlame event [hit number one]. I assume he will do the same with this second hit.

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall

This is the 'front' door for Josh Marshall's weblog: Talking Points Memo