November 13, 2005
A Crook and Two Liars

“People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got.”

Well, as it turned out, he was a crook. By the time he said that, everyone whose judgements were based on fact as opposed to faith knew he was lying. Again. But part of that statement was true. He earned what he got: the disgrace of being the only President who was forced to resign.

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The President was loquacious in his answers and at the end solicited a question on the charges that the administration raised milk support prices in exchange for campaign contributions from the milk lobby.

Denying the charge, the President said Democrats led the fight in the House and Senate for higher support prices and pointed a gun at his head requiring him to boost support prices.

The President acknowledged that he had “made a mistake” in not more closely supervising campaign activities.

I was reminded of this press conference by an article in today’s Washington Post.

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“Turns out, we were wrong,” Hadley told “Late Edition” on CNN. “But I think the point that needs to be emphasized … allegations now that the president somehow manipulated intelligence, somehow misled the American people, are flat wrong.”

[…]

Bush said Democrats in Congress had the same intelligence about Iraq, and he argued that many now claiming that the information had been manipulated had supported going to war. The president also accused his critics of making false charges and playing politics with the war.

That’s rich. The President whose administration is staffed with people who intentionally lied to goad the political process into a war they knew the American people would reject if told the truth accuses his political opponents of making false charges. And many of those now claiming that the information was manipulated supported the war because the President manipulated intelligence to convince them to do so. As he is well aware. He’s just hoping we won’t notice that.

Hadley said Bush received dissenting views about the accuracy of intelligence and relied on the collective judgment of the intelligence community as conveyed by the CIA director. The national security adviser criticized those who continue to claim that Bush manipulated the intelligence and made misleading statements.

Typical. Bush did indeed receive dissenting views. He then carefully hid them from Congress and the people, and lied about their meaning. So did Hadley, and Cheney and Rice and Rumsfeld and Powell, and lots of others.

Bush does not share his most sensitive intelligence, such as the President’s Daily Brief, with lawmakers. Also, the National Intelligence Estimate summarizing the intelligence community’s views about the threat from Iraq was given to Congress just days before the vote to authorize the use of force in that country.

In addition, there were doubts within the intelligence community not included in the NIE. And even the doubts expressed in the NIE could not be used publicly by members of Congress because the classified information had not been cleared for release. For example, the NIE view that Hussein would not use weapons of mass destruction against the United States or turn them over to terrorists unless backed into a corner was cleared for public use only a day before the Senate vote.

“It is unworthy and unfair and ill-advised, when our men and women in combat are putting their lives on the line, to relitigate an issue which was looked at by two authoritative sources and deemed closed,” he said. “We need to put this debate behind us.”

Partly true: Hadley needs to put this debate behind him, because he needs to concentrate on avoiding jail for his treasonous activities.

Hadley … said that “those people who have looked at that issue [of manipulating intelligence], some committees on the Hill in Congress, and also the Silberman-Robb Commission, have concluded it did not happen.”

But the only committee investigating the matter in Congress, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has not yet done its inquiry into whether officials mischaracterized intelligence by omitting caveats and dissenting opinions. And Judge Laurence H. Silberman, chairman of Bush’s commission on weapons of mass destruction, said in releasing his report on March 31, 2005: “Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers, and all of us were agreed that that was not part of our inquiry.”

Lies, lies, and more lies:

Hadley, in his remarks, went further. “Congress, in 1998, authorized, in fact, the use of force based on that intelligence,” he said. “And, as you know, the Clinton administration took some action.”

But the 1998 legislation gave the president authority “to support efforts to remove the regime of Saddam Hussein” by providing assistance to Iraqi opposition groups, including arms, humanitarian aid and broadcasting facilities.

President Bill Clinton ordered four days of bombing of Iraqi weapons facilities in 1998, under the 1991 resolution authorizing military force in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Describing that event in an interview with CBS News yesterday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said: “We went to war in 1998 because of concerns about his weapons of mass destruction.”

The light at the end of the tunnel, as Nixon and Kissinger frequently called it, is that the MSM and a few Democrats are starting to tell a bit of the truth.

…former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., said he was wrong to have voted to give Bush the authority to go to war and called the intelligence on which he made that decision “deeply flawed and, in some cases, manipulated to fit a political agenda.”

“The information the American people were hearing from the president — and that I was being given by our intelligence community — wasn’t the whole story,” wrote Edwards, the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2004. “Had I known this at the time, I never would have voted for this war.”

A while back I opined that, as bad as Bush is, he isn’t worse than Nixon. At this point I would modify that. Nixon’s war was, after all, started by Johnson, whose Tonkin Gulf lies were comparable to Bush’s. Of course, Shrub’s father used the same sort of lies to start his war against Iraq. In fact, US Presidents are fond of war: it makes them look like strong leaders even when they’re not. And they don’t care if they have to lie to get the conflict started. After all, our economy has been based on war for the last sixty years. (An argument could be made that this began with the Civil War and the rise of corporations, but I leave that for another time.)

It’s true that Shrub came out on top in two elections by cheating. But Nixon rigged elections on a much larger scale. Shrub’s cheating wouldn’t have beat a decent candidate, had the Democrats nominated one.

As far as war goes, I’m partial to the Chomsky calculus: badness is determined by number of deaths. On that score, Nixon is still worse, whether you’re counting American deaths or comparing Iraqis with Southeast Asians. Both Nixon and Bush earned world-wide enmity for their unwarranted aggression, but Bush’s pre-emptive war surpasses Nixon’s continuation of LBJ’s war.

On the economic plane, Nixon destroyed the economy with his escalation of the war. But in that he was continuing LBJ’s foreign policy. Shrub inherited a surplus and made it a deficit, destroying the economy on purpose.

On the whole, therefore, I now see Shrub and Nixon as about equally mendacious. Bush is worse economically, but Nixon killed more people.

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Posted by Chuck Dupree at November 13, 2005 08:56 PM
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During the last phase of the rush to war, I, like most opponents of the war at that point, was proceeding on the assumption that Hussein did have some bad weapons -- chemicals, biological agencts and the like, though I was not convinced he had a nuclear capability. (The war was still wrong for a host of reasons, unless your intent was to weaken America, but that's not the point of this comment.)

The point is that I and virtually all Americans were working on the assumption that Hussein had unconventional weapons BECAUSE I HAD A RESIDUAL TRUST IN THE GOVERNMENT, and I only partly understood the depth of the pathology of Bush and his administration..

In other words, the misleading worked well. I did not, and Congress did not, have the same intelligence as the administration BECAUSE THE ADMINISTRATION WAS FRIGGIN' LYING about what it knew.

Yes, some people supported the war then who don't now. If the administration had not lied and distorted the evidence for war, those people would still be for the war.

The former supporters of the war did not change their views on whether a war was justified based on the information the administration was retailing; rather, the former supporters of the war have discovered that the information they were given was false.

Posted by: sinful on November 14, 2005 4:48 PM
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