Congress and the Case for War

On the campaign trail in 2004, President Bush told a crowd in Kirtland, Ohio, "I said to the Congress, do you see a threat? And members of both political parties looked at the same intelligence I looked at and came to the same conclusion we came to."

Did they? Putting aside things like Presidential Daily Briefings, to which none of the members of Congress would have been privy, the president himself ensured that intelligence would be kept from Congress when he issued this presidential memorandum.

And did members of Congress reach the same conclusions as the President? The New York Times (text also at Common Dreams) took issue with the part of the claim.

As far back as 2002, Sen. Bob Graham was reaching very different conclusions from the intelligence before him than was the president.

Here's Graham, not long after Congress approved the resolution authorizing force:

Hussein may be the baddest guy in the Middle East, but he is just one of the bad guys -- and he does not pose an immediate threat to our homeland, according to a recently declassified assessment from the CIA. Rather, that report suggests, Hussein might use his chemical and biological weapons in terrorist strikes on the United States in retaliation for a U.S.-led attack on Baghdad.

... If this were 1938, the course advocated by the president -- and endorsed in the congressional resolution -- would be the equivalent of the Allies' declaring war on Mussolini's Italy but ignoring Hitler's Germany. We are turning our backs on the greater danger, and pretending not to recognize that an attack on Baghdad could spark the wake-up call to the terrorists sleeping in our midst.

It's also not just whether the same conclusions were reached, it's why those same conclusions were reached. If there was not the same level of access to intel -- which, understandably, there was not -- what led Congress to its conclusions? Did members simply not see the reports that questioned the conventional wisdom? Or did they have access to that info, but fail to pay attention to it? And how much of a role did the administration's choice of emphasis (see this Paul Krugman column from April, 2003) influence the way Congress looked at the intelligence it did receive?

Rep. Jane Harman (D.-Calif.) made this observation, way back in the June 11, 2003 Washington Post:

There have also been questions about the public portrayal of intelligence by senior policymakers. Preliminary reviews indicate that public statements did not always portray the detailed caveats about Iraqi WMD that intelligence reports generally provided. In addition, questions about possible pressure on analysts to alter their judgments and about possible suppression of alternative assessments must be a central part of a thorough and detailed review.

Congressional reports have pretty much ruled out the latter concern, but the former -- the omission of key findings that raised doubt about various aspects of the administration's case for war -- has not been adequately debunked.

Other useful info: NPR has a story on the administration's insistence that everyone saw the same intel, and Think Progress, FactCheck.org and Media Matters have entire pages devoted to refuting the claim.

By Emily Messner |  December 5, 2005; 5:14 AM ET  | Category:  Beltway Perspectives
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It seems transparent that the President and some of his key staff were intent to steamroll American opinion into supporting an invasion of Iraq, falsely linking it to the proper response to the Al Quaeda attack; and that their fervor to invade shaped the information they put before the country rather than allowing the facts to shape their own thinking. These people - the President and his closest advisors - are literally incredible. I can't believe anything they assert anymore.


Today Secretary of State Rice asserted (paraphrasing) that the US does not condone torture, and that torture is a criminal violation of US law, where ever it occurs by US action. If so, when will we see Secretary Rumfeld indicted for his role as Secretary of Defense in torture by the US military? Who gets indicted for the CIA crimes in this regard? Who gets charged in these immoral "renditions" the WP has reported about?

Posted by: Mill_of_Mn | December 5, 2005 11:54 AM

Emily, there are two articles from the op-ed page of this very paper that indicate that the debate--as far as the public is concerned--is over. Jonathan Rausch and Zbiginew Brzizinski have written important pieces detailing why Bush may have already lost the debate on this.

According to Rausch, the Pew Research Center has done a rather exhaustive analysis of where the public is on this and it appears that far from this being just fleeting disenchantment, the public has made a hard nosed calculus that no matter how successful Bush's efforts--success being defined as a peaceful democratic Iraq--it was not worth it.

And, it is clear that the public does not buy into the argument that the terrorist who bombed the trade center and the Pentagon represent some monolith worldwide conspiracy to dominate the earth.

Posted by: Jaxas | December 5, 2005 12:09 PM

Posted by: D. | December 5, 2005 12:57 PM

D. - Thanks for that link, but I fail to see the relevance of comparing the Iraq war to World War II - that war had popular support because we knew that job had to be done, and all Americans shared in that sacrifice for the greater good. Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, thereby provoking our rage as a nation and causing us to declare war on the "Axis of Evil". Contrary to what President Bush would have us believe, Iraq did not bomb us, had absolutely no role in the 9/11 attacks, and did not have WMD's. We did not have a reasonable basis for going to war in Iraq.

Posted by: JK | December 5, 2005 01:24 PM

If the Bush administration and Congressional Republicans had there way:

There would be no daily U.S. military casualty/injury reports coming from Iraq on a daily basis. this information would
be classified and unvailable to the public.

The so-called MSM, would be reporting only Iraqi War stories approved by the Bush administration and those stories would have to reflect "positively" on the war progress.

All criticism and dissent from politicians and political groups on the Iraqi War would be banned. Anyone speaking out publicly against the President or republican congress on this matter would be arrested and charged with treason agains the U.S. If found guilty they would
be put to death.

There is a word for people who seek to govern this way. I cannot recall at the moment what it is.

Posted by: Left Angle | December 5, 2005 01:31 PM

Left Angle: I think the word you're looking for is "fascists."

Posted by: Matt | December 5, 2005 01:54 PM

Kind of like FDR?

Posted by: D. | December 5, 2005 01:55 PM

What is becoming obscured by this language, "looked at the same intelligence I looked at and came to the same conclusion" is the reality of the measure which was approved of by the Congress.

"The president is authorized to use the armed forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq, and (2) enforce all relevant United Nation Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq." http://archives.cnn.com/2002/ALLPOLITICS/10/11/iraq.us/

This is not a "conclusion"; this is an "authorization" pending a conclusion. Daschle was quoted in the above article as saying that the Iraqi weapons programs were "real", albeit, "not imminent." And he cautioned Bush against acting in a fashion that would make the situation worse.

Certainly, Bush aides can go back and cherry pick Democratic leaders giving lip-service to the seriousness of the Iraqi threat. But, they were put in a bind. They couldn't (easily) vote against the above weak resolution during an election year. And they couldn't vote for it and then say that Iraq was of absolutely no threat. So there's going to be quotations that are usable.

But that doesn't mean that any Democrats were independently advocating for an immediate invasion of Iraq. And that is the conclusion which the Bush Administration reached. And that is the conclusion which they must defend. And that is the conclusion on which they are all on their own.

Posted by: Matt | December 5, 2005 02:05 PM

Matt:

I believe that is exactly the word i was looking for, but call a repub/con that and they will cry "foul".

What is readily apparent to me is that if the Bush administration & Repub congress could govern this war in the manner I discribed above, that is EXACTLY how they would do so.

All one has to do is read between the lines on their reactions and comments about critics and dissenters to
the Bush policy on the Iraq war.

These people are dangerous. Their vision of
america in some ways is somewhat similar to the "terrorist" we are supposed to be
fighting and afraid of.

Posted by: Left Angle | December 5, 2005 02:13 PM

Congress looked at the polls and at their political careers before looking at the intelligence. Obviously, they made their choice politically because the war was a popular idea at the time.
I think the WW2 analogy is apt if only to point out that Saddam was more of a Mussolini than a Hitler. Osoma Bin Laden would be our modern Hitler figure, and he's nowhere near Iraq right now. Funny how we've apparently given up on ever catching him.
On a side note, I'm surprised the 'Case For War' as a topic on The Debate is stretching into yet another week. I think we've argued just about every angle of the Bush administration's manipulation of the American public in order for this president to get his personal war. As a politician, George Bush is used to aggressively getting what he wants through the manipulation of opinion, facts, and events. Look how far it's got him.

Posted by: ErrinF | December 5, 2005 02:24 PM

If Bush COULD govern anything, he would. Problem is, he can't. What do you expect from a silver spoon boob like him? No wonder his support has dwindled down to that of the apologist Bushbots.
9/11, the Iraq war, Katrina's disastrous federal response... all happenned under Bush's watch. I never voted for Clinton, but I remember that things didn't go to hell in a handbasket under his watch. Probably because Clinton wasn't a born-rich dope like Bush. I guess they don't teach proper governance at prep schools for the privileged.
We as voters need to start keeping bluebloods out of office. I mean, I know our two party system is owned by the upper class, and that our votes are bought and paid for like everything else in America, but that doesn't mean we have to let sons of privilege like Bush, Gore, and Kerry be our only options for president. Things go down the tubes if you don't have a competent leader in place; Just look at the last 5 years.

Posted by: ErrinF | December 5, 2005 02:41 PM

Errin - Have to concur with you that it is odd that we are still debating this whole Iraq issue well into a second week. we can argue this six ways till Sunday and while some valid points have been made on both sides, I don't think anyone is going to change their minds on this one.

New topic! Nick & Jessica? PS2 or Xbox? The list goes on and on...lol

Posted by: D. | December 5, 2005 02:44 PM

As I recall the Nation was bloodthirsty after 9/11 and anyone who criticized the mounting war effort was vilified by the pols and their constituents, republican and democrat alike. Intelligent pols in the House and Senate both knew that this build-up to war in Iraq was based on a teetering platform of intelligence. There was no way that more than a handful would chance swimming upstream against the current of hate emanating from 9/11 and not more than a handful did.

If Saddam can be charged with brutality against his people, then why can't we? Surely those who have died would testify to that. I'm sure they were both shocked and awed when the bombs started falling. Now, they are pissed off and coalescing behind the veil of hatred for an enemy that they did not provoke and the people who approved it unanimously even if they were being deceived by a "C" student. We should be ashamed of ourselves and we should be very angry at the deceivers who have aided and abetted the enemy they have helped to create by making the world a much less safe place than it was.

Posted by: Lee | December 5, 2005 02:54 PM

Erin F.

That's the man repubs/cons say has "evolved into a great leader and man of action" since 9-11-01. I agree whole heartedly with you on Bush's competence level. lol

Did you know that the rich/bluebloods call
working for the government: "public service"? It's as if they are doing the rest of us a favor and they generally donate the pitiful salaries associated with government positions to charity.

Posted by: Left Angle | December 5, 2005 02:56 PM

Leftists fixate on leaders because they generally lack appreciation for trends and movements.

Thus, all that was good about the Soviet Union for them was due to Comrade Stalin, and after he died and was demythified by Commie officials, he became the scapegoat of all that was bad.

But even if Stalin had been liquidated by the Bolsheviks, and his name was on many execution lists, the history of the Soviet Union would have still been brutal and bloody if Bronstein (Trotsky) or Bukarin had been made Dear Leader instead.

Similarly, the ideology of Radical Islam is not dependent on one person (Bin Laden) - he is sort of a sidetrack to the twin streams of radical Sunni Islam emenating from Egypt, and the Shia counterpart coming from conservative Ayatollahs of Iran. Sayyid Qutb, long dead, certain Mullahs, long dead, and the Muslim Brotherhood movement started in the 1920's are far more important than Binnie. Kill Osama and you just remove one of many leaders. For Lefties believing that there is a single Mr. Evil that if only he is "brought to trial" they can go back to 9/10/2001 as the whole Islamist construct collapses without the "Mastermind" is just cheap Hollywood fantasy.

What matters is strategy, and going into Iraq, while flawed in implementation, is far wiser than chasing around mountains looking for one guy out of millions that support Radical Islam. If the Arab world sees an alternative besides dictatorship and stultifying 8th Century life that rejects modernity - that is a far bigger step in solving the problem than giving Binnie 20 ACLU lawyers and a global media Trial of the Century platform to martyr himself on...

As for intelligence, Graham is more a gadfly than a prophet. He was a queer bird that thought he could be President, that Dem donors met with and thought in many ways was odder than Kucinich. The whole idea that Bush, Clinton, and Blair had "Secret Debunking Intel" that Congress and Parliament didn't get makes for interesting Lefty conspiracy theory - but has been debunked by the Robb-Silberman Report, the Senate Select Committee Report, and the Lord Butler Report ---all showing these 3 Leaders had the same intel as Select intelligence committees - cleared in the US and UK to look at the same classified info - as the 3 leaders did.

Bill Clinton didn't lie so people could die. Neither did Blair, privy to the same intel as the US Presidents get, "sex it up", so babies could die. And neither did the 3rd leader, Bush..

This is where the Lefty "Bush is a liar and evil" theory collapses. It presumes that there is a conspiracy of Republicans, Labour, and Democrats in the loop, and military leaders to all lie along with Bush. I have no doubt that certain neocons will be found by historians to be "non-objective" and emphasizing the pro-war facts. That is nothing new. Policy-makers are generally NOT expected to be neutral, objective in making policy. They are not friggin' impartial judges. We see strong advocates FOR and AGAINST certain policy in ALL Administrations..

When asked to put their votes where their mouths are, Left-wing Democrats rallying around the confused but sincere Rep Murtha decided to cut and run. The vote was 403-3 against Murtha's idea.

Meanwhile, we got another Al Qaeda biggie. Abu Hamza Rabia killed with a missile along with some Waziri's stupid enough to give the asshole room and board. He was 9/11 Mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's replacement. Yes, he was just killed, butchered, assassinated, extrajudicially killed without ACLU lawyers having a chance to defend him!! Oh, the senseless violence of it all!!! He didn't have his official Army of Infidel Head Choppers uniform on!

Posted by: Chris Ford | December 5, 2005 03:16 PM

You sure know a lot about how "leftist" think to be a right winger.

I'm just wondering if you can quote people or provide souces for the things you post as if they are factually stated by those on the left.Or is that your interpretation of what YOU think of the left.

Where your arguments fall apart on this
"were fighting radical islam" is that the majority of the american people dont seem to be buying it anymore.
They also have come to believe that President Bush lied and mislead the nation into the Iraq war. They also beleive that
Bush is dishonest and untrustworthy.

One more thing on the Murtha vote, you forgot to mention that the version that was presented in Congress was not the version that Con. Murtha presented. It was reworded by he repub congressmen who presented it. Most democrats didnt take it seriously because it wasnt a serious document to begin with.

Posted by: Left Angle | December 5, 2005 03:39 PM

Hm. Too bad. Your post started so well, Chris Ford. Good information, good logic. Yes, Osama bin Laden is not the cornerstone whose removal would start the collapse of Radical Islam. Maybe it should be a broader discussion.

And then you fall into unsupportable right-wing rhetoric. I'm amazed at the multiplicity of things which the three reports: Robb-Silbermann, Senate Select, and Lord Butler, all are asserted as supporting. This week it's the fact that the Senate received the same intel as the Executive branch? Two weeks ago it was that the Executive branch did not alter the intel?

No.

That is not what those three reports said. Those reports looked at the quality of the intel. That's it. Let's pause for the absurdity of your assertion: that the Bush White House handed over to the British doing the Lord Butler report all of the intelligence it received pre-Iraq war so that the British could exonerate the White House from claims of differential intel from the Senate (which also would have sent over its intel). If you're going to lie, at least make up something credible.

Next, you say the vote was 403-3, "against Murtha's idea." Please post for me, from Murtha, his proposal. And then post the text of the proposal that was voted on.

Lastly, this is more of an opinion-level quibble, but policy makers should be objective when it comes to weighing the factors that goes into their decisions. A policy maker may have a general approval of a particular policy that guides them into investigating it, but it is utterly irresponsible and derelict against their public duty of them to falsify or overly emphasize the impact of said policy in selling it. That is the job of the advocate. It is one thing to say that this policy will cost our society $30bn and, as a policy maker, I am willing to accept that cost. It is quite another to know that it will cost $30bn and tell the public that it will be only be $5bn. Be honest about your decisions.

Now, would you like to amend anything you've said?

Posted by: Matt | December 5, 2005 03:40 PM

From www.SecurityWatchTower.com. Take from it what you will

December 02, 2005
The Rise, Peak, Decline and Defeat of Iraq's Insurgency
The insurgency in Iraq has now dragged on for 30 months and the price is apparent in terms of financial cost and human lives. In addition, it's also caused a fair segment of the population to lose faith in the effort and question the ongoing commitment. I don't hesitate to say that a large segment of those who trumpet out body counts, invoke terms like "Vietnam" and "Quagmire", or call for exit strategies are doing so without understanding the strategy and successes achieved in Iraq. If you can't distinguish between places in Iraq like Husaybah, Mosul, Ramadi or Tal Afar, and can't give any kind of explanation of what is going on in those places and around Iraq in general beyond the car bomb and the IED, you are realistically in no position to make an educated decision about the correct course of action to pursue in Iraq. I can only imagine the perception that many Americans have of Iraq; some nation in the Middle East where jihadists multiply, the Iraqi security forces resemble the keystone cops, U.S. forces are helpless against roadside bombs, and the situation is so dire that only disengagement can solve the problem.

The following is by no means a comprehensive study on Iraq or intended to represent the full scale of the achievements and successes, but instead offers some basic perspective of what I see as an insurgency in transition from the third phase to the fourth phase, and ultimately defeat. The U.S. military will not be defeated, it is American public opinion that has been dragged onto the front lines of the battlefields, and therefore it is the American people that must remain resolved and steadfast, and be convinced that the situation in Iraq is winnable and real progress is being made.

I. The Rise (May 2003-March 2004 - 10 months)
The handling of the immediate post-major combat operations in Iraq has been heavily criticized. Specific points of contention include the choice to disband the Iraqi army, the number of U.S. troops used, equipment issued to those troops, and failure to identify the insurgency earlier and take measures to prevent or minimalize it. What Iraqi security forces there were performed poorly in combat, and they suffered from enemy infiltration and desertion. On a positive note, U.S. forces killed Uday and Qu'say Hussein in Mosul, and captured Saddam Hussein outside of Tikrit. The Iraqi interim governing council was also established, with the coalition provincial authority handling Iraq's government affairs.


U.S. Combat Deaths: 302

U.S. Combat Deaths per month: 30.2

U.S. Troops Wounded in Action: 2,200

U.S. Troops Wounded per month: 220.0

Insurgents estimated killed/detained: 15,750

Insurgents estimated killed/detained per month: 1,575

Iraqi Security Forces average: 55,000


II. The Peak (April 2004-November 2004 - 8 months)
The summer of 2004 was the darkest moment in fighting the insurgency, topped off by the death of 137 U.S. troops in November alone. The Abu Ghraib scandal broke, the American public came to the realization that there would be no quick victory and for the first time politicians in Washington began advocating exit strategies. The future of Iraq truly hung in the balance and success appeared unlikely at best. Coalition forces found themselves fighting not only Sunni insurgents and foreign jihadists, but Shi'ite militiamen loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr. One of the few sustaining sources was the transfer of power from U.S. authorities to an interim Iraqi government, and the knowledge that national elections in January were rapidly approaching, although a cloud of skepticism hung over those as well.


U.S. Combat Deaths: 530

U.S. Combat Deaths per month: 66.25

U.S. Troops Wounded in Action: 7,055

U.S. Troops Wounded per month: 881.88

Insurgents estimated killed/detained: 16,220

Insurgents estimated killed/detained per month: 2027.5

Iraqi Security Forces average: 96,000


III. The Decline (December 2004-November 2005 - 12 months)
In January the Iraqi's went to the polls and elected a temporary government. For the first time, many Iraqi's began to express support for both the new, elected goverment and the security forces. Tips from local citizens increased twenty fold, and U.S. and Iraqi offensives began eroding the network of safehouses and areas of immunity which insurgents and foreign terrorists were utilizing. In northern Iraq, as much as 80 percent of al Qaeda's leadership was killed or detained and following an earlier unsuccesful attempt to deny safe haven to terrorists in Tal Afar, the city was taken again in Operation Restoring Rights. A host of other operations focused on the ratline to the south along the Euphrates River. While insurgents once enjoyed the sanctuary of places like Fallujah, Hadithah, al Qa'im, Husaybah and Karabilah, they would quickly see their activities challenged on a more permanent basis. U.S. forces transfered security to the Iraqi's in large sections of Baghdad, in Karbalah and Najaf, and several other locations. Route Irish and Haifa Street, once among the most dangerous roads in Baghdad, are now among the safest. The Iraqi's succesfully wrote a constitution, managed to engage in dialogue to bring some Sunni groups aboard the political process, and passed it in a nationwide referendum vote. Iraq's security forces continued to grow both in raw numbers and operational capabilities, and numerous key leaders in the insurgency have been killed or captured.


U.S. Combat Deaths: 679

U.S. Combat Deaths per month: 56.58

U.S. Troops Wounded in Action: 6,084

U.S. Troops Wounded per month: 507.00

Insurgents estimated killed/detained: 25,500

Insurgents estimated killed/detained per month: 2125.0

Iraqi Security Forces average: 175,000

The number of Iraqi soldiers and police killed has declined for the fourth month in a row, from 304 in July to 176 in November.

The number of car bombings has declined for the fourth month in a row, from 136 in May to 60 in September.

Iraqi civilians killed has dropped from from the 1400-2500 range estimate in August, to the 285-675 range in October and November.


IV. The Defeat (December 2005-December 2007 - 24 months)
The final stage of this process will mark the defeat of the insurgency as a large security threat to Iraq, through both military firepower and political inclusion. National elections are being held in two weeks and the likelyhood that U.S. forces will drawdown their personnel numbers in 2006 remains strong. The Iraqi security forces continue to grow and improve and are now enabling coalition forces to pursue holding strategies in key locations. In the coming two years you will see a host of other cities, firebases, and infastructure security transfered over to Iraqi authorities. Ultimately 2006 is poised to be a transitional year with more achievements and successes, and more work remains. Certainly there will be violence in Iraq for a long period of time, but the tide has tipped on an insurgency that offers no political alternatives, is experiencing inner divisions between the different groups, has suffered tremendous losses of key leadership and other personnel, and is increasingly seeing their areas of operations challenged.

Note: All statistics cited above were taken from the Brookings Institute, a progressive thinktank in Washington D.C.

Posted by: D. | December 5, 2005 04:47 PM

otherside123.blogspot.com
www.onlinejournal.com
www.takingaim.info/audio

America's covert war in Iraq

By Mike Whitney
Online Journal Contributing Writer


Dec 5, 2005, 00:30

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Max Fuller has written the most disturbing and thought provoking article of the year. In his "Crying Wolf: Media Disinformation and Death Squads in Occupied Iraq,"(Global Research) Fuller painstakingly lays out the details and documentation to prove that the United States intelligence agencies are behind the vast incidents of murder and torture being carried out in Iraq today. If Fuller's thesis is correct, then the War on Terror, that mighty engine of imperial carnage, is nothing more than a public relations scam intended to enlist public support for an unpopular conflict.

The war on terror is the "seminal lie" from which all the administration's criminal excesses are mere tributaries. America's unprovoked aggression in Iraq, as well as the appalling assault on civil liberties, has been carried out in the name of the war on terror. In fact, it has been used to mask everything from police-state legislation at home to massive human rights violations abroad. The war on terror is an all-consuming fraud that poses the greatest threat to personal freedom and global security the world has ever seen. If unchallenged, the dictatorial powers of the president will continue to increase and the world will be plunged into another century of war.

Fuller's article sweeps away the illusions created by the war on terror. With laser-like intensity he focuses attention on the most expansive clandestine Intel-operation of all time; the terrorizing of an entire nation, pushing it inexorably towards civil war.

The Interior Ministry is the epicenter of Iraq's violent maelstrom. It is the headquarters for the Badr and Wolf Brigades; the American-trained death squads which are responsible for the massive assassination program directed at "alleged" Sunni resistance fighters. The torture chambers, death squads, and random bombings are not caused by foreign terrorists, nor are they the work of Iranian agents striving for a theocratic regime in Baghdad. They are, in fact, the nefarious activities of American puppet-masters, who matriculated in the terror wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador. Now, under Uncle Sam's benign gaze, they are plying their trade in Iraq; wreaking havoc and spreading suffering on an unimaginable scale.

What does this mean?

It means that the "central front in the war on terror" is a phantom; a specter; a chimera that cloaks itself in the dull braying of plutocrats who promise democracy, but only deliver greater deprivation, sorrow and fear. It means that the ideological headwaters of global terrorism is Washington and that behind the scratchy fa├žade of al Qaida videos and dubious accounts of suicide bombers, the insidious fist of the imperial master continues to pound away at its victims. It means that, as Martin Luther King said, "The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my own country."

The media has played a pivotal role in trying to obfuscate the details of America's involvement in the terror-war. By characterizing the hundreds of murders of Sunni men as merely the unlucky victims of tit-for-tat sectarian violence or of rogue Shiite militias, the media has concealed the bloody fingerprints of the Central Intelligence Agency and their Iraqi consorts. But, as Fuller deftly demonstrates, the more likely explanation is that the ministry is executing a clear strategy of terror devised and directed by American managers.

The media's disinformation campaign is designed to shift blame from American intelligence agencies to alleged sectarian rivals. This creates the rationale for civil war, which advances American policy objectives of Balkanizing the country to control its resources.

The one reporter who diverged from these fabrications was Yasser Salihee of Knight-Ridder news. Salihee had uncovered critical information about the weaponry, vehicles and origins of the death squads, and was expected to file reports on those topics. His coverage, however, was cut short when he was assassinated in a gangland style hit at a checkpoint outside Baghdad by an American sniper. With just one precision shot to the forehead, another unembedded journalist was removed from covering Bush's folly.

Fuller's research exposes the Interior Ministry as the hub of the clandestine death squad activity. The assumption that the ministry is manned exclusively by theocratic Shiites is just more misleading gibberish. In fact, one of the more brutal counterinsurgency groups, the Sunni-led Special Police Commandos, is headed by a former officer in Saddam's Baath Party. (The commandos were founded by the son of the former Iraqi Chief of Staff Falah al-Naqib, who many believed to be a CIA asset.) The connections of Interior Ministry chieftains to their CIA managers are deep and confusing but, as Fuller notes, "the Police Commandos were formed under the experienced tutelage and oversight of veteran US counterinsurgency fighters, and from the outset conducted joint-force operations with elite and highly secretive US special-forces units." (Reuters, National Review Online)

Fuller says: "A key figure in the development of the Special Police Commandos was James Steele, a former US Army Special Forces operative who cut his teeth in Vietnam before moving on to direct the US military mission in El Salvador at the height of that country's civil war . . . Another US contributor was the same Steven Casteel who as the most senior US advisor within the Interior Ministry brushed off serious and well-substantiated accusations of appalling human right violations as 'rumor and innuendo.' . . . Casteel's background is significant because this kind of intelligence-gathering support role and the production of death lists are characteristic of US involvement in counterinsurgency programs and constitute the underlying thread in what can appear to be random, disjointed killing sprees."

Needless, to say, the CIA does not move major assets like Steele and Casteel into a prickly situation like Iraq to shuffle papers by a water-cooler. These are the main gears in the machinery of the Iraqi death squads; the movable parts in Washington's apparatus of state terror. There is nothing either "random" or "disjointed" in the butchery produced by their labors.

Fuller adds: "The Police Commando headquarters has become the hub of a nationwide command, control, communications, computer and intelligence operations centre, courtesy of the US (Defend America)."

The administration has provided a "state of the art" communications network to "coordinate mass murder."

"DeBaathification" is a sham. Many of the top-ranking officials in the Ministry are Sunnis, including "deputy Minister for Intelligence Affairs (also leader of the Interior Ministry's spy service) currently held by General Hussain Kamel."

So, too, the notion of rogue Iranian-supported militias carrying out random attacks on "alleged" Sunnis suspects is equally deceptive.

Nearly everything that appears in the corporate media has been intentionally misleading as part of the broader information war, to keep the American people from grasping the truth about the chief perpetrator of terrorism in Iraq today; the US intelligence agencies. As the Los Angeles Times notes, "The entire intelligence establishment is a creation of the Anglo-American secret services, which began building at least as early as the beginning of the occupation."

You've been fooled; I've been fooled; and everything the Pentagon has said has been a lie. The fetid entrails of this terror-beast reside in Washington, not Baghdad or Tehran.

The recent revelations (carefully excluded from the American press) of two British commandos dressed in traditional Arab garb caught in Basra with a trunk-load full of explosives (William Bowles) has even cast suspicion on the involvement of the intelligence agencies in the rash of terror bombings plaguing the country. Certainly, the ensuing anger generated from these attacks is more compatible with the administration's goals of sectarian division than they are with the nebulous theories about the apocryphal al-Zarqawi.

Fuller says: "What is possible is that both sides of the apparent sectarian violence are run as part of a huge CIA-lead intelligence operation designed to split Iraq at the seams. I tentatively suggest that the intelligence apparatus at the Interior Ministry is contriving attacks on Sunnis and that British and US Special Forces, in conjunction with the intelligence apparatus at the Iraqi Defense Ministry, are fabricating insurgent bombings of Shias. Overseeing the entire operation is the 'cream' of CMAD under the direction of top-level US intelligence asset Mowaffak Rubaie, a man already experienced at participating in bombing campaigns, undoubtedly working hand in glove with the CIA and the National Security Council in the US."

Amen.

Given Fuller's thesis, it's likely that most of the alleged "suicide" bombings are nothing more than stationary vehicles set off by remote-control and reported as suicide attacks by the compliant media to perpetuate the racial stereotypes of crazed Muslim fanatics.

Fuller's article is a difficult read with hefty documentation that tends to have a mind-numbing effect. Nevertheless, the ponderous emphasis on facts and actual news reports serve his greater purpose of proving a very tenuous and thorny theory, that the US is overseeing a humongous clandestine operation that has fractured the country and destabilized the region. As Fuller says, "(The) presence of Anglo-American forces in Iraq does not merely exacerbate the present violence; in Iraq we are the violence."

The war on terror is the underlying myth that animates the American war-machine and breathes life into the coercive apparatus of state terror. Fuller's article uncovers a fissure in the block-wall of government secrecy and gives us a good look at the worm-infested core of imperial rule. Global terrorism flows from Washington like a toxic river that has breached its banks and threatens to flood everything in its path.
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com.

Posted by: Che | December 5, 2005 04:56 PM

OK Matt. Tony Blair lied. Bill Clinton lied. (Hillary knew!!!!) And of course Bush lied!

So, what shall we do besides fight the war and achieve victory?

I Know!!!

Lets move right past Iraq as Vietnam and start Watergate II! It was the Left's High Water mark and nothing was more satisfying to a Lefty than the Carter years that followed.

How's this, Matt?

1. We indict Bill Clinton, Hillary, Madeline Albright and all the other Democrats who had access to the daily Presidential Briefing and charge them with "lying" in leading America into the Democrat's "Iraq Liberation Act". And in Inquisition, require them to name names of all Democrats that were informed of the daily Presidential briefs and indict them too.

2. So war won't interfere with Watergate II and the "justice" we will get from the "Clinton lied, babies died" nvestigation - we follow Murtha, who has medals and Alzheimers, and immediately withdraw all our military from Iraq and place them "just over the horizon" as genius Murtha wants. (Israel, reoccupy Saudi Arabia???) We of course reverse the 403-3 vote against Murtha's plan for cut and run.

3. After Clinton is convicted for the same "lies" Bush is guilty of, and we impeach any Democratic Senator or Congress Rep that went along with Clinton's lies (Republicans in control will help) in interpreting intelligence, we don't focus on the spate of terrorist attacks that happened after we fled Iraq nor oil being 195.00 a gallon and Chinese troops landing in Iran....we go for the Bush-Hitler himself.

4. We impeach the Bush-Hitler! And, with neither Republicans nor Democrats capable of running America "they lie, brown children die!!" we turn America over to the UN and All-Wise Kofi himself.

But it really should start with the evil lies of Clinton, who Twisted, Deceived us, and Manipulated intelligence over breakfast coffee with Hillary. If the Left takes out all the Democrats that so beset the noble, peace-loving people running Iraq ---they take over the Democratic Party and have ANSWER and moveon.org ready to lead the assault on the Bush-Hitler!! And while America suffers and loses ability to look after our vital interests, the Left finally will have it's 2nd Watergate extravaganza which I sure the public will relish being pushed into..

Go for it, Matt!
__________________________
Nice recaplet, D. A lot depends on how the Sunni react during after the election - peace or civil war with the rest of Iraq that will be far less kind and respectful of their "precious civil rights" than the Americans??....And on how Islamic the Shiites want Iraq to become. But it's looking better than what the old, tender fool Murtha thinks is happening. And, who wants Pelosi, Kennedy, Kerry, Boxer, Feingold, Durbin, and their fellow travelers in the MSM trying to lead America from a position of standing in their own scared-out piss - (other than Kerry, who will say that he was actually piss pants free then pissed then is actually letting his piss dry unless he must piss again). "Ohhhhh, we just can't have US casualties!@!! Nothing is worth dead US soldiers!!"

Give me a mediocre President to the whole pack of latter-day McGovernites.

Good for Lieberman, Hillary Clinton, Bill Richardson, Nelson of Nebraska, and Gov Mark Warner for sticking to the Centrist values the Democrats do well in the elections when voters see Dems stand for America, not against it.

Posted by: Chis Ford | December 5, 2005 06:29 PM

Chris Ford: slightest criticism and he becomes completely and utterly unhinged.

Bushie; definitely a Bushie.

Would you like a civil debate, Chris?

Posted by: Matt | December 5, 2005 07:02 PM

The case for war--eventually--against Saddam was relatively strong even without definite confirmation of the WMD. The case for immediate invasion in spring of 2003 was exceedingly weak. Without WMD, where was the urgency for immediate invasion?

Turkey had just turned us down for our request to move airborne troops from eastern Turkey into northern and central Iraq, so our two-front offensive became one-fronted, leaving key weeks until Saddam's home area of Tikrit was captured.

The weapons inspectors did not have the chance to complete their work, which would eventually have demonstrated that Saddam had pulled down any programs, and that his smokescreens on the weapons were basically to intimidate potential domestic and neighboring rivals.

Bush's invasion has given both preventive action and pre-emptive action bad names. These could be justified, but only on much more solid evidence than he had.

In a historic failure heavily influenced by the timing of the Congressional votes (right before the midterm elections), Congress was overly cooperative in giving Bush the backing to threaten invasion without any further authorization required. Still, it does Bush little credit to revisit these abuses of his administration's privileged status with regard to receiving and analyzing intelligence.

And as Messner's statement that rules out "possible suppression of alternative assessments", what is Plamegate but that? An attempt to suprress an alternative assessment by attacking the assessor (and his wife).

I remain of the opinion I held at the time, that the only urgency for invasion in the spring of 2003 was the timetable required in order to be confident the Bushites could tell the American voters in 2004 that the administration had "done something" in response to 9/11.

Posted by: chinshihtang | December 5, 2005 07:05 PM

We MUST stay the course.

Posted by: Dune | December 5, 2005 07:39 PM

Chris Ford: You all but accuse me of lying about actually having been a Marine. Well, I could be, of course, but I'm not. I entered active duty in Chicago on Oct. 17, 1967 (the day after John McCain was shot down), went to boot camp at MCRD in San Diego, then to Camp Pendleton for a few months. In May, I took off from El Toro on a Continental Airlines jet with stops in Hawaii and Okinawa before finally landing in Da Nang. Two weeks after I got there, Bobby Kennedy was killed. I was in the artillery, calculated how to aim big mortars. (We never fired white phosphorus rounds, by the way; this was back in the day before the Geneva Conventions became "quaint.") You seem to find it unbelievable that any Marine would say the things I've said. My story is very much like Ron Kovic's "Born on the 4th of July" except for the wheelchair. Don't you suppose that any of those several million Vietnam veterans might have been slightly disillusioned by the fact that everybody shooting at us seemed to be South Vietnamese? The cause was morally bankrupt, which Bill Clinton realized at the time, but I did not.

George Bush, who learned absolutely nothing from the Vietnam War, is trying to convince everyone that the insurgents in Iraq are "outside agitators," but it's the same shit all over again: 80% of them are Iraqis. Hell-o? Doesn't this look somewhat familiar?

The difference (one of them) is that some of the cheerleaders for the Vietnam War really believed in the cause, whereas I don't think Bush does. Everything Bush does seems to have an ulterior motive. He's given us numerous reasons for the Iraq fiasco, but not the real one. Same with all his other policies. There's an official reason on top, with the real reason buried deep underneath. Social Security, tort reform, Harriet Miers, everything. You'd think even right-wingers would get annoyed about being lied to all the time.

Posted by: Robert B. | December 5, 2005 08:29 PM

Dune's comment is probably the most pithy on this blog, but it is also the basis of what the debate should have been on this week. You can revisit the case for and against war all you want Emily, but the critical issue now is the future. I would submit to you that the real debate should have been about the calls for withdrawal and the implications thereof.

Consider this, on 3 November the governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, stated that "In any case, if tension between the United States and China heightens, if each side pulls the trigger, though it may not be stretched to nuclear weapons, and the wider hostilities expand, I believe America cannot win as it has a civic society that must adhere to the value of respecting lives."

He went on to conclude that given the domestic difficulties endured by the U.S. over the loss of 2,000+ military personnel, Japan could not count on the U.S. in a conflict with China, which would be willing to sacrifice millions for its cause. Ishihara is certainly an unabashed nationalist, however, he won re-election in 2003 with 70% of the vote and has been a favorite to replace Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Now consider that three weeks later, on 22 November, the governing Liberal Democratic Party completed a draft revision of Japan's constitution which, according to the Washington Post, "would remove limitations on the country's 240,000-member Self-Defense Forces, which have been defined as being strictly limited to defending Japan's home islands."

In addition to the Japanese, officials from Australia and South Korea apparently have also expressed their concerns privately to the U.S. The point is that when individuals like Congressman Murtha irresponsibly advocate an immediate withdrawal, there needs to be a debate on the implications of not only that action, but how that type of rhetoric will be perceived internationally. If the perception holds that we are cutting and running from Iraq, how can our allies trust us to protect them against future threats? If that trust is lost, and perhaps it has been already, what is--or will be--the implication(s)?

There are already dangerous flashpoints in Asia--Korea, Taiwan and the Spratley Islands to name just three--that an arms race or regional military rivalries could exacerbate or ignite. Regardless of what anyone thinks about the case for war, Americans on both sides would be well-served to ponder the long-term strategic implications of a perceived retreat-under-fire from Iraq.

And yes . . . I have been to Iraq more than once since 2003.

Posted by: KB | December 5, 2005 08:53 PM

To Dune: I don't see we have any choice but to stay the course, Bush won't leave Iraq until he's out of office, 3 years from now. That should be plenty of time for everyone to see if his grand experiment in democracy exportation has worked.

I am thinking that "Support Our Troops" is too simplistic. How about "Support the good troops who are bringing democracy and freedom to Iraq, and condemn the bad troops who are torturing"?

Posted by: Turnabout | December 5, 2005 08:54 PM

Congressman Murtha DID NOT vote for that bogus withdrawal resolution the Republicans threw together as a political ploy. It was not Murtha's resolution AT ALL.
That's the facts. While we're on the subject of facts... THERE'S MORE TO THE WORLD THAN LEFT VERSUS RIGHT!! I wonder if this mental case Chris Ford will ever understand that. Practically every post from him is some sort of Don Quixote diatribe against a phantom Left menace only he and a small minority of extremists see. He is a distraction from any real discussion of issues. Now watch as we have to suffer through 99 more essays from him all obsessing about the Left and having little to do with the real debate at hand. What a crackpot.

Posted by: ErrinF | December 5, 2005 09:02 PM

We MUST stay the course.
Posted by: Dune | Dec 5, 2005 7:39:07 PM

Care to elaborate? If that's your entire argument, then I'd have to say 'no'. Doing something just because it MUST be done is pointless; Explain WHY it must be done. Otherwise, you're advising us to have blind faith and loyalty in our government.
THAT'S a recipe for disaster.

Posted by: ErrinF | December 5, 2005 09:16 PM

Lets face the fact that G. W. Bush in his
younger military days could not cut the mustard and was given the Boot.
Today he is fantasizing his failure as a
warrior but is actualy terrorizing the
American People with his facists boy hood
behavior.
It's time for a change to sensible American Government and another Boot for
G>W> Bush.

Posted by: Concerned American | December 5, 2005 09:21 PM

Calendar, calendar, calendar! The Republicans, meaning the Cheney Bush administration played politics with the war resolution hoping to play Rambo against the Demo panty waists. Carl Rove should go to jail for this misappropriation of government more than anything else. Forget that. He should go to hell for killing a gazillion Iraqis for politics.

Posted by: Jackie F | December 5, 2005 11:35 PM

All readers here view the glass as half empty because of preconceived biases against our president.

As we speak new Iraqi soldiers are being trained to fight & take our place & democracy is taking root in the Middle East. The country must be patient as this doesnt happen overnight. Remember, as the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.

Posted by: Dune | December 6, 2005 01:29 AM

'The point is that when individuals like Congressman Murtha irresponsibly advocate an immediate withdrawal ' KB, please don't post here about things you haven't bothered to read for yourself. The question here is: what is the international effect of Fox and friends putting out irresponsible and false news stories about what our government really did and said?

"All readers here view the glass as half empty because of preconceived biases against our president." Actually Dune, they were not preconceived. He earned our biases the old fashioned way. From now on we'll "trust but verify". In WWII we took depression starved kids off the farm who'd never been farther than the general store, gave them a few months basic training, and in a little more than a year turned the tide of a war against TWO mighty war machines on opposite sides of the world. In almost 3 years in Iraq we've fully trained one battalion and change fighting in one tiny country? Incomprehensible.

Matt - one of the valuable pieces of advice my dad gave me - don't waste your breath arguing with an idiot.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | December 6, 2005 03:13 AM

otherside123.blogspot.com
www.infowars.com
www.onlinejournal.com
www.takingaim.info/audio
Police Found Suspected Bombs In WTC On 9/11
Reports surfaced of truck parked in building

Prison Planet | December 5 2005

RELATED:

Related: Alex Jones at Ground Zero: The Use Of Explosives In the 9/11 Attack
In this 22 minute clip Alex reports from ground zero and talks to eyewitnesses who were there on the day who reported bombs.

Related: Bombs in the World Trade Center

The report you're watching and hearing was filed by an MSNBC news anchor Rick Sanchez on the morning of September 11th 2001. It can be downloaded here.

The details contained therein seem to have slipped under the radar amidst the huge body of evidence proving controlled demolition brought down both the twin towers and Building 7.

Sanchez states,

"Police have found what they believe to be a suspicious device and they fear that it may lead to another explosion."

"I spoke with some police officials moments ago, Chris, and they told me they have reason to believe that one of the explosion at the besides the ones made with the planes, may have been caused by a van that was parked on the building that may have had an explosive device in it."

It would make sense that police would find at least some of the bombs that tore down the only steel buildings to collapse from fire damage in history at speeds that defied physics. There would have been so many devices involved in the demolition that stumbling across some was inevitable.

This report mirrors those that emerged in the hours following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, where bomb squads removed numerous unexploded secondary devices from the Alfred P. Murrah building.

The twin towers were wired to the brim with highly powerful explosives, some of which exploded before the collapse of the buildings and some during.

This is why people like construction worker Philip Morelli, working in the fourth sub-basement of the north tower, were thrown around like rag dolls in an earthquake.

With the sheer volume of evidence and basic straightforward common sense proving controlled demolition, the possibility still remains that the federal government, backed by FEMA, will come forward and announce that another Al-Qaeda cell placed the explosives days before the attack.

This of course is ridiculous, it takes highly trained explosives experts weeks and sometimes months to correctly rig buildings many times smaller than the twin towers, and with varying degrees of success. The towers imploded perfectly and fell down right in their own footsteps, as did Building 7 which wasn't hit by a plane. Any building not owned by Larry Silverstein, despite having closer proximity to the towers, strangely stood its ground.

Larry Silverstein admitted that Building 7 was "pulled," an industry term for demolition, in a September 2002 PBS documentary, but has failed to respond to a firestorm of subsequent questions.

Others argue that the powers that be will simply continue to ignore the evidence now being certified by such credible individuals as Professor Steven Jones and former chief economist for the US Department of Labor under George W. Bush, Morgan Reynolds.

To change such a major element of the official version of events would throw into question all the other pieces of the puzzle and the whole house of cards would come tumbling down.

Nevertheless, the report that police did find explosives in the World Trade Center before the collapse of the towers is another giant smoking gun to add to all the rest proving that the collapse of the buildings and 9/11 was an inside job.

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

Posted by: Che | December 6, 2005 07:28 AM

Comment for Dune; the Iraqi people are being manipulated by the facists Bushie Administration, forcing them to fight for
a policy they do not understand nor desire. If the population of Iraqi would unite as a whole they to can establish a constructive Governmental Organization.

Posted by: Concerned American | December 6, 2005 07:43 AM

patriot 1957--perhaps you should expand your knowledge and try to grasp things beyond your tiny prism of understanding. If you think the real question here relates to Fox news and their take on stories then your comments are no more valuable than those you criticize as being idiots. If you have a counterpoint, by all means make it. Conversely, if all you have is an emotional tirade, consider yelling at your TV instead of wasting space on the blog.

Posted by: KB | December 6, 2005 07:52 AM

OK KB. I'll spell it out for you.

Murtha's message was NOT that we should withdraw immediately, and the people who are misquoting him either a - didn't bother to read his message and relied on the distorted BA RNC talking points, or b- are deliberately choosing to use an arguement they know to be false, revealing themselves to be less than honest. I accused you of being misled by talking points and not having done your homework reading his message yourself, rather than being a verbal deceiver. If you continue to misquote Murtha, however, I would be happy to rethink this opinion.

Your post said Murtha's statement would make the world worry that we were losing our nerve. My point was that the deliberate distortion of Murtha's statement by the BA was one more strike against any shred of credibility this nation had left. I am sure the intelligence services of the other large nations of the world pay people to dig deep enough into the workings of our government to know what Murtha really said vs what the BA and its media machine claims he said. To paraphrase your own words from above " The point is that when individuals like the BA irresponsibly speak untruths, there needs to be a debate on the implications of not only that action, but how that type of rhetoric will be perceived internationally. If the perception holds that we are liars, deceivers, word parsers..., how can our allies trust us ? If that trust is lost, and perhaps it has been already, what is--or will be--the implication(s)?"

The never argue with an idiot comment wasn't directed at you. But if you continue to post repeated talking points to justify your arguements after those talking points have been shown again and again to be outright lies (oh, say like that Murtha called for immediate withdrawal) and I'll be happy to reassess that, too.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | December 6, 2005 09:09 AM

Does it bother anyone that Bush's approval is in the high 30s? That's more than 1/3 of Americans. And Cheney! He's the closest thing to evil I've ever seen since Nixon and his men yet his approval is in the 20s! That's 1/4 of Americans. Thats a hugh number of people considering the mistakes that have been made through negligence, direct and indirect action. This administration is abyssmal, yet millions of people support it.

Maybe we have a bad administration because, at best, we have an apathetic populace, or at worse, an evil populace. I'm worrying about the later. I have friends who approve of torture! I have heard people that are old enough to remember WW2 and Nazi abuses that believe all arabs should be jailed or deported. And I have heard people say that they wouldn't mind having the Constitution altered to limit our freedoms in order to protect Americans.

Maybe its not Bush. Maybe we should look ourselves in the eye and ask just what we believe and what we have become.

Posted by: Sully | December 6, 2005 09:31 AM

OK patriot 1957--here you go from Congressman Murtha's prepared statements:

http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/pa12_murtha/pr051117iraq.html

"I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy."--17 November

"My plan calls: To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces."--17 November

Perhaps we can parse what he means by "immediately," but he used the owrds, not me and not some right-wing cabal. I respect Murtha, however, he should have found a different way to word his views--he certainly knows enough about the spin game in Washington to know how his words will be perceived.

Posted by: KB | December 6, 2005 10:05 AM

KB -

Statements are good. But nobody votes on statements. Here's Murtha's proposal (from his own website):

Therefore be it

1) Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in
2) Congress assembled,
3) That:
4) Section 1. The deployment of United States forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is
5) hereby terminated and the forces involved are to be redeployed at the earliest practicable
6) date.
7) Section 2. A quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S. Marines
8) shall be deployed in the region.
9) Section 3. The United States of America shall pursue security and stability in Iraq
10) through diplomacy.
http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/pa12_murtha/pr_051117_iraqres.html

Here's the proposal that was voted on:
"It is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately."
http://www.libertypost.org/cgi-bin/readart.cgi?ArtNum=117568

that's no spin. just facts. just quotes. now let's talk.

Posted by: Matt | December 6, 2005 10:19 AM

Matt--I appreciate your post, but my point is simply that Murtha called for an immediate withdrawal in his written statements, something that some people do not seem to want to believe. Again, you can parse "immediate" all you want from his statement vs. "redeployed at the earliest practicable date" in his resolution, but anyone who looked at his resolution and tried to determine Congressional intent--or what "redeployed at the earliest practicable date" meant-- would need only to refer to the written statements of the resolution's author.

He knew what the press reaction would be when he made those statements in writing and it was irresponsible of him do so. Now any quick withdrawal from Iraq will be colored by the perception that we are cutting and running, in part due to statements like those made by Murtha. That perception, unfortunately, may have broader strategic implications for our security in the future.

Posted by: KB | December 6, 2005 11:03 AM

I get the distinct impression that George W. Bush and his supporters think that his low approval numbers simply represents a public relations problem. That all they have to do is launch yet another pr offensive, have his friends in the conservative media highlight a bunch of positive developments in Iraq and blame democrats for being defeatests and cowards and that will do the trick and he will soon be back on top.

The truth is that the Bush agenda is a failed agenda. It isn't just about Iraq. Its about an economy whose rosy numbers being presently touted by the administration are numbers reflecting how well investors, CEOs, big oil and unimaginably wealthy pharmaceutical companies are doing, but how their well being is not trickling down to the middle class and the poor. Its about trying to force private accounts in social security down the throats of a public who made it abundantly clear they did not want them. Its about trying to cut the deficit solely on the backs of the poor, the elderly, the workers and the middle class. Its about high level deceit on everything from the how we got into this war, to redefining the meaning of torture, to paying off journalists, to pandering to religious zealots, to redacting conclusions in science studies that do not meet a particular ideological litmus test, to pretending that the tax cuts go largely to the middle class, to electoral fraud and redistricting malfeasance and a general culture of corruption.

From that evening in March when Bush decided to intervene in the Schiavo cas to just yesterday when Condi Rice patronized and threatened the Europeans all in one breath to go along with their views on treatment of detainees, this administration has been one, monumental flop and the most emparrassing Presidential administration in our history. End of story.

Posted by: Jaxas | December 6, 2005 11:05 AM

KB:

1) Many other nations have already drawed down their troop commitments in Iraq. Do you believe that signifies them as weak?

2) We're playing a game of chicken with ourselves. We're saying we can't "cut and run" because it will be perceived in a certain fashion. Nobody else is asking us to stay. Nobody. So who will take our withdrawal as meaning anything negative?

It's a child's mentality to say that, "I'm going to stay underwater and hold my breath for two minutes so people can't say that I can't" even though nobody is caring about it much, one way or another.

Posted by: Matt | December 6, 2005 11:13 AM

I mean, why can't we "test our resolve" against battling persistent poverty in America? Why can we "cut and run" on that?

Posted by: Matt | December 6, 2005 11:16 AM

Matt--many other nations are not seen as the guarantors of stability in Asia as a superpower. Yes, Spain drew down its troops as did other small countries, but they are not viewed as protectors/allies of other countries as we have been of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Like it or not, in our current unipolar world, the U.S. has a more significant role to play than most other nations.

The fact that nobody is asking us to stay in Iraq--which, by the way, is not entirely correct--is irrelevant to the perception that will come from a withdrawal under fire. See my first post above regarding the perceptions of Asian countries regarding our national resolve and abilities. As for asking us to stay, even the French are not advocating an immediate U.S. withdrawal because they realize it could be even more detrimental to the situation on the ground than what is currently occurring.

As for fighting poverty, your point is well taken and I concur that more should be done, but not just in the U.S. The level of poverty I have seen in other countries is far more abysmal than what you would find in most of the U.S.

Posted by: KB | December 6, 2005 03:22 PM

KB -

Good comments. While Japan is hardly in a position, morally, to complain about American willingness to sacrifice after hiding behind their Constitution for 50 years - America cutting and running because of light casualties in the midst of a critical war as Murtha suggests, would definitely signal "Weakness" all over Asia, the ME, elsewhere. It would be a green light to "proceed" for China, N Korea, Iran, and our new Latin America "problemos" - Chavez, FARC, and a revived Cuba.

"Mother Sheehan" was on CNN endorsing Murtha's position to withdraw before more sons are killed by Bush. Praising Murtha as a "war hero" who knows more than Bush about war being an unacceptable way to resolve problems..

Yeesh.

And after John McCain politely called Murtha confused and manipulated.

"He is a wonderful guy who is a friend....but he is ver sentimental and I think his visits to hospitals and funerals may have made him put his sentimentality first over being thoughtful on this....and he has been worked on by Democrat leadership looking for a spokesman, or figurehead...what have you..."

Micky Kaus just calls Murtha confused, pointing out he contradicts himself in the same interviews.

http://www.slate.com/id/2131597/&#murthavmurtha

Posted by: Chris Ford | December 6, 2005 04:49 PM

And yet, the withdrawal from Iraq has in effect begun. If Murtha was so confused, he effectively shifted the debate in his confusion. Murtha was simply giving voice to what a majority of Americans feel: that this war is a mistake, and it's time to bring it to an end. Just watch as 2006 will be a year of disengagement from Iraq.

Posted by: ErrinF | December 6, 2005 11:27 PM

Yes ErrinF, you are correct that this will probably be a year of disengagement. The problem is that the perception around the world will likely be that this was prompted by a lack of resolve on the part of the U.S. Strategically, that is not a good thing.

Regardless of how you feel about having gone to war, our disengagement should be perceived to be on our terms--something that comments like Congressman Murtha's making exceedingly difficult.

The perception of weakness accompanying a withdrawal under fire may very well set the stage for an even more costly war in Asia in the future. A war the next generation would have to fight.

Posted by: KB | December 7, 2005 10:58 AM

Why should this disingagement be on the US's terms KB? Globally the US has no credibility, anywhere. Accept it and be humble. Not everyone can win and this addiction to being the winner every time, only makes Americans look weak-it is not the battle it is how Americans are perceived.America looks like a bunch of corrupt war mongers and the people give the perception of being brainwashed patsy's to their government's illegal activities. Maybe that is the image you should be dealing with. Not whether you left your dirty, illegal war as some kind of victor.

Posted by: SpeakupforDemocracy | December 13, 2005 01:45 PM

Feingold said it was "absurd" that Bush said he relied on his inherent power as president to authorize the wiretaps.

"If that's true, he doesn't need the Patriot Act because he can just make it up as he goes along. I tell you, he's President George Bush, not King George Bush. This is not the system of government we have and that we fought for," Feingold told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Posted by: Concerned American | December 17, 2005 01:20 PM

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