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Weaponsgate

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Joe Wilson’s War (or: The Plame Game.)

Sean Penn and Naomi Watts reunite to tell the story of Valerie Plame and the imaginary yellowcake in the new trailer for Doug Liman’s Fair Game. Hmm, ok…but I’m getting a Lions for Lambs/Green Zone flavor from this trailer — edutainmenty and too little, too late. Still, it pretty much has to be better than 21 Grams.

The Press in the Tank.

From the early 1930s until the modern story broke in 2004, the newspapers that covered waterboarding almost uniformly called the practice torture or implied it was torture: The New York Times characterized it thus in 81.5% (44 of 54) of articles on the subject and The Los Angeles Times did so in 96.3% of articles (26 of 27). By contrast, from 2002-2008…The New York Times called waterboarding torture or implied it was torture in just 2 of 143 articles (1.4%). The Los Angeles Times did so in 4.8% of articles (3 of 63).

By way of Greenwald and Sullivan, a Harvard study documents exactly how absurdly our national media carried water for the Dubya-era torture regime. “In addition, the newspapers are much more likely to call waterboarding torture if a country other than the United States is the perpetrator.

This story, along with Politico’s gaffetastic reaction to Rolling Stone‘s Michael Hastings doing real journalism on the McChrystal story — (“Hastings would be considered a bigger risk to be given unfettered access, compared with a beat reporter, who would not risk burning bridges by publishing many of McChrystal’s remarks” — See also Lara Logan) and Joke Line deeming Glenn Greenwald a traitor because he dared to call unrepentant Iraq war evidence-falsifier Jeff Goldberg a horrible journalist (“Greenwald…so far as I can tell, only regards the United States as a force for evil in the world.“) pretty much tells you everything you need to know about our broken and corrupt Village media. And this is all just in the past week. Rinse and repeat, over and over and over again. (Pic via here.)

Like a Bad Penny.


Decision Point: Is it a good idea for me to land on an aircraft carrier in a flight suit with a sign that says ‘Mission Accomplished‘? Key Decision: How is it not a good idea?” On the announcement that former President Bush’s forthcoming memoirs will be called, um, Decision Points, the wags at the Gawker crime lab have some fun with Photoshop. (Speaking of decision points, I will concede that it’s very smart of the GOP powers-that-be to wait until the week after Election Day to remind America of the Dubya years.)

It’s Not Easy Being Green.


On this St. Patrick’s Day, what better recent release to discuss here at GitM than Paul Greengrass’ Green Zone? Not only do we have two shades of emerald in that last sentence, but we’re now on the cusp of the 7th anniversary of the beginning of the War in Iraq. (It broke out, I well remember, just as I was heading to a March Madness weekend in Vegas.) Alas, I just wish I had a better sitrep to report.

I don’t mean to be too harsh — There’s nothing terribly wrong with this edutainment-y attempt to explain de-Baathification, highly dubious detainee procedures, and most notably the faked WMD casus belli to disinterested laypersons by way of action-thriller. And, in a way, I sorta admire the gutsiness of the the attempt. But, if you were already well aware of these grim developments, and I assume most GitM readers are, then it’s hard to escape the sensation that one is mainly just being talked down to for two hours. Wait, there were no WMD in Iraq? You’re kidding me, right? And, while I’m a great fan of Greengrass’ previous output — I said over and over again in this space that I wish he had stuck with Watchmen, and on the Top 100 films of last decade list, Bloody Sunday was #84, his two Bournes were at #49, and the exemplary United 93 was at #6 — The Green Zone feels quite a bit more leaden than usual.

As with the political edutainment project Greengrass aspired to here, I like the idea of fusing his highly visceral action work (the Bournes) with his fly-on-the-wall discursions into recent history (Sunday, ’93)…on paper. But The Green Zone gets lost somewhere in the interstice, and lacks the gripping power of either of these previous Greengrass grooves. Instead, Zone ends up mostly being two grainy hours of watching Matt Damon run around at night, as he tries to uncover an insidious government plot that our nation has been fully aware of for years…and has chosen to greet with a yawn.

More on that depressing problem in a bit, but, first, to bring y’all up to speed: Loosely based on Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s Imperial Life in the Emerald City, a non-fiction examination of Dubyaite imbecility and excess in post-war Baghdad, Green Zone begins with a brief sequence set amid the original Shock-and-Awe period of the war, followed by, a few weeks later, a tense raid on a possible WMD storehouse by American soldiers. Led by Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Damon), this crack MW2-ish assault ends up finding, well, bupkis, just like the time before and the time before that.

To Chief Miller, the problem here is obvious — the intel must be rotten. But, when he brings this up at the next briefing for high-level military muckety-mucks, he is basically told to shut up and do his job. Nonetheless, events soon conspire to introduce Miller to the “Jack of Clubs” in the Dubya deck, a Baathist general (Yigal Naor) with a still-clearly extant power base in Baghdad. And, when our hero digs deeper to figure out how this Jack might know “Magellan,” the top-secret source of all this lousy intel, he soon finds himself trapped — along with a very Judith Miller-y reporter (Amy Ryan) — in a power play between a slimy executive branch bureaucrat (Greg Kinnear, stuck no more) and a grizzled CIA hand (Brendan Gleeson), one that might just end up getting Miller fragged by the creepy Special Forces guy (Jason Isaacs, with great accent) who keeps popping up…

Along the way, there’s a digression into a detainee facility with all the makings of an Abu Ghraib waiting to happen, the tearful homecoming of the administration’s hand-picked Iraqi stooge (re: Ahmed Chalabi), some rather pained attempts to make the decision to de-Baathify an action beat…In other words, Green Zone is basically an attempt to dramatize the Iraq war for people who, for whatever reason, weren’t paying much attention the first time ’round. And, to be fair, it’s done with solid acting all around (including several folks recognizable from United 93), quality production values, and a reasonable degree of versimilitude throughout. (Note also the brief Paul Rieckhoff cameo, which should nip any IAVA whining about dramatic license right in the bud.)

But, for all its edutainmenty truths to tell, Green Zone still ends up feeling rather fake and film-ish to me, perhaps in part because — unlike Greengrass’ other recent histories — it seems to subscribe to a very movie-like All the President’s Men view of things, where, once word of misdeed gets out, justice will be done tho’ the heavens fall. Not to get all Debbie Downer up in here, but that’s not really the way the world works anymore, is it? One of the saddest and scariest moments in the recent and very worthwhile Daniel Ellsberg: The Most Dangerous Man in America is when Ellsberg explains how he thought everything would change once the Pentagon Papers got out…and then he finds that, in the face of clear and irrefutable evidence of government wrongdoing, most people just shrugged.

This is the uncomfortable horror that Green Zone almost seems willfully designed not to recognize. The whole premise of the movie seems to be that, if We the People knew what really went down in Iraq (or could just be taught via action-movie), we would be totally livid about the corruption involved. But, is the problem really that the American people don’t know what happened in the build-up to Iraq? Or is it that we know pretty well what happened and don’t much seem to care?

Just as with our indefensible dabbling in torture and indefinite detention in recent years, we have known about the lies and incompetence that fueled the Iraq fiasco for awhile now. And, alas, nothing ever happened. Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and the whole awful, lying lot are still deemed Serious People with Serious Opinions by the nation’s domesticated media watchdogs, who, by the way, have also been studiously ignoring the Blair hearings overseas. Our current president, elected with the largest mandate for change in a generation, has deemed all of this just the sins of the past and refused to “look backward” (or worse, made himself complicit in these Dubya-era crimes.) And life continues, much as it has this past age, with no sense of reckoning whatsoever for the Big Lies that were told.

One of the main reasons Bloody Sunday and United 93 work so well is that they offer complex, nuanced portraits of complicated times. But, as Green Zone moves along, it just ended up feeling more and more like a cartoon to me, and one predicated mainly on wishful thinking. Like I said, I guess I admire what Paul Greengrass & co. were trying do here, but Green Zone as an action film feels flat and mostly uninvolving. And Green Zone as a political enterprise — Iraq War: The Movie!, basically — often seems at best condescending and at worst dangerously naive.

Rosen: Stop me before I blog again!

“How absurd is that? Let us count the ways. First, even when the most establishment ‘journalists’ such as Rosen get caught engaging in patently irresponsible behavior, they still find a way to blame blogs rather than themselves (I thought I was just blogging, and reckless gossip is what bloggers do.) It wasn’t blogs that “reported” Saddam Hussein’s acquisition of scary aluminum tubes for nuclear weapons or that Iraq was behind the anthrax attacks; it wasn’t blogs that glorified Jessica Lynch’s nonexistent heroic firefight with Iraqi goons; it wasn’t blogs that turned John Edwards into The Breck Girl and John Kerry into a “French-looking” weakling; and it wasn’t blogs that presented retired military generals who were participating in a Pentagon propaganda program and saddled with countless undisclosed conflicts as ‘independent analysts.’

Call it the State of Play fallacy: After TNR’s Jeffrey Rosen blames “blogging” for the obviously poor quality of his recent Sotomayor hit piece — and vows never to blog again — Salon‘s inimitable Glenn Greenwald sets the record straight about what can and can’t be pinned on bloggers. “Despite his efforts to blame ‘blogging’ for what he did, Rosen didn’t use journalistically reckless methods to smear Sotomayor’s intellect because of some inherent attribute of the medium. Instead, he did that because…that’s how the establishment media typically functions: ‘background reporting from people with various axes to grind, i.e. standard Washington reporting.’” (And, for what it’s worth, Rosen’s original article was hardly what you’d call blogging anyway — it was just a lengthy piece that ran online.)

But Wait, It Gets Worse.


‘How many fingers, Winston?’

‘Four. I suppose there are four. I would see five if I could. I am trying to see five.’

‘Which do you wish: to persuade me that you see five, or really to see them?’

‘Really to see them.’

‘Again,’ said O’Brien.

Perhaps the needle was eighty — ninety. Winston could not intermittently remember why the pain was happening. Behind his screwed-up eyelids a forest of fingers seemed to be moving in a sort of dance, weaving in and out, disappearing behind one another and reappearing again. He was trying to count them, he could not remember why. He knew only that it was impossible to count them, and that this was somehow due to the mysterious identity between five and four. The pain died down again. When he opened his eyes it was to find that he was still seeing the same thing. Innumerable fingers, like moving trees, were still streaming past in either direction, crossing and recrossing. He shut his eyes again.

‘How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?’

‘I don’t know. I don’t know. You will kill me if you do that again. Four, five, six — in all honesty I don’t know.’

‘Better,’ said O’Brien.

Hard to believe, but, this morning, the recent grisly revelations of Dubya-era torture practices became even more horrifying. As we’ve gleaned more info over the past few days, certain obvious and troubling questions kept popping up. Why, as indicated here, would higher-ups insist on additional waterboarding sessions for Zubadayah, even after the CIA agents at hand thought the suspect “had given up all the information he had“? Also: Mind you, even one session of torture is reprehensible — and illegal — enough. But what more did the powers-that-be think they were going to get out of these suspects after ten waterboardings? Twenty? One hundred?

Well, now we know. Not only did Dubya apparachiks conceive a torture regime well before it was approved (and before they had any prisoners on hand — see also the new and unredacted Armed Services Committee report), but they tortured their suspects into the ground because they were trying to prove a false positive, i.e. that there was some serious operational link between Iraq and Al Qaeda that could be used to sell the second Gulf War. (See also the forged Habbush letter.)

‘There were two reasons why these interrogations were so persistent, and why extreme methods were used,’ the former senior intelligence official said on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity. ‘The main one is that everyone was worried about some kind of follow-up attack (after 9/11). But for most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there.‘”

So, in short, it would seem the suspects held by the CIA were tortured over and over again because they would not concede that two plus two equals five.

Really, how much lower can these assholes sink? What could they possibly do that would cause more violence to our ideals, or that would make our cherished role as a beacon of freedom seem any more ridiculous in the eyes of the world, than what they’ve already done?

Once again, I’m reminded of Lincoln’s famous remark to the Indiana 14th: “‘Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.‘” At the very least, somebody, or somebodies, better go to jail for a loooong time for this. Anything less is simply unacceptable.

The Whole Truth, and Nothing But.

“Rather than vengeance, we need a fair-minded pursuit of what actually happened.” Judiciary Committee chairman Senator Patrick Leahy calls for a “truth commission” to investigate Dubya-era abuses. “‘We need to be able to read the page before we turn the page,’ Leahy said. ‘We need to come to a shared understanding of the failures of the recent past.” Ok, sounds grand…but perhaps we should stop perpetuating those abuses while we’re at it.

Habbush%*t.

“That it was a forgery can no longer be doubted; that it originated with the White House may be harder to prove. Two former CIA officials — Rob Richer and John Maguire — have gone on record as saying they were personally charged with carrying out the forgery, but their marching orders, if they existed, came directly from Tenet (who has fiercely denied the story). The closest thing Suskind has to a smoking gun is Richer’s memory, five years later, of ‘looking down at the creamy White House stationery on which the assignment was written.’”

In his review of Ron Suskind’s The Way of the World, Salon‘s Louis Bayard tells the tale of the Habbush letter, a forgery fabricated by the CIA to tie Iraq to Al Qaeda (and, thus manufacture a casus belli for the War in Iraq.) In other words, George Tenet — perhaps on higher authority — signed off on an illegal black op aimed against the American people. If this goes up the food chain — and, at this point, who’d be surprised if it didn’t — this is definitely an impeachable offense. Where’s the outrage?

Update: Politico has more.

The Mouse that Roared.

“‘Over that summer of 2002,’ he writes, ‘top Bush aides had outlined a strategy for carefully orchestrating the coming campaign to aggressively sell the war…In the permanent campaign era, it was all about manipulating sources of public opinion to the president’s advantage …What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary.‘” The other big political story of my move week: In a new political tell-all, former Dubya Press Secretary Scott McClellan turns on his former White House masters, accusing them of ginning up the case for war and lying outright to him about the Plamegate affair. “Over time, as you leave the White House and leave the bubble, you’re able to take off your partisan hat and take a clear-eyed look at things…I don’t know that I can say when I started the book that it would end up where it was, but I felt at the end it had to be as honest and forthright as possible.’

Welcome to the reality-based community, Scott. In the meantime, the White House is claiming McClellan was motivated by “sour grapes” (whatever that means — why would he want to keep a gig he seemed to hate?) while other Dubya stalwarts, blindsided by the tome, have also gone on the attack. (But, don’t fret — of all people, McClellan knew what was coming.)

Our Five-Year Mission…

“Thank you all very much. Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”

Do you remember the Iraq War of 2003? Remember those heady days of euphoria when it ended two months later, with only 139 American lives lost? Journey back with me — TIME-LIFE style, if you will — to the scene of our triumph: “Chris Matthews on MSNBC called Bush a ‘hero’ and boomed, ‘He won the war. He was an effective commander. Everybody recognizes that, I believe, except a few critics.’ PBS’ Gwen Ifill said Bush was ‘part Tom Cruise, part Ronald Reagan.’ On NBC, Brian Williams gushed, ‘The pictures were beautiful. It was quite something to see the first-ever American president on a — on a carrier landing. This must be very meaningful to the United States military.’

Well, today marks the five-year anniversary of our glorious victory, the day that “splendid little war” came to a close. Among those honoring the day, and the remarkable achievement of our Commander-in-Chief:

  • Sen. Barack Obama: “Five years after George Bush declared ‘mission accomplished’ and John McCain told the American people that ‘the end is very much in sight’ in Iraq, we have lost thousands of lives, spent half a trillion dollars, and we’re no safer. It’s time to turn the page on Washington’s false promises and failed judgments on foreign policy, so that we can finally ease the enormous burdens on our troops and their families, and end a war that should’ve never been authorized.

  • Sen. Hillary Clinton: “The fifth anniversary of President Bush’s ‘Mission Accomplished’ speech comes the same week as a chief architect of the Bush administration’s war in Iraq conceded ‘We were clueless on counterinsurgency.‘ That statement confirms what we have all known: the planning and strategy was flawed. Our troops deserved and deserve better.

  • DNC head Howard Dean: “The real mission George Bush is trying to accomplish is passing the torch of his failed Iraq policy to John McCain, who has made it clear he’s willing to keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years against the wishes of the American people. This November the choice will be very clear: if you want to get out of Iraq responsibly, save lives and invest in America, vote for a Democrat.

  • Sen. John McCain: “To state the obvious, I thought it was wrong at the time [SIC]…all of those comments contributed over time to the frustration and sorrow of Americans because those statements and comments did not comport with the facts on the ground. In hearing after hearing in the Armed Services Committee and forums around America I complained loud and long that the strategy was failing and we couldn’t succeed … Obviously the presidents bare the responsibility. We all do. But do I blame him for that specific banner? I have no knowledge of that. I can’t blame him for that.

  • The White House: “‘President Bush is well aware that the banner should have been much more specific and said `mission accomplished’ for these sailors who are on this ship on their mission,’ White House press secretary Dana Perino said Wednesday. ‘And we have certainly paid a price for not being more specific on that banner. And I recognize that the media is going to play this up again tomorrow, as they do every single year.’

  • The American people: “A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday indicates that 71 percent of the American public disapprove of how Bush his handling his job as president. ‘No president has ever had a higher disapproval rating in any CNN or Gallup poll; in fact, this is the first time that any president’s disapproval rating has cracked the 70 percent mark,’ said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

  • 3925 American lives: …

  • The Security Gap | McCain’s Brain Drain.

    “Senator Clinton says that she and Senator McCain have passed a ‘Commander in Chief test’ – not because of the judgments they’ve made, but because of the years they’ve spent in Washington. She made a similar argument when she said her vote for war was based on her experience at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. But here is the stark reality: there is a security gap in this country – a gap between the rhetoric of those who claim to be tough on national security, and the reality of growing insecurity caused by their decisions. A gap between Washington experience, and the wisdom of Washington’s judgments. A gap between the rhetoric of those who tout their support for our troops, and the overburdened state of our military…We have a security gap when candidates say they will follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell, but refuse to follow him where he actually is.

    On the fifth anniversary of the war, Sen. Obama delivers a speech on Iraq and national security in Fayetteville, NC, and takes time to poke McCain for his apparent and frightening misunderstanding of Mideast affairs. “Just yesterday, we heard Sen. McCain confuse Sunni and Shiite, Iran and Al Qaeda. Maybe that is why he voted to go to war with a country that had no Al Qaeda ties. Maybe that is why he completely fails to understand that the war in Iraq has done more to embolden America’s enemies than any strategic choice that we have made in decades.” Really, McCain’s oft-repeated error smacks of Dubya-level incompetence, and would be all over the news today if we were in general election mode, rather than collectively continuing to assuage Sen. Clinton’s vanity, by assuming she still has a chance. For shame.

    Beware of the Leopard.

    It was announced earlier in the week that a new Pentagon study was set to confirm the obvious: “An exhaustive review of more than 600,000 Iraqi documents that were captured after the 2003 U.S. invasion has found no evidence that Saddam Hussein’s regime had any operational links with Osama bin Laden’s al Qaida terrorist network.” Big surprise there.

    Well, apparently, even the obvious must be suppressed in the Dubya regime. According to ABC News, the report is now being hastily buried. “The report was to be posted on the Joint Forces Command website this afternoon, followed by a background briefing with the authors. No more. The report will be made available only to those who ask for it, and it will be sent via U.S. mail from Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia. It won’t be emailed to reporters and it won’t be posted online.” Instead, it seems, the report will be on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying “Beware of The Leopard.”

    Update: ABC News asks for and receives a snail-mailed copy of the report, after which they promptly scan it and post it online as a PDF. Bang-up job suppressing that one, guys.

    The Bigger the Lies…

    “It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to al-Qaida…In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003.”

    A new study by the Center for Public Integrity and the Fund for Independence in Journalism counts up the staggering number of falsehoods made by the Bush administration in the lead-up to Iraq. “The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period…Bush led with 259 false statements, 231 about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 28 about Iraq’s links to al-Qaida, the study found. That was second only to Powell’s 244 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 10 about Iraq and al-Qaida.” (Via Dangerous Meta.)

    Shame of the Nation.

    “Bush and Cheney are clearly guilty of numerous impeachable offenses. They have repeatedly violated the Constitution. They have transgressed national and international law. They have lied to the American people time after time. Their conduct and their barbaric policies have reduced our beloved country to a historic low in the eyes of people around the world. These are truly ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,’ to use the constitutional standard.” Not to be lost in the New Hampshire shuffle: Former Senator and presidential candidate George McGovern makes the case anew for Dubya’s impeachment.

    Rummy Flakes.

    “In a series of internal musings and memos to his staff, then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld argued that Muslims avoid ‘physical labor’ and wrote of the need to ‘keep elevating the threat,’ ‘link Iraq to Iran’ and develop ‘bumper sticker statements’ to rally public support for an increasingly unpopular war.” The WP surveys the “snowflakes” composed by ex-SecDef Donald Rumsfeld during his tenure. “Rumsfeld, whose sometimes abrasive approach often alienated other Cabinet members and White House staff members, produced 20 to 60 snowflakes a day and regularly poured out his thoughts in writing as the basis for developing policy, aides said.” Uh, Rummy, get a blog.

    The WMD Lie, exposed.

    “On Sept. 18, 2002, CIA director George Tenet briefed President Bush in the Oval Office on top-secret intelligence that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, according to two former senior CIA officers. Bush dismissed as worthless this information from the Iraqi foreign minister, a member of Saddam’s inner circle, although it turned out to be accurate in every detail. Tenet never brought it up again.” Did Dubya know for a fact that Iraq possessed no WMD prior to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq? With two CIA sources to back him up, Sidney Blumenthal says so. “‘The real tragedy is that they had a good source that they misused,’ said one of the former CIA officers. ‘The fact is there was nothing there, no threat. But Bush wanted to hear what he wanted to hear.‘”

    Now will we will touch the bottom of this swamp.

    With respect to the U.S. Attorneys, there has been, I think, a bit of a witch hunt on Capitol Hill as they keep rolling over rocks hoping they can find something,” In an interview with Larry King, Cheney calls the persecuted prosecutor probe a “witch hunt,” and defends loyal capo Alberto Gonzales as “a good man, a good friend, on a difficult assignment.” (In another interview yesterday, he also claimed the Libby jury was wrong.) I doubt anyone really needs a credibility check at this point, but just in case: Cheney is also the guy who told us “we’d be greeted as liberators,” the Iraq insurgency “is in the last throes,” that “there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction” and is amassing them to use against” us, that the administration is learning “more and more about pre-9/11 connections between Iraq and Al Qaeda, and that the evidence of said connections is “overwhelming.” Simply put, Dick Cheney is an inveterate teller of untruths, and I wouldn’t trust him to walk Berkeley at this point, much less run the country. Impeach him already. (Cheney pic via this post.)

    Fein Gold.

    “In grasping and exercising presidential powers, Cheney has dulled political accountability and concocted theories for evading the law and Constitution that would have embarrassed King George III…As Alexander Hamilton advised in the Federalist Papers, an impeachable offense is a political crime against the nation. Cheney’s multiple crimes against the Constitution clearly qualify.” Former Reagan Assistant Attorney General Bruce Fein makes the conservative case for Dick Cheney’s impeachment in Slate.

    The Big Lie, Buried.

    By a count of 14-0 (Russia abstaining), the UN Security Council votes to shut down their inquiry into Iraq WMDs. Well, so much for that particular casus belli. From the vaults: “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.” — Vice President Dick Cheney, Aug. 29, 2002. (There’s another one for the impeachment file.)

    Bad Feith Reporting.

    A new report by the Pentagon’s inspector general argues that former undersecretary of defense and Dubya war hawk Douglas Feith misrepresented intelligence findings during the lead-up to Iraq. Not a big surprise there, but it’s good to get Pentagon confirmation. “Feith’s office, it said, drew on ‘both reliable and unreliable’ intelligence reports in 2002 to produce a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq ‘that was much stronger than that assessed by the IC [Intelligence Community] and more in accord with the policy views of senior officials in the Administration.’

    Al Liars.

    “‘Saddam only expressed negative sentiments about bin Laden,’ the former Iraqi foreign minister, Tariq Aziz, told the Federal Bureau of Investigation when he was asked about Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda’s leader…’He specified that if he wanted to cooperate with the enemies of the U.S., he would have allied with North Korea or China,’ says a passage in the nearly 400-page report.” A new Senate intelligence report confirms what has become patently obvious: There was no link between Iraq and Al Qaeda before the war. “Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., a member of the committee, said the long-awaited report was ‘a devastating indictment of the Bush-Cheney administration’s unrelenting, misleading and deceptive attempts’ to link Saddam to al-Qaida.

    Suck-Ups to Power.

    “Battered by accusations of a liberal bias and determined to prove their conservative critics wrong, the press during the run-up to the war — timid, deferential, unsure, cautious, and often intentionally unthinking — came as close as possible to abdicating its reason for existing in the first place, which is to accurately inform citizens, particularly during times of great national interest.” In very related news (as Dan Froomkin pointed out), Salon publishes an extended excerpt from Eric Boehlert’s Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over For Bush.

    Trailer Trash.

    Add one more lie to the pile: “On May 29, 2003, 50 days after the fall of Baghdad, President Bush proclaimed a fresh victory for his administration in Iraq: Two small trailers captured by U.S. and Kurdish troops had turned out to be long-sought mobile ‘biological laboratories.’ He declared, ‘We have found the weapons of mass destruction.’…But even as Bush spoke, U.S. intelligence officials possessed powerful evidence that it was not true.” The Washington Post recounts step-by-step the tale of Dubya’s fake WMD trailers, sending White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan into a paroxysm of aggressively circular spin. As it turns out, even though Dubya had been notified the trailers were a red herring two days before his above comments, “for nearly a year, administration and intelligence officials continued to publicly assert that the trailers were weapons factories.

    Lies about Lies.

    Thanks to more lies emanating from the Dubya administration, the Congressional Research Service is forced to set the record straight: Dubya saw more prewar intelligence than Congress. “The Bush administration has routinely denied Congress access to documents, saying it would have a chilling effect on deliberations. The report…concludes that the Bush administration has been more restrictive than its predecessors in sharing intelligence with Congress.

    Mea Culpa, Sort-of.

    “It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong. As president I am responsible for the decision to go into Iraq.” In his final speech on Iraq before tomorrow’s elections, (text) Dubya admits the case for war was FUBAR, while insisting it was a good idea anyway. (“The United States did not choose war — the choice was Saddam Hussein’s.“) Of course, Bush neglected to mention that it was he, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al who cherry-picked through the available intelligence and continued to recite claims they knew to be false. Still, for someone who’s seems pathologically incapable of accepting reality at times, this has to be considered a step forward.

    Truth-Challenged Cheney (Again).

    “What was striking about Cheney’s assault was that while denying critics’ charges of manipulation and dishonesty involving prewar intelligence, he resorted to exactly the tactics that inspired the criticism. As he did with the prewar intelligence, Cheney told no outright lies, but he exaggerated the case, picked only evidence he liked, and ignored the caveats.” In case it wasn’t obvious, Slate‘s John Dickerson explains how Cheney is still misrepresenting the lead-up to war. (In fact, he did it again today, although at least he didn’t join his congressional colleagues in their recent spate of Murtha-bashing.) But, really, can we expect any less from the administration that brought us imaginary WMDs and the phantom Iraq-9/11 connection? Like George Costanza at his worst moments, these jokers have been lying so long they’ve lost sight of the truth.

    Shading the Truth (Again).

    “President Bush and his national security adviser have answered critics of the Iraq war in recent days with a two-pronged argument: that Congress saw the same intelligence the administration did before the war, and that independent commissions have determined that the administration did not misrepresent the intelligence. Neither assertion is wholly accurate. Update: Slate‘s Fred Kaplan parses Dubya’s speech further.

    Adding Insult to Intelligence Failures.

    As McCain calls for changes in Dubya’s Iraq strategy, White House National Security advisor Stephen Hadley inaugurates Dubya’s comeback plan, which will get more run in a presidential speech today. Step One: Call the Dems out on their pro-war votes. “‘Some of the critics today,’ Hadley added, ‘believed themselves in 2002 that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, they stated that belief, and they voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq because they believed Saddam Hussein posed a dangerous threat to the American people.‘” Well, yes, but if Dems were relying on faulty and doctored intelligence to come to that supposition in 2002, that only brings us back to the $64,000 question: What exactly happened to our prewar intelligence once it reached the White House?

    Grey Lady Down.

    “Even before I went to jail, I had become a lightning rod for public fury over the intelligence failures that helped lead our country to war…I believed then, and still do, that the answer to bad information is more reporting.” To no one’s surprise, Judy Miller “retires” from the New York Times, but not before getting in one last word (and setting up her own website.) Well, she was way wrong on WMD, but she’s right about this: The best thing the NYT can do to restore its credibility after Judy and Jayson Blair would be to lead an investigatory charge into the pre-war Iraq intelligence, and pronto.

    Torturing the truth (and taking uncivil liberties.)

    Typical Dubya Doublespeak: Just as Bush tells the world, “We do not torture,” his vice-president continues his quest to exempt the CIA from a congressional torture ban, which would obviously be an unnecessary action were Dubya’s remarks truthful. In related news, the Dems want a wide-ranging inquiry into pre-war intelligence, and members of both parties are concerned about increased “terrorism” inquiries under the Patriot Act.

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