Monday, July 04, 2005
digby 7/04/2005 12:44:00 PM
All American Dissent
As I read yet another one of these vacuous and ill-informed reactionary screeds that inevitably turn up every independence day, I find that as the years go by they make me more patriotic rather than less. It's comforting to know, I suppose, that some things never change. It's even more comforting to know that things do.
I don't subscribe to the chauvanistic notion that says we must hail America as the greatest country the world has ever known, despite the fact that I love America as much as I love my family. And that's mainly because, as with family, I don't see that as actually being much of a compliment considering all the countries the world has ever known. Talk about faint praise. The problem in my mind is not one of country, culture, religion or ethnic identity; it's one of species. The human species to be exact. There can be no "greatest" country as long as a country is comprised of imperfect and flawed human beings. That doesn't mean I don't love it. But I see it with my eyes wide open.
If we're lucky, we muddle along, taking two steps forward, one step back and eventually make some progress. And to that extent, America has done pretty well, particularly seeing as we started out with the greatest hypocrisy imaginable --- a country whose essence is defined by the concept of freedom was founded as a slave nation. If people want to say we are exceptional, that's one of the most exceptional things about us, that's for sure.
But, there is one thing that has been present from the very beginning and it's the thing that has saved us and will continue to save us. It is the freedom of speech. It often comes under seige during war and from the beginning there has been tension about what level of dissent was acceptable. But perhaps because we were a country formed out of a revolution, there is always a surprisingly strong attachment in the body politic to tolerance of free speech, even if it doesn't feel like it at the time.
Today, Ellen Goodman describes those of us who are against Bush's policies in iraq as the "silenced majority," made mute by the political correctness and intimidation that often emerges during wartime. She is right that the majority of those who oppose Bush on the war feel tremendous pressure --- and there is, as yet, not much cultural approbation for public dissent on the subject. But we should not be afraid. If this country has ever stood for anything it's this. And there have been times worse than this in which people who had much to fear took a stand.
Perhaps the most famous speech by an African American before MLK's classic "I Have A Dream" speech was Frederick Douglass' fourth of July speech of 1852. Talk about politically incorrect. He not only pointed out the incongruity of a slave owning nation celebrating freedom, he did it in no uncertain terms. And he spoke at a time when the country was moving toward violence and in a culture that was racist to the bone. But it didn't shut him up. And the government allowed him to speak. I'll excerpt the speech beginning with its most famous passage:
...At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could reach the nation's ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.
What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy -- a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.
Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival....
Yes, Frederick Douglas was one of the "blame America First" crowd for sure. And rightly so. The shocking hypocrisy of a freedom loving country that had to fight a civil war to free its own slaves is so mind-bogglingly ironic that to even suggest that America is or was ever perfect is absurd.
But, among many things, we did do one thing very, very right and it's enshrining in the Constitution the right of dissenters like Frederick Douglass (at the time only in the north, to be sure) to speak so frankly about America. Dissent has been this country's savior. If this country is great, it is because we believe that it is the inalienable right, if not the duty, of all Americans to push her to be better than she is.
Read Douglass' entire speech to remind yourself that there have always been dissenters in this country who were willing to call it as they see it. But also read it to absorb Douglas' conclusion. He was right then and he's right now:
...Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented, of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country. There are forces in operation which must inevitably work the downfall of slavery. "The arm of the Lord is not shortened," and the doom of slavery is certain. I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from "the Declaration of Independence," the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age. Nations do not now stand in the same relation to each other that they did ages ago. No nation can now shut itself up from the surrounding world and trot round in the same old path of its fathers without interference. The time was when such could be done. Long established customs of hurtful character could formerly fence themselves in, and do their evil work with social impunity. Knowledge was then confined and enjoyed by the privileged few, and the multitude walked on in mental darkness. But a change has now come over the affairs of mankind. Walled cities and empires have become unfashionable. The arm of commerce has borne away the gates of the strong city. Intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe. It makes its pathway over and under the sea, as well as on the earth. Wind, steam, and lightning are its chartered agents. Oceans no longer divide, but link nations together. From Boston to London is now a holiday excursion. Space is comparatively annihilated. -- Thoughts expressed on one side of the Atlantic are distinctly heard on the other.
The far off and almost fabulous Pacific rolls in grandeur at our feet. The Celestial Empire, the mystery of ages, is being solved. The fiat of the Almighty, "Let there be Light," has not yet spent its force. No abuse, no outrage whether in taste, sport or avarice, can now hide itself from the all-pervading light. The iron shoe, and crippled foot of China must be seen in contrast with nature. Africa must rise and put on her yet unwoven garment. 'Ethiopia, shall, stretch. out her hand unto Ood." In the fervent aspirations of William Lloyd Garrison, I say, and let every heart join in saying it:
God speed the year of jubilee
The wide world o'er!
When from their galling chains set free,
Th' oppress'd shall vilely bend the knee,
And wear the yoke of tyranny
Like brutes no more.
That year will come, and freedom's reign,
To man his plundered rights again
God speed the day when human blood
Shall cease to flow!
In every clime be understood,
The claims of human brotherhood,
And each return for evil, good,
Not blow for blow;
That day will come all feuds to end,
And change into a faithful friend
God speed the hour, the glorious hour,
When none on earth
Shall exercise a lordly power,
Nor in a tyrant's presence cower;
But to all manhood's stature tower,
By equal birth!
That hour will come, to each, to all,
And from his Prison-house, to thrall
Until that year, day, hour, arrive,
With head, and heart, and hand I'll strive,
To break the rod, and rend the gyve,
The spoiler of his prey deprive --
So witness Heaven!
And never from my chosen post,
Whate'er the peril or the cost,
The heart of the American liberal on the fourth of July is always full with the knowledge that there ain't no stopping progress. We'll keep speaking out and step by step, inch by inch, we will get there. Happy 4th everyone.
digby 7/04/2005 11:20:00 AM
Sunday, July 03, 2005
Who Could Have Ever Predicted This?
Democrats' hopes of blocking a staunchly conservative Supreme Court nominee on ideological grounds could be seriously undermined by the six-week-old bipartisan deal on judicial nominees, key senators said yesterday.
With President Bush expected to name a successor to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor next week, liberals are laying the groundwork to challenge the nominee if he or she leans solidly to the right on affirmative action, abortion and other contentious issues. But even if they can show that the nominee has sharply held views on matters that divide many Americans, some of the 14 senators who crafted the May 23 compromise appear poised to prevent that strategy from blocking confirmation to the high court, according to numerous interviews.
The pact, signed by seven Democrats and seven Republicans, says a judicial nominee will be filibustered only under "extraordinary circumstances." Key members of the group said yesterday that a nominee's philosophical views cannot amount to "extraordinary circumstances" and that therefore a filibuster can be justified only on questions of personal ethics or character.
The distinction is crucial because Democrats want to force Bush to pick a centrist, not a staunch conservative as many activist groups on the political right desire. Holding only 44 of the Senate's 100 seats, Democrats have no way to block a Republican-backed nominee without employing a filibuster, which takes 60 votes to stop.
GOP leaders, sensing the Democrats' bind, expressed confidence yesterday that the Senate will confirm Bush's eventual nominee, no matter how ideologically rigid. "I think there is every expectation, every reason to believe that there will be no successful filibuster," Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on "Fox News Sunday."
Under the "Gang of 14" accord, the seven Republican signers agreed to deny Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) the votes he needed to carry out his threat to bar judicial filibusters by changing Senate rules. The seven are implicitly released from the deal if the Democratic signers renege on their end. Yesterday, key players suggested the seven Democrats will automatically be in default if they contend a nominee's ideological views constitute "extraordinary circumstances" that would justify a filibuster.
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), one of the 14 signers, noted that the accord allowed the confirmation of three Bush appellate court nominees so conservative that Democrats had successfully filibustered them for years: Janice Rogers Brown, William H. Pryor Jr. and Priscilla R. Owen. Because Democrats accepted them under the deal, Graham said on the Fox program, it is clear that ideological differences will not justify a filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee.
"Based on what we've done in the past with Brown, Pryor and Owen," Graham said, "ideological attacks are not an 'extraordinary circumstance.' To me, it would have to be a character problem, an ethics problem, some allegation about the qualifications of the person, not an ideological bent."
Yes, they were just as thick and stupid as we thought. Once they confirmed the wingnut freakshow, they lowered the bar to confirm all wingnut freakshows.
I suppose that they may have made some sort of informal agreement as to what constitutes a circumstance more "extraordinary" than this, but I don't know how much trust I would put in such a thing. If Brown, Owen and Pryor are confirmed, the bar has been set very, very low. It's hard to imagine how Bush could come up with anyone even less qualified or philosophically unacceptable than that, but they seem to be able to find the worst judicial freaks in the country so maybe they've been holding out on us. It also pays to remember that Earl Warren wasn't even a judge before he became Chief Justice. Bush could name James Dobson if he wanted to.
I wouldn't be surprised if he picked him. I'm not sure what it will take to make Democrats understand that making a deal with Republicans is akin to stabbing themselves in the back. It never fails.
Truthfully, I think Bush is going to nominate Gonzales, which would be sort of unremarkable under these circumstances if it weren't for all the executions and the war crimes. Of course the crazies are all saying he's too liberal --- and they'll probably succeed in convincing the dipshit gang of 14 that they got Bush to nominate a moderate. In the end, of course, it's all about rewarding Bush's cronies --- which is, after all, his central governing philosophy. And the nutballs will fall in line and be very happy when he turns out to be somewhere to the right of Clarence Thomas and Pinochet.
And let's not forget that Rehnquist is hanging by a thread so they'll get another bite of the apple by which time the Gang of 14 will have convinced themselves that they've saved the republic by turning the Supreme Court into a federalist society circle jerk.
digby 7/03/2005 09:48:00 PM
Telling The Right Story
Atrios questions the WaPo's skepticism (in its article quoting Rove's lawyer Luskin) and points to Lawrence O'Donnell's follow-up post today on The Huffington Report in which he subtly says that Luskin is full of shit.
I don't know that I'd characterize Luskin as a liar, however. He doesn't know exactly what Rove told the grand jury because defense lawyers aren't allowed in there. He knows what his client told him. He also has absolutely no idea what Cooper's notes really say --- and neither does Karl Rove.
Unless there is something really off the wall developing, it seems pretty obvious that the reason that Fitzgerald wanted to talk to Cooper and Miller is to verify that what Rove said was true, whatever it was --- and it's also reasonable to believe that Fitzgerald has some substantial reasons to think it might not be. The law pretty specifically requires prosecutors to exhaust all other possibilities before a judge cites a reporter with contempt for refusing to reveal sources. Fitzgerald knows full well what a hot potato this is. He's not fucking with Time magazine, the NY Times and Karl Rove for his health. He has reason to believe that Matt Cooper and Judith Miller have something to tell him or he wouldn't have gone this far.
I hesitate to bring this up, but it's relevant to this case. From Peter Tiersma, law professor at Loyola University and expert on the language of the law:
One of the famous (or infamous) scenes from the impeachment proceedings is Clinton's remark about the meaning of "is."
During the deposition, Clinton’s lawyer, Robert Bennett, objected to questions being asked about Lewinsky, and made the following statement:
"I question the good faith of counsel, the innuendo of the question. Counsel is fully aware that Ms. Lewinsky has filed--has an affidavit, which they are in possession of, saying that there is absolutely no sex of any kind in any manner, shape or form with President Clinton."
Clinton said nothing.
During the grand jury proceedings, Kenneth Starr accused Clinton of making an “utterly false statement” by not speaking up and correcting his lawyer’s comment. Clinton responded that Bennett’s statement was not necessarily false. He explained: “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is” and remarked that in the present tense, the statement was true.
Even though Clinton was subjected to much ridicule for this reponse, it is actually completely true. Clinton’s physical relationship with Lewinsky had ended some time before the deposition.
As I mentioned, Rove may have lied to his lawyer or withheld the truth. Clinton certainly didn't come clean with Bennett about Lewinsky, although he was a very clever lawyer himself and understood the language of the law and didn't need a lot of advice about how to avoid perjuring himself. Rove is not a lawyer.
In that light, I find Luskin's language a little bit interesting. He says Rove never "identified" Valerie Plame to Cooper. What does that mean exactly? Did he not identify her by name? Or did he not identify her as a CIA operative? In other words, did Karl Rove call up Matt Cooper and say, " Joe Wilson's wife is a CIA operative and she got him the job," which technically means that he didn't "identify" her, but he sure put old Matt on the trail. It wouldn't have been hard to find out who Joseph Wilson was married to. Or maybe he meant something else entirely. But the wording is unusual -- just as Clinton's wording "I did not have 'sexual relations'with that woman" was strange. Why didn't just say "sex"? Because he was carefully using a legal definition. When lawyers word things in a careful way like this, there's usually a reason for it.
But public opinion doesn't care about such nuances. To them sex and sexual relations are the same thing. And the meaning of "is," is is. And "identifying" and identifying are the same thing. And it is in the court of public opinion that this is finally moving.
So, in spite of what I wrote above, I don't think we should get ourselves caught up in some sort of legal mumbo-jumbo legal definition of what "identify" means. It's their turn to squirm on the parse machine and try to explain why the clear meaning of cover-up isn't cover-up. That's the key my friends, and that's the level on which the American people will come to understand this if we do it right.
People forgave Clinton for lying about an affair. Most Americans, including a good many people reading this blog today, have some personal experience with situations like that. Infidelity is a common occurence of everyday life. People didn't need experts to explain to them what was going on. And they decided that they didn't like the spectacle of the politicians and the law sticking its nose into something so personal.
This isn't about some middle aged jerk getting excited over a chubby eager beaver exposing her thong. This is about a powerful political operative exposing an undercover CIA agent in order to exact revenge and cover up the president's lies about the Iraq war.
Kevin Drum wrote correctly back in 2003, Keep It Simple:
Top White officials blew the identity of an undercover CIA agent, potentially endangering both lives and intelligence operations, solely to gain political payback against a guy who had risen to the top of their enemies list.
That's not so complicated, is it?
That remains true. But the context has changed quite dramatically and there is more to it now. It has become obvious to a majority of Americans that the Bush administration was lying when it made its case for war. The public is much more likely to see this Plame leak for what it was. A cover-up by smear and intimidation. And it looks much more serious in this new light. Here's how I would update it:
The Bush administration lied about its reasons for the war in Iraq. When a critic stepped up to expose one of the lies the Whitehouse blew his wife's identity as an undercover CIA agent. They did this to exact revenge against what they saw as a political enemy and to intimidate those who would further expose the administration, potentially endangering both lives and intelligence operations around the world.
That's the story. And regardless of what comes out about who leaked what to whom first, the sick fucking thing is Rove has actually already admitted to being the biggest asshole on the planet regardless of his legal culpability. When they are apprised of this, in the context of the Iraq lies, people may not be as amenable to forgive or write off as some think. Even if Karl Rove didn't break the law, here is what we already know he did do:
President Bush's chief political adviser, Karl Rove, told the FBI in an interview last October that he circulated and discussed damaging information regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame with others in the White House, outside political consultants, and journalists, according to a government official and an attorney familiar with the ongoing special counsel's investigation of the matter.
But Rove also adamantly insisted to the FBI that he was not the administration official who leaked the information that Plame was a covert CIA operative to conservative columnist Robert Novak last July. Rather, Rove insisted, he had only circulated information about Plame after it had appeared in Novak's column. He also told the FBI, the same sources said, that circulating the information was a legitimate means to counter what he claimed was politically motivated criticism of the Bush administration by Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson.
Rove and other White House officials described to the FBI what sources characterized as an aggressive campaign to discredit Wilson through the leaking and disseminating of derogatory information regarding him and his wife to the press, utilizing proxies such as conservative interest groups and the Republican National Committee to achieve those ends, and distributing talking points to allies of the administration on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. Rove is said to have named at least six other administration officials who were involved in the effort to discredit Wilson.
Here's the thing, though. Let's not forget that Wilson was right. There was no yellowcake. Rove and his minions discredited Wilson and destroyed his wife's cover because he was telling the truth.
If Democrats start going on Matthews to talk about this, they need to hammer this point home over and over again. They can debate the Barbizon school of blond former prosecutors all they want, but every single time, their point must be that this was a very serious matter of national security, weapons of mass destruction, lying about war ---- life and death. There was no yellow cake and there were no WMD and Bush and Rove and the rest have been lying their asses off from the beginning. And when anyone in a position to know spoke up, they were subjected to what Karl Rove openly admits to believing is a "legitimate means to counter criticism" --- leaking and disseminating derogatory information about Bush's critics. In common parlance that's called character assasination. And when you do it to discredit someone who is telling the truth it's a cover-up.
Democrats really need to rise to the occasion this time. There remains a serious danger of the whole thing getting purposefully muddied by GOP spin artists as it usually is and there is just no excuse for it. As David Corn said back in 2003:
The strategic point here -- and there is one -- is for the GOP'ers to make this scandal look like another one of those nasty partisan mud-wrestles that the public never likes. Turn it into a political controversy, not a criminal one. Then it all comes out blurry and muddy in the wash. (Bad metaphor, I know.) But that is the intent: to fuzzy up the picture and cause people to shrug their shoulders and say, "it's just politics."
That's why we have to be prepared with a story people can understand and be prepared to tie it in to what they are beginning to see happened with the Iraq war. In Hollywood, screewriters and readers are asked to distill the plot into a single sentence called a logline. Here's the logline for the Plame Scandal:
Karl Rove and others in the White House exposed an undercover CIA agent in order to cover up their lies about Iraq.
Update: Needlenose has a very interesting theory about Judith Miller's role in all this --- and Josh Marshall seems to be leaning in a similar direction.
digby 7/03/2005 10:35:00 AM
I'm sure that most of you have read that the Rev. Lou Sheldon, unofficial new head of the National Park Service, made a stink that there wasn't any footage of conservative protests in a Lincoln Memorial tourist film and successfully got the NPS to add such footage to its reel:
The video gave the impression that Lincoln would have supported abortion and homosexuality," said the Web site of Rev. Louis Sheldon's Traditional Values Coalition. It cited footage showing rallies at the memorial by abortion and gay rights supporters and war opponents but no similar footage from Christian and conservative interests.
"Absent from the video were any Promise Keepers marches or Marches for Jesus rallies at the capital. The video was totally skewed to present only a leftist viewpoint," the Web site said.
What I didn't know until I read it at The Capetbagger Report is this:
Here's a classic example of how far conservative thinking has strayed from reality. In order to make the Lincoln Memorial's tourist video more conservative, the NPS will add video of a 1997 rally held by the Promise Keepers and footage of a well-attended march in Washington after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. What's wrong with these? Nothing — except they weren't held at the Lincoln Memorial.
For whatever reason, most of the major events at the memorial, throughout the 20th century, have dealt with progressive caucus (civil rights, opposition to war, gender equality, etc.). In the interest of "balance," the right is demanding the addition of footage from events that took place elsewhere.
Now what does this remind me of? Oh yeah.
What's really funny is that the progressive tradition of mass protest seems to have become something the "traditional values" people want a piece of. NOW they want to be hippies. It figures. They wait until they are deep into middle age to finally get hip --- 35 years too late. Next thing you know they'll take up pot smoking and student sit-ins.
digby 7/03/2005 08:48:00 AM
Saturday, July 02, 2005
Everyone Should Hate France
Tom Friedman is right. France is a real hellhole. Ask anyone who spends any time there. Like Richard Perle, neocon France-hater.
I can't understand those fools who think that France has the best definition of the good life. Who would ever think that great food, great weather, great wine, interesting political conversation,great museums, great writers -- long vacations, long meals, light religion, universal health care, laid back sexual attitudes, and beautiful countryside are worth giving up shopping for? They trade money for time to read, think, rest, talk and all those other useless wastes of time.
That's unacceptable. Nobody should go there. Especially workaholic Americans. Not that there's anything wrong with workaholism. I realize it's the highest state of Randian being. Especially if you are working a couple of low paying, low satisfaction jobs. God wants you to work hard and buy a lot of shit at Walmart for Jesus. So don't go to France. They don't have anything good to buy.
digby 7/02/2005 05:27:00 PM
The Iraq Group
Update: The story originally posted to E&P WAS the story I refer to below from February of 2004. They've since removed it. The Sam Gardiner stuff is still interesting, however, as we contemplate the DSM's --- the other white meat.
Atrios links to this new E&P scoop that says the Plame Grand Jury just subpoenaed documents from the Iraq Group, which set off some bells. It turns out the Grand Jury has asked for documents from this group before and I wrote about it back in February of '04. (Good to know I haven't completely blown all my brain cells.)
Here's what I wrote at the time. Looking at it now it takes on some unusual (although likely completely coincidental) significance:
According to Newsday(link now broken) today:
Also sought in the wide-ranging document requests contained in three grand jury subpoenas to the Executive Office of President George W. Bush are records created in July by the White House Iraq Group, a little-known internal task force established in August 2002 to create a strategy to publicize the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.
So, it now turns out that the "Iraq Group," the supervisory marketing arm of the Iraq march to war is in the sights of the Plame grand jury. Jim Wilkinson is the one member of the administration who is simultaneously a member of the OGC and the Iraq Group.
The thing to remember about both the OGC and the Iraq Group is that they are not just spin artists. They are propagandists. They were very involved with Alisdair Campbell in the "sexing up" of the WMD threat, so it will be very interesting to see if these documents are turned over without a lot of national security hoo-hah.
There is a big story in those documents, perhaps much bigger even than Plame, although the subpoenaes are only for July 2003 so they won't reveal the really interesting stuff about the blatant WMD lies. Because, not to go into too much tin-foil hat territory, there is a very interesting story to be told about the unprecedented "PR" sell-job that the White House coordinated to convince the American (and British) people that Saddam was a "grave and gathering" danger.
Many of you have probably read the paper written by Sam Gardiner, the retired colonel who taught at the National War College, the Air War College and the Naval Warfare College ( in PDF here) in which he claims to have found more than 50 instances of demonstrably false stories planted in the press in the run up to the war and charges the OCG and the Iraq Group as the culprits. This overview of the paper, originally published in The Edge brings up something quite interesting that ties it into the Plame affair:
Colonel Sam Gardiner (USAF, Ret.) has identified 50 false news stories created and leaked by a secretive White House propaganda apparatus. Bush administration officials are probably having second thoughts about their decision to play hardball with former US Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Joe Wilson is a contender. When you play hardball with Joe, you better be prepared to deal with some serious rebound.
After Wilson wrote a critically timed New York Times essay exposing as false George W. Bush's claim that Iraq had purchased uranium from Niger, high officials in the White House contacted several Washington reporters and leaked the news that Wilson's wife was a CIA agent.
Wilson isn't waiting for George W. Bush to hand over the perp. In mid-October, the former ambassador began passing copies of an embarrassing internal report to reporters across the US. The-Edge has received copies of this document.
The 56-page investigation was assembled by USAF Colonel (Ret.) Sam Gardiner. "Truth from These Podia: Summary of a Study of Strategic Influence, Perception Management, Strategic Information Warfare and Strategic Psychological Operations in Gulf II" identifies more than 50 stories about the Iraq war that were faked by government propaganda artists in a covert campaign to "market" the military invasion of Iraq.
According to Gardiner, "It was not bad intelligence" that lead to the quagmire in Iraq, "It was an orchestrated effort [that] began before the war" that was designed to mislead the public and the world. Gardiner's research lead him to conclude that the US and Britain had conspired at the highest levels to plant "stories of strategic influence" that were known to be false.
The Times of London described the $200-million-plus US operation as a "meticulously planned strategy to persuade the public, the Congress, and the allies of the need to confront the threat from Saddam Hussein."
The multimillion-dollar propaganda campaign run out of the White House and Defense Department was, in Gardiner's final assessment "irresponsible in parts" and "might have been illegal."
"Washington and London did not trust the peoples of their democracies to come to the right decisions," Gardiner explains. Consequently, "Truth became a casualty. When truth is a casualty, democracy receives collateral damage." For the first time in US history, "we allowed strategic psychological operations to become part of public affairs... [W]hat has happened is that information warfare, strategic influence, [and] strategic psychological operations pushed their way into the important process of informing the peoples of our two democracies."
So many secrets. Is it ever possible to keep things like this from unravelling eventually?
Thanks to commenter S who lifted this great 2003 Gore Vidal quote from Americablog:
Yet you saw in the '60s how the Johnson administration collapsed under the weight of its own hubris. Likewise with Nixon. And now with the discontent over how the war in Iraq is playing out, don't you get the impression that Bush is headed for the same fate?
I actually see something smaller tripping him up: this business over outing the wife of Ambassador Wilson as a CIA agent. It's often these small things that get you. Something small enough for a court to get its teeth into. Putting this woman at risk because of anger over what her husband has done is bitchy, dangerous to the nation, dangerous to other CIA agents. This resonates more than Iraq. I'm afraid that 90 percent of Americans don't know where Iraq is and never will know, and they don't care.
Yep. It's often the little things, the sloppy things that trip them up. 3rd rate burglary. Pissant revenge for a critical op-ed. Dumb stuff. We don't know if any of this will stick, it's actually unlikely. But if something does, it will be something like this --- Karl Rove personally involving himself in outing Valerie Plame because he was ticked off --- and then lying to the FBI about it.
There's a lot of speculation that this is a rat-fuck and it may be. But, I think that Karl's playing very close to the edge if he's doing this on purpose. He's the guy who stands to get scalded if this grand Jury turns up something. Unless this entire investigation is a corrupt White House inside job (and you never know) it's very risky. He's a guy who takes risks, so he may have done this, but my guess is that in the summer of 2003, facing the firsrt real criticism of Bush's presidency, he got mad and fucked up and he has been dog-paddling ever since, hoping it goes away.
digby 7/02/2005 01:20:00 PM
Wonkette Knows All
Last night I wondered if the journalistic brotherhood was breaking a silence on what they know about the Plame case now that Matt Cooper has been thrown to the wolves. Back on Wednesday, Wonkette wrote this:
Facing jail, Matt and Judy might talk, or -- worse for He Who Must Not Be Named (Karl Rove) -- they'll go to jail with lips still sealed but outrage on the part of friends and colleagues will shake lose which White House source outed Plame to smear Wilson.
I suspect this is exactly what happened with O'Donnell. The question now is how many other people in Washington know who the leaker is? Clearly, Wonkette thinks she does. The panel on Mclaughlin was unruffled at the revelation. Perhaps the real question, though, is how many members of the press corps know that is was Karl Rove who leaked Plame's name?
Now I understand that whores like Cliff May and others would feel no compunction about covering for karl Rove. That's their bread and butter. But what about these buddies of Matt Cooper who apparently know all about this? And what ethical guidelines say you must keep this quiet until your friend's boss stabs him in the back? I don't get it. If Cooper had folded and then everybody piled on saying they knew, then maybe I could at least understand the logic. But what's the logic in doing it like this?
Moreover, is it normal that members of the press know the answer to a major mystery but they withhold it, as a group, from the public? I thought their job was to reveal the answers to major mysteries. In fact, this seems like the scoop of the decade. Back in the day, reporters were racing to get the news of semen stains and talking points on the air mere seconds before their rivals. Now, they all keep quiet?
This is a very interesting professional and ethical question for the media. Does the reporter's privilege extend to his friends? Here you apparently have quite a few members of the DC press corps with a piece of very juicy information (allegedly) about the most powerful political operative in the United States --- information that also has to do with an important matter of national security and a Justice department investigation. In some sort of friendship extension of the reporter's privilege they say nothing. Amazing.
And during the time they say nothing an election is held in which the political operative in question works feverishly to smear his client's opponent with scurrilous charges of borderline treason and cowardly behavior during wartime. The entire election is premised on the fact that the president, this man's client, is the only one capable of handling national security. His prior campaign had been waged with an overt promise to bring honor and integrity back to the White House. Still nothing.
Finally, when their friend seems headed to jail and his boss has agreed to turn over notes, they start to step up and reveal what they know.
Hookay. I think it's time to convene another conference on blogger ethics and professional journalistic standards. I get so confused about these things.
Update: Here's O'Donnell's explanation on the Huffington Post today:
Rove Blew CIA Agent's Cover
I revealed in yesterday's taping of the McLaughlin Group that Time magazine's emails will reveal that Karl Rove was Matt Cooper's source. I have known this for months but didn't want to say it at a time that would risk me getting dragged into the grand jury.
McLaughlin is seen in some markets on Friday night, so some websites have picked it up, including Drudge, but I don't expect it to have much impact because McLaughlin is not considered a news show and it will be pre-empted in the big markets on Sunday because of tennis.
Since I revealed the big scoop, I have had it reconfirmed by yet another highly authoritative source. Too many people know this. It should break wide open this week. I know Newsweek is working on an 'It's Rove!' story and will probably break it tomorrow.
Well, at least Karl got his boy elected instead of that traitor John Kerry, so that's good.
digby 7/02/2005 09:31:00 AM
Lead, Follow or Have A Drink
Happy belated Birthday to Martini Republic, a vastly entertaining blog in all respects, and one that is particularly indispensible for astute commentary on LA and California politics. And that's important because something's happening here (what it is ain't exactly clear.) I think I'm seeing the beginnings of a middle class revolt. It's hard to know if it's going to go anywhere or if its roots are deeper than Arnold dissatisfaction, but the face of rebellion in California is the face of a fresh faced, soccer mom school teacher. This is something to keep your eyes on as the debt squeeze and the generational squeeze of kids on one end and grandparents on the other begins to really take its toll on the middle class.
But for a little walk in LA sunshine, and there's always plenty of that, check out MR's Joseph Mailander's tribute to our latin heritage on the occasion of our first latino mayor's (can you believe it?) inauguration day.
Here's looking at you, kidz.
digby 7/02/2005 08:03:00 AM
Who Told Rove?
As long as we're enjoying ourselves speculating about frog marching and the like, here's an interesting theory from super-smart commenter Sara:
Has anyone here carefully read Joe Wilson's Book?
He provides plenty of carefully crafted information -- for example see p. 443-445.
Wilson indicates that the work up on him beginning March, 2003, turned up the information on Valerie -- which was then shared with Karl Rove who then circulated it through Administration and neo-Conservative circles. He cites conservative journalists who claimed to have had the information before the Novak column.
So the question is -- in the work-up process beginning about March 2003, who had the information re: Plame?
I think it was John Bolton. At the time he was State Department Deputy Secretary with the portfolio in WMD and Nuclear Proliferation. Assuming that Valerie Plame's identity was that of a NOC (No Official Cover) the information about her would have been highly classified, compartmentalized, and only those with a need to know would know. Bolton's Job probably gave him that status. However to receive it he would have to sign off on the classification -- that is he would have to agree to retain the security the CIA had established.
At the time, Bolton had two assistants who also worked in the White House in Cheney's office, David Wurmser and John Hannah. Their names have been around as the potential leakers -- Hannah if you remember is the guy who kept putting the Yellow Cake back in Bush's speeches even though Tenet had demanded it be removed.
So -- I think we have a game of catch going on here -- or maybe some version of baseball, and the scoring is Bolton to Wurmser and Hannah, to Cheney (and/or Libby) to Rove.
I suspect getting Rove on Perjury is more or less step one in walking back the path of the ball.
Lest there be any doubt about Bolton's true calling, remember, he was king of the Florida Recount.
digby 7/02/2005 07:35:00 AM
Friday, July 01, 2005
According to Catch, Lawrence O'Donnell named Karl Rove as the guy who fingered Plame to Matt Cooper and said he (O'Donnell) expects to be subpoenaed for saying it.
Interesting, if true. Are some members of the entertainment industrial complex prepared to storm the barricades now that one of their own has been left dangling in the wind?
Here's the dirt from E&P
MSNBC Analyst Says Cooper Documents Reveal Karl Rove as Source in Plame Case
By E&P Staff
Published: July 01, 2005 11:30 PM ET
NEW YORK Now that Time Inc. has turned over documents to federal court, presumably revealing who its reporter, Matt Cooper, identified as his source in the Valerie Plame/CIA case, speculation runs rampant on the name of that source, and what might happen to him or her. Tonight, on the syndicated McLaughlin Group political talk show, Lawrence O'Donnell, senior MSNBC political analyst, claimed to know that name--and it is, according to him, top White House mastermind Karl Rove.
Here is the transcript of O'Donnell's remarks:
"What we're going to go to now in the next stage, when Matt Cooper's e-mails, within Time Magazine, are handed over to the grand jury, the ultimate revelation, probably within the week of who his source is.
"And I know I'm going to get pulled into the grand jury for saying this but the source of...for Matt Cooper was Karl Rove, and that will be revealed in this document dump that Time magazine's going to do with the grand jury."
Other panelists then joined in discussing whether, if true, this would suggest a perjury rap for Rove, if he told the grand jury he did not leak to Cooper.
Talk Left examines the possibility of a perjury charge.
digby 7/01/2005 06:24:00 PM
Last week Karl Rove appeared on Joe Scarborough. Here is part of what he said:
SCARBOROUGH: Talking about getting—getting things through the United States Congress, let's talk about not so much about John Bolton, but what the problems with Bolton may mean when this summer, the president may be trying to get a Supreme Court nominee through.
You had John McCain and six other Republicans team up with Robert Byrd. And they came up with this anti-filibuster deal. Did you feel like John McCain and those Republican senators betrayed the president, betrayed the Republican Party, betrayed conservatives across America?
ROVE: Look, John McCain, for example, is one of the strongest advocates for an up-or-down vote on John Bolton. We wish that the issue of judicial nominations had been settled once and for all.
As you know, for 200 and some-odd years, judges, judicial nominations were not routinely filibustered. In fact, the only time an appellate nominee faced a filibuster was in—under Lyndon Johnson. And if you go back and read the words of Democrats and Republicans who were discussing the filibuster, they were anguished-filled, because they felt it was the only way that they could cause Lyndon Johnson to rethink the nomination of a person who had received payments under the table from a foundation while in public service.
And, eventually, for those reasons, Johnson withdrew him, because it became an ethical concern.
SCARBOROUGH: So, what happens this summer? Obviously, you know as well as anybody—you can go back to Thomas in '91 -- Bork in '87. These summer appointments can be some of the dirtiest political battles that America sees.
SCARBOROUGH: How is the president going to get a conservative through the United States Senate for the Supreme Court if he is having trouble getting John Bolton through?
ROVE: Well, first of all, look, John Bolton is going to be the United States ambassador to the United Nations. We will get either an up-or-down vote or he will be the ambassador one way...
SCARBOROUGH: A recess—possible recess appointment?
ROVE: Well, I'm not going to—we have got plenty of options we're going to...
SCARBOROUGH: But that's one possibility that is open...
ROVE: The best way for the United States to effect reform at the United Nations is to send a straight-talker to the United Nations.
And if the Democrats think they are doing themselves some favor by blocking his nomination, they are kidding themselves.
SCARBOROUGH: They're just not going to succeed?
ROVE: They are not going to succeed.
And if there is a—we don't know if there will be a Supreme Court vacancy. But if there is, I am confident the president will nominate a qualified mainstream conservative, somebody who will strictly interpret the Constitution and not legislate from the bench. And I am also confident that, because of the ability and talent of that individual, that they will be approved by the United States Senate.
If the Democrats attempt to filibuster, they will suffer politically, like they did in '02 and '04.
What a fucking thug.
They don't want people to see them losing the war in Iraq or failing to quell terrorism. Instead the chickenhawk army is going to stage a summer pageant in which they will take the fight to the only enemy they have ever beaten (barely) --- Democrats.
But with a 40% approval rating and allies like the wild-eyed Dobson freakshow, it may not be as easy as they think. It could be that the big tough Republican bullies have worn out their welcome with the American people. We'll soon see.
I'd like to make one thing clear. I don't see this as doom for the Democrats. The public is wavering in their support for Bush and they aren't giving him the benefit of the doubt anymore. If the Dems stick together on this it is a very powerful message, regardless of the ultimate outcome. Remember, they believe that the perception of winning is more important than actually winning. That's how we get them. Deny them that perception.
Gotta keep the heat on the gang of 14.
digby 7/01/2005 04:32:00 PM
I normally hate to predict things in too much detail because, you know, I can't actually tell the future. But, in the case of this Supreme Court fight I honestly think that Brad Plumer and Kevin and some of my commenters to the post below are on the wrong track. I doubt very seriously that Bush is gaming this in this way:
Some lunatic winger will get nominated — maybe even Jance Rogers Brown — the Democrats in the Senate will say, "Oh hell no" and launch a filibuster. So the battle will rage on for a while, Bush's "base" will get riled up and motivated to send in lots and lots of money, conservative judicial activists will blast their opponents with fairly superior firepower, and bobbing heads in the media will start carping on those "obstructionist" Democrats (bonus carping here if the nominee is a woman, minority, and/or Catholic).
Finally Bush will give a very somber speech about withdrawing his nominee, announce that he's very disappointed in the Senate, toss in a few bonus 9/11 references, and nominate some slightly-less-lunatic ultraconservative instead.
That's the Bork-Scalia scenario. And it worked out very well for the wingnuts, indeed. They've been feeding off the Bork defeat for years while they have the King of Opus Dei running amuck on the court. What's not to like?
But, let me ask you, when has Bush ever done a strategic retreat on anything? Homeland security is the only thing I can think of and I think that stemmed from a belated realization that they really would like to have some fat patronage jobs and a new entrenched "security" bureaucracy that tilted Republican by nature and temperament. It wasn't a plan.
Here is how this White House views itself:
President Bush subscribes to the momentum theory of politics: that success breeds success, and political capital accrues to the one who spends political capital.
That comes from this column by Dan Froomkin which examines that stunning article in which it is revealed that the National Security Council has hired an expert on public opinion during wartime. That expert, widely quoted in various places for the last couple of years, pretty much sums up what the White House believes about the war --- and I think what they believe about governing generally. You govern by giving people the impression that you are winning:
Yes, the very same White House that outwardly exudes contempt for polls has in fact recently hired a prominent academic pollster onto the National Security Council staff and has concluded that the key to public support for the war is not the number of casualties in Iraq, nor whether the war was right or wrong -- but whether people feel like we're going to win.
Being willing to stage a retreat --- particularly on something about which the base is rabid and out of control --- at a time when his popularity is sliding precipitously is not believable to me. I think they are desperate to show strength and get a big win that makes the Dems look weak. That is their theory of governance. The more you win the more people love you.
In their minds it's the public perception of losing on Bolton, social security, Schiavo and Iraq that is causing their problems, not Bolton, social security, Schiavo or Iraq themselves. I think they want a big fight and they expect a big win. And they want that win to "create political capital" with which to consolidate their majority.
Update: Jeffrey Dubner says the same thing:
But this president will not allow himself to appear to be defeated on something so important. He certainly won't set himself up for failure, as Brad predicts, even if such a failure is deemed to be a PR victory that results in an ultra-conservative justice anyway. Just not, as his father might say, gonna do it.
Correction: The Bork-Scalia analogy is entirely wrong. Scalia was confirmed before Bork. But he still is the King of Opus Dei running amuck --- and they'd like nothing more than to have a few more of him. Luckily, while he was confirmed 98-0, the Democrats have since wised up. The question is whether they have the will to "Bork" from the position of a minority party.
digby 7/01/2005 11:32:00 AM
O'Connor Retires. I'm sure everyone realizes this, but the fact that it's O'Connor means that we are going to have a political bloodbath. If it had been Rehnquist, it would have been no harm no foul if Junior had placated his base with another wingnut. O'Connor is a swing vote, which means that the theocrats and the anti-environmentalists and the corporate whores have a chance to do some real damage. The base is slavering for a chance to overturn Roe vs Wade and Karl needs to give them something for all their trouble.
I would suggest that everyone get ready to bombard the "gang of fourteen" the minute that Bush announces his choice, who I have little doubt will be completely unacceptable. They want this fight. It's the essence of their play to the base strategy and it gets the news off Iraq.
There can be no compromise on this seat.
* John McCain
* Lindsey Graham
* John Warner
* Olympia Snowe
* Susan Collins
* Mike DeWine
* Lincoln Chafee
* Joe Lieberman
* Robert Byrd
* Ben Nelson
* Mary Landrieu
* Daniel Inouye
* Mark Pryor
* Ken Salazar
Oh, and perhaps today is a good day to recall that while Sandra day O'Connor will always be remembered as the first female Supreme Court Justice, her legacy was tarnished irreparably during election 2000:
[A]t an election-night party on Nov. 7, surrounded for the most part by friends and familiar acquaintances, [Justice O'Connor] let her guard drop for a moment when she heard the first critical returns shortly before 8 p.m. Sitting in her hostess's den, staring at a small black-and-white television set, she visibly started when CBS anchor Dan Rather called Florida for Al Gore. "This is terrible," she exclaimed. She explained to another partygoer that Gore's reported victory in Florida meant that the election was "over," since Gore had already carried two other swing states, Michigan and Illinois.
Moments later, with an air of obvious disgust, she rose to get a plate of food, leaving it to her husband to explain her somewhat uncharacteristic outburst. John O'Connor said his wife was upset because they wanted to retire to Arizona, and a Gore win meant they'd have to wait another four years. O'Connor, the former Republican majority leader of the Arizona State Senate and a 1981 Ronald Reagan appointee, did not want a Democrat to name her successor. Two witnesses described this extraordinary scene to Newsweek. Responding through a spokesman at the high court, O'Connor had no comment.
Jeffrey Toobin reported this:
On . . . the day of the Supreme Court's first opinion on the election, O'Connor and her husband had attended a party for about thirty people at the home of a wealthy couple named Lee and Julie Folger. When the subject of the election controversy came up, Justice O'Connor was livid. "You just don't know what those Gore people have been doing," she said. "They went into a nursing home and registered people that they shouldn't have. It was outrageous." It was unclear where the justice had picked up this unproved accusation, which had circulated only in the more eccentric right-wing outlets, but O'Connor recounted the story with fervor.
She had to stay another four years just to save face after that, but now she's free to let Bush appoint her replacement, which was always her intention. That man owes her big time, both for his presidency and now the chance to shape the supreme court for a generation. Her tenure as the first female justice will very likely end with a replacement who will vote to overturn Roe vs Wade. That's quite an achievement.
Still, despite her partisanship, she's been incoherent enough that she could be counted on to at least give some cases a 50/50 chance at a decent outcome. Another Scalia and we are entering a new dark age.
It's probable that Bush will be looking at replacing her with another woman. On the other hand, being Republicans, they will likely think that having one token female on the court is enough and use her "slot" for a more electorally friendly minority. In any case, I'll be very surprised if he chooses someone in the least bit acceptable to anyone but the James Dobbsians. The want to set loose the hounds of hell.
digby 7/01/2005 08:23:00 AM
Thursday, June 30, 2005
Scariest Thing I've Read All Week
Frances Fragos Townsend, the White House homeland security adviser, said the changes would allow Mr. Negroponte to wield influence and seek information down to the level of each of the F.B.I.'s field offices, though she noted that the attorney general, Alberto R. Gonzales, would remain responsible for ensuring that intelligence activities in the United States did not violate American law.
I feel so much safer now.
Via Daou Report and Corrente
digby 6/30/2005 12:55:00 PM
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
It's bad enough that that hideous little creep Tom Davis (R-jackboot) drops a horsehead in major league baseball's bed saying that it shouldn't give the DC franchise to an investment group that includes George Soros. The real insult is that he does it so openly to tilt the field to the president's friend, fundraiser and former business partner in the Texas Rangers, Fred "count the Jews" Malek.
I know that it does no good to bring up Clinton rules and wonder what the allegedly responsible press would have made of such a thing if it had happened in 1993. We know that it would have been turned into a non-stop feeding frenzy with blond former prosecutors and strange looking Republican men with comb-overs dolefully wringing their hands night after night on Matthews as they bemoaned the corruption of mom, apple pie and Murika's pastime by Bill and his corrupt hillbilly friends.
But you would think that a Republican congressman (with the clout to haul all the MLB owners in front of his kangaroo steroid committee again and ream them out for another 8 hours) publicly strong-arming them with threats to lift their anti-trust exemption and clearly indicating that he'd prefer they picked a Nixon stooge and Bush pal, would cause a little ripple. The only place I've seen any speculation about this is in the WaPo sports section:
You can't help wondering what's behind the outrageous attack on Soros, who isn't even a major partner in the bid for the Nats. (Local entrepreneur Jon Ledecky is the real bidder.) Isn't it strange that rival bidder Fred Malek, the head of the Washington Baseball club, just happens to be a very big GOP fundraiser? And isn't it strange that, in a telephone interview, Davis went out of his way to praise Malek's bid? And isn't it strange that these attacks on Soros from Republicans came on the very day that Ledecky and his partners were being interviewed by MLB?
Forget Soros (although the irony is so thick you can slice it, considering the "jeweyness" of the whole thing.) Malek is the story. I know that the press thinks this Iraq thing and the whole Bush lying and incompetence thing is so, like, 2004. But can't they even get it up to complain about baseball being threatened by Republican thugs? Not even that?
Now that I think about it, I've long noticed that sportwriters are among the last real journalists around. Whenever politics and sports converge they are the first ones who get to the essence of the story. Costas was tough last night on Larry King. Olbermann is always good. Since the political writers love the horse race stories so much maybe the major dailies should just have them switch places with the sports staff. It could be the answer to everybody's problems.
Update: Jesse has more on Malek. And I see that TAPPED tilled this soil yesterday.
digby 6/29/2005 06:16:00 PM
Requiem For Jeff Gerth
I thought it was rather strange that Michael Tomasky wrote a column justifiably skewering Ed Klein for his shoddy journalism and then threw in this bit toward the end:
The problem runs deeper even than Klein. Today, with the explosion of Web sites, all sorts of propagandists and provocateurs who aren't journalists can hide behind the label when it comes to First Amendment protection. Can they write anything they please about public figures, knowing that they can print lies as long as Sullivan is in force?
He explains himself today:
I didn’t mean to impugn the established liberal blogs, which I explained to Duncan Black when I ran into him just a few hours after seeing Markos. My list of bloggers to whom I was definitely not referring includes but is by no means limited to: Josh Marshall, Mark Schmitt, Matt (and all his cohorts, at Tapped of course and at TPMCafe), Markos, Duncan, Kevin Drum (and guests), Jerome Armstrong, Arianna Huffington et alia, Ezra Klein, &c &c &c.
My point, which I think remains valid, was that the blogosphere in general is a milieu that is somewhat more likely than the milieu of traditional journalism to produce reckless error.
I don't think that's possible. I've read a lot of garbage on-line, but none that had the kind of corporate backing and public relations push that Klein's book has gotten from a mainstream publisher --- and Klein's book, as Tomasky points out, is just filled with lies. And mainstream news organizations are giving him a national platform with which to spread them.
The only time that I'm aware of outright reckless error is from the rightwing blogosphere during the Rather scandal --- and mainstream journalism was just as bad and rewarded them for it.
The truth is that after watching the three ring circus known as the Whitewater scandals remain uncorrected even after all this time --- and reading pathetic explanations like this from top Washington reporter John Harris --- it's clear that mainstream news constantly commits reckless errors, on both the micro and macro level, and then rationalizes them with all the aplomb of a second grader caught with his hand in the cookie jar:
People tend to forget, for understandable reasons because the Lewinsky scandal was such a sensational affair, that 1997 was in its own way a very sullen, snippy, disagreeable year in the relationship between the White House and the press. Most news organizations -- the Washington Post included -- were devoting lots of resources, lots of coverage, to the campaign fund-raising scandal which grew out of the '96 campaign, and there were a lot of very tantalizing leads in those initial controversies. In the end they didn't seem to lead anyplace all that great. But there were tons of questions raised that certainly, to my mind, merited aggressive coverage.
The White House was unbelievably resentful -- they thought it was much ado about nothing, they thought that this was a scandal-obsessed press corps. Mike McCreary -- and he's a really great guy -- even before Lewinsky he was in a really pissy mood and I don't blame him for him for it, and I don't doubt that it was unpleasant and that his feelings of resentment were genuine, but he was snapping back at us, angry phone calls and whatnot. From the White House's vantage point the whole thing was not on the level, they thought this was standard political fund-raising that was undeniably a little sloppy but wasn't that big a deal, and we were trying to turn it into the next Watergate.
It was much ado about nothing. The fund-raising scandals didn't rise from the 96 campaign. They rose from the right wing noise machine like all the rest. And what he fails to mention is that this was after four long years of one David Bossie/American Spectator bullshit spoonfed psuedo-scandal after another.
In a cluttered office tucked away in one of the many red-brick office condominiums that ring Washington, D.C., David Bossie, source par excellence to journalists dredging the Whitewater swamp, handles one of the eighteen calls he says he gets each hour. This one is from Bruce Ingersoll, a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal. The discussion centers on bonds. "I have a whole file on bond transactions," Bossie tells Ingersoll. "I will get a report on what I find. I know you are trying to move quickly on this. You want to come out before they come out." A few minutes later Bossie says, "I don't know what I have to give you," but promises to spend the next couple of hours going through materials. "You're on deadline, I understand that." He then points Ingersoll in another direction. "Have you done anything on Beverly? [Presumably that is Beverly Bassett Schaffer, former Arkansas Securities Commissioner.] You guys ought to look into that. There will be lawsuits against the Rose law firm," he adds.
All that has been known since the above article was written for Columbia Journalism Review in 1994 and was fully explored by 1996, when Gene Lyons published the articles that became "Fools For Scandal" in Harper's magazine.
The press performed abominably throughout that period and all the way through the 2000 election, using the same methods of accepting Republican gossip and smears as the basis for their stories:
In the film we see RNC glee as AP accepts their oppo research on a Gore misstatement during the first debate . During their months of filming BBC producers also observed producers for NBC's Tim Russert among others calling to enquire if the team had any new material. This was apparently normal trading on both sides.
RNC researcher Griffin comments in the film: "It's an amazing thing when you have topline producers and reporters calling you and saying 'we trust you.... we need your stuff.'"
And it's not like it's exactly covered itself with glory since then. (Got WMD?)
Really, the blogopshere is the least of journalism's credibility problems. And while I'm sure that it's quite frightening to think of rogue character assassins running around the internet smearing people, it's very hard to see how they could be any worse than the mainstream press already is.
digby 6/29/2005 03:55:00 PM
God Told Him
Kevin writes here about how the administration short-changed the VA budget and says:
It's one more piece of evidence that the Bushies really did expect a cakewalk in Iraq and didn't bother planning for additional casualties.
We have a witness who says that Bush absolutely didn't count on casualties. remember this?
Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson says he warned President Bush before U.S. troops invaded Iraq that the United States would sustain casualties but that Bush responded, "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties."
White House and campaign advisers denied Bush made the comment, with adviser Karen Hughes saying, "I don't believe that happened. He must have misunderstood or misheard it."
Robertson, in an interview with CNN that aired Tuesday night, said God had told him the war would be messy and a disaster. When he met with Bush in Nashville, Tenn., before the war Bush did not listen to his advice, Robertson said, and believed Saddam Hussein was an evil tyrant who needed to be removed.
"He was just sitting there, like, 'I'm on top of the world,' and I warned him about this war," Robertson said.
"I had deep misgivings about this war, deep misgivings. And I was trying to say, 'Mr. President, you better prepare the American people for casualties.' 'Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties.' 'Well,' I said, 'it's the way it's going to be.' And so, it was messy. The Lord told me it was going to be, A, a disaster and, B, messy."
The evidence suggest that Bush really did believe that there wouldn't be any casualties. But, of course, the evidence also suggests that Pat Robertson is a delusional head-case. So which religious conman was lying?
digby 6/29/2005 02:16:00 PM
Not wanting to risk remaining in Russia, Vakhitov went to stay with relatives in Tajikistan. Then events became even more fantastic. Vakhitov and his friends were taken hostage by militants from the Islamist “Uzbekistan” movement, and took them to Afghanistan. In Kabul, the hostages were accused of collaborating with the FSB. The tortures and interrogations began anew.
That was in the fall of 2001. Afghanistan was attacked by the Americans. The regime in the country was overturned, while the prison where Vakhitov was being held had its flag changed.
Vakhitov and his friends were waiting to be rescued from day to day. But the U.S. military instead acted exactly like their Russian counterparts. After September 11, they needed culprits. And all Muslims became suspects.
Especially valuable were Arabs. According to Vakhitov, they were bought in Afghanistan for $5,000 each and taken to Guantanamo.
"They sold everyone. Beggars off the street, the deaf, dumb, and blind. I had a 104-year-old man along with me. And once again, no court investigation," Vakhitov says. And that was how he ended up in Cuba at the Delta camp.
"In Russia the torture is primitive. They mostly just beat me. They would hang me up, and burn me with cigarettes. At Guantanamo, the torture was more sophisticated than in Russian prisons. Our special forces are way behind in that sense. There was more psychological pressure: you couldn’t be left alone for a minute. We fought to have the toilet covered with a blanket. We went on hunger strikes to protest against officers trampling on the Koran and throwing it in the toilet."
Gradually, Russians are beginning to use the experience of their Western colleagues. Vakhitov says that after the Americans handed him over to Russian prosecutors, he was blindfolded and kicked, then forced to kneel and told to "pray to Jesus Christ like a Christian." Vakhitov said that the Americans honestly admitted that because they have a democracy, they could not use all the possible methods to draw out confessions, but that their Russian colleagues would be able to get to work on him.
I know this will come as a shock, but it turns out that the Russians eventually concluded that he wasn't a terrorist after all:
After several months in a detention center, Vakhitov was found not guilty -- once again without any trial -- and released.
When I first started reading these stories from released Guantanamo prisoners I was skeptical. They sounded too strange, too bizarre, too freakishly sexual and sadistic. Then came Abu Ghraib and the pictures of forced masturbation. And it was revealed that female interrogators were smearing fake menstrual blood on prisoners and that interrogators were using fierce dogs to threaten naked men. And we know that prisoners were held in "stress positions" for many hours on end in sharply hot and cold temperatures.
It has been known for years now that many of the prisoners were sold to the US by Afghan warlords for $5,000 a piece. It is clear that three years after they were captured that none of the prisoners in Guantanamo have any intelligence to offer. And it is a proven fact that we imprisoned and roughly "interrogated" many people for years who were completely innocent.
It's interesting that this ex-prisoner says that the Americans are much more sophisticated in their methods. Perhaps this is true in comparison to the Russians, although that's quite a statement, if true. I wrote a post some months back in which I discussed these sophisticated techniques in some detail. Here are reports from prisoners who underwent them:
Many men were handcuffed or tied to a stool as a means of slow torture. The [detainee] sat in one position, day and night. Each time he would fall over, the guards would sit him upright. He was not allowed to sleep or rest. Exhaustion and pain take their toll. When the [detainee] agreed to cooperate with his captors and acquiesced to their demands, he would be removed. Here, I have pictured a guard named "Mouse," who liked to throw buckets of cold water on a man on cold winter nights.
You're always sitting either on the floor or on a stool or concrete block or something low. The interrogator is always behind a table that's covered with cloth of some kind, white or blue or something. And he sits above you and he's always looking down at you asking you questions and they want to know what the targets are for tomorrow, next week, next month. You don't know. You really don't know. But he doesn't -- he's going to have to have an answer of some kind. Now the back of the room comes the -- the torture. And he's a -- he's a big guy that knows what he's doing. And he starts locking your elbows up with ropes and tying your wrists together and bending you.
Some men were tied to their beds, sometimes for weeks at a time. Here, I have drawn a picture showing the handcuffs being worn in front, but the usual position was with the wrists handcuffed behind the back. A man would live this way day and night, without sleep or rest.
The guards come around the middle of the night just rattling the lock on your door. That's a terrifying thing because they may be taking you out for a torture session. You don't know.
"... obviously this is an emotional thing to me, was listening to the screams of other ... prisoners while they were being tortured. And being locked in a cell myself sometimes uh, in handcuffs or tied up and not able to do anything about it. And that's the way I've got to spend the night."
The ten months that I spent in the blacked out cell I went into panic. The only thing I could do was exercise. As long as I could move, I felt like I was going to -- well, it was so bad I would put a rag in my mouth and hold another one over it so I could scream. That seemed to help. It's not that I was scared, more scared than another other time or anything. It was happening to my nerves and my mind. And uh, I had to move or die. I'd wake up at two o'clock in the morning or midnight or three or whatever and I would jump up immediately and start running in place. Side straddle hops. Maybe four hours of sit ups. But I had to exercise. And of course I prayed a lot.
My original post has much more detail.
Of course, these are all quotes from American POW's who were held in North Vietnam.
"When word of torture and mistreatment began to slip out to the American press in the summer of 1969, our public-relations-minded captors began to treat us better. I'm certain we would have been a lot worse off if there had not been the Geneva Conventions around." John McCain
digby 6/29/2005 12:14:00 PM
From Liberal Oasis:
The Minneapolis Star Tribune (which has kindly published a few pieces from LiberalOasis) offers an editorial page that, of all the nation’s major dailies, is arguably the most devoted to the truth and the least afraid of the Bush White House.
And it is under attack from the Right for just that reason.
Last week, the Strib not only ran an editorial defending Dick Durbin when Durbin lacked the courage to defend himself, it also ran a lengthy excerpt of Durbin’s speech so readers could examine his words in context and make up their own minds.
Since then, the right-wing Hugh Hewitt has launched a campaign encourage people to cancel their subscriptions to the Strib, in hopes of pressuring the paper to end its defense of real American values.
And Hewitt’s allies at the blog Powerline are trying to keep up the pressure by directly attacking the top editor.
These thuggish attempts to silence brave American voices must be countered.
The best way to do so is to show that speaking truth to power sells.
So if you live in Minnesota and don’t subscribe, now’s the time!
Click here to subscribe, and then email the publisher, Keith Moyer at email@example.com to let him know you’re subscribing because you support the paper’s editorial policy.
Even if you don’t live in Minnesota, you can subscribe and receive the paper via mail, or digitally on your computer.
The Strib is one of the very few unabashed big city liberal papers in the country. The idea of Unctuous High and the Highpockets boys intimidating them is somewhat laughable, but everybody has to answer to the man on some level. This is a paper worth supporting --- particularly since the geek squad are after them.
A couple of commenters tell me that cancelled subscriptions are unnerving the publisher and that some advertisers are suing because of what they say are false circulation numbers. I suspect that this last is thuggery on the part of the wingnut cabal that is coordinating this effort to get the editorial page director fired for his political beliefs.
I would suggest that people start looking around for some "advertisers" to sue all the conservative papers that inflate their advertising numbers. I'd start with the Washington Times. This is a very ugly genie that rightwingers should probably not want to let out of the bottle.
digby 6/29/2005 09:15:00 AM
NEW YORK (CNN) -- A Republican congressman from North Carolina told CNN on Wednesday that the "evidence is clear" that Iraq was involved in the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001.
"Saddam Hussein and people like him were very much involved in 9/11," Rep. Robin Hayes said.
Told no investigation had ever found evidence to link Saddam and 9/11, Hayes responded, "I'm sorry, but you must have looked in the wrong places."
Hayes, the vice chairman of the House subcommittee on terrorism, said legislators have access to evidence others do not.
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said that Saddam was a dangerous man, but when asked about Hayes' statement, would not link the deposed Iraqi ruler to the terrorist attacks on New York, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania.
"I haven't seen compelling evidence of that," McCain, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told CNN.
I have heard this from others. I think it must be a wingnut e-mail talking point or something. I've been told more than once, as a conversation ender, that the government has the proof but they can't share it because it would endanger civilians. And it's used as evidence of Bush's selflessness that he won't provide the proof even though he has to take shit from liberals like me.
I kid you not.
digby 6/29/2005 08:38:00 AM
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Same Old Same Old
This makes Nixon sound like Cicero. The only news here is that he forgot to say "and then I had a choice to make: take the word of a madman, forget the lessons of September the 11th, or do what's necessary to defend this country. Given that choice, I will defend America every time," and "we will form a coalition of the willing and we WILL disarm Saddam Hussein." We've heard all the rest before. Ad nauseum.
I notice the props are having a hard time keeping their eyes open, though. Poor guys.
Is anybody watching Joe Biden saying that the president has leveled with the American people tonight (as opposed to Cheney and Rummy) and he hopes that it has bought him some time? Nice. Paula Zahn has been very skeptical of the speech, particularly all the 9/11 talk, but Joe very helpfully told her that Bush really did a pretty good job and that hopefully he'll now have the time to fix the problems in Iraq. He was actually more supportive than David Gergen who was personally "offended" by the evocation of 9/11 but made the political judgment that it would work.
Begala says he made progress on the question of credibility. But by the same token it was probably not so good to evoke 9/11 so much since it had nothing to do with Iraq. It's a good thing for Democrats to support our commander in chief, though. But we do have a few questions.
Democrats are so helpful to the president. They're still stinking traitors and all, but they are very nice people. They've managed to convince Blitzer and Zahn that their own reactions to the speech were too harsh.
digby 6/28/2005 05:12:00 PM
This morning the research shop at the Republican National Committee sent out an email headlined "Democrats Still Wrong on Iraq."
Yeah. Find any of those WMD yet, flyboy?
digby 6/28/2005 03:14:00 PM
I think that Kevin is wrong on this:
I actually agree with the overall gist of Christopher Hitchens' latest column in Slate. He argues that it's absurd to think you've scored some kind of withering putdown of war supporters by pointing out that most of them (and their sons) haven't volunteered for duty. Since I support police, fire, and social welfare programs despite the fact that I'm not a police officer, a firefighter, or a social worker, I think he's right on this.
Joining up to fight a war you support is quite different from these other things. A war is a temporary emergency while police work and firefighting are ongoing necessities to deal with everyday occasions of individual misconduct or accident. If there was an earthquake in Kevin's neighborhood and they called for able bodied men and women to volunteer to help dig bodies out of the rubble, I suspect he'd be there.
But this war in Iraq, like Vietnam, presents an even more obvious illustration of why this is true. Any nation that wages a war of choice wholly for ideological and political reasons, particularly when it is opposed by large numbers of its own citizens, should require that those who share those ideological and political goals help with the physical fighting. In fact, they should lead the fighting. It is unfair in the extreme that stop loss orders and extended tours are being forced upon the "volunteer" army when those who support the war are unwilling to put themselves in physical danger. Self defense is one thing. Requiring others to die for your crusade is another.
This is a bad argument for the right and I hope they keep making it. There is something quite primal and instinctive about the old "put your money where your mouth is" logic of expecting people who support a war to be willing to lay down their lives to fight it. People get this one in their gut. It most certainly is a withering put-down and the the put-downees know it very well.
UPDATE: Max Blumenthal in The Nation
I chatted for a while with Collin Kelley, a senior at Washington State with a vague resemblance to the studly actor Orlando Bloom. Kelley told me he's "sick and tired of people saying our troops are dying in vain" and added, "This isn't an invasion of Iraq, it's a liberation--as David Horowitz said." When I asked him why he was staying on campus rather than fighting the good fight, he rubbed his shoulder and described a nagging football injury from high school. Plus, his parents didn't want him to go. "They're old hippies," Kelley said.
Munching on a chicken quesadilla at a table nearby was Edward Hauser, a senior at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas--a liberal school in a liberal town in the ultimate red state of Texas. "Austin is ninety square miles insulated from reality," Hauser said. When I broached the issue of Iraq, he replied, "I support our country. I support our troops." So why isn't he there?
"I know that I'm going to be better staying here and working to convince people why we're there [in Iraq]," Hauser explained, pausing in thought. "I'm a fighter, but with words."
At a table by the buffet was Justin Palmer, vice chairman of the Georgia Association of College Republicans, America's largest chapter of College Republicans. In 1984 the group gained prominence in conservative circles when its chairman, Ralph Reed, formed a political action committee credited with helping to re-elect Senator Jesse Helms. Palmer's future as a right-wing operative looked bright; he batted away my question about his decision to avoid fighting the war he supported with the closest thing I heard to a talking point all afternoon. "The country is like a body," Palmer explained, "and each part of the body has a different function. Certain people do certain things better than others." He said his "function" was planning a "Support Our Troops" day on campus this year in which students honored military recruiters from all four branches of the service.
Standing by Palmer's side and sipping a glass of rose wine, University of Georgia Republican member Kiera Ranke said she played her part as well. She and her sorority sisters sent care packages to troops in Iraq along with letters and pictures of themselves. "They wrote back and told us we boosted their morale," she said.
By the time I encountered Cory Bray, a towering senior from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, the beer was flowing freely. "The people opposed to the war aren't putting their asses on the line," Bray boomed from beside the bar. Then why isn't he putting his ass on the line? "I'm not putting my ass on the line because I had the opportunity to go to the number-one business school in the country," he declared, his voice rising in defensive anger, "and I wasn't going to pass that up."
And besides, being a College Republican is so much more fun than counterinsurgency warfare. Bray recounted the pride he and his buddies had felt walking through the center of campus last fall waving a giant American flag, wearing cowboy boots and hats with the letters B-U-S-H painted on their bare chests. "We're the big guys," he said. "We're the ones who stand up for what we believe in. The College Democrats just sit around talking about how much they hate Bush. We actually do shit."
I'm very impressed with their contribution, aren't you?
digby 6/28/2005 01:53:00 PM
Silent Majority Redux
Rick Perlstein wrote me an e-mail and reminded me that it was just two weeks after the biggest peace march in American history that Dick Nixon gave his famous "Silent majority" speech on Vietnam --- November 3, 1969. He laid out his plan to "win" the war and successfully marginalized what was becoming a very mainstream anti-war movement. Perlstein thinks that the Bush people probably studied this speech very closely and I suspect he's right.
Read the whole thing, but here's the conclusion of the speech:
My fellow Americans, I am sure you can recognize from what I have said that we really only have two choices open to us if we want to end this war.
--I can order an immediate, precipitate withdrawal of all Americans from Vietnam without regard to the effects of that action.
--Or we can persist in our search for a just peace through a negotiated settlement if possible, or through continued implementation of our plan for Vietnamization if necessary--a plan in which we will withdraw all of our forces from Vietnam on a schedule in accordance with our program, as the South Vietnamese become strong enough to defend their own freedom. I have chosen this second course. It is not the easy way. It is the right way.
It is a plan which will end the war and serve the cause of peace--not just in Vietnam but in the Pacific and in the world.
In speaking of the consequences of a precipitate withdrawal, I mentioned that our allies would lose confidence in America.
Far more dangerous, we would lose confidence in ourselves. Oh, the immediate reaction would be a sense of relief that our men were coming home. But as we saw the consequences of what we had done, inevitable remorse and divisive recrimination would scar our spirit as a people.
We have faced other crises in our history and have become stronger by rejecting the easy way out and taking the right way in meeting our challenges. Our greatness as a nation has been our capacity to do what had to be done when we knew our course was right.
I recognize that some of my fellow citizens disagree with the plan for peace I have chosen. Honest and patriotic Americans have reached different conclusions as to how peace should be achieved.
In San Francisco a few weeks ago, I saw demonstrators. carrying signs reading: "Lose in Vietnam, bring the boys home."
Well, one of the strengths of our free society is that any American has a right to reach that conclusion and to advocate that point of view. But as President of the United States, I would be untrue to my oath of office if I allowed the policy of this Nation to be dictated by the minority who hold that point of view and who try to impose it on the Nation by mounting demonstrations in the street.
For almost 200 years, the policy of this Nation has been made under our Constitution by those leaders in the Congress and the White House elected by all of the people. If a vocal minority, however fervent its cause, prevails over reason and the will of the majority, this Nation has no future as a free society.
And now I would like to address a word, if I may, to the young people of this Nation who are particularly concerned, and I understand why they are concerned, about this war.
I respect your idealism.
I share your concern for peace. I want peace as much as you do. There are powerful personal reasons I want to end this war. This week I will have to sign 83 letters to mothers, fathers, wives, and loved ones of men who have given their lives for America in Vietnam. It is very little satisfaction to me that this is only one-third as many letters as I signed the first week in office. There is nothing I want more than to see the day come when I do not have to write any of those letters.
--I want to end the war to save the lives of those brave young men in Vietnam.
--But I want to end it in a way which will increase the chance that their younger brothers and their sons will not have to fight in some future Vietnam someplace in the world.
--And I want to end the war for another reason. I want to end it so that the energy and dedication of you, our young people, now too often directed into bitter hatred against those responsible for the war, can be turned to the great challenges of peace, a better life for all Americans, a better life for all people on this earth.
I have chosen a plan for peace. I believe it will succeed.
If it does succeed, what the critics say now won't matter. If it does not succeed, anything I say then won't matter.
I know it may not be fashionable to speak of patriotism or national destiny these days. But I feel it is appropriate to do so on this occasion
Two hundred years ago this Nation was weak and poor. But even then, America was the hope of millions in the world. Today we have become the strongest and richest nation in the world. And the Wheel of destiny has turned so that any hope the world has for the survival of peace and freedom will be determined by whether the American people have the moral stamina and the courage to meet the challenge of free world leadership.
Let historians not record that when America was the most powerful nation in the world we passed on the other side of the road and allowed the last hopes for peace and freedom of millions of people to be suffocated by the forces of totalitarianism.
And so tonight--to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans--I ask for your support.
I pledged in my campaign for the Presidency to end the war in a way that we could win the peace. I have initiated a plan of action which will enable me to keep that pledge.
The more support I can have from the American people, the sooner that pledge can be redeemed; for the more divided we are at home, the less likely the enemy is to negotiate at Paris.
Let us be united for peace. Let us also be united against defeat. Because let us understand: North Vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that.
Fifty years ago, in this room and at this very desk, President Woodrow Wilson spoke words which caught the imagination of a war-weary world. He said: "This is the war to end war." His dream for peace after World War I was shattered on the hard realities of great power politics and Woodrow Wilson died a broken man.
Tonight I do not tell you that the war in Vietnam is the war to end wars. But I do say this: I have initiated a plan which will end this war in a way that will bring us closer to that great goal to which Woodrow Wilson and every American President in our history has been dedicated--the goal of a just and lasting peace.
As President I hold the responsibility for choosing the best path to that goal and then leading the Nation along it.
I pledge to you tonight that I shall meet this responsibility with all of the strength and wisdom I can command in accordance with your hopes, mindful of your concerns, sustained by your prayers.
Thank you and goodnight.
God knows it's not unfashionable these days to talk about patriotism and national destiny. And I'm sure we are going to hear a whole boatload of it tonight. But the point in tonight's speech is very likely the exact same point as Nixon's was --- to divide America clearly into two camps and push those who are wavering on the war to see withdrawal as shameful and detrimental to America's security. Perlstein points to the key phrase in this speech: "lose the war in Iraq --- bring the troops home."
That's what the Rove roll-out of the Move-on, "liberal" therapy bullshit is all about. They have to frame withdrawal as a bunch of hippies arguing for "losing" and they have to do it quickly.
According to Perlstein, at the time of the Moratorium, the war was becoming dramatically unpopular. Polls said that 57% of the public wanted withdrawal by a date certain. The march was not perceived as a fringe event --- it was huge and middle class and showed that the nation as a whole was turning against the war. And the media, for the first time,was not presenting this in a hostile manner. The anti-war movement had gone mainstream.
After the speech, things turned around dramatically for the Pres. Here's how Richard Reeves put it in "President Nixon: Alone in the White House":
"A quick national Gallup poll by phone indicates 77 percent approval of the President's's message. A few days later Gallup's overall approval for the President had climbed from 52 perent before the Moratorium to 68 percent. Congressional resoulutions exressing bipartisan suport for the President's position were signed by 400 of the House's 435 members and 58 of the 100 Senators.... 'The euphoria continues,' Haldeman wrote in his diaries... Nixon had his feet up among the telegrams, telling anyone who came in: 'We've got those liberal bastards on the run now!'"
There are three reasons why, in my opinion, the speech worked.
First, he spent about a third of it explaining how we got into Vietnam and showing how it wasn't really his war. This was terribly important because it made people willing to give him the benefit of the doubt early in his first term. There were many people who understood at that point that Vietnam was a quagmire but who truly wanted to see us able to pull it off without what seemed like an ignominious defeat. I remember plenty of people during that time who were willing to give Nixon a break. In 1969, the villian of the war was still LBJ.
Bush cannot do this. He cannot blame his predecesors, or the Democrats or even his allies for getting us into this. He strutted around that aircraft carrier with the words "Commander in Chief" emblazoned on his codpiece and he's stuck with it. Iraq is Bush's war.
Second, Nixon actually unveiled "Vietnamization" in this speech. It was a solution and people were desperate for a solution --- hence the bi-partisan love-fest. Unless Bush has something completely new in mind, he is likely stuck with re-hashing his Iraqification plans and sexing up the numbers to imply that the Iraqis are just minutes away from being able to take over. In this sense, Iraq is Vietnam on crystal meth. It took years to realize that Vietnamization wasn't working. We already know that Iraqification is a bust. He will get no mileage from that.
Third, there was a widespread distaste for the counter-culture movement as a whole. No matter how mainstream the anti-war movement became, its association in the minds of the "silent majority" with long hair and sexual liberation and racial violence and the rest, meant that it was easy for Nixon to conflate "losing" with "withdrawal" and have at least some people who were sympathetic to withdrawal think twice. I don't think those conditions are present today.
The zeitgeist in America is much less shocking than it was then. (At least in the fashion/pop culture sense.) There is no large visible liberal movement for radical social change, no frightening urban violence. Indeed, as I wrote earlier, I think most people would agree that the radical zeitgeist these days is with those who are holding Justice Sunday rallies and having revival meetings at bill signings. And the crazed street theater isn't Jerry Rubin style yippiedom --- it's the nutty extremists that camped out in front of Terry Schiavo's hospice. This isn't 1969.
But, they don't have anything else. And, lord knows, the fear of the enemy within has always worked very well for them in the past. It should be very interesting if they can turn a little known internet group like Move-On into the anti-war movement circa 1969. If they can roll out their tired red-baiting/liberal-baiting one more time in the face of a liberal movement that barely even has breath and make it stick, then I'll really have to believe that there is no stopping them. But I doubt that it will work.
The party of new ideas is reaching back to the days of Richard Nixon at the height of Vietnam for tactical advice. There's a whiff of desperation in the air.
digby 6/28/2005 11:19:00 AM