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Sunday, September 28, 2003

Cancer Warning

I don't have a lot of time today so I can't get into the Plame story as much as I'd like. As I wrote on the issue back in July:

It would be very wrong of me to speculate wildly that the infamous smear operation of the South Carolina primary that is now working right in the White House "communications shop" could possibly be behind this (or more trivially but just as telling, behind the Drudge Report expose of the "Gay Canadian" reporter.)

But, just for the sake of conversation, it is interesting to remember what has happened in the past when the Bushies found themselves on the defensive. In this Salon article Jake Tapper notes the slimeball activities of certain Bush staffers and quotes a senior McCain advisor as saying about the Florida strategy, "When the going gets tough for Governor Bush, he turns to the darker side of our party. We saw that in South Carolina, and we see that today."

I'm certain that these same people who now work extremely closely with George W. Bush and his advisors would never resort to such dishonorable and undignified behavior in the sacred office of the President of the United States. It's merely a coincidence that the tactics are so very similar.

The people in Dan Bartlett's shop are professional liars and smear artists. Bartlett, Eskew and Wilkinson, particularly, are political operatives who have been elevated to the very top of the administration's foreign policy apparatus and have been deeply involved in the "selling" of the Iraq war. From a Newsweek web exclusive article September 18, 2002:

For starters there’s Deputy Communications Director Jim Wilkinson, 32, a fast-talking Texan who has become an unlikely but keen student of Islam. He recently got back from a trip to Morocco where he continued his study of Arabic (which he can now read and write pretty well).

It was Wilkinson who spearheaded the successful Afghan women’s campaign last year. A Naval Reserve officer, Wilkinson got his start working with Bush ally Texas Rep. Dick Armey. He’s the go-to guy when the White House needs information against its enemies.

In the last few weeks, he and his underlings have weeded through hundreds of pages of news clippings, U.N. resolutions and State Department reports to compile an arsenal of documents against Saddam Hussein. They released the first round last week: "Decade of Defiance and Deception" (a broken-U.N.-resolutions hit parade).

Then there’s Tucker Eskew, 41, a savvy South Carolinian, who will soon be named the director of the new Office of Global Communications, which will be formally launched this fall. Neither a Texan nor a lifelong Bushie, he earned his stripes during the Florida election mess by becoming the campaign’s tropical smooth-talker.

During the Afghan conflict, the White House sent Eskew to London, where he worked with British spin master Alastair Campbell on setting up the first version of an actual war "war room." Campbell was an inspiration for Bill Clinton’s 24/7 rapid-response communications team.


The Band started, not coincidentally, right after the White House had to pull an op-ed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that The Washington Post was planning to publish on Sunday, Sept. 8. The piece was an argument for preemptive strikes—President Bush’s new foreign-policy doctrine.

But that was not the message of the week as Bush planned to look more multilateral days later in front of the U.N.

Some members of the National Security Council staff raised the alarm, and the White House yanked the article. From that point on, the Band would coordinate.

They often include Mary Matalin, Tori Clarke and Richard Boucher (the mouth guards for Cheney, Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, respectively) on the daily conference calls.

This group is a foreign policy spin operation comprised of veterans of the dirtiest elements of the Bush 2000 campaign. It is the nexus of politics and policy on the Iraq war in the Bush administration.

I believe that Bartlett is one of the senior administration officials who dropped the dime on Plame. I don't know who the other was, but it doesn't really matter. They do not operate alone; they are entrenched within the hierarchy. These guys answer the highest reaches of the White House and the White House uses them for what they were hired to do. Lie, spin and intimidate on matters of national security.

There is a fast moving malignancy in the Bush White House. It metastisized from Campaign 2000 to Rove's and Cheney's office to the NSC and the political foreign policy spin operation. It is deadly.

Interestingly, this article also mentions that Bartlett and the band were in daily contact with Campbell as the dodgy dossier was being prepared ... these fellows always seem to be around when clumsy lies are being told.