Old News

by digby

In another example of angry, vitriolic, hate-filled left wing blogging, a number of us were writing and discussing, oh four years ago, about the Pentagon loons and how they were in cahoots with Iranian and Iraqi kooks in making the Greatest Strategic Blunder in Modern Memory. I believe we were mostly called traitors and deluded conspiracy theorists, although there were many colorful epithets hurled our way. Certainly the mainstream press wasn't interested. They were too busy getting fitted for their Prada safari jackets to pay attention to these stories. (Besides, it just wasn't sexy, you know? No broads, no spicy gossip.)

I recall one story in particular that made the rounds, in which respected journalists (and bloggers) Laura Rozen and Josh Marshall reported some rather astonishing connections between unsavory characters involved in Iran-Contra, the Office of Special Plans, AEI --- the whole shoddy little neocon cabal. I wrote a bunch about it at the time.

The long awaited first installment of the Washington Monthly article by Marshall, Rozen and Glastris is online. It is looking more and more as if we have another rogue element that's been working out of DOD and I have to assume, some part of the White House. The many interconnecting webs seem to lead to and through the forged Niger documents, Chalabi, "Clean Break" and Valerie Plame. It's got the earmarks of a John LeCarre novel and if it weren't so incredibly dangerous it would be amusing.

The article is entitled "Iran Contra II" and that is apt for more reasons than the recurring roles of Mr Ghorbanifar and Mr Ledeen. Once again we see a marked "impatience" with the unfortunately cumbersome working of democratic government. That this may have happened for the second time in twenty years featuring many of the same people is a pretty clear indication that letting bygones be bygones will not do when dealing with this sort of traitorous, undemocratic behavior. The stakes are a hell of a lot higher now that they ae crashing airplanes into NYC skyscrapers. If there is an immediate lesson to be gleaned by the people, perhaps the simplest is that when you have a stupid and easily manipulated man at the head of the government, his minions and courtiers spend all their time jockeying for position and finding shortcuts to get their way. If Kerry happens to win he really must bite the bullet and see that this is investigated and people are brought up on charges. It's completely unbelievable that these same players came back into government and ran their game all over again. Unbelievable.

If anyone is unfamiliar with the braintrust that is at the center of this little scheme, Michael Ledeen, here's a little taste of the man's brilliance. I'm sure you'll agree that he is just the sort of guy you want running a secret back channel foreign policy in the middle of a national security crisis:

From March 10,2003:

Assume, for a moment, that the French and the Germans aren't thwarting us out of pique, but by design, long-term design. Then look at the world again, and see if there's evidence of such a design.

Like everyone else, the French and the Germans saw that the defeat of the Soviet Empire projected the United States into the rare, almost unique position of a global hyperpower, a country so strong in every measurable element that no other nation could possibly resist its will. The "new Europe" had been designed to carve out a limited autonomy for the old continent, a balance-point between the Americans and the Soviets. But once the Soviets were gone, and the Red Army melted down, the European Union was reduced to a combination theme park and free-trade zone. Some foolish American professors and doltish politicians might say — and even believe — that henceforth "power" would be defined in economic terms, and that military power would no longer count. But cynical Europeans know better.

They dreaded the establishment of an American empire, and they sought for a way to bring it down.

If you were the French president or the German chancellor, you might well have done the same.

How could it be done? No military operation could possibly defeat the United States, and no direct economic challenge could hope to succeed. That left politics and culture. And here there was a chance to turn America's vaunted openness at home and toleration abroad against the United States. So the French and the Germans struck a deal with radical Islam and with radical Arabs: You go after the United States, and we'll do everything we can to protect you, and we will do everything we can to weaken the Americans.

The Franco-German strategy was based on using Arab and Islamic extremism and terrorism as the weapon of choice, and the United Nations as the straitjacket for blocking a decisive response from the United States.

It makes me feel all cozy knowing that a guy like this and his compatriots have been meddling in mid-east policy apparently in concert with a rogue element in the Pentagon for the last three years.

The SSCI reported yesterday:

Defense Department counterintelligence investigators suspected that Iranian exiles who provided dubious intelligence on Iraq and Iran to a small group of Pentagon officials might have "been used as agents of a foreign intelligence service ... to reach into and influence the highest levels of the U.S. government," a Senate Intelligence Committee report said Thursday.

A top aide to then-secretary of defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, however, shut down the 2003 investigation into the Pentagon officials' activities after only a month, and the Defense Department's top brass never followed up on the investigators' recommendation for a more thorough investigation, the Senate report said.

The revelation raises questions about whether Iran may have used a small cabal of officials in the Pentagon and in Vice President Dick Cheney's office to feed bogus intelligence on Iraq and Iran to senior policymakers in the Bush administration who were eager to oust the Iraqi dictator.

Iran, which was a mortal enemy of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and fought a bloody eight-year war with Iraq during his reign, has been the primary beneficiary of U.S. policy in Iraq, where Iranian-backed groups now run much of the government and the security forces.

Golly, who knew?

This is another edition of "when you let Republicans get away with murder, they will do it again." In this case, it's literally true. The worst decision Bill Clinton ever made was letting Iran-Contra slide in the name of healing and "getting things done." He got impeached for his trouble and these people came back and perpetrated the Greatest Strategic Blunder In Modern Memory.

The SSCI waited until nearly the end of Bush's term to bring this up in order that it be relegated to the "healing" file and nobody ever pays the price. It's how the establishment protects itself. (See: Libby, Scooter.) Maybe somebody thinks we can just wait for Michael Ledeen to die. But there is a whole new generation weaned on conservative movement tactics and they will keep the zombie alive until they get their next chance unless it's stopped once and for all.

Update: Richard Clarke agrees:

“Someone should have to pay in some way for the decisions that they made to mislead the American people,” said Clarke. He suggested that “some sort of truth and reconciliation commission” might be appropriate because, he said, we can’t “let these people back into polite society”:

CLARKE: Well, there may be some other kind of remedy. There may be some sort of truth and reconciliation commission process that’s been tried in other countries, South Africa, Salvador and what not, where if you come forward and admit that you were in error or admit that you lied, admit that you did something, then you’re forgiven. Otherwise, you are censured in some way.

Now, I just don’t think we can let these people back into polite society and give them jobs on university boards and corporate boards and just let them pretend that nothing ever happened when there are 4,000 Americans dead and 25,000 Americans grieviously wounded, and they’ll carry those wounds and suffer all the rest of their lives.

I'm for war crimes trials myself, but I realize that's another one of those kooky left wing blogger conspiracy theory thingys. You know how those things turn out.