Macswain

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Why Leak Instead of Openly Declassify? To Deceive

The New York Times, the recipient of the Bush-Libby-NIE leak, finally weighs in with a breakdown of the deceptive nature of the leak entitled Iraq Findings Leaked by Cheney's Aide Were Disputed.

Here's a key portion of the story, though the whole thing deserves a full read.

The court filing asserts that Mr. Bush authorized the disclosure of the intelligence in part to rebut claims that Mr. Wilson was making, including those in a television appearance and in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times on July 6, 2003. The filing revealed for the first time testimony by Mr. Libby saying that Mr. Bush, through Mr. Cheney, had authorized Mr. Libby to tell reporters that "a key judgment of the N.I.E. held that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium."

In fact, that was not one of the "key judgments" of the document. Instead, it was the subject of several paragraphs on Page 24 of the document, which also acknowledged that Mr. Hussein had long possessed 500 tons of uranium that was under seal by international inspectors, and that no intelligence agencies had ever confirmed whether he had obtained any more of the material from Africa.


Too bad the NYT didn't think enough of the American public to bring a lil skepticism to the Bush administration's leaks back in the day. Liberal indeed.

16 Comments:

  • Bush lied us into an unnecessary war.

    Up to now, the Bushies' best case was that reasonable minds could disagree with such a contention. The stuff that's emerging now will destroy that case. Usually, history has to wait decades for such accounts.

    As for the Times, perhaps they'll learn a lesson (which I suspect is taught in Journalism 101)--don't permit yourself to be used by your source to promote a one-sided agenda.

    By Anonymous webhub, at 10:57 AM  

  • This is quite a revelation - the statement was in the text rather than in the Key Judgements. Why, that's enough to hang a man. Here, by the way, is the relevant portion of the key judgements:

    Although we assess that Saddam does not yet have nuclear weapons or sufficient material to make any, he remains intent on acquiring them. Most agencies assess that Baghdad started reconstituting its nuclear program about the time that UNSCOM inspectors departed--December 1998. How quickly Iraq will obtain its first nuclear weapon depends on when it acquires sufficient weapons-grade fissile material. If Baghdad acquires sufficient fissile material from abroad it could make a nuclear weapon within several months to a year.

    While true that the Key Judgements don't mention Nigerien yellowcake, they do state that Saddam wanted uranium for his reconstituted nuclear weapons program.

    It should also be noted that Bush was trying to support his entire case for the war, not just refute Wilson's claims. So he declassified the summary section of the NIE (i.e., the Key Judgements section) to show the American public the information he had during the runup. This isn't nefarious or calculating - it's showing the relevant claims while protecting the detailed classified info that supports them.

    This, too, will go nowhere.

    By Anonymous geoff, at 11:02 PM  

  • Geoff; More window dressing for the Emperor's clothier.

    All the microcosmic evaluation of
    permutations that could lead to
    the smoking gun 'yellowcake'does
    not answer why the need to ramp
    the war with such haste and urgency.

    Yellowcake is a long way from
    fissionable material. I have no doubt Hussein had lascivious intentions for any weapon he
    could get hold of. But he was hemmed
    in, sequestered, and isolated.

    And even if spurious accounts of
    his transporting WMD to Syria were
    true, he had no way to deliver to
    US soil and certainly not during the
    window we were bum rushed into.

    By Blogger Semanticleo, at 4:29 PM  

  • why the need to ramp
    the war with such haste and urgency.


    The "haste" and "urgency" involved a six month period prior to the invasion. If you believe extreme liberal rhetoric, Bush had Iraq in his sites from the day he was elected. That's quite a casual pace.

    But he was hemmed
    in, sequestered, and isolated.


    Oh yes, sealed off like a drum. Except that he wasn't.

    he had no way to deliver to
    US soil


    Did anybody ever say he did? Directly, at least? Nice strawman.

    By Anonymous geoff, at 5:34 PM  

  • You know who.....

    ""We know that he has the infrastructure, nuclear scientists to make a nuclear weapon," she told me. "And we know that when the inspectors assessed this after the Gulf War, he was far, far closer to a crude nuclear device than anybody thought -- maybe six months from a crude nuclear device."

    Dr. Rice then said something that was ominous and made headlines around the world.

    "The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

    1/10/2003

    he had no way to deliver to
    US soil

    Did anybody ever say he did? Directly, at least?

    'Directly'. Good weasel word.

    You think Condi was loathe to
    believe the american public
    would pick up on her 'indirectness'?

    Yeah, they proably would, since 64%
    of them believed (up until 2005)
    that there was a DIRECT link between
    Al Qaeda and Saddam. Of course,
    the WH NEVER intended to leave that
    impression.

    By Blogger Semanticleo, at 5:55 PM  

  • strike,"that there was a DIRECT link between Al Qaeda and Saddam.

    insert; direct link between Saddam
    nd 9/11.

    By Blogger Semanticleo, at 6:00 PM  

  • eah, they proably would, since 64% of them believed (up until 2005)
    that there was a DIRECT link between
    Al Qaeda and Saddam.


    The Harris survey question actually said "STRONG" link. But note that the question simply asks for a "True" or "False" answer, and doesn't ask, for instance, if there is proof that Saddam and Al Qaeda have a strong link. So they're asking for an opinion ("Do you believe that the following statements are true or not true?") without allowing any gradations for the strength of that opinion.

    But do you believe that Al Qaeda would have the slightest compunction about accepting a nuclear device from Iraq and smuggling it into the US? Truly?

    By Anonymous geoff, at 7:19 PM  

  • "But do you believe that Al Qaeda would have the slightest compunction about accepting a nuclear device from Iraq and smuggling it into the US? Truly?"

    Not the slightest compunction, however
    they pose less a threat than do those
    who seem to ask us to understand that
    some diminuition of our freedom may be necessary for us to survive. Survive?

    I, for one do not accept discounted
    existence in exchange for safety.
    And the price means giving up
    liberties willfully, that would be taken by force, if Al Qaeda had
    the means. Al Qaeda is most
    encouraged in the furtherance of
    their mission when they see americans cave to incompetent
    western leaders who war whoop the
    fears of the populace and stampede
    the masses, bolting as they
    react to an errant rifle report.

    The entire Iraq fubar has been
    a concoction consumed by incompetence and graft of galactic
    dimensions. I'm not sure that,
    were I a loved one of either the
    horricially wounded or dead american
    military, I could accept that they
    suffered for any purpose other
    than their bravery and loyalty.
    That might be enough for some. I
    don't think it could be enough for me.

    By Blogger Semanticleo, at 10:44 PM  

  • I, for one do not accept discounted
    existence in exchange for safety.


    That's your judgement to make. I don't think the measures taken to improve safety have been particularly draconian - except for taking my laptop out and my shoes off at airports, I haven't noticed them at all (though I *am* very uncomfortable with face-identification cameras in public places). But my experience is not yours, nor do we share phobias or perceptions of the most dangerous "slippery slopes."

    But please don't characterize the pro-GWOT position as simply concerned for "safety." Most of the people I interact with look at this as an incarnation of Huntington's Clash of Civilizations. We're trying to ensure that the "Clash" gets resolved now before the potential outcomes slant even less favorably toward us.

    It's not about safety as much as fundamentally changing the religious and sociological dynamics in the Middle East. That's why Iraq is important.

    By Anonymous geoff, at 9:02 AM  

  • That's why Iraq is important.

    All the more reason to take measured
    steps into the undiscovered territory
    instead of fucking it up.

    By Blogger Semanticleo, at 9:32 AM  

  • All the more reason to take measured steps into the undiscovered territory instead of fucking it up.

    So you've mentioned "graft" and "incompetence" as two factors that have undermined the effort in Iraq. I'd argue the "graft" claim - none of the accusations have held up thus far. Incompetence is in the eye of the beholder, but most of the alternate solutions (more troops, not disbanding Iraqi security forces) have easily forecasted consequences that are at least as dire as the problems we currently have.

    There is an area, though, where I'd agree that Bush was incompetent: he didn't completely gut and rebuild the intelligence services. I know that he "implemented the recommendations" for changes, but it looks like we're back to business as usual in the intelligence community.

    Looking over the Key Judgements of the NIE just makes me shake my head. If a quarter of the key judgements were correct, the WMD portion of the case for war would have been more than justified. It looks like their accuracy was more like 10%, and was restricted to the "fuzzy" items. Letting the intelligence apparatus that created such an inaccurate document survive is reckless and irresponsible. And that error I *do* lay at Bush's feet.

    By Anonymous geoff, at 10:07 AM  

  • he didn't completely gut and rebuild the intelligence services

    I will hazard a guess here and conclude that since you have 'laid
    this at Bush's feet', it really
    amounts to no critique whatsover.

    Revamping this vast and powerful
    bureaucracy wiould be a daunting and
    decades long process that no 2 term
    presidency could accomplish.

    It is akin to my saying Kennedy
    failed the civil rights movement
    because he did not fundamentally
    change the South's racial hard
    wiring, but only forced them to
    comply with federal law.

    I am loathe to cite the indivdual
    miscalculations, missteps, wrong
    readings, failed vision and mission
    creep that is Iraq because you
    seem well versed in this subject.

    Therefore I must conclude that you,
    along with other New Nation Builders
    feel the end justifies the means.

    If it was necessary to lie to the
    american public in order to rally
    support that was unequivocal, sobeit. And if it was necessary to
    frighten the bejesus out of everyone in order to garner enough
    popular support so that even
    democrats in Congress
    would be suicidal to question
    the march to war, make it so.

    I apologize if I impugn your
    motives and am wrong about
    'end justifies means' being your
    bottom line. Is it?

    By Blogger Semanticleo, at 10:50 AM  

  • Revamping this vast and powerful
    bureaucracy wiould be a daunting and
    decades long process that no 2 term
    presidency could accomplish.


    So are rebuilding Iraq and the GWOT. The fact is, though, that the agencies have only made cosmetic changes in the way they do business and interact. And even the cosmetic changes are fading. Bottom line: there's no assurance that the next NIE will be any more accurate than the last, and that's a Presidential-caliber problem.

    If it was necessary to lie to the
    american public...


    This sort of misstatement is why these discussions continually go awry. You don't even the thoroughly discredited "lie" meme to make your point, but you can't resist. I'll ignore it in the hopes that you reconsider this lapse into extremist rhetoric.

    As far as the "end justifying the means" goes, my stance is: pre-war = no; during war = mostly yes.

    I am loathe to cite the indivdual
    miscalculations, missteps, wrong
    readings, failed vision and mission
    creep that is Iraq because you
    seem well versed in this subject.


    I doubt that we agree on much of this. As I said before, most of the liberal critiques I've read have been unimpressive. Suffice to say that there are always mistakes which increase the cost and tragedy of war and reconstruction. You can be cheered by the accomplishments (which are many) or discouraged by the failures (also many), but in the end you have to move on and decide how best to accomplish the tasks still remaining.

    It's odd to me that everybody in the blogosphere seems more excited about 3-year old post-invasion leaks than the ongoing situation in Iraq. The political situation in Baghdad changes day-to-day, and the Sunni insurgents' failed attack on Ramadi would seem to bear heavily on the political and military situation.

    It's also interesting that an unacknowledged but fundamental transition in Iraqi attitudes has taken place. Formerly united against the US, the religious factions have now elevated their internal quarrels above their hostility to the US. We always knew the Shiites and Sunnis would have to come to an accommodation, but the process of arriving at a such an accommodation couldn't begin until they faced up to their mutual enmity.

    They've certainly started that process now, and, having gazed into the abyss, most are starting to understand how important some sort of mutually acceptable agreement will be. Hopefully that agreement works for the Kurds as well.

    By Anonymous geoff, at 11:30 AM  

  • This sort of misstatement is why these discussions continually go awry. You don't even the thoroughly discredited "lie" meme to make your point, but you can't resist. I'll ignore it in the hopes that you reconsider this lapse into extremist rhetoric.

    This statement is difficult for me
    to follow.

    Are you saying any past digressions
    are irrelevent now that we are at
    war?

    Or is it your belief that any
    unanswered questions about what
    the administration understood
    about the reality on the ground
    prior to the runup is 'a priori,
    a 'lapse into extremist rhetoric.'?

    By Blogger Semanticleo, at 11:40 AM  

  • This statement is difficult for me
    to follow.


    No, I'm saying that Bush "lied" is a thoroughly discredited partisan extremist distortion which amounts to an offensive lie in and of itself. I'm saying that when you (or webhub) say "Bush lied," you are lying to me and committing an offense against integrity and justice. But I gave you a mulligan in the spirit of rational discourse.

    Sorry for making it too difficult.

    By Anonymous geoff, at 12:10 PM  

  • "...thoroughly discredited partisan extremist distortion."

    In order for such a thing as a 'lie'
    to be discredited, it first has to be
    examined. I make the assumption that
    where there is smoke, fire usually
    exists. Sometimes fire fails to
    make it's appearance, but usually
    it does.

    Your assumption that 'no lies' is
    a truism, will be borne out when
    the dust settles. Let the chips
    fall where they may.

    There does seem to be a shift away
    from attacking our troops, and
    I may be wrong about the certitude
    of civil war. But the jury isn't
    quite in yet.

    By Blogger Semanticleo, at 3:52 PM  

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