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"Mike and Jon, Jon and Mike—I've known them both for years, and, clearly, one of them is very funny. As for the other: truly one of the great hangers-on of our time."—Steve Bodow, head writer, The Daily Show
"Who can really judge what's funny? If humor is a subjective medium, then can there be something that is really and truly hilarious? Me. This book."—Daniel Handler, author, Adverbs, and personal representative of Lemony Snicket
"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming
October 20, 2004
"You Can't Keep Your Job In The US Government By Saying What You Think Is True"
Okay, no weapons of mass destruction. No meaningful connections with Al Qaeda. And now no love for us anywhere in Iraq, or indeed, on Earth. But goddamn it, at least we know Saddam Hussein tried to kill George H.W. Bush in Kuwait in April, 1993. That definitely happened.
Except... no. Jim Lobe at Inter Press Service asks here a question I've been wondering about too: now that we've captured Saddam's entire regime, has anyone bothered to find out whether they really tried to kill Bush #1?
The answer seems to be: no, no one's bothered. And I doubt anyone will, because we wouldn't like the answer. The assassination attempt was probably just as real as the WMD. Here's why:
As Lobe points out, the idea makes little sense on the face of it. From the final WMD report we know Saddam was eager to forge ties with the incoming Clinton administration, so it would be quite strange for him to lead things off with an assassination attempt.
True, the government and US media have always acted 100% sure it happened. But of course, they were 100% sure about WMD, too, and that turned out to be a little off.
In light of that, it's well worth reading this article by Seymour Hersh, which details the shakiness of the case for Iraq trying to kill Bush. It was written in November, 1993, yet parts seem oddly familiar. Like:
In interviews over the summer, many past and present American intelligence officials expressed little surprise that the Clinton Administration had predicated the bombing of Baghdad on such conflicting and dubious evidence. One C.I.A. analyst explained, "Of course nobody wants to say, 'There's nothing to it, Mr. President,' especially when other guys are pushing it. The President asks the intelligence analysts for the bottom line: Is this for real or not? You can't really lose by saying yes." That hard-line attitude—"hanging tough" in a crisis—has marked many of America's intelligence failures since the beginning of the Cold War.
And you know what else seems familiar? The dramatic case, complete with pictures, made by America to the UN Security Council. This is from the New York Times on July 28, 1993, just after we bombed Iraq:
Showing pictures of bomb components, [Madeleine Albright] presented detailed evidence today to support the Clinton Administration's case that it was legally justified in carrying out a missile attack on an Iraqi intelligence site in Baghdad.
The Iraqi denial sounds familiar too:
In response, the Iraqi delegate, Nizar Hamdoon, called the American attack "an unprecedented act of blackmail...Certain organs in the American Government found pretexts in that in order to commit further acts of aggression against Iraq."
But most familiar of all is the facts twisted and distorted to reach a predetermined conclusion. One of Albright's main points at the UN was that the FBI had determined the explosives found in Kuwait matched other known bombs made by Iraq.
Too bad it wasn't true. In fact, Frederic Whitehurst, the FBI chemist who tested the explosives, found exactly the opposite. As the Baltimore Sun reported in 2003:
Whitehurst, now practicing law in Bethel, N.C., says his analysis showed clearly that the material from the car bomb in Kuwait did not match other Iraqi explosive samples.
When he heard reports after the missile attack that Clinton and U.N. Ambassador Madeleine K. Albright had said the explosives matched, "I thought, 'The news has got this wrong.' I said specifically it wasn't a match." When he later saw an official FBI document misstating his findings, he filed an official protest.
The inspector general's report eventually confirmed that Whitehurst's findings had been distorted, but government officials assured investigators that they had other evidence linking the plot to Iraq.
Ah, yes -- "other evidence." Just like, as each part of the government's WMD case crumbled, we were always assured they had "other evidence."
The last word should go to Whitehurst, who said this in a recent interview (scroll down):
I noted that my reports were altered... And I objected to it... I said, "I'm sorry, but I will not be part of placing people in harm's way like that."Posted at October 20, 2004 12:00 PM | TrackBack
These guys who are doing this have never been in combat. They've never seen the blood and gore of what it means to put American soldiers in combat. You better do it based on the truth, not a lie...
You can't keep your job too often in the United States government by saying what you think is true.