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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

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"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 10, 2005

Jon 1, Balrog 0

Many believed I was gone forever, but I have returned. Things will be pretty much the same around here as before, though with one key difference: previously I was Jon the Grey, and now I am Jon the White.

Anyway, I am anxious to point out that Colin Powell is a huge liar liar fo-fire. I just had a chance to check out his ABC interview from last month, which was apparently conducted by Barbara Walters' reanimated corpse. And it is full of lies, in the same way Norway is full of Norwegians.

First of all, when asked about his U.N. presentation on Iraqi WMD, Powell blames unnamed low-level government underlings for the fact everything in it was false. Classy! Nothing says "great leadership" like the reverse-Nuremberg defense:

It's obvious I had to order the extermination of six million Jews. My underlings had given me intelligence that they were subhumans scheming to destroy the master race.

In this particular case, according to Powell, "There was some people in the intelligence community who knew at that time that some of these sources were not good and shouldn't be relied upon, and they didn't speak up. That devastated me."

The problem here, of course, is that IT'S A COMPLETE LIE. Last year's Senate Intelligence Committee report on Iraq includes the notes that Powell's intelligence staff at the State Department gave him on his U.N. presentation. But Powell ignored the notes, making TEN SEPARATE CLAIMS that his staff had flagged as "weak" and/or "not credible."

For instance, you may remember Powell sitting in front of the U.N. and telling the entire world:

Key files from military and scientific establishments have been placed in cars that are being driven around the countryside by Iraqi intelligence agents to avoid detection.

Now, here's what Powell's staff was telling him two days before:

Page 4, last bullet, re key files being driven around in cars to avoid inspectors. This claim is highly questionable and promises to be targeted by critics and possibly UN inspection officials as well.

Yes, the intelligence community sure fucked that one up. Why didn't those bastards speak up? You can understand how Powell would be devastated.

This is all part of a new project of mine that will examine Powell's mendacity in all its glorious detail. But for now, I will mention just one more example, which is my favorite:

I am no expert on centrifuge tubes, but just as an old Army trooper, I can tell you a couple of things... it strikes me as quite odd that these tubes are manufactured to a tolerance that far exceeds U.S. requirements for comparable rockets. Maybe Iraqis just manufacture their conventional weapons to a higher standard than we do, but I don't think so.

Here's what Powell's staff told him:

Our key remaining concern is the claim that the tubes are manufactured to a tolerance that "far exceeds US requirements for comparable rockets." In fact, the most comparable US system is a tactical rocket—the US Mark 66 air-launched 70mm rocket—that uses the same, high-grade (7075-T6) aluminum, and that has specifications with similar tolerances.

You know, I'm just an old Army trooper, just an unsophisticated man lost in the big city, just a simple country boy lookin' for some homestyle vittels, so I hope you're not surprised WHEN I LIE AND LIE AND LIE AGAIN TO START A WAR. That's jes' the way we do things back on the farm.

Posted at October 10, 2005 08:04 AM | TrackBack

Thanks, Jon; outstanding. Particularly necessary when his letter to the Senate on McCain's anti-torture amendments is giving him a halo out of all proportion to what he deserves.

Posted by: Nell at October 10, 2005 10:02 AM

Why not just accept my simple principle: everything any government official says is a lie, until proven otherwise. Oh? Do we have a presumption of innocence in this country? Excuse me, it slipped my mind. You see so few mentions of it these days.

Posted by: jonj at October 10, 2005 11:35 AM

Dear Jon, I was going to leave a comment, but decided to blog you up instead, here:

I've linked there to a story I did on Powell back in May 2002, based largely on Robert Parry's outstanding research -- some grist for your future grinding of Powell's powder, perhaps.

Posted by: Chris at October 10, 2005 11:45 AM

Personally, I can say I've never wanted bread that badly.

Posted by: Sully at October 10, 2005 02:48 PM

So Powell used both the reverse-Nuremberg defense and the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer defense?

'I'm just a caveman. Your modern "tubes" frighten and confuse me.'

Posted by: Brent at October 10, 2005 03:31 PM

When Jon the White returns, he's supposed to give us a lengthy analysis of why the hopeless situation as it stands is, in fact, finely balanced and just possibly won't wind up with orcs brutalizing hobbit women. I'm waiting for my ray of hope here, Jon.

Posted by: Aaron at October 10, 2005 04:08 PM

Welcome back. You've been missed.

Posted by: Stupendousman at October 10, 2005 06:23 PM

Powell's supposed heroism has long been a mystery to me. His claim to the military code of honor evaporated when he publically questioned his Command in Chief's policy on gays in the military.

His role as the loyal dissenter in the GOP is a bad joke. If dissents come to nothing -- and both domestically and internationally Powell has had little impact on GOP policies -- then all they accomplish is to provide cover for the crimes of Bush et al.

The UN speech may have been his worst moment. What made it so pathetic is that the evidence he offered, both false and "sexed up," wasn't even convincing. At the time, like many others, I believed that there was some Iraqi weapons program. However, after the speech I said, "If that's the best you've got, maybe there isn't any program. Powell's speech had the oposite of its intended effect. I expanded doubt for me.

Since then I've wondered if this all part of a very deep game, where Powell's role was to play the skeptic who is convinced and serves to convince other skeptics. If this is the case, then Powell role as doubting Colin was as big a lie as any put forth by the Bush team, and that's saying something.


Posted by: Thomas J. Mertz at October 10, 2005 07:15 PM

I hope that Gen. Powell will be among their number when the Leading Lights of the Cheney Administration get the fair trials they deserve, whether in the U.S. or at the Hague. It seems improbable now, of course; but highly improbable things happen all the time.

Posted by: Fannie Farmer (Mrs.) at October 10, 2005 07:48 PM

It is great to have you back, Jon. This post was very funny and I am glad you destroyed the balrog and got promoted to Saruman's former position. :)

Posted by: Anna in Cairo at October 11, 2005 02:07 AM

Ha. Cal here hits the nail on the head. Powell knew damn full well that Saddam had launched chemically loaded Scuds during the '91 Gulf War. This fact was/has been buried for years, probably at least 30. Throughout the debate about the existence of the mysterious 'Gulf War Syndrome' this issue has never even been properly discussed, far less examined and investigated.

These attacks kicked in on the night of January 20/21 '91, after Saddam had stated on the 20th, on Baghdad Radio, that "in the coming period, the response of Iraq will be on a larger scale". On 23 January Powell conducted a press conference where he showed a chart supposedly indicating Iraqi radar activity. In fact he was trying to telegraph a message to Saddam suggesting 'if you knock it off so will we'. Allegedly Powell had a little printed aphorism on his desk at that press meeting, which went along the lines of 'you never know what you can get away with until you try'.

In reality there were UNSCOM questions about nine Scud missiles, not just the two as discussed by the CIA/ISG. There were also nine missing chemical 'special' warheads, and 10 missing Scud engines.

In this context, Powell's statement "The Scuds are not anything anyone has seen" might not be quite as murky as it first may seem.

Posted by: Ghoste at October 11, 2005 07:05 PM

Pow-Powel a country boy my ass. He sure knows how to play the good cop and on the take at the same time. A decorated peace of black sh!t after bombing Iraq in 1991-- Gulf war--Highway of death--182,000 fleeing Iraqies slaughtered in two days. The puuk got great reviews and for his poor country farm upbringing in Jamikaka--all of a sudden accumalated $21 million by 2000. He got his nitwit son a FCC chair(hand)job and as like his daddy--played with the big boys---Foxie Rupert Murdoc.Now you know Amerikaka's money bags
Mr OZ opposite Ben Laden.
Reason Rice and Powel got the shill jobs-cause their 1/2 black terds and we stupid white folks can't call them that.I just hope one of them runs for President and wins.Fools abound!

Posted by: archers-IsraeOil at October 13, 2005 08:37 AM

You know what this site needs more of? Virulent, nauseating racism!

Posted by: Sully at October 14, 2005 08:44 AM


I was just thinking the same thing. Sure, this site has SOME virulent, nauseating racism, but not nearly enough. We are all indebted to Mr., uh, "archers-IsraeOil" for his assistance in this matter.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at October 14, 2005 09:12 AM

Guys, I have met and discussed foreign policy with Mr Powell in person and I can tell you want impression he made on me as a foreigner with no GOP vs Democrat axe to grind. He is genuinely concernes with the US's image abroad and would not have pursued the course taken by GWB and the more Hawkish members of the cabinet had he been in charge. It is easy for all here to criticise Powell for making the claims he did but one should remember that soldiers are not meant to question the orders of their superiors and "dissembling" (rather than lying) is an art crafted by all politicians and soldiers. I believe Powell truly was the main objector to the manner the war was conducted but he had a job to do and fulfilled it to the best of his ability choosing to register his dissaprovely as honorably as he could by quitting. His rhetoric today reflects his genuine views even back in the days of the UN presentation where he could not reasonably speak his mind (HOW COULD HE???)

Give the man a break, he is probably the most compassionate and reasonable man ever to sit in GWB's cabinet.

Posted by: fabsy at October 18, 2005 10:48 AM