February 28, 2013

Bob Woodward Describes 'A Kind of Madness'

Bob Woodward went on TV yesterday and got very upset about Obama saying the upcoming budget sequester will reduce the number of U.S. aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf from two to one:

WOODWARD: Can you imagine Ronald Reagan sitting there and saying ‘Oh, by the way, I can’t do this because of some budget document?’ Or George W. Bush saying, ‘You know, I’m not going to invade Iraq because I can’t get the aircraft carriers I need’ or even Bill Clinton saying, ‘You know, I’m not going to attack Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters,’ as he did when Clinton was president because of some budget document? Under the Constitution, the president is commander-in-chief and employs the force. And so we now have the president going out because of this piece of paper and this agreement, I can’t do what I need to do to protect the country. That’s a kind of madness that I haven’t seen in a long time.

Lots of people are making fun of Woodward for his belief that it would have been a terrible disaster if budget cuts had prevented Bush from invading Iraq. But let's also take the time to make fun of him for believing it would have been awful if Clinton hadn't bombed Saddam Hussein's intelligence headquarters.

The attack to which Woodward was referring took place in June, 1993, and was in retaliation for Iraq's attempt to assassinate George H.W. Bush in Kuwait the previous April. Six to eight civilians were killed, including the Iraqi painter Layla Al-Attar.

But here's the thing: after we conquered Iraq and captured the files at its (previously bombed) intelligence headquarters, we found no evidence of any kind that this Iraqi plot to kill Bush, Sr. had ever existed. This was reported in 2008 by Newsweek, when Newsweek was still owned by the Washington Post Company, which also employs...Bob Woodward. I assume the Washington Post had a subscription.

powell.jpgMoreover, the likelihood it was all crap was easily knowable by Clinton (or Woodward) at the time in 1993. Soon after we bombed Iraq, Seymour Hersh reported the evidence used by Clinton was "conflicting and dubious." Madeleine Albright—exactly like Colin Powell ten years later—made dramatic but false claims at the UN. (And in fact Colin Powell was involved in this attack too in his position as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff). The FBI inspector general eventually determined the findings of a bureau chemist, Frederic Whitehurst, had been altered; Whitehurst himself later left the bureau and said: "You can't keep your job too often in the United States government by saying what you think is true." And the CIA determined the plot in the first place might have been fabricated by Kuwait, which had an obvious possible motive of keeping tensions between Iraq and the U.S. high.

So I guess Woodward hasn't been following the news much for the past twenty years. Either that or he just loves bombing Iraqis for the sake of it.

P.S. America has ten aircraft carriers, our NATO allies have five more, and China has one. Iran has zero. We had only one aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf most of the time up until 2010, when Obama doubled the number to two.

AND: Woodward is such a horribly sloppy reporter that it once actually motivated me to defend Donald Rumsfeld.

Posted at 08:54 AM | Comments (12)

February 27, 2013

Unique Palestinian Horribleness Turns Out to Be Neither Unique Nor Horrible

During Israel's Operation Cast Lead in 2009, about 1400 Palestinians were killed, including over 300 children. Thirteen Israelis died, including three non-combatants. Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic took that opportunity to be outraged by the unique horribleness of Palestinians:

we've all seen endless pictures of dead Palestinian children now. It's a terrible, ghastly, horrible thing, the deaths of children, and for the parents it doesn't matter if they were killed by accident or by mistake. But ask yourselves this: Why are these pictures so omnipresent? I'll tell you why, again from firsthand, and repeated, experience: Hamas (and the Aksa Brigades, and Islamic Jihad, the whole bunch) prevents the burial, or even preparation of the bodies for burial, until the bodies are used as props in the Palestinian Passion Play. Once, in Khan Younis, I actually saw gunmen unwrap a shrouded body, carry it a hundred yards and position it atop a pile of rubble -- and then wait a half-hour until photographers showed. It was one of the more horrible things I've seen in my life. And it's typical of Hamas. If reporters would probe deeper, they'd learn the awful truth of Hamas. But Palestinian moral failings are not of great interest to many people.

Meanwhile, this month in Pakistan:

Pakistan’s ethnic minority [Shia] Hazaras continued to stage a sit-in Tuesday, refusing to bury the bodies of scores of people killed in a bomb blast in Quetta Saturday.

The Hazaras, who practice Shia denomination of Islam, in Sunni-majority Pakistan and Afghanistan, blame the Pakistani government for its negligence in acting against Sunni extremism to contain the violence.

Saturday’s attack that killed at least 89 people and injured some 169 was carried out by a Sunni militant group targeting Hazaras on the outskirts of the southwestern city of Quetta.

About 4,000 women began the protest in Quetta Sunday evening, blocking a road and refusing to carry out the traditional ritual of burying the dead until action was taken against the perpetrators, AFP reported.

A local Shiite leader, Qayyum Changezi, told AFP that protesters “will not bury the dead until a targeted operation is launched.

I'm guessing that right about now a propagandist for Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the Islamist terrorist organization that carried out the Pakistan bombing, is penning a screed about the unique horribleness of Hazaras, and wondering why the world doesn't pay attention to their obvious moral failings. And I'm sure this hypothetical Lashkar-e-Jhangvi guy is totally sincere about his outrage, just like Jeffrey Goldberg is about his. The best propagandists always are.

—Jon Schwarz

Posted at 06:00 PM | Comments (13)

February 22, 2013

Sean Wilentz: Wrong on 'Untold History,' Wrong on History in General

Sean Wilentz is a fancy professor of history at fancy Princeton, and a personal friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, two extremely fancy Democrats. And as he recently explained in the New York Review of Books, he hates Untold History, the new book and Showtime documentary series by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick.

A quick glance might give you the impression Wilentz's grudge is all about a seemingly obscure, dusty corner of history (Henry Wallace and the 1948 election) that doesn't affect anyone's life today one way or the other. But it's not. Wilentz is pissed off because he understands Untold History is a damning indictment of an entire worldview – that of his political patrons and all comfortable establishment historians like him. And that worldview is genuinely a matter of life and death for all Americans in 2013. If you'd prefer that the plane you're taking next week not get hit by an surface-to-air missile liberated by Islamists from Libya's stockpile, and that you not personally get torn into several large chunks at 7,000 feet, you really should pay attention to this.

Untold History, and hence Wilentz, spend lots of time examining the aftermath of World War II in the late 1940s; it was a critical period of U.S. politics, one that's determined our path ever since. As Wilentz accurately writes, "the beginning of the cold war divided American liberals and leftists of various stripes," as the liberals mostly got what they wanted and the leftists did not.

Cold war liberals of the time, exactly like Wilentz today, would have preferred not to share power with the paranoid, racist neanderthals of the U.S. right. (The neanderthals of 1948 didn't read "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" in the New Yorker and were terrible at sophisticated discussions about existentialism at Georgetown dinner parties.) However, the liberals were even less eager to share power with genuine leftists – especially because the liberals agreed with the right that the cold war was forced upon the U.S. by the Soviets and was mostly or wholly defensive in nature.

Meanwhile, the leftists of various stripes believed the cold war might largely be avoided – but that powerful sectors of U.S. society found it to be the perfect cover for aggressive policies they would have wanted to carry out even if the Soviet Union had never existed. Leftists also believed there was a natural constituency for endless war in the White House. As Clark Clifford, then Truman's White House counsel, wrote to him as the cold war was dawning: "There is considerable political advantage to the Administration in its battle with the Kremlin...In times of crisis, the American citizen tends to back up his President." Moreover, as Wilentz says, leftists saw liberal anticommunism "as virtually indistinguishable from – indeed, as complicit with – the anticommunism of the right."

Wilentz is incredulous that Stone and Kuznick are resurrecting this perspective, something liberals like himself believed had been dead and buried for decades. That's what he's angry about: that they're on the New York Times bestseller list and premium cable saying things that all properly educated people know are wrong.

But are they? Now, with twenty years of post-cold war history behind us, we should be able to judge.

We can never know what might have come to pass had the U.S. adopted a different posture toward the Soviet Union, either after World War II or during the decades that followed. From the viewpoint of liberals like Wilentz, the answer clearly is: nothing good. The Soviets were determined to export their totalitarianism to the world, and any naive failure on our part to resist would end in disaster. Yes, the U.S. might have gone overboard here and there, but the overall story of the cold war was that the Soviet Union acted and we reacted.

But this is what we can know: if Wilentz's understanding of history is correct, U.S. cold war policies should have ended with the cold war itself. If the leftists were right, U.S. policies would have continued almost completely unchanged – except for the pretexts provided to Americans.

Looked at through that lens, Stone and Kuznick's perspective explains a lot more about the world than that of Wilentz. The Warsaw Pact is gone, but NATO remains, and in fact has expanded eastward. The embargo against Cuba was not lifted at the end of the cold war but intensified. The U.S. habit of supporting overseas coups, both successful (Honduras) and not (Venezuela, Gaza), endures. The Air Force is busily researching how to drop tungsten rods onto anyone anywhere from space.

And on Iraq, the most important foreign policy issue of the past twenty years, we appear to have reenacted the cold war in miniature. Like the Soviet Union, Iraq had been a U.S. ally against a third country. Like Stalin, Saddam Hussein was a cruel dictator who was extremely dangerous to his subjects. But also like the Soviet Union, Iraq was ruined by war and far weaker than the U.S., yet inflated by propaganda into a huge danger to us that bore almost no resemblance to reality. Like Soviet leaders, Hussein understood the realities of power and made repeated attempts to avoid conflict with the U.S. – attempts of which almost no Americans are aware. (According to the CIA, Hussein begged the Clinton administration for the opportunity to be our "best friend in the region bar none" but felt "he was not given a chance because the US refused to listen to anything Iraq had to say.") And as with the cold war, we will never know what would have happened if our country had chosen another path. All we know is U.S. officials had no interest in exploring it.

Finally, with both the Soviets and Iraq there was – as Henry Wallace said in 1948 – a "bipartisan reactionary war policy." Vice President Biden voted for the Iraq war, as did our old Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and our new one John Kerry. The day after Colin Powell's notorious Security Council presentation, Susan Rice, now the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, claimed Powell had "proved that Iraq has these weapons and is hiding them." And while Barack Obama did give a mildly anti-war speech in October, 2002 (stating "I don't oppose all wars" three times), he was then representing a solidly liberal state senate district where opposing the war posed no political danger. Given his behavior as president, it's hard to be certain he would have voted no if he'd then been an ambitious U.S. senator.

Most depressing of all, establishment historians like Wilentz play the same role today as they did during the cold war: not just refusing to ask critical questions about U.S. history and its effect on the present day, but shouting down those who attempt to do so. That's what Wilentz is doing with his review of Untold History. And it's what he did in October, 2001 when he explained why the U.S. had just been attacked: "To the terrorists, America's crime – its real crime – is to be America."

It's no surprise Wilentz was desperate for Americans to adopt this childish view: the Arab anger that al Qaeda was attempting to ride to power via 9/11 was the result of the Iraq policies of his friend Bill Clinton. Without Clinton's brutal sanctions on Iraq and U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, bin Laden might – as a senior Bush official said in 2004 – "still be redecorating mosques and boring friends with stories of his mujahideen days in the Khyber Pass."

So in Wilentz's own words we can see the value of what Stone and Kuznick have accomplished. Readers and viewers of Untold History could use what they learned about the past to predict that the liberal War on Terror would be virtually indistinguishable from – indeed, complicit with – the War on Terror of the right. And they'd be correct.

Posted at 11:43 AM | Comments (37)

February 17, 2013


So a new trove of John F. Kennedy memorabilia is being auctioned off. This reminds me of my favorite joke of mine from the thousands Mike Gerber and I sent to Weekend Update, back when previous memorabilia was being sold by Sotheby's:

This week Sotheby's auctioned off JFK's cigar box, where he kept Cuban cigars even after the embargo was declared. In fact, Kennedy smoked so many Cuban cigars, he was often heard to say, "Man... one of these days those Cubans are gonna KILL me!"

I never expected that was going to see air, and I was right not to get my hopes up. This did, though, and I think it's almost as funny:

Lenoria Walker, Houston's director of affirmative action, has resigned after referring to a city councilman as a "midget" instead of using the politically correct term, which is "dwarf." Said Walker, "I guess I have a lot to learn about sensitivity. So, it's hi-ho, hi-ho, away from work I go."

—Jon Schwarz

Posted at 04:44 PM | Comments (13)

February 10, 2013

Someone Should Tell Muslims They Weren't Raging

By: John Caruso

Newsweek prompted a wave of indignation and mockery from the left a few months back when it published a cover with the caption MUSLIM RAGE in the wake of riots over the YouTube-posted trailer for "The Innocence of Muslims".  The responses I saw offered no specifics, apparently considering the offensive absurdity of the notion of "Muslim rage" so self-evident that it required no explanation, but as far as I could tell the core of the complaint was that not every Muslim on the planet was outraged—so this overly-generalized caption was clear evidence of Newsweek's anti-Muslim bias* (just as the use of the blanket phrase "Los Angeles Riots" back in 1992, despite the relative peace in areas like Echo Park and Brentwood, established once and for all the media's anti-Angelenoism).

In any case, someone really needs to get the word out to the Egyptian court that just handed down this ruling:

An Egyptian court ordered YouTube to be blocked for a month after the website disseminated video footage deemed offensive to Islam and the Prophet Mohammed, the state-run Middle East News Agency reported, citing Administrative Court Judge Hassouna Tawfik. [...] YouTube, “did not respect the belief of the millions in Egypt and it overlooked the state of rage that prevailed amongst Muslims,” it said, citing court documents.

Maybe a bad translation?

YouTube had "insisted on broadcasting the film insulting Islam and the Prophet, disrespecting the beliefs of millions of Egyptians and disregarding the anger of all Muslims" the court said, according to MENA.

Huh.  Well, once the Egyptian judiciary is informed about how ridiculous this whole "Muslim rage" notion is I'm sure they'll not only retract their offensively Islamaphobic sentiments, but will also overturn the death sentences they've imposed on seven Egyptians involved in the production of the film.  One of the capital crimes for which those people were convicted, by the way: "Using religion to promote extremist ideas."

ADDING: The Egyptian court also transgressed against the permissible narrative when it suggested any meaningful connection between the film trailer and the so-called "rage"; the mere suggestion that these outbursts of violence and anger are caused by seemingly obvious triggers like Koran-burning or crappy-film-trailer-distributing provokes scorn from many on the left, who blithely ignore statements like the one(s) above, Muslims who say outright that "We cannot accept any insult to our prophet...it's a red line" or "We did the protest to show to the infidels that we are unhappy about their action in burning our holy Koran in America," etc.  In ideology as in theology, reality is rarely an impediment to belief.


* Newsweek wasn't alone in this ugly bias, though; the well-known Muslim bashers at the Daily Times of Pakistan ran a story titled "New blasphemous caricatures fuel Muslim anger."

— John Caruso

Posted at 11:13 PM | Comments (38)

February 06, 2013

"When I Use a Word," Humpty-Dumpty Said, "It Means Just What the President Chooses It to Mean—Neither More Nor Less"

Humpty_Dumpty_Tenniel.jpgThe recently-leaked Obama Department of Justice white paper explains the executive branch can kill U.S. citizens when "the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack." Except it turns out they're using "imminent" to mean "non-imminent":

...the condition that an operational leader present an "imminent" threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future...the threat posed by al-Qa’ida and its associated forces demands a broader concept of imminence in judging when a person continually planning terror attacks presents an imminent threat, making the use of force appropriate.

As Glenn Greenwald points out, this is a "warped and incredibly broad definition." But one thing it's not is new. Instead, it's yet another way in which Obama is turning out to be exactly the same as George W. Bush. This redefinition of what constitutes an "imminent" threat first appeared in the Bush administration's 2002 National Security Strategy:

We must adapt the concept of imminent threat to the capabilities and objectives of today’s adversaries. Rogue states and terrorists do not seek to attack us using conventional means. They know such attacks would fail. Instead, they rely on acts of terror and, potentially, the use of weapons of mass destruction—weapons that can be easily concealed, delivered covertly, and used without warning.

Condoleezza Rice said much the same thing in a December, 2002 article:

...new technology requires new thinking about when a threat actually becomes "imminent." So as a matter of common sense, the United States must be prepared to take action, when necessary, before threats have fully materialized.

So the Obama administration doesn't get any credit for creativity here. However, they can still be justifiably proud of their decision that "dead military-age male" now means "combatant."

—Jon Schwarz

Posted at 08:07 PM | Comments (29)

February 05, 2013

Lie After Lie: What Colin Powell Knew Ten Years Ago Today and What He Said

Colin Powell made his Iraq presentation at the UN ten years ago today, on February 5th, 2003.

As much criticism as Powell has received for this—he calls it "painful" and something that will "always be a part of my record"—it hasn't been close to what's justified. Powell was much more than just horribly mistaken: he fabricated "evidence" and ignored repeated warnings that what he was saying was false.

Unfortunately, Congress never investigated Powell's use of the intelligence he was given, so we don't know many of the specifics. Even so, what got into the public record in other ways is extremely damning. So while the corporate media has never taken a close look at this record, we can go through Powell's presentation line by line to demonstrate the chasm between what he knew, and what he told the world. As you'll see, there's quite a lot to say about it.

Powell's speech can be found on the State Department website here. All other sources are linked below.


On that February 5 in front of the UN Security Council, was Colin Powell certain what he was saying was accurate? He certainly was:

POWELL: My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.

Later, regarding whether Iraq had reconstituted a nuclear weapons program, he said:

POWELL: [T]here is no doubt in my mind...

That's in public. What about in private? According to Larry Wilkerson, Powell's chief of staff, here's what Powell was thinking at the time:

WILKERSON: [Powell] had walked into my office musing and he said words to the effect of, I wonder how we'll all feel if we put half a million troops in Iraq and march from one end of the country to the other and find nothing.


This is some of what Powell said about the infamous aluminum tubes purchased by Iraq, supposedly meant for their covert nuclear weapons program:

POWELL: [I]t strikes me as quite odd that these [aluminum] 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.

Powell's own intelligence staff, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), prepared two memos commenting on drafts of the presentation. They were later quietly released as appendices to the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on WMD intelligence.

The second INR memo, written on February 3, 2003, told Powell this:

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. Note that the Mk 66 specifications are unclassified, and the Department is planning to share them with the IAEA.


Powell played an intercept of a conversation between Iraqi army officers about the UN inspections. However, when he translated what they were saying, he knowingly embellished it, turning it from evidence Iraq was complying with U.N. resolutions to evidence Iraq was violating them. This appears in Bob Woodward's book Plan of Attack:

[Powell] had decided to add his personal interpretation of the intercepts to the rehearsed script, taking them substantially further and casting them in the most negative light...Concerning the intercept about inspecting for the possibility of "forbidden ammo," Powell took the interpretation further: "Clean out all of the areas... Make sure there is nothing there." None of this was in the intercept.

Here's the conversation as Powell presented it at the UN. As Woodward reported, the underlined sentences were simply added by Powell:

POWELL: "They're inspecting the ammunition you have, yes.''


"For the possibility there are forbidden ammo."

"For the possibility there is by chance forbidden ammo?''


"And we sent you a message yesterday to clean out all of the areas, the scrap areas, the abandoned areas. Make sure there is nothing there.''

Powell then explained:

This is all part of a system of hiding things and moving things out of the way and making sure they have left nothing behind.

According to the official State Department translation (and confirmed for me by Imad Khadduri), the Iraqi soldier merely said:

"And we sent you a message to inspect the scrap areas and the abandoned areas."

And it's no surprise the Iraqi said this. Here's what the Duelfer report found about what was going on within the Iraqi government just before the January 30th intercepted conversation:

The NMD director met with Republican Guard military leaders on 25 January 2003 and advised them they were to sign documents saying that there was no WMD in their units, according to a former Iraqi senior officer. Husam Amin told them that the government would hold them responsible if UNMOVIC found any WMD in their units or areas, or if there was anything that cast doubt on Iraq’s cooperation with UNMOVIC. Commanders established committees to ensure their units retained no evidence of old WMD.

Again: Powell took evidence of the Iraqis doing what they were supposed to do—i.e., searching their gigantic ammunition dumps to make sure they weren't accidentally holding onto banned chemical weapons—and doctored it to make it look as if Iraq were hiding banned weapons.

Since the State Department was questioned about this by journalist Gilbert Cranberg, the translation at variance with Powell's version has disappeared from its site. It's now available only via archive.org.


Powell's presentation left out extremely important information, as here:

POWELL: Iraq's record on chemical weapons is replete with lies. It took years for Iraq to finally admit that it had produced four tons of the deadly nerve agent, VX. A single drop of VX on the skin will kill in minutes. Four tons.

The admission only came out after inspectors collected documentation as a result of the defection of Hussein Kamal, Saddam Hussein's late son-in-law.

As far as this went, this was accurate. However, Kamel, the head of Iraq's WMD programs, defected in 1995. Iraq had produced this VX before the Gulf War, in 1991—and according to Kamel, Iraq had secretly destroyed it soon after the war. Then they lied about ever producing it (until his defection). But according to Kamel, they weren't lying when they said they no longer had it.

Indeed, in the UN's notes from Kamel's debriefing, he says Iraq had no remaining WMD of any kind:

KAMEL: All chemical weapons were destroyed. I ordered destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons -- biological, chemical, missiles, nuclear were destroyed.

And if that weren't enough, Kamel also said this in an interview on CNN:

SADLER: Can you state here and now -- does Iraq still to this day hold weapons of mass destruction?

KAMEL: No. Iraq does not possess any weapons of mass destruction. I am being completely honest about this.

But in 1996 Kamel returned to Iraq, where he was killed by Saddam's regime. Thus the U.S. could safely take a witness who truthfully had said Iraq had no remaining banned weapons, and pretend his testimony indicated the exact opposite.

Did Powell know what he was doing at the time? It's unclear. Here's a transcript of an exchange between Powell and Sam Husseini in Washington in December, 2006, with video below:

HUSSEINI: You cited Hussein Kamel in your U.N. testimony. Did you know he said there were no WMDs?

POWELL: I only knew what the intelligence community told me.

HUSSEINI: But did you know that fact?

POWELL: Of course not!

HUSSEINI: You didn't know that, even though it was reported?

POWELL: I've answered your question!

As you can see in the video, Powell was not happy to explore this line of questioning. (He's also never shown any inclination to find out who purportedly steered him wrong; when asked by Barbara Walters asked who was responsible for the mistakes in the overall presentation, Powell stated "I don't have the names.")


As mentioned above, the State Department's intelligence staff, called the INR, prepared two memos on the presentation. They directly contradicted Powell on the aluminum tubes issue, but also warned him many of his claims were "weak," "not credible" or "highly questionable." Here are some (amazingly enough, not all) of the examples the memos give.

Powell at the UN:

POWELL: We know that Saddam's son, Qusay, ordered the removal of all prohibited weapons from Saddam's numerous palace complexes.

The first INR memo, from January 29, 2003, flagged this claim as "WEAK":

second bullet. WEAK. Qusay order to remove prohibited items from palaces.

Powell at the UN:

POWELL: [K]ey 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.

The first INR memo:

last bullet. WEAK. Sensitive files being driven around in cars, in apparent shell game. Plausibility open to question.

This claim was again flagged in the second INR memo, from February 3, 2003:

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.

Powell at the UN:

POWELL: [W]e know from sources that a missile brigade outside Baghdad was disbursing [sic] rocket launchers and warheads containing biological warfare agents to various locations, distributing them to various locations in western Iraq.

January 29, 2003 INR memo:

last bullet. WEAK. Missiles with biological warheads reportedly dispersed. This would be somewhat true in terms of short-range missiles with conventional warheads, but is questionable in terms of longer-range missiles or biological warheads.

February 3, 2003 INR memo:

Page 5. first para, claim re missile brigade dispersing rocket launchers and BW warheads. This claim too is highly questionable and might be subjected to criticism by UN inspection officials.

At the UN, Powell described a satellite picture this way:

The two arrows indicate the presence of sure signs that the bunkers are storing chemical munitions...

The truck you [...] see is a signature item. It's a decontamination vehicle in case something goes wrong.

January 29, 2003 INR memo:

***/WEAK. We support much of this discussion, but we note that decontamination vehicles--cited several times in the text--are water trucks that can have legitimate uses...

...Iraq has given UNMOVIC what may be a plausible account for this activity--that this was an exercise involving the movement of conventional explosives; presence of a fire safety truck (water truck, which could also be used as a decontamination vehicle) is common in such an event.

Powell at the UN:

POWELL: These are facts, corroborated by many sources, some of them sources of the intelligence services of other countries.

February 3, 2003 INR memo:

Numerous references to humint as fact. (E.g., "We know that...) We have been told that some are being adjusted, but we gather some others--such as information involving multiple-corroboration--will stay...In the Iraq context, "multiple corroboration" hardly guarantees authenticity of information.

Powell at the UN:

POWELL: [I]n mid-December weapons experts at one facility were replaced by Iraqi intelligence agents who were to deceive inspectors about the work that was being done there.

January 29, 2003 INR memo:

last bullet. **/WEAK. Iraqi intelligence officials posing as WMD scientists. Such claims are not credible and are open to criticism, particularly by the UN inspectorates.

Powell at the UN:

POWELL: A dozen [WMD] experts have been placed under house arrest, not in their own houses, but as a group at one of Saddam Hussein's guest houses.

January 29, 2003 INR memo:

second bullet. WEAK. 12 experts reportedly under house arrest... Highly questionable.

Powell at the UN:

POWELL: UAVs outfitted with spray tanks constitute an ideal method for launching a terrorist attack using biological weapons.

January 29, 2003 INR memo:

...the claim that experts agree UAVs fitted with spray tanks are "an ideal method for launching a terrorist attack using biological weapons" is WEAK.
• • •

Now, with that for context, it's useful to look back at what Powell said in a November, 2005 interview with Barbara Walters:

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.

That can be contrasted with this October, 2003 exchange from 60 Minutes II with Greg Thielmann, who headed the office of Strategic, Proliferation, and Military Affairs in the INR until September 2002:

PELLEY: If the secretary took the information that his own intelligence bureau had developed and turned it on its head, which is what you're saying, to what end?

Mr. THIELMANN: I can only assume that he was doing it to loyally support the president of the United States and build the strongest possible case for arguing that there was no alternative to the use of military force.

Clearly, Powell's loyalty to George Bush extended to being willing to deceive the world: the United Nations, Americans, and the coalition troops about to be sent to kill and die in Iraq. He's never been held accountable for his actions, and it's extremely unlikely he ever will be.

—Jon Schwarz

Posted at 10:56 AM | Comments (24)

February 02, 2013

O My Beloved People, How I Hate You

Nobody loves Iran and cares about Iranians more than Supreme Leader Khamenei and his family:

Khamenei usually listens to 20 minutes of recorded conversations against himself, between opponents or even officials, every night before sleeping...

[His wife] Khojasteh, who has sometimes listened to these recordings, has little patience for the daily groveling of many people. More than anyone, she says that the Iranian people are fawning liars and traitors.

And nobody loves Israel and cares about Israelis more than Bibi Netanyahu and his family:

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's controversial wife said 'this country can burn' and that the couple would leave Israel in a taped phone conversation played on TV...

"Bibi is a leader who is greater than this entire country, he really is a leader on a national scale. We'll move abroad. This country can burn. This country can't survive without Bibi."

Likewise, the world's biggest Arab patriot, Ahmed Chalabi, hated Arabs, and Ann Coulter and Richard Nixon hated Americans. It's almost like there's some sort of pattern.

–Jon Schwarz

Posted at 12:54 PM | Comments (13)