Category Archive 'Anti-Bush Intel Operation'
13 Dec 2016

CIA Confirms

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Remember the Anti-Bush Intel Operation that got Scooter Libby (who had nothing to do with the object of the investigation) convicted of perjury?

Donald Trump is still six weeks away from his inauguration and the same CIA is going after him with cooked-up reports casting doubt on the legitimacy of his election.

Well, here’s a test for Trump. George W. Bush say there, for eight years, as a punching bag for the pouting spooks, never lifting a finger to challenge their authority to undermine his presidency, attack his foreign policy, and ruin the lives and careers of his officials. What is Trump going to do?

I’d say that Donald Trump ought to find and appoint a really ruthless, hard-as-nails special prosecutor and investigator to go back over the events of the entire Valerie Plame Affair, find out and expose who sent Joe Wilson to Niger so that he could write his NY Times editorial, and then who turned Bob Novak’s identification of Valerie’s CIA position into a federal case to be used to bring down Bush Administration officials. He should have them found, prosecuted, and punished.

But Trump should not stop there.


Ex-Spook Charles McCarry identifies why the CIA needs to be abolished in his 1992 espionage thriller Second Sight.

A description of the Agency’s earlier days:

The Outfit had no headquarters. Its employees, whose numbers cost, and true identities were kept secret from everyone except the O.G. (“the Old Gentleman,” the head of the Outfit), were scattered around Washington in gimcrack temporary government buildings left over the First World War, or in offices with the names of fictitious organizations painted on the doors, or in private houses in discreet residential neighborhoods. This milieu, in which daring undertakings were planned and spacious ideas were discussed in mean little rooms by ardently ambitious men who were mostly very young, preserved a wartime atmosphere long after WWII was over. This was exactly what the O.G. wanted.

“Nooks and crannies, visibility zero, that’s the ticket,” he said. “The day we move into a big beautiful building with landscaped grounds and start hanging portraits of our founders is the day we begin to die.”

The sentence that Patchen murmured to the O.G. over their inedible dinner at the Club was this: ‘If (Patchen were captured and fully debriefed by the enemy), we could start all over again.”

26 May 2015

The Railroading of Scooter Libby

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I. Lewis Libby

Arthur Herman, in Commentary, notes that reporter Judith Miller’s recent memoir (published in April) identifies some previously unnoted prosecutorial misconduct in the partisan-motivated judicial lynching of Vice Presidential Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby even beyond the mere fact that Fitzgerald prosecuted Libby, knowing perfectly well that Libby was not guilty of the supposed leak.

Fitzgerald began his work already knowing who had promulgated the leak, for Armitage had confessed as much to the FBI in October. “I may be the guy who caused this whole thing,” he reportedly told a State Department official.

But Fitzgerald declined to prosecute Armitage. Indeed, he told Armitage to keep his mouth shut. … He was after bigger fish. If he could catch either Rove or Libby lying to his investigators or making misstatements that could be portrayed as perjurious, he might be able to get them to turn on their bosses and “expose” a conspiracy reaching up to the president and vice president to punish Wilson by outing Plame.

This was a classic prosecutor ploy in cases involving the Mafia or other RICO-style investigations. It was a new and disturbing way to proceed against men with spotless, even distinguished, public records.

But with the media firestorm about the Plame story and the war in Iraq, Fitzgerald felt free to press ahead. Throughout the 2004 election cycle, the White House and Office of the Vice President were locked in a routine of reviewing and providing thousands of documents to the FBI, Justice Department, and then Fitzgerald; providing hours of sworn depositions in front of investigators; and long bouts of grand-jury testimony for both Rove and Libby. With the violence in Iraq growing and the occupation strategy flailing, with WMD investigator David Kay’s January 2004 report to Congress on the absence of stockpiles seeming to confirm Wilson’s claims that the administration had twisted intelligence about Saddam’s WMDs, and with Democrats who had supported the war now arguing that “Bush lied and people died,” Fitzgerald’s investigation had taken on a new importance. Its very existence was a way to portray the Bush policy in Iraq as not only the result of incompetence, but deliberate wrongdoing.

Read the whole thing.

12 Feb 2013

New Book Alleges John Brennan and CIA Spooks Took Out Petraeus

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The Daily Mail reports on spectacular accusations made by Benghazi: The Definitive Report, an eBook published yesterday, which apparently reveals the inside story behind the exposure and resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus.

David Petraeus was betrayed by his own bodyguards and vengeful high-ranking enemies in the CIA, who made sure his affair with his biographer was exposed to the public. …

Senior CIA officers targeted Petraeus because they didn’t like the way he was running the agency – focusing more on paramilitary operations than intelligence analysis. They used their political clout and their connections to force an FBI investigation of his affair with Paul Broadwell and make it public, according to ‘Benghazi: The Definitive Report.’

‘It was high-level career officers on the CIA who got the ball rolling on the investigation. It was basically a palace coupe to get Petraeus out of there,’ Jack Murphy, one of the authors, told MailOnline. …

Perhaps the most startling accusation in the book is that Petraeus’ affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell was leaked by the members of his personal protection detail.

The authors say that senior intelligence officers working on the 7th floor of Central Intelligence headquarters in Langley, Virginia, used their political clout to ensure that the FBI investigated the former Army general’s personal life.

They then told Petraeus that they would publicly humiliate him if he didn’t admit the affair and resign.

Hat tip to John Fund, who adds:

A lot of fact-checking will have to be done to substantiate the claims by Webb and Murphy. But from my own reporting, I have learned that no one runs afoul of senior CIA officials — or John Brennan — lightly or without peril. CIA officials angry at the Bush administration’s treatment of the agency in 2006 helped elevate the Valerie Plame affair into a national scandal and crippled much of the White House’s ability to conduct foreign policy. In the end, there was precious little evidence of any real security breach or wrongdoing beyond a perjury conviction of Scooter Libby, a top aide to Vice President Cheney.

17 Apr 2010

Goodbye, Mr. Kappes

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Stephen R. Kappes
Stephen R. Kappes has announced his retirement as Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency next month.

WaPoNew York Times

Kappes dramatically returned in triumph to the CIA as DDCIA in May of 2006, having come close to being appointed Director but being edged out by Leon Panetta. Kappes was the preferred candidate for the directorship of Senators Jay Rockefeller and Diane Feinstein, and his Deputy Directorship was a concession to Feinstein.

Kappes had earlier resigned as Deputy Director of Operations in November of 2004 after a brief interval of conflict with Porter Goss, who had been appointed CIA Director with a charter to reform the Agency in late September. Stephen Hayes describes what happened.

On November 5, Goss’s new chief of staff Patrick Murray confronted Mary Margaret Graham, then serving as associate deputy director for counterterrorism in the directorate of operations. The two discussed several items, including the prospective replacement for Kostiw, a CIA veteran named Kyle “Dusty” Foggo. Murray had a simple message: No more leaks.

Graham took offense at the accusatory warning and notified her boss, Michael Sulick, who in turn notified his boss, Stephen Kappes. A meeting of Goss, Murray, Sulick, and Kappes followed. Goss attended most of the meeting, in which the two new CIA leaders reiterated their concern about leaks. After Goss left, Murray once again warned the two career CIA officials that leaks would not be tolerated. According to a source with knowledge of the incident, Sulick took offense, called Murray “a Hill puke,” and threw a stack of papers in his direction.

Goss summoned Kappes the following day. Although others in the new CIA leadership believed Sulick’s behavior was an act of insubordination worthy of firing, Goss didn’t go quite that far. He ordered Kappes to reassign Sulick to a position outside of the building. Goss suggested Sulick be named New York City station chief. Kappes refused and threatened to resign if Sulick were reassigned. Goss accepted his resignation and Sulick soon followed him out the door.

William Safire referred at the time to the exodus of “a flock of pouting spooks at Langley who bet on a Kerry victory.”

Stephen Kappes had a distinguished career in CIA Operations, but he was one of the central figures in Agency efforts to oppose the policies of a Republican elected administration.

Scott Johnson, at Power-line, quotes the pseudononymous former CIA case officer and author “Ishmael Jones” on the reasons for Kappes’ resignation.

His departure suggests that the Obama administration understands that the status quo at the CIA is unacceptable.

The bomb attack at the CIA base in Khost helped push Kappes out. Kappes had personally briefed President Obama on the quality of the operation beforehand. Following the bombing, we learned that the operation had been a classic bureaucratic boondoggle: 14 people, many with little experience, had met the agent when there should have been only one. Espionage is a one on one business. With so many layers of management involved both in the field and at Headquarters, the chain of command was vague and no-one was really in charge. The CIA’s chief at Khost was set up for failure.

Kappes then attempted to recover from the Khost debacle by leaking news of the defection of an Iranian nuclear scientist. But closer examination showed this to be a hollow achievement. CIA officers are taught to keep agents operating in place because once they defect, their access to intelligence is lost. Defection is an option only when the agent’s life is at risk. And then, once an agent has defected, the news is not to be leaked to the press. The scientist in question turned out to be a low-level participant in the Iranian program who had left the program almost a year ago.

Kappes had outlived his usefulness and become a liability. And so, like Jeremiah Wright, under the bus he goes.

26 Feb 2009

Ambushed on the Potomac

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George W. Bush confronting the bureaucracies

In the National Interest, Richard Perle describes the fatal disconnect between George W. Bush’s professed policies and the entrenched State Department and National Security bureaucracies’ failure to implement them. Not only were Bush’s policies not faithfully pursued, in many cases, they were openly attacked and covertly undermined by leaks and disinformation operations.

Perle additionally debunks the left’s favorite bogey: the sinister imperialist “neocon” conpiracy. In recent years, neocon came to be used as a leftwing pejorative for someone supposedly guilty of responsibility for a new, more virulent and objectionable form of conservatism, inclined to unilateral militarism overseas and supportive of hypersecurity measures at homes. The left entirely managed to forget that a neocon is really a (typically Jewish intellectual) former liberal who has been “mugged by reality” and become a foreign policy and law enforcement hawk in response to the excesses of the radical left post the late 1960s. Dick Cheney, who has always been a conservative, for instance, cannot possibly be classified as a neocon.

For eight years George W. Bush pulled the levers of government—sometimes frantically—never realizing that they were disconnected from the machinery and the exertion was largely futile. As a result, the foreign and security policies declared by the president in speeches, in public and private meetings, in backgrounders and memoranda often had little or no effect on the activities of the sprawling bureaucracies charged with carrying out the president’s policies. They didn’t need his directives: they had their own. …

The responsibility for an ill-advised occupation and an inadequate regional strategy ultimately lies with President Bush himself. He failed to oversee the post-Saddam strategy, intervening only sporadically when things had deteriorated to the point where confidence in cabinet-level management could no longer be sustained. He did finally assert presidential authority when he rejected the defeatist advice of the Baker-Hamilton commission and Condi Rice’s State Department, ordering instead the “surge,” a decision that he surely hopes will eclipse the dismal period from 2004 to January 2007. But that is but one victory for the White House among many failures at Langley, at the Pentagon and in Foggy Bottom. …

Understanding Bush’s foreign and defense policy requires clarity about its origins and the thinking behind the administration’s key decisions. That means rejecting the false claim that the decision to remove Saddam, and Bush policies generally, were made or significantly influenced by a few neoconservative “ideologues” who are most often described as having hidden their agenda of imperial ambition or the imposition of democracy by force or the promotion of Israeli interests at the expense of American ones or the reshaping of the Middle East for oil—or all of the above. Despite its seemingly endless repetition by politicians, academics, journalists and bloggers, that is not a serious argument. …

I believe that Bush went to war for the reasons—and only the reasons—he gave at the time: because he believed Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the United States that was far greater than the likely cost of removing him from power. …

[T]he salient issue was not whether Saddam had stockpiles of WMD but whether he could produce them and place them in the hands of terrorists. The administration’s appalling inability to explain that this is what it was thinking and doing allowed the unearthing of stockpiles to become the test of whether it had correctly assessed the risk that Saddam might provide WMD to terrorists. When none were found, the administration appeared to have failed the test even though considerable evidence of Saddam’s capability to produce WMD was found in postwar inspections by the Iraq Survey Group chaired by Charles Duelfer.

I am not alone in having been asked, “If you knew that Saddam did not have WMD, would you still have supported invading Iraq?” But what appears to some to be a “gotcha” question actually misses the point. The decision to remove Saddam stands or falls on one’s judgment at the time the decision was made, and with the information then available, about how to manage the risk that he would facilitate a catastrophic attack on the United States. To say the decision to remove him was mistaken because stockpiles of WMD were never found is akin to saying that it was a mistake to buy fire insurance last year because your house didn’t burn down or health insurance because you didn’t become ill. …

I believe the cost of removing Saddam and achieving a stable future for Iraq has turned out to be very much higher than it should have been, and certainly higher than it was reasonable to expect.

But about the many mistakes made in Iraq, one thing is certain: they had nothing to do with ideology. They did not draw inspiration from or reflect neoconservative ideas and they were not the product of philosophical or ideological influences outside the government. …

If ever there were a security policy that lacked philosophical underpinnings, it was that of the Bush administration. Whenever the president attempted to lay out a philosophy, as in his argument for encouraging the freedom of expression and dissent that might advance democratic institutions abroad, it was throttled in its infancy by opponents within and outside the administration.

I believe Bush ultimately failed to grasp the demands of the American presidency. He saw himself (MBA that he was) as a chief executive whose job was to give broad direction that would then be automatically translated into specific policies and faithfully implemented by the departments of the executive branch. I doubt that such an approach could be made to work. But without a team that shared his ideas and a determination to see them realized, there was no chance he could succeed. His carefully drafted, often eloquent speeches, intended as marching orders, were seldom developed into concrete policies. And when his ideas ran counter to the conventional wisdom of the executive departments, as they often did, debilitating compromise was the result: the president spoke the words and the departments pronounced the policies.

Read the whole thing.

21 Jan 2009

Good Bye, Mr. Bush

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George W. Bush’s failure to pardon Lewis Libby, I think, makes it clear why he never asserted his authority and passively allowed the entrenched bureaucratic left to criminalize policy differences in order undermine his policies and destroy his public support.

George W. Bush really was at heart, a liberal statist who believes implicitly in the validity of governmental processes and in the judgements delivered by government institutions. He does not look beyond the form and process to see the partisan human beings working the levers and putting their thumbs on the scales of justice.

If officials of the CIA said disclosing Valerie Plame’s employment was a federal crime, it didn’t matter to Bush that their interpretation was a stretch motivated by partisan malice. Those CIA adversaries were officials of the government. What they said was the law was the law.

No wonder he appointed James Comey Deputy Attorney General.

A sophisticated conservative would never have promoted the official who threw Martha Stewart into jail on supposititious insider trading charges. The conservative would be skeptical of the merits of insider trading prosecutions to begin with, remembering that the pre-FDR-packed Supreme Court threw out those laws back when the Constitution still mattered. The conservative, beyond that, would take a dim view of celebrity prosecutions featuring strained efforts at landing a big fish played in the glow of the media spotlight.

George W. Bush was clearly never all that sophisticated nor all that conservative. If some partisan official, an ambitious prosecutor, and a leftwing urban jury filled with unemployed hippies and welfare moms says that Libby was guilty, why, he must have been guilty.

It’s a wonder Bush wasn’t willing to believe what the editorial pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post said about himself.

Bush brought the Republican Party into public disrepute and electoral disaster because he did not effectively answer his opponents’ attacks. His passivity, it is apparent, was not some kind of mistake. It was grounded in an implicit acceptance of the authority of his adversaries in government and in his willingness to allow himself and his administration to be gamed.

The contrast with Bill Clinton’s cynical and self-regarding use of the presidential pardon power could not be more remarkable. Clinton was a crook and a clever and successful one. George W. Bush is obviously a scrupulously honest man, but albeit a fool.

19 Jan 2009

A Last Kind Word For George W. Bush

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J.R. Dunn puts the Bush presidency into historical perspective.

It can be stated without fear of serious argument that no previous president has been treated as brutally, viciously, and unfairly as George W. Bush.

Bush 43 endured a deliberate and planned assault on everything he stood for, everything he was involved in, everything he tried to accomplish. Those who worked with him suffered nearly as much (and some even more — at least one, Scooter Libby, was convicted on utterly specious charges in what amounts to a show trial).

His detractors were willing to risk the country’s safety, its economic health, and the very balance of the democratic system of government in order to get at him. They were out to bring him down at all costs, or at the very least destroy his personal and presidential reputation. At this they have been half successful, at a high price for the country and its government.

Although everyone insists on doing so, it is impossible to judge Bush, his achievements, or his failings, without taking these attacks into account. …

[T]he New York Times, which on its downhill road to becoming a weekly shopper giveaway for the Upper West Side, seriously jeopardized national security in the process of satisfying its anti-Bush compulsion. Telecommunications intercepts, interrogation techniques, transport of terrorist captives, tracking of terrorist finances… scarcely a single security program aimed at Jihadi activity went unrevealed by the Times and — not to limit the blame — was then broadcast worldwide by the legacy media. At one point, Times reporters published a detailed analysis of government methods of searching out rogue atomic weapons, a story that was no doubt read with interest at points north of Lahore, and one that we may all end up paying for years down the line. The fact that Bush was able to curtail any further attacks while the media as a whole was working to undermine his efforts is little less than miraculous.

Read the whole thing.


Hat tip to Bird Dog.

12 Jan 2009

Bush Should Pardon Libby

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It was never really demonstrated that any crime had ever been committed by anyone, and Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald already knew that it was Richard Armitage who told Robert Novak about Valerie Plame when he indicted Lewis Libby on the basis of his account of conversations a few years back differing from those of his interlocutors.

Clarice Feldman, who did a superb job of covering the Plamegame scandal at American Thinker, calls on President Bush to pardon Lewis Libby before leaving office.

She’s right, and I think he will.

14 Dec 2008

The Drip Who Leaked

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Thomas M. Tamm

Michael Issikoff, in Newsweek, systematically applies the coat of whitewash, drapes the red-white-and-blue bunting, and affixes the journalistic left’s paper mâché halo to Thomas M. Tamm, renegade attorney from the Department of Justice’s Office of Intelligence Policy and Review (OIPR), who leaked damaging allegations about the NSA foreign communications surveillance program to New York Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, ultimately resulting in their famous December 16, 2005 Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts story, which naturally won them the Pullitzer Prize.

Tam, you see, was understandably outraged by the following nefarious practice.

After arriving at OIPR, Tamm learned about an unusual arrangement by which some wiretap requests were handled under special procedures. These requests, which could be signed only by the attorney general, went directly to the chief judge and none other. It was unclear to Tamm what was being hidden from the other 10 judges on the court (as well as the deputy attorney general, who could sign all other FISA warrants). All that Tamm knew was that the “A.G.-only” wiretap requests involved intelligence gleaned from something that was obliquely referred to within OIPR as “the program.”

Obviously any fair-minded attorney would conclude that an instance of special handling of particular intelligence information or the exclusion from participation in its processing and examination by any subordinate judges of Justice Department officials always ipso facto constitutes a sufficiently grave breach of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the US Constitution to necessitate an immediate donation to the John Kerry Campaign and a covert phone call to the Times. What else is a patriotic American do?

Issikoff procedes to explain that Tamm’s Hamlet-like struggle with his conscience over leaking and Raskolinkov-like agonies over fear of being caught and punished made the poor soul depressed.

He had trouble concentrating on his work at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and ignored some e-mails from one of his supervisors. He was accused of botching a drug case. By mutual agreement, he resigned in late 2006. He was out of a job and squarely in the sights of the FBI. Nevertheless, he began blogging about the Justice Department for liberal Web sites.

And Tamm had good cause for fear.

With the investigative speed and precision the FBI is famous for, brandishing guns and wearing flak jackets, G-men promptly descended a mere two years later upon Tamm’s suburban home to seize his desktop computer, his children’s laptops, some private papers, and his Christmas card list.

Let that be a lesson to policy free-lancers, leakers, violator of the Espionage Act, and traitors everywhere!

Divulge highest level classified information, participate in undermining US counterrorism, act consciously to discredit the elected government you serve, and the FBI will come over and browbeat your family and steal your PC.

That, of course, is as far as it is going to go, if the administration you are discrediting happens to be George W. Bush’s. The Bush Administration has never been able to muster the intestinal fortitude needed to make sure that the people working in the highest level classified positions in its War on Terror are actually on its own side, and still less has it able to steel its nerves to the point where it dares actually to prosecute such cases.

The Bush Administration understands only too well that it would be represented, after all, in court in cases of that kind by representatives of the Bush Administration. The leakers and traitors would be represented by skilled counsel from leading white shoe law firms and the cream of the faculty of Ivy League law schools. The defendants would additionally have the mainstream media operating as full-time public relations managers and publicists. So I suppose the administration’s timidity may be at least partly exculpated by its self awareness of its own inadequacy.

02 Dec 2008

George W. Bush: Too Nice To Be President?

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Larrey Anderson, at American Thinker, makes an argument that I basically agree with.

George W. Bush’s presidency has been a disaster for the Republican Party, and for Conservatism, and ironically the unhappy result has much more to do with what George W. Bush failed to do than with anything he did. The Bush presidency was discredited not by defeat abroad or the results of his own policies at home. George W. Bush’s reputation and capacity to govern was destroyed by the ceaseless attacks of his political enemies which succeeded because he failed in any way effectively to respond.

Bush never satisfactorily explained why Iraq and not Syria (or Saudi Arabia, for that matter). He accepted the theory that no Iraqi WMD ever existed, refusing to discuss the truck convoys departing over the Syrian border. He allowed opponents within the Intelligence Community to leak National Security information without response, and he even allowed the same group to turn identification of one of their number by a third party into a national scandal resulting in the indictment and conviction on a preposterous basis of the Vice Presidential Chief of Staff. He tamely bowed his head and accepted all the blame for the disaster in New Orleans, refusing to identify the impact of state and local incompetence and corruption in a situation in which both played the key role.

Perhaps, on the day Machiavelli’s The Prince came up for discussion in Political Theory 101 at Yale, good old George was partying at Deke. Or, perhaps, even more likely, George W. Bush is ethically inhibited from implementing the wisdom of the Florentine cynic by his authentic commitment to Christianity and his resolute determination to keep turning the other cheek.

Conservatism needs a fresh start. It is losing arguments … and it is losing elections. One person, more than any other (even more than John McCain), has caused this: President George W. Bush.

Conservatives have not been winning arguments — or elections — by defending President Bush and his record. We have been, repeatedly, thumped rhetorically and electorally in our efforts to support his policies. It is time for conservatives to move on.

George W. Bush is undoubtedly a sincere man. He is, in all probability, a good man. His dramatic conversion to Christianity indicates that he, at least at this point in his life, is a man of high moral principles. He is compassionate. And therein lies the problem: President Bush was too compassionate to be a good president.

14 Oct 2008

Nuclear Proliferation and the Left

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James Lewis, at American Thinker, explains how the domestic and international left are responsible for Iran and North Korea becoming nuclear powers.

The single most suicidal action by the Left has been its years of assault on President George W. Bush after the overthrow of Saddam. It has often been pointed out that every intelligence agency in the world believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction before the invasion of Iraq. UN inspectors like David Kay repeatedly said so. Democrats and European socialists alike repeated warned about the danger of Saddam’s weapons programs, knowing full well that his first nuclear reactor was destroyed by an Israeli air raid as long ago as 1981. Al Gore, Bill Clinton, and even the UN’s El Baradei pointed out the danger.

As we now know, Saddam has had 500 metric tons of yellowcake uranium in storage since 1992. But George W. Bush was assaulted by the Left, in the person of Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson and the New York Times editorial page, allegedly because Bush peddled the lie that Saddam wanted to obtain yellowcake uranium. But there was no lie; the whole phony brouhaha was a PR assault to destroy the credibility of the Bush administration. The end result was to make us helpless in the face of more nuclear proliferation. To slake its lust for power the Left was more than willing to sabotage our safety.

Did Saddam pose a plausible threat of nuclear weaponization? Of course he did. Did he pose an actual threat? That is, did he actually possess WMD’s ready to mount on missiles in a matter of hours, to shoot off at his enemies? Today’s conventional wisdom is that he did not. But that is pure post-hockery.

George W. Bush has been crucified for five long years in the media, by the feckless, hysterical and cowardly Europeans, by the United Nations, and of course by the Democratic Party, because he took the only sane action possible in the face of the apparent WMD threat from Saddam. Because presidents don’t have the luxury of Monday morning quarterbacking. They cannot wait for metaphysical certainty about threats to national survival and international peace. There is no such thing as metaphysical certainty in these matters; presidents must act on incomplete intelligence, knowing full well that their domestic enemies will try to destroy them for trying to save the peace.

But that is water under the bridge by now. What’s not past, but rather a clear and present threat to civilization are the consequences of the unbelievable recklessness of the International Left — including the Democrats, the Europeans, the UN, and the former communist powers. Because of their screaming opposition to the Bush administration’s rational actions against Saddam, we are now rendered helpless against two even more dangerous challenges. With Saddam there was genuine doubt about his nuclear program; the notion that he had a viable program was just the safest guess to make in the face of his policy of deliberate ambiguity. In the case of Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Il there’s no guessing any more. They have nukes and missiles, or will have within a year.

The entire anti-proliferation effort has therefore been sabotaged and probably ruined by the Left. For what reason? There can be only one rational reason: A lust for power, even at the expense of national and international safety and peace. But the Left has irrational reasons as well, including an unfathomable hatred for adulthood in the face of mortal danger. Like the Cold War, this is a battle between the adolescent rage of the Left and the realistic adult decision-making of the mainstream — a mainstream which is now tenuously maintained only by conservatives in the West.

25 Mar 2008

A Standard of Perfection

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Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Ladin neglected to go down to the county courthouse and file a signed and notarized partnership agreement. Instead, Iraq’s government covertly supplied funding and weapons and provided training facilities, medical treatment, and sanctuary to individual terrorist leaders and to a confusing array of variously named and affiliated terrorist groups.

Deniability is, of course, precisely why governments, like that of the former Baathist regime of Iraq, employ surrogate non-state actors as instruments of violence against Western states. If Iraq attacked the United States openly, the legitimacy of a full-scale US military response would have been unquestioned. Because actual attacks are committed by a handful of individuals affiliated with obscure jihadist entities, leftwing members of the US Intelligence Community always find themselves conveniently able to maintain that no definitive proof linking a sponsoring state like Iraq is available.

Michael Tanji explains how the game is played.

There is perhaps no clearer example of why the U.S. intelligence community has such a serious credibility problem than the recently released report on the relationship between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and terrorist groups. Media outlets friendly to the meme that there was no such connection were leaked a copy of the report and latched on to the statement that there was no “smoking gun” linking Saddam and al-Qaeda. Clearly, however, none of those reporters bothered to actually read the report or ask any critical questions.

Anyone with a basic knowledge of Islamic terrorism who read the early headlines and then read the report cannot help but come away with a severe case of cognitive dissonance. Iraq was a state sponsor of terrorism and had we not gone to war with Iraq after 9/11, it would still be a focal point in our fight against Islamic terror. That Saddam and bin Laden never shook hands–presumably the only “smoking gun” that the most obtuse analysts of this subject would accept–is hardly the point. …

Nothing illustrates this more clearly than documents from Saddam’s own intelligence service, which confirm that the regime was funding the group Egyptian Islamic Jihad in the early 1990s. Led by Ayman al Zawahiri, the EIJ eventually morphed into what most observers call “core” al Qaeda. Zawahiri became al Qaeda’s second in command when al Qaeda was formed in the late 1980s. Saying Iraq was not supporting al Qaeda, when there was no meaningful distinction between the EIJ and al Qaeda, strains credulity.

Therein lies the problem: this report–and every assessment dealing with intelligence or national security matters–is crafted with such extreme precision in an impossible quest to be “right” that they end up being absurdly wrong. This quest for false precision skews our understanding of very clear and simple truths. This is part of the reason why so many policymakers of all political persuasions hold intelligence in such disdain. The books and articles that document Saddam’s relationship with terrorist groups that were published before this report was issued are numerous and draw largely the same conclusions that this review of classified material shows. Secrets are only valuable if they tell you something meaningful that you didn’t already know.

This is a problem that is endemic in the intelligence community and particularly bad in agencies that have taken a beating in recent years for providing incomplete information about the threat posed by Iraq’s WMD programs. To compensate, agencies caveat their work to the point that ten different people reading the same report will come away with at least nine different interpretations of the report’s findings. By not making unambiguous calls about what is known and more importantly what is unknown, intelligence agencies don’t serve their consumers; they confuse and infuriate them.

Ambiguity, a permanent feature of Intelligence, becomes in the hands of the sophists of the Intelligence Community’s anti-Bush establishment a very effective tool for undermining policy. By utilizing a 100% standard of certainty, requiring unimpeachable and totally disinterested first-hand witnesses of excellent character, and clear documentary evidence, it becomes possible to exculpate both pre-2003 Iraq and today’s Iran of any role in terrorism or efforts to acquire WMD at all, and thereby to delegitimize the Bush Administration’s casus belli.

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