Thursday, June 5, 2008

"For What It's Worth" Department...

After five years of investigations the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the use and misuse of "intelligence" in the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and we have this in the New York Times: Bush Overstated Evidence on Iraq, Senators Report:

The 170-page report accuses Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other top officials of repeatedly overstating the Iraqi threat in the emotional aftermath of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Its findings were endorsed by all eight committee Democrats and two Republicans, Senators Olympia J. Snowe of Maine and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.

In a statement accompanying the report, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat who is chairman of the intelligence panel, said, “The president and his advisers undertook a relentless public campaign in the aftermath of the attacks to use the war against Al Qaeda as a justification for overthrowing Saddam Hussein.”

Hmmm... You'd think they'd have heard of this before. Meanwhile, the Times can't resist a memory trip down Double Talk Lane (bold emphases added, just to make your head spin):
The report on the prewar statements found that on some important issues, most notably on what was believed to be Iraq’s nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs, the public statements from Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney and other senior officials were generally “substantiated” by the best estimates at the time from American intelligence agencies. But it found that the administration officials’ statements usually did not reflect the intelligence agencies’ uncertainties about the evidence or the disputes among them.
"Substantiated" public statements that were "overstating the Iraqi threat", not reflecting intelligence agencies' "uncertainties".... I suggest someone send an ambulance over to the Times Building, as someone's head must have exploded writing or editing such unabashed garbage.

While the report, long-delayed for public release, represents another limited hang-out of criminal operations by the United States government around their Iraq operation, perhaps of more significance in its release is some new information about a "rogue intelligence operation" run by then Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen J. Hadley, and Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary to Donald Rumsfeld at the time of the Iraq invasion. The significance of this new revelation lies in the rumors swirling around a possible military attack by the United States and/or Israel against Iran, in addition to Democratic presumptive nominee Barack Obama's statement the other day that he would "everything in my power -- everything" to prevent Iran from trying to gain nuclear weapons (which, by the way, they claim they are not, and for which there is no evidence that they are, per a recent National Intelligence Estimate) (bold emphasis added).
In a separate report released Wednesday, the intelligence committee provided new details about a series of clandestine meetings in Rome and Paris between Pentagon officials and Iranian dissidents in 2001 and 2003. The meetings included discussions about possible covert actions to destabilize the government in Tehran, and were used by the Pentagon officials to glean information about rivalries in Iran and what was thought to be an Iranian “hit” team intending to attack American troops in Afghanistan, the report said.
The nomination of Obama for Democratic Party presidential candidate does represent a milestone in U.S. race relations, and has raised the hopes of millions that true change in America is possible. But thus far it has not changed the calculus of U.S. foreign policy, nor the constitution of the military-industrial complex. In fact, Obama's recent characterization of the Iranian National Guard Quds force, in a speech yesterday to the American-Israeli Public Affairs Council, as "rightly... labeled a terrorist organization", seems to represent a turn-around for the Senator, who specifically opposed such sabre-rattling language when he opposed the Lieberman-Kyl amendment last year. Such political turnabouts are not without significance.

Of course, Obama is not in power yet (presuming he can defeat the sclerotic and Bush-craven GOP candidate John "Uriah Heep" McCain). But besides promising a slow retreat from Iraq and a promise to better utilize diplomacy, it's not clear that Obama differs in any strategic way from general U.S. policies in the Middle East. It must seem to many that anything is better than Bush and Cheney. Millions, faced with a choice between Barry Goldwater and Lyndon Johnson thought the same thing back in 1964, as they cast their ballots to elect JFK's former VP. The result was a little thing called the Vietnam War.

Also posted at Invictus