Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Price of Loyalty

Ok, once again folks here at my office have motivated a blog posting.

Some of the "conservatives" here are up in arms about the democrats forcing the senate to address Phase II of the investigation into intelligence. For them, all of the issues have been put to bed. The Phase I report says that our intelligence was flawed, and that there doesn't appear to be coercion as to why it was flawed. But Phase I only addressed the intelligence agencies. Phase II is supposed to look into the administrations role more thoroughly.

To understand why this is necessary we need to go back and paint the complete picture. Let's start with a few of my personal thoughts:

Starting a war to depose a ruler and occupy a nation should only be considered as a last resort.

The US had every right to invade Afghanistan and oust the Taliban. We were attacked by fundamentalists who were harbored by that regime.

However, as I have said before, Iraq presented NO threat to us. I believe this administration was looking for reasons to invade Iraq from it's first days -- before 9/11.

1- We know the folks at the Project for New American Century had a bug up their butts about Iraq and Saddam... They (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, etc.) tried to get Clinton to do something about him.

2- We know that Saddam and Iraq was a priority from the first days of the administration: Paul O'Neil, the president's first Treasury Secretary and former Nixon official, told us the administrations fixation on the Iraqi regime via Suskind's book and his 9/11 testimony.

3- The PNAC guys also focused on Iraq immediately after 9/11:

We agree with Secretary of State Powell’s recent statement that Saddam Hussein “is one of the leading terrorists on the face of the Earth….” It may be that the Iraqi government provided assistance in some form to the recent attack on the United States. But even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism. The United States must therefore provide full military and financial support to the Iraqi opposition. American military force should be used to provide a “safe zone” in Iraq from which the opposition can operate. And American forces must be prepared to back up our commitment to the Iraqi opposition by all necessary means.

4- Richard Clarke also testified that Bush told him to find a link between 9/11 and Saddam. Remember, this was sworn testimony before the Senate. Why didn't Bush or Cheney testify otherwise? They couldn't -- at least not under oath.

5- Remember the aluminum tubes? Why wasn't the Dept of Energy's (DOE) report sought out? They are the experts in this area. Their report confirmed that the tubes were not suitable for a centrifuge.

6- WMD - yes, most every intelligence agency thought Iraq was working on WMD, but the inspectors, military and our allies (and the UN) all wanted the administration to give the inspectors more time to do their work. The threat of invasion could have worked. Besides, we had NO evidence Saddam's regime intended giving nuclear material to terrorists. On the contrary, he was opposed to fundamentalists who would likely use such weapons against HIS regime.

7- The Niger letter: We know it took the IAEA less than 30 min to confirm the letters were forgeries. Why didn't our government explore that possibility? If you are considering war, shouldn't you make damn sure your information is accurate? .. to the best of your ability?

On top of this we have an administration that is willing to leak a covert operatives name to discredit dissenters. Whether or not a crime was committed is not the point: the fact that this administration could do such a thing during a time of war is despicable.

All of this points to one conclusion: the administration was looking for evidence to support its case for war with Iraq. It was not interested in honest debate on any of the criteria it was using to make that case. In fact, the administration actively, and in some cases brutally, put-down dissent ruining careers and endangering lives. This is the most disastrous type of leadership: searching for 'facts' to support your conclusion instead of analyzing the facts and deriving a sound policy from them.

As the MSNBC article points out:

This has been the Bush pattern. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill presciently says a second tax cut is unaffordable if we want to fight in Iraq—he's fired. Bush's economic adviser Larry Lindsey presciently says the war will cost between $100 billion and $200 billion (an underestimate)—he's fired. Army Gen. Eric Shinseki presciently says that winning in Iraq will require several hundred thousand troops—he's sent into early retirement. By contrast, CIA Director George Tenet, who presided over two of the greatest intelligence lapses in American history (9/11 and WMD in Iraq) and apparently helped spread "oppo ammo" to discredit the husband of a woman who had devoted her life to his agency, receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The conventional Washington explanation is that this is just old-fashioned politics. As long as you don't lie to a grand jury, there's nothing illegal here. But the consequences of a bias for loyalty over debate—even internal debate—have been devastating. The same president who seeks democracy, transparency and dissent in Iraq is irritated by it at home. O'Neill tells his story in a book by Ron Suskind called "The Price of Loyalty," and that title is the missing link in explaining the failure of the Bush presidency. The price of loyalty is incompetence. Issues don't get aired; downside risks remain un-assessed.

Such is the way of 'faith based leadership' when a president believes he's doing god's work...


bombsoverbaghdad said...


Look, deep down, your coworkers know that Bush manipulated the intelligence. Let me explain why they don't want Part II of the investigation.

I have many intelligent, moderate friends that were fanatically in support of the Iraq War. Despite all the things I told them about their not being WMD in Iraq, they were still for it, just because they "didn't trust" Saddam. Now, they have egg all over their faces, and I remind them all the time of their shortsightedness.

So, for your coworkers to acknowledge Bush lied is also to acknowledge that they were stupid and foolish enough to be suckered by such facile tactics. He played them like a flute and they know it. Behind closed doors, they acknowledge it.

Reign of Reason said...

I hope you are right BoB... otherwise, they are idiots -- intelligent in some ways, but idiots never the less.