Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Wolf's At the Door (Again) Beware His Cohort and the Zen Un-Master (Phony Intelligence No Longer That Hard To Spot)

Not just based on lies.

But self-serving lies.

It used to be commonly accepted behavior that if you promoted a certain controversial (and usually expensive for other people) action that you bent over backward to ensure your audience that it didn't enhance your own income or lifestyle as a bonus.

That modest courtesy was disabled with the Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore.

And it's still flying that flag (false flag).

Lots of witty, trauma-inducing and telling essays have been written in the last few days addressing this almost incredibly unbelievable immoral failing.

Sardonicky's How To Sell A War is particularly sublime.

Digby, Rude Pundit, Mike Whitney and Thomas S. Harrington's "predictably idiotic" MSM essay stand out from the surging crowd.

Boing, Boing shows us today's chaotic last chance power grab. And, no, that's our Iraq government (again).

Jun 18, 2014

Paul Wolfowitz Despicably Reprising Old Lies on Iraq

Remember how we had to go into Iraq allegedly because of al-Qaida? It was wrong - and the abject lie is returning

Paul Wolfowitz despicably reprising old lies on Iraq
Paul Wolfowitz (Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas)

Back in 2008, the Center for Public Integrity and its affiliated group, the Fund for Independence in Journalism, released a study of the false rationales that led the nation into the Iraq War. It found that leading Bush administration officials had publicly lied at least 935 times. The major lie was about the Saddam Hussein regime possessing weapons of mass destruction. But the second most common lie was that there was a link between Saddam and al-Qaida, which made the possibility of an Iraqi nuclear weapon falling into the hands of the terrorists who perpetrated 9/11 particularly frightening.

Perhaps the most relentless purveyor of that lie, and one of the earliest to make the case, was Vice President Dick Cheney, who famously said on “Meet the Press” less than two months after the 9/11 attacks:

“Well, the evidence is pretty conclusive that the Iraqis have indeed harbored terrorists.”
In this appearance he makes the first public mention that hijacker Mohammed Atta met with an Iraqi spy in Prague. This was disproved fairly quickly, but Cheney persisted in repeating it.
President Bush expanded on this idea, making this alleged connection explicit in a Cincinnati speech in October of 2002:

We know that Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy — the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. Some al Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. These include one very senior al Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks.

We’ve learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases. And we know that after September the 11th, Saddam Hussein’s regime gleefully celebrated the terrorist attacks on America.

Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists. Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints.
Some have argued that confronting the threat from Iraq could detract from the war against terror. To the contrary; confronting the threat posed by Iraq is crucial to winning the war on terror. When I spoke to Congress more than a year ago, I said that those who harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves. Saddam Hussein is harboring terrorists and the instruments of terror, the instruments of mass death and destruction. And he cannot be trusted. The risk is simply too great that he will use them, or provide them to a terror network.
One of the prime sources for phony intelligence during the run-up to the war was the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans, which was run by one of Paul Wolfowitz’s subordinates, Douglas Feith. Wolfowitz (perhaps best known for his assurance that the war would pay for itself — an assertion that proved to be a couple of trillion dollars off the mark) was a longtime member of the neoconservative claque that had been agitating for an invasion of Iraq ever since the first Gulf War. The Office of Special Plans “analyses” of the connections between Saddam and al-Qaida were later found to be completely erroneous, probably fraudulent.

But they served their purpose. In the aftermath of 9/11 and the anthrax attacks, the nation was susceptible to propaganda. In retrospect, it’s clear that the conflation of 9/11 with Saddam was a conscious strategy by those who had long favored an invasion of Iraq for other reasons to use the fear of al-Qaida to help stoke fears of a nuclear armed Iraq. Indeed, one cannot imagine that the Iraq invasion could have happened without 9/11. But,  it was based on lies.

However, the recent events in Iraq have brought some of those players back into the limelight as media outlets inexplicably look to them for “expert” commentary. (If the story is about how one deals with the burden of being so devastatingly wrong, then I suppose it might make sense.)
Wolfowitz has been one of the more ubiquitous of these ignominious experts, in the last few days appearing on several programs to talk about what the U.S. should be doing in Iraq. But considering the history of lies with which he is so closely affiliated, this comment was of particular note:

Wolfowitz argued on both programs that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and other militants in Iraq should be referred to as Al Qaeda-linked groups, saying that the use of terms like “ISIS” and “Sunni and Shia” doesn’t appropriately signify the urgency of the situation for the American people.
You’ll note that he doesn’t acknowledge that the designations ISIS and “Sunni and Shia” are correct terms. He is giving propaganda advice: if you want to convey the urgency of the situation you must link this current activity to al-Qaida. It’s déjà vu all over again.

And just as it was in 2003, when the Bush administration used this same “sense of urgency” to rush the nation into an unnecessary war, Paul Wolfowitz is going on television and telling people they should do it again. And once again, it’s a lie.

The militant group ISIS has actually been ostracized by the al-Qaida organization for being too brutal toward fellow Muslims. This, apparently, hurts al-Qaida’s “brand.” Seriously.) They are dedicated sectarian militants who are fighting in Syria and Iraq for the empowerment of the Sunni Muslim sect. You cannot tell this story without using the words “Sunni” and “Shia.” But then he doesn’t want the real story told, does he? Wolfowitz apparently realizes, from his long experience with lying to the American people, that this will probably not be seen as a good reason for the U.S. to get militarily involved in Iraq again. Even evoking the specter of 9/11 and al-Qaida’s affiliation will be a tough sell at this point, but it’s all they’ve got.

The question is whether anyone’s listening to him. The answer, unfortunately, appears to be yes. None other than the powerful chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Mike Rogers, was on television Tuesday morning trying out the new meme (emphasis added):

Rogers: We have a momentum problem that’s in favor of an al Qaeda army, I-S-I-S [he spelled it ou(t) rather than saying it the way everyone else does], that is marching across Baghdad executing people, as you saw in your own footage, pulling people out of trucks if they aren’t answering the right questions about being a Sunni, they’ll shoot them. It’s quite gruesome. And it’s getting worse. They have a billion dollars, they have heavy weapons, they reportedly have two helicopters. This is an al Qaeda army on the move. So our immediate concern should be to stop their momentum…
It’s going to be up to the media to burst the meme this time. There is no question that ISIS is not an “al-Qaida army” and Paul Wolfowitz apparently forgot himself when he admitted on television that linking these militants to al-Qaida was a ploy to rile up the rubes. Even if one were to take him seriously and believe that the American people should see the urgency of this situation, never again should Paul Wolfowitz or any of his cohorts be allowed to manipulate the public with such cheap propaganda. The media must explain the facts as they are to the public and the public must decide if it wants its government to escalate American involvement in this conflict based on the truth.
As President George W. Bush so memorably quipped:

There’s an old saying in Tennessee – I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee – that says, fool me once, shame on – shame on you. Fool me – you can’t get fooled again.
He said that in September of 2002, by the way, as he was “rolling out the new product” – also known as the case for invading Iraq.

Heather Digby Parton
Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

Yes. Heather deserves a lot of credit.

And she's finally getting some.


Greg Bacon said...

While researching something else, ran across this little jewel of info about the Bush v. Gore cat fight.

Nov. 2000 Future Chief Justice John Roberts flies to Florida to advise Jeb Bush during recount.

At the time, didn't know that and bet many Americans still don't.

So many backs getting scratched those days!

Cirze said...

Thanks, Greg.

I had seen that nugget previously, and remembering who was flown in for the "Brooks Bros. (a lot like the Koch Bros. of today) Riot" at the Miami-Dade County polling headquarters helps keep in mind how well planned it all was.

Otherwise, why would well-educated and handsomely paid young men think of partaking in something decidedly extralegal, especially when so many were planning to be lawyers and government employees?

Within days, they had been identified as Republican operatives and their protest was dubbed the “Brooks Brothers Riot.” Among the leaders were aides to Republican Representative Tom DeLay of Texas. (Four years later, The "Washington Post"’s Al Kamen and others provided a handy guide to the protesters, titled, “Where are they now?”

One was serving as White House political director; another became deputy director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, and several had joined powerful Washington lobbying groups. Another year later, one of the group replaced Karl Rove as Bush’s policy director.

From "Wikipedia":
Roger Stone, a self described "GOP Hitman" and former member of Nixon's Committee for the Re-Election of the President
Matt Schlapp, a former House aide who became the White House political director during the Bush administration
Garry Malphrus, who became deputy director of the White House Domestic Policy Council during the Bush administration
Rory Cooper, a former staffer for the National Republican Congressional Committee
Tom Pyle, a former Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) staffer
Roger Morse, a former House aide who became a lobbyist
Duane Gibson, an aide on the House Resources Committee who became a lobbyist and consultant
Chuck Royal, legislative assistant to Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.),
Layna McConkey Peltier, a former Senate and House aide
Kevin Smith, a former GOP House aideSteven Brophy, a former GOP Senate aide

From Al Kamen's column in 1/24/05 "WaPo":

dozens of "local protesters," actually mostly Republican House aides from Washington, chanted "Stop the fraud!" and "Let us in!" when the local election board tried to move the re-counting from an open conference room to a smaller space.

. . . With help from their GOP colleagues and others, we identified some of theseRepublican heroes of yore in a photo of the event. . . Matt Schlapp, a former House aide and then a Bush campaign aide, has risen to be White House political director. Garry Malphrus, a former staff director of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on criminal justice, is now deputy director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. And Rory Cooper, who was at the National Republican Congressional Committee, later worked at the White House Homeland Security Council and was seen last week working for the Presidential Inaugural Committee. . . Tom Pyle, who had worked for Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), went private sector a few months later, getting a job as director of federal affairs for Koch Industries.

. . . Roger Morse, another House aide, moved on to the law and lobbying firm Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds. "I was also privileged to lead a team of Republicans to Florida to help in the recount fight," he told a legal trade magazine in a 2003 interview.

Duane Gibson, an aide on the House Resources Committee, was a solo lobbyist and formerly with the Greenberg Traurig lobby operation. He is now with the Livingston Group as a consultant.

Chuck Royal was . . . a legislative assistant to Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), a former House member.

Layna McConkey Peltier, who had been a Senate and House aide and was at Steelman Health Strategies during the effort, is now at Capital Health Group.

. . . Kevin Smith, a former GOP House aide who later worked with, Steven Brophy, a former GOP Senate aide and then at consulting firm KPMG.

Again, thanks, and keep an eye on those "planners."

- Not a Conspiracist

Cirze said...

Whoops! Left out a few more winners: From:

In the heat of battle over the 2000 Florida vote, which would decide who would be president, a burly, mustachioed man burst into the room where the ballots for Miami-Dade County were being tabulated like John Wayne barging into a saloon for a shootout. "I'm with the Bush-Cheney team, and I'm here to stop the count," drawled John Bolton.

And those ballots from Miami-Dade were not counted. Dick Cheney beamed that Bolton's job should be "anything he wants."

. . . Turns out Rove's replacement as policy czar had a hand in the "recount riot" that shut down the vote counting in Florida back in 2000. [link to]

New WH Policy Chief Was "Brooks Brothers" Rioter
By Justin Rood - April 19, 2006,
To the Burberry ramparts!

The man Bush tapped to fill Karl Rove's spot as his policy wizard is none other than Joel Kaplan, who took part in the infamous "Brooks Brothers riot" of 2000. That's when a bunch of Washington GOP operatives, posing as outraged Floridians, waved fists, chanted "Stop the fraud!" and pounded windows in an effort to intimidate officials engaged in the Florida recount effort.

In George Bush's Washington, there's no shame in staging a fake protest to undermine a democratic election, apparently: last year, the Washington Post's Al Kamen noted that "the "rioters" proudly note their participation on resumes and in interviews." Kaplan was even the one to cheekily dub the fracas the "Brooks Brothers Riot."

[link to]

[link to]

Cirze said...

Want to see a pic of these Brooks Brothers Rioters?
From "Perrspectives":

Every football coach will tell you: if a play works, keep running it until the defense stops you. And so it is with the health care debate. Facing overwhelming public support for health care reform, right-wing groups have deployed mobs to disrupt events and"rattle" Democratic politicians in Austin, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and across the country. As the bitter 2000 recount battle in DadeCounty, Florida showed, that model of intimidation and manufactured outrage has a proven track record of success for the RepublicanParty.

The infamous "Brooks Brother riot" in Miami worked exactly as designed for the campaign ofGeorge W. Bush. As election officials in Dade County began their manual recount process that might have shifted the county, the state and the presidency to Al Gore,Republican operatives were dispatched to shut it down. As the New York Times summed up the November 22 onslaught:

After a furious demonstration by Republicans,Miami-Dade County election officials stunned both sides in the bitter contest for Florida's presidential vote and decided unanimously today to end their recount of 654,000 ballots...

Then as now, the Republican Party and its allies dispatched GOP shock troops to foment fear and blow up the ballot examination. As Time recalled:

Marjorie Strayer insisted she was just a Virginian on vacation in Miami. She had come to thedowntown Stephen P. Clark Government Center to watch the Dade County vote recount-something to do before the trip to the Seaquarium. But Strayer, it turns out, is a top aide to New Mexico's Republican Congresswoman, Heather Wilson, and was one of hundreds of paid G.O.P. crusaders who descended on South Florida last Wednesday to protest the state's recounts. . .

In a Winnebago outside, G.O.P. operatives orchestrated the ranks up to the 19th floor, hoping to halt the tally of the largest potential lode of Gore votes. Republicans, not usually known for takin' it to the streets, got what they wanted. Just two hours after a near riot outside the counting room, the Miami-Dade canvassing board voted to shut down the count.

Yet the way the Republicans went after it, by intimidating the 3-member board or by providing the excuse it was looking for, gave Americans the first TV view of strong-arm tactics in what was supposed to be a showcase of democracy in action.

Strong-arm tactics, indeed. As Time noted, "the G.O.P.'s march turned into a mob" with "the screaming, the pounding on doors and the alleged physical assaults on Democrats suddenly made a bemused public queasy." But there was nothing "alleged" about the assaults, as the Times account made clear:

The tightly-coordinated conservative campaign of intimidation, enragement and disruption (IED) intended to both blow up Democratic health care events and produce the mirage of grassroots outrage is working. While Politico proclaimed Tuesday, "Dems' break looking like a bad trip," the New York Times announced "health plan opponents make voices heard" in an article that understated the Republican battle plan of astro-turfing with a clenched fist.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the "White House isn't concerned about by health care protests." But it should be. Not because the Republican descent into mob rule reflects the will of the American people, but because it's worked before.

Just ask President Gore.

UPDATE 1: In January 2005, the Washington Post's Al Kamen profiled the pictured "Miami Riot Squad" and asked what happened to them. What happened is that they were rewarded with high-profile jobs working for the Bush White House, the RNC, Republican Congressmen and consulting groups.