Pullin’ No Punches –
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By jank - Last updated: Thursday, July 10, 2003 - Save & Share - 3 Comments

Wow – Johno goes straight to the meat. The London Independent has a pretty decent rundown of what the Brits knew and when they knew it. They’re not backing down on the claims of Iraq attempting to purchase uranium from various places in Africa.

It’s also a far stretch, and a pretty cheap shot, to equate possibly being mislead on intelligence after we’d gutted our ability to conduct human intelligence on the ground in less-than-savory regimes with what was, in fact, perjury. I can give WJC a pass on lying to his wife, and lying to reporters. But, the good old ‘I did not have sexual relations with that woman’ quote was under oath, and was a material misrepresentation of fact in a legitimate civil proceeding.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m pretty much out of step with the country here by wanting to take President Clinton to task for lying under oath. And I will concede that the whole episode was blown out of proportion (no pun intended). As much as I feel for Ms. Jones’ civil suit, I think the proper thing to have done would be to have postponed the suit until after Pres. Clinton had served out his second term. Only since it was a civil suit, clearly brought to diminish the president’s reputation. The Oval Office should not be a refuge from criminal charges (And I’m far from alleging any here.)

In any case – There are 24 million people who will be better off within a year than they would have been otherwise. And I’m still trying to figure out what the French and the Germans had to gain by continuing to allow sanctions which punished the Iraqi people instead of those in power and continued defiance of over a dozen UN resolutions calling for Iraq to prove to the satisfaction of the world that it was not pursuing WMD.

Did we have incomplete intelligence? Yes. Was it presented in a biased way? Yes. But here’s where I’m willing to let this be a complete non-issue:
1. Les Francais et al should have held Iraq “in contempt” of UN resolutions way back in 1998 when the Iraqis dismissed the UN inspection teams. Instead, we spent a couple million dollars to shoot a couple tomahawks up a camel’s butt to borrow a phrase (completely out of context, I know).
2. Similar claims, similar intelligence had been presented by the two US presidents prior to 43. If the intel is wrong now, it was wrong then. WJC and GHWB ought to have their staffs digging through their archives to submit the same evidence to Congress.
3. Iraq has had 12 years since the Gulf War to develop and conceal covert weapons projects. In the missiles launched at Kuwait, there was demonstrated data that they had developed weapons systems which exceeded the limits of the Gulf War cease fire and subsequent UN resolutions. 12 years is a lot of time to work on hiding programs which need a couple blocks of warehouse space total.

“The Dems will now use this quote as grounds to launch an expensive investigation trying their damndest to discredit a president who is already in question. This all sounds too familiar and in the end I think the American public will have formed an opinion despite whatever legal grounds may be won or lost. ‘…same as it ever was…'”

I’m sure this has been a whole lot of re-tread. Re-reading johno’s post, I think we’re on the same page, but from different directions. I’d actually like an objective look at the US’s intel capabilities and current policies, especially regarding humint. Dragging our the old engineer I keep locked up inside me, I keep wanting to scream that “The first thing you need to know about any data is the characteristics of the source, and what potential errors will be generated in gathering.’

Hyman G. Rickover, father of the Nuclear Navy, used to say frequently – “If you can’t immediately point a finger at the person responsible for something, then there is no-one in charge.” The State Department is going to point at the CIA, the CIA will point at the DOD, the DOD will point to the presidential staff, and the staff will point to State. Lots of sound bites, lots of finger pointing, and some stump material.

The clock is still ticking. I’m still pretty confident that we will find chemical and biological weapons to go with all the suits and shells we found cruising up to Baghdad. We’ve already found that instead of destroying their nuke program that the Iraqis tried to maintain the capability to refine uranium. There was a little over a decade of the Third Reich, and it took years to rebuild Western Europe. It’s been almost 15 years since the Berlin Wall came down, and Eastern Europe is just now getting the hang of liberal democracy, having had to take a while to work out their genocidal tendencies. I think it’s a gross overstatement to call the invasion or the post-war efforts ‘botched’ after three months.

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3 Responses to “Pullin’ No Punches –”

Comment from etrigan
Time July 11, 2003 at 1:28 pm

The conservatives are pulling semantics bullshit just like Clinton did. As I see it, the big difference is that Clinton was questioned about his private relationships in his personal life. W lied about national policy — and fuck semantics: any statement made during the SOTU (inarguably the POTUS’s most important speech during his career) is taken as truth by everyone listening. Bush didn’t say “They could be wrong, but the Brit gov’t thinks…” or “I don’t know if I trust them, but…”. He said “The Brit gov’t has learned…” He presented it as fact (and included semantic b.s. to remove possible blame in the future.)

The liberals get their kicks making a big deal about political issues. The conservatives get their kicks making a big deal of personal issues.

…and if the ends justify the means for one POTUS, it applies to all POTUSes. If finding WMD clears Bush lying about African uranium, coming clean about Monica clears Clinton lying about his sexual relations.

Comment from jank
Time July 11, 2003 at 1:52 pm

Point taken.

My second biggest gripe with this administration has been that they try to split the rhetorical hairs just as closely as the last administration did. They’re much less successful, though, because – like you mentioned – liberals love finding verbal gaffes and pounding on them ad nauseum.

As far as the uranium issue goes, though, I’m completely willing to let the Pres off the hook. Having been on the receiving end of intelligence back in my boat days it’s a good day if 1/3 of what the analysts send you ends up panning out. Should he have had better screening by his advisors? Yep. A much better strategy for winning over the US public would have been to continue to bash the UN for failing to enforce their resolutions, IMHO.

Comment from etrigan
Time July 11, 2003 at 2:14 pm

yes, and sort-of yes.

I keep saying “the POTUS” and I don’t actually mean the individual, George W Bush, I mean the office and all the people involved. They’ve let us down. I accepted W’s election with the hopes that he’d have an intelligent staff to cover his weak points (and I don’t just mean his grammar). I have been dissapointed.

You receiving bad intel in the field is part of the job you have to do. Like me, you probably have a pretty good method of gut-checking the intel you receive and balancing it by it’s worth. However, (as you allude) you don’t stand in front of the entire nation (half of who voted for you) and pass on questionable intel. You share that intel with other people who know the caveats that come with the intel. The American public was never told “this is just intel — it can’t be fully trusted.”

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