Tuesday, July 15, 2003

He's back, and he's come back swinging. Yes, that's right, Prof. Paul Krugman's long absence is over, and he (oddly enough) sinks his teeth into the yellowcake scandal, saying what most of the rest of the media will not:

How did we get into this mess? The case of the bogus uranium purchases wasn't an isolated instance. It was part of a broad pattern of politicized, corrupted intelligence.

Literally before the dust had settled, Bush administration officials began trying to use 9/11 to justify an attack on Iraq. Gen. Wesley Clark says that he received calls on Sept. 11 from "people around the White House" urging him to link that assault to Saddam Hussein. His account seems to back up a CBS.com report last September, headlined "Plans for Iraq Attack Began on 9/11," which quoted notes taken by aides to Donald Rumsfeld on the day of the attack: "Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not."

But an honest intelligence assessment would have raised questions about why we were going after a country that hadn't attacked us. It would also have suggested the strong possibility that an invasion of Iraq would hurt, not help, U.S. security.

So the Iraq hawks set out to corrupt the process of intelligence assessment. On one side, nobody was held accountable for the failure to predict or prevent 9/11; on the other side, top intelligence officials were expected to support the case for an Iraq war....

It gets worse. Knight Ridder newspapers report that a "small circle of senior civilians in the Defense Department" were sure that their favorite, Ahmad Chalabi, could easily be installed in power. They were able to prevent skeptics from getting a hearing — and they had no backup plan when efforts to anoint Mr. Chalabi, a millionaire businessman, degenerated into farce.

...So who will be held accountable? Mr. Tenet betrayed his office by tailoring statements to reflect the interests of his political masters, rather than the assessments of his staff — but that's not why he may soon be fired. Yesterday USA Today reported that "some in the Bush administration are arguing privately for a C.I.A. director who will be unquestioningly loyal to the White House as committees demand documents and call witnesses."
As myself and others have pointed out, this issue of perverted intelligence is in many ways far more important than whether or not Bush knew that the SOTN address contained false information. No matter where you sit on the ideological scale, you have to acknowledge that the only way a "shadow war" like the War on Terrorism can be fought is with absolutely unpoliticized and unblinkered information and intelligence. It is also crystal clear that Bush and Rumsfeld and their lot have been desperate to try to take intelligence and fit it into their pre-conceived notions of what the world is like and what the shape of the war should take. Then they act surprised when it blows up in their faces.

This is disasterous, but not surprising. This administration has proven over and over that it cares very little for what the truth of any particular issue might be. It has, in fact, taken the post-modern stance of believing and acting like there is no "objective truth" at all, merely different positions (positions based, of course, entirely on political ideology). We've seen this pattern over and over again: on taxes, on trade, on foreign relations, on morality, on religion, on governmental spending (it is the core of the term "Bushwhacked")... the truth is irrelevant as long as their spin is dominant.

Adroit observers will also note a similarity between this behavior and the attitudes and behavior of the "conservative media" in the United States. The sacrifice of truth, veracity, honesty and objectivity to political ideology and Republican-friendly spin has been the case for a long time in the pages of the National Review, the Weekly Standard, Newsmax, Frontpage, and the various quasi-journalists that staff them and surround them. Observers will also notice that there is a similarity between the Bush administration's behavior and the actions and writings of conservative think tanks which exist not to produce clear-eyed scholarship but to (as the Heritage Foundation eagerly points out) solely support pre-determined conservative positions- to provide reams of "studies" that conservatives can point to as proof of their positions and "experts" to flood the media with conservative positions. And let us not forget that the very same people who worked for these truth-averse conservative media, think tanks, and lobbyist groups are the ones working for the Bush administration right now!

Is it any wonder that "faith-based intelligence" is the rule in the Bush White House? Everything that has come from the conservative movement over the past 20+ years has been "faith-based"! Why on earth should their attitudes and behavior regarding the CIA, the State Department, and the Department of Defense be any different? The Bush administration exists almost solely as a jolly playground for conservative hacks and pseudo-scholars of every stripe!

I've said it before elsewhere, and I'll say it again here: as of this point, the Republican party and the conservative movement have proven that they cannot be trusted with executive power. They endanger the Union and the world. This power needs to be removed from them as soon as is constitutionally possible. Impeachment isn't going to happen, but the 2004 election is. Enough damage has already been done, and I only hope that the American people will see through the "faith-based" snowjob they've had done to them.

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