BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE
CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O SUNK LIKE A STONE TONIGHT AT WEST POINT. SOME WHITE HOUSE SOURCES (OKAY, ROBERT GIBBS) AGREED TO TALK PROVIDED WE GAVE THEM INCENTIVE (A HONEY BAKED HAM WHICH HE CONSUMED -- BONE AND ALL -- IN 5 MINUTES). THE WHITE HOUSE SOURCE TOLD US BARRY O WAS THROWN FOR A LOOP WHEN RAHM EMANUEL REFUSED TO ALLOW BARACK TO WEAR THE WHITE DRESS HE WANTED TO WEAR.
"IT'S WHAT MARILYN MONROE WORE IN THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH!" INSISTED BARRY O ACCORDING TO GIBBS WHO SWEARS "BARRY O WAS HIGHLY FETCHING IN THAT DRESS. AND WHEN RAHM SAID NO, NO, NO, BARRY O EVEN OFFERED TO WEAR PANTIES BUT IT WAS NO GO. AFTER THAT, OUR CELEBRITY IN CHIEF WAS IN A FUNK."
WHICH EXPLAINED HIS STOP, START, SANDY DENNIS DELIVERY AS WELL AS HIS LACKLUSTER LOOK WHICH APPEARED TO PAY HOMAGE TO CHER'S "HALF-BREED" PERIOD (PHOTO: ISAIAH/TCI IMAGES). IT DIDN'T HELP THAT HE WAS CAUGHT IN ONE LIE AFTER ANOTHER.
HE ANNOUNCED, FOR EXAMPLE, THAT "OUR NEW APPROACH IN AFGHANISTAN IS LIKELY TO COST US ROUGHLY $30 BILLION FOR THE MILITARY THIS YEAR, AND I WILL WORK CLOSELY WITH CONGRESS TO ADDRESS THESE COSTS AS WE WORK TO BRING DOWN OUR DEFICIT." BUT THE 2010 FISCAL YEAR BUDGET ALREADY PASSED AND STARTED OCTOBER 1ST. TO PAY $30 BILLION MORE, BARRY O WOULD NEED TO DO A SUPPLEMENTAL.
BUT APRIL 9TH, WHEN HE SENT ANOTHER SUPPLEMENTAL TO CONGRESS HE SWORE NEVER AGAIN. HE WROTE A FAN LETTER TO NANCY PELOSI WHERE HE USED THE WORD "LAST" ON SUPPLEMENTAL. AND THE WHITE HOUSE ISSUED A STATEMENT THAT DAY:
This is the last planned war supplemental. Moving forward, the President is committed to honest budgeting and fiscal discipline in which these costs are accounted for in the budget -- and are clear for all to see. After seven years of war, the American people deserve an honest accounting of the cost of our involvement in our ongoing military operations.
IN OTHER LAUGH GETTING LINES, BARRY O DECLARED HE "WILL CLOSE GUANTANAMO." OF COURSE, HE PROMISED IT WOULD BE CLOSED BY THE END OF THE YEAR. YOU SEE THAT HAPPEN YET?
BEST OF ALL WAS WHEN HE TALKED ABOUT VIETNAM AND THE PRESS ROOM EXCLAIMED, "BUT YOU WERE ONLY EIGHT YEARS OLD!"
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Today in London, the Iraq Inquiry continued. Last Tuesday was when the public hearings began. Mary Dejevsky (Independent of London) offers this evaulation of the Inquiry thus far, "The Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war is a week old and even at this very early stage it appears that its chief victim could be Tony Blair, the man who has so successfully prevented the mud sticking to him hitherto. The questioning may have been gentle, but one after another, the top civil servants of the time have plunged the knife in to the former prime minister, sometimes brutally, sometimes with a surgeon's finesse. Whenever the question of responsibility for the war arose, they were clear that it was not theirs. Which is the constitutional truth. Their duty as civil servants is to execute the policies of the elected government, not, for all the fun and games of Yes, Minister, to thwart them." Sian Ruddick (Great Britain's Socialist Worker) also weighs in, "Many people feared that the Iraq inquiry, which opened last week, was going to be a whitewash. While that is still a strong possibility, the inquiry's first week has revealed the continuing crisis in the establishment over the invasion in March 2003."
Today the committee heard from Peter Ricketts (Political Director of the UK Foreign Office Sept. 2001 through July 2003) and Edward Chaplin (British Ambassador to Jordan May 2000 to April 2002, Director for Middle East and North Africa April 2002 to Sepember 2003). The session opened with Chair John Chilcot offering a "good morning everyone" before noting there were not "as many in the 'everyone' as there have been on previous days, but you are very welcome." The witnesses are not put under oath before they offer their testimony; however, after the transcripts have been typed up and corrected, they are "asked to sign a transcript of their evidence to the effect that the evidence they have given is truthful, fair and accurate." Chair Chilcot went over the particulars with a little more emphasis today and the hearing also got to the point a little more quickly today.
Committee Member Martin Gilbert: My first question is from the perspective of the Foreign Office, from your perspective, when did it become apparent that the United States was contemplating a more active approach to regime change in Iraq than during the first years of the Bush administration, during the first year?
Peter Ricketts repeated what he had said last week about it being policy Bully Boy Bush being installed in the White House by the Supreme Court -- he again pointed to an article Condi Rice wrote for the journal Foreign Affairs calling on regime change. The way Ricketts continuously references this article by Condi Rice, you'd think it was all about Iraq. It's not. "Campaign 2000: Promoting the National Interest" was in the January/February 2000 issue of Foreign Affairs (house organ of the Council on, of and for Foreign Relations). She uses a sizable amount of space blaming Bill Clinton for everything -- including for deploying, in her opinion, too many miltiary personnel overseas (yes, it is laughable) and claiming that the next president will have to clean up after Clinton (yes, it is laughable). She mentions Saddam in passing in terms of 1990s action and then, much later in the paper, she writes:
As history marches toward markets and democracy, some states have been left by the side of the road. Iraq is the prototype. Saddam Hussein's regime is isolated, his conventional military power has been severely weakened, his people live in poverty and terror, and he has no useful place in international politics. He is therefore determined to develop WMD. Nothing will change until Saddam is gone, so the United States must mobilize whatever resources it can, including support from his opposition, to remove him.
She's much more concerned with Russia (which was her area of expertise -- although I never saw any expertise in any of her statements on that country), China and North Korea. The way Ricketts and others have referenced this lengthy article one could easily walk away with the impression that Iraq was her focus in the paper. That is simply incorrect. Her call for regime change in Iraq (the section quoted above) is 83 words -- 83 word out of over 6,596 words in the essay. And, repeating, China, Iran, North Korea, Russia and other areas receive far more attention in the paper. I'm not saying Rice didn't want regime change in Iraq, she clearly advocated for it. Far into her paper. It would be interesting to know what other things she advocated for in that paper the British government was willing to sign off on.
Interestingly for someone who keeps name dropping Rice and referencing her paper, Ricketts never explains -- nor is he asked -- why either the US or the UK governments were insisting they believed Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction? In Rice's paper -- from 2000, only two years prior -- she's asserting Hussein is "determined to develop WMD." When did he do that? In two years time, how did he manage that? Iraq had no WMD -- NONE -- but it's interesting that the official position in 2000 was that he was "determined" to create some and two years later -- while Iraq is still under sanctions and still has no-fly zones and is heavily monitored by many Western countries -- the word Bush and Blair's administrations put out is that Iraq has WMD. Ricketts the one who can't shut up about Condi's article. So maybe he should have been asked when he believed Iraq developed WMD and why he believed that? That really is more to the point or does he just intend to hide behind Condi's skirts for the entire inquiry? But would it even matter if the question were asked? Follow this exchange from today, note the very clear question and try to find where in Ricketts' response he answers the question.
Commitee Member Martin Gilbert: How do you account for the scepticism, the general scepticism of the British public, that Saddam constituted a serious danger to the region.
Peter Ricketts: We had spent the previous months concentrating on the threat from Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. We had been through the military intervention in Afghanistan and we were still, at that stage, involved in the aftermath of that, an international security force and the civilian effort in Afghanistan. There was a lot of public attention on Al-Qaeda and the threat from Afghanistan. As we have discussed in previous evidence sessions, we had, in Whitehall, been seriously concerned about the threat from weapons of mass destruction and the risk that they would be reconstituted as the sanctions regime broke down and Saddam got access to more moeny, and it had been a consistent worry. 9/11 and the evidence of terrorist interest in weapons of mass destruction was a further boost. It was a very strong strand in the Prime Minister's thinking and the Foreign Secretary's thinking, but it hadn't been a big feature of public presentation of the counter-terrorism strategy. Therefore, as we focused harder on Iraq, as that was clearly rising up the US political agenda, it was important that we should get out to the public more information about what we saw as the threat from Saddam, Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
That was Ricketts' full response. I didn't leave out a word. Did he answer the question? No, not really. Unless the answer is: "We worked real hard to sell the war on Afghanistan and then had to scramble after that to sell the war on Iraq -- and since we were already tired from selling one war, we didn't have it in us to be convincing and the public caught on."
Pressed by Committee Member Martin Gilbert, Ricketts admitted that the Foreign Office was involved in planning "just after the Crawford meeting" with the Ministry of Defence. Let's jump in at his but. And see if you can catch Peter Ricketts lying.
Peter Ricketts: We didn't discuss military planning as such. We discussed the implications of military planning for other departments' activities, and the key initial work that I was involved in was trying to define an end-state for any miltiary action we took. We had never supported the idea simply of regime change, that was not our proposal, but to say disarming Saddam of his weapons of mass destruction was not adequate either, and so we developed some ideas on what an end-state should be, the sort of Iraq that we would want to see, law-abiding, sovereign, with territorial integrity, not posing a threat to its neighbours, respecting its obligations on weapons of mass destruction and so on. We worked up in that group an end-state which was one of the political implications of any military plan.
Ricketts is such a liar. He says that "we" "never supported the idea simply of regime change." He creates the impression that this wasn't the UK goal but it was the UK goal and it was the goal post-Crawford (which is when Tony Blair begins using the phrase in speeches -- speeches echoing the Blair Doctrine he outlined in his 1999 speech). He's being asked about that and he's lying. Gilbert persists and forces this response out of Ricketts: "It is hard to imagine that an Iraq of that kind was possible with Saddam Hussein in charge, and if -- because the presumption of this work was that in due course there would be a miltiary operation." Yes, it is hard to imagine that UK was planning for anything other than regime change. Ricketts then attempts to backtrack insisting that would only be the outcome -- regime change would be the outcome -- if there was military action. At which point, Edward Chaplin jumps in.
Edward Chaplin: Could I add one point? There was also the possibility, perhaps you have touched on already, that under pressure, including military pressure, build-up, Saddam Hussein would be persuaded by other Arab heads of government to step down and go into exile; in other words, we would achieve a change in the regime's policies without military action.
And forcing someone into exile? That's regime change. Or failed regime change if you want to consider the CIA-backed attempt to force Hugo Chavez into exile in 2002. On the issue of countries neighboring Iraq and how they were sounded out, Edward Chaplin offered:
Obviously there were very frequent conversations with leaders in the Arab world, particularly those likely to be most affected. I already mentioned conversations I had when I was ambassador in Jordan. There were real fears about the impact of military action in Iraq articulated very clearly by the King of Jordan and others, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. In terms of the impact it would have on the stability of the Middle East, and the impact it would have on the peace process -- the double standards I have indicated -- and, indeed, the impact it would have on the wider campaign against terrorism post-9/11. So they were flagging those up. What we were doing was the messages we were passing to all these governments, particularly those with any influence in Baghdad, was, "We hear all that and we can see it very clearly, as clearly as you can, but this is a very serious problem and it has to be resolved. We have been at this for 11/12 years, we cannot go on, particularly after 9/11, without resolving this threat." Therefore, our hope was that they would add their own actions and pressure through private or public means, to persaude the Iraqi regime to start cooperating seriously with the UN, and we assured them that, if they did that, then, you know, we would react accordingly. We were not looking for an excuse to take military action, far from it. We did want this problem resolved and that was as much, we thought, in their interest as ours. Of course, their perception of the threat, the WMD threat, was not as serious as ours, with the one exception perhaps of Iran, the neighbour that had suffered quite severely from the actual use of WMD, I have to say.
Mark Stone (Sky News) feels that today offered "a developing narrative" which he sums up as:
In the run-up to war -- those key months between 9/11 (when the Bush Administration's grumblings about Iraq turned to more distinct drum-beats) and the invasion in March 2003 -- the UK was determined to lead America down the 'UN route'.
All the witnesses have cited numerous occasions when Tony Blair, with the help of his diplomats and ambassadors, pushed an increasingly disinterested American Administration back to the UN table.
If that is the narrative, the UK push for the UN ended with 1441 (authorization for weapons inspectors to return to Iraq) -- which was made obvious by Jeremy Greenstock's testimony last week or have we all forgotten that?
Michael Savage (Independent of London) emphasizes, "Despite declarations that Britain would lead an 'exemplary' operation to bring back normality to the area around Basra, in the south of the country, the Chilcot Iraq inquiry heard that the demands of the task soon outstripped the money provided by the Government." Ruth Barnett (Sky News -- link has text and video) emphasizes the testimony by Chaplin that the US had "touching faith": "The US administration had 'toughing faith that once Iraq had been liberated from Saddam Hussein . . . there would be dancing in the streets,' Mr Chaplain said. 'We tried to point out that was estremely optimistic'." Chaplain returned to that 'touching faith' in another response which we'll note in full:
Edward Chaplin: I think we were all very concerned at the lack of preparations in terms of what we could see happening in Washing. What was happening there was that the rather detailed work that had already been done by the State Department over many months, didn't seem to be finding its way into the policy-making, the preparation for the aftermath, which was all in the hands of the Pentagon. The Pentagon took the decision to set up this organisation ORHA [Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance], and appoint an ex-General to be in charge of it. But there was a certain disregard -- an unwillingness, I think, to use the State Department expertise to devise a policy and -- or indeed to attach some of the experts who actually knew a lot about the region and spoke the language and so on. Again, this goes back to what I was saying earlier about a touching belief that we shouldn't worry so much about the aftermath because it was all going to be sweetness and light.
But where could this 'touching faith' have come from?
Edward Chaplin: I think one of the problems that the Amreicans had this view was that they relied heavily on what they were hearing from different opposition groups, and these were the opposition groups outside Iraq. We were always a great deal more sceptical about what they were saying and what they were claiming would happen in the aftermath of an invasion, but I think some Americans were hearing some very happy talk from the likes of Mr [Ahmed] Chalabi that, once Saddam Hussein had gone, they didn't need to worry, everything would be fine, the subtext being particularly if they handed over power to someone like Mr Chalabi. We were always very firmly of the view and expressed this to everyone including the Americans, but also in the region, that we held no particular candle for any opposition, any exiled group. We had a view that they carried actually very little credibility where it mattered in Iraq.
Wait a minute. The British government thought that? Then why has the press never thought it? Why has the US press -- in total -- refused to question the installing of exiles? The role of the press is supposed to be a skeptical one. So why is it that all these exiles got installed and the press didn't question it? No fiery editorials from the New York Times, for example. It was always basic. It's popped up in many snapshots. A group of people who flee the country while you live there and suffer aren't seen as 'heroes' or 'special' or 'leaders' when they strut back in with foreign invaders. Doesn't work that way. Never has historically. But the press was somehow blind to that. It's a strange sort of blind spot -- one that the British government didn't have. The press had and continues to have that blind spot because they're not about what's right or what's fair. The press long ago enlisted to sell this illegal war. In the US, they embedded with the illegal war while dickering over a few details. The illegal war? Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) explains, "In the event of military action, Ricketts told the inquiry, Lord Boyce, then chief of the defence staff, needed the agreement of the government's law officers. That was an 'absolute requirement', said Ricketts. On 7 March 2003, less than a fortnight before the invasion, Lord Goldsmith, the attorney general, advised that British commanders could be arraigned before the international criminal court if they joined the US-led invasion." On the legality issue, Johan Steyn's "Invading Iraq was not just a disaster: it was illegal" (Financial Times of London) went up last night and advocates for the inquiry to release an interim report issuing a finding "on the legality of the Iraq war". Steyn writes, "I would expect the inquiry to conclude -- in agreement with Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations -- that in the absence of a second UN resolution authorising invasion, it was illegal."
RECOMMENDED: Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "I Am The War Hawk You Have Been Waiting For"
"Steyn says Iraq War illegal and Inquiry should conclude that"
"US military deaths in Iraq highest since June"
"Michelle and Barry wasting our money"
"What are we paying for and how?"
"new cbo report"
"Harry Reid, no leadership"
"About the Joni review . . .."
"The always laughable ACORN"
"No surprise, Barack doesn't listen to the people"
"Joni Mitchell, faux universal insurance"
"Isaiah, Paul Kirk, Third"
"THIS JUST IN! MELANCHOLY BARRY!"
"Ready to play dress up"