The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
Everyone, Blood in the water? The Bush administration's legacy of prowar disinformation was broadly and angrily criticized in the mainstream media last week. Most striking: >> The NY Times widely respected columnist, Paul Krugman, wrote: "Right now the administration is playing the war card, inventing facts as necessary, and trying to use the remnants of Mr. Bush's post-Sept. 11 popularity to gain control of all three branches of government." >> Pre-eminent online magazine Slate's editor-in-chief, Michael Kinsley, writes that many insiders (including possibly Kinsley) grudgingly agree with Tariq Aziz that the war is not so much about WMD as it is about oil and Israel. Kinsley urges this be reflected in the national discourse. The press have been derided as "fanged sheep", flockishly docile, vicious when aroused. It would be so helpful if this arousal would continue. An optimist might even hope for an honest re-examination of sanctions, and of the implications of American militarism. Yet Bush has his war powers resolution; it may be too little too late. Echoing Peter Brooke from his brilliant weekly news summaries, "And in these moments when the pendulum seems to be swinging away from war we should keep in mind the important words of Milan Ray ... 'The mainstream debate is focussed on two options, containment or regime change. This is a choice between killing Iraqis through sanctions and killing them by bombs. It is a framework I completely reject.'" It will take our best efforts to maintain the current momentum. And beyond this the real work - framing an humane alternative to economic sanctions and war - remains. Following are compilations of prowar misinformation now appearing in mainstream American media. Krugman and Kinsley's pieces are repeated in their entirety. Regards, Drew Hamre Golden Valley, MN USA ===  Knight-Ridder http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/printstory.hts/nation/1607676 Oct. 8, 2002, 10:47AM Some administration officials expressing misgivings on Iraq By WARREN P. STROBEL and JONATHAN S. LANDAY Knight-Ridder Tribune News [Key quotes] "... officials charge that administration hawks have exaggerated evidence of the threat that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein poses -- including distorting his links to the al-Qaida terrorist network -- have overstated the amount of international support for attacking Iraq and have downplayed the potential repercussions of a new war in the Middle East. They charge that the administration squelches dissenting views and that intelligence analysts are under intense pressure to produce reports supporting the White House's argument that Saddam poses such an immediate threat to the United States that pre-emptive military action is necessary. ... A dozen other officials echoed his views in interviews ..." "... None of the dissenting officials, who work in a number of different agencies, would agree to speak publicly, out of fear of retribution. ..." ===  Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,807286,00.html White House 'exaggerating Iraqi threat' Bush's televised address attacked by US intelligence Julian Borger in Washington Wednesday October 9, 2002 The Guardian [Key quote] "... "Basically, cooked information is working its way into high-level pronouncements and there's a lot of unhappiness about it in intelligence, especially among analysts at the CIA," said Vincent Cannistraro, the CIA's former head of counter-intelligence. ..." ===  Salon http://www.salon.com/politics/feature/2002/10/10/intelligence/print.html President Bush's distorted case for war U.S. officials say the White House is exaggerating the threat posed by Saddam and pressuring the intelligence community to "cook the books." By Gary Kamiya ===  Newsday http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/nation/ny-usinte102959937oct10,0,4838279.story <Note no longer available; email me for text.> CIA Reports Dispute Bush Pattern of exaggeration on Iraq seen by sources By Knut Royce WASHINGTON BUREAU October 10, 2002 [Key quote] "... An administration official with direct access to the CIA's reporting on Bush's claimed links between al-Qaida and Iraq said in a recent interview that there was only a "possibility that chemical and biological training" by Iraq may have occurred. He said the information was based on the account from a single al-Qaida member currently in custody. "We're trying to substantiate that information," he said. ..." ===  Chronicle http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2002/10/12/MN186933.DTL&type=printable Bush's evidence of threat disputed Findings often ambiguous, contradict CIA Robert Collier, Chronicle Staff Writer Saturday, October 12, 2002 San Francisco Chronicle. [Very worthwhile, wide-ranging article] ===  General Zinni in Salon http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2002/10/17/zinni/print.html "I'm not sure which planet they live on" Hawks in the Bush administration may be making deadly miscalculations on Iraq, says Gen. Anthony Zinni, Bush's Middle East envoy. By Eric Boehlert [In terms of problems facing the U.S.] "... My personal view, and this is just personal, is that I think [Iraq] isn't No. 1. It's maybe six or seven, and the affordability line may be drawn around five. ..." ===  NYT's James Risen and the UPI on Atta/Prague --- Risen's story ... http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/21/international/21PRAG.html?pagewanted=print&position=top October 21, 2002 Prague Discounts an Iraqi Meeting By JAMES RISEN --- ... and Risen's background to the speculation http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/21/international/middleeast/21PLOT.html?ei=1&en=269d49d72d4db22e&ex=1036167524&pagewanted=print&position=top October 21, 2002 How Politics and Rivalries Fed Suspicions of a Meeting By JAMES RISEN --- UPI repot http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=20021020-092811-8185r UPI exclusive: Czechs retract terror link By Martin Walker UPI Chief International Correspondent >From the International Desk Published 10/20/2002 10:27 AM View printer-friendly version --- Aministration use of Atta/Prague http://counterspin.blogspot.com/2002_10_20_counterspin_archive.html#83315906 --- NYT Editorial http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/23/opinion/23WED1.html?pagewanted=print&position=top October 23, 2002 The Illusory Prague Connection --- But note: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/23/international/europe/23CZEC.html?pagewanted=print&position=top October 23, 2002 Havel Denies Telephoning U.S. on Iraq Meeting By PETER S. GREEN [However, this does not resurrect the story.] "The spokesman, Ladislav Spacek, said Mr. Havel was still certain there was no factual basis behind the report that Mr. Atta met an Iraqi diplomat, Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, here in April 2001." ===  Dana Milbank in WashPost http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A61903-2002Oct21?language=printer For Bush, Facts Are Malleable Presidential Tradition Of Embroidering Key Assertions Continues By Dana Milbank Washington Post Staff Writer Tuesday, October 22, 2002; Page A01 Rejoinder by the White Houst: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A8417-2002Oct24.html Solid Facts From the President Thursday, October 24, 2002; Page A34 ARI FLEISCHER Press Secretary The White House Washington ===  Hans von Sponeck visited claimed chemical weapons factories http://www.transnational.org/forum/meet/2002/Sponeck_Weapons.html Two Examples of Misinformation on Iraqi Biological Weapons Production ===  Author and security insider James Bamford in USA Today summarizes the above http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/2002-10-24-oped-bamford_x.htm 10/24/2002 Maintain CIA's independence By James Bamford [Key quote] "...As Bush's "strike first, ask questions later" doctrine continues, with the prospect of endless wars and endless terrorism in retaliation, the need for honest intelligence reports becomes paramount. ..." ===  The fatuous Richard Perle is ridiculed. A damning profile appeared in the LA Times (Perle the gourmand, Perle the Chevy Chase nobleman), which was then exploited by the NY Times Pulitzer-winning hit woman, Maureen Dowd. - The LA Times piece is not freely available. Email me for text. - Maureen Dowd's column: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/20/opinion/20DOWD.html The Soufflé Doctrine New York Times By MAUREEN DOWD Oct. 20, 2002 ===  Arguably America's most respected columnist, economist Paul Krugman http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/25/opinion/25KRUG.html?pagewanted=print&position=top October 25, 2002 Dead Parrot Society By PAUL KRUGMAN A few days ago The Washington Post's Dana Milbank wrote an article explaining that for George W. Bush, "facts are malleable." Documenting "dubious, if not wrong" statements on a variety of subjects, from Iraq's military capability to the federal budget, the White House correspondent declared that Mr. Bush's "rhetoric has taken some flights of fancy." Also in the last few days, The Wall Street Journal reported that "senior officials have referred repeatedly to intelligence . . . that remains largely unverified." The C.I.A.'s former head of counterterrorism was blunter: "Basically, cooked information is working its way into high-level pronouncements." USA Today reports that "pressure has been building on the intelligence agencies to deliberately slant estimates to fit a political agenda." Reading all these euphemisms, I was reminded of Monty Python's parrot: he's pushing up the daisies, his metabolic processes are history, he's joined the choir invisible. That is, he's dead. And the Bush administration lies a lot. Let me hasten to say that I don't blame reporters for not quite putting it that way. Mr. Milbank is a brave man, and is paying the usual price for his courage: he is now the target of a White House smear campaign. That standard response may help you understand how Mr. Bush retains a public image as a plain-spoken man, when in fact he is as slippery and evasive as any politician in memory. Did you notice his recent declaration that allowing Saddam Hussein to remain in power wouldn't mean backing down on "regime change," because if the Iraqi despot meets U.N. conditions, "that itself will signal that the regime has changed"? The recent spate of articles about administration dishonesty mainly reflects the campaign to sell war with Iraq. But the habit itself goes all the way back to the 2000 campaign, and is manifest on a wide range of issues. High points would include the plan for partial privatization of Social Security, with its 2-1=4 arithmetic; the claim that a tax cut that delivers 40 percent or more of its benefits to the richest 1 percent was aimed at the middle class; the claim that there were 60 lines of stem cells available for research; the promise to include limits on carbon dioxide in an environmental plan. More generally, Mr. Bush ran as a moderate, a "uniter, not a divider." The Economist endorsed him back in 2000 because it saw him as the candidate better able to transcend partisanship; now the magazine describes him as the "partisan-in-chief." It's tempting to view all of this merely as a question of character, but it's more than that. There's method in this administration's mendacity. For the Bush administration is an extremely elitist clique trying to maintain a populist facade. Its domestic policies are designed to benefit a very small number of people — basically those who earn at least $300,000 a year, and really don't care about either the environment or their less fortunate compatriots. True, this base is augmented by some powerful special-interest groups, notably the Christian right and the gun lobby. But while this coalition can raise vast sums, and can mobilize operatives to stage bourgeois riots when needed, the policies themselves are inherently unpopular. Hence the need to reshape those malleable facts. What remains puzzling is the long-term strategy. Despite Mr. Bush's control of the bully pulpit, he has had little success in changing the public's fundamental views. Before Sept. 11 the nation was growing increasingly dismayed over the administration's hard right turn. Terrorism brought Mr. Bush immense personal popularity, as the public rallied around the flag; but the helium has been steadily leaking out of that balloon. Right now the administration is playing the war card, inventing facts as necessary, and trying to use the remnants of Mr. Bush's post-Sept. 11 popularity to gain control of all three branches of government. But then what? There is, after all, no indication that Mr. Bush ever intends to move to the center. So the administration's inner circle must think that full control of the government can be used to lock in a permanent political advantage, even though the more the public learns about their policies, the less it likes them. The big question is whether the press, which is beginning to find its voice, will lose it again in the face of one-party government. ===  Beltway insider and editor of flagship web magazine Slate, Michael Kinsley http://slate.msn.com/?id=2073093 What Bush Isn't Saying About Iraq President Bush won't discuss two big reasons he wants to invade Iraq. By Michael Kinsley Posted Thursday, October 24, 2002, at 12:40 PM PT So, why exactly is Iraq different from North Korea? Both are founding members of President Bush's "axis of evil," and both deserve that honor. North Korea has now admitted to a nuclear weapons development program on about the same timeline as what we only suspect about Iraq. So, why are we barely complaining in one case and off to war in the other? Bush addressed this conundrum the other day. "Saddam Hussein is unique," he explained. "He has thumbed his nose at the world for 11 years … and for 11 years he has said, 'No, I refuse to disarm.' " The North Koreans, by contrast, said, "Yes, we will disarm"—they promised to stop building nukes in exchange for help in developing peaceful nuclear power—and then they didn't do it. I guess that's a difference, but it sounds as if we're punishing Saddam for his honesty. Bush's public case for going to war against Iraq is full of logical inconsistencies, exaggerations, and outright lies. It reeks of ex-post-facto: First came the desire, and then came the reasons. But this raises a troubling question, especially for opponents of Bush's policy: If his ostensible reasons are unpersuasive even to him, what are his real reasons? There must be some: Nobody starts a war as a lark. It would be easier to dismiss the whole exercise if there were an obvious ulterior motive. Without one, you are left wondering, "Am I missing something?" Tariq Aziz has a theory. Saddam Hussein's deputy told the New York Times this week, "The reason for this warmongering policy toward Iraq is oil and Israel." Although no one wishes to agree with Tariq Aziz, he has put succinctly what many people in Washington apparently believe. They do not think the concern over potential use of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons is negligible or insincere, but they do think that "oil and Israel" is a pretty good summary of what, for President Bush, makes Iraq different from your run-of-the-mill evil dictatorship. Yet this presumption about Bush, and these issues themselves, barely appear in the flood of speculation and argument about Bush War II. "President Bush" is, of course, a metaphor. Much Washington political commentary and analysis is basically a discussion of what or whom the term "President Bush" is a metaphor for. Is it Karl Rove? Is it still Karen Hughes, although she has decamped? Even more than most presidents, Bush is regarded as the sum total of his advisers. Regarding Iraq, the advisers themselves are also used as metaphors, often in plural to signify a stereotype. "The Cheneys and the Rumsfelds" evokes a retro world of confident white CEOs in suits, oil barons, and the military industrial complex. "The Wolfowitzes and the Richard Perles" evokes—well, you know what it evokes. The idea that oil is a factor in official thinking about Iraq shouldn't even be controversial. Protecting oil supplies from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait was an explicit—though disingenuously underemphasized—reason for Bush War I. After all, we couldn't claim to be fighting to restore democracy to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, let alone Iraq. This time around, the fact that Bush and Cheney are both oil men is suggestive, but the implication is not clear. A war to topple Saddam will raise oil prices in the short run but probably lower them in the longer run by stabilizing the supply. An oil man could have sincerely mixed feelings about these prospects. Surely, though, even a sensible opponent of the war ought to register a steady oil supply as one of the better reasons for it. The lack of public discussion about the role of Israel in the thinking of "President Bush" is easier to understand, but weird nevertheless. It is the proverbial elephant in the room: Everybody sees it, no one mentions it. The reason is obvious and admirable: Neither supporters nor opponents of a war against Iraq wish to evoke the classic anti-Semitic image of the king's Jewish advisers whispering poison into his ear and betraying the country to foreign interests. But the consequence of this massive "Shhhhhhhhh!" is to make a perfectly valid American concern for a democratic ally in a region of nutty theocracies, rotting monarchies, and worse seem furtive and suspicious. Having brought this up, I hasten to add a few self-protective points. The president's advisors, Jewish and non-Jewish, are patriotic Americans who sincerely believe that the interests of America and Israel coincide. What's more, they are right about that, though they may be wrong about where that shared interest lies. Among Jewish Americans, including me, there are people who hold every conceivable opinion about war with Iraq with every variation of intensity, including passionate opposition and complete indifference. Jews are undoubtedly overrepresented in what little organized antiwar movement there may be (thus feeding another variant of the anti-Semitic stereotype). Why and whether an American war against Iraq would be good for Israel is far from clear and is the subject of vigorous debate in Israel itself—but not in America. Theories range from the mundane to the exotic to the paranoid: Clearing out a neighborhood troublemaker before he gets the bomb is reason enough. Or, deposing Saddam will set off a complex regional chain reaction that will somehow turn the Arab nations into peaceful bourgeois societies. Or, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon actually wants a huge regional conflagration that he can use as an excuse and cover for expelling the Palestinians from the West Bank. In any event, the downside risk for Israel—of carnage, military and civilian—is like America's, only far greater. But we'd better not talk about it. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk