The evidence is mounting that Bob Somerby hates America. Monday, 11 July:
Did King Karl know that Plame was covert? Let’s note one key point for the record: Under terms of the most relevant statute, it isn’t clear that Plame really was such an agent. (Under terms of this statute, a ‘covert’ agent is someone “who is serving outside the United States or has within the last five years served outside the United States. It isn’t clear that Plame qualifies.) At any rate, if Rove didn’t know that Plame was covert, it isn’t clear that he committed a crime and no one has really begun to show that he had such knowledge. But so what? This hasn’t stopped the triumphalist liberal web from aping the pseudo-con world of the 90s. In that decade, everything Clinton did was a crime, and every bit of ‘evidence’ ‘proved’ it. This produced a decade of sheer stupidity-a decade the liberal web starts to match.
Did King Karl Rove commit a crime? We don’t have the slightest idea. But it’s sad to see the liberal web adopting the dumbness of Rush and his cronies. Over the course of the past several decades, sheer stupidity has been a core value of the talk-show pseudo-con right. Excitable people on the left are discovering the age-old appeal of this value?a value which is rapidly spreading into the liberal web.
Tuesday, 12 July:
Liberals and Dems simply can’t afford to play the dim games of the kooky-con right. But all across the liberal web, we find the virus spreading- a virus in which every bit of reasoning, no matter how daft, is accepted as seminal brilliance as long as it ‘proves’ King Karl’s guilt. Yesterday, we were amazed when the sagacious Digby praised this post from John Aravosis:
ARAVOSIS (7/11/05): Perhaps it’s legally relevant if Rove “knew” Plame was undercover or not, but it’s not relevant in terms of him keeping his job. Rove intentionally outed a CIA agent working on WMD, it is irrelevant whether he did or didn’t know if she was an undercover agent. First off, he knew she wasn’t THAT public about her identity or there’d have been no need to “out” here?everyone would have known her already.
Aravosis makes some excellent points in his longer post. But that paragraph, which Digby featured, makes almost no sense at all. The last sentence is completely absurd. The second sentence isn?t much better.
That featured paragraph makes no sense- except in a viral world, a world in which every bit of ‘logic,’ no matter how daft, automatically ‘proves’ the guilt of the adversary. Pseudo-cons have played this game for years. Libs and Dems need to be smarter.
Wednesday, July 13:
THE GRAND INQUISITOR: Lucky liberals! All over the web, Grand Inquisitors are telling you tales that keep you excited and energized. Good news! Your tribe has been perfectly right from the start! And the other tribe has been evil and wrong! Your blood has raced—at last you’ve felt justified—as you’ve read these pleasing tales. But uh-oh! These scribes have been playing the time-honored role perfected by pseudo-con hacks of the 90s. They’re filling your heads full of pleasing tales in which your side is eternally right. Unfortunately, Wilson’s performance has been so bad that, in the matter of Plame and Rove, many of these tales are just wrong. But no matter! You can still believe them if you wish—if you want to be played for a sucker.
Consider Josh Marshall’s misleading post about a current dispute. Question: Is it possible that Rove was trying to debunk a false story when he spoke to Matt Cooper that day? Marshall, throwing feed to the herd, says that he is shooting down “egregious mumbojumbo” about that. But uh-oh! The alleged “mumbojumbo” isn’t so bad—and Marshall’s claims are misleading and wrong. It’s hard to do, but Josh is spinning so hard he makes Orin seem right by comparison!
Thursday, 14 July:
Why did the press love the 16 words? Speculation—they fell in love with the story! It had every kind of cinematic value: An Honest Ambassador; a Blonde Secret Agent; an exotic foreign country; a short, pithy statement. (They’re in thrall to easy-reader values—and this easy-reader scandal could just as well have been scripted by Cliff.) In fact, that Honest Ambassador was completely illogical—but when has the press ever cared about that? No, Wilson’s piece simply didn’t make sense. But when has that bothered your press corps?
We’ve challenged bullshit statements for the past seven years—and sadly, this column was such a statement. Who knows? If Wilson’s New York Times editor had passed it back and asked him to re-examine his premises, maybe he would have ended up with a column that made basic sense. But the current Times op-ed page is the Smithsonian of grinding illogic. Wilson’s piece was a major example. Libs, selling cheap, still don’t care.
Saturday, 16 July:
But the CIA didn?t say the 16 words were wrong. In his July 12, 2003 speech on the matter, George Tenet said the 16 words should not have been included in Bush?s speech because the claim ?did not rise to the level of certainty which should be required for presidential speeches.? Two days later, here was Donald Rumsfeld on Meet the Press:
RUSSERT (7/14/03): The White House and now the CIA say it was a mistake to include that phrase [the 16 words] in the speech. Do you agree?
RUMSFELD: Oh, sure. Yes, indeed. George Tenet said that, the president said that. On the other hand, the use of the word “infamous” is a little strange. It turns out that it’s technically correct what the president said, that the U.K. did say that and still says that. They haven’t changed their mind, the United Kingdom intelligence people. Now, the question isn’t that. The question is: Should those words have been in the presidential speech? And the president and George Tenet have agreed they should not. It didn’t rise to that standard, but they’re not necessarily inaccurate.
Tenet didn’t say the statement was wrong; he said the statement ‘didn’t rise to’ an appropriate ‘level of certainty.’ But in the modern world of American news, each side is allowed to recite its favorite massaged facts. Lehrer failed to challenge Shields, just as he failed with Brooks.
Monday, 18 July:
If you read Josh’s whole post, you’ll see how he builds his alternate theory; it’s based on a comment from a single anonymous source in a single Washington Post report. An anonymous ‘senior CIA analyst’ made the following statement to the Post’s Walter Pincus about the way pre-war intel was handled: “Information not consistent with the administration agenda was discarded and information that was ‘consistent’ was not seriously scrutinized.’ That quote seems fine to us as a general matter. But after citing it, Marshall concludes that, when the CIA failed to brief Cheney, this was yet another case in which unfriendly info was dumped. It can’t be that Wilson simply made a mistake when he voiced his ‘absolute certainty.’ No, Josh concludes that Wilson’s initial judgment made perfect sense- but the CIA went into the tank, and the Senate committee confected a cover. This explains (away) Wilson’s repeated mistake. Remember: In the world Krugman described, the partisan’s allies must be right every time. And the faithful will follow the twists and turns of the party line with a loyalty that would have pleased the Comintern.
In fact, it would take an act of major loyalty to believe Josh’s thesis? to believe that eight Dem senators ‘confected’ a ‘cover story’ designed to undermine Wilson’s reputation. In his column, Krugman described a kooky world? the kooky world of the recent pseudo-con right. But are liberals and Dems heading down that road too? We see more signs of that slide every day, and we think it would be a vast error.
This post for those of you who like GOP talking points coming from people other than, well, Republicans.
Obligatory Troll Protection: Of course, nothing excuses outing an agent, if that is the case.
Hmm. You must have fixed something. Both Mozilla and IExploder map all the apostrophe’s to question marks.
back to the drawing board JC
Help me out here…This State Dept. memo on Air Force 1….Was it classified? If it was …and the role of Wilson’s wife was included in this memeo. Then that means that anybody who talked about Plame’s role in her husband’s trip was leaking classified info. Doesn’t it?
Fortunately, the Left, following Bob Somersby’s advice until now, has been spectacularly successful in electing sympathetic leaders.
Yellowcake journalism ….
Joe Wilson legitimately assumed that his efforts would be reported to Cheney. Cheney asked a question, Wilson was dispatched to find out the answer, and the standard procedure when a top official asks a question is to provide him with an answer.
Now, its pretty obvious that there were elements in the CIA that delibertately twisted and withheld key information regarding Iraq’s non-existent nuclear program. Anyone who is familiar with the “aluminum tubes” debacle (see http://www.isis-online.org/publications/iraq/IraqAluminumTubes12-5-03.pdf) knows that there was no real basis for the insistence that those tubes were purchased for use in centrifuges. And, anyone who is familiar with this story knows that this is a particular instance where the “facts and intelligence” were fixed around the policy — rather than submit the controversy to the scientific body that was specifically designed to evaluate such issues when National Intelligence Estimates are formulated (the Joint Atomic Energy Intelligence Committee), a “vote” was taken of 10 different “intelligence” agencies with each group getting one vote, despite the fact that most of the groups had no technical expertise on centrifuges.
We still don’t know the full story of what happened to the report of Wilson’s trip, and why it was spiked. Its entirely possible that an earlier “estimate” debunking the entire idea that a sale could have taken place based on what was already known about Niger’s yellowcake operation was considered authoritative, and that Wilson’s report simply confirmed what was already known.
What is clear, from reading the Senate Select Committee Report on Intelligence, is that, just like with the aluminum tubes, all the contrary—and highly convincing— evidence that disproved the contention that “Niger has agreed to sell yellowcake to Iraq” was ignored.
It is important to realize that there were actually three different increments of the same CIA report of the sale that was based on information from a foreign itelligence service (and not, as the bogus timeline suggests, two separate and distinct reports of sales.)
1) The first CIA report was not given much credence within the intelligence community, because they were vague and unsubstantial. (see pages 36-37 of SSCI report)
2) The second CIA report, which provided considerably more detail, resulted in numerous efforts to verify the information, including Wilson’s trip, with most of the individuals and agencies that looked at the possibility of the alleged sale being extremely skeptical of the account. (pages 37-46 of SSIC report)
3) The third CIA report, which provided even more detail, apparently went unrebutted/examined, if one is to believe the narrative provided by the SSCI. There is no indication that this third report engendered any reaction at all from the various intelligence services. Nor is there any suggestion that this last report included the significant information that had effective rebutted the previous report. (page 47 SSCI report).
(The fact that there is very little detail about how this third report was recieved, and what steps were taken in response to it, demonstrates the political nature of the SSCI report. Why would the CIA issue another report that did little more than provide additional detail for a story that did not stand up to close scrutiny without (apparently) noting the various inconsistencies between what the “report” alleged, and what was possible given what was already known? And why didn’t the SSCI criticise this third report on that basis?)
Basically, the Directorate of Operations of the CIA kept pushing the idea that the reported sale was legitimate, after the experts on the issue had effectively discredited the report. Indeed, the report was absurd on its face, insofar as any such sale required a massive and highly illegal conspiracy involving numerous Niger government officials and members of the Niger yellowcake consortium to move 500 tons of radioactive yellowcake(1/6 of Niger’s annual production) out of Niger and into Iraq—at a time when Iraq already had more than enough raw materials to produce several bombs if it wished to.
What is abundantly clear is that Wilson’s report — along with the reports of other skeptics who had examined the issue and whose conclusions had reached people like Dick Cheney — were completely ignored. People at the upper levels of the Bush administration, as well as people in the Directorate of Operations at the CIA, wanted to believe that the sale had taken place, and clung to the possibility that the story was legit in the face of overwhelming evidence that it made no sense.
It is also abundantly clear that the CIA and the administration placed far more importance on the assumption of a Niger trade official (that proposed trade talks were about yellowcake) than the fact that when these talks took place, yellowcake was never mentioned (the latter is one of those facts that the right-wing conveniently ignores.)
Somersby thinks it requires some “vast conspiracy” for the SSCI to have said what it did with regard to the whole question of the yellowcake non-sale. In fact it does require a “conspiracy” called “political compromise” in an environment where the Democrats were a minority of the committee. The very fact that the committee did not examine the key issue with regard to the manipulation of intelligence — how upper level administration officials used the intelligence to manipulate public perceptions — was a “political compromise” that could be described as a “conspiracy”, if that is how you want to assess it.
Perhaps no other part of the SSCI report better demonstrates the way in which compromise operated than the question of whether “pressure” was applied to intelligence analysts. Both Richard Kerr (who was tasked to examine this issue) and the CIA’s Ombudsman concluded that inappropriate pressure was applied by upper level officials. Yet the Kerr report is downplayed in the body of the SSCI, and the Ombudsman is not even mentioned. You have to find out what the opinion of Kerr and the Ombudsman were by reading the “additional comments” from three of the committee Democrats. Was there a “conspiracy” to keep these facts out of the body of the SSCI report? Yes, if you want to call it that.
P Luk, for the love of god. Post the sucker at TPM Cafe and link to it.
P Luk, for the love of god. Post the sucker at TPM Cafe and link to it.
actually, after writing that, I reworked it as a blog for TPM Cafe.
But I won’t bother to link to it, since you don’t seem to be interested in information that is inconsistent with GOP talking points.
Give me the damn link and I will link it then, damnit.
actually, after writing that, I reworked it as a blog for TPM Cafe.
Good, it’s a thoughtful post and deserves a wider audience. You can call me the netiquette nazi but for your own credibility’s sake, don’t call me a Republican.