Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

10/08/2009 (10:08 am)

Iran, and a Blast From the Past

The Wall Street Journal brings up an interesting point from the past today regarding Iran’s imminent nuclear capability, and it bears on a great deal of history from the Bush years.

Back in December of 2007, a gathering of government intel professionals produced a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) claiming “with high confidence” that Iran had ceased its nuclear development as of 2003. That this was not true is evident now. What the Journal reports is that the intelligence community was already well aware of the recently-announced uranium enrichment facilities and weapons design efforts at the time the NIE was published. This demonstrates that the NIE was published as propaganda; they knew it was false, but it served a political purpose, so they published it anyhow. I reported this at the time, and confirmed it with evidence later.

The purpose it seems to have served is to cripple the US’ response to the threat of a nuclear Iran. The Bush administration may have been planning air strikes back in 2007 to address the budding threat; the NIE was the culmination of political infighting within the Executive branch to stop the administration’s unilateral response to the Iranian threat, and more or less signaled the President’s capitulation to his internal adversaries. Scott Horton, the reliably loony leftist at Harper’s, reported this at the time in an article that errs by assuming that the NIE was the truth and that it was Cheney et al that were operating on false information (an assertion we now know to have been 180 degrees off the mark, something that sensible people would have expected even then.)

The propagandistic NIE was merely the last shot in the long-standing revolt by leftists within the US intelligence community against the Bush administration — a revolt that was only a hair shy of being a full-blown attempt at a coup d’etat. Leftist rogues within the intelligence community were actively undermining Bush administration policies, and executing plots with the sole intent of discrediting the President. I’m convinced that the entire Joe Wilson-Valerie Plame affair was one of these — an operation planned and executed by rogues within the CIA to discredit the President. I wrote about the revolt at the time, in the early days of this blog (you can review my thoughts by clicking on the Intelligence Community topic under my topical index, at the bottom of the sidebar.)

History has done us the favor of sorting out the truth quickly, but we should not miss the lesson. The lesson is not just that the NIE was wrong. The lesson is that the intelligence community was deliberately manipulating reports throughout the Bush years with the intent of discrediting the administration and crippling its policies. We should apply this knowledge to whatever we now take for granted from the Bush years that came to us by way of the intelligence community — like the claim that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Almost a year ago, Jeff Lewis at the American Thinker produced an essay explaining the cost of leftist power-seeking in the form of crippling our response to nuclear proliferation:

George W. Bush has been crucified for five long years in the media, by the feckless, hysterical and cowardly Europeans, by the United Nations, and of course by the Democratic Party, because he took the only sane action possible in the face of the apparent WMD threat from Saddam. Because presidents don’t have the luxury of Monday morning quarterbacking. They cannot wait for metaphysical certainty about threats to national survival and international peace. There is no such thing as metaphysical certainty in these matters; presidents must act on incomplete intelligence, knowing full well that their domestic enemies will try to destroy them for trying to save the peace.

But that is water under the bridge by now. What’s not past, but rather a clear and present threat to civilization are the consequences of the unbelievable recklessness of the International Left — including the Democrats, the Europeans, the UN, and the former communist powers. Because of their screaming opposition to the Bush administration’s rational actions against Saddam, we are now rendered helpless against two even more dangerous challenges. With Saddam there was genuine doubt about his nuclear program; the notion that he had a viable program was just the safest guess to make in the face of his policy of deliberate ambiguity. In the case of Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Il there’s no guessing any more. They have nukes and missiles, or will have within a year.

The entire anti-proliferation effort has therefore been sabotaged and probably ruined by the Left. For what reason? There can be only one rational reason: A lust for power, even at the expense of national and international safety and peace. But the Left has irrational reasons as well, including an unfathomable hatred for adulthood in the face of mortal danger. Like the Cold War, this is a battle between the adolescent rage of the Left and the realistic adult decision-making of the mainstream — a mainstream which is now tenuously maintained only by conservatives in the West.

And now, in the face of a growing Iranian threat, our Peerless Messianic Leader has eliminated the planned missile shield aimed at protecting Europe from an Iranian nuclear threat, in exchange for assistance in managing that threat from Russia, which arguably supplied Iran with the means to produce nuclear weapons in the first place.

David Horowitz has argued for years that there exists an unspoken alliance between radical Islam and radical Socialism. It becomes plausible to assert that radical elements in the US — read “progressives,” and include the President — have more policy goals in common with Iran than they have with conservatives in America, and would prefer a nuclear Iran to a Middle East with stable republics like Israel and a free Iraq. Might this explain President Obama’s fecklessness regarding the Taliban in Afghanistan? Can we trust the President to act in the international community with America’s best interests at heart, or is he serving a wider agenda?

For my part, I think it is long past time to revive treason as a crime suitable for legitimate prosecution. Perpetrators of active disinformation campaigns aimed at undermining actual governmental policy should be prosecuted seriously, with decades-long prison terms at a minimum for active attempts at crippling lawful policy. It is one thing to oppose policy publicly, and to argue against it; it is another thing entirely to undermine that policy actively. Congress should pass laws to that effect, with clear exceptions made for active defense of the US Constitution against unlawful acts by the Executive branch.

01/06/2009 (4:14 pm)

Panetta At CIA?

Blog news casts as a huge surprise the Obama team’s announcement that they intend to appoint Leon Panetta as the Director of the CIA. Certainly, I could not have predicted it, but the elements of the choice are not all that surprising. Panetta, chief of staff for President Bill Clinton from 1994 through 1997, will feel right at home among all the other Clinton Administration resurrectees.

Panetta’s primary qualification for the position of Head Spook is that he has lots of administrative experience (mostly surrounding the budget and the White House staff,) and that he strongly criticized the “terror regimen” of the Bush administration. Obama, it seems, had difficulty finding somebody with intel experience who did not support the interrogation tactics employed during the Bush administration. Says the New York Times:

The choice of Mr. Panetta comes nearly two weeks after Mr. Obama had otherwise wrapped up his major personnel moves. It appears to reflect the difficulty Mr. Obama has encountered in finding a candidate who is capable of taking charge of the agency but is not tied to the interrogation and detention program run by the C.I.A. under President Bush.

Aides have said that Mr. Obama had originally hoped to select a C.I.A. director with extensive field experience, especially in combating terrorist networks. But his first choice for the job, John O. Brennan, had to withdraw his name amid criticism over his alleged role in the formation of the agency’s detention and interrogation program after the Sept. 11 attacks.

That Obama needed to go so far afield from the intelligence community to find someone opposed to their interrogation techniques speaks volumes about the professional support for those techniques. Indeed, given the approval of senior Democrats for the same regimen, Obama was practically forced to pick from hard-left elements who knew absolutely nothing about interrogations whatsoever. This is what happens when ideology trumps experience.

It’s hard to say what we should expect from Panetta, but it’s easy to tell what the hard left wants from him. From the Times again:

Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who is a member of the Intelligence Committee, called Mr. Panetta a “strong choice” who “has the skills to usher in a new era of accountability at the nation’s premier intelligence agency.”

Lefties in general seem just thrilled with the choice. What they want is a replay of the Church Hearings of the early 1970s, crippling the agency’s ability to produce sound intelligence endanger civil liberties. If they get what they want, what the nation is likely to get is a replay of the 1990s, as terrorist organizations begin testing their ability to attack the US again after the safeguards of the Bush years have been dismantled.

06/23/2008 (11:32 am)

Between Free Speech and Treason

I want to draw to my readers’ attention Scott Shane’s discussion at the New York Times of the interrogation of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed by agents of the Bush administration. The article produces some fascinating and relevant details about the process that should become part of the cultural narrative, which I’ll cite at the end.

First, though, the attention paid the article over the weekend focuses appropriately on the fact that the Times chose to reveal the identity of the chief interrogator, which exposes the man and his family to possible attacks from Islamic radicals. This constitutes another incident in the Times’ ongoing war against the Bush administration, and at a level that’s genuinely disgusting. The exposed interrogator, who did not agree to be interviewed, requested anonymity, but the Times rationalized that request away; the same article, however, grants anonymity to several sources that agreed to talk on condition of anonymity. This makes it appear that the disclosure of the man’s identity hinged on his willingness to be interviewed, with the protection of anonymity somehow a perquisite of collaborating with the Times. I don’t see this as different in any way from what the Times accuses (falsely) that the Bush administration did to Joe Wilson by revealing the identity of his spouse, though Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, who unpacks the matter, finds a distinction in the fact that the interrogator was never undercover; I think that’s a difference of degree, not of type(1). Flopping Aces takes my side in the discussion, in the middle of a piece discussing how much of the Times’ treatment of Iraq constitutes anti-US propaganda.

I’ve written before about the Intel Community’s covert war against the Bush administration; see my topic “Intelligence Community” for instances. I firmly believe that the entire Wilson-Plame affair was a covert op by rogue elements within the CIA to undermine the Bush administration’s War on Terror (it’s not widely appreciated how thoroughly the CIA leans toward the political Left); Kenneth Timmerman’s book “Shadow Warriors” addresses this and wider issues. The Times’ repeated moves to disclose details of classified operations related to the War on Terror constitute cooperation in this effort.

The press’ and the CIA’s response to the Bush administration pose a thorny question for those of us who value freedom of the press: is there a difference between advocating a position contrary to that of the government, and actually attempting to undermine the government’s policy? Fiction writers for years have speculated about wholehearted attempts to subvert the government, usually from well-meaning but utterly mistaken far-right military types (think “The Siege,” “Clear and Present Danger,” etc.) What we’re seeing is a murky, gray area between that extreme and ordinary advocacy, only coming from the political left. The left has thrown aside mere advocacy, spurning the regard for legitimate processes of government that are necessary for protecting our liberties in favor of activism deliberately aimed at overthrowing the government’s policy. Fortunately for all of us, they stopped short of overthrowing the government itself, choosing instead to pursue the Constitutionally appropriate course of impeachment; this failed because they could not manufacture an issue large enough to produce a credible impeachment move (The Anchoress produced a raucously convincing piece about 2 weeks ago regarding just how insupportable a move to impeach President Bush would be; it’s worth a visit.)

There needs to be a legal line between legitimate advocacy of contrary positions, and activism to undermine the legitimate policies of legally elected government. The former is inviolable in a free society; the latter is a danger to us all. Without the willing collaboration of the electorate, no political system can survive for the long haul. This illustrates just how foolish, selfish, and ultimately destructive was Al Gore’s attempt to overturn the 2000 election in Florida; even if he’d had a legitimate complaint (he did not,) he should have backed off for the sake of the nation, as Richard Nixon did when the Democrats actually stole the election from him in 1960. The Left’s perception that George Bush was not a legally elected President surely contributed to their decision to undercut his policies rather than cooperate with the elected government. It should be possible to prosecute the perpetrators of this war against the Bush administration, not because dissent is not permitted — it most certainly is permitted — but because dissent can never become actual undermining of policy without destroying the institutions that protect us all.

The details of the interrogation are fascinating, on the other hand, and except for the truly insupportable decision to air the interrogator’s name, constitutes a solid and helpful bit of journalism. A few thoughts about the article itself:

  • I’m not sure I believe there has never been any application of the harsher techniques of interrogation, as Scott Shane reports. I’d like to see a less invested historian’s take on that topic. I do find the application of harsh interrogation techniques troubling.
  • The article undercuts the sorts of complaints raised by the dupes of hard leftists regarding how ineffective harsh tactics are known to be; there was clearly no agreement among professionals regarding this, and it remains unclear whether harsh tactics produced results or not.
  • The article also explains the decision to house detainees in undisclosed locations, and undercuts claims that this practice was unduly harsh and unnecessary, although there are questions of national sovereignty that ought to be considered. The account includes the observation that the CIA, drawing on close associations with the Thai intelligence community, housed detainees in a Thai jail without informing the Prime Minister.
  • The Times notes of the FBI, “They correctly predicted that harsh methods would darken the reputation of the United States and complicate future prosecutions.” I add: not without your collaboration, New York Times. Nice going.
  • Whatever else you can say about the Bush administration’s handling of the capture and interrogation of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah, it worked, and very well. We owe them gratitude for an essential job well done.

The topic deserves more attention and less heat. The partisanship in the current political arena poisons sensible discussion of these matters, and sane assessments may not arise for decades.

Courtroom sketch from the New York Times.

(1) The reason disclosing the identity of a covert agent is a problem is not just that it ruins their effectiveness (although that is a consideration,) but rather that it exposes that individual and everyone nearby to danger. The general discretion of the CIA regarding the locations of detention and the identities of personnel, effectively prevents enemies from learning the identity of the interrogator unless they have an inside source; the Times provides that inside source, and thus exposes the interrogator to reprisals from which he’d probably be safe otherwise. It may not be as egregious a violation as the outing of Plame would have been if the government had actually done that; but it’s the same violation.

03/24/2008 (9:43 am)

Captured Papers Prove Saddam Ties to Terrorists; Press Lies Again

I’m about 2 weeks behind this topic, because I was focusing on other things (like surviving bronchitis), but I brought myself up to speed this morning. What I discovered is that the US press has subjected the American public to one of the most thoroughly dishonest propaganda efforts of the Iraq War, adding to a disturbing legacy of deliberately misleading the public.

Ten days ago the Pentagon released a report concerning ties between pre-invasion Iraq and various terrorist groups, based on a review of 600,000 documents captured from Saddam Hussein’s government during the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Following is the part of the summary that I would focus on as a reporter. As an editor writing a headline, I’d say something like “Captured Papers Prove Saddam’s Terrorist Ties,” and follow the headline with the opening paragraph from the Executive Summary of the report (emphasis mine):

The Iraqi Perspectives Project (IPP) review of captured Iraqi documents uncovered strong evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism. Despite their incompatible long-term goals, many terrorist movements and Saddam found a common enemy in the United States. At times these organizations worked together, trading access for capability. In the period after the 1991 Gulf War, the regime of Saddam Hussein supported a complex and increasingly disparate mix of pan-Arab revolutionary causes and emerging pan-Islamic radical movements. The relationship between Iraq and forces of pan-Arab socialism was well known and was in fact one of the defining qualities of the Ba’ath movement…

State sponsorship of terrorism became such a routine tool of state power that Iraq developed elaborate bureaucratic processes to monitor progress and accountability in the recruiting, training, and resourcing of terrorists.

Going beyond the headlines, the actual report, which is available online in PDF format, describes how, with UN sanctions weakening his ability to affect world events directly, Saddam Hussein developed an official policy of using both regional and international terrorists to achieve his policy goals. Hussein’s Iraq recruited and trained suicide bombers and planted them in foreign nations, obtained and stored weapons in foreign countries, trained foreign terrorists in Iraqi training camps, supplied passports and documents to international terrorists, supplied funding to numerous terrorist organizations for their operations against the West and Israel, targeted Western journalists for assassination, and made efforts to penetrate, conjoin, and/or cooperate with a variety of international terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda. While Saddam Hussein’s policy goals often focused on Iraqis overseas and on destabilizing neighbor countries (Saudi Arabia and Kuwait), many times the overlap between Saddam’s goals and those of terrorist groups with broader aspirations produced common bonds and cooperative ventures.

Now, here’s what the newspapers reported:

  • McClatchy Newspapers: “Exhaustive review finds no link between Saddam and al Qaida” (March 10)
  • ABC News: “Report Shows No Link Between Saddam and al Qaeda” (March 13)
  • New York Times: “Oh, By the Way, There Was No Al Qaeda Link” (March 13)
  • CNN: “Hussein’s Iraq and al Qaeda not linked, Pentagon says” (March 13)
  • Yahoo News: “No link between Saddam and Al-Qaeda: Pentagon study” (March 13)

The McClatchy report was based on leaked information from inside the Pentagon, apparently focusing on a phrase from the second paragraph of the Executive Summary. Here’s the paragraph:

But the relationships between Iraq and the groups advocating pan-Islamic doctrines are much more complex. This study found no “smoking gun” (i.e. direct connection) between Saddam’s Iraq and al Qaeda. Saddam’s interest in, and support for, non-state actors was spread across a variety of revolutionary, liberation, nationalist, and Islamic terrorist organizations. Some in the regime recognized the potential high internal and external costs of maintaining relationships with radical Islamic groups, yet they concluded that in some cases, the benefits of association outweighed the risks.

The McClatchy article, released before the reporter had read the report, represented what it knew this way:

The new study of the Iraqi regime’s archives found no documents indicating a “direct operational link” between Hussein’s Iraq and al Qaida before the invasion, according to a U.S. official familiar with the report.

He and others spoke to McClatchy on condition of anonymity because the study isn’t due to be shared with Congress and released before Wednesday.

The key point here is that once again, some element within the Executive Branch of the government leaked information with specific intent to discredit Bush administration foreign policy. This may be the lasting legacy of the Bush administration, in retrospect; individuals from the opposition party actively attempting to undermine the policies of the elected representatives of the people, constituting something only just short of a coup d’etat in American government. We’ve seen several instances of this throughout the Bush years, including the Plame Game, the false NIE reports, and the leaks of CIA operation details to the press. I’ve written about several such instances (here, here, and generally here, for starters.)

The leaked information has that irritating characteristic of leftist propaganda: true on the surface, but misleading or irrelevant in more ways than can easily fit into a sound bite. The words they used were true in a Clintonian sense (there was no direct operational connection found) but utterly false in intent. Aside from the fact that the war in Iraq has never specifically been about al Qaeda, and aside from the fact that al Qaeda is only one of dozens of relevant adversaries in the global War on Terror, the report documented extensive, indirect cooperation between Hussein and al Qaeda in several areas.

From page 34 of the report:

Captured documents reveal that the regime was willing to co-opt or support organizations it knew to be part of al Qaeda — as long as that organization’s near-term goals supported Saddam’s long-term vision.

From page 42 of the report:

Saddam supported groups that either associated directly with al Qaeda (such as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, led at one time by bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al Zawahiri) or that generally shared al Qaeda’s stated goals and objectives.

And from the Pentagon’s abstract of the report:

Because Saddam’s security organizations and Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network operated with similar aims (at least in the short term), considerable overlap was inevitable when monitoring, contacting, financing, and training the same outside groups. This created both the appearance of and, in some way, a “de facto” link between the organizations. At times, these organizations would work together in pursuit of shared goals but still maintain their autonomy and independence because of innate caution and mutual distrust.

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air offered a more thorough and well-informed analysis of the al Qaeda links that appear in the report, and reporter Eli Lake of the New York Sun provides an example of how an objective reporter would report the Pentagon study, under the accurate headline “Report Details Saddam’s Terrorist Ties.” His article includes this assessment from page 3:

The report also undercuts the claim made by many on the left and many at the CIA that Saddam, as a national socialist, was incapable of supporting or collaborating with the Islamist al Qaeda. The report concludes that instead Iraq’s relationship with Osama bin Laden’s organization was similar to the relationship between the rival Colombian cocaine cartels in the 1990s. Both were rivals in some sense for market share, but also allies when it came to expanding the size of the overall market.

Of course, McClatchy offered no retraction or clarification after the actual report was released, and the headlines of the rest of the newspaper world cannot be excused for a millisecond. They wanted the report to say the opposite of what it actually said, so they read selectively, and reported only those factoids that fit their favored narrative, no matter how badly out of context. They lied.

This is becoming routine. That’s a shame; it’s an outrage, and concerns every citizen of a free society. Writers from the American revolutionary period note the importance of a free press to protect liberty, but several noted a more foundational need — a virtuous population, devoted to acting righteously. If we can’t count on a free press to tell the truth, then a free press cannot defend our liberties, but can only act as an agent of tyranny. Lies and liberty cannot coexist.

“We have no government armed with the power capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and true religion. Our constitution is made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams, to the Officers of the First Brigade, Third Division, Massachusetts Militia, October 11, 1798.

Certain news organizations should be driven out of business because of sheer, gross incompetence, or worse, ill will resulting in misleading propaganda.

Stephen Hayes, the reporter who has spent the most effort over the years reviewing and reporting on the contents of documents captured from Hussein’s Iraq, offers the most complete analysis of the report available, and a generous interpretation of how the newspaper world got the story wrong. Thanks also go to The Unalienable Right, the blog from the editors of The Federalist Journal, for providing links to the most relevant facts.

02/26/2008 (3:02 pm)

Yes, the NIE Was Bogus

Putting the final nail in the US intelligence community’s already-closed coffin, the BBC reported yesterday that British Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Simon Smith had presented evidence demonstrating that Iran’s bomb project continued well past 2003. Responding to the unsurprising Iranian knee-jerk claim that the documents presented to the IAEA were forgeries, Smith observed that

material presented to the IAEA in Vienna came from multiple sources and included designs for a nuclear warhead, plus information on how it would perform and how it would fit onto a missile.

Powerline comments, and I observe that while most of us had little doubt, this pretty much solidifies the case that the NIE was a partisan hack job, and that hold-overs from the Clinton administration continue to poison the proper functioning of government.

The true price of allowing the Clintons access to the reins of power goes beyond human ken.

01/03/2008 (10:04 am)

A Real Prosecutor Takes On the CIA

Good. And, it’s about time.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey appointed US Attorney John Durham, a federal prosecutor from Connecticut, to head up an investigation into possible criminal violations arising from the CIA’s destruction of videotapes recording harsh treatment of al Qaeda detainees. Durham was called when the US Attorney for Virginia’s Eastern District, the prosecutor having local jurisdiction over the matter, recused himself to avoid “any possible appearance of a conflict with other matters handled by that office.” A lawyer’s partial explanation (with some leftist cant) can be seen here.

Durham earned a reputation for toughness and ironclad integrity while investigating alleged cooperation between the FBI, Boston police, and the mob. He is reputed to be completely apolitical, extremely thorough, fanatical about detail, and very, very effective.

Here’s a remarkable description of his work in the Boston FBI case from the Hartford Courant, and for what it’s worth, listen to this lefty lawyer’s breathless admiration:

All I know is, if I were being investigated by John H. Durham, I’d probably save him the trouble and commit suicide.

Durham is the First Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut. Durham shaves with a .45 and brushes his teeth with a wire grille brush. He is so incorruptible that when Angelina Jolie propositioned him he immediately jumped out of the window and deliberately fractured both his knees so he couldn’t do anything. Then he called his wife and made her drive him to confession.

Okay, I made that up. But it’s true that when the city of Boston got caught discovered that its FBI office was in bed with the mob and had been murdering people and framing other people for the murders, they called in John H. Durham. Within five minutes all the bad guys were in maximum security.

This pissed off the mob and they tried to kill Durham, but the cops loved Durham so much they volunteered by the dozen to stake out his house. Cops generally love Durham. Hell, even defense lawyers love Durham. He’s Dudley Do-Right but somehow he manages not to be a jerk about it. Nobody can figure out how.

Of course, the lefties are drooling over the prospect of finally nailing Crime Boss Bush to the wall. But we’ll leave our diagnosis of Bush Derangement on the curb for the moment, because, for the first time since the Bush inauguration, there probably was a genuine crime this time. From the AP story cited at the beginning of this post:

In June 2005, U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy ordered the Bush administration to safeguard “all evidence and information regarding the torture, mistreatment and abuse of detainees now at the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay.” Kennedy was overseeing a case in which U.S.-held terror suspects challenged their detention.

Five months later, the CIA destroyed the interrogation videos.

There are possible legal dodges, but they may not wash. There seems to have been deliberate intent to obstruct Judge Kennedy’s order, and that would be obstruction of justice.

Tom Keane and Lee Hamilton, who headed the 9/11 Commission, argue in the Times today that their investigation was also obstructed by the CIA. (See, also, Philip Zelikow, former Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, on Power Line this morning.)

This action is long overdue. There should have been a criminal investigation when the New York Times published classified details of CIA operations in Europe back in 2006; somebody from the CIA has been passing privileged information to the press in a deliberate attempt to derail Bush administration foreign policy. There should have been a criminal investigation of the CIA’s complicity in the outing of Valerie Plame; instead, Special Prosecutor Fitzpatrick focused on the White House, and uncovered nothing. (Recall my posts regarding the Shadow War being carried out by the CIA.) While those specific acts will not be under investigation, the same attitude of exemption from the law of the land is behind this affair, and will be targeted. I repeat: it’s about time.

I hope US Attorney Durham’s reputation for integrity is warranted. Corruption of every kind needs to be excised from government, regardless of party. If the Attorney General was culpable, or if the President’s private attorney was culpable, they should be tried.

“The Justice Department went out and got somebody with complete independence and integrity,” said former Connecticut U.S. Attorney Stanley Twardy, who worked with Durham. “No politics whatsoever. It’s going to be completely by the book and he’s going to let the chips fall where they may.”

Cue the applause.

Added 10:15 AM:

While the political Left has descended into vitriolic delusion over the Bush “crime family,” this action once again signals the consistent willingness of the Bush administration to work within the bounds of the law, and to do whatever can properly be done to satisfy opponents that they uphold the rule of law.

12/21/2007 (11:41 am)

Three Years of the Condor

Scott Johnson at Power Line has jumped on my bandwagon (allow me my pathetic little bit of hubris, ok?) regarding the ominous and dangerous actions by the Intelligence community to undermine the Executive. Follow his links, read his thoughts, and also chain back through my own writings.

The WaPo and the NYT want to pretend the destruction of video tapes is the scandal of the year, but here lies the real scandal: the career officers of State and the CIA think they have the right to undermine the elected leaders of the nation. And the scary thing is, whether or not they have the right, they certainly seem to have the power.

Note for my wish list for the new, Republican administration in 2009: reining in the Intelligence community and the State Dept., and making them part of their government.

12/13/2007 (7:58 pm)

Shadow War

I’ve written several posts suggesting the possibility of a systematic effort by elements within the CIA to sabotage President Bush’s foreign policy initiatives. It turns out there’s a book describing exactly that in bold detail, just released in November 2007 by Crown Forum.

Bestselling author and investigative journalist Kenneth Timmerman recently published “Shadow Warriors: The Untold Story of Traitors, Saboteurs, and the Party of Surrender.” A lurid title, but the reviews so far reveal a carefully researched effort free of emotion-laden rhetoric. I have not read it yet, so I can only refer you to the reviews at Amazon.com, which are uniformly positive. Oh, and take a look at Front Page Magazine’s interview of Timmerman from last Wednesday.

From the interview:

In the beginning were the leaks. I was curious how highly-classified intelligence information was winding up on the front pages of the NY Times and in other leftist media. Two stories, in particular, caught my attention initially: the leak of the CIA “secret prisons,” and the smearing of Ahmad Chalabi, to which I will return below.

I knew quite a bit about both stories, and knew that the way they were being reported was incredibly selective and politically motivated. I wanted to track them back to the source.

What I discovered was a vast, underground network of government officials, former intelligence officers, members of Congress and their staffs, who were in bed with a complacent, anti-Bush media. They were eager to publish anything that did damage to this president, even if it put the lives of our intelligence officers or of our front-line troops in jeopardy.

Timmerman has a long history of working closely with the defense industry and the intelligence community, and apparently has maintained a significant network of sources within the government. He’s apparently one of the world’s leading experts on Iran’s weapons buildup, and was nominated for a Nobel prize for his repeated warnings about Iran’s nuclear development.

I plan to buy it soon.

12/09/2007 (4:00 pm)

I'm Shocked. Shocked!

We discover today that Congressional leaders have been briefed all along about waterboarding and other aspect of the CIA’s interrogation techniques, and never objected. There were as many as 30 briefings over a 2 year period, with only one objection filed by Rep Jane Harmon (D, CA). Most of the reactions from Congressional leaders were positive, and included concerns that the interrogation tactics might not be aggressive enough. Democrats present at the briefings include House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senators Bob Graham (D, FL) and Jay Rockefeller (D, WV).

Two reactions:

1) The report was probably released by the CIA to the Washington Post to divert attention from the scandal of torture tapes having been destroyed. They knew the Post would print it because the Post had been caught uninformed when the Times released its story about tapes being destroyed. It’s a good story, and an effective tactic, but let’s not forget — somebody in the CIA obstructed justice, and an investigation should, and will, take place.

2) The story indicates that Democrat leaders’ objections to the Bush administration’s “torture” policy is partisan opportunism, not genuine conviction. Democrat leaders knew that water-boarding was used exactly THREE times, and the CIA has not used it since 2003. Democrat leaders received 30 briefings on interrogation techniques with only the one objection.

There were Democrats who sincerely objected to specific practices after they heard about them, which was several years after the CIA had stopped waterboarding prisoners. They were not told by their leaders that the practice had been terminated. Nor were we. This is a manufactured objection to the Bush administration. We don’t even know if the leading Democrats object to the practices at all; we have reason to believe they do not.

Nancy Pelosi should step down as Speaker of the House, but probably will not. Jay Rockefeller, who has been implicated in numerous leaks of classified information to the press, should also step down, but certainly will not.

Good commentary on the matter at Captain’s Quarters.

12/09/2007 (2:57 pm)

More Echos

Apparently John Bolton, former US Ambassador to the UN, agrees that the NIE claiming Iran has abandoned the attempt to build nuclear weapons is a political move, not an actual intelligence estimate.

Enough of that. I’m convinced.

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