Category: Dick Cheney
VP Smackdown: Had enough? Or is Cheney vs. Biden good for America?
Category: Culture Wars, Democrats, Republicans, Dick Cheney
No Surprises in McClellan Tell-All
Category: Media, Abuse of Power, Plamegate, George W. Bush, RFL Big Story, Dick Cheney
President Bush has no shortage of critics these days, and tonight he can add another to the list. Scott McClellan used to occupy an office just steps away from the Oval Office just down the hall, but now he's written a book that's rocked the White House and set the political talk show circuit on fire.
This morning the White House issued a terse statement saying McClellan is disgruntled about his experiences as Press Secretary. The statement went on to say, "This is not the Scott we knew."
The White House's reaction aside, what's really sad is how McClellan's claims barely raise an eyebrow anymore.
In fact, things have gotten so bad these past eight years that an inner circle confidant of the president claiming the war to be a "grave unnecessary mistake," saying he was lied to about the Plame affair, saying his White House was in "denial" as people died during Katrina...Somehow this doesn't surprise, but merely confirms what we've sadly come to accept under our fearless leader.
I've always been dumbfounded how anyone, even the most diehard Republican, could give this president and his administration a positive approval rating. Sure he's got the lowest numbers in history, but have we really sunk so low that this abomination of an 8 year chapter could be considered as anything but a nightmare?
Forget critics; consider what former employees have said. His Treasury Secretary described him as a "blind man in a room full of deaf people." And appointees from his former Secretary of State to the Director of Faith-Based Initiatives, they all said Cheney pulled the strings in a White House that always put politics above principle.
Maybe the only surprise in McClellan's tell-all is the tough truth from a former Press Secretary to many of my friends in the media: You have served as enablers to a president who needed a watchdog not a cheering section. Shame on all of us, Scott McClellan included.
And there are more books to come.
More of the president's former confidents will attempt to shock us with stories of the hypocrisy and hubris that are already such a large part of this White House legacy. The only surprise is that, no matter what is written, for many of us it will come as no surprise at all.
Category: Iraq, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney
We recently passed another in a long series of bloody milestones in Iraq, but one no more - or less - important than the other 3,999 moments we didn't commemorate:
These kinds of milestones and the inevitable media infatuation with them make me somewhat queasy. It's as if the 4000th person killed there was more important than the 3,999th, or the 4,001st. To me, and I would say to most Americans, every American killed in Iraq, everyday, is of equal importance...What does the 4000-death mark mean to me? It means that today, like yesterday and tomorrow, we will lose some of the finest Americans we have. That is a harsh reminder that disastrous policy decisions have tragic consequences.
To President Bush and Dick Cheney, it may be just another comma in their open-ended war in Iraq, but to many others, 4000 dead US troops in Iraq ought to give one pause:
And to this, Dick Cheney says "So?"...The occupation of Iraq has taken a back seat during the presidential primary season and the media has all but forgotten the ongoing madness we created. Perhaps this sad milestone will ignite more passion, protest and attention to both forgotten battlefields where American, Iraqi and Afghani bodies continue to pile up.
Vet Voice notes another number that's not as big, but just as important. 25:
American forces have just experienced the most violent two-week period in Iraq since September 2007...We hear talk of attacks against Americans "ebbing," ceasefires holding, and of the situation in Iraq being "not that fragile," but this is all a bunch of happy-talk nonsense...The violence in Iraq is cyclical and will remain so until we remove the bulk of our forces. And with 25 dead in two weeks, we are not headed in the right direction.
Yesterday, our Vice President dismissed the consequence of his own actions, saying those 4000 dead volunteered, as if that somehow excuses the administration's disastrous policy. Yes, they volunteered, and they accept that death is a possible consequence. They also expect their elected leaders to have a plan before sending them off to war. It's a reasonable request.
And Dick Cheney is famous for his reasonable-ness. Also for his sensitivity, compassion, and generosity. Specifically, for having no discernable trace of any of those qualities. Washing his hands of the 4,000 dead, Cheney invoked 9/11 as the reason those men and women volunteered:
“A lot of men and women sign up because sometimes they will see developments. For example, 9/11 stimulated a lot of folks to volunteer for the military because they wanted to be involved in defending the country.”
I can only speak for myself here, but I reckon that many of the brave young men and women who volunteered after 9/11 did so with the expectation that they would be hunting down those that actually attacked us that day; not that they would be put in an impossible situation (in a country that had nothing whatsoever to do with the attack on us) where they are expected to mediate a religious civil war that has raged for thousands of years. In fact, it’s a disservice to their heroic sacrifice to expect them to do so.
And Dick "five draft deferments" Cheney knows so much about heroism and sacrifice. And to hear him tell it, so does the President, who Cheney says "bears the biggest Burden, obviously". Got that? Not the families of those 4,000 dead, but Bush. Sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Hubbard, but despite the fact that he "sleeps a lot better than people assume," it's the president, not you, that bears the biggest burden. Perhaps we should shed a tear for him:
The Hubbards gave up two of their sons to the Iraq war, and the third had to see his brother's body pulled from the wreckage in which he died. Maybe, just maybe, they carry quite a burden themselves...Bush carries the responsibility for the lives of those boys, but their family carries the unbearable weight of their loss. The former is an abstraction; the second is a giant hole in one's heart.
I wish Mr. Cheney could acknowledge the difference-but I suppose having a heart is a prerequisite for understanding a broken one.
And generous? Dick is so generous he's giving our troops two, three even four tours of duty or more. And if that's a problem for them, well, Dick's just sorry there's nothing that can be done:
When asked about the toll multiple deployments have taken on U.S. military members, Cheney fired back with a question.
“Of course it is, Martha,” Cheney said. “So what would be the solution to that? I mean how would you deal with that?”
From Cheney’s perspective, you don’t deal with that at all. Withdrawal is out of the question, a draw-down is off the table, and the Webb Amendment about giving troops more down time after their deployments has been rejected by Republicans on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. So, to hear the VP tell it, there is no “solution” — the administration’s policy of multiple deployments will continue to take its toll on servicemen, servicewomen, and their families.
If they don’t like it, tough. They shouldn’t have volunteered to serve in the military in Bush’s America.
Remind me which side of the political divide is supposed to be more enthusiastically “pro-military”?
Generosity, sensitivity, compassion.
He makes Attila the Hun look like Mother Theresa.
Meanwhile, In Non-Spitzer-Related News, The Pentagon Declares the Blindingly Obvious
Category: Iraq, Abuse of Power, George W. Bush, Terrorism, Dick Cheney
From the Department of Tell Us Something We Didn't Know:
An exhaustive review of more than 600,000 Iraqi documents that were captured after the 2003 U.S. invasion has found no evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime had any operational links with Osama bin Laden's al Qaida terrorist network.
B-b-b-but...Dick Cheney said there was “overwhelming evidence?” Rumsfeld said that evidence was "bulletproof?" And President Bush supposedly put the whole issue to rest in 2004, "The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda, because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda." What are we to make of this? They were
lying misinformed lying?
The Iraq-Al Qaeda link was cultivated through hundreds of the 935 false statements the Bush Administration made in the run-up to war. Without it, there would be no pivot from Afghanistan to Iraq, no case made to the public that both wars represented the same fight against terrorism.
Oh, right. That. So, where did this "evidence" come from? I'm sure you'll be
waterboarded shocked to find out:
Intelligence failures had much to do with the atrocity of September 11, but those had nothing to do with a lack of torture. Let me be clear on one crucial point: it is the terrorists whom we won over with humane methods in the 1990s who continue to provide the most reliable intelligence we have in the fight against al-Qaeda. And it is the testimony of terrorists we tortured after 9/11 who have provided the most unreliable information, such as stories about a close connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.
Jack Cloonan, a twenty-five-year veteran of the FBI, was a special agent for the Bureau's Osama bin Laden unit from 1996 to 2002.
Hmmm. Torture provides unreliable information? You don't say. Next they'll be telling us smoking causes cancer, or some other nutty conspiracy theory. In the meantime, the Pentagon's report is a major black eye for Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell...really, the entire right side of the American political spectrum going back to, say, Sept. 12, 2001:
The only ones who think that OBL and SH were working together, closely, are complete and utter fools. These two were enemies. Sure, Saddam used religion whenever useful, but he was basically a secular dictator, who didn't have a whole lot of patience with religious extremists. All the more so because they posed a threat to his regime.
Which is almost word for word what I was saying back in 2002 while the big wingnut meme of the day was MOHAMMED ATTA WAS IN PRAGUE!!!
(Note: This also turned out to be false)
The Pentagon was going to put the report online yesterday and then hold a press briefing with its authors. Then they abruptly cancelled the briefing and annouced the report would not be made available online; they wouldn't even email it to reporters. If you want to see it, they'll send you a DVD via snail mail. It's almost like someone doesn't want this report to get much attention:
If asked, I'm certain (Press Secretary) Dana Perino would insist, with a mostly straight face, that the White House never contacted the Pentagon about this, and it was solely the decision of military officials, who, for whatever reason, preferred to hide its own report.
And no one will believe her.
I hate to say I told you so, but......Wait, no I don't.
I told you so.
Only 935? Seems Like It Would've Been Higher...
Category: Iraq, Abuse of Power, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney
As the saying goes, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. And then there are damned lies that are statistics:
President George W. Bush and seven of his administration's top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Nearly five years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, an exhaustive examination of the record shows that the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.
That the run-up to the Iraq War was preceded by a litany of false statements from the Bush administration is nothing new. But seeing them all together, and the timeline of deception it creates, is pretty impressive. Naturally, rightwing bloggers are outraged that anyone would dare bring this up again. So what do they do? Attack the messenger!
The Center for Public Integrity hardly qualifies as "independent". It gets much of its funding from George Soros, who has thrown millions of dollars behind Democratic political candidates, and explicitly campaigned to defeat George Bush in 2004...
...Besides Soros, it gets financing from the Streisand Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Los Angeles Times Foundation.
Streisand? ZOMG! And Ford? Total Commies. And everyone knows anything even remotely associated with Soros has the stench of brimstone on it. Wingnut Welfare, on the other hand, I'm told smells like roses.
...However...that would only explain the impetus behind someone taking on a project like this. It's not like Richard Mellon Scaife is going to pay anyone to put this together. Who commissioned it doesn't change any of the statements themselves, which were all a matter of public record. So their next trick, dripping in Clintonian irony, is to argue what the definition of the word "lie" is:
This is the crux of the matter. Being proven wrong is not “lying.”
The study is entitled, “False Pretenses: Following 9/11, President Bush and seven top officials of his administration waged a carefully orchestrated campaign of misinformation about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.” Quite clearly, then, the authors contend that the statements were made with full knowledge that they were wrong in order to lead the nation to war.
The study finds no such thing.
The most damning examples are along these lines:
In July 2002, Rumsfeld had a one-word answer for reporters who asked whether Iraq had relationships with Al Qaeda terrorists: “Sure.” In fact, an assessment issued that same month by the Defense Intelligence Agency (and confirmed weeks later by CIA Director Tenet) found an absence of “compelling evidence demonstrating direct cooperation between the government of Iraq and Al Qaeda.” What’s more, an earlier DIA assessment said that “the nature of the regime’s relationship with Al Qaeda is unclear.”
Of course, there’s no evidence here that Rumsfeld was aware of these reports. SECDEFs don’t read things that don’t make it to the top of the chain of command, after all.
My strong suspicion, though, is that Rumsfeld knew that an unequivocal “Sure” overstated the case. This, I think, reflects the consensus view of all but the most rabid pro- or anti-Bush observers that the administration 1) thought Saddam was dangerous, 2) believed he had an active WMD program if not WMD possession, 3) feared Saddam would transfer said technology to terrorists and other enemies of the United States and 4) cherry picked information that bolstered their case for action while downplaying dissenting views and evidence.
That’s bad. It’s not the way democracies are supposed to work and undermines the public’s confidence in their leaders. But it’s light years away from simply lying to the people about WMD known not to exist, which is what the report alleges.
(emphasis in the original)
If I say the earth is flat just because I don't believe all the evidence that it's round, does that make me a liar? Maybe not, but it would make me dangerously ignorant. Now, what if I had a lot of money riding on a bet that I could convince a number of people that the earth is flat, but in order to do that successfully, I've got to obscure all the information that contradicts my point? Am I a liar then? What if, after I've convinced a bunch of people the earth is flat, I look at some of the evidence that the earth is round and find, in my heart of hearts, that it's pretty convincing and maybe I was wrong - AND THEN - I continue telling people the earth is flat because I don't want to look like an utter jackass...Am I a liar then? As you can see, there's more than one way to tell a lie:
Such an argument, however, relies heavily on a parsing of what the word "lie" means. Any parent is familiar with their kids using "lying by omission" to get out of trouble. That's where you don't present facts you know but which would would shed culpatory light on your false statements. In that respect, it isn't the many false statements themselves which are a mark of guilt - it's the many instances of "we are sure", "Certain" and "know without a doubt" - the "slam dunk" qualifiers - that convict Bush and his administration of lies. In every case, as James admit, they had alternative interpretations, contrary intelligence or flat-out evidence that what they were saying was untrue and continued to press their narrative anyway. That's lying by omission.
The report only covers a two year period ending in 2003......where it will all end?
Now that 935 lies to get us into Iraq have been documented, collated and counted, how many more is it taking to keep us there?
That's for another day and another, much larger, report.
Cheney, Doing What He Does Best
Category: Iraq, Abuse of Power, Alberto Gonzalez, Dick Cheney
....lying, sticking up for other liars and generally oozing hyperbolic partisan rhetoric at every turn.
That thumping sound you hear is Dick Cheney inadvertantly throwing Alberto Gonzales under the bus. Gonzales claims that his trip to John Ashcroft's hospital room was NOT about the Terrorist Surveillance Program. Taylor Marsh notes that on Larry King last night, "Shooter" failed to stay on message:
Q In that regard, The New York Times -- which, as you said, is not your favorite -- reports it was you who dispatched Gonzales and Andy Card to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft's hospital in 2004 to push Ashcroft to certify the President's intelligence-gathering program. Was it you?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don't recall -- first of all, I haven't seen the story. And I don't recall that I gave instructions to that effect.
Q That would be something you would recall.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I would think so. But certainly I was involved because I was a big advocate of the Terrorist Surveillance Program, and had been responsible and working with General Hayden and George Tenet to get it to the President for approval. By the time this occurred, it had already been approved about 12 times by the Department of Justice. There was nothing new about it.
Q So you didn't send them to get permission.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don't recall that I was the one who sent them to the hospital. [Emphasis added by me.]
Larry King was asking Dick Cheney about "the President's intelligence-gathering program". In response, Cheney confirmed that by the time the hospital confrontation occurred, "it" had been approved 12 times by the DOJ and there was "nothing new about it". The "it" being the "Terrorist Surveillance Program" as Cheney makes clear in the preceding sentence, even though Larry King had referred to it as "the President's intelligence-gathering program". There you have it: confirmation from the Vice President of the United States that Gonzo confronted Ashcroft about the "Terrorist Surveillance Program".
To be fair, Gonzales has told so many whoppers by this point that even he can't keep them all straight; we can hardly expect Cheney to as well.
But y'know, Cheney also said he couldn't recall if he'd sent Gonzales to Ashcroft's hospital room. Odd, for someone so as hands-on as Cheney who was also a big supporter of the TSP. Not, "No I didn't," but the cagier "I don't recall." Gonzales, as we;ve seen ad nauseum, can't seem to recall anything about anything at all. And even Don Rumsfeld trotted out the now-well-worn caveat today in the House Government Oversight Committee's investigation into Pat Tillman's death. The Moderate Voice has concerns about a premature memory loss epidemic in the White House:
Shouldn't a medical team be dispatched to examine members of the Bush administration? There seems to be some kind of massive affliction that is taking away their ability to recall.
Quick, 40 cc's of ginkgo biloba, stat! But Cheney did have one moment of clarity. Granted, it's two years too late, but still:
Cheney admitted he was wrong when he said, in 2005, that the insurgency in Irag was in its "last throes." As a boss I once had...would say: "You have a firm grasp of the obvious." It's nice to see Cheney have a lucid moment.
But don't worry, lest you think "Shooter" is going soft, the rest of his tour de farce was classic Cheney:
Between reading the Petraeous tea leaves--"significant progress" is likely to be reported--cheerleading a convicted Libby--"he still has a very difficult road"--embracing a lying attorney general--"Al's a good man, good friend, and in a difficult assignment"--and doing a bit of lying himself--he had no recollection of sending Gonzales on his sick-bed visit--the vice president managed to smear a sitting senator with the classic aiding the enemy charge.
All in a days work for a man who occupies his own branch of government [an argument revived by the VP in yesterday's CBS interview] and is accountable to no one.
That's our Dick. Making us proud.
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