“Our weapons are powerless!”

Former counterterrorism czar Richard Clark proved himself an unblinking warrior against the Bush attack dogs today as the White House attempted to bring him down — but their weapons were apparently powerless against him.

Former counterterrorism czar Richard Clark proved himself an unblinking warrior against the Bush attack dogs today as the White House attempted to bring him down — but their weapons were apparently powerless against him.
First, they tried to use a background briefing he gave against him. In today’s press briefing, White House press secretary Scott McClellan tried repeatedly to paint Clarke’s August 2002 background briefing to reporters as “his own words” instead of the words of a man who was special assistant to the president.

Q Scott, just one more on Clarke. Given the fact that you’re pointing to this transcript, reading through it, saying it’s a question of his credibility —
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, it’s his own words.
Q Right.
MR. McCLELLAN: I’m just repeating his own words.
Q Right. So given that, given the fact that he definitely had this quoted as toeing the administration’s line before reporters, why do you think he is saying what he’s saying?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, like I said, this goes to his credibility, and I think that those are questions that Mr. Clarke needs to answer. It was Mr. Clarke who went out and made assertions that this administration was doing nothing prior to 9/11, that we were not taking the threat from al Qaeda seriously, that there was a delay, that we moved slowly. But Dick Clarke, in his words acknowledges, one, that the administration took al Qaeda very seriously and began a process to address the threat very early on; and two, our administration was able to come to quick decisions on a number of issues that had been on the table for several years; and three, that the President directed the White House to develop a new comprehensive strategy of eliminating rather than rolling al Qaeda. You cannot square Dick Clarke’s new assertions with his past words. That’s very clear.
I would like to just point to a couple of other parts of this transcript from Mr. Clarke’s interview with reporters. There’s a question by a reporter. Question: What is your response to the suggestion in the August 12th — well, in the Time Magazine article that the Bush administration was unwilling to take on board the suggestions made in the Clinton administration because of animus against the — general animus against the foreign policy?
Mr. Clark: “I think if if there was a general animus that clouded their vision, they might not have kept the same guy dealing with the terrorism issue. This is the one issue where the National Security Council leadership decided continuity was important and kept the same guy around, the same team in place. That doesn’t sound like animus against the previous team to me,” Mr. Clarke went on to say.
Then a reporter — here it’s listed, Jim Angle, White House Correspondent [From Fox News, which came to the White House with this transcript — CA]: “You’re saying that the Bush administration did not stop anything that the Clinton administration was doing while it was making these decisions, and by the end of the summer had increased money for covert action fivefold, is that correct?”
Mr. Clarke: “All of that is correct.”
Now, two other parts I want to refer to, as well:
Question by a reporter: “Were all of those issues part of an alleged plan that was late December, and the Clinton team decided not to pursue because it was too close to –” Mr. Clarke jumps in here: “There was never a plan, Andrea. What there was, was these two things — one a description of the existing strategy, which included a description of the threat; and two, those things which had been looked at over the course of two years and which were still on the table.”
So the follow-up question: “So there was nothing that developed, no documents or no new plan of any sort?
Mr. Clarke: “There was no new plan.”
Question: “No new strategy, I mean. I don’t want to get into semantics.”
Mr. Clarke: “Plan, strategy — there was no, nothing new.”
And later on, again this is Jim Angle here, asking this question: “So just to finish up, if we could then, so what you’re saying is that there was no — one, there was no plan; two, there was no delay; and that actually, the first changes since October of ’98 were made in the spring months just after the administration came into office?
Mr. Clarke: “You got it. That’s right.”
And finally, because I think this one is important, as well, Mr. Clarke towards the end of the interview went on to say: “You know, the other thing to bear in mind is the shift from the roll-back strategy to the elimination strategy. When President Bush told us in March to stop swatting at flies and just solve this problem, then that was the strategic direction that changed the NSPD” — meaning the National Security Policy Directive — “from one of roll-back to one of elimination.”
So those are Mr. Clarke in his own words, and his own words contradict what he now asserts.
Q Is he a liar or is he just forgetful?
Q Scott, Scott?
MR. McCLELLAN: April.
Q Is he a liar or just forgetful?
MR. McCLELLAN: You’ve had your turn.
April.

Here McClellan disputes that the White House even attempts to coordinate its daily communications strategy.

Q Scott, back to Terry’s question. Are these just basically talking points? We know every day all of you start from the beginning of the day to disseminate — well, to figure out what you’re going to say to the media, how you’re going to present your spin, I guess, you would say in some ways. And was he just following talking points, the spin line?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don’t know if that’s — I don’t know if that’s quite an accurate description of the way we start our day or what we do.
Q Well, I mean when you start your day, you guys are talking about what you want to put out there and how you’re going to put it out there, and what you should not say. And was he, indeed, following the line that you were given here that day?
MR. McCLELLAN: This was Mr. Clarke describing what he knew in his own words. This was not anybody but Mr. Clarke making these comments.
Q But, Scott, in this administration when reporters go and ask you, other persons around here, we get the same words — the same words come out. There’s no variation or anything. Was he —
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that’s a sign that we’re following the President’s direction and his policies.
Q You’re following talking points, correct?
MR. McCLELLAN: No. Again, you need to separate out some of this. This was Mr. Clarke, on his own, making these comments back in the spring of 2002. This was him in his own words.

So, according to McClellan, there are no talking points and Clarke is a rogue special assistant to the president who talks off the reservation — in his own words, remember — but who’s own words back up the president’s policies.
Huh?
Then, during his testimony today before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, Commission member Gov. James R. Thompson held up the transcript of the Aug. 2002 press briefing and asked, “Which is true?”
Clarke responded with, “I was asked by several people in senior levels of the Bush White house to do a press backgrounder to try to explain that set of facts that minimized criticism of that administration. And so I did.”
“I was asked to make that case to the press,” Clarke continued. “I was special assistant to the president, and I made the case I was asked to make.”
Thompson responded with incredulity that such things ever happen, asking, “Are you saying to me you were asked to make an untrue case to the press and the public and you went ahead and did it?”
“No sir,” replied Clarke. “Not untrue. Not an untrue case. I was asked to highlight the positive aspects of what the administration had done and to minimize the negative aspects of what the administration had done. And as a special assistant to the president, one is frequently asked to do that kind of thing. I’ve done it for several presidents.”
Snap!
So far, the White House’s only line of defense against Clarke is that he’s “a liar and a boob and both out-of-the-loop and responsible for everything that went wrong,” as Josh Marshall neatly summarizes. And those are pretty weak considering he’s got 30 years of service under his belt, he was the loop and his book shows how the Clinton White House did a lot of things right — such as preventing al Qaeda from taking over Bosnia in the mid 1990s. [pp 136-140]
Aside: I’m outraged that Fox approached the White House with this background briefing tape. According to McClellan, “it was Fox News who yesterday came to us and said they had a tape of this conversation with Mr. Clarke.” If that’s true, then a news organization that was included in a briefing with the agreement that it was on background — that is, with no quotes and the briefer not be identified — approached a source’s former employer and offered to give up apparently conflicting words that the employer could use against the source. (I read the transcript. It’s not particularly contradictory, frankly, and can easily be read as how Clarke characterized it.) This is a major journalistic no-no. When I was at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, we were taught to go to jail before you give up your sources. And you sure as hell don’t approach someone you’re supposed to be covering and offer to help them out against someone.
But back to Fox. Anyone who still thinks Fox is “fair and balanced” should really have their head examined. If you like it because it’s a right-wing attack network, more power to you. At least you’re honest with yourself. But if you really think it’s working for anything but Bush’s re-election, you really need to get out more.
But all this criticism is really secondary because Clarke reserves he real outrage for Iraq. When the subject of the war there came up, Clarke said to the Commission, simply and devastatingly, “By invading of Iraq, the President of United of the States has greatly undermined the war on terrorism.”
For a long several seconds, there was nothing in the room but a deadly silence.

Bloggers: Whitewash in the works

There’s a fair amount of skepticism among well-known bloggers about the Presidential Commission to investigate the intelligence failures in the lead-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom. I don’t have a lot to add myself, but I’d like to point out some good posts.

There’s a fair amount of skepticism among well-known bloggers about the Presidential Commission to investigate the intelligence failures in the lead-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom. I don’t have a lot to add myself, but I’d like to point out some good posts.
First of all, there’s the executive order itself establishing the commission. Its mission, in an excerpt from the order:

Sec. 2. Mission. (a) The Commission is established for the purpose of advising the President in the discharge of his constitutional authority under Article II of the Constitution to conduct foreign relations, protect national security, and command the Armed Forces of the United States, in order to ensure the most effective counter-proliferation capabilities of the United States and response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the ongoing threat of terrorist activity. The Commission shall assess whether the Intelligence Community is sufficiently authorized, organized, equipped, trained, and resourced to identify and warn in a timely manner of, and to support United States Government efforts to respond to, the development and transfer of knowledge, expertise, technologies, materials, and resources associated with the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, related means of delivery, and other related threats of the 21st Century and their employment by foreign powers (including terrorists, terrorist organizations, and private networks, or other entities or individuals). In doing so, the Commission shall examine the capabilities and challenges of the Intelligence Community to collect, process, analyze, produce, and disseminate information concerning the capabilities, intentions, and activities of such foreign powers relating to the design, development, manufacture, acquisition, possession, proliferation, transfer, testing, potential or threatened use, or use of Weapons of Mass Destruction, related means of delivery, and other related threats of the 21st Century.
(b) With respect to that portion of its examination under paragraph 2(a) of this order that relates to Iraq, the Commission shall specifically examine the Intelligence Community’s intelligence prior to the initiation of Operation Iraqi Freedom and compare it with the findings of the Iraq Survey Group and other relevant agencies or organizations concerning the capabilities, intentions, and activities of Iraq relating to the design, development, manufacture, acquisition, possession, proliferation, transfer, testing, potential or threatened use, or use of Weapons of Mass Destruction and related means of delivery.

Well! Looks like the questions *I* want to see answered won’t be. The primary question is not “What went wrong with our intelligence analysis?” but instead should be, “Was this intelligence misused?”
As Billmon says, the fix is in. Josh Marshall says so, too. Hesiod over at Counterspin Central points out that Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, a member of the commission, seems to have already made up his mind. And Atrios points out the Democractic response to the appointment of former federal appellate judge Laurence Silberman, as co-chairman of the commission.
Lots of good reading.

U.S. vs. al Qaeda: Spring offensives planned

Both the United States and al Qaeda are planning spring offensives. America because it can, and al Qaeda because it must.

The United States is planning a spring offensive against al Qaeda and Taliban positions in Afghanistan, and a spokesman for the U.S. military said America’s armed forces are “sure” they can catch Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar “later this year.” Unfortunately, al Qaeda likely has a spring offensive of its own in the plans.
But first, confirmation of the American plans from Stratfor:

Former Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence Chief Lt. Gen. Hameed Gul (Ret.) has told the daily _Nawa-I-Waqt_ that reports of a planned U.S. offensive against al Qaeda in the spring were true. Gul said CENTCOM commander Gen. John Abizaid had asked countries bordering Afghanistan for permission to carry out operations within their borders. Gul implied that Pakistan had not granted its consent. In further comments, he said Washington would postpone elections in Afghanistan in order to conduct this operation and had been pressuring Islamabad regarding its nuclear program to coerce its cooperation.

Pakistan has already apparently taken the lead on this offensive. On Jan. 13, according to the _Pakistan Daily Times_, about 250 commandos from the Pakistani military’s elite Special Services Group (SSG) along with regular infantry troops were shifted from North Waziristan to the Wana area in South Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, notes Stratfor.
The goal of both America and Pakistan will be to root out al Qaeda’s entrenched positions in the lawless Northwest Territories. Ideally, Pakistani troops will be used for the bulk of the fighting, and this is the reason for Gul’s denial to the United States.
However, Pakistan’s refusal should be seen as a net gain for both countries. The United States has apparently been planning this offensive for some time, and with the Bush administration’s history of unilateral action at the expense of other countries’ sovereignty pretty well known, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has some cover for going into a region hostile to outside control. He can’t be seen by his people as acquiescing to the Americans’ wishes, so he denies them access and moves his own troops into the region as a show of strength and sovereignty. He knows full well that the United States will move into Pakistani territory anyway, and his thinking is that there’s not a lot the Pakistanis can do to stop Washington. At the same time, because Pakistan is making an effort to to root out bin Laden and his jihadists, the White House can’t accuse Musharraf’s government of not stepping up to the plate. And — bonus! — any pressure on Pakistan’s nuclear program from Washington will probably ease a little bit. The upshot? Washington gets to act against its real enemies without destabilizing Musharraf, and he doesn’t look like a patsy to his own people. Also, Islamabad gets to keep the Bomb, a source of great national pride in Pakistan.
With this strategy, the goal is to have the war against al Qaeda wrapped up some time in 2005.
But back to bin Laden. What will be al Qaeda’s response? Three things: It will to 1) destabilize or overthrow the Saudi Arabian royal family (a long-held goal), 2) destabilize Pakistan or 3) weaken U.S. resolve by massive attacks inside the United States, possibly with WMD. These strategies could be — and likely will be — used together.
In Saudi Arabia, al Qaeda could build on its string of bombings and attacks to such a degree that the survival of the current regime in Riyadh is in doubt. The U.S. would be forced to intervene, using the military hardware it has and will have in Iraq once the March rotation is in motion. (Riyadh is already on high alert for terror attacks during the hajj.) If al Qaeda can bog down the United States by causing it to stretch its already thin forces in Iraq into Saudi Arabia, it will strengthen its hand in Pakistan, too.
By destabilizing Pakistan — the two recent assassination attempts against Musharraf are probably just the first of many to come — al Qaeda makes the United States’ war infinitely more difficult. With Musharraf in control, the U.S. can cut backroom deals that allow it to operate in Pakistan to attack al Qaeda positions with relative freedom, as discussed above. With a militant Islamist _junta_ ruling from Islamabad — a nuclear-armed _junta_, mind you — that’s no longer an option. Can the United States occupy Afghanistan, Iraq _and_ Pakistan? No.
Finally, al Qaeda may attempt another massive attack on the scale of 9/11. Would massive American casualties sap the will of the United States? Possibly. Or maybe not; Sept. 11 didn’t cause the United States to cut and run. Instead, the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon propelled the United States into a war with militant Islamists and the fallout — Iraq, most notably — has divided the West internally and pitted the United States against the Muslim world. This may have been bin Laden’s main goal all along. What would be the result of another massive attack? The answer depends on how much sympathy the U.S. could garner from a world that may have exhausted its supply of goodwill toward America. Instead of a replay of 2001’s season of solidarity, would the United States be seen as reaping what it has sown? The Axis of Evil 8-Ball on this one says, “Sources cloudy; ask again later.” If its any consolation, bin Laden probably doesn’t know either. What is known is that _nothing_ would stop an enraged and wounded America from hellish retaliation.
So for the moment, that’s where all the players stand. Al Qaeda has to demonstrate its effectiveness before the United States starts its offensive this year to preemptively stall any momentum Washington may gather. It also has to show its members and supporters that it still has the capability to lead the jihad against the West. I predict intense attacks in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Otherwise, the United States will attack in Pakistan and al Qaeda likely will be dealt a death blow and bin Laden captured or killed. That would be a stunning setback for militant Islam, what with its spokesman and folk hero felled by the infidel.
That won’t spell the end of militant Islam of course, nor will it mean the end of the terror threat against the United States and the West. Al Qaedaism is more than just the group and it’s more than bin Laden. Smaller groups will continue to exist, operate and network. But without the charisma of bin Laden — and his web of financing — terror groups affiliated with al Qaeda can be reduced to a chronic, but manageable, problem.

Bomb attacks west, south of Baghdad

Huge explosions west of Baghdad kill three U.S. soldiers. Six other soldiers dead over the weekend, transition plans going badly. Iraq is not going well…

NPR and the Associated Press are reporting that there’s been two huge bomb attacks west of Baghdad near Fallujah, killing three U.S. soldiers.

The U.S. military confirmed a “large explosion” and said there were possibly U.S. and Iraqi civilian casualties. The attack occurred in Khaldiyah, 50 miles west of Baghdad. The town is near Fallujah, a hotspot of guerrilla activity where several attacks have taken place against U.S.-led coalition forces.
“One of our units was ambushed near Fallujah … involving two coalition vehicles. There might be coalition and civilian casualties,” said a military spokesman, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.
Another spokeswoman earlier described the attack as a “large explosion.”
Nameer Mohammed, who said he was standing about 500 yards away when the attack occurred, described seeing a U.S. military vehicle on fire after the first blast.
As more American forces came to the scene, another bomb went off, setting fire to a second vehicle, he said.
In the confusion, the Americans fired randomly, he said, and claimed that many Iraqis were killed. This could not be immediately confirmed.

The twin bomb attacks are a classic tactic — the first bomb kills and the second bomb kills the responding team.
[UPDATE Three more GIs were killed in another attack south of Baghdad near Iskandariya, about 30 miles south of Baghdad. That brings the total GIs dead today to six. Two CNN employees were also killed in a drive-by attack. Two Iraqi civilians died in the attack west of Baghdad.]
This follows on the the deadly attacks of this weekend, in which at least six soldiers died.

  • A soldier died Sunday from wounds inflicted by a rocket-propelled grenade attack near Beiji, north of Baghdad;
  • A U.S. helicopter went down in Mosul with its two crewmen while searching for a missing GI after a patrol boat capsized in the Tigris. The cause of the crash is unknown.
  • On Saturday, three U.S. troops were killed near Khaldiyah by a car bomb, and three more were killed near Fallujah when insurgents drove a car bomb into a military checkpoint.

It almost doesn’t matter if the attacks are Ba’athist, al Qaeda or some other group. More than 515 American soldiers and 97 soldiers from other countries have died in Iraq since March 19, 2003. Untold thousands of Iraqis have died in this war.
There’s no way someone can look at this and conclude that the U.S. has Iraq under control. In addition to the deadly violence, there was an ineffectual rocket attack on the CPA HQ on Sunday. And the election plan is in disarray, with the U.S. saying it’s open to “refinements” to the plan, but that its June 30 deadline is firm. While there won’t be any significant drawdown on troops after June 30, the White House desperately needs a sovereign government in Iraq by the summer or Bush’s re-election plans will be affected. Of course, if the Kurds and Shi’ites continue pushing the country toward civil war with their political demands, the U.S. will wish it hadn’t turned over sovereignty.
But now the U.S. is starting to rotate in fresh troops in the largest troop rotation since World War II. For a few weeks, because of overlap, there will be about 200,000 troops in Iraq. Look for insurgents to step up attacks in the hope to kill new guys before they’re fully acclimatized. And don’t be surprised if the U.S. military hits back in a spring offensive using the new troops.
Donations Update
With some other donations and the addition of my savings, B2I is up more than $6,000 now, easily within striking distance of the $10,000 I’d like to have on hand before I leave in early May. (Actually, I think it will be more like $12,000 that I need, with $1,000 for a vest and $1,000 for a plane ticket to Amman.) But that’s great! Again, you can read about the plan here and consider donating to support an independent journalist to cover the sovereignty transfer and its aftermath.

Saddam Warned Against Jihadists

A senior Washington official reveals that Saddam warned his followers against joining cause with Islamists and jihadists. It seems the White House’s war with the CIA is still going strong. And that’s a good thing.

A document found with Saddam Hussein in his “spider hole” warned his followers against allying themselves with foreign fighters and jihadists, cautioning that their agenda didn’t mesh well with the Ba’athists’.

The document appears to be a directive, written after he lost power, from Mr. Hussein to leaders of the Iraqi resistance, counseling caution against getting too close to Islamic jihadists and other foreign Arabs coming into occupied Iraq, according to American officials.

Officials said Mr. Hussein apparently believed that the foreign Arabs, eager for a holy war against the West, had a different agenda from the Baathists, who were eager for their own return to power in Baghdad. As a result, he wanted his supporters to be careful about becoming close allies with the jihadists, officials familiar with the document said.
A new, classified intelligence report circulating within the United States government describes the document and its contents, according to administration officials who asked not to be identified. The officials said they had no evidence that the document found with Mr. Hussein was a fabrication.

This is the second blow to the White House’s charge that Iraq and al Qaeda had found common cause against the United States, either before the war or after it. The CIA earlier had said that interrogation of top al Qaeda figures in custody revealed that Osama bin Laden had rejected plans to ally with Iraq.
But what’s really interesting is that this leak sounds like it came from the CIA, which is still furious over _L’Affair Plame,_ the outing of Valerie Plame, Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s wife and an undercover operative working on WMD, by the White House. To wit:

As President Bush sought to build a case for war with Iraq, one of the most hotly debated issues was whether Mr. Hussein was in league with Mr. bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Senior officials at the Pentagon who were certain that the evidence of connections between Iraq and Al Qaeda were strong and compelling found themselves at war with analysts at the C.I.A. who believed that the evidence showed some contacts between Baghdad and the terrorist organization, but not an operational alliance.
At the Pentagon, several officials believed that Iraq and Al Qaeda had found common ground in their hatred of the United States, while at the C.I.A., many analysts believed that Mr. bin Laden saw Mr. Hussein as one of the corrupt secular Arab leaders who should be toppled.

So now we have former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill’s charges that Iraq was target No. 1 from the earliest days of this administration, the War College’s report blasting Operation Iraqi Freedom as a distraction at best and now a leak — likely from the CIA — that Saddam specifically avoided alliances with Islamists.
All of these keep adding up to one, or possibly two conclusions: That President George W. Bush either a) willfully lied (I refuse to use the anodyne term, “misreprepresented”) about Iraq and the threat it posed, or b) the intelligence the White House received was about as bad as it could be. In the latter case, the incompetence is criminal. In the case of the former, the president is.
I believe there are still a few patriots in the CIA hoping to reign in Bush so the harm his minions at the Department of Defense have done won’t be repeated in another term and another war. Some will say what these leakers are doing is treasonous. I say to stay silent is treason. To stand by and do nothing while intelligence is manipulated and plans are drawn up against who knows what other countries — Syria is looking nervously over its shoulder at the “Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003”:http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/000468.php#000468 — would be to betray their oaths to the Constitution and to the agency they serve.
There will be more revelations, possibly more damaging. In April, former National Security Council member Richard Clarke’s book, Against All Enemies: Inside the White House’s War on Terror — What Really Happened hits the shelves.
*Housekeeping*
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Boston TV stations nix “C-SPAN Baghdad”

Most local Boston television stations are refusing to use the Pentagon-sponsored footage out of Baghdad, nicknamed “C-SPAN Baghdad.”

Most local Boston television stations are refusing to use the Pentagon-sponsored footage out of Baghdad, dubbed “C-SPAN Baghdad,” which “I wrote”:http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/000489.php#000489 about earlier this month.

“I’m kind of appalled by it. I think it’s very troubling,” said Charles Kravetz, vice president of news at the regional cable news outlet NECN. “I think the government has no business being in the news business.”
“We have no interest in this,” said WBZ-TV (Channel 4) news director Peter Brown. “The Fourth Estate is independent and should remain so. As news providers, we should go there and see for ourselves.”

Government officials deny the footage is an effort on the part of the Pentagon to manage the news coming out of Iraq.

“Basically, this provides us with the ability to feed back briefing materials and the substance of what is happening in Baghdad to the Pentagon … on a real-time basis,” [said Dorrence Smith, a former ABC newsman now working for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq and the man in charge of C-SPAN Baghdad.] “It’s for one or for all as opposed to the very few media who are here in Baghdad.”

Smith, by the way, is the guy who managed President Bush’s media strategy in the Florida recount in 2000. And if that doesn’t make your blood pressure go up a bit, a Department of Defense spokesman Bryan Whitman stressed that while the project’s function is to provide live briefings back to the Pentagon, he “wouldn’t want to rule out anything in the future.”

Atrios over at Eschaton won’t give the stations any props for not running the feed, but I will — for now. Why don’t you readers send the guys at the stations feedback applauding them for living up to their Fourth Estate duties (in this case) and encourage them that their judgment in rejecting the feed is appreciated.

  • “WBZ-TV”:http://wbz4.com/feedback/
  • “WHDH”:http://www.whdh.com/contact/
  • “WCVB”:http://www.thebostonchannel.com/station/

Still, for all my bluster regarding C-SPAN Baghdad, I’m kind of inclined to agree with “Jack Shafer”:http://slate.msn.com/id/2092950/ over at “Slate”:http://www.slate.com, and not just because he links to me in the article. He’s of the mind that the Pentagon’s obvious efforts at propaganda will crash and burn because Americans are more likely to watch _Seinfeld_ than they are to watch empty military ceremonies and video of soldiers painting schools. He also makes the interesting observation that C-SPAN Baghdad will have the — surely unintentional — effect of putting the CPA and the administration on record regarding various goings-on in Iraq. “Such a record of their own making would make this administration much more accountable than they already are,” he writes. “If the propagandists insisted on putting a happy face on Iraq for U.S. news consumers while thousands of U.S. soldiers die and Iraqis riot, they would lose all credibility. But here they’re caught in a double-bind: If they tell the truth, they start converging upon the independent press’s mission and begin to negate their own raison d’etre.”
So while the Pentagon’s plan is execrable and an insulting waste of taxpayers’ money, if more local stations like those in Boston reject the feed and news consumers turn to a few of the upteen million media outlets that can counter the feed — like this one! “Send me back to Iraq!”:https://www.paypal.com/xclick/business=chris%40back-to-iraq.com&%0Aitem_name=Reports+from+the+%0AMiddle+East+by+an+independent+journalist — it’s likely the newest series from Bagdad will be cancelled before the next season.

Mukhabarat Agent: No WMDs here!

No WMDs in Iraq but plenty of chaos!

The _Jerusalem Post_ has an interesting interview with a former colonel in Saddam’s secret police, the _Mukhabarat_, who says Iraq had no WMDs in the run-up to war.

Concern that Saddam had actively concealed deadly weapons of mass destruction served as one of primary reasons’ for the Coalition forces’ invasion of Iraq in March.
“In 1991 we were very close to developing a nuclear weapon, but had nothing at the time of the [March 2003] war, after so many years of [UNSCOM] inspections,” said the agent, adding, “they destroyed everything.”

It will come as little surprise to people who read this blog and others, but this is just one more little stone added to the mountain of evidence that the White House lied about/misused/screwed up whatever intelligence it was getting about WMD programs in Iraq.
But, and this fits in with everything I encountered in Iraq and from my own research and readings, Saddam was also fooled — by “maniacally sycophantic commanders and bodyguards who deceived him into believing that Iraq” stood a chance again the United States’ military.
I also believe Saddam felt he could bluff the West by claiming to have no WMDs, which is what everyone thought he would say, while acting like he did. By behaving like he had a royal flush when all he had was a measly pair of sixes, he could buck up his standing in the Arab world as the only leader to stand up to the United States, maintain his grip on his subjects who well remembered the gas attacks on the Kurdish north from 1984-1988 and keep his hold on power. But America called his bluff and now the world is what it is. I imagine the White House is feeling a bit like it won a huge pot of Monopoly money.
Two leaders lying, for their own purposes rather than for the good of their people. And such a mess of it all now. Today, Juan Cole reports, “three U.S. soldiers have been wounded in Kirkuk and Mosul”:http://www.juancole.com/2003_12_01_juancole_archive.html#107173487313180742; pro-Saddam demonstrations continue in Mosul, where police shot four students and protesters attacked Turkmen offices in the city; roadside bombs were exploded in Humairah and Baghdad; a senior member of the “Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution”:http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/000451.php#000451 from the al-Hakim family has been killed; and a former Ba’ath official was literally torn limb from limb by a mob in Najaf.