Vesicle Trafficker II

I have quickly read through many posts above, and clearly I am entering this debate at a late hour. So here I will try to avoid repeating too many of the arguments that were raised above and instead concentrate on two issues which I think deserve separate consideration but that you appear to want to lump together. These are: Who is to blame for 9/11? Is the Bush Doctrine a better policy for fighting terrorism than the Clinton Doctrine (for want of a better term).

Yes, that’s definitely the $64,000 question. Let’s assume for the moment that Gore would have done the same thing as Bush in Afghanistan (under the doctrine); the issue then becomes Iraq.

Despite my reply, I am not saying Bush is entirely to blame for 9/11. I was trying to be provocative and I am glad it achieved that purpose. What I am challenging, and what I do not think you can prove, is the charge imbedded in your argument that places the majority of the blame on 9/11 on Clinton.

You’re off here; If I meant to blame Clinton, I would have blamed Clinton. In the 10 years before 2001, we had three presidents, Bush, Clinton, Bush (hold the jokes, please). I’ll say that all three share blame.

Even though later you state that you think the proportion may be equal, based on many of your other comments I’m not sure you really believe this. And the reason why I am accusing you of this is because I will argue that the belief that Clinton was primarily responsible for 9/11 is a critical tenet of the Bush Doctrine, and without using this argument evidence supporting the utility or purpose of the Bush Doctrine is sorely lacking.

Why not accept that I mean what I say, rather than presume? I do think that pre-9/11 policies – which are typically, and probably unfairly, called ‘Clinton policies’ are the problem; and that GW Bush’s policies do represent a break with that tradition – which I’ll argue is a good thing, given the effect of the policies.

My belief that the majority of the blame for 9/11 falls on Bush is based on the testimony of Richard Clarke under oath, George Bush (interview with Bob Woodward for his book), and Condi Rice (many TV interviews). It is based on the growing realization that Bush downgraded terrorism as a priority after he took office. It is based on the fact that it happened on Bush’s watch. And his failure to admit responsibility for the act but instead blaming it on Clinton is part of my concern (as you put it, a “Buck Stops Here” point), because it calls into serious question Mr. Bush’s ability to look at the situation more objectively and critically evaluate what might have gone wrong. An important component of fighting the GWOT is to figure out what happened; Bush has put up roadblocks at every turn. To suggest this is a “distraction” is equivalent to saying that our leaders do not have to explain their actions to the public.

Can you point me to cites that support this broad conclusion? (Both that antiterrorism was Clinton’s highest priority and that Bush objectively downgraded it?) All I have are budget numbers that suggest that Bush was spending a lot more money on it.

This evidence is convincing to me and suggests that rather than simply carrying Clinton’s policy forward, as you argue, Bush actually relaxed the policy because perhaps it wasn’t “grand” enough (“weather” vs. “climate”, as you put it). To follow this forward, then, it can be argued that his failure to support the Clinton Doctrine could have led to what is now regarded by some as its biggest failure—9/11.

OK, your suggestion is that 9/11 was a failure of execution; mine is that it was a doctrinal failure. My evidence is relatively simple; in the face of a fairly well-executed set of responses – under the old ‘Clinton’ doctrine – terrorist attacks against US interests continued and in fact escalated from 1980 onward.

I therefore do not accept 9/11 as de facto evidence against Clinton’s approach, and I think it is nearly impossible to prove otherwise given the many uncertainties surrounding the planning and execution of the attack (e.g., how can we be sure it wasn’t scheduled to occur during Clinton’s administration?).

Well, given that 9/11 is the culmination of a ling string of attacks escalating in intensity, sophistication, and damage, I think I do have a kind of a case. I’m open, as always, to counters.

You seem to think you have a better grasp of the workings of our intelligence/law enforcement bureaucracy than I do, which is very likely true, but never-the-less it remains a distinct possibility that, yes, perhaps 9/11 could have been prevented by Bush if he brought the full resources of government to bear on the threats he was being made aware of in his briefings.

In retrospect, history is always pretty obvious. The problem, of course, is that we have to live it in prospect. If we took all the threats on the ‘threat board’ in the Summer of 2001, and devoted the full attention and resources of the government to each of them…we’d have run out of attention and resources when we got to #2.

And aside from 9/11 (and if blame is 50:50 as you argue, we should remove it from consideration for the sake of argument), what is your evidence that the Clinton Doctrine was an “obvious” failure?

See above.

Because a theory based on one data point is not a theory but a case study, and clearly basing policy—let alone a “doctrine”— on such flimsy evidence is highly dubious, to say the least.

WTC I, WTC II, USS Cole, Khobar Towers, U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam…I count 6 data points, and could probably find more if I looked.

If it is that worldwide terrorism has been escalating without repercussion during the “10-years” prior to 9/11, how do you know it wouldn’t have been worse without his policies? This is not evidence, it is conjecture. And how would you judge the recent escalation in worldwide terrorism in this regard, as a failure of the “Bush Doctrine”?

A damn intelligent question. I’ll suggest that you look at this very good paper on “wicked problems” in national security. My old professor, Horst Rittel, who came up with the notion, had these characteristics for wicked (as opposed to ‘tame’) problems:

Some specific aspects of problem wickedness include:

1. You don’t understand the problem until you have developed a solution. Indeed, there is no definitive statement of “The Problem.” The problem is ill-structured, an evolving set of interlocking issues and constraints.

2. Wicked problems have no stopping rule. Since there is no definitive “The Problem”, there is also no definitive “The Solution.” The problem solving process ends when you run out of resources.

3. Solutions to wicked problems are not right or wrong, simply “better,” “worse,” “good enough,” or “not good enough.”

4. Every wicked problem is essentially unique and novel. There are so many factors and conditions, all embedded in a dynamic social context, that no two wicked problems are alike, and the solutions to them will always be custom designed and fitted.

5. Every solution to a wicked problem is a “one-shot operation,” every attempt has consequences. As Rittel says, “One cannot build a freeway to see how it works.” This is the “Catch 22″ about wicked problems: you can’t learn about the problem without trying solutions, but every solution you try is expensive and has lasting unintended consequences which are likely to spawn new wicked problems.

6. Wicked problems have no given alternative solutions. There may be no solutions, or there may be a host of potential solutions that are devised, and another host that are never even thought of.

I think this pretty well defines the place we’re in in solving these problems, and so I’ll have to kinda push back on your suggestion that we can somehow model ‘what-ifs’ in this case.

Finally, I am honestly baffled by repeated assertions that a major problem with Clinton’s approach was that it treated terrorism as a crime, rather than an act of war. Everyone felt this way prior to 9/11, this is, was, and should be a legitimate concern of our leaders.

Yes, as I’ve noted before, pretty much everyone prior to 9/11 felt this way; Bush is making a claim that he felt differently (hence his desire for a different strategy, and possibly, Clarke’s removal), but that’s unproven as well. What is proven is that he acted differently after 9/11.

Making the leap to a policy of pre-emption as Bush did so rapidly and without careful thought on the implementation or repercussions is in some way worse than not doing anything, IMO. As I said before, the idea of pre-emption puts us on extremely shaky moral ground, since it places an unrealistic and unachievable burden on the prosecutors (the US government). This therefore leads to an indefensible assertion of moral superiority on the part of the prosecutors, since it is essentially a policy substantiated by faith, not proof. And I would argue that Bush’s failure to recognize this flaw in policy has in fact dealt it perhaps a fatal blow, since the failure to find WMDs in Iraq does not inspire faith in US intelligence or Bush’s sincerity.

Well, if you have problems making a moral distinction between us and the Islamist terrorists, or Saddam, this is gonna be a short discussion. I have no problems making that judgment, and think the evidence for it is obvious enough that it doesn’t merit much discussion.

As for the general idea behind the Bush Doctrine, I think there is an exceptionally strong argument to be made against the idea that the “war on terra” should be focused primarily on state-sponsored groups. In glancing through the posts above I noticed that Fareed Zakaria’s name popped up, so I presume Zakaria’s recent argument (which I have read and agree with) against this view has been presented. I know that a lot of “evidence” has been cited that could be interpreted as support for the idea that this policy has made some changes in the way some states operate WRT terrorism. But whether this has any significant impact on the GWOT is, IMO, highly unlikely. It’s still “whack a mole”, but the moles are states, not individuals or small groups. Only time will tell if this has a more global effect, but claims that it will are just fortune telling. However, it strikes me and many other observers that the long term prognosis is much worse, not better, and that the global climate for generating terrorists is as good or better than it has ever been, thanks to Bush.

I’m glad you at least acknowledge that there may be evidence that it’s working; I’ll take that as an opening. I’ll get to the ‘observer effect’ in a later post.

The big gaping hole in the Bush Doctrine, as I’ve said here before, is the seeming indifference to domestic security. Contrary to Dan’s prior comments, there is a lot that can be done to better defend ourselves against terrorism at home, to better prepare to deal with the outcome of attacks so that there severity is minimized, and we are not doing anywhere near enough in this regard.

I actually completely agree with you. Sadly, I think the Democratic notions of how to better implement domestic security are equally stupid; I owe Bruce Schnier a review of his excellent (if too-casually written) book on the subject.

So in sum I completely reject as unverifiable the idea that Clintons’ policies were a failure, and that Bush’s policies are the necessary alternative. Perhaps you, and most Americans, want a simply articulated “Doctrine” that can be summed up in one or two sentences. I am comfortable with a more comprehensive approach that fully takes into account the complexities and magnitude of the terrorist threat and is not based on faith, predictions or some biased or outdated view of world events. And I want my leaders to acknowledge these uncertainties and complexities; if they don’t, they are not fighting terrorism, they are running a political campaign.

Sadly, the Clinton approach is equally subject to ‘faith’ and lack of verifiability. I’m kind of amused that you’d suggest otherwise; no foreign policy – or in fact no policy at a scale larger than neighborhood planning – is ‘objectively verifiable’. It’s all contingent, it’s all based on faith and the best data and judgment we can gather.

I’ve criticized Bush in the past for not doing enough to build that faith, and I’ll continue to do so. But your lack of faith isn’t completely his fault.

Tin Ear

I’m having one of my bang-my-head-against-the-keyboard moments again. If you wonder why I do it more often when liberals do something amazingly boneheaded, it’s because I’m a liberal, and I JUST HATE IT when I see things that convince me that we’re going to be sleeping on the porch for the next few weeks.

In the course of an interesting post on what we should require from journalists – in terms of disclosing or aligning their own interests – Atrios casually mentions this:

“Since when is having an abortion a controversial act?”

Well, to about half the country, it’s a damn controversial act – and even if you think they’re wrong (as I do) might it not be just a little bit smart to at least do them the courtesy to acknowledge that, well, “this is kinda controversial but I don’t see it as an issue here?”

If Atrios (or anyone else) cares, it’s tin-eared acts like that which drive home the point that the Democrats just flat aren’t interested in people who don’t live in Cambridge or Brentwood. Yes, this is an isolated slip of the keyboard, by one person who isn’t standing in the center of party politics.

But it’s a perfect character note for why we’re at risk of losing the election – and a lot of elections in the coming years, until we learn just a little bit of humility.

Fred Siegel of the DLC: Not Stupid

Wow. The DLC has published a rip-roaring condemnation of the alliance between the New Left and radical Islamism by Fred Seigel, whose work I’ll be looking out for. (hat tip to praktike in the e-voting comments, below) he opens with a sharp summary:

In the new era, Communist red and Islamist green, joined by more than a dash of Nazi brown, have increasingly forged an anti-liberal alliance that sees Israel and the United States as its common enemies. They all believe, in different ways, that if only the United States and Israel could be destroyed, the world could return to the idyllic harmony that prevailed before Jewish capitalism polluted it.

and then follows with a stunner that I hadn’t heard before:

The most dramatic example of the conjoining of the hard left and Middle East extremism can be found in a French prison — in the person of Carlos the Jackal, the most famous terrorist of the 1970s. Born Illich Ramirez Sanchez in Venezuela, Carlos led numerous terrorist attacks in the name of the Palestinian cause and other revolutionary undertakings; he is now serving a life sentence. Once a convinced Marxist-Leninist, he has converted to Islam on the grounds that “only a coalition of Marxists and Islamists can destroy” the United States and its allies. In a book he managed to sneak out of prison and publish on the first anniversary of 9/11, Carlos lauds Osama bin Laden and praises “revolutionary Islam” as the only route to just societies.

Connects the legacy of 1968 to the current policies:

Behind the incessant drumbeat, intensified after 9/11, lies a political program based on a relentlessly negative meld of anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, and anti-globalism. For the ideologues of the BBC, the Guardian, and other leading European journals — all 1968ers come to power — the past quarter-century has been an era of crushing disappointment. Once they placed their faith in Third World liberation movements abroad and a state-run economy at home. But both failed. Repeatedly cuckolded by history, they were increasingly defined by their hostilities rather than their hopes.

(and it should be noted that there are strong historic connections between the current European leadership and the elements of the radical left such as Sanchez – Joschka Fischer, current FM of Germany, was a member of a radical street-fighting group, one of whose members was apparently part of Sanchez’ attack on an OPEC conference in Vienna in 1975.

The immediate cause for the media’s intensified interest in Fischer’s past is the court trial of Hans-Joachim Klein, who has faced proceedings since last autumn because of his participation in the 1975 attack on the Vienna OPEC conference.

Klein was a member of Fischer’s group before he took part in the assault on the OPEC conference under the command of “Carlos,” alias Ilich Ramírez Sánchez. Later he dissociated himself from terrorism and went underground. Some of Fischer’s close friends…including Tom Koenigs (at present director of the civilian UN administration in Kosovo), Daniel Cohn-Bendit (European parliamentary delegate for the French Greens) and the cabaret artist Matthias Beltz…were in contact with Klein. He was arrested in France in September 1998 and sent to Germany. Fischer has been called as a witness in the Klein trial and, after initial reservations, was set to give evidence on January 16 in Frankfurt.

Going through the leadership of the EU and EU nations, there are many more alumni of 1968 radicalism – as there are in US politics, including yours truly)

That’s the kind of stuff I want to see from my party, and that’s what I wish I’d hear from its standardbearer.

JK UPDATE: Welcome to the party, DLC. We’dkindofnoticedthattooa while ago. And reader Yehudit offers yet another example: a U.S. neo-Nazi leader doing the rounds of Muslim functions across North America.

Electronic Voting: Truly, Deeply Stupid

Also in today’s L.A. Times, a frightening story in which election results are changed by electronic voting machine problems – and there’s not a damn thing we can do about it.

Although some Orange County voters cast the wrong electronic ballots in the March 2 primary, potentially altering the outcome of one race for a Democratic Party post, Registrar Steve Rodermund said he will certify the results of the election today.

In a report circulated late Monday to the Board of Supervisors, Rodermund acknowledged for the first time that his office’s failures could have affected a race … and gave ammunition to critics of electronic voting.

The report said 33 voters out of 16,655 in the 69th Assembly District received the wrong ballots and were unable to vote for six open seats on the Democratic Central Committee.

The candidate who finished seventh in that contest, Art Hoffman, trailed sixth-place candidate Jim Pantone in the final count by 13 votes. However, 99.7% of Orange County ballots were cast properly in the primary, Rodermund will tell supervisors today before certifying the election results to the secretary of state.

There are election-day issues in most elections (as we all can remember from 2000, right?) But e-voting machines are a particular problem, as presently constituted, because without a permanent paper trail, the votes – stored as records in a database – must be taken on faith.

In Florida, we could at least go back and try and figure out what happened. With paperless e-voting machines, there’s just no way.

There are a lot of things that can make e-voting work; open-source software and ISO9000 audits are two of the ones that I support.

Paper records are another, and I’d like to invite you to email California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley and suggest that he require them before electronic voting machines can damage another election. In this election, things worked out amicably.

In the case of the 69th Assembly District seats on the Democratic Central Committee, The Times analysis estimated that 19 to 38 voters had miscast ballots. Neither Hoffman, leading at one point, nor Pantone said they planned to challenge the outcome. Democratic Party Chairman Frank Barbaro said the party would resolve the inequity internally so the county wouldn’t face an expensive election.

We probably won’t be so lucky again.

Kerry on Energy: Truly, Deeply, Stupid

Kerry is going to announce today that he would open the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to pressure OPEC to lower prices in order to lower the price of gasoline.

In the L.A. Times this morning:

Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry will announce a plan today in San Diego for reining in skyrocketing gas prices, saying President Bush has done nothing to stop increases that are hurting average Americans.

Kerry’s campaign said Monday night that the candidate would use a rally at UC San Diego this morning to propose increasing pressure on OPEC to produce more crude oil and to suggest that the United States should temporarily let supplies in its Strategic Petroleum Reserve be depleted, making more gasoline available for consumers.

So, let’s see. AT a time when our relations with the Arab states are as precarious as they have ever been, when Venezuela (another major source of imported oil) is in turmoil, and when domestic production is starting a long decline, Kerry wants to drain the SPI – the stock that exists to cushion shocks caused by cutoffs of imports (hence the name Strategic) so Soccer Mom and Soccer Dad can drive their H2 Hummers and Hemi Rams and not feel it in the pocketbook.

I’m hopeful that – unlike Kerry’s advisers – those who read this are smart enough to see why that might not be a good idea.

One of my major discomforts with Bush is his unwillingness to put the nation on notice that we’re at war, and that this war will require sacrifice from those of us who don’t wear uniforms as well. A gas tax or tax on oil imports would be a good start. We need to wean ourselves from dependence on easily-interrupted foreign oil, and at the same time, make the public point that our troops are not in the Middle East to steal the oil, but instead to respond to a violent threat.

Kerry could have taken that issue and run with it. But instead, he’s pandering to his suburban constituency, and doing it in a way that shows how unserious he is about our current situation.

I’m still on the fence, but Kerry’s team just gave me a hard push.

Clinton, Bush, and 9/11

In the comments to ‘Sondheim‘ below, Vesicle Trafficker makes these accusations:

This is a very common argument in Pro-Bush Pro-Iraq war circles. The problem is, it is only partly true. If you substitute “In the decade or so” with “between January and September of 2001″, I think you’d be right.

I stand by my statement that it is a Pro-Bush Pro-Iraq war fantasy that the blame for 9/11 falls on Clinton for his alleged effete or ineffective response to global terrorism. 9/11 is not evidence for this, it is only evidence for Bush’s incompetence. It happened on his watch. He didn’t take Al Qaeda seriously. He was worried about stem cells and Saddam.

VT, your evidence for this would be exactly…what?

Because I’ve got a fairly substantial amount of evidence that points the other way.All the pieces were in place for “Operation Wedding Cake’ by July of 01; All Bush had done was increase the covert budget from $2B to $12.5 B in that time. The operational failures that had allowed the low-level operatives to come into the country were the same ones that let the bombers in the WTC I attack in.

Are you really suggesting that there was some strategy that Bush could have executed – one that doesn’t read like a plotline for a Tom Clancy book – that would have, in six months, unwound this plan?

I know a little bit about law enforcement, and have read a fair amount about intelligence. I honestly can’t imagine any policy change that could have interrupted this attack (and I’ll note that given bureaucratic inertia, absent some policy document that you can show that Bush ‘stood down’ the street-level antiterrorist forces, between January and July of 01 they were pretty much doing what they did between July and Dec 00). I’ll leave the door open to you suggest an alternative path that Bush could have followed, and I’ll reserve judgment until we hear what you would suggest.

The planning for the attack began in 1998 or 1999. The CIA plans several attacks against Bin Laden, but is shut down by higher-levels within the Clinton Administration.

Now I’ve proposed a theory back in March (I’m not the only one, and I’m not sure I can take credit for originating it) in which I posit:

And while in fact, the Clinton Administration was somewhat effective in following a ‘legalistic’ arrest and try strategy, it obviously hasn’t worked. I’ve always been annoyed at the righties who claimed that Clinton was snoozing at the switch and that the only U.S. response to terrorism was to lob a cruise missile into an aspirin plant.

The reality is that Clinton’s team was highly focussed on terrorism…but on terrorism as crime, as opposed to as an instrument of war. We focussed on identifying the actual perpetrators, and attempting to arrest them or cause their arrest.

This is pretty much the typical liberal response to 9/11. Send in SWAT, pull ‘em out in cuffs, and let’s sit back and watch the fun on Court TV.

I’ve been ambivalent about whether this is a good strategy conceptually, and looking at the history…in which we’re batting about .600 in arresting and trying Islamist terrorists…I have come to the realization that the fact is that it hasn’t worked. The level and intensity of terrorist actions increased, all the way through 9/11 and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan.

And a part of what I have realized is that as long as states – particularly wealthy states – are willing to explicitly house terrorists and their infrastructure, or implicitly turn a blind eye to their recruitment and funding, we can’t use the kind of ‘police’ tactics that worked against Baader-Meinhof or the Red Army Faction. The Soviet Union and it’s proxies offered limited support to these terrorist gangs, but they didn’t have a national population to recruit from and bases and infrastructure that only a state can provide.

So unless we shock the states supporting terrorism into stopping, the problem will get worse. Note that it will probably get somewhat worse if we do…but that’s weather, and I’m worried about climate.

Now VT and others who disagree can argue – I’m obviously interested in arguing this, or I wouldn’t be putting this up as a post – but that implies a counterargument, or at least facts that counter the theory. I don’t see VT’s claims as rising to that level; I’m posting this so he (?) doesn’t feel like I’m neglecting a serious response to the specific claims that were made.

There is a philosophical ‘the buck stops here’ kind of point to make, but that’s not how I’m reading VT’s comment.

I’ll second the general point that’s been made that apportioning operational blame for the failure to stop the 9/11 attacks is something that can be readily shared between Clinton and Bush. Clinton had more time, but a) it happened on Bush’s watch, and b) he’s accountable for his failure to clean house and really shake up the bureaucracies in response to the failure.

I’m willing to grant that either party is roughly equal in competence in managing the bureaucracy (although I’ll also grant that this is subject to debate). I’d rather, first, be debating the doctrines they are going to instill into that bureaucracy, and here in my view Clinton comes up short.

It’s not clear he had any options, given the historic moment and political climate here and abroad. But I’ll take Bush’s doctrine to date over Clinton’s. My judgment is out on Kerry’s, until I actually figure out what his doctrine might be.

Chernobyl: Incredible, Heartbreaking, Humane

Go click here immediately to see the website of a Russian motorcyclist who regularly travels through and photographs the Chernobyl ‘Dead Zone’.

Her writing is first-rate (I’ll excuse her English) and her photographs have so much emotional impact that I’m going to spend the rest of the week thinking about them.

Note that this isn’t some ‘Soviets Bad’ or Atomic Energy Bad’ site; she’s just sifting through the detritus of a tragedy, and because so few can (I assume she has some kind of special access from her comments) it is preserved. She makes the analogy to Pompeii, and it’s a good one.

Sondheim on Clarke

Josh Marshall has an extensive post up on the continuing war between the GOP and Dems over Clarke.

I’m not overly interested in the tactical elements of this war; what I’m interested in is seeing of there are grownups at some level of the U.S. Government – my government that can somehow stop this crap.

Here’s the problem.

A Damn Bad Thing happened – a series of attacks against our people and places that culminated in an act of war on 9/11. In the decade or so leading up to this, we didn’t do enough, which is, in part why it happened.

In the next decades, while we try and reduce the number of people willing to engage in these kind of acts – by bribing, converting, or killing them – we ought to not make the same mistakes. We’ll make different mistakes, and we will be attacked, make no mistake about that. But it would be nice to have a reasonably objective and levelheaded look at what happened.

It’d be even better to have a government in place – and here I point at both sides of the aisle that was capable of taking such a reasonable and levelheaded look.

As long as I’m wishing, can I have a pony?Marshall says:

What this is about isn’t Condi Rice or Richard Clarke or even George W. Bush. It’s about what happened — finding out what happened. One side wants to find out; the other doesn’t. This whole story turns on that simple fact. Why else try to destroy Clark unless what he has to say is profoundly damaging? Liars are usually easily discredited; it’s the truth-tellers who need to be destroyed.

and adds:

I have no stake in Richard Clarke. I think he’s a hero because I’m quite confident (on the basis of very strong evidence) that he’s telling the truth and now facing the whirlwind that we all knew these folks would bring against him.

Daniel Drezner actually neatly lays out my issues with Clarke:

Did I stack the deck in the second set of bullet points? Absolutely. My point, however, is that Clarke stacked the deck in the first set of bullet points.

Why would he do this? Some will say it’s because Clarke is a partisan hack, which isn’t really credible — he voted in the Republican primary in 2000, served under three Republican presidents, and already vowed not to advise Kerry. My hunch is that it’s more simple and personal than that. Let’s rework those bullet points one last time:

It is also the story of four presidents:

* Ronald Reagan, during which I was just a State Department DAS and therefore had marginal influence;

* George H.W. Bush, whose Secretary of State demoted me;

* Bill Clinton, who was wise enough to listen to my sage advice and let me run the Principals meetings on counterterrorism;

* George W. Bush, who had the gall to strip me of the hard-won autonomy and power I achieved under Clinton and force me to work through the regular chain of command

I’m sorry, but Marshall, and the rest of the anti-Administration chorus are just singing a different part than those in the Administration – it’s still the same music

BAKER
Wait a minute, magic beans
For a cow so old
That you had to tell
A lie to sell
It, which you told!
Were they worthless beans?
Were they oversold?
Oh, and tell us who
Persuaded you
To steal that gold.

LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD (To Jack)
See, it’s your fault.

JACK
No!

BAKER
So it’s you fault…

JACK
No!

LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD
Yes, it is!

JACK
It’s not!

BAKER
It’s true.

JACK
Wait a minute-
But I only stole the gold
To get my
Cow back from you!

LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD (To Baker)
So it’s your fault!

JACK
Yes!

And personally, I’m tired of it.

The Democrats (including Marshall) are furious at Bush for not walking into a trap. As noted before, the leaked Democratic intelligence committee memos made that clear:

1) Pull the majority along as far as we can on issues that may lead to major new disclosures regarding improper or questionable conduct by administration officials. We are having some success in that regard…

3) Prepare to launch an independent investigation when it becomes clear we have exhausted the opportunity to usefully collaborate with the majority. We can pull the trigger on an independent investigation at any time– but we can only do so once. The best time to do so will probably be next year…

Summary

Intelligence issues are clearly secondary to the public’s concern regarding the insurgency in Iraq. Yet, we have an important role to play in the revealing the misleading — if not flagrantly dishonest methods and motives — of the senior administration officials who made the case for a unilateral, preemptive war. The approach outline above seems to offer the best prospect for exposing the administration’s dubious motives and methods.

Note that the conclusion precedes the investigation.

Bush isn’t faultless in this; and his team is playing thug-style hockey right alongside the Democrats when they should be winning the war.

And I’m going to have to vote for one of them in November.

Who Knew?

Mickey Kaus, fellow Norman and depressed Democrat, has an interesting nugget buried in his story on Bush’s ‘WMD Joke’ speech.

P.P.S.: The soldier sitting closest to me clearly liked Bush, perhaps because he had just seen the president, in person, for the third time. Apparently, Bush pays regular visits to wounded soldiers at Walter Reed. Did you know that? I didn’t. Admittedly, it’s easier to visit the wounded than to go to funerals, which Bush has been accused of not doing enough of. Still …

Honestly, I’m not shilling for Bush. I’m just trying to figure the guy out.