Thursday, August 07, 2008

Ask the Neo-Con, Part VII

UPDATE: below

In the comment debate about conservatives, Liberative blog host bobn cites a Vincent Bugliosi article titled "The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder," as evidence of Bush's deceit and failures in Iraq. The article was published on May 9th on the "Winnipeg Independent Media Centre" website, which describes itself as "a loose collective of individuals working to provide an alternative source of news and reporting to Winnipeg and surrounding regions" affiliated with Indymedia. Both WIMC and Indymedia are far-left organizations.

That doesn't mean everything they publish is wrong. Still, inquiring Neo-cons wondered whether Bugliosi’s article was accurate.

Simply put, no. Indeed, Bugliosi's piece--a flack job for his Spring 2008 book "The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder" (I haven't read it, nor am I likely to)--is flatly false.
  1. Bugliosi says that Bush lied in claiming Iraq was an "imminent" threat. Wrong--Bush said no such thing. Indeed, he said the exactly the opposite--that we must act before a threat materialized--when adopting a "preemption" policy nine months before the invasion.

  2. Bugliosi next cites the mid-2002 so-called "Downing Street Memo" claiming that Bush suggested flying U2 reconnaissance planes falsely painted with UN colors over Iraq. This is strictly hypothetical--neither Bugliosi nor anyone else says it happened. Even if it did, the U2s weapon of choice is cameras, not munitions. In any event, the Downing memo is more relevant to British, not U.S. policy and, if anything, actually bolsters the case for invasion.

  3. Bugliosi insists that UN weapons inspector Hans Blix ruled out the possibility of Iraq having WMDs before the war. Nonsense--he said Saddam hadn't showed him any. He also reported that:
    "the consensus of the intelligence community," as Mr. Wilkerson puts it, "was overwhelming" in the period leading up to the invasion of Iraq that Saddam definitely had an arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, and that he was also in all probability well on the way to rebuilding the nuclear capability that the Israelis had damaged by bombing the Osirak reactor in 1981.
    Charles Duelfer, Chairman of the Iraq Survey Group, agreed. As did virtually every Democrat and foreign government, which also believed Saddam possessed WMDs.

  4. Referring to Bush’s January 28, 2003 State of the Union speech, Bugliosi claims the Administration employed "then discredited information" about Saddam's attempt to acquire uranium from Africa" to frighten the American public. Bugliosi never acknowledges that multiple government and media investigations concluded that Bush was right--and that Bush's accuser, Joe Wilson, is a liar.

  5. Finally, Bugliosi argues the Administration pressured U.S. intelligence agencies to alter their analysis so as to support the rationale for war. This assertion--also promulgated by George Soros--ignores a similar stack of media and Congressional conclusions that intel wasn't re-worked.
Conclusion: Yes, the Administration was (mostly) wrong about WMDs--but a mistake isn't a lie. Perhaps his book is better reasoned, but Bugliosi's article borders on propaganda.

When the tin-foil hat types talk, seek their sources.


Last May, Geoffrey Britain accurately reviewed the rationale for invading Iraq. And the debate continues here.


bobn said...

Hey, I resemble that remark!

bobn said...

Well Bugliosi testified under oath before a congressional committee about the transforation of the NIEs into the White Papres given to Congress. Bush has previously declined to appear in such a forum for even the most vital of reasons. But I will take a look at your fisking.

GW said...

Bulgosi's talk of prosecution of George Bush is, unfortunately, not the isolated musing of a far left loon. NRO reports today that there are many others planning show trials of John Yoo and others should the far left get their hands on the police powers of the U.S. This is the type of things one sees in the change of hands in dictatorships, etc. It is quite dangerous. The only relationship between the far left of today and democracy is that they happen to be living in a democracy - at the moment.

OBloodyhell said...

> Bush has previously declined to appear in such a forum for even the most vital of reasons.

As have former presidents in almost, if not all, circumstances. Testifying before a Congressional committee would suggest that the PotUS reports to Congress, which is generally acked as a bad move by pretty much anyone who grasps the relevance of both executive power and also separation of powers.

> The only relationship between the far left of today and democracy is that they happen to be living in a democracy - at the moment

...But they're working very, very hard to Change that. They Hope to accomplish it with the next Administration.


I believe we've broken The Code...

Assistant Village Idiot said...

We found silver instead of gold in Iraq. Lots of "silver," actually.

I don't get where people can cherry-pick their data about Bush and the lead-up to the war to prove that Bush cherry-picked his data in the lead-up to the war. Only a mind that had already decided his opponents were liars could come to such a conclusion, defending his existing POV. It's called confirmation bias, and it renders conclusions near-useless.

I have long suspected, though of course there are too many individual believers to make a flat generalization, that there is a type of mind which believes in advance that there is a relatively small group of people who can manipulate world events, and that group must be ferreted out and exposed for the good of all. Then that mind goes in search of who that might be.

There is no such group. The scarey truth is that there is no one in control, and that so-called powerful people are riding the same waves that we are, trying to gain some handhold. Many would love to manipulate world events if they could. They can't. The diffuse power of the world is orders of magnitude too large for even the largest of corporations or governments to affect more than a part. Bush went to war because the country wanted him to, on the basis of Saddam's public actions, not some secret manipulation. We got more honesty than we usually get from our government, and certainly more than citizens of (all?) other nations get from theirs.

Geoffrey Britain said...

"Bush went to war because the country wanted him to, on the basis of Saddam's public actions, not some secret manipulation."

That is incorrect. The country did not 'want' him to go to war. the country did want to be protected from terrorists.

Bush implemented his policy based upon his best judgment as to how to accomplish that Presidential responsibility.

Bush's policy is premised upon two basic assumptions: cultural biases are 'trumped' by universal human aspirations for freedom and a better life for oneself and others one loves. And successful 'grafting' of a democratic republic in the heart of the middle east would in the long run be a fatal 'dagger' into Islamic radicalism's heart.

Bush went to war for two reasons. One tactical and the other strategic. The tactical reason was predicated upon the rationale that it is better to fight terrorism overseas than in this country. That the best defense is a good offense.

The strategic reason was to send an important message. The message was simply that the 'rules' of the 'game' had changed. That the former status quo between the US and its enemies and those nations providing covert cover for the rogue nations was over.

That message was directed at the two primary 'factions' supporting Islamic terrorism.

Firstly, to the rogue nations providing direct support for Islamic terrorist organizations.

Secondly and most importantly, to send the message to the 'enabling' nations, who out of short-term interests and long-term strategic interests use the UN to block meaningful sanctions against rogue nations.

These nations also enlist sympathetic leftist media to distort the truth about the relevant strategic factors in the WoT.

Whether intentionally disloyal or simply misguided, the leftist media and the democrats seeking appeasement as US policy have done more to hinder successful prosecution of the WoT than any other factor.

Ironically, while Bush's premises and actions in the WoT can be disagreed with, his behavior has been prompted by the highest of motives.

If it was 1777, the modern day left would be accusing George Washington of 'war crimes'.

OBloodyHell said...


*Excellent* analysis.

OBloodyHell said...

> I have long suspected, though of course there are too many...


I dunno, I tend to actually believe that there is, in fact, a cadre of like-minded individuals who do do things to manipulate and play the system to their advantage. They have money and power sufficient to tweak and shift the courses of governments and movements, and the savvy to apply that money and power to their benefit.

That said, I also believe that most of the libtards you describe grant FAR more power to them to directly manipulate the juggernaut which is human society than is rationally possible, just based on sheer inertia. I believe they are more likely to take advantage of currents to occasionally send the "boat" down a different path than it might otherwise have taken, but most of the times I think their best efforts consist of moving it a bit closer to a rivershore of their benefit -- not a directing of the boat like a powerboat and rudder where they want it to go.

Whne you consider what Saddam did, which was to manage to hold off the direct intentions of the US Government to bring him down by other than main force, by Saddam's overt application of very large amounts of money, you see that there are certainly individuals in the USA -- or more particularly families with interlocking assets -- who can and likely do do the same around the world.

I repeat -- they don't direct society like a captain at the wheel, but it would be silly to imagine that there are not those who can shift its direction by a degree or so, which can have very large effects over the course of decades.

I don't speak of individuals with a few million, but that class of people with individual assets in the hundreds of millions or more, with other family members who have like funds -- and friends and associates who also fit that bill.

I sometimes use Bill Gates's wealth as an example of this.

At one point, his wealth was in the 80 *BILLION* range. Now, assuming that, over time, he can, on average, earn ca. 10% a year in returns on that, that means his yearly cashflow is around 8 billion.

Now, let's put that amount in very graphic terms: it's nominally possible to hire someone to kill someone else (not some prominent person, just some bozo whose name you know) -- and that price, from some of the sources one bumps into, is probably less than US$50k...

8x10E9 / 50x10E3 == 160,000

So Gates could afford, each year, without any reduction in his assets, to have 160,000 people killed on his whims (in reality, probably a lot more -- In those quantities, he'd be getting a wholesale price instead of retail... LOL).

I'm not suggesting anyone would really do such a thing, but he's just one person -- there are certainly extended family groups (the DuPonts, the Rockefellers, the Walls, the Kennedys, etc., to name just a few) with more combined assets than Gates has. And I'm not going to presume that there is no way that no single one of them is insufficiently ruthless to use their power up to even the manner I've described, but far more effectively and discretely (why kill someone you can bribe, I mean -- and most people are not going to turn down a free winning lottery ticket).

So yeah, I'm not the least bit surprised that such things exist and happen. The question is, is there really any capacity to bring such people down? I would say no, no way. You and I are like the rats scurrying around beneath a T.Rex -- our main goal is just not to get stepped on. We damned sure (and neither is some stupid libtard with grandiose notions) are not going to succeed in toppling that mass of dino power. Because, among other things, in order to climb to that level of power, you damned sure learn how to protect yourself -- not only with information access about the actions of those who might work against you, but also the application of both that knowledge of your opponents and the power that vast sums of money can bring -- so the idea that some upstart bozo will really succeed in bringing down The Big Fish is the stuff of fiction and comic books. Such fantasies are created to grant people the mental out that they can succeed, so "all is right in the world".

I don't think that's bleak -- I just think that it's just The Way Things Are. It's too big to rail against -- you might as well rage against the hurricane and try to shift its course by waving your arms.

The only way to gain power over them is to become one of them, and that's not a course most people want or feel a need for. Money, to most people, is a means for ease and comfort, not a path to vast power. So we all just try not to be where The Big Lizards step.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

Geoffrey, I don't disagree. My point about America wanting Bush to go to war was perhaps not well put - not that we earnestly desire war with any nation, but that there was considerable support for the idea even among those who had no love for Bush.

bobn said...

1) See here for my "penetrating" analysis of the real reason why Bush took us to war in Iraq. (Oh but please read my other blog posts before you decide I'm just another far left nut-case.)

2) Carl states:

Bugliosi insists that UN weapons inspector Hans Blix ruled out the possibility of Iraq having WMDs before the war.

But this is not the assertion I quoted, which was:

"Hans Blix, the United Nation’s chief weapons inspector in Iraq, in his March 7, 2003, address to the UN Security Council, said that as of that date, less than 3 weeks before Bush invaded Iraq, that Iraq had capitulated to all demands for professional, no-notice weapons inspections all over Iraq and agreed to increased aerial surveillance by the U.S. over the “no-fly” zones."

This would not address current status until those no-notice inspections could be used. Which would seem to mean that the threat produced a result that made the actual war unneeded.

bobn said...

This looks pretty relevant:

In a classified National Intelligence Estimate prepared before the Iraq war, the CIA hedged its judgments about Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction, pointing up the limits of its knowledge.

But in the unclassified version of the NIE – the so-called white paper cited by the Bush administration in making its case for war – those carefully qualified conclusions were turned into blunt assertions of fact, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on prewar intelligence.

The repeated elimination of qualifying language and dissenting assessments of some of the government’s most knowledgeable experts gave the public an inaccurate impression of what the U.S. intelligence community believed about the threat Hussein posed to the United States, the committee said.

Dedicating a section of its 511-page report to discrepancies between the two versions of the crucial October 2002 NIE, the panel laid out numerous instances in which the unclassified version omitted key dissenting opinions about Iraqi weapons capabilities, overstated U.S. knowledge about Iraq’s alleged stockpiles of weapons and, in one case, inserted threatening language into the public document that was not contained in the classified version.
“Although we have little specific information on Iraq’s CW stockpile,” the classified NIE read, “Saddam Hussein probably has stocked at least 100 metric tons” of such poisons.

In the unclassified version of the report, the phrase “although we have little specific information” was deleted. Instead, the public report said, “Saddam probably has stocked a few hundred metric tons of CW agents.”

The Senate report also noted one instance in which a dissenting view was left out of the unclassified version.

In that example, the classified NIE stated that Iraq was developing unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, “probably intended to deliver biological warfare agents.

But in a footnote, the U.S. Air Force’s director for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance said he did not agree.

The whole article is a pretty good read. It goes to Bugliosi's point that the white paper was dramatically different and more menacing that the NIE.

Also, here another take of the Downing Street memo and related info:

On July 23, 2002, the head of British intelligence advised Prime Minister Tony Blair, in the then-secret Downing Street Memo, that "military action was now seen as inevitable" and that "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." Bush had also authorized the transfer of $700 million from Afghanistan war funds to prepare for an invasion of Iraq. Yet all the while, with the sincerity of Marc Antony protesting that "Brutus is an honorable man," Bush insisted he wanted peace.

And here we see:

NIEs commonly take months to prepare, but the Iraq report and its unclassified version were compiled in a matter of weeks, the panel said.

Don;t suppose there was any Bush pressure involved in that rush order? Nah! Though this may be indicative:

In the run-up to the Iraq war, FBI veterans say they were pressured by the Bush administration to come up with links, no matter how tenuous, between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda to help sell the planned military incursion.

They came up empty, however, and were told to redouble their efforts, scraping the bottom of the barrel, former officials say. When they still came up empty, the administration did not invite the bureau to the critical prewar National Foreign Intelligence Board (NFIB) meeting that produced the dossier on Iraq used by the White House to sway Congress.

Emphasis added.

I say Bush lied. At the very least he caused others to lie or mis-lead for him.

bobn said...

In my previous:

"The whole article is a pretty good read. It goes to Bugliosi's point that the white paper was dramatically different and more menacing that the NIE."

This should not have been italicized as it was not part of the article being quoted.

Carl said...


I agree with OBH: excellent.

Carl said...


I've rebutted your Hans Blix point here.

Carl said...


I've already addressed your claim that the Administration altered intel: multiple investigations concluded otherwise. And your assumptions about intel analysis are off-base:

"Intel is never black and white; never 100 percent. There's always doubts and contradictions. Intel officers have to exercise their best judgment without unanimity, and once they've done so form a syllogism from the data. That's not manipulation."