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July 19, 2004

Comments

Barry D

It looks like Corn also wants to give short shrift to the fact that Wilson's trip hardly debunks the Niger uranium issue. And none of Wilson's defenders wants to deal with British and French telephone intercepts. Geez, if even the French believe that Saddam sought to acquire yellowcake from Niger, you'd think the Nation crowd could accept it.

ParseThis

I'm not seeing the bad faith nor the intent to deceive in these 'lies'. The guy has an inflated sense of self-importance. At times, he may even be delusional. But deep down I think he believes that God told him that he's doing his patriotic duty.

TM

Parse This, an unexpected Bush supporter! Glad to see we won you over.

tony

"If ten people from the White House are indicted, Joe Wilson is still a liar..."

you make it almost sound like the two things are equal.

HH

David Corn, I once considered to be a reasonable man of the left, especially after debunking the far left in their WTC/Afghanistan theories (which are now sold to you by Jadakiss in CD form and Michael Moore at the cineplex)... No more.

TM

you make it almost sound like the two things are equal.

They are not.

And I'm sure glad it's only "almost" because only a casual observer could think that they *are* equal. That's why I said the issue is "separate", and I don't suppose many folks believe that separate is equal.

theAmericanist

Getting a job cuz your wife recommended you for it is not a crime -- and Lord knows, George Bush isn't the best guy to argue that family shouldn't help with employment, now is he?

Lying about it is embarrassing, but not much worse.

There is much less to the disagreement over the Niger yellowcake, the closer you look at it. The best you can get from Wilson and the CIA is -- we dunno, but we doubt it. (For one thing, Iraq didn't actually have a nuke program up and running, which surely explains a lot.) The best you can get from Bush and the Brits is -- we dunno, but we think so: better safe than sorry. That leaves you back in the rest of the mess of the intelligence on the war, which no sensible person considers adequate.

BUT -- it is a crime to out a CIA agent undercover. Why did they do that?

Novak said he didn't know, and his sources didn't know, she was undercover. The Bush guys claim -- through second and third parties -- that they weren't actually going after Plame, they were just trying to show that Wilson wasn't competent, that he only got the job through his wife.

As noted, 'hey, his family got him the gig' isn't exactly a good place from which Bush should be throwing stones. But more than that: take it as true.

These guys -- in the middle of the most intense intelligent mess since 9-11 (also on their watch), don't even know who's undercover?

TM

The best you can get from Wilson and the CIA is -- we dunno, but we doubt it.

From Wilson's book:

In it, I stated that the Bush Administration had been informed a year and a half earlier that their claims of Iraqi attempts to purchase uranium from Niger were false.

These guys -- in the middle of the most intense intelligent mess since 9-11 (also on their watch), don't even know who's undercover?

Well, she wasn't *really* undercover anymore - she had been in the past, but was working an intelligence liason role. Anyone meeting her (or hearing about her) in her current life would not think (or immediately be told) that she had been working overseas in a covert capacity a few years ago - that is sort of what "covert" means.

As to the relative ethics of lying intentionally, breaking the law accidentally, and deliberately committing a crime, I suppose we can all rank them.

But I keep saying that the incidents are separate - indictments will not make the statements Wilson gave to the Post and the Times in the spring of 2003 any more true than they are right now.

Cecil Turner

I'm trying to appreciate the national security implications of "outing" an undercover operative who hasn't been actively undercover for several years, but frankly it doesn't seem terribly important. The prospect of her identity coming to light apparently wasn't important enough to make Wilson take pause in his smear campaign, even though it was a reasonably foreseeable outcome. And their subsequent actions don't indicate much concern about anonymity.

On the other hand, there's a fairly obvious problem with having CIA agents suggest unaccountable individuals be sent on fact-finding missions so they're in a better position to make disingenuous statements about public policy in the NYTimes's op-ed pages. And since he's opining about other reports "from American officials," it's not too much of a stretch to conclude she was also passing along classified information for his columns.

Balance this against the possiblity an Administration official, with access, knowing the CIA was trying to keep her relationship with the government confidential, intentionally outed Plame. Yep, not equal--Wilson/Plame's actions are far worse. And the latter scenario is worst case for the Administration . . . and not terribly likely.

theAmericanist

Cecil, you don't know much about intelligence. Identifying Plame means identifying those she recruited. It's a VERY serious business. People have been tortured to death in similar circumstances in the past; that's why it's a crime.

Your own view of the Bush administration, in asserting "The prospect of her identity coming to light apparently wasn't important enough to make Wilson take pause in his smear campaign, even though it was a reasonably foreseeable outcome..."
speaks volumes.

Cecil Turner

Americanist,

If you think having NYTimes op-eds about CIA missions is less damaging, I'd submit you know even less about intel. And I don't think it's terribly difficult to see that a guy with no obvious expertise publishing a CIA mission report whilst his online bio names his NOC wife is a bit of a personal security risk.

theAmericanist

(smile) No, I guess I don't know anything about it. The NY Times Op-Ed page is SO important; how could I have forgotten?

Cecil Turner

Well that makes about as much sense as one of Wilson's non-sequiturs, so I can see why you'd be a fan. The point of course isn't where it's published, but the fact that it was published.

And if you believe foreign intelligence services have reams of contact information from following Plame around, just waiting for confirmation of her NOC status--but a public report of a CIA fact-finding mission wouldn't generate any interest at all--you probably don't know anything about it. (smile)

theAmericanist

Man, you're just begging for it, dude.

Folks publish all sorts of stuff in Op-Eds all over the world. Some of it is even true. Hell, even Novak has been known to grease the right source once in awhile, as he's been doing since he used to write about Martin Luther King doing Ho Chi Minh's bidding.

But WHITE HOUSE STAFF is held to a higher standard. When folks getting taxpayer issued paychecks tell pet columnists that an individual is a CIA agent, that's a crime.

What part of this is too complex for you?

Trying to change the subject to a purely political, media-driven mess, e.g., Wilson is a partisan, his wife is just collateral damage, besides they were in Vanity Fair!, misses the point.

Deliberately.

Wilson didn't say his wife was a CIA agent. He'd already been an ambassador for some time, so it's not like bad guys didn't have a clue about the couple. But -- if you knew much about it -- you'd know that's standard stuff: lots of American spouses have careers independent of their significant others, and some of 'em are even undercover. That isn't a clue to anything, excepting that American society is remarkably feminist by world standards. Trying to spin that as if Bush's guys weren't telling the black hats anything they didn't already know, is an ADMISSION OF GUILT. Get it now?

The fact is, you think the biggest offense here is that Wilson took issue with Bush's speech by making an 'argument from authority': hey, they sent me to Niger, and it ain't so. Rather than defend Bush's 16 words on the merits (so what if the taxpayer pays for the CIA? We believe the Brits), Bush's guys attacked the core of Wilson's argument -- namely, that his 'authority' was simply that he got the job through his CIA agent wife.

Revealing that is a crime. Insisting that the bad guys already knew it, is a confession.

Face it: if you think anything else in this is more important, you couldn't care less about the rule of law when it interferes with self-righteous political posturing.

One more thing, to our host: substantively, Wilson did a kind of bait and switch -- he tried to rebut all of Africa, with just Niger. That's why it seems fair to me to boil his (and the CIA) take on this to "We dunno, but we doubt it", which explains more because -- as we now know -- Iraq didn't actually have a nuke program running. The Bush (and Brit) take is still "We dunno, but we think so", and is justified by 'better safe than sorry'. You can argue either side, but it's still "we dunno", and you're left with 'better safe than sorry'.

And that's damned thin ice.

It's precisely why the Plame thing is so deadly. As it happens, there are lots of patriotic Americans who are NOT Bush leaguers, and some of 'em have significant foreign contacts. If I was a potential recruit in Saudi Arabia or Yemen or North Korea or China, and I knew that the Bush guys would happily blow my contact's cover to get at her husband OVER AN OP-ED piece, well: QED.

CT is happy to put this into the box that says: yu criticize the President, you're a security risk -- and any foreign sources you may have are useless, anyway. Let Dear Leader pick you up, if it helps to score points with the likes of CT, cuz he'll believe anything.

Will you?

TM

I dispute the as-yet unproven assumption that the leakers knew her history as a covert operative.

theAmericanist

How did they identify her to Novak?

Besides -- as Arlo Guthrie observed long ago about Nixon's "defense" in Watergate: "That just isn't the point, man/that's the wrong wrong way to go/cuz if you didn't know about that one/what else don't you know?"

Cecil Turner

"When folks getting taxpayer issued paychecks tell pet columnists that an individual is a CIA agent, that's a crime."

Umm, no. The relevant statute requires the leaker: 1) have/had access; 2) intentionally disclose it; 3) to an individual not authorized to receive it; 4) knowing the information identifies the agent; and 5) knowing the US is taking "affirmative measures" to conceal the relationship. The chances of proving all those elements against anyone but a CIA agent publishing a book of agent identities--which of course was what the law was written to prevent--looks to me to be about nil.

"Bush's guys attacked the core of Wilson's argument -- namely, that his 'authority' was simply that he got the job through his CIA agent wife.

I suppose that's possible. It's seems far more likely someone who had heard second-hand that his wife was an agent was trying to explain why a retired diplomat was doing CIA fact-finding missions and publishing the results. And guess what? That's not a crime.

"Face it: if you think anything else in this is more important, you couldn't care less about the rule of law when it interferes with self-righteous political posturing."

How about publishing defense-related intelligence information in the middle of a war? There's a couple of statutes on that, as well.

"CT is happy to put this into the box . . ."

And your continued pseudonymous sniping is getting tiresome. Good day.

theAmericanist

LOL -- man, you're grasping at straws.

Novak is legitimately quite proud of the access his sources give him to inside stuff. Your defense of these clowns, such as it is, depends on the idea that senior White House staff (e.g., the VP's chief of staff and others of similar rank) who are the primary targets of the investigation, evidently, managed to know "second-hand that his wife was an agent", and yt somehow not meet the statutory requirement?

Riiight. That's dumb as Sandy Berger.

Oh, but wait: it gets better. CT wants to argue that it was WILSON who was the real security breach, "publishing defense-related intelligence information in the middle of a war".

(grin) How much more clearly fascist can you be, dude? Nobody responsible has even dared to suggest that WILSON be prosecuted for going public -- hell, if there was the slightest case for that, it's a lot more sound than outing his wife, and less damaging to national security standards, to boot.

Ya know, you make the best case I've yet seen that the whole Wilson flap reveals just how sad the Administration's defense is: they went after this guy cuz he attacked Bush in print. There isn't much of a case that Wilson was wrong, exactly, except that he exaggerated "Niger" into all Africa, and there isn't any case to speak of that Bush was right -- and my own guess is that Wilson represents a fair amount of professional opinion, notably the State analysts as well as CIA, who aren't happy that their doubts weren't part of the decision to go to war.

That's why it's such a big deal that White House staff -- who have other statutory worries, ya know, SCI clearances being what they are -- outed Plame. Besides that it was a crime, it shows how these guys think, and what their reflex response is to dissent.

Learned Hand was right -- and you're wrong.

Cecil Turner

Paul,

The point you seem to be missing is that Wilson's trip was unusual. He has no obvious connection with the CIA, nor any expertise to be drafted into a pop-up mission. He would likely never have been considered except his wife recommended him. Wilson publishing his trip report was a calculated attempt to kick-start a conversation in Washington. It worked--people started talking about it, including the fact that there were obvious irregularities (e.g., no obvious qualifications, no non-disclosure agreement).

That conversation was likely to compromise Plame's non-official cover--which only works through anonymity--along with other more important national security information. Wilson is probably not prosecutable under classified disclosure laws, mainly because he managed to skirt the non-disclosure agreement, but pretending he's blameless is nonsense--if he hadn't published, Plame's identity would still be a secret. And if, as seems likely, the leaker was unaware of Plame's NOC status, he's the only one to blame.

You also seem to think they keep lists of NOC agents at the White House. I don't believe that's the case, but in any event a simple SCI clearance is not sufficient for access. The only way someone without access--which would presumably include staffers at the White House--would know of her CIA status would be second-hand. And if you want to use Novak as a source, it's only fair to point out his characterization of the conversation with the leaker doesn't support the revenge theory.

theAmericanist

No, his version of the story PROTECTS his source. D-uh. So much for your sophisticated understanding.

You keep asserting "as seems likely", as if that's a given. It's not.

Moreover, you're plainly oh, so eager to see a Bush critic prosecuted as a criminal --oops, except he's not -- yet you want to wish away a MUCH more serious breach, one with actual consequences.

I carry no brief for Wilson, he's a putz. But he IS blameless -- literally -- for the White House outing his wife as a CIA agent. He didn't do it. They did. See the difference?

It does not justify them doing it -- hell, it's a confession -- that they were trying to attack his credibility: 'so what, his WIFE got him the job, so there!'

And it's not a defense that nobody has admitted yet that they knew exactly what they were doing, except (of course) that's pretty much exactly how Novak wrote it before the Bush guys caught on that this was against the law: who told Novak who Plame was? How did he describe her?

You're naive, buddy. What's more, you're aggressive about it. Control what and how something is debated, and you can control the outcome. That's why we have a free press -- and it is also why we have secret agents.

Here's how this sorta national security hardball actually works with classified material: 23-odd years ago, the CIA under Casey began to pump money into former Somoza thugs in Honduras. When guys who won elections (and were thus the ones responsible under the Constitution to be a check on the Executive) began to get wind of this, Casey offered them classified briefings -- which several of these guys refused to accept. Why? Because IF they had gotten official confirmation of what the CIA was doing under seal, they couldn't have debated it EXCEPT in closed session.

So they didn't go. It wasn't until the Miami Herald broke the contra story that it was publicly debatable. Casey wanted all the information on what he was doing to be classified -- including the blowtorch interrogations, Commandante Suicida, Somoza's former military attache, and the like.

Now that's pretty much what you're advocating about the 'intelligence', such as it was, leading up to war with Iraq. You want the dissenters to have been muzzled -- not refuted, mind: muzzled. You think the real problem here isn't revealing a CIA agent and compromising all her sources, but that Wilson wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times.

The Bush guys didn't know and, what's more, they 'knew' lots that didn't turn out to be so, e.g, all that WMD scaretalk. Their case for the war has changed so often, it's essentially collapsed. I take that seriously (I've lost two friends in Iraq); I dunno why you don't. So it bugs me that when somebody SAID, publicly, that Bush's case for the war was bogus (however badly Wilson said it, even misleading at least in part), they outed his wife as a CIA agent.

Op-Eds ain't secret agents, they're democracy.

How come you can't keep that distinction straight?

TM

How did they identify her to Novak?

or here:

...who told Novak who Plame was? How did he describe her?

Since Corn and Marshall are incredibly coy on that point (as is Wilson in his book), I would be delighted to hear your description. (You can believe me or not when I say I have read the Novak clomn more than once, and have thought about this point.)

And no fair peeking.

Or, if you read the book, and think about the old joke about "assume", you can also reflect on just how blameless Wilson is. Not that he is culpable; just that "blameless" isn't quite right either.


Cecil Turner

"You keep asserting "as seems likely", as if that's a given. It's not."

And you keep asserting there's a crime, which is less of a given. Unless the leaker was CIA, he probably didn't have access. Plame may not even qualify as "covert" under the statute (she probably hadn't been serving outside the US since large with twins, and that barely makes the five year cutoff--and apparently she was working as an analyst and in the process of making a permanent conversion to office work). And there's the question of whether the US government was taking "affirmative measures" to protect her identity and the leaker knew it. You may think all those "seem likely"--I don't.

"So it bugs me that when somebody SAID, publicly, that Bush's case for the war was bogus (however badly Wilson said it, even misleading at least in part), they outed his wife as a CIA agent."

Wilson dug through that very long SOTU, which asserted Saddam was pursuing WMDs (which he was), was a dictatorial tyrant (also true), supported terrorism (yep), and was violating 17 UNSC resolutions (yes again). He picked one small bit, made a misleading case about it, and ended up being wrong. But since he agrees with you on the war, it was righteous? Might have been nice if he'd bothered to write it before the invasion, what? Didn't have a negative effect on the war effort did it? Riiight.

You are absolutely right about this being about "muzzling" CIA agents. If Plame feels her concerns aren't being properly addressed, she has an absolute right to pass information up her chain and to congressional oversight representatives. She is not supposed to finagle her spouse into a mission without signing a non-disclosure agreement and leak information through him. And since she did that, she's part of the story. IF her CIA status was disclosed intentionally by someone with access who knew she was a NOC, and her covert status was still intact--it was wrong. But if any of those don't prove out, tell it to "blameless."

theAmericanist

Speaking of assumptions: I wasn't against the war.

During the runup to it, I said exactly two things about it: 1) when Presidents say something like "Saddam must go", I want the bad guys of the world to believe it. Bush said Saddam had to go -- so that was that, particularly after 9-11.

BUT -- that didn't make a war with Iraq, especially the way Bush has fought it, a good idea. If anything, it makes it all the more imperative to know what the hell we're doing.

Which was the other thing I said:

2) Wars are easier to start than to finish.

Anybody disagree? Or are you still trying to figure out better arguments why publishing a NYT Op-Ed is such a dire threat to the nation that it pre-emptively exonerates "senior White House staff" from a crime?

A really big part of Bush's 'tude before attacking Iraq was the idea that it was all one big mess: Osama, Saddam, the Taliban, Afghanistan, Iraq. It was like the old joke about the drunk who dropped his keys in the alley, and the cop finds him looking under the street light -- cuz he can see better out there. Al Qaeda isn't a state, so once we'd taken out the Taliban, what was left? Iraq was a handy place under the street light.

So...

Without looking it up, if memory serves Novak identified 'senior White House officials' who identified Plame as a "CIA operative".

That identifies the source pretty plainly as 'somebody who should have known better'. It's pure partisanship to argue the LEGAL case that, sure they did it, but they didn't know it was a crime, so it wasn't.

I keep noting that this isn't a defense, it's a confession.

About which, all you guys offer is that it depends on what "is" is.

As for what Novak meant by "CIA operative" -- well, d-uh. (Kindly spare me Bob's 'protect my source' defense: you guys may be naive, he ain't.)

Ya know guys, this little dialogue is a pretty fair instance of what's wrong with politics these days: folks choose up sides and argue what "is" means, accordingly.

Is this the best you can do?

[Not to be disingenuous: I DID note two other things about the Iraq war before it happened (supporting the two points above).

I said that I was one of those who never really bought the arguments of Colin Powell, et al, that left Saddam in power after the first Gulf War -- but I understood even less why arguments (about the Shi'a and the Sunni, about Iraq falling apart, etc.) that were persuasive more than a dozen years ago had suddenly evaporated.

The 'trust us' defense that Bush wants (and CT buys, wholeheartedly) ain't justified. Their track record sucks.

Consider Rumsfeld's, which is particularly relevant to intelligence failures in this war, including the WMD before and the need for troops, after.

I was in a position to know a bit about Rumsfeld's "vision" and openness to dissent in 1982-3, when he was Reagan's special envoy to the Middle East. We had sent Marines in to be a buffer between forces in Lebanon and -- in a far dumber move than anything we did in Mogadishu -- we didn't fortify their compound. Rumsfeld was the special rep for that policy, and he happened to be in the basement of the ambassador's residence when it was shelled -- more or less at random -- from the Be'ka. He demanded what the ambassador was gonna do about this, cuz nobody shoots at Rummy and gets away with it. The ambassador replied: the country's a mess -- isn't that why YOU'RE here? So Rumsfeld demands a secure line, gets on the phone to Reagan -- and 20 minutes later the New Jersey opens up, and the Druze stop shooting.

Until they killed more than 200 Marines.

THAT's why it is so dangerous to trust these guys' judgment, much less to muzzle dissent.

And to out CIA agents for spite? Puh-leeze.

Cecil Turner

Paul,

You're still assuming they "outed her for spite" instead of "explained why Wilson got sent." That's an assumption, dude, and not a terribly reasonable one. Ditto for the Marine barracks analysis. The main problem was poor force protection procedures, not inciting the Druze with counterbattery fire. The good news is that we're unlikely to see sentries without accessible ammunition in the near future.

And whatever defense you want to make for Saddam, there is exactly zero doubt that he failed to abide by the Gulf War cease-fire. That's a perfectly legitimate casus belli, or more properly a valid reason to continue the conflict that never ended. And whether or not the WMD threat was exaggerated, there is again no doubt that Saddam was not complying with the requirements for complete disclosure and disarmament as required by a string of UNSCRs culminating in 1441. And the declassified intelligence is quite sufficient to evaluate that with no "trust me" required. And for all the doom and gloom in Iraq reporting, and criticism by various armchair strategists, by any objective standard it's a fairly overwhelming victory.

theAmericanist

No, no no! Are you THAT thick?

The Marines were killed because they had ceased being a buffer force AS SOON AS THE NEW JERSEY FIRED. The Presifdent's special envoy had changed their mission, just like Bush changed what we were trying to do after 9-11.

Rumsfeld didn't think of that -- he was too eager to play the tough guy: 'don't tread on me', and all that. The idea that just maybe the folks who told him it wasn't a good idea -- and told Reagan too -- were thoughtful rather than weak, never occurred to him.

Nor to you, evidently.

The idea that Plame was outed to explain why he was sent, rather than for spite, makes a distinction without a difference, as noted above: Wilson argued (badly) from authority -- 'hey, I went there, wrote a report, so I know." The Bush reaction was to discredit HIM -- not to show that he was wrong (which, in fact, they couldn't do: there ain't much to the substantive dispute.)

And as for your insult that I'm defending Saddam -- face it: you're too dumb and offensive to have a conversation with. All you've got is the idea that folks with whom you disagree must have a point of view as ignorant and one-sided as your own. If they don't, well -- you're out of your depth, and back with the notion that Op-Ed debates are the measure of national security.

The first principle is the OBJECTIVE. Okay, we got Saddam. But which frigging war we were trying to win? Hell, Bush might as well call it a "crusade" again. Did you forget that al-Qaeda's biggest recruiting tool is the infidel army protecting the holy places?

The idea that knocking off Saddam -- which leaves us in an unstable situation in Iraq, strongly threatens Saudi Arabia, and has drawn significant resources from Afghanistan and even Pakistan, where most folks figure bin Laden is (remember him?) helps us with 'the war on terror', is a HUGE stretch, offered by precisely the knucklehead who told Reagan that firing up the New Jersey's 16 inch guns would build American credibility in the Middle East, shortly before we buried 226 guys (if memory serves -- names like Captain Peter Sciallaba and Ernest Tingley) -- and bugged out, pretending it was a 'redeployment'.

It didn't help us get bin Laden. The same folks who told us al-Qaeda was crippled before Iraq now say it is capable of serious attacks.

I see no evidence that we should believe Rumsfeld, et. al., that we're gonna slip out of a stable Iraq easily any more than his idea that we would be welcomed with flowers and need 6 guys, a HUMVEE and a PA system to run elections and hand over power, after. I see a lot of boots and a lot of bloody ground, bub.

And an administration that served notice on Plame in the most vivid, comprehensive way that it is THEIR way, or the highway: dissent, disagreement and information with the hair on it is not allowed. These guys couldn't care less about what works or what's smart: they care about re-election.

That ain't smart, it ain't effective -- but it does get guys like you to insult guys like me.

Good luck with it.

Cecil Turner

Hey Paul,

That ain't smart, it ain't effective -- but it does get guys like you to insult guys like me.

Let's see. Your first comment says I "don't know much about intelligence," then in successive posts you go on to call me "fascist," "naive," "thick," "dumb," and "offensive." Now you complain I'm insulting you? Whatever, dude. Obviously logic isn't your strong suit. (By the way, it should be obvious in context that "defending Saddam" referred to your suggestion he had no WMD programs worth fighting over.)

Clausewitz gave the first principle as "act with the utmost concentration" and the first task as "identify the enemy's center of gravity." In this case that's the state sponsors of terrorism in the Mideast (especially Iran, Iraq, Syria), and the key, geographically and politically, was Iraq. The Administration's strategic analysis is sound, and your preoccupation with Osama is faulty.

In any event, your apalling lack of civility and inability to discuss a subject without gratuitous personal insults makes conversation unpleasant. Good luck finding help for it.

theAmericanist

Like all sensible students of the subject (including the late, lamented Harry Summers) I much prefer the insights of Xundze to the lumbering imbecilities of Clausewitz.

Observe:

Everything I said about you, however rude, has the simple virtue of being TRUE -- demonstrated by the post you had just put up.

When I noted you are ignorant of intelligence, it was because you had just dismissed the significance of outing a CIA agent in terms of the NY Times Op-Ed page.

When I noted you were naive, it was because you had just insisted that Novak couldn't have been a party to a crime, since, er, he said he wasn't.

When I noted that you're "thick" and "dumb", it was because you had stated that it was more important how the Marines had failed to fortify their residence, than that their mission had been radically changed, with neither thought nor foresight.

See how it works? You say something stupid -- and somebody observes that it was.... stupid. Plainspeech is a compliment, dude -- when it's accurate.

As a rule, the sensible -- realistic -- form of response is to state facts and draw conclusions.

Contrast: "it should be obvious in context that "defending Saddam" referred to your suggestion..."

Excepting, you see, there is no context for "defending Saddam". That's an accusation -- and an insulting one -- that you hallucinated, because it is easier for you than thinking. Thus, "offensive".

Doubtless you've had more experience at hallucination as a form of argument. You don't -- can't, I've concluded -- state facts and draw conclusions, because that requires thinking things through, and actually understanding a criticism -- even an attack.

Instead, you misunderstand (as noted in the specific reasons I used the words ignorant, naive, thick and dumb, not to mention offensive), and then hallucinate: Somebody notices you're dumb, and that must mean they're "defending Saddam".

(grin) It's remarkably like outing Plame, actually.

Put it this way: wouldn't it have been a lot smarter (and have minimized the risk of White House staff being arrested on felony charges in late August) to have responded with ANOTHER Op-Ed, arguing the Bush line "we dunno, either, but we think so -- and better safe than sorry'?

That way, guys like you wouldn't have the talking points of attacking guys like me for "defending Saddam". Hell, that level of commonsense might mean that the EU wouldeven be paying for part of the war.

There is a story about TR during his Presidency, when he decided (over Venezuela) to threaten the Kaiser with a war. He sorted out what he thought, planned what he was going to do -- and then called in a wise man, whom he (and everybody else) knew was skeptical. He said, this is what I want to do, and you know my reasons. Tell me how I'm wrong before I do something stupid.

The guy looked over what TR wanted to do, and said: do NOT do this publicly. If it's public, the Kaiser will have to fight. But if it's private, he will back down. So the notes were private -- and the Kaiser backed down.

The analogy doesn't go very fr with Iraq, of course. (the idea that Iraq was a state sponsor for al-Qaeda doesn't, either.) But the point is simply that TR had the intellectual confidence to listen to his critics, and it probably saved us a war.

Bush does not have that confidence -- worse, he tries to punish his critics in a way that COSTS us -- and that is not the route to victory.

theAmericanist

Like all sensible students of the subject (including the late, lamented Harry Summers) I much prefer the insights of Xundze to the lumbering imbecilities of Clausewitz.

Observe:

Everything I said about you, however rude, has the simple virtue of being TRUE -- demonstrated by the post you had just put up.

When I noted you are ignorant of intelligence, it was because you had just dismissed the significance of outing a CIA agent in terms of the NY Times Op-Ed page.

When I noted you were naive, it was because you had just insisted that Novak couldn't have been a party to a crime, since, er, he said he wasn't.

When I noted that you're "thick" and "dumb", it was because you had stated that it was more important how the Marines had failed to fortify their residence, than that their mission had been radically changed, with neither thought nor foresight.

See how it works? You say something stupid -- and somebody observes that it was.... stupid. Plainspeech is a compliment, dude -- when it's accurate.

As a rule, the sensible -- realistic -- form of response is to state facts and draw conclusions.

Contrast: "it should be obvious in context that "defending Saddam" referred to your suggestion..."

Excepting, you see, there is no context for "defending Saddam". That's an accusation -- and an insulting one -- that you hallucinated, because it is easier for you than thinking. Thus, "offensive".

Doubtless you've had more experience at hallucination as a form of argument. You don't -- can't, I've concluded -- state facts and draw conclusions, because that requires thinking things through, and actually understanding a criticism -- even an attack.

Instead, you misunderstand (as noted in the specific reasons I used the words ignorant, naive, thick and dumb, not to mention offensive), and then hallucinate: Somebody notices you're dumb, and that must mean they're "defending Saddam".

(grin) It's remarkably like outing Plame, actually.

Put it this way: wouldn't it have been a lot smarter (and have minimized the risk of White House staff being arrested on felony charges in late August) to have responded with ANOTHER Op-Ed, arguing the Bush line "we dunno, either, but we think so -- and better safe than sorry'?

That way, guys like you wouldn't have the talking points of attacking guys like me for "defending Saddam". Hell, that level of commonsense might mean that the EU wouldeven be paying for part of the war.

There is a story about TR during his Presidency, when he decided (over Venezuela) to threaten the Kaiser with a war. He sorted out what he thought, planned what he was going to do -- and then called in a wise man, whom he (and everybody else) knew was skeptical. He said, this is what I want to do, and you know my reasons. Tell me how I'm wrong before I do something stupid.

The guy looked over what TR wanted to do, and said: do NOT do this publicly. If it's public, the Kaiser will have to fight. But if it's private, he will back down. So the notes were private -- and the Kaiser backed down.

The analogy doesn't go very fr with Iraq, of course. (the idea that Iraq was a state sponsor for al-Qaeda doesn't, either.) But the point is simply that TR had the intellectual confidence to listen to his critics, and it probably saved us a war.

Bush does not have that confidence -- worse, he tries to punish his critics in a way that COSTS us -- and that is not the route to victory.

theAmericanist

'pologies for the double post.

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