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February 04, 2007


Rick Ballard

"Now that you've got me all riled up, it's only fair that you point me in the right direction, don't you think?"

I can't point in any direction but I would suggest that the silly concept of "Army of David's" is totally meaningless because there has yet be organized even a "Militia of David's".

Until the "to what end" question can be answered to an extent where a group of volunteers makes a committment to devote a certain amount of time on a scheduled basis what exists will be simply a "Mob of David's" which will gather and disperse according to the whim of the individuals involved.

We're just fortunate that Tom has had the discipline to continue his critique of the liberal press on a regular basis. For damn little thanks.

Perhaps Tom will continue the relatively new practice of open threads with one focused on the abysmal political reporting of the NYT and another for the WaPo. A 'worst article and reporter of the week' contest might be entertaining. There would be no paucity of entries.

Rick Ballard

"so I wonder if those displeased with the '06 report have had their faith shaken at all in the competence of the committee."

I sure haven't. I believe that the '04 committee was at least as incompetent as the '06 committee. Not only that, I'll wager that the '07 committee will be even worse.

Foo Bar

I believe that the '04 committee was at least as incompetent as the '06 committee

OK, so is the fact (which TM cites in this post) that the '04 committee determined that Plame was instrumental in sending Wilson on the '99 trip a good reason to believe that she really was instrumental?

[ JMH: this is on topic for this post. See, I'm trying to behave! ]

OK, now I'm really going to bed.


FooBar- what is Leonning's source that it is INACCURATE to say Plame sent Wilson? Is it more authoritative that the SSCI?


Let's see they had the testimony of her superiors, her testimony(my recollection of her testimony was that she couldn't recall with sufficient specificity at that time) and the correspondence and the statement of those who were at the DoS meeting...and on the other side there was Munchausen.


On the scales of truth, Munchausen weighs like 5000 pounds.

JM Hanes


Thanks for not taking offense, or for being gracious if you did. I know it's all tied together, and I didn't really mean to take you alone to task. It's just hard to suppress a groan when it looks like folks still have stuff they need to get off their chests on the "reasons for war" after years of almost non-stop argument.


TM has a new post up and so does York

Walton repeated his admonition several times in the next few days, and then, on January 29, made a statement that seemed stunning in its implications, although it received virtually no attention outside the courtroom. Walton announced that not only did the jurors not know Mrs. Wilson’s status but that he didn’t know it, either. “I don’t know, based on what has been presented to me in this case, what her status was,” Walton said. “It’s totally irrelevant to this case.” Just so there was no mistake, on January 31 Walton said it again: “I to this day don’t know what her actual status was.”

It's a "read the whole thing" thing



So, Rick..... are you giving me a gentle hint that the blind are leading the blind here?

Rick Ballard

Not at all. Just responding to your "what next?" question with my opinion on the status of "blogging as a change agent".

There is tremendous potential involved but there is little to no organization. Look at the silliness of Porkbusters. The acknowledged (by the government) fraud in the Section 8 program dwarfs by many orders of magnitude anything that will be turned up by focusing on Congresscritters performing what is, after all, a function of their jobs.

In order for there to be leaders, followers must exist - and they must make their willingness to follow known. "Where are we going next?" is a good and very fair question. Append "because I' would like to spend 4 hours a week doing research in order to help us get where we're going." would make it a great question.


Beware where the Foo Bar sh-ts: ""And yet as recently as August '06, Bush was still claiming Saddam had relations with Zarqawi.""
Posted by: Foo Bar

FOO, are you actually expecting now one will use your links and find out the truth for themselves. Bush didn't 'claim Saddam had relations with Zarqawi'..as all can plainly see, Bush said IMAGINE a world where that had occurred. Making the argument that we are not going to allow State terrorists a platform to support terrorists like Zarqawi.

Here's what Bush said:

THE PRESIDENT: I square it because, IMAGINE a world in which you had Saddam Hussein who had the capacity to make a weapon of mass destruction, who was paying suiciders to kill innocent life, who would -- who had relations with Zarqawi. IMAGINE what the world would be like with him in power.

If your going to use a link to make your point, make sure what it actualy says.


The rest of Foo Bars so called evidence is cherry picking information. He totally neglects to tell us that in the same SSCI report, the Iraqs admit that they did catch one of Al-Zaqawis men in Baghdad. Zarqawi and his team planned the kidnapping and murder of Ambassador Foley from Baghdad.

The man from Zarqawis terror cell that was caught by the Iraqis (Yessam, splng??) was ordered let go by Saddam Hussein.

I suggest if your interested in facts read the whole report and don't rely on Foo's characterizations, they are as inaccurate as a Fitz indictment.

soccer dad

Missing the Senate Intelligence Report is really inexcusable for the WaPo as Susan Schmidt reported in July 2004.

hit and run

Sorry, I got distracted when FooBar said: "And yet as recently as August '06, Bush was still claiming Saddam had relations with Zarqawi."

Is the real anger that Bush didn't provide a NTTAWWT caveat?

Patrick R. Sullivan

'Had Martha Stewart not gotten such execrable legal advice...'

She did a mock testimony with her own legal team cross examining her in front of cameras. It was reportedly a disaster. That's why she didn't testify.


From a still frustrated because she can't post Syl re Foo Bar's post on the SSCI:
"I can't see that anyone has picked up on this. There is a difference
between a finding of fact on a fact, and a finding of fact on a situation.

Apples and oranges.

A situation that was possibly in place just prior to our invasion of Iraq
makes no prediction of what the situation would be in six months, a year,
whatever, if we did not invade.

A finding of fact on a report that was written will NEVER CHANGE. It will
always be a fact.


hit and run



Syl, you are missed greatly. :(

Dan S

I'm going to defend Foo Bar here.

A few posts don't address his actual point (at least as I read it), which is a good one:

Why do we trust the committee is right on Plame/Wilson, but consider them mostly/somewhat wrong on Iraq/AQ?

I think Syl has gotten part of it. But the old "sources and methods" thing is probably the more complete answer. The Iraq/AQ "findings" are based on what we know is poor intelligence on the whole. We're still trying to correct that situation. And the captured stuff is no where close to completely analyzed. We can't consider that answer anywhere near complete.

But our sources for the Plame/Wilson information are our own. I sure don't consider them completely trustworthy. There's clearly some agenda-driven honesty in play. But if we were assigning percentages to the two, I'd put the latter considerably over 50% and the former under 50%.

Aside from that we tend to fall back on authority that agrees with our point. :) Human nature.


A minor point, but it took a foreign intelligence service, to inform the
Mukharabat, that Zarquawi was in Iraq,
if not which service; Jordanian Mukh.
Egyptian, French DGSE, Russian SVR,
(are they are as reliable as the same
agencies's sources on WMD?)They left
out almost all of the cable traffic,
indicating contact with Aub Sayyaf, GIA
et al (unless you want to consider those


Though the discussion has moved on, it should be noted that the WaPo's misreading of the law flies in the face of the amicus brief filed in part by the paper against the subpoena of Matt Cooper's evidence.

JM Hanes

Dan S & Foo Bar:

"Why do we trust the committee is right on Plame/Wilson, but consider them mostly/somewhat wrong on Iraq/AQ?"

In addition to your suggestions on this point, I'd add that conclusions based on evidence are always more persuasive than conclusions based on the absence of evidence to the contrary. In some ways, that difference is the very predicate for reasonable doubt.

Saying we can't find anyone who saw JM Hanes at the opera in New York on Friday or that JM Hanes' brother says she can't stand Wagner doesn't necessarily mean I wasn't there. Saying that a dozen people saw JM Hanes in San Francisco Friday evening, where she signed for a round of drinks in the hotel bar, danced on the tables and left her shoes behind, pretty much eliminates any doubt about whether or not I was attending Tristan on the east coast that night.

Where no evidence is found, reasonable doubt remains, as do questions about how exhaustive the search might or might not have been, and conclusions are always susceptible to revision as new evidence comes to light. In Val's case, both original testimony (including her own) & subsequent revelations tend to confirm, not mitigate, her role. In the case of Saddam, we start with conflicting intelligence assessments and a paucity of facts, followed by subsequent documentary evidence from Saddam's own archives which continue to cast substantial doubt on the accuracy of the SSCI's inference based findings on that score.

It's not simply a matter of cherry picking the conclusions one likes and dismissing the conclusions one doesn't. It's more a matter of folks tending to subject surprising or unwelcome conclusions to further scrutiny first.

Dan S

Looks like we lost a bunch of comments.

Dan S

Oops, my mistake, was lost on wrong thread.


from kate...

One of their favorite tactics is the knowledgable expert. They interview someone from a think tank or such that advances the reporters' views, in this way they distance themselves from any error since it's their expert, not them making the error.

They're sneaky.

subtle illation
inexpert witness

I suppose Wilsongate has them all...Joe Wilson "brave whistleblower", why is it every jackass I've ever worked with who gets in trouble always falls back to the "whistleblower" defense?



Haven't there been reports of Andrea Mitchell of NBC saying early on, in an offhand way, that she and many beltway pros knew who Plame was and what her job was, that it was a commonality of the cocktail party circuit that included Plame and Wilson. If so, doesn't that obviate the whole question of how undercover she was, ergo, the entire underlying issue in Libby's trial?
Perjury has to be major. Just cause he lied about whether Plame drove a Chevy or a Ford wouldn't qualify as perjury, for example.
If her CIA status was not much different than if she had been employed by IBM, in terms of information, how can Libby commit perjury by anything he said about her to anyone? He probably told everyone Cheney is charming, too. Is that perjury?

Carol Herman

Patrick R. Sullivan. The smartest thing Martha Stewart ever did was pick up her wallet and run.

And, the stupidest thing she ever did was hire an attorney from her country club set. Who was not very experienced at trial law. He SHREDDED the poor kid on the stand, who had called Martha, on vacation, to sell Imclone. She didn't initiate that call. And, the kid was doing something against the law, because he wasn't a broker.

In truth the whole trade should have just been cancelled.

Prosecutors have been getting away with "peeling kids like onions." The one that "took down" Michael Milken at Drexel, was 15. But she LIED and said she was 18. She was very bright! And, got in trouble because she was below the age of hire.

It was on this lie, that the prosecutors peeled her like an onion.

In Martha's case? Today you saw how WELLS became very KIND when he got Bond to give up unpleasant FACTS. He did NOT shred.

Shredding cost Martha time in jail.

This case? I think people are finally seeing into the FIB. Maybe, it's just a pair of bookends for the presss? Mark Felt on one side. And, Fitz. Nifong. Earle. It's political witch-hunting. And, Fitz? Somehow the curtained opened. And, so many lay people see we are no longer in OZ.

Foo Bar

JM Hanes:

conclusions based on evidence are always more persuasive than conclusions based on the absence of evidence to the contrary

I wholeheartedly agree, which is why I find it odd that you would make this argument in the face of the fact that the SSCI found evidence that Saddam was TRYING TO CAPTURE Zarqawi. I repeat: they did not simply fail to find evidence of a relationship, they found evidence that appears to directly contradict the idea of a relationship. That would seem to me to map directly onto you being sighted dancing on the bar in SF, in your analogy.

Your point seems like a much better critique of the pre-war inference that there was a relationship, which (as the '06 report describes) was based on a dubious inference from reports of his presence in Baghdad and the presumption that if they didn't want him there they surely could have caught him.

Or, if you're looking for another application of your "absence of evidence is not the best evidence of absence" principle, you might consider applying it to the '04 report's conclusion that there was no administration pressure on the intelligence community to change their assessments.

Regarding your earlier point that this is all tired, old, irrelevant "Road to War" stuff: I disagree. The dissonance between Bush's statement in '06 and the '06 SSCI report suggests to me that there's an ongoing problem in which Bush continues to have trouble either getting access to or assimilating intelligence that he doesn't want to hear.

Foo Bar


A situation that was possibly in place just prior to our invasion of Iraq makes no prediction of what the situation would be in six months, a year, whatever, if we did not invade.

Well, I wonder what the point of any of the pre-war claims was, then ;). The past is no indication of the future, huh? You seem to be saying that even if Saddam was trying to capture Zarqawi before the invasion, President Bush should be free to speculate on the possibility that they might have subsequently developed a relationship. Fine, if he wants to make that argument, he should go right ahead and see how convincing people find it. Who knows- maybe Saddam would have gotten chummy with Iran! Speculate away! But that's not what he was doing- he was claiming that there was a relationship pre-invasion, which is contradicted by the SSCI report. Patton may try to argue that he was simply sketching a hypothetical, but if you believe that, here's Tony Snow in Sept. '06, just after the '06 report was released:

MR. SNOW: Well, and there was a relationship -- there was a relationship in this sense: Zarqawi was in Iraq; al Qaeda members were in Iraq; they were operating, and in some cases, operating freely from Iraq. Zarqawi, for instance, directed the assassination of an American diplomat in Amman, Jordan. But they did they have a corner office at the Mukhabarat? No. Were they getting a line item in Saddam's budget? No. There was no direct operational relationship, but there was a relationship. They were in the country, and I think you understand that the Iraqis knew they were there. That's the relationship

Given that interpretation, we could say the U.S. government "had a relationship" with the Unabomber...

JM Hanes

Foo Bar:

"Or, if you're looking for another application of your "absence of evidence is not the best evidence of absence" principle..."

Correction: I suggested that it's less persuasive in the context of why one might accord different weight to different conclusions in the same document -- as opposed to suggesting, as you essentially did, that one must either accept or reject the SSCI as an authority across the board to escape charges of hypocrisy or fuzzy logic.

When I hear you offering up fresh insights, I'll concede that it's not the same tired old discussion. I've never said that any of it is irrelevant, I'm saying that my memory does not need refreshing on a continual basis; nor have I any interest in repeating the points I've made myself for the umpteenth time -- which is precisely where the questions you're now posing are guaranteed to take us, as they inevitably do, regardless of the topic at hand. The question I was addressing was quite different, and that's pretty much all I have to say on the point you raised.

There are plenty of places I (& you for that matter) can go for a spirited discussion of the politics of the war. What interests me most at the moment is the process of the Fitzgerald prosecution, in large part because I believe he is setting precedents that are potentially as as dangerous as, for example, anything in the Patriot Act(s). I've only found one venue for that where I can dissent from the majority view without risk of being banned. That's why I landed here, so I'll leave it to others to entertain your challenge, as I usually do.

Cecil Turner

But that's not what he was doing- he was claiming that there was a relationship pre-invasion, which is contradicted by the SSCI report.

Oh please. As if we know exactly what relationships Saddam's intelligence service had and was trying to hide. I note you gloss over the connections in the 911 report (that stopped shy of a "cooperative operational relationship" just as the Administration notes). And as for the SSCI's conclusion, it's speculative at best.

We now know Saddam prepared for insurgency operations by caching weapons and money and setting up cooperative arrangements between various Islamist terrorist groups. (A fact that is incontrovertible from a casual perusal of enemy operations since.) And we know that he had his own corps (Fedayeen Saddam) of exactly that sort of fanatic suicide operatives, and that many of the insurgents are forigeners. The contention that all the coordination required for this cooperation was post-invasion is, frankly, unbelievable.

Add in the other connections we now know Saddam's regime had with Islamist terrorists of various stripes, and the "no connection to Al Qaeda" contention is both shaky and moot. Al Qaeda in Iraq obviously operated fairly freely after the invasion, and they certainly weren't stamped out beforehand. Whether by design, accident, or benign neglect strikes me as a distinction without a difference . . . and the Administration's claims appear far more defensible than the cherry-picked bits from the SSCI report.

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