Thursday, November 9, 2006

Hooray for Gates?

From my "Capital Games" column at

Hooray for Robert Gates. Well, almost.

At first glance, the appropriate reaction to George W. Bush's decision to replace Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with Gates might be, here's more of the same: another retread from the Bush I clan with a problematic past. Gates served as CIA director for the first President Bush in the early 1990s--and did so after contentious nomination hearings aired accusations that Gates had skewed intelligence analysis when he was a senior CIA manager. The allegations were quite serious. Several CIA analysts testified he had "politicized" intelligence reporting by making certain that estimates conformed to the conservative political viewpoints favored by the Reagan White House--most notably, that the Soviet Union was a more threatening adversary.

Gates' accusers, including former CIA division chief Mel Goodman, presented a strong case against him, detailing several instances when Gates pushed Soviet-related intelligence in an ideological direction. Larry Johnson, a onetime CIA analyst, recently recalled,

I remember talking to the South African analyst back in 1988, who told me about the time Bob Gates tried to change the lede on an intelligence piece, which argued that Nelson Mandela was NOT a communist. Gates wanted the lede to say that Mandela was a communist. The analyst kicked back hard and ultimately prevailed, but this behavior was consistent with his reputation as a political animal willing to curry favor with the political masters downtown and sacrifice sound analysis.

After the confirmation hearings, Senator Ernest Hollings, a Democrat, concluded that the "cancer of politicization" had spread in the CIA during the period when Gates was a top deputy to CIA chief William Casey.

Gates' nomination to be CIA head was imperiled by other controversies. He had directly engaged in secret intelligence sharing with Iraq in 1986 that critics claimed was illegal. Gates, who apparently possesses a photographic memory, testified that he could not recall key aspects of the Iran-contra affair. Senator Bill Bradley, a Democrat, accused Gates, a career Soviet analyst, of having ignored the changes under way in that country in the late 1980s. "Mr. Gates got it dead wrong," Bradley complained in 1991. Bradley also charged that when Gates was the deputy CIA chief he had neglected the important task of collecting intelligence on Iraq. Despite all this, the Democratic-controlled Senate approved the Gates nomination, and he served as CIA director for fourteen months. (In 1987, President Ronald Reagan nominated Gates to be CIA chief, and then the White House pulled his nomination in the midst of the Iran-contra scandal.)

Considering that he launched a war justified by fraudulent intelligence misrepresented by the White House, the current President Bush might have thought twice before installing at the Pentagon a former intelligence official once accused of cooking intelligence for political reasons. Critics of the administration quickly denounced the Gates-for-Rumsfeld swap, resurrecting the old charges (which I covered extensively at the time). But allow me to offer a limited cheer for Gates.

First off, he's not Donald Rumsfeld. That's a good start. Rummy, the fellow once hailed as a matinee idol for older women who watch C-SPAN, bungled every major decision in the war: how many troops to send (not enough); whether or not to dissolve the Iraqi army (he did); whether or not to mount an extensive de-Baathification campaign (he did); how to respond to the looting and the incipient insurgency in the weeks and months after the invasion (not expeditiously). Of course, Rumsfeld was wrong on the WMD question, and he was wrong to declare before the invasion that the war would last less than six months. His Pentagon was a home to neoconservative war advocates who cherry-picked intelligence data and factoids to craft the false case that Saddam Hussein was in league with al Qaeda. In the years after the invasion, Rumsfeld routinely and falsely claimed the Pentagon was making significant progress in training Iraqi security forces. Looking at his management of the war, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that a local weatherman using a Magic Eight Ball could have done better.

Second, Gates is a conservative but a realist; he's no neocon. For instance, he's advocated trying to reach an accommodation with Iran. That impresses Gary Sick, who during the Jimmy Carter years worked on the National Security Council with Gates. Sick points to the fact that in 2004 Gates co-chaired a Council on Foreign Relations task force that urged "a revised strategic approach to Iran" incorporating selective engagement with Tehran. This was a polite slam against the Axis-of-Evil approach of the Bush-Cheney administration. Sick, a critic of the administration and the Iraq war, views the Gates' nomination as a possible indicator that the Bush administration is turning from "neocon ideology to political realism."

Gates, currently the president of Texas A&M University, hasn't said much about the war in Iraq. In May 2005, he did remark, "For better or for worse, we have cast our lot and we need to stay there as long as necessary to get the job done." But he has also proposed a more narrow definition of success than Bush, noting that the United States could leave once there is "a government that can survive and that will be very different from what preceded it."

More important--and this is what's intriguing about the Gates nomination--Gates is a member of the Iraq Study Group, a panel chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker, a Republican, and former Representative Lee Hamilton, a Democrat. The bipartisan commission's mission is to assess the situation in Iraq and propose policy options. Baker has already said that he believes a strategic shift is needed in Iraq and that his commission will produce specific recommendations in this regard. (The commission is reportedly considering different versions of disengagement, among other ideas.) Baker picked Gates to be on the commission, presumably with knowledge of Gates' thinking on the subject. Thus, it's no stretch to see Gates as an envoy (or a sleeper agent?) of the commission assigned to (or planted within) the Bush administration. Given other possible choices for the Pentagon job (Joe Lieberman?), it's somewhat heartening that Bush has invited into his Cabinet a non-neocon who has been working with Baker to find a way out of Iraq.

Am I yielding to the bigotry of low expectations? You bet. With the mess in Iraq worsening, I am rooting for Baker--and any mole he manages to place within the administration. There's no telling whether Baker will come up with worthwhile and workable alternatives or whether Bush will actually consider a significant course correction (even one concocted by a stand-in for his father). Bush remains the decider-in-chief--and he has been a stubborn one until now.

Though Gates' past government career was marked by troubling episodes, he is now part of a group--essentially, the adults of the Bush I clan--trying to inject some reality into the stay-the-course mentality of the Bush-Cheney White House. That's something Rumsfeld never did. By Bush standards, this is monumental progress.

Posted by David Corn at November 9, 2006 07:25 PM


capt said...

Mr. David Corn,

Seems like the Miers/Alito thing - 6 of one half a dozen of the other?

Thanks for all of your work!


capt said...

"There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people." : U.S. historian Howard Zinn, 1993

If the author of the Declaration of Independence were to utter such a sentiment today, the Post Office Department could exclude him from the mail, grand juries could indict him for sedition and criminal syndicalism, legislative committees could seize his private papers ... and United States Senators would be clamoring for his deportation that he... should be sent back to live with the rest of the terrorists: Frank I. Cobb

"If men use their liberty in such a way as to surrender their liberty, are they thereafter any the less slaves? If people by a plebiscite elect a man despot over them, do they remain free because the despotism was of their own making?": -- Herbert Spencer - (1820-1903) British author, economist, philosopher 1884

Read this newsletter online

Thanks ICH Newsletter!

David B. Benson said...

I got here (sort of), thanks to Nanny Moose and Capt Kirk. But the WAY I got here, as Capt knows, will have to be upgraded...

Anyway, thanks again.

Pandemoniac said...

Allrightiethen. Login first. The-e-e-e-en comment.

I just typed up a little dittie and frittered it away because I forgot to login.

It went a little something like this:

This is what you were refering to (you'll have to scroll down to #109):
"The undisputed Snarkoriffic Sarcasm Champion of the World: Uncledad -- in a TKO."

Just reread some of my old comments on that thread at the CornBlog. If the GOP had just heeded my warnings, they could've preserved their majority in the Senate and saved themselves a heap of misery. That whole "Give to Joe till I die laughing" was pure schtick; but in retrospect, it was pretty freekin funny. Huh. LARRY. Us!

is that little pic of me gonna run too?

Hajji Rants said...


Is this where the gang all went?

Couple of gnarly ER daze. Apparently, now that the demmycrats are in charge, they're commin' out of the woodwork for some'o'dat FREE healthcare!

Two quick things...

A telling thing that after 30,000 miles, mostly logged here just beneath the buckle of the Bible Belt, some jerk finally took it upon himself to rip the "Buck Fush" sticker off the jeep. I'm thinkin' a gang of BJU hardcores "wilding" in Downtown Greenville.

Happened while I was out seein' the "Borat" flick. Kinda like poetry, when you look at it from THAT perspective!

Should I be sorry I missed the events that brought us to this new place?


Hajji Rants said...

Oh yeah, and da udder ting...

Just saw Robert Cray on "Tavis Smiley"....

Video clips from his Twenty released in August.

Powerful words and music from one of the "strongest persuaders" ever.


When you're used up, where do you go
Mother dry your eyes, there's no need to cry
I'm not a boy, it's what I signed up for

When you're used up, where do you go
I can't take the heat, and I hardly sleep anymore
What'd we come here for

Standing out here in the desert
Trying to protect an oil line
I'd really like to do my job but
This ain't the country that I had in mind
They call this a war on terror
I see a lot of civilians dying
Mothers, sons, fathers and daughters
Not to mention some friends of mine
Some friends of mine

Was supposed to leave last week
Promises they don't keep anymore
Got to fight the rich man's war

When you're used up, where do you go
Late in 2004
Comes a knock at the door
It's no surprise
Mother dry your eyes

Mother don't you cry, no, no
Someone told you a lie
Yes they did, why
Mother don't you cry, oh no
Mother don't you cry

When you're used up, where do you go


Pandemoniac said...

Did somebody say it was Thursday? How 'bout some Thursday Night Funnies? S.H.I.T.

Let's start with the little fella in the White House:

"The only way we can win is to leave before the job is done."
--G. W. Bush, Greeley, Colo., Nov. 4, 2006

"Anybody who is in a position to serve this country ought to understand the consequences of words."
--George W. Bush, interview with Rush Limbaugh, Nov. 1, 2006

"You know, when I campaigned here in 2000, I said, I want to be a war President. No President wants to be a war President, but I am one."
--George W. Bush, Des Moines, Iowa, Oct. 26, 2006

Maria Bartiromo: "I'm curious, have you ever googled anybody? Do you use Google?"
President Bush: "Occasionally. One of the things I've used on the Google is to pull up maps."
--interview with CNBC's Maria Bartiromo, Oct. 24, 2006

"This morning my administration released the budget numbers for fiscal 2006. These budget numbers are not just estimates; these are the actual results for the fiscal year that ended February the 30th."
--George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Oct. 11, 2006

"One has a stronger hand when there's more people playing your same cards."
--George W. Bush, on holding six-party talks with North Korea, Washington, D.C., Oct. 11, 2006

Almost as funny as all that talk about Rove and his October surprise. As Atrios sez, heh indeedy.

capt said...

It has been a WHILE since we had any TNF's

And Hajji - Good as always.


Carey said...


IS THAT YOU!!!?? Where the hell have you been? It took a miracle to get you here?

I must come clean. I'm addicted to Pande's Thursday nite funnies.


You didn't actually dare to put that "Buck Fush" on your bumper? My. Well, of course, what could I expect from someone that handles the ER on a nightly basis. Bravery city, or maybe someone that just has a longing for a beating. My bet's on Hajji. Or perhaps a major masochistic tendency.

You saw the Borat flick? My impression is that it might get boring with the same schtick after a while. I've had a problem with Sasha though. His Dali show, I don't know. I know my spelling is incorrect. It's just too much of the same type of character to me. Maybe he hides his comic ability behind this character?

I love Robert Cray.

OH GOD, just found Pande's Thursday nite funnies.

Pandemoniac said...

More TNF (hola, Carey!). Yes, Capt, as they say, back by popular demand....

Let's all give these yahoos a round of applause for their leap of faith. At least they never risked breaking their ankles jumping off the bandwagon as Rush did. Who knows, maybe Limpboy was off his meds. [via THinkProgress]

Mark Noonan, Blogs for Bush
"I’ve been talking big about how well we’re going to do and my faith, shaken from time to time, never failed. Now it is to be put to the acid test - we shall know within 24 hours of this writing if I’ve been whistling past the graveyard, or have been realistic in my predictions. I’m standing by my words: the GOP gains seats in both Houses. [11/7/06]

Karl Rove, "Boy Genius"
"I’m looking at all of these [races] and adding them up. I add up to a Republican Senate and Republican House. You may end up with a different math but you are entitled to your math and I’m entitled to the math." [10/24/06]

Michael Novak, National Review
"The Left is going to lose - big - because they have nothing noble, nothing beautiful, nothing real, nothing true, with which to lead. They are the merchants of illusion. And a significant majority of Americans, although not all, see through them. In a democratic election, however, it only takes a small majority to win. And the upcoming election of 2006 is not likely to be all that close. The Democrats piqued too soon. Just watch." [6/15/06]

Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review
"I’m putting my money on Republicans miraculously (not totally deservingly, but it’s not about deserving it) keeping the House and the Senate, painfully narrowly." [11/7/06]

Barron’s magazine
"Our analysis — based on a race-by-race examination of campaign-finance data — suggests that the GOP will hang on to both chambers, at least nominally. We expect the Republican majority in the House to fall by eight seats, to 224 of the chamber’s 435. At the very worst, our analysis suggests, the party’s loss could be as large as 14 seats, leaving a one-seat majority." [10/23/06]

Dick Cheney, straight shooter, drunk driver
"I think we’re going to do reasonably well. And I think we’ll hold the Senate, and I also think we got a good shot at holding the House." [10/17/06]

Jonah Goldberg, National Review
"House: Dems +17 (whatever that math means).
Senate: R 53 - D 47.
Steele wins, Corker wins, Webb-Allen won’t be decided until recounts are finished, at which point Allen wins very narrowly. Chafee comes very close."

Robert Novak, columnist
"In the final Evans-Novak report about the upcoming election, Democrats will gain 19 House seats, two Senate seats, and almost half a dozen governorships in what is predicted to be the possible end of Republican Congressional control." [11/6/06]

George Will, columnist
“I think [Democrats] will get maybe a tie in the Senate [five seats] which means Mr. Cheney will spend a lot of time in the chair breaking ties. And I would expect the Democrats to have a majority of about 10 seats which has been the average majority in the House for the Republicans for the last six elections. [11/5/06]

Fred Barnes, Weekly Standard
"Senate: 51 (R), 49 (D)
House: 210 (R), 225 (D)
Dark Horse: Conrad Burns holds on in Montana".

And the winner of the Golden Calf Award for worshipping of false idols:
William Kristol, Weekly Standard
"Senate: 48 (R), 52 (D)
House: 192 (R), 243 (D)
Dark Horse: Anti-immigration stance backfires with Republican meltdown in Arizona and Colorado."

capt said...

Wilson declares victory in 1st Congressional District Race

Last Update: 11/09/2006 11:05:48 PM
By: Reed Upton

Incumbent Republican Congresswoman Heather Wilson declared victory over Democrat Patricia Madrid at her Albuquerque campaign headquarters on Thursday night.

"The vote margin on Bernalillo County shows a margin of more than 1,600 votes and nearly all the ballots are counted," Wilson told a crowd of supporters. "And nearly all the ballots are counted and that margin is decisive."

Madrid, through spokeswoman Heather Brewer, said that Wilson cannot declare herself the victor until all of the ballots are counted.

The Wilson-Madrid battle was one of the most vitriolic in the past quarter century of New Mexico politics with negative campaign advertising hitting television airwaves in the summer.

The race results have been nip-and-tuck since the polls closed more than 48 hours before Wilson made her remarks, and she acknowledged the partisan rancor, pledging to be accessible to Madrid supporters.

"I want to let those of you who feel that way know that my door is open to you," said Wilson. "We may not always agree, but we will listen and seek to find a common ground if there is common ground to be found."


*****end of clip*****

I am not sure 1,600 is decisive but I do know that the ONLY common ground she finds is if someone agrees with her and Bunnypants.



capt said...


What a rogues gallery, eh?

Those "funnies" are too precious for words.



Pandemoniac said...

TNF extension:

"John Kerry now getting slammed by the Republicans because of a botched joke he did about President Bush and Iraq in a recent speech. Kerry was stunned about this. He said, 'What? People are listening to my speeches?'"
--Jay Leno

"President Bush demanded that Kerry apologize. Can you imagine that -- Bush demanding an apology for someone stumbling over his words? ... Kerry should have tried the Bush strategy: say so many stupid things, no one cares anymore."
--Jay Leno

"I think it's important to note that nobody hates the troops more than decorated war hero John Kerry. We're all very, very lucky that we have draft-dodgers like George Bush and Dick Cheney to point that out to us."
--Jimmy Kimmel

"Senator Kerry does not support our troops. If he had won the election, there wouldn't be any troops left in Iraq. President Bush, on the other hand, has given our troops an opportunity to fight without end. That's creating jobs. In fact, the president's policies helped create 104 more job openings last month. Now who's stupid, Senator?"
--Stephen Colbert

"Kerry personally apologized to any service members who were offended by what he said. Kerry said he was drunk at the time and he's going to enter rehab."
--Jay Leno

"Oil prices have now dropped below $58 a barrel, which if my math is correct, means the election is less than a week away. Better fill up by Tuesday."
--Jay Leno

"We turned the clocks back over the weekend, which is great news for the Republicans. They got to stay in power for an extra hour."
--Jay Leno

capt said...

There is a new post - at least I think it is a new post.


Carey said...

Georgie need not fear, Father is here. After all the disrespect he showed toward his Daddy, George Jr., well after the age of 50 I might add, is gonna get the help of all Daddy's friends. Thus Bob Gates. And Baker. And everyone. They will swoop in, save the idiot, silver-spooned nutcase, sacrifice Cheney (who couldn't hold a teamate for the life of him) and it will be done.

Don't let them fool you, and I don't think they have. It was always Cheney's evilness. He was never "a part of them, was he?" No!" Cheney is moments away from being canned. They will so scapegoat him.

Bush joined up with him. We have the proof. Bush didn't like Daddykins. It was an elite, spoiled, completely without integrity, rich little boy saying "Na, na, na, na na na. As a nation, we had to watch this crap.

They cannot save Bush from history.

The shit is so in. The history books will not leave anything untouched.

2006 election results will take a prominent place in American history. So will Bush and company, in the chapters titled "How Someone Stupid and Treasonous Tried to Steal the American Constitution."

Pandemoniac said...

TNF extension II:

Colbert: In Maryland, the National Black Association created a controversy for running this radio ad
on screen: Announcer saying, 'Democrats passed those black codes and Jim Crow laws. Democrats started the Ku Klux Klan. White hoods and sheets? Republicans freed us from slavery and put our right to vote in the Constitution'.
Colbert: Great ad. It reminds us what this election is really about -- the 1870s."
--Stephen Colbert

"The Bush administration is now spending tens of millions of dollars on an ad campaign to convince unmarried adult Americans to stop having sex. So, we're trying to stay the course in Iraq and stop the intercourse here at home."
--Jay Leno

"Stewart: GOP Congressman Don Sherwood of Pennsylvania was recently sued by his Peruvian mistress for allegedly beating and strangling her. Now Sherwood has admitted to having a mistress but denies beating and strangling her. Still, there's probably not a Republican that would be caught dead in the same room as that guy
on screen: Pres. Bush speaking at a Sherwood event.
Stewart: Oh. Apparently, the president believes his popularity still slightly lower than an alleged Peruvian mistress strangler."
--Jon Stewart

"According to Google trends people in the world most likely to look up homosexual activity are in Saudi Arabia, which is the ultimate dilemma for Republicans: gays with oil -- what do we do now?"
--Jay Leno

"Former Congressman Mark Foley has decided to remain in rehab even though his 30-day treatment ended last Tuesday. Apparently, phoney alcoholism is the trickiest kind of alcoholism to treat. It's hard to detect because it never existed."
--Jay Leno

"Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney got full endorsement from President Bush. That's like Curly and Larry getting a vote of confidence from Moe."
--David Letterman

Carey said...

Wow, I've missed those TNF's. Thank you Mr. Pande.

Capt, I'm so sorry about the Heather Wilson debacle. We lost a bad one over here too.

This is not the time to get serious, especially after our friend Pande has so treated us. God that was good!

I think we're going to witness the collapse of everything. But we must hold steadforth. How, I don't know. Bush is going down. It's in the making. The deal is done. Yes, we must fight off the lame duck bullshit, but, my gosh, everyone sees this.



Back to laughing, but I don't think, after Nov. 7, I want to hear anymore of your bullshit, media. Watch, as Dems take over, the corporate media will take a questioning stance. Ay, ay!

Carey said...

I just realised I've stayed up way too late.

So enjoyed reading your Thursday Nite funnies Pande. Missed them. Really.

Carey said...


That is not your picture!!!!!

You work in fashion, interesting. But off to bed. Now that you're here, we'll write later.