Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Define "Largely"

I'm at the Scooter Libby trial today and have little to add to all the commentary that followed George W. Bush's mediocre State of the Union address. But I will say my ears perked up when I heard him say this about the Iraq war:

We went into this largely united--in our assumptions, and in our convictions.

It is true that a majority of Congress voted to grant him the authority to invade Iraq when he deemed best. But it ought not be forgotten that four out of ten Democratic senators and six out of ten Democratic representatives voted against that measure. Essentially, half of the congressional Democrats said, don't do this. And there were plenty of military and foreign policy experts at the time who also questioned the wisdom of an invasion of Iraq.

As recently-elected Senator James Webb said during his well-delivered Democratic response to Bush's speech:

The president took us into this war recklessly. He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the Army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq, the director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many, many others with great integrity and long experience in national security affairs. We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable -- and predicted -- disarray that has followed.

If only more of Webb's party comrades had regarded these warnings at the time.

INSIPID SPIN ALERT. Speaking to NPR after the SOTU, Representative Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican, said, "I'm not sure if the polls will change as a result of this speech, but I think they will have some positive movement because the president was resilient in his call for success. And Americans love victory and hate defeat." Americans relish winning. That is a rather profound analysis.

PACK IT UP. From Secrecy News:


U.S. special operations forces typically make use of some of the most sophisticated military and intelligence gear available. But sometimes a "no tech" solution is the right one. So, for example, Special Forces "may find themselves involved in operations in rural or remote environments... using pack animals," including horses, donkeys and mules.

"Pack animal operations are ideally suited for, but not limited to, conducting various missions in high mountain terrain, deserts, and dense jungle terrain."

An Army Special Forces manual provides instruction and doctrinal guidance for using pack animals in training and combat missions.

"This manual provides the techniques of animal pack transport and for organizing and operating pack animal units. It captures some of the expertise and techniques that have been lost in the United States Army over the last 50 years."

The 225 page manual provides a basic introduction to the characteristics of each of the various pack animals, some rudiments of veterinary care, and miscellaneous lore.

"Mules are intelligent and possess a strong sense of self-preservation. A packer cannot make a mule do something if the mule thinks it will get hurt, no matter how much persuasion is used....† many people confuse this trait with stubbornness." (p. 2-1)

"Elephants are considered an endangered species and as such should not be used by U.S. military personnel... Elephants are not the easygoing, kind, loving creatures that people believe them to be. They are, of course, not evil either." (p. 10-8)

The Special Forces manual has not been approved for public release, but a copy was obtained by Secrecy News.

See "Special Forces Use of Pack Animals," Field Manual FM 3-05.213, June 2004 (in a very large 16.5 MB PDF file):

Remember, elephants are not wrongdoers; donkeys are not intractable. But what about camels?

Posted by David Corn at January 24, 2007 11:10 AM


capt said...

There is a new thread already!

David B. Benson said...

David Corn --- Camels will spit in you eye, hate to work, and are mean and dispicable in every regard.

Just like any other creature which is regularly beaten.

Treated well, camels are rather like tall horses...

kathleen said...


The reason to go to war is to save lives.”
~ Ari Fleischer, 2003-02-25

“The president is worried about Saddam killing his own people.”
~ Ari Fleischer, 2003-02-25

“This is not about public relations. This is about protecting the lives of the American people…If Saddam Hussein destroys the missiles that he said he never had… you’ve got to wonder what other weapons does he have?”
~ Ari Fleischer

“Think about what you are saying. You’re saying that leaders of other nations are buyable.”
~ Ari Fleischer, 2003-02-25

The press guffawed with laughter since The press guffawed with laughter since Bush had just offered Turkey a $28 billion bribe.

kathleen said...

The White House will comply with federal grand jury subpoenas seeking phone records from Air Force One to determine whether presidential aides used the aircraft’s phones to leak the name of a CIA employee to reporters, a White House spokesman said Friday. [Knight-Ridder, 3/6/04]

kathleen said...


During George W. Bush's first term, Hadley gained media attention for his role in abetting Rice's alleged mishandling of information about Iraq's purported effort to buy uranium from Niger. According to the Washington Post, Hadley was told by CIA Director George Tenet that the Niger allegations, which were used by Bush in his January 2003 State of the Union Address and served as a key justification for invading Iraq, were probably bogus and should not be used by the president. Hadley, who claimed that Rice had been unaware of the controversy, told the newspaper, “I should have recalled … that there was controversy associated with the uranium issue” (Washington Post, July 23, 2003).

A few weeks after Bush's 2003 State of the Union Address, in a Chicago Tribune op-ed Hadley repeated the allegation that the Iraqi “regime has tried to acquire natural uranium from abroad,” pointing to what he said was a sustained, wide-ranging effort to acquire nuclear weapons (Chicago Tribune, February 16, 2003).

Hadley's credibility also took a hit for pushing the idea that Mohamed Atta, the lead hijacker in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, met with Iraqi intelligence agent Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani in the Czech Republic several months before the attack. In an effort to establish a connection between former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaida hijackers, Hadley—in tandem with Vice President Dick Cheney and top aide I. Lewis Libby—worked to have the allegation mentioned in speeches during the lead up to the war, despite the Czech Republic's admission that it could not verify that the meeting took place and U.S. intelligence agencies' inability to prove that Atta was out of the United States at the time of the alleged meeting. This effort apparently alienated several officials in the Bush administration.

According to a September 29, 2003, Washington Post article: “Behind the scenes, the Atta meeting remained tantalizing to Cheney and his staff. Libby—along with Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley, a longtime Cheney associate—began pushing to include the Atta claim in Powell's appearance before the UN Security Council a week after the State of the Union speech. Powell's presentation was aimed at convincing the world of Iraq's ties to terrorists and its pursuit of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. On Jan. 25, with a stack of notebooks at his side, color-coded with the sources for the information, Libby laid out the potential case against Iraq to a packed White House situation room. ‘We read [their proposal to include Atta] and some of us said, Wow! Here we go again,' said one official who helped draft the speech. ‘You write it. You take it out, and then it comes back again' … [Some] officials present said they felt that Libby's presentation was over the top, that the wording was too aggressive and most of the material could not be used in a public forum. Much of it, in fact, unraveled when closely examined by intelligence analysts from other agencies and, in the end, was largely discarded” (Washington Post, September 29, 2003).

More recently, Hadley, in his role as national security adviser, has served as a key spokesperson for the president's response to the final report of the Iraq Study Group (ISG), headed by former Secretary of State James Baker and the former Democratic Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-IN). Among the more controversial ideas Hadley has floated is that the United States might consider a significant short-term surge in the number of troops sent to the region before eventually deescalating (New York Times, December 13, 2006).

During the run up to the release of the ISG's report, also known as the Baker-Hamilton report, Hadley played a prominent role preparing the ground for the president's negative response, repeatedly telling reporters that Bush was willing to consider a number of options because he knows that “things are not proceeding well enough or fast enough in Iraq” (Washington Post, December 4, 2006). However, he made clear that the president would not consider any rapid withdrawal from Iraq, even if—as many pundits have surmised—the Baker-Hamilton report were to serve as a convenient cover for such a strategy. Hadley told NBC's Meet the Press a few days before the report's release: “That's cut and run and, of course, as the president has said, cut and run is not his cup of tea” (New York Times, December 4, 2006).

kathleen said...

Italy's intelligence chief met with Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley just a month before the Niger forgeries first surfaced," Laura Rozen reported October 25, 2005, in The American Prospect.

kathleen said...

Rove E-mail, Alerting Hadley to Chat with Cooper, Surfaces
Matt CoopeR
July 15, 2005 11:00 PM ET

WASHINGTON After mentioning a CIA operative to a reporter, Bush confidant Karl Rove alerted the president's No. 2 security adviser about the interview and said he tried to steer the journalist away from allegations the operative's husband was making about faulty Iraq intelligence.

The July 11, 2003, e-mail between Rove and then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley is the first showing an intelligence official knew Rove had talked to Matthew Cooper just days before the Time magazine reporter wrote an article identifying Valerie Plame as a CIA officer.

"I didn't take the bait," Rove wrote in an e-mail obtained by The Associated Press, recounting how Cooper tried to question him about whether President Bush had been hurt by the new allegations.

The White House turned the e-mail over to prosecutors, and Rove testified to a grand jury about it last year.

Earlier in the week before the e-mail, Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had written a newspaper opinion piece accusing the Bush administration of twisting prewar intelligence, including a "highly doubtful" report that Iraq bought nuclear materials from Niger.

"Matt Cooper called to give me a heads-up that he's got a welfare reform story coming," Rove wrote in the e-mail to Hadley.

"When he finished his brief heads-up he immediately launched into Niger. Isn't this damaging? Hasn't the president been hurt? I didn't take the bait, but I said if I were him I wouldn't get Time far out in front on this."

Frederick Jones, a spokesman for Hadley, now Bush's national security adviser, said he could not comment due to the continuing criminal investigation. Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, said his client answered all the questions prosecutors asked during three grand jury appearances, never invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination or the president's executive privilege guaranteeing confidential advice from aides.

Rove, Bush's closest adviser, turned over the e-mail as soon as prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into who leaked Plame's covert work for the CIA.

He later told a grand jury the e-mail was consistent with his recollection that his intention in talking with Cooper that Friday in July 2003 wasn't to divulge Plame's identity but to caution Cooper against certain allegations Plame's husband was making, according to legal professionals familiar with Rove's testimony.

They spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the grand jury investigation.

Rove sent the e-mail shortly before leaving the White House early for a family vacation that weekend, already aware that another journalist he had talked with, syndicated columnist Robert Novak, was planning an article about Plame and Wilson.

Rove also knew that then-CIA Director George Tenet planned later that same day to issue a dramatic statement that took responsibility for some bad Iraq intelligence but that also called into question some of Wilson's assertions, the legal sources said.

The AP reported Thursday that Rove acknowledged to the grand jury that he talked about Plame with both Cooper and Novak before they published their stories but that he originally learned about the operative's identity from the news media, not government sources.

Republicans cheered the latest revelations Friday, saying they showed Rove wasn't trying to hurt Plame but instead was trying to informally warn reporters to be cautious about some of Wilson's claims.

"What it says is, Karl Rove wasn't the leaker, he was actually the recipient of the information not the provider," Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman said on Fox News. "So there are probably a lot of folks in Washington who have prejudged this, who have rushed to judgment who are trying to smear Karl Rove."

Democrats, however, said that even if Rove wasn't the leaker, someone still divulged Plame's identity and possibly violated the law.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and other party leaders asked Speaker Dennis Hastert on Friday to let Congress hold hearings into the controversy regardless of the criminal probe now under way.

"In previous Republican Congresses the fact that a criminal investigation was under way did not prevent extensive hearings from being held on other, much less significant matters," Pelosi wrote.

Federal law prohibits government officials from divulging the identity of an undercover intelligence officer. But in order to bring charges, prosecutors must prove the official knew the officer was covert and nonetheless knowingly outed his or her identity.

Rove's conversations with Novak and Cooper took place just days after Wilson suggested in his opinion piece in The New York Times that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was used to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.

Summarizing a trip he made to Africa on behalf of the CIA, Wilson wrote that he'd concluded it was highly doubtful the nation of Niger had sold uranium yellowcake to Iraq. Tenet issued a lengthy statement five days later saying that he never should have allowed Bush to use the Niger information in his State of the Union address but that Wilson's report did not resolve

kathleen said...

October 07, 2005
From Rove to Hadley to the Rest of the Conspiracy
by emptywheel

I described yesterday that Rove's further testimony may provide Fitzgerald with a whole lot more evidence on the provenance of the Plame leak. Since Fitzgerald now knows whether the "I learned it from a journalist" ruse has any basis in truth or not, he has the leverage to push Rove to explain precisely how information on Plame's identity got from a person who had the need to know her identity to those--like Bob Novak--who didn't have a need to know.

Murray Waas provides more detail about the likely scope of Rove's testimony, specifying (among other things) that Rove will testify about his communications with Stephen Hadley.

He will also be questioned regarding contacts with other senior administration officials, such as then-deputy National Security advisor Stephen J. Hadley and I. Lewis Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney in the critical week before the publication of columnist Robert Novak's column on July 14, 2003, which outed Plame as a covert CIA operative.

I have no doubt Fitzgerald will be asking precisely those questions--and I'm quite gleeful about the prospect of Rove testifying about Hadley without the shield of some of his previous excuses. Pinning down Hadley's role in the conspiracy will be key to exposing the full breadth and height of the conspiracy.

Why Hadley is key

This White House--actually all recent White Houses--have long used National Security Council staff as a tool to shield executive activities from Congressional


kathleen said...

Senator Webb dropped the reality bomb on everyone! I really appreciated it when he said "We are now as a nation, held hostage to the preditable-and predicted dissary that followed".

When Keith Olbermann pressed Senator Clinton during his interview with her that evening he asked her about her vote for the war resolution and did she regret it. She danced around the question. He pressed again and Clintons response was " IF ONLY WE KNEW THEN WHAT WE KNOW NOW". This response is so weak!

Come on Hillary expert after expert questioned the wisdom and validity of the intelligence before the invasion. Where were you?

My response to this repeated mantra is how in the hell can a soccer mom prior to the invasion simply by listening to Talk of the Nation, The Diane Rehms show, and the BBC hear Iaea's El Baradei, Madeline Albright, Richard Clarke, Un Kofi Anan, Un weapons inspector Scott Ritter, Zbigniew Brezenski, General Zinni, Cia analyst etc etc. warn against the invasion and question the intelligence with sound and valid reasons.

So many experts forewarned of a quagmire! So many experts questioned the intelligence!

Our representatives would have had to be deaf, dumb and blind not to have been aware of these warnings, or simply be concerned about re-election.

That same evening(SOTU) I heard both Olbermann and Matthews try to cover their asses in their failings to ask hard questions about the WMD intelligence in the run-up to the invasion. By trying to lump all Americans into their group think failings.

Olbermann said "we all suspended criticism"

Matthews said "we have all been part of group think up until recently".

No fellows you are wrong and your effort to place us into your "all" category just will not work.

Hundreds of thousands of middle Americans marched, questioned, were arrested and worked hard to stop that invasion. And you folks were not there to cover those marches fairly or accurately. Many of us were watching very closely your lack of coverage.