Saturday, July 12, 2003

Well, it did break on 6:00 PM on a Friday...

Tenet's mea culpa, that is.

Kinda like clockwork, though a lot messier than usual...

The media manipulation
Benjamin Healey of Slate has good press coverage of the carefully orchestrated frenzy, as does Daily Kos, and our own alert reader tECHNIDA (Republican tactics 201: Extinguish your own arson. Advanced stuff -- maybe even a graduate-level course.)

Anyhow, tying a few posts together --

Even "16" is a lie
There are 19* additional words of, well, equally dubious provenance in the speech: the long-debunked aluminum tubes. Who didn't take those words out? More importantly, who put them in?

* Or twenty, if you count "high-strength" as two.

UPDATE: The Bush Fiction Index has now reached 16 + 19 + 5. And I'm bullish!

Bush, Condi, and Cheney knew, not just Tenet
aWol's flacks and the usual suspects in MWdom are now busy propagating the 16 words lie and chanting "case closed" since George "Plank Boy" Tenet issued a mea culpa for a mistake that wasn't his responsibility. But Condi had known about since the previous October. Cheney knew too, through Ambassador Wilson. And so did Bush himself. (One notes that CBS has changed the headline from "False" to "Dubious", no doubt because Unka Karl threatened to put a horse's head in some executive's bed.)

Tenet's basic story makes no sense
The idea that it's all the fault of The Tenis™ doesn't hold water.

The Niger uranium "intelligence" that lit the fuse on all this was an easily detectable, crude forgery. Really, really crude. So, after the only intelligence professionals on the game are beaten about the head and ears for a year by neo-cons, Rummy's own parallel intelligence arm, and the White House itself, we're supposed to believe that the CIA bears the brunt of the blame? Feels like a story concocted after the fact to me.

Where does the buck stop?
We know -- or at least we've been told -- who didn't take the Niger uranium lie out. But who put it in? Our CEO president declines to answer. Surprise! The Times editorializes today:

Now the American people need to know how the accusation got into the speech in the first place, and whether it was put there with an intent to deceive the nation. The White House has a lot of explaining to do.

aWol, you got a lot of 'splainin' to do... What did you knoW and When did you knoW it? (The Times also has a nice new synonym for lie: "fiction.")

A pattern of deceit
Despite all the Republican efforts at damage control, let's remember to put "The Smoking Sentences" into the big picture: it's the pattern of deceit that matters, not the "16 words."

That's exactly what Howard Dean does here:

So this is a serious credibility problem, and it's a lot deeper than just the Iraq-Niger deal, it has to do with assertions by the secretary of defense that he knew where weapons were that turned out not to be there, it has to do with assertions by the vice president there was a nuclear program that turned out not to exist, and assertions made by the president himself, not just about the acquisition of uranium, but also about the ability of [deposed Iraqi President] Saddam [Hussein] to use chemical weapons on the United States.

Give 'em hell, Howard!

"Rise to the level of certainty..."
Bush's gang wants to have you believe that the issue is whether the 16 words were a lie. The real issue is whether the administration hyped the war with every piece of dubious intelligence they could lay their hands on.
So this quote, from Tenet's mea culpa is key to the debate:

"This did not rise to the level of certainty which should be required for presidential speeches, and the CIA should have ensured that it was removed."

Did the 16 words on Niger uranium "rise to the level of certainty"? No. The 19 on the aluminum tubes? No. The 5 on AQ? No.

Bush should have made the case to the American people for war based on what was known, not on what he thought he could get away with.
NOTE: Sorry, readers, I botched something in blogger on this one.