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September 6, 2006

Startling revelations in the Valerie Plame case
Posted by Teresa at 03:19 PM *

I may add more in a bit; but for now read Firedoglake and Digby. See also The Last Hurrah, especially the part headed “The Really Interesting Details.” They’re all talking about this article, David Corn’s “What Valerie Plame Really Did at the CIA”, which has just come out in The Nation.

(Corn is the co-author, with Michael Isikoff, of Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War. His account of Wilson’s CIA career is mainly based on interviews with confidential CIA sources.)

Short version: Valerie Plame, outed CIA employee, and wife of whistleblower Joseph Wilson, was not, as various right-wing sources have suggested, a paper-pushing desk jockey who perhaps wasn’t even involved in covert operations. They were lying.

Here’s the word that’s just come out: Valerie Plame, a career undercover officer, was the Director of Operations for the CIA’s Joint Task Force on Iraq.

The JTFI group was running espionage operations aimed at gathering information on any Weapons of Mass Destruction Iraq might have. That is: they were trying to find evidence that would back up the White House’s assertion that Iraq had WMDs and was thus a danger to the United States. Corn says:

In the spring of 2002 Dick Cheney made one of his periodic trips to CIA headquarters. Officers and analysts were summoned to brief him on Iraq. Paramilitary specialists updated the Vice President on an extensive covert action program in motion that was designed to pave the way to a US invasion. Cheney questioned analysts about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. How could they be used against US troops? Which Iraqi units had chemical and biological weapons? He was not seeking information on whether Saddam posed a threat because he possessed such weapons. His queries, according to a CIA officer at the briefing, were pegged to the assumptions that Iraq had these weapons and would be invaded—as if a decision had been made. (emphasis mine)

Valerie Plame’s job was to deliver “intelligence” that would justify the war that Bush and Cheney were already planning.

In 1997 she returned to CIA headquarters and joined the Counterproliferation Division. (About this time, she moved in with Joseph Wilson; they later married.) She was eventually given a choice: North Korea or Iraq. She selected the latter. Come the spring of 2001, she was in the CPD’s modest Iraq branch. But that summer—before 9/11—word came down from the brass: We’re ramping up on Iraq. Her unit was expanded and renamed the Joint Task Force on Iraq. Within months of 9/11, the JTFI grew to fifty or so employees. Valerie Wilson was placed in charge of its operations group.

Notice that: her unit was ramped up before 9/11, and had 50 employees well before the war began.

There was great pressure on the JTFI to deliver. Its primary target was Iraqi scientists. JTFI officers, under Wilson’s supervision, tracked down relatives, students and associates of Iraqi scientists—in America and abroad—looking for potential sources. They encouraged Iraqi �migr�s to visit Iraq and put questions to relatives of interest to the CIA. The JTFI was also handling walk-ins around the world. Increasingly, Iraqi defectors were showing up at Western embassies claiming they had information on Saddam’s WMDs. JTFI officers traveled throughout the world to debrief them. Often it would take a JTFI officer only a few minutes to conclude someone was pulling a con. Yet every lead had to be checked.

“We knew nothing about what was going on in Iraq,” a CIA official recalled. “We were way behind the eight ball. We had to look under every rock.” Wilson, too, occasionally flew overseas to monitor operations. She also went to Jordan to work with Jordanian intelligence officials who had intercepted a shipment of aluminum tubes heading to Iraq that CIA analysts were claiming—wrongly—were for a nuclear weapons program. (The analysts rolled over the government’s top nuclear experts, who had concluded the tubes were not destined for a nuclear program.)

The JTFI found nothing. The few scientists it managed to reach insisted Saddam had no WMD programs. Task force officers sent reports detailing the denials into the CIA bureaucracy. The defectors were duds—fabricators and embellishers. (JTFI officials came to suspect that some had been sent their way by Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress, an exile group that desired a US invasion of Iraq.) The results were frustrating for the officers. Were they not doing their job well enough—or did Saddam not have an arsenal of unconventional weapons? Valerie Wilson and other JTFI officers were almost too overwhelmed to consider the possibility that their small number of operations was, in a way, coming up with the correct answer: There was no intelligence to find on Saddam’s WMDs because the weapons did not exist. Still, she and her colleagues kept looking. (She also assisted operations involving Iran and WMDs.)

When the war started in March 2003, JTFI officers were disappointed. “I felt like we ran out of time,” one CIA officer recalled. “The war came so suddenly. We didn’t have enough information to challenge the assumption that there were WMDs…. How do you know it’s a dry well? That Saddam was constrained. Given more time, we could have worked through the issue…. From 9/11 to the war—eighteen months—that was not enough time to get a good answer to this important question.”

As I recall, the inspectors working in Iraq were saying the same thing. Remember: not one of the 9/11 bombers was from Iraq. Their organization had no ties with Saddam Hussein. But as of early afternoon on 9/11, the Bush Administration was already plotting to tie the attacks to Saddam Hussein in order to justify a war with Iraq.*

Back to David Corn:

In July 2003—four months after the invasion of Iraq—Wilson would be outed as a CIA “operative on weapons of mass destruction” in a column by conservative journalist Robert Novak, who would cite two “senior administration officials” as his sources. (As Hubris discloses, one was Richard Armitage, the number-two at the State Department; Karl Rove, Bush’s chief strategist, was the other. I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff, also talked to two reporters about her.) Novak revealed her CIA identity—using her maiden name, Valerie Plame—in the midst of the controversy ignited by former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, her husband, who had written a New York Times op-ed accusing the Bush Administration of having “twisted” intelligence “to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.”

The Novak column triggered a scandal and a criminal investigation. At issue was whether Novak’s sources had violated a little-known law that makes it a federal crime for a government official to disclose identifying information about a covert US officer (if that official knew the officer was undercover). A key question was, what did Valerie Wilson do at the CIA? Was she truly undercover? In a subsequent column, Novak reported that she was “an analyst, not in covert operations.” White House press secretary Scott McClellan suggested that her employment at the CIA was no secret. Jonah Goldberg of National Review claimed, “Wilson’s wife is a desk jockey and much of the Washington cocktail circuit knew that already.”

Riiiiight.

What do I conclude?

1. Valerie Plame Wilson’s unit honestly couldn’t find evidence of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and said so. She was punished for it.

(Is there anyone reading this who doesn’t understand how potentially disastrous it is to force intelligence findings to conform with one’s preferred policies? Intelligence asks, What is true? Policy replies, That being true, what are we going to do about it? Reversing their order turns it into: Tell us what we want to hear, so we can justify doing what we’ve already decided to do. That approach leads to conclusions like “Nobody will object if we march through Belgium,” “our attack at the Somme will produce a great strategic breakthrough,” and “the Iraqis will greet our troops with cheering and flowers.”)

2. Her outing was not, as originally thought, a way of getting back at her husband. It was meant to take her down.

3. This realization isn’t mine, I got it from a friend: Cheney and his staff must have known who she was, and what she was working on, at the time they outed her.

4. Bush’s relatively recent admission that they were mistaken about the WMDs was a lie from start to finish. The Bush administration knew that well before the war started.

5. Thanks to the magic of global mass communications, the rest of the world now knows it too.

Addendum: See also, Madison Guy’s So, you�re Dick Cheney and you�ve got a war to start.

Comments on Startling revelations in the Valerie Plame case:
#1 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 03:57 PM:

I only wish I were able to say I was surprised. I'd had my own suspicions about the timing for a while, but had relegated them to the "do not discuss so as not to make people wonder where I put my tinfoil hat" section of my mind.

*sigh*

#2 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 04:26 PM:

But that summerbefore 9/11word came down from the brass: We're ramping up on Iraq. Her unit was expanded and renamed the Joint Task Force on Iraq. Within months of 9/11, the JTFI grew to fifty or so employees.

hum. within months there i interpret as meaning after 9/11. yes, they decided to ramp up before 9/11. but i don't think this article says "her division was ramped up to 50 people several months before 9/11."

better to stay as accurate as possible with the information we have. (i wouldn't call the summer "several months" either, but as it could be "months" i guess that's fair.) unless i missed something.

#3 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 04:30 PM:

I hope she sells the movie rights.

#4 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 04:32 PM:

The bit I thought was interesting was that the Iraqi defectors were being taken around to various places, including Judy Miller's office, to tell their stories, even though those stories were false.

There's a lot of people in it up to their necks and trying to make it go away.

Oh yes, emptywheel is going to be doing a book on this - the news is up at firedoglake.

#5 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 04:39 PM:

Is it me or does the above post have entire paragraphs repeated? (delete this at will)

#6 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 04:52 PM:

Greg, it's not just you...it appears some drafty bits made it into the post at first and have now been cleaned up.

#7 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 04:53 PM:

Greg: It did. It no longer does. That's what comes of absentmindedly hitting "save" when you're working on an addition to a post that's already gone public.

I've recently been told that my Middle English when dead drunk isn't nearly as bad as I thought it was, which relieved a longstanding embarrassment. Get rid of one, another pops up to take its place.

#8 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 05:00 PM:

#2: miriam, from the firedoglake link:

But that summerbefore 9/11word came down from the brass: Were ramping up on Iraq. Her unit was expanded and renamed the Joint Task Force on Iraq. Within months of 9/11, the JTFI grew to fifty or so employees.

So the ramp up started before 9/11.

That it got up to 50 after 9/11, is still assinine, given the fact that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

All that really matters is that the ramp up occurred, all intelligence said no WMD's, and the president ignored all intelligence. Reading that history, it seems that the decision was made long before the intel community felt like they had enough info to make an informed decision either way. Which will be history's epitath of Shrub's administration:

war without intelligence

or if the stone only has enough room for one word, then it should be:

beligerence

#9 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 05:05 PM:

which relieved a longstanding embarrassment. Get rid of one, another pops up to take its place.

Hitting "save" is better than not doing so and losing your edits. computers make me "save" paranoid.

#10 ::: Martyn Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 05:05 PM:

Read ANYTHING coming into the public domain from the 'security services' with HL Menken's question uppermost in your mind, 'Why is this lying bastard lying to me?'

I know he was talking about politicians, but the principle applies, in spades, to spooks of any and all descriptions.

#11 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 05:05 PM:

my Middle English when dead drunk isn't nearly as bad as I thought it was

One man's Bede is another man's parsing.

I go 'way now.

#12 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 05:07 PM:

All that really matters is that the ramp up occurred, all intelligence said no WMD's, and the president ignored all intelligence.

no argument there.

#13 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 05:25 PM:

my Middle English when dead drunk isn't nearly as bad as I thought it was

I definitely left the party 'way too early.

#14 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 05:28 PM:

So, some bits from The Nation link:

Within months of 9/11, the JTFI grew to fifty or so employees. Valerie Wilson was placed in charge of its operations group.

In the spring of 2002 Dick Cheney made one of his periodic trips to CIA headquarters. Officers and analysts were summoned to brief him on Iraq.

the war started in March 2003,

In July 2003--four months after the invasion of Iraq--Wilson would be outed as a CIA "operative on weapons of mass destruction" in a column by conservative journalist Robert Novak

This simple sequence points out some important bits: Plame was in charge of 50 operatives looking for WMD's. Cheney may very well have been briefed by Plame on the non-existence of WMD's. If he wasn't briefed by her directly, he certainly knew of her, given she was in charge of the very group that was looking for WMD's to justify an invasion.

Meaning Cheney would have known Plame's position on WMD's was that they never existed, that we knew they never existed, and that we invaded anyway, with the president telling the world taht WMD's did in fact exist.

From this perspective, Plame is already a prime target to be taken out. She knows too much and she knows the entire justification for invading Iraq was a complete sham. It was her job to know it, and she was in charge of 50 intelligence officers to know just that.

Looking at all that, Plame's husband almost becomes irrelevant. They already have a need to silence her and discredit her because of what she knew.

What I'd like to see is a video montage that shows a sequence of quotes by the administration saying there ARE WMD's, in chronological order with intelligence reports that say there are NOT.

There's your election campaign right there. When the republicans try to frame the issue as to who is better to defend the country agaisnt terrorists, an ad like that would make it clear that folks like Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld and the like are an outright danger to America.

#15 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 05:29 PM:

Ah there's that 'we are not part of the reality-based community, we act and you study what we do' stuff made plainer than the average pikestaff.

Of course, this makes the whole 'we are fighting the War on Terror in Iraq' thing obviously a lie, and a lie of startling dishonesty.

#16 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 05:31 PM:

The Nation link is here

#17 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 05:56 PM:

There are additional teases from Hubris on David Corn's page. One that caught my attention:

As part of an aggressive prewar covert action program--codenamed Anabasis (after an ancient text about a botched invasion of Babylon)--the CIA was authorized by the White House in the winter of 2002 to blow up targets in Iraq and engage in "direct action" (an agency euphemism for assassination) to weaken Saddam's regime and to prepare for his ouster by the U.S. military. For Anabasis, the agency smuggled Iraqi exiles to a top-secret site in the Nevada desert and trained them in sabotage and explosives. The Iraqi force, known as the Scorpions, was being trained to seize an isolated Iraqi military post-in order to create a provocation that could trigger a war with Iraq.
It's hard to figure out whether the person that named the operation was amazingly dense or wildly prescient.

#18 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 05:59 PM:

the president ignored all intelligence

Must.. ignore.. Greg's comment... Joke too... easy...

#19 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 06:08 PM:

The president has nothing to do with intelligence!

There. I did it so you don't have to. Everyone can now relax.

#20 ::: Annalee Flower Horne ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 06:44 PM:

What makes me sick about all of this is that it isn't going to change a thing.

Everyone knows Chaney outed a CIA officer. Everyone knows he did it for political reasons. Everyone knows that Bush was planning to invade Iraq way before 9/11. All this just adds to the gigantic pile of evidence that the general public has been gleefully ignoring for years.

This is what happens when a political party manages to convince the general public that two men kissing is a worse threat to their way of life than undermining the word and spirit of the constitution. You get a mad 'cowboy' carrying out a vendetta against someone who failed to assassinate his father (He %^&$ing admitted to the U.N. that that's why he wanted Hussein. Who covered it? Jon Stewart. Who didn't? Everyone else).

As for the stupid jokes, I may not like the man, but I don't doubt for a second that he's a lot smarter than he acts. Compare speeches from his first election campaign to ones he's delivering now: his grammar, diction, and even pronunciation have magically degraded.

#21 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 06:49 PM:

Annalee Flower Horne: Compare speeches from his first election campaign to ones he's delivering now: his grammar, diction, and even pronunciation have magically degraded.

I just assumed that was symptomatic of the escalating substance abuse problem.

#22 ::: Madison Guy ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 06:49 PM:

I always thought that shutting her network down was probably at least as important as whacking her husband -- news reports when this story broke emphasized that the whole network had to be rolled up. Given what these guys were trying to accomplish in the Middle east, and their dislike of the CIA, the idea of "flying blind" when it came to WMD in the area must have had its appeal.

But this is mindblowing, that it was this blatant and clearly aimed at a significant undercover operative who surely must have been known to Cheney (and may, as you say, have even met him personally).

I'm just guessing, but it seems to me this is what Fitzgerald has been chewing on all this time. This isn't some minor misdemeanor. It's far more serious than what most of the scuttlebutt has had it. If Fitz can prove that Cheney knew who Plame was AND deliberately instigated her outing, that would be about as serious as you can get. It would account for the administration agreeing to appoint Fitzgerald in the first place.

#23 ::: cap ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 07:29 PM:

*facepalm*

Maybe by the time I'm a little old lady I'll be able to look back on this and laugh.

Anyway, after I read this entry, I opened up the opinion page of today's New York Times, and found this.

#24 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 08:37 PM:

Aw, cripes.

You know what privilege means? It means you can have people in positions of power who are wrong every time, about everything, but never go out of power or have to admit they've screwed up.

#25 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 08:45 PM:

When in the course of human events....

#26 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 09:20 PM:

"5. Thanks to the magic of global mass communications, the rest of the world now knows it too."

6. However, thanks to the "even more magic" of industrialized public perception management, the rest of the world now lacks any reason for confidence that what it knows is really true.

#27 ::: John League ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 09:40 PM:

Paula Lieberman:

Right on.

#28 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 09:44 PM:

As part of an aggressive prewar covert action program--codenamed Anabasis

They called it f*cking WHAT?

"And these are our plans for the ground campaign, Barbarossa, and the air campaign, Operation Hindenburg."


#29 ::: Vian ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 10:01 PM:

RE #28

I get a sort of bitter pleasure when I think of how history will view these people. When the historians of the future are given such meat as that to feed on, disdain may never die.

Anabasis. In any other Administration, it could have been irony or foreshadowing.

#30 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 10:17 PM:

Wasn't the Anabasis actually about a war against Persia?

#31 ::: Vian ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 10:25 PM:

re #30

Unless it's a compound word made up of "ana-" meaning "not" as in "anaerobic" and "basis", meaning "sound reason to do something" (like, say, start a war), then yes, it refers to a war where (IIRC) the Greeks got stuck in a Persian quagmire.

#32 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 10:26 PM:

evidence that the general public has been gleefully ignoring for years.

I think the general public contains a number of moderates who have exercised a certain amount of "too convoluted to get involved" attitude, but this latest may make things blatantly clear that something blatantly evil was done:

Summer 2001: CIA starts Joint Task Force on Iraq (JTFI) to find WMD's to justify invading Iraq. Valerie Plame is put in charge of task force.

Sept 2001: 9-11 attack on World Trade Center

Feb 2002: Joseph Wilson was sent by CIA on a mission to investigate claims that Iraq had tried to buy Yellow Cake from Niger. He reported the claims were baseless.

Spring 2002: Within months of 9-11, Valerie Plame is managing 50 intelligence officers on JTIF. No evidence of WMD's have been found.

Spring 2002: Cheney visits CIA. Requests briefing on Iraq on how to deal with WMD's during an invasion. Assumes WMD's exist. Question is how to handle them during invasion. Cheney is briefed by Plame directly or would be reading report prepared by her, saying that no evidence of WMD's in Iraq has been found.

January 2003: Bush gives State of the Union speech, ignoring Joseph Wilson's investigation of Saddam's attempt to buy Yellow Cake fro Niger to be baselese, Bush states: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

February 2003: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) determines that the documents Bush based his statements on were forgeries.

March 2003: A year and a half after CIA has been looking for and found zero evidence of WMD's and has reported this information to the Administration, after Joseph Wilson had investigated claims of Saddam's attempts to buy Yellow Cake and found them to be baseless, and a month after the IAEA found the documents regarding Saddam's attempt to buy Yellow Cake from Niger to be clear forgeries, Bush orders the invasion of Iraq, justifying it on the grounds that Saddam has WMD's, and is trying to get nuclear weapons.

May 2003: Joeseph Wilson tells New York Times comumnist Nickolas Kristof about his trip to Niger. Kritof writes article in New York Times about mission, without revealing Wilson's identity, and that the Yellow Cake claims were baseless.

12 June, 2003: Cheney asks CIA director George Tenet about Joseph Wilson. Tenet informs Cheney that he is Valerie Plame's husband. Cheney then tells the information to I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr. who was Cheney's assistant on National Securities Affairs.

Mid June 2003: Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage discloses Valerie Plame's identity to Bob Woodward of The Washington Post.

July 6, 2003, Joseph Wilson reveals in an op-ed piece in New York Times his mission to investigate claims of Saddam buying Yellow Cake from Niger, that he found the claims to be baseless, and that Bush had grossly exaggerated the claim to justify the invasion.

July 14, 2003: Robert Novak writes an op ed piece for the Washington Post outing Valerie Plame as a CIA operative and wife to Joseph Wilson. "Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction."

Cheney knew Plame was undercover. After the May 2003 article by Kristof, Cheney asked the CIA about Wilson, and found out that he was married to Plame. within days, this information gets to the Washington Post. A week after Wilson publishes op-ed piece about his trip to Niger, The Washington Post out's Plame's undercover identity and marriage to Wilson.

This was deliberate. This was orchestrated. This was intentional. This was an attempt to punish and discredit two people who probably knew more about the lies being told by the Shrub administration used as justification for invading Iraq than any other American in the country. This was a deliberate attempt to discredit them so any truth they revealed would be revealed in the atmosphere of being discredited. It was a smoke screen dropped in an attempt to distract from any truths that might damn the administration as a bunch of bastards with zero honor, willing to lie to the entire country to wage a war they wanted for their own benefit, willing to punish two dedicated government officials because they stood for the truth.

Prick Cheney is a fucking bastard who should rot in Guantanamo for the rest of his life.

#33 ::: Jeff ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 11:00 PM:

Teresa, based just one what you've given us, I think your concluding points are overreaching. As I read it, VPW and crew were expecting to find WMD and were confused when they didn't, but never reached the point where they had enough data to convince themselves that there were no WMDs.

Were they not doing their job well enoughor did Saddam not have an arsenal of unconventional weapons? Valerie Wilson and other JTFI officers were almost too overwhelmed to consider the possibility that their small number of operations was, in a way, coming up with the correct answer

#34 ::: amysue ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 11:22 PM:

I get so discouraged. I keep thinking that with open discourse, knowledge and the like folks will realize how we've sold our souls for the dubious honor of living our happy little lives with our heads in the sand and that they will demand change. Sadly too many seem to just not care enough.

#35 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 11:25 PM:

Armitage disclosed Plume's occupation as gossip to Robert Novak. Nobody was looking to "out" her. Now, the White House did take advantage of the brouhaha to move discussion about WMDs in Iraq. But they didn't start it.

#36 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 11:36 PM:

The other story -- forgive me for going OT here -- is the ABC 9/11 "docudrama" in which it is dramatically shown how the Clinton administration had a chance to get Osama Bin Laden and chose not to -- in a scene which DID NOT HAPPEN. Not at all. President Clinton has asked to see a copy of the "The Path to 9/11" and has been turned down.

F*cking ABC/Disney.

As for this new info about Valerie Plame, what her job truly was, and the timeline of her outing -- I'm not surprised. Pissed, oh yes. So what else is new? No, I take that back. I am surprised that this information is getting out. It also gives me hope. I am sure that Bushco really didn't want any of this to get out. The fact that it is out before the election is very hopeful: it means the media (with the possible exception of Fox and I suppose ABC) has not been wholly purchased.

#37 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 11:39 PM:

Hi, Jeff. I see this is your first post here. Want to introduce yourself?

Mike Ford (28):

As part of an aggressive prewar covert action program--codenamed Anabasis
They called it f*cking WHAT?

"And these are our plans for the ground campaign, Barbarossa, and the air campaign, Operation Hindenburg."

Anabasis, an expedition from a coastline to the interior.
Katabasis, an expedition from the interior to the coast.
Thalassa, a heavily armored amphibious vehicle used for conducting troop evacuations under fire.

#38 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 11:41 PM:

And the good news is that Scholastic has taken down their page of downloadable 'educational material' for that 9/11 show. The heat apparently got to them.

#39 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 11:44 PM:

Marilee, I'm sorry, but I can't believe that was mere gossip.

#40 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 11:47 PM:

And you know what? It is the knowledge of Plame's position as DO of the JTFI that makes sense of the assertion that she sent Wilson to Africa.

I can hear them now: "She the head of JTFI, and she sent her fucking husband to check on the yellow cake? And now he's contradicting us in the New York Times?"

They knew who she was, and what her job was. They knew she wasn't some low-level analyst.

#41 ::: Jeff ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 11:53 PM:

Hi, Jeff. I see this is your first post here.

No, but it has been many months since I last posted, and my e-mail address has undergone a minor change since then due to spam accumulation.

#42 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 11:57 PM:

Beth #40: exactly. They knew she wasn't some low-level analyst. And now we know it too. I have never been comfortable in the company of conspiracy theorists, but damn; if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck I'm not going to claim it's a f*cking armadillo.

#43 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2006, 11:57 PM:

Jeff from Rochester. If that's what happened, glad you're back.

#44 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 12:00 AM:

Lizzy, I'm right there with you. I'll even sell you the shirt.

#45 ::: David D. Levine ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 12:03 AM:

Meanwhile, what's appearing in The Oregonian is a right-wing op-ed saying that "With the disclosure that former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was the initial source for Robert Novak's July 2003 column that outed CIA operative Valerie Wilson -- also known as Valerie Plame, wife of former ambassador and Iraq war critic Joseph Wilson -- it is now clear that all the hype about a Bush-inspired vendetta against the Wilsons is bunk."

http://www.oregonlive.com/search/index.ssf?/base/editorial/11571549506440.xml?oregonian?edc&coll=7

#46 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 12:05 AM:

Teresa, yes, I know.* Xenophon's Anabasis is a book that everybody with a background in classical military works knows. It's been adapted in all sorts of ways, including skiffy and street gangs.

It's about ten thousand soldiers that are led into a campaign in Persia, suffer the loss of their leader and various betrayals and setbacks, and have to make it out of the mess alive.

It seems the most unlikely title for a battle plan one could think of, short of "Operation Light Brigade." The idea that it was a plan for the Mideast ("Persia" having been in the back of the neocons' alleged minds from the beginning) is just chocolate-cyanide icing.

*And I'm sure that you, and most of the folks here, know too. If a gang of CIA analysts didn't, one has to wonder what sort of weekend internship they were hired under.

#47 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 12:14 AM:

The op ed piece quoted in #45 is a dandy demonstration of how one can make a perfectly grammatical statement which still makes no logical sense.

#48 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 12:16 AM:

John, perhaps someone who named the plan Anabasis thought the plan was a recipe for disaster? Wouldn't be the first time someone who lost the argument decided to stick in a dig.

WWMD?

#49 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 12:19 AM:

David D. Levine #45: huh? Can someone make this make sense to me?

On second thought, don't bother. It doesn't make sense, it will never make sense. It's not supposed to make sense.

I believe an appropriate name for the Iraq invasion would have been Operation Sisyphus.

I just heard on the BBC that five severed heads were dumped on the dance floor in a bar in Mexico; evidently part of a drug war reprisal. The heads, we are assured, were all in separate plastic bags. (I feel better knowing that, don't you?) I am reminded of the first sentence of Scaramouche, by Rafael Sabatini: "He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad."

#50 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 12:42 AM:

WWMD?

Good point. What would Metternich do?

"Liberalismus ist der poopy-scheiss."
-- Quoted in The Guardian Treasury of Napoleonic Nabobs

#51 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 12:44 AM:

re#48 - Yup. I always figured someone with a good classical education named NASA's old electronic grant application program SYS-EFUS for a reason. The joy of the homonym.

#52 ::: hamletta ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 12:46 AM:

I hope she sells the movie rights.

Mmmm...I'm thinkin' sitcom. No, reallycute, blonde soccer mom who's also an International Woman of Mystery? Think Austin Powers meets Bewitched!

It's comedy gold, people!

Our heroine schedules a clandestine meeting with an international arms dealer at the same time as the PTA coffee klatsch, and we're off to the races with zany hijinx galore!

Nosy neighbors are a sitcom staple, but when the nosy neighbor is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, well, look out, free world!

I have to laugh, or else I'd jump off the Shelby Street Bridge.

#53 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 01:20 AM:

Well, it's all fun and games until someone shows up with a bagful of heads.

The odd thing is that I can't get worked up about this anymore. Just another criminal act by a criminal administration, but it's a popular criminal administration, as per our lovely newsmedia.

I'm much more worked up about ABC airing a propaganda film for the GOP. That stupid thing is going to color people's perceptions for years.

#54 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 03:08 AM:

#29 Vian --
Niall Ferguson has written the 10-webpage-long cover story for the current issue of Time from the perspective of an historian writing in 2031. Regrettably, it's subscription-only. Here's a paragraph from page 5:

Yet history has been a kinder judge of Bush's presidency. Although many analysts had predicted that terrorists would strike again on U.S. soil within five years, there was no sequel to 9/11 on Bush's watch. It was just his bad luck that success in counterterrorism grabbed few headlines, since plots stifled at conception are nonevents in news terms. Moreover, the key point of his national-security strategy turned out to be correct. It was just that pre-emption had been used against Iraq when it should have been saved for Iran.

It goes on and ends optimistically. Warner defeats McCain in 2008, but serves only one term. McCain's son Jimmy wins in 2012.

Universal health care is established. Fuel cell technologies are perfected and the Big Three car companies survive by putting the cells into their products. A new generation of safe nuclear plants are built, eliminating American dependence on foreign oil.

Pie in the sky, I call it. I'll be 81 in 2031. If any of that happens, I'll try to write Mr. Ferguson or Time a letter.

#55 ::: Steinn Sigurdsson ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 04:02 AM:

Anabasis is about an attack on the Persian empire, but the invading army gets no further than the Euphrates as I recall. The decisive battle and betrayal are near current Baghdad or just north of there.
In fact probably near the major US base north of Baghdad.

Someone definitely had a sense of humour about this.

#56 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 04:52 AM:

I believe the time has come: this is finally appropriate for a wider audience.

The UN Weapon Inspector's Lament

#57 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 05:16 AM:

ISTR that there was evidence prior to 9/11 that Bush had already put into motion plans for the invasion of Iraq. IIRC a letter requesting plans be updated and modernized for the attack came from his office (Cheney?) to the Pentagon within a year of him taking office.

All 9/11 did was give Bush what he thought was a mandate to go ahead with attacking Iraq.

#58 ::: Sam Dodsworth ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 07:47 AM:

Anabasis is about an attack on the Persian empire...

Not exactly an invasion, or even a quagmire... the Greeks were hired as mercenaries on one side of a Persian civil war and then left deep in enemy territory when their employer was killed. It's not usually considered a disaster because the Greeks survived the assassination of their senior officers and managed to march out to the Black Sea coast in good order. Short Wikipedia article here.

So, not a good name but not particularly ironic either, IMHO.

#59 ::: Madison Guy ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 07:47 AM:

So, youre Dick Cheney and youve got a war to start

You start to pressure the limp-wristed wimps at CIA to do their jobs and dig up the WMD evidence you know is there. Two years, and they're still empty-handed. Hopeless. Even when hand-picked defectors provided by Ahmad Chalabi are set right in front of them, all they do is discredit them. Those crypto-liberals at CIA need to be taught a lesson. And thats what you do.

#60 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 08:21 AM:

Thalassa, a heavily armored amphibious vehicle used for conducting troop evacuations under fire.

TNH: Surely everybody knows that the Ten Thousand shouted 'The latte! The latte!' on discovering that a Starbuck's had opened in Ctesiphon.

#61 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 11:20 AM:

#62 Hamletta, stay off the bridge; there are two football games downtown this weekend and if they've blocked the Shelby Street Bridge because it's a crime scene it will make gameday traffic that much worse.

Besides, you need to work on your sitcom treatment. Or maybe you should make it the latest thing in chick-lit, so it can be adapted into a Major Motion Picture and then spun off into a sitcom. After all, Halliburton et al. have not hung back from making a buck, or a few billion from all these crimes and horrors, so why shouldn't you?

#62 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 11:22 AM:

That would be #52, not #62.

Clearly, the anti-ragweed pills are wearing off.

#63 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 11:26 AM:

"With the disclosure that former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was the initial source for Robert Novak's column ... it is now clear that all the hype about a Bush-inspired vendetta against the Wilsons is bunk."

I still don't get this. Because they say so? Because they say up is down, so it must be true?

Scooter has notes from July 12 saying that he was informed by Dick Cheney that Wilson was married to Plame and that Plame worked for the CIA. Apparently, Scooter's notes indicated that Cheney got this information from Tenet, director of CIA, because Cheney asked Tenet who Wilson was. Cheney was digging for dirt and found a way to destroy a career instead. Days later Armitage tells the Washington Post about the Wilson->Plame->CIA connection. And a week after that, Novak rats them out in an op-ed piece.

Didn't Churchill say something about Coincidences and politics?

#64 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 11:39 AM:

#58 and previous--

The choice of "anabasis" could be a cryptic comment on what a bad idea all this was, but I've noticed among neo-con thinkers a tendency to wear the Blinders of Cluelessness when dealing with Great Stuff from History. For example, somehow non-thinkers like Hanson manage to make the police-state eugenicist Spartans into Heroes of Democracy. Xenophon's little screed manages to become the story of a Great Greek Vitory, rather than being identified as the face-saving piece on "How The Boys And I Signed Up To Invade Persia As Mercs And Managed To Get Out With Our Parts Intact When It All Went Pear-shaped" it is. Granted, getting the Greek force out alive when they were that deep in hostile territory was an impressive achievement, and Xenophon had legitimate bragging rights, but it was still a retreat after losing an ill-judged war they'd have been better off avoiding. I've talked to people (you get all sorts in classical studies) who couldn't manage to see that part--they were all about The Glory. They also tended to be convinced that it was Socrates' courage in speaking Truth to Power that got him killed, and not his numerous close associates among the Thirty Tyrants. Incidents like Crassus having his cranium turned into a beverage container and similar somehow get forgotten. Amazingly enough (not), they tended to neo-con ideology in other areas.

#65 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 11:44 AM:

Most of the neocons would probably be toast if dropped into classical Greece or Rome, given the way they played politics (for keeps, no holds barred, and your constituents might 'invite' you to leave office in a very permanent way. Or so I understand.)

#66 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 11:56 AM:

Er, Mike, I know that. Take a second look at that definition of thalassa.

#67 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 11:59 AM:

Fidelio #64: Victor Davis Hanson's 'analyses' of present-day politics are usually far off the mark, but I'd expect a classicist to have some idea of what went on in the period and place he's supposed to know about. How did he manage to twist the Spartans into paragons of democracy? The most that Plato -- no friend of democracy -- did was declare that the Spartan state was the closest degenerate form to the ideal.

Socrates spoke Truth to Power in much the same way that Charles Krauthammer does.

#68 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 12:04 PM:

Fragano (60), that explains a lot: the Attic Greeks were drinking strong coffee, but the Doric Greeks just had watered-down yogurt.

#69 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 12:09 PM:

marilee - Robert Parry objects to the 'gossip' characterization. Novak asked Armitage who arranged for Wilson to go on his trip - which is kind of an odd question, considering Wilson's contacts in Niger and experience in Iraq. Parry also quotes a second reporter who was twice pushed to ask questions about who arranged for Wilson's trip.

(Found via Avedon Carol's Sideshow, I'm avoiding links in hopes of avoiding a 'questionable content' tag)

#70 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 12:16 PM:

#67 Fragano Ledgister

I can't speak for Hanson's professional-level publications, but his popular writing on ancient history has the same tendency to interpret-to-suit-his-preferences as his writings on modern politics. Words like "specious" come to mind. For another take on his latest book, see Gary Brecher's review.

I think his weird angle on the Spartans comes either from a column, or from some fantasizing elsewhere about Thermopylae. I try not to read him if I can help it; I hate getting stupid on me.

#71 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 12:17 PM:

Someone definitely had a sense of humour about this

Funny thing, naming the operation Anabasis could well be a great example of black humor. Prior to this, the best example of such humor connected to our current carefree Iraqi vacation was the name of one of the private military corporations that got a big contract for security in Baghdad, but now is facing fines and such for fraud. Even though it was derived from the last names of the two principals, it is hard to think of a stranger name for a PMC than Custer Battles

(I was going to comment on irony in this case, but fidelio both beat me to it, and did it better.)

#72 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 12:22 PM:

#71--Not really, Claude.
Now stop trying to turn my head with flattery, because I didn't bring my fan with me today, and thus cannot rap your knuckles with it properly.

#73 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 12:35 PM:

TNH #68: Spartan fare indeed.

#74 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 12:39 PM:

Fidelio #70: My position (and I'm not a classicist, just a part-time political theorist who tries to understand the background of what he teaches) on the Pelopponesian War is that Hobbes nailed it when he saw it as a prototypical civil war -- meaning in this case a war in which an entire culture divided up and took sides. If Hanson is seriously comparing the Mess o' Potamia with the Pelopponesian War I dread to think what his students are getting.

#75 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 01:05 PM:

#74 Fragano Ledgister

I majored in classical studies a good many years ago, and haven't worked in the field or read heavily among the academic publications in a good while. However, while it's possible to study and analyze the Pelopponesian War (or any of the others we have good accounts of, and aren't we lucky we have Thucydides' book to work from in this case?) from a variety of perspectives and schools of thought, Hanson seems to be affirming his membership in the School of Wishful Thnking, which includes the Jiminy Cricket School of Military Doctrine (theme song "When You Wish Upon a Star"). However, when the best comparison you can actually make between the US and the Athenians of that time is the scary resemblence between the war in Iraq and the Sicilian Expedition of Alcibiades (both the result of imperialistic self-infatuated greedheads taking advantage of public credulity to get into a Bad Idea of a war that didn't need fighting), there's a problem.

#76 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 01:35 PM:

Greg London #63: Exactly. I was trying to say this a few hours ago but I kept getting caught by the inappropriate content filter.

That Armitage is the source only raises more questions. Would a seasoned career government official accustomed to dealing with classified information really be so cavalier with the identity of a CIA agent?

#77 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 01:48 PM:

I did not major in classics, and my knowledge thereof is shamefully slim, but I hear from friends who majored in political science that the going theme in reigning political thought (neocon) really is "The Glory of War," how war builds character and moral fiber and honor and duty and loyalty and that -- and how if you don't have a war, your society gets soft, self-indulgent, and collapses.

The Peleponnesian War is used as prime example of this.

I majored in religious studies (alongside physics), and this sounds ilke a myth being constructed to me. But what do I know?

#78 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 01:50 PM:

Larry Brennan at #53: I'm much more worked up about ABC airing a propaganda film for the GOP. That stupid thing is going to color people's perceptions for years.

Yeah. I think it (and related mythologizing) is going to color perceptions for generations, or forever. I am very pessimistic.

This has brought to mind a book I haven't read for years -- _Silencing the Past_ by Michel-Rolph Trouillot (here with reviews, here for the Amazon-averse). It's a brilliant account of how the stories told about recent events shape the meaning of those events for future generations; examples include the mythologizing of the defeat at the Alamo, and the way the Haitian revolution (once one of the Three Great Events of the Age of Revolutions) has been erased from Western awareness.

This is an important battle -- the mythical facts about 9/11 will have more force and reality than what really happened. Short of signing petitions and fighting for decent education, I don't know if we can stop the right wing from writing its narrative into the heads of millions of kids. Time to lead the mobs to the television stations, I suppose. I'm not good at mobs.

#79 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 01:56 PM:

the Haitian revolution

Toussaint l'Ouverture?

Not surprised; my sister-in-law was complaining that the way history classes are done thes days, with a month for his and a week for that, the kids have no idea how things are connected or what the chronology of events actually is. They may actually think that Lincoln and MLK were contemporaries, if it's really badly done.

#80 ::: Kat Coburn ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 02:00 PM:

Nearly anyone who has read Robert Heinlein and his "Coventry" stories is familiar with The Prophet, Nehemiah Scudder. I think that we are seeing The Prophet take over earlier than Heinlein 'predicted'. Heinlein had it in 2012.

#81 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 02:06 PM:

the going theme in reigning political thought (neocon) really is "The Glory of War," how war builds character and moral fiber and honor and duty and loyalty and that

Which is why the current crop of neocons got college deferments. oh, wait, that would mean...

(mumbling)Motherpussbucketslartibartfastingsumsabeeches

#82 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 02:11 PM:

#77: the going theme in reigning political thought (neocon) really is "The Glory of War," how war builds character and moral fiber and honor and duty and loyalty and that -- and how if you don't have a war, your society gets soft, self-indulgent, and collapses.

Notice that this is being pushed by people who have not, themselves, fought in any wars.

#83 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 02:13 PM:

Teresa (68), it would also follow that Victorian schoolboys, being spoonfed the story in a regularized Attic-Ionic form -- extracts from Xenophon were standard fare for introductory grammars -- would also be having watered-down yogurt.

#84 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 02:53 PM:

#82, #77, and others
The "Glory of War" meme is not a new one--the ancient Greek and Roman writers were fond of it, and one popular story has Lycurgus, the semi-mythical founder of the Spartan Consitution, demonstrating the virtues of warfare and rough living by overfeeding and fondling a hunting dog into uselessness, and starving a lapdog into cunning ferocity. See also the writings and speeches of whichever Cato Elder and Younger, and others, as well as the remarks over on ML's Open Thread 70 about the reasons the Romans took the kiddies to see the gladiators.
Western Society has been fond of this meme ever since. However, it's worth noting that the Greeks and Romans didn't shy away from putting their own hides on the line--Demosthenes fought in the Greek phalanx against Philip of Macedon at Thebes, in a war he'd done his very best to start, and Crassus' transformation into tableware took place fighting in a war he'd set up for his own benefit. In fact, the entire Roman system of devleoping Old Senators, the Cursus Honorum, required a combination of military service and public office. The Victorians expected their public school sprats to be willing to bleed in distant lands for Queen and Country, and the demogogues of both sides in the American Civil War were prepared to take the field themselves--however incompetent they might be at it.
And the Spartans--those Rottweilers of the classical world? Until they got into the Peloponesian War, they'd done their very best to avoid wars, after they'd reduced Messene to a slave state. Their reason for militarizing every aspect of their lives was the need to control the helots, and the one war they declared happily, at the start of every new year, was the war against the helots, which gave them the justification of killing any helot any time they felt like it. They did their best to avoid aiding the Athenians against the Persians the first time (the Athenians therefore got the glory of Marathon all to themselves) and had to be dragged into the second round against the Persians kicking and screaming. They glorified warfare, and wrote lots of verses about how much better it was to die young and beautiful, on the field of battle, rather than living to be old and feeble and ugly, but when it came to Foreign Entanglements, the Spartans preferred to Just Say No--they wanted to preserve their strength to keep the helots in line.
Truly, the neocons wouldn't last in the ancient world--because when it came time to put your money where your mouth was, there were no deferments. In fact, there was You Are Banished, Get Out Of Town, You Annoying Loser. However, I expect Al Gore could have been Tribune of the People any time he wanted to. The Romans liked gravitas and sarcasm both.

#85 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 03:02 PM:

PJ Evans -- the bad news is that Scholastic's yanking of the materials is apparently temporary.

#86 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 03:09 PM:

LizzieL (#36) - Do you know whice division Clinton's people contacted? I worked in the video library and still work in the same division. I can't imagine a request like that would be turned down. Now, if he went to the producers first, maybe. But it's not really their choice.

Not to mention that there are many video recording services that can give a dupe of the show.

#87 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 03:09 PM:

Adam Lipkin @ 85

The pressure is building on them, though. People at FireDogLake are reporting calling and writing both Scholastic and Disney saying they're going to not be customers any more.

There may be a legal basis for suits by some of those misdepicted, also: the letters ABC is getting are including words like 'defamatory'.

#88 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 03:24 PM:

I wrote my local ABC affiliate (not owned by ABC) and got a reply telling me it had a "contractual obligation" to show this thing. I pointed out that in 2004 the same station refused to show "Saving Private Ryan" due to fears the FCC might fine them for use of profanity. The subsequent response was "well, that was a genuine fear, and anyway ABC has put us into an untenable position." I suggested that if it was so untenable the station should make its feelings known to ABC, and also tell the network that it was hearing from angry prospective viewers (at least one, anyway).

#89 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 03:25 PM:

(86) Check that - it hasn't aired yet. There are few exceptions to pre-release viewings, typically only made for PITA who contribute lots of money to the studio in some manner. Harvey, for instance.

#90 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 03:34 PM:

The first part aired on the BBC in the UK this week. It should be showing up online RSN.

#91 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 04:05 PM:

After that they returned again to Pergamus, and here Xenophon might well thank God with a warm heart, for the Laconians, the officers, the other generals, and the soldiers as a body united to give him the pick of horses and cattle teams, and the rest; so that he was now in a position himself to do another a good turn.

But there came a man out of the West, and a small host with him, who wore no armor, and had not sacrificed to any gods, but placed before Xenophon a meager offering of wingless quailtards mangled and poor to eat, saying that the greater part of all the promised things belonged to their leaders, whose names were Kellogg and Brown and Root, because their promise was secret doubled.

So Xenophon was to have no horses, nor cattle, nor armor, with which to fight his battles, and only the Birdoids Ready to Eat. Then these men took away all Xenophon's goods, and left him only a ribbon of yellow stuff, to show that they supported him mightily, and they went away and left him in the empty country, but not before theyslaughtered the people who lived there and burned their houses, that those who escaped became new enemies, as if the Hydra's teeth were sown by the hundreds and thousands.

#92 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 04:11 PM:

#81, #82.

Hi, Lizzy!
We've got to stop meeting like this...

;)

#93 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 04:53 PM:

Dolloch, #86 -- I got this from DailyKos. Go there and check it out. Other relevant comments may be found on Firedoglake and Glenn Greenwald's blog.

Meanwhile, President Bill Clinton (who like other Democratic figures was not allowed to screen the movie, even though Disney/ABC distributed nine hundred copies to press critics, right wing media figures and even right-wing bloggers as part of their promotional efforts) has weighed in on behalf of treating history as history, stating in a very forceful four-page letter to ABC that:

The content of this drama is factually and incontrovertibly inaccurate and ABC has the duty to fully correct all errors or pull the drama entirely.

#94 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 05:03 PM:

#77 #84: The neocons and their sometime allies the Straussians are big on classical models as guides to correct action. The neocons because they believe that we need a more disciplined social order (and Plato et al provide a nice guide to that), the Straussians because they don't trust the common herd.

Of course, a Roman or a Greek aristocrat was expected to do his military service and, if need be, sell his sword as a military expert (which is what Xenophon was doing, if I recall correctly because he was not wanted back home). None of the neocon or Straussian crowd could do that or would want to.

Fidelio: Which of the Gracchi would Al Gore be?

#95 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 05:14 PM:

Here's another inappropriate name -- apparently Operation Iraqi Freedom was first called Operation Iraqi Liberty. Check the initials.

#96 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 05:20 PM:

Wow.

I can't say I'm surprised, but

Wow.

I wish we could impeach SOMEONE over this!

#97 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 05:27 PM:

Lizzie (93)

Terrific. *sigh* Guess my sending out resumes wasn't premature after all.

What I love about our internal propaganda machine (the company newsletter, not any product) is that it declares the producers tried to maintain veracity by having Gov. Thomas Kean as their key advisor. To "ensure the authenticity". That Marketing decided to solicit quotes from only favorible sources doesn't surprise me, but makes me very sad.

#98 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 05:30 PM:

Handing over the forces to the Iraqi's.

Just in time for November elections. Frak.

#99 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 05:33 PM:

All I know about Anabasis is that, when I was a kid, the Baseball Furies scared the fruit loops out of me.

The worst part about the revelations of Plame's involvement in the JTFI is that is sounds so much like a wacky Cubans-on-the-grassy-knoll conspiracy theory. At this point, if Bush were to reveal himself as one of the secret reptile kings from beneath the Earth, I wouldn't bat an eyelash.

#100 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 05:55 PM:

#98

sure, transferred. But 140,000 US troops aint leaving. Which means (1) we're a big fat target being an occupying army which means (2) US troops are going to keep dying.

#101 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 05:57 PM:

#94--Which one of the Gracchi would Al Gore be?

I'm not sure. In fact, he might not be either of them; I think Al is a bit twistier than either of Cornelia's boys ever were.

#102 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 06:02 PM:

Greg (100)

Sorry, I should have put "handing over" in quotes for clarity. The curse is for the propaganda victory and the "accurate, but not complete" info.

#103 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 06:05 PM:

At this point, if Bush were to reveal himself as one of the secret reptile kings from beneath the Earth, I wouldn't bat an eyelash.

Well, rather than admit that he's a secret reptile king, Bush admitted that we actually had secret CIA prisons and no one so much as blinked. He admitted that the United States was behaving like an evil empire and it looks to me like there has been no fallout. That he said it was time to bring them to trial hardly excuses how they were imprisoned in the first place. NPR at least had a nice interview which pointed out that it doesn't make any sense to urge Congress to enshrine into law the trial procedures that the Supreme Court has already found unconstitutional.

#104 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 06:18 PM:

JC, I think the Supremes only found them "illegal under existing US and international law," which means that Congress could change the US law and ignore the international. THEN the Supremes could rule the LAW unConstitutional.

I think. IANAL and TINLA.

#105 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 06:21 PM:

JC @ 103

After a while you start having thoughts about hypnosis and mind control. Otherwise it's hard to explain this kind of 'ooh, over there, isn't that shiny?' kind of response by people who not that many years ago were attacking Clinton as if they were pit bulls (no disrespect to honest pit bulls intended). Also there's the way people who were against Bush would visit him, in the White House or in Crawford, and come out for him.

I keep wanting to break out many gallons of holy water and a room misting system...

#106 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 06:27 PM:

Bush as a reptile king? This is starting to sound like "V". No, not the Alan Moore graphic novel. Maybe nobody else remembers that skiffy series of the early Eighties. I certainly never could forget Jane Badler's awesome hairdo.

#107 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 07:22 PM:

Serge, this is probably not the place to mention that there's supposed to be a V TV movie coming out next year, but there is.

I don't know if Gore would be a Gracchi; the older he gets, the more he resembles Claudius (or at least Robert Graves' Claudius; the real deal isn't quite as fully embodied). Which is fine with me, because there are days when I waver between thinking Shrub more like Tiberius, or Nero.

#108 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 08:04 PM:

#107: there are days when I waver between thinking Shrub more like Tiberius, or Nero.

Shrub like Nero -- cutting brush while the country burns? Please. The least of the imperial Romans would have laughed themselves sick at GWB. I know we've had this conversation before (about who among the Bushistas would have survived ten minutes in Rome) so I won't go there, but Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus (otherwise known as Nero) was emperor for 14 years, and on his craziest, most loony-tunes day I have no doubt he could outthink GWB w/o breaking a sweat.

As to why people go into the WH with one stated opinion and come out with another: it's because they're a bunch of immoral spineless fuckers who've been frightened, or BOUGHT, or both. Paul O'Neill, when he resigned, commented that there wasn't anything the WH could do to him because he was too rich and too old. Pretty telling comment, I thought.

#109 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 08:36 PM:

cutting brush while the country burns

As many here doubtless know, after the fire of AD 64, Nero housed the diplaced in his palaces, set up food distribution, and initiated a plan to rebuild the destroyed areas with better planning. (A number of sources say that he wasn't even in Rome when the fire started, but returned immediately.)

There were a great many things not to like about the man, and it has been said that he conducted the highly visible relief program to buy some much-needed credibility . . . but Dispositio Discrimenum Adminstratio Roma* didn't stuff fifty thousand people into the Circus Maximus and tell them to eat each other.

*endings vague and approximate, been a long day. And when you're saying, "y'know, Nero did better than this other guy without even hesitating," that other guy looks pretty bad.

#110 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 09:07 PM:

Not Nero.

Caligula.

#111 ::: Mac ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 09:20 PM:

I keep coming back to a mental image of the WH press conference where Bush announces he's the reptile king--with Karl Rove standing behind him as a sort of crocodilian Darth Vador...

#112 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 09:39 PM:

And when you're saying, "y'know, Nero did better than this other guy without even hesitating," that other guy looks pretty bad.

Yup. Too much GWB on the radio these days. I am not in a good mood.

#113 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 09:57 PM:

Laurie Mann: I wish we could impeach SOMEONE over this!

Oh, but they did, remember? To neocons, sin is transferrable, so Clinton's impeachment took care of all GWB's crimes. No need to do it twice, you silly little thing. *pat pat*

#114 ::: Rich ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 10:21 PM:

Lisa,

Completely in-apropos to this discussion, I just want to say ... I love your books. Write more, and more often. Dark Cities is among my favored books....

I now return you to the regularly scheduled vivisection of the adminstration.

#115 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 10:24 PM:

Given that the "Pax Americana", such that as it was, probably ended, at the absolute latest, with the end of the Clinton presidency, shouldn't GWB be one of the post-Marcus Aurelius emperors?

#116 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 10:25 PM:

Xopher, re #110.

You and I appear to be timesharing a mind. I now know who to blame for the weird dreams of chasing Aliens all night.

#117 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 11:39 PM:

there's supposed to be a V TV movie coming out next year

Say it ain't so, JESR... Meanwhile and completely off topic since there was no lizard king in it... Tonight's Dragon Sword on the Skiffy Channel was actually pretty funny. Not a high point of Patrick Swayze's career, but I actually laughed with the darn thing.

#118 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 11:45 PM:

Teresa, Greg, Fungi: Not everybody in DC is on the White House's side. Armitage hates Rove and Bush; why would he do something on purpose that would help them? He's talked more extensively about his conversations with Woodward and Novak recently.

JC: Armitage has said he didn't know she was covert. There are plenty of intel agents who aren't covert -- I did a background interview with an FBI agent this morning.

I'm certainly not on Bush's side, but I think including Armitage in the conspiracy is wrong. He may have been used, but he's not in favor of helping Bush.

#119 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 11:55 PM:

Not Nero.

Caligula.

But, Xopher, he doesn't have a sister!


#120 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 01:14 AM:

JESR@119 - Ahh, but there's always Barbara. Or Millie - that would really thrill the Santorumites.

#121 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 01:57 AM:

#119 - however, what makes him most like Caligula is his somewhat demonic creativity. And he does have twin daughters.

#122 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 02:19 AM:

his somewhat demonic creativity

At what? Lissajous drooling?

#123 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 03:02 AM:

Lissajous drooling? No, nothing as mentally or emotionally taxing as that.

His creativity is in the manners in which he pleasures himself by causing pain. Like Caligula, there seems to be a sadistic streak as wide as the Mississipi is long in our current leader.

It isn't about governing or about sex - but neither was Caligula, or he would not have been killed by his own guards (looking out for number one is the prime directive of governing-by-force).
It was about a type of one-upmanship where the winner is that person who changes the national standards most. In the Bush case, this seems to involve standards of literacy, compassion for the mentally incapacitated and imprisoned, and for even the appearance of integrity. Caligula, well, he redefined extravagance and cruelty for the world.

I imply no creativity in Bush's actual practices of governing; what he does looks like a form of ultra-hedonism that feeds (as most sadism does) off the shock and awe of the spectators. It is not for nothing that those words were used to describe the desired (by Bush) attack on enemies, in Iraq and Afghanistan: a strategy must appeal to the president who will be remembered for it.

#124 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 04:08 AM:

#111: "I am the reptile king, I can do anything"?

#125 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 04:25 AM:

@124 - More like, "He's a V!"

#126 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 04:56 AM:

Marcus Aurelius?

That would make Bush into Commodus, wouldn't it.

And there's the baying crowd as the Glorious Emperor drives his sword into the guts of another poor bastard who daren't fight back. Maximus? Who's he? All those things he's supposed to have done, they're all lies.

#127 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 06:32 AM:

Worse than Caligula: when the army told Caligula his planned invasion of Britain would be a disaster, he had a little tantrum and made them collect seashells from the Gaulish shore to take back to Rome in triumph. But he didn't make them go ahead with it.

Also, the Classis Britannica, the fleet he ordered built for the invasion, served many years as coastal protection, and later performed their original intended task with distinction when Claudius conquered Britain.

#128 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 06:51 AM:

#127: So what made the army change its mind between Caligula's plans and Claudius' invasion? Better planning on Claudius' part?

#129 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 07:59 AM:

In #125, Larry Brennan writes:

@124 - More like, "He's a V!"

No. He might at most (allowing for his dad) be a II.

#130 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 08:05 AM:

If W is Commodus that would make his father Marcus Aurelius, and while G.H.W. Bush is not as much of a lightweight as his son I have a hard time seeing him as a real philosopher-king.

Nero and Caligula managed (for all their antics) not to get in the way of effective administration. On t'other hand, why has no one yet compared W to Elagabalus?

#131 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 08:18 AM:

Armitage confessed that he's the one who revealed the identity of Plame to Novak and Woodward. And that's he's really, really sorry.

Armitage said he assumed Plame's job was not a secret because it was included in a State Department memo.

Now, what I want to know is this:

(1) I want to see that memo to know he isn't completely full of shit

(2) I want to know who wrote the memo, and what the purpose of the memo was if only to make Plames identity known to as many people as possible.

(3) I want to know if the memo relayed classified information without being marked "classified" as per standard procedure.

(4) if it wasn't marked "classified" I want to grill the author of said memo to find out why he felt like leaking said classified information.

(5) if it was marked "classified", I want to grill Armitage to find out how exactly he thought it wasn't.

(6) if the memo was written after Scooter's June 12, 2003, meeting with Cheney, during which time Cheney told Scooter Plames connection to Wilson, I want to know what the connection was from Cheney to Scooter to memo to Armitage.

(7) Last but not least, I want to know Armitage's relationship to Bush, and the Republicans in general, and the neocons in specific. I want the dirt on Armitage.

#132 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 08:43 AM:

As a matter of fact, Shrub does have a living sister, Dorothy Bush Koch.

The Caligula comparison would make Barabara Bush Agrippina the Elder, of course--even though she may seem more like Livia to some.

How about Commodus? I realize the Marcus Aurelius had a great deal more eloquence than the elder Bush, but it's the dressing-up-like-a-gladiator bit that gets me.

#133 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 09:54 AM:

Marilee, What Greg Said. Armitage was either fully complicit, or a dupe. If he was a dupe, someone set him up, and the country has the right to know who it was. This was not an accident.

#134 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 10:31 AM:

Some commenter above mentioned the "inappropriate content" filter. It was certainly zapping me yesterday! After attempting to pass along a link to Jon Carroll's great column about Rummy and getting zapped, I tried it with just a mention of the column and no direct link. No dice. At that point, I think a comment that just said "Adios, amigo" wouldn't have gotten through. What gives? Made me quite paranoid about neocons taking over your blog!

Incidentally, the Carroll column could still be found either through your link (if it's still there) or a visit to SFGate's columnist section. It's worth checking out.

#135 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 10:32 AM:

The thing about the Armitage Diversion is this: It is irrelevant. So Dick Armitage is the first person to tell Bob Novak that Joe Wilson's wife worked for the CIA? So what?

How does that have any bearing on Scooter Libby's concerted efforts to get Judy Miller to use the information to slant her stories discrediting Wilson's claims? How does that have any bearing on Karl Rove's concerted efforts to get the information out to Tim Russert and Matt Cooper?

Armitage probably did nothing wrong. That's the beauty of him being the one to come out, finally, and "take responsibility". Though of course, whoever told Armitage that Plame was CIA did commit a crime. That would be, according to him, whoever let him see that memo.

And finally, what Armitage may have said or not said, known or not known, has no bearing whatsoever on what Irving "Scooter" Libby is being charged with.

The charges against him are:

Lying to the FBI
Lying to the Grand Jury
Obstruction of Justice

Notice that "telling Bob Novak that V. Plame works for the CIA" is not among the charges.

And I have one question: Why did Libby tell all those lies? If the information was really common knowledge, and Scooter didn't know what Valerie did for the CIA, why did he lie? Why? If he really thought she was just a desk-jockey analyst, why did he lie about what he knew, who told him, and who he told?

Either they knew exactly what they were doing -- destroying the career of the operations head of the JTFI -- or Rove, Libby, and Cheney are compulsive, reflexive liars with no regard for the law.

#136 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 10:39 AM:

Either they knew exactly what they were doing -- destroying the career of the operations head of the JTFI -- or Rove, Libby, and Cheney are compulsive, reflexive liars with no regard for the law.

Probably both, serially. (I personally think these guys lie the way they breathe: constantly, automatically, and even in situations where not doing so would be greatly to their advantage.)

By the way, if Talk Left is correct in thinking that some of the prisoners are now vegetables, that might explain the federal interest in T. Schiavo. They need living bodies for their show trials.

#138 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 11:22 AM:

the iraq war timeline particle point out a pattern I never noticed before:

6 Dec 2002: Paul O'Neill and Lawrence Lindsay are forced off Bush's economic team. Many suspect that Lindsay's public estimate for the cost of the war (100-200 billion, compared to Bush's official estimate of 50-60 billion) was the reason why they got canned.

22 April 2002: Jose Bustani is removed from job as head of Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a UN organization. US dislikes Bustani because he advocates against Iraq war. John Bolton, then undersecretary of state for arms control led the charge for his removal (and is rewarded for his loyalty) (A year later, UN tribunal will rule that US charges against Bustani were vague and that he was wrongly dismissed, awarding him damages.)

25 Feb 2003: General Shiseki tells senate the Defense Department estimates for troops for occupying Iraq are too low, says "several hundred thousand" are needed. Wolfowitz goes to congress to object, saying the force needed to occupy Iraq shouldn't be any bigger than the force needed to invade it. Rumsfeld names Shinseki's successor a year before Shinseki's term is over, making him a lame duck, and an example to the rest of the military.

(end)

So, the point is this:

The administration has a long history of firing people who don't agree with their politics, who don't go along with their lies, who don't say how wonderful the emporer's new clothes are. Even if these people are telling the god's honest truth, if it disagrees with the Shrub view of reality, they get fired.

This is exactly what they did to CIA officer Valerie Plame. Wilson wasn't working for the administration when he wrote his op-ed piece about the yellow cake accusations being a bunch of bullshit, so they fired his wife instead, through back channels, via neocon puppet Novak.

Anyone who looks at that history, four different high ranking people fired because they wouldn't swallow the lies, anyone who looks at that and says Plame isn't yet another example of this, that it is a fucking coincidence or an honest mistake, is smoking crack.

#139 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 11:23 AM:

I think we should start calling Dubya "Little Boots." It communicates to those who know, and it will seem appropriately disrespectful to those who don't.

Let's not go too far with the family connections. I'm talking about his behavior in office, not his family connections. The comparison of Barbarian Barbara to Livia DOES seem apt, however.

#140 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 11:28 AM:

April 2002: Jose Bustani fired.

Dec 2002: Paul O'Neill and Lawrence Lindsay are fired.

Feb 2003: General Shiseki made a lame duck

July 2003: Plame outed, career ended.

what's that quote about no coincidences in politics?

#141 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 12:53 PM:

Greg: I believe this story describes the memo in question.

It was written on June 10th, and given to Colin Powell on July 27th - just before a trip to Africa in which he shared Air Force One with White House staff. The paragraph with Plame's identity was marked (S) for secret, but the Plame being covert was not mentioned specifically. (The paragraph could have had other secret information in it.)

What I find interesting is that the memo was also the source of the idea that Plame sent Wilson on the trip - I don't have the link handy, but IIRC this memo unitentionally and incorrectly implied that Plame sent Wilson. What this means is that everyone who "knew" this got it (directly or indirectly) from this (classified) memo.

Personally, I don't think that Armitage was in on the scam. Novakula, on the other hand... well, he has quite a track record.

#142 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 01:09 PM:

Rich at 114 -- Oh, gosh. Thanks.

And back to the discussion -- I always thought there was something really mean-spirited about the whole Bush family. Remember that famous scene where Bush was making a speech at ground zero, and someone in the crowd yelled, "I can't hear you!", and Bush yelled back, "Well, I can hear you!" It sounded to me as if he was saying "Yeah, well, what's wrong with you, moron?" Then everyone started applauding, and Bush (again, it seemed to me) looked surprised and then realized what he had said and started playing to the crowd. And so an iconic moment was born.

#143 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 01:27 PM:

The scandal seems so small compared to the others, it's hardly worth worrying about. I mean, outing a CIA operative is a bad thing for Administration officials to do. But compared to, say, invading a country on highly suspect evidence, botching the occupation of that country, authorizing the running of a network of secret prisons to beat answers out of terrorism suspects abducted off the streets of friendly countries, mismanaging the organization of DHS and FEMA to such an extent that years after 9/11, the guys responsible for responding to a terrorist nuke or bioweapon attack couldn't competently respond to a hurricane (with days of warning), and overtly using the warning apparatus of the DHS for political gain, well, it just seems kind of small.

"My client is prepared to plead guilty to double-parking outside the victim's house while the murder was taking place."

#144 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 01:34 PM:

I guess the other parts of this story grabbed me more than the outing of the CIA agent. Like:

a. It sounds like the CIA didn't have much of an operation going to find WMDs in Iraq before summer of 2001. Why the heck not? They *used* chemical and biological weapons, and were widely claimed to have been developing nukes, before the Gulf War. I mean, it sure seems like the sort of thing we'd like to have the CIA keeping an eye on in hostile countries.

b. It also sounds like Bush's inclination to invade Iraq (which I thought was pretty apparent in some of the Republican debates before the 2000 election) was leading to this ramp-up. I wonder whether we would have "found" the same "evidence" with or without the 9/11 attack. (It looks pretty unlikely that Bush could have convinced the American people to go along with an invasion without 9/11, though.)

c. Finally, who the heck decided to send the husband of the person in charge of the CIA effort to investigate WMDs in Iraq, to investigate the yellowcake stuff? Haven't these guys ever heard about wanting independent sources of information?

#145 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 02:05 PM:

albatross @ 144:

Point 3 - Wilson had been ambassador to Niger and knew Africa and Iraq. It wasn't known that his wife was in the CIA.

That's the point of the outing: what she was doing. (I have the impression they had started the ramp up before 9/11, and were using the increased personnel to look for excuses to start a war. YMMV.)

#146 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 02:13 PM:

Ambassador Joseph Wilson was actually the ideal person to send to Niger. He had been posted in Niger and in Iraq. He knew all the people who might be involved in such a transaction, had personal relationships with many of them.

Who better to send?

#147 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 03:36 PM:

TThe scandal seems so small compared to the others, it's hardly worth worrying about. I mean, outing a CIA operative is a bad thing for Administration officials to do. But compared to, say, invading a country on highly suspect evidence, botching the occupation of that country, authorizing the running of a network of secret prisons to beat answers out of terrorism suspects abducted off the streets of friendly countries, mismanaging the organization of DHS and FEMA to such an extent that years after 9/11, the guys responsible for responding to a terrorist nuke or bioweapon attack couldn't competently respond to a hurricane (with days of warning), and overtly using the warning apparatus of the DHS for political gain, well, it just seems kind of small.

Except this one is specific enough that it should be convictable.

#148 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 04:02 PM:

albatross @ 144 - As an add-on to Greg's point above (147) Al Capone was sent up for tax evasion, after all. I'd be happy to see this gang punished for the easiest to prove crime - and if this is it, so be it.

I've still got outrage fatigue, though.

#149 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 05:33 PM:

Many of us have been calling Bootsy "Bootsy" for years now.

As for other Roman emperors - we have Commodus (Ahnold) but no Elagabulus yet; I think it will be a while before America elects a teenage drag queen to major public office.

#150 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 05:51 PM:

If this is the only thing we can convict them on, it will have to do.

But my hope is that if this does go to court, that it will be like making a hole in a dam:

First there'll be a trickle then a flood -- and who knows what other criminal activities will float to the surface and produce a wave of public ire to drown the rest of the cabal?

Is it too much to ask that it inundate Halliburton as well?

#151 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 10:53 PM:

c. Finally, who the heck decided to send the husband of the person in charge of the CIA effort to investigate WMDs in Iraq, to investigate the yellowcake stuff? Haven't these guys ever heard about wanting independent sources of information?

The CIA decided to send him, after the ambassador to Niger said it was highly unlikely that anything was going on, and I believe before a four-star Marine general concluded the same thing. (Good synopsis here, in a comment from 2005.) Lo, and there were multiple sources of information, and they were ignored.

Joe Wilson had ambassadorial postings in West Africa (although not Niger, to the best of my and Wikipedia's knowledge) and was the senior American diplomat in Iraq during its invasion of Kuwait and its aftermath. He forced Saddam Hussein to back down using a homemade noose and a press conference.

For me, the interesting tangents are:
1) Who forged the documents? According to talkingpointsmemo.com, signs point to SISMI, Italian military intelligence. Oh, and why? (There is some supicious that "the British have learned that.." was referring to the Italians describing the same discredited documents to the UK.)
2) What damage was done by outing a CIA front company, employed by ARAMCO, and what other assets were burned by this?
3) Why doesn't anyone care that when the US invaded Iraq, it failed to secure Haditha, where Iraq had stored yellowcake under UN seal?

#152 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2006, 11:30 PM:

Beth, #135, Armitage isn't being charged because he told Fitzpatrick what had happened as soon as the inquiry started. It was Fitzpatrick who asked him to not talk about it publically, and Fitzpatrick who finally gave Armitage permission to talk about it.

I dunno, maybe living here and seeing day-to-day things lets me have a better idea of some of the folks involved.

#153 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2006, 12:26 AM:

Kat Coburn: (#80) The revolution in 2012 was the overthrow of the Scudderite gov't.

#154 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2006, 08:08 AM:

Terry, I'm pretty sure that's not right. The significant event in the Future History which I recall from 2012 (gawd, what a clause I just wrote!), was the Families conference that we hear about but never get to see. I think it's fairly contemporaneous with Scudder's rise. 2012 can't be the date of his fall, though. "Logic of Empire" comes far enough after the moon landing (in, um, '65?) for there to be well-established interplanetary travel. Scudder is mentioned as a rising prophet in that story.

#155 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2006, 08:31 AM:

(#80/153/154) The references that I have seen cite 2012 as the date for Scudder's rise to power. The revolt against him is much later in the century, say 2075 or so. If This Goes On-- is in the collection Revolt in 2100 after all.

#156 ::: J Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2006, 09:10 AM:

If Armitage was the one who outed Plame by accident, why didn't he announce it 2 years ago and save so much trouble?

#157 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2006, 09:41 AM:

#156: If Armitage was the one who outed Plame by accident, why didn't he announce it 2 years ago and save so much trouble?

That Armitage was Novak's source ultimately doesn't answer any questions. It's like saying, "Oh, we've found the murder weapon. We must have solved the murder." This piece of information doesn't (yet) have any bearing Cheney's and Libby's involvement with Valerie Plame and the people they tried to leak this information to. Perhaps Armitage is a red herring. Perhaps someone played him. Perhaps he's involved with Cheney et al. All of those scenarios are possible and none of them are answered by Armitage asserting that he told Novak by accident.

So I can understand why Fitzgerald asked him not to announce it. The mere fact that he told Novak doesn't answer any of the questions about the suspect behavior attributed to Cheney and Libby. The only question it answers for me is why Fitzgerald didn't go after Novak to get him to reveal his source. Fitzgerald already knew.

#158 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2006, 10:29 AM:

From what I've seen, Armitage knew that she worked for the CIA, and (apparently accidentally) told Novak, but didn't know more than that. The question is still, who told Novak what she was doing?

#159 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2006, 11:35 AM:

Albatross, in any normal time this would be huge, enormously damaging to US intelligence. It also is a direct betrayal of the ideals of the right, which may make it effective politically, in ways that much larger failings are not.

#160 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2006, 04:09 PM:

Outing a covert agent is illegal. As far as I know there is no specific law against botching an invasion.

#161 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2006, 12:04 AM:

Fitzgerald! Patrick Fitzgerald! I can't tell you how often I get that wrong.

TomB, you have to know they're covert for it to be illegal. Whoever wrote the memo Armitage saw didn't mark her as covert, so it goes back to that person, at least.

#162 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2006, 03:59 AM:

#160 TomB
as far as I know there is no specific law against botching an invasion..

The United States attacked Iraq without cause.

The Nuremberg Principles apply, and they are quite specific: the principal War Crime is "Crimes Against Peace", which are defined as:

(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;

(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).


Launching a war of aggression is viewed quite seriously under international law, as that is what sets in train all the the war crimes that follow. After WWII, the people responsible for launching a war of aggression were hanged for their participation.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al. bear personal responsibility for every war crime that has been committed in Iraq for the past 3 & 1/2 years.

#163 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2006, 08:12 AM:

#128: So what made the army change its mind between Caligula's plans and Claudius' invasion? Better planning on Claudius' part?

NelC, I am not a historian, but I understand that's about right. Following the arrival in Rome of a "Chalabi figure" from Britain, Adminius, Caligula seems to have lighted on Britain as a target of opportunity that would put him in the history books with his ancestor Caesar (cf. the two Bushes in Iraq). To do it, he pulled men and resources from more important operations going on in Germany, and he does not appear to have given a thought to what position these forces would be in to hold the country after he conquered it.

Claudius, by contrast, planned his invasion with the help of his kinsman and general, Aulus Plautius, for two years, committing more men and more money to it and to the subsequent occupation. He also spent the time preparing the political ground by securing the overt support of the Atrebates and the neutrality of the Iceni and as many of the other tribes as possible. In other words, he appears to have paid proper attention to "Phase IV" planning.

#164 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2006, 08:57 PM:

New T-Shirt design:

Question: Which one of these things is not like the other:

April 2002: Jose Bustani, opposing Iraq invasion to search for WMD's, fired from UN by efforts of Bush administration. Firing initiated by then Undersecatary John Bolton.

Dec 2002: Paul O'Neill and Lawrence Lindsay, estimating Iraq invasion will cost 6 time more than Administration predicts, are fired by Bush administration.

Feb 2003: General Shiseki, estimating the force needed to occupy Iraq after invasion is 4 times more than Administration predicts, made a lame duck by Bush administration

July 2003: Valerie Plame, wife of Joseph Wilson who disproved the Administration's major justification for invading Iraq, that Iraq sought Yellow cake from Niger, publicly outed from undercover assignment, ending her career, by the Bush administration.

March 2005: John Bolton, proving his allegiance to the Bush administration by getting Jose Bustani fired in 2002, is nominated by Bush administration to be U.N. Ambassador, despite having said in 1994 "There is no such thing as the United Nations."

Answer: The one not like the others is the outing of Valerie Plame because that one was actually illegal. The others are just tragedies.


#165 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2006, 08:02 PM:

Armitage said he assumed Plame's job was not a secret because it was included in a State Department memo.

But the Washington Post says the memo contained information "about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked "(S)" for secret"

So, Armitage is saying he didn't know the paragraph marked "(S)" for secret was in fact secret.

Maybe he thought "(S)" stood for "(S)hithead"

#166 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2006, 10:45 PM:

Greg, there may have been other Secret info in that paragraph. If it didn't say she was covert, he wouldn't know that.

#167 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2006, 01:22 AM:

Xopher, Caligula didn't cut the funding for the Roman legions and send them underequipped and understaffed against the recommendation of the more sane and realistic advisors and generals, to the other side of the planet on warmongering false pretenses to go after the fellow who tried to off his Daddy, after his Daddy unsuccessfully tried to eradicate the fellow his Daddy had then tried to eradicate.

#168 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2006, 12:25 PM:

there may have been other Secret info in that paragraph. If it didn't say she was covert, he wouldn't know that.

No offense, but that's a load of crap. If you get a document marked "Secret", that covers THE ENTIRE DOCUMENT. It isn't up to you to pick and choose what part of the document is secret and what is not. You treat it ALL as Classified Secret.

Armitage broke this cardinal rule. He said he assumed Plame's job was not a secret because it was included in a State Department memo. BUT THE MEMO WAS CLASSIFIED SECRET.

Armitage describes his conversation with Woodward:

Woodward said, 'Hey, what's the deal with Wilson?' and Armitage said, 'I think his wife works out there,'

Armitage described a more direct conversation with Novak. Novak said to Armitage, 'Why did the CIA send Ambassador Wilson to Niger?' Armitage said, 'I don't know, but his wife works out there.'

Neither Woodward or Novak knew Plame was Wilson's wife, nor did they know Plame worked for the CIA. Armitage volunteered this information.

That isn't how you handled classified information. If you know something from a document marked Secret, you never volunteer the information. You never confirm the information. Your job is to keep it secret.

If Woodward had asked "Is Wilson married to a CIA officer?" Armitage should have said "Even if I knew, I can't answer that".

But instead, Armatage was twice fished for information by reporters who didn't know the information, and Armitage gave them Secret information.

If he did it by accident, he is one of the sloppiest people I know and should have his clearance revoked permanently. He should also be charged with breaking the law for the simple fact that this happened THREE YEARS ago, he knew he was the one who leaked the information, and he didn't plug the leak by coming out immediately.


#169 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2006, 01:22 PM:

TNH '68: the Attic Greeks were drinking strong coffee

You mean the Attics were high?

And the way I remember it, Xenophon, suffering slightly from snow-blindness after the winter in the Armenian mountains, had just called out "Is that another bloody river I can see up ahead, or have we finally reached the Euxine Sea?" To which the Greek soldiers shouted "The latter! The latter!"

On a more serious note, it's worth remembering that dear old Edward Gibbon described the fall of the Roman Empire, in an entirely Memorable way, as "the shared triumph of barbarism and Christianity". Boy, does that sound familiar.

#170 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2006, 02:04 PM:

ajay #169: I thought Gibbon wrote 'the triumph of barbarism and religion', which seems pretty fair as those two horses are frequently yoked together.

#171 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2006, 08:13 PM:

Greg, just how much exposure have you had to classified documents? Paragraphs are marked the appropriate classification and the entire document is marked the highest of the paragraphs. It was a Secret document and her name and position were in a Secret paragraph. It may not have been the Secret thing in the paragraph. When an agent is covert, it will say that, not let you guess. (Also, although I don't know for sure with the CIA, Secret clearances are easy enough to come by that I doubt identifying an agent as covert is as low as Secret.)

Armitage hasn't had a clearance since he resigned in 2005 (right after Powell -- Bush thought Armitage was too liberal). He's on the board of ConocoPhilips.

He didn't talk to the public about telling Woodward & Novak because the special prosecutor asked him not to. The special prosecutor just gave him permission to do so.

#172 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2006, 08:31 PM:

When an agent is covert, it will say that, not let you guess.

Plame was covert. Therefore, by your claims, the memo must have indicated she was covert. RIGHT? Therefore Armitage knew her identity was secret. And he blew it anyway. Spilled the beans. blew her cover.

The only alternative I can think of is that the memo itself was improperly marked. At which point Armitage might get a pass, but the writer of the memo goes to jail, or turns around and fingers Cheney. Either one works for me.

Do tell what other possibility I'm missing.

#173 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2006, 05:21 AM:

Fragano - you're right. Obviously it wasn't that Memorable, given that I misquoted it. Hmmph.

#174 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2006, 11:12 PM:

Greg: 1) I think covert agent identity is a higher clearance than Secret. b) People can be identified as working for the CIA without being identified as covert. III) Her name and association with the CIA is not necessarily the Secret item in that paragraph.

I left out some document classification characteristics that wouldn't directly affect this situation to see if you knew them, and apparently you don't. I've managed a classified library as well as working with classified documents through most of my career. With the info we have, we cannot say whether Armitage knew she was covert or not. I suspect Fitzgerald might have charged him with something if he thought so, and he got to see all the documents.

#175 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 05:45 PM:

I never had a security clearance. I've worked on some classified projects, but always on the unclassified sections. I was always a temp contractor on these jobs, and at the time liked moving around the country, so I never pushed for one. This was back in the day when there were plenty of good paying jobs outside the firewall, so it didn't really matter to me either.

But none of that really matters.

What you're saying essentially is that this is an amazing coincidence that punished two highly placed people who were highly critical of the Bush administration, one publicly critical and one as part of her job at the CIA, during a time when the Bush administration punished four other highly placed people by firing them for disagreeing with them.

And I don't buy it. Your explanations about classified docments do not prove it a coincidence, nor do they change the overall weight of evidence. You have, at best, made room for the possibility of an error to have occurred on Armitage's part or the memo-writer's part. But none of that changes the fact that the day Novak outed Plame, Cheny probably bought a round of drinks for everyone down at the club.

And in politics, especially with some of the most scheming and coniving bastards in office I've ever seen, I do not believe in coincidences of this magnatude. I smell a rat.

And you can argue about the rules of classified information. My view of classified stuff was always along the lines of "even the walls have ears" and "loose lips sink ships". So, even though I never had a clearance, I tend to talk in generalities about the stuff I did where the project was classified.

I certainly wouldn't volunteer specific information to a reporter who clearly doesn't know it already. Armitage at the very least broke the idea of "even the walls have ears" and "loose lips sink ships". And yeah, he may not have broken the law, but given the pattern of the administration punishing dissidents by getting them fired, I smell a rat.

A rat, I tell you.

We'll just have to leave it at that.

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