Thursday, February 17, 2011

Iraq War Propaganda Involved Crimes

I'm really not a big fan of conspiracy theories. But sometimes conspiracies occur. A concocted crime would naturally occur in secret, right? That's all a conspiracy is.

It's one thing for people in government that favor a certain policy to spin things in their favor. But it's quite another for them to knowingly attempt to deceive or fabricate material to form a basis for a favored policy. Important disclosures, including recent disclosures, do seem to suggest that this is what has happened with regards to the war in Iraq.

We've known about a key fraud for a long time. Saddam was supposedly suspected of having a nuclear weapons program. The key evidence was certain documents coming out of Niger which suggested Saddam was attempting to acquire uranium. The IAEA was able to dismiss them as crude forgeries in a matter of hours using nothing more than a google search. Still, Bush presented this in his State of the Union address to the American people as if it was a reasonable basis for a conclusion about Saddam's nuclear program. Cheney just prior to the invasion in an interview with Tim Russert still sustained his claim about the nuclear program despite the IAEA. Now that the fraud is acknowledged by all our Justice Department doesn't seem interested in figuring out who was responsible? Even Congressman Henry Waxman has requested an explanation. Why was this evidence presented to me when you would had to have known it was a fraud? This was the basis for my vote authorizing war. This is a big deal. Bush wasn't interested. Why? This is a crime of huge consequence.

This week we learned of another fraud. The defector referred to as Curveball has admitted that he lied about all kinds of things, including this claim about roving biological weapons vans, a claim that made it into Collin Powell's speech at the UN presenting the case for war. It was also used by Bush in his State of the Union. And he tells us that they knew he was making it all up back in 2000.

The third is the anthrax scare. This was linked to Saddam in the media after 9/11 and it was used to induce fear and support for war. After the invasion we learned that Saddam was not involved. The crime was attributed to an American, but that turned out to be false and the suspect was awarded millions in damages due to the FBI's efforts to pursue him. The FBI then directed our attention to another American, now deceased. Recent revelations from the National Academy of Sciences now suggest that attributing the crime to this now deceased individual has no basis in fact. See the details here.

Why is the FBI going after innocent people so aggressively but resisting calls for an independent investigation that could lead to the real perpetrators? And oh by the way this crime, falsely attributed to Saddam in an effort to create public support for war, served the interests of the same war mongering crowd that perpetuated the two above frauds.

We already have the documentation showing that intelligence was being fixed around the war policy. That's a virtual admission to a crime. Does "fixing the intelligence" mean sending anthrax or crafting crude forgeries? Could be. We would need an investigation though to know. But our government seems unwilling to pursue that investigation. What does that tell you?


HispanicPundit said...

I still think it was reasonable to think that Saddam had WMD's. Why? Three reasons:

1. Richard Clarke, Bush's former chief of counterterrorism, whom the anti-war movement gets alot of their criticism from - still maintains that he believed Saddam had, or was close to developing, WMD's.

2. The FBI interview of Saddam showed that Saddam himself wanted to create this image. He saw it as a check against Iran.

And as long as that belief was reasonable, I continue to believe the invasion of Iraq was a reasonable decision.

Paul said...

LOL - you mention three reasons and then give two.

If you have a false belief you are *not* justified in your actions unless you have done due diligence in your investigation. The W administration did not and I'd argue was proactive in manipulating the system to show a desired result.

Paul said...

And my position was/is that even if Saddam had WMD the war would still have been unjustified.

WMD was a means to an (desired) end.

HispanicPundit said...

3. Most other countries also believed it.

I was going to post that, but then decided against it. But I post it now for completion.

Paul said...


Jon said...

Yeah, but that's not really the point. HP, you are an extremist. There are others like you. Rush. Bill Kristol. The kind of people that say if the Palestinians so much as raise their heads they should be bombed. Voting the wrong way in a free election means you should be bombed. You are an extremist, so you're ready to go to war as soon as your mentors at National Review say you should. Which is often.

The American people generally don't agree, and this is a problem for politicians. To create the extremely modest support for the war that did exist (less than 50% of Americans) it was necessary to create the widely held false impression that Saddam was directly involved in 9/11. It was necessary to "fix" the intelligence around the story. What did fixing entail? Crimes? It seems to me that it did. You'd go anyway, sure. But does this appearance of criminal activity in the propaganda effort bother you?

And I'm starting to have my doubts about the CIA's actual beliefs regarding WMD. Apparently Rumsfeld and company did have to create another Team B situation to get the answers they wanted. They had to disregard the actual analysts. I understand Tenet was told to go create the reports and just make sure they replicated what was contained in Cheney's August speech prior to the vote in 2002. He agreed because he's a sycophant. Cheney had to head over to the CIA for repeated arm twisting sessions because he didn't want to hear what he was being told. So there's questions on what the CIA actually thought, depending on who within the CIA you asked (sycophants or honest people). This is something I need to explore.

That you support the war despite the lies is not surprising. The question is do the lies and potential crimes bother you?

Jon said...

Which FBI interviews suggest Saddam wanted to create this image that he had WMD? I think it's probably true, but I'm just curious to see it.

This summary says he refutes claims about his WMD programs to the FBI agents, but it doesn't mention Iranian perceptions. The full interviews are located at this site as well.

Anybody in his position would want to create that impression, so it's a meager basis for a claim. We had inspectors there after all.

Also it might be worth sourcing Clarke's claim and the claims of other governments. Again, I'm not denying what you say, but I find that looking at the source is helpful and often fixes false impressions. Don't just repeat what you've heard. That will get you in trouble.

HispanicPundit said...

Everybody is an extremist to you Jon. You won't support any war - even WWII, though I think now you finally came around to supporting it (I wonder how much of that is due to political pressure - to staying relevant).

So of course I look like an extremist - from your position.

Regarding Saddam: they did a two hour special on National Geographics channel - one on one interviews with the actual FBI agent that interviewed him. See here.

I mean, if Saddam himself wanted others to think he had WMD's, how are we supposed to think otherwise??

Regarding Richard Clarke, see here. The pertinent quote:

JB: Do you believe the administration believed the intelligence on Iraqi WMD?

RC: We all believed Saddam had WMD. What I kept saying was: So what?. They said he could give it to terrorists. But I said he's not that stupid. If he gave WMD to terrorists he would lose power. The question was: Is there an imminent threat or had we contained him? And I thought we had successfully contained him. I didn't see it as a first-tier issue.

Notice his strong language....we ALL believed Saddam had WMD's. And this interview was in 2004, long after the Iraq war started. Of course the left will quote Richard Clarke when it benefits them, but ignore him when it contradicts them.

Jon said...

You look like an extremist from the position that extremist means the extreme minority position. Prior to the invasion we had 39% support for the invasion without UN approval but with the support of a major ally. But that's with all the illusions. That's with something like 69% thinking Saddam was involved in 9/11. That's with scaring everyone with anthrax. That's with concocting evidence to support claims about a nuclear weapons program. Strip away the false hoods and that 39% drops. You stay. Rush stays. David Frum stays. Victor Davis Hanson, Ann Coulter, David Horowitz. The die hard Bush supporters that don't deviate no matter what. You're in that group. You're not extreme to me because everyone is extreme to me. I'm in the non-extreme camp. Something like 75% of the population. Don't you think this makes you an extremist? Don't shy away from it. It's what you are. Maybe you are right. Be proud of it. Maybe we're all wrong. But I don't think you can deny that you are an extremist.

Mainstream was Paul's view. Yeah, he probably has WMD. And so what? It's not worth a war.

If Saddam wanted us to think he had weapons then how are we supposed to think otherwise? That's the CIA's job. Get past whatever deceptions they are trying to offer and get to the truth. The Soviet's wanted us to think they were formidable. The CIA's job, which they did pretty well absent Team B, was to say no. They're nothing as compared to us. Doesn't matter what kind of parades they have.

Doesn't look like I can watch the National Geographic show. Do you have anything accessible or did you happen to watch the show and this was your impression?

And you haven't seen me say that Bush and Co didn't believe Saddam had WMD. I've always believed that they did believe that. So the Clarke quote is not surprising. I'm interested to explore the angle above, where there was a Team B situation, arm twisting from Cheney, etc, but even that is not a denial that Saddam was believed to have WMD. I wouldn't be shocked if they believed he had a nuclear program. Cheney might not be lying. It's more that he sees what he wants to see and figures the ends justify the means, so if he has to manufacture evidence to achieve what he regards as noble ends then he might do that.

HispanicPundit said...

But I didn't support the war then either. My support for the Iraq war jumped pretty much at the point where France and Germany made it clear that they would not support a UN resolution in support of Iraq. Those three or so days before the war. Thats when I, and I would argue, the majority of Americans supported the Iraq war.

Or take Afghanistan...I've been in favor of exit for a while now. I dont have a problem being the extreme, but in this case, I would say I am pretty close to the center (though admittedly on the right).

Regarding the NatGeo on the tab that says "video". It shows a snippet of the interview process that makes it clear that Saddam wanted the world to think he had WMD's.

The Richard Clarke view is stronger than what you give it credit for. I am arguing more than merely Bush and Co thought Saddam had WMD's. I am arguing that a reasonable person who looks closely at the evidence would also conclude he had WMD's. Richard Clarke seems to imply the same. ANd he is no Bush goon either. He is clearly not afraid to speak against Bush in other areas.

So when he says "we ALL believed Saddam had WMD's", I take him at his word. Atleast all reasonable people.

Jon said...

So you're support jumped during a few day period and you think Americans did as well and your evidence OK. Doesn't change the fact that you are an extremist. The Bush faithful. Here's the polls from today. 33%. That's it. And many of them probably don't know about the deceptions and crimes. I don't think it would matter to most of them. These are the religious dogmatists. Bush loving no matter what. Limbaugh, Coulter, Dutko, etc.

I'm making this point to get you to address my actual question. It doesn't matter that you support it no matter what. You're an extremist. What I'm interested to know is, do the crimes and deceptions bother you?

Perhaps a reasonable person, unaware of potential Cheney arm twisting out of the CIA, unaware that Tenet was directed to create an intelligence report that said exactly what Cheney wanted it to say, unaware that anthrax was a hoax, and perhaps vaguely aware of a claim about Saddam attempting to acquire uranium out of Niger, might have believed Saddam had WMD. Someone like Richard Clarke and the Bush inner circle. But I think there was a lot of willfull blindness. Also a culture at the CIA that rewarded people for seeing threats when there were none.

But that's something I need to explore. What I'm more interested to know is, what are your thoughts on the content of my blog post here? The lies and potential crimes. That's a big deal, don't you think? These are people you trust. I trusted them, but no longer.

HispanicPundit said...

We've already discussed this before, remember? Either there were no polls taken then or you and I can't find them. But that is the important date, IMHO. A failure of the pollsters, I guess. Before then I didn't too much support the war, or at most did so tepidly, after then, I supported it completely. To know if my views are outside of the mainstream we would have to show what the general public also believed during those three days or so...but there are no polls?

You ask: What I'm interested to know is, do the crimes and deceptions bother you? Sure. I've always believed politicians are scum. Of all parties. Power hungry people who will do anything to maintain and get more power. It doesn't surprise me. This is precisely why I try to limit their power. But I dont think it much changes my views of the war. I'm sure there were lies and deceptions leading up to WWII as well, but they would merely only add to an already solid case of going to war.

With that said, I do want to make it clear that if we knew then what we know now, I don't think the war would have been justified. If Saddam really didn't have WMD's, then there is no immediate threat. And the pre-emptive strike would have been immoral.

Regarding Richard Clarke, if your conspiracy is to hold water, it would have to be far more encompassing than what you give it. Richard Clarke was in counterterrorism long before Cheney became VP. Politicians, including the administration before Bush, were saying Saddam was close to, or probably already had WMD's, long before Bush and Co. You have no reason to believe that Richard Clarke suddenly got fooled by Cheney. He seems to have believed it for a long time before 9/11 or the Iraq war.

Jon said...

You say it bothers you, but really I can't see that it does. You can say "Oh sure, politicians deceive, so what?" But when I look at what this has wrought I can't see being as supportive of them as you are generally.

I just watched a documentary called "War Made Easy". I recommend it. A scene where an Iraqi family was ordered from their home at gunpoint almost brought tears to my eyes. A beautiful girl, maybe 7 or 8, choking back tears as she raised her arms at gunpoint. Her powerless father looking on. This is only a tiny fraction of what they've done to these people. They lied and engaged in crimes against us in order to brutalize these people in this way. The word "outrage" does not do it justice, especially with the fact that I voted for them because I believed them. It's sickening really.

HispanicPundit said...

Well that's the hope Jon. That things will be better in Iraq long term. It's not like life was full of roses and dreams before the invasion - Saddam was also brutal to his people. Atleast now there is hope for democracy.

HispanicPundit said...

Think West Germany after WWII. The Marshall Plan. South Korea after the Korean war. etc.

Jon said...

In Iraq Saddam was imposed on them in the late 50's by the US. He worked for the CIA. His grip on power was sustained by US weaponry, just like in Egypt. In 1991 there was an uprising that probably would have overthrown him. That was crushed with US assistance. Then the sanctions were imposed which experts say made the population less able to overthrow him as they became more dependent on him. Then came the 2003 invasion. The US tried to block elections. Mass popular protests resulted in the people earning some semblance of a vote, which the US then took credit for. Even still the US blocks the present government's ability to follow popular will. Hope for democracy? The US has blocked democracy every step of the way. For you to suggest that this war is about hope for democracy is a strange Orwellian use of the term. Hope for democracy would have been backing off the sanctions and not invading. Not imposing Saddam. Not allowing him to crush the rebellion. Hope today means our military leaving.

HispanicPundit said...

One more point on this before I let it go:

Just because deceptions were shown doesn't mean deceptions were intentionally put forward with some form of malice. Most of these politicians, with time, I believe, truly become convinced of the views they hold. Rarely are they doing it out of truly evil political calculus. Most of the time its justified on some moral ground in their head...then they work towards it.

So Bush and Co probably, honestly, believed that Saddam was a threat that needed to be removed. Some of the evidence for that was strong. Some was weak. They presented it all. And probably believed it all.

It's kinda like your Coca-Cola kills people discussion here. Upon further inspection, the evidence of such claims turned out to be dubious. Why did you fall for it so easily? Well, because it fit your paradigm so well. It just made sense with your a priori knowledge of corporations. It doesnt mean you intentionally mislead us.

With that said, it seems logical to me that Bush and Co took the most basic fact about Saddam (Iraq had WMD's) in a new era of terrorism, mixed in with several other small bits of information, and believed Saddam was a threat. Everything else just fit with his prior knowledge.

Jon said...

I agree with you on that. I'm sure Bush and Co believed their own rhetoric. So did Hitler I suppose. I'm not immune to bias. Keep in mind that on Coke I merely said that if I had to place a bet I'd think they were guilty. That's a modest claim and DagoodS disagrees based on the evidence as he sees it. Reasonable people can disagree on whether or not the believability rises to the 50% threshold. I'd point out that a fact finding inquiry found that I was right. So I would say this is an example of your tendency to see the evidence in a pro-corporate manner reflecting your own pro-corporate bias. Not that this is conclusive, but I still would take the bet. I think this is an example of my bias you'd have to know I was wrong and we don't know that yet.

But that is a natural tendency and not evil. The point here though is this. Would you commit crimes to persuade people to support a policy that you genuinely thought was right? Some people take their bias and decide that the ends justify the means. I think Saddam should be overthrown so I might send anthrax to US citizens in order to create support for my policy. Fox News probably genuinely thinks Ron Paul is a bad guy, so they knowingly deceive their viewers into thinking people at CPAC booed when he was announced the winner this year. They did this by splicing in last year's reaction, which happened to have been packed with Romney supporters. This year's group cheered pretty strongly. You can check it out here. There's a pervasive culture on the right of saying that deception for the cause is fine.

Jon said...

Meant to say "I think TO KNOW this is an example of my bias you'd have to know I was wrong and we don't know that yet."

BTW, I notice the non-response to the point on democracy.

HispanicPundit said...

Deception for the cause is definitely bad.

Btw, I already knew Ron Paul was applauded strongly at CPAC. I learned it while watching Fox News. Seriously.

Jon said...

You saw the deception live on Fox News? Or are you saying they retracted and explained and you saw that? Because what they ran showed people booing.