Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Move along; no terror connection here

This article by Stephen F. Hayes in the Weekly Standard discusses the links between Saddam Hussein's regime and worldwide Islamicist terrorism revealed in some of the recently declassified Iraqi documents:

The Saddam Fedayeen also took part in the regime's domestic terrorism operations and planned for attacks throughout Europe and the Middle East. In a document dated May 1999, Saddam's older son, Uday, ordered preparations for "special operations, assassinations, and bombings, for the centers and traitor symbols in London, Iran and the self-ruled areas [Kurdistan]." Preparations for "Blessed July," a regime-directed wave of "martyrdom" operations against targets in the West, were well under way at the time of the coalition invasion.

Why has this news been such a relative non-event in the MSM? (And, is that a rhetorical question?) These documents have been slowly showing, in small dribs and dabs, a clear connection between Saddam's regime and terrorism (the earlier part of the article is all about Saddam's support for Abu Sayyaf, the al Qaeda-linked jihadist group in the Philippines).

Why is all of this considered so very ho-hum? Would it interrupt the preferred narrative? Is it too much to ask that the MSM should bring us news even if the information would challenge prior assumptions many in the MSM have been trying to promote? (And, once again, are these questions rhetorical?)


At 1:35 PM, April 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This in one case where I have to blame the Bush Administration. The MSM is hostile to him and therefore will not publicize this stuff on its own. Bush can not change this, but he can harp on such evidence so repeatedly that it can not be ignored.

He allowed his opponents to repeat "Bush lied" so often that it became conventional wisdom. He finally defended himself after most of the damage was done.

I'm beyond wondering why the MSM won't report this stuff and more concerned with what to do about it. I don't pretend to have the solution, but Bush seems to think that the problem is peripheral, when it very much is not.

At 1:38 PM, April 12, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

The Bunnies: excellent point. Bush cannot expect the MSM to do his work for him. I am at a loss to explain why the administration hasn't emphasized this news itself, but that is in line with their already lousy record at communicating their own successes.

At 2:34 PM, April 12, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

I agree with the bunnies. If Bush knew his ass from his propaganda, he would serve his country far better. So far, it's a non-issue. It's been too long, any "recalibrations" really don't matter anymore. This is closing the barn door after the horse has already gotten out. Damage control, when the truck is already dead. The operation was a success, although the patient died.

There is a shelf life on any intelligence value and upon propaganda operations as well. If you wait too long, something will come up (like Iran) and put the entire issue out of the public's mental battlespace. Once that occurs, you can no longer shift the propaganda fight back to the spot you wanted, you now have to fight in new Urban territory controled by the enemy. It is as if you were fighting defensively against an enemy, and he took Atlanta, then he took Richmond, then he is at the gates of Washington D.C. You cannot attack Atlanta and retake it, because Atlanta is in the past and the time for a counter-attack against it has passed. To get to the truth of Iraq, Bush has to retake all the territory the terroists and Democrats have gained on him in the time since. He can't reach into the enemy's back lines that far anymore, if ever he could.

If Bush were willing to employ guerrila tactics like the ones the terroists and Democrats have used in their propaganda war, then Bush can hit hard with the Iraq information as a raid. But Bush isn't willing to do so.

I'm beyond wondering why the MSM won't report this stuff and more concerned with what to do about it.

That's the right attitude to win any war, including propaganda wars. Always look outwards, for the new threat. For the damage you have received is irreparable, you must focus only on how much damage you will return upon the enemy the next you meet. Whether that be a thousand or a million fold or simply .5 fold.

The way I see it, Neo, Bush's problem is that he is honest. He will actually say what he believes to be the truth. This has the effect of doing bad things to American morale. Bush said he expected WMDs to be found. Okay, but maybe you should have lied Bush and told everyone not to expect WMDs even if you expected to find them yourself. Bush said things were going well in Iraq. Maybe you should have lowballed it, like the media did with the first Iraqi election. If you prepare the American people for the worst, then any victory will be great for morale. But if you always tell everyone to stay the course, it's going to be good... then you'd better win like 50 victories in one day to keep up the morale. Kind of hard to do with IEDs going off.

I think one reason why Bush doesn't emphasize this information is because Bush doesn't believe the government should be conducting propaganda, that instead the free press should be Bush's interlocutor with the American people in such affairs.

Because I believe the government's duty is to conduct propaganda in war time, Bush and I are at a philosophical disagreement. And Bush's philosophical disagreement is producing 33% approval ratings.

Remember that Bush released the NID to Libby, and Libby got it to a reporter. When Bush wants to get information out to the public, he either uses the white house website or he uses reporters. Reporters that nobody knows, of course, but reporters. Re. Por. Ters. Just in case nobody noticed. Bush thought that he could defend himself against the lies of this dude sipping sea in Niger with the same reporters that were on this guy's side... horrible, horrendously horrible.

You really have to ask, what is Bush smoking. Why didn't he just get on a podium and destroy this dude lying to the American people about sipping tea in Niger. Why doesn't Bush use his Presidential powers to protect the AMerican people from foreign and domestic enemy propaganda? Why didn't Bush call Mr. CIA Covert Agent Husband of Plame a liar and a traitor, as the evidence proved?

Bush just doesn't pay attention to this kind of stuff, really. It is not good precedent to let someone like the husband of Valerie Plame unfettered in your trench lines. It's either you or him, and it looked like Bush took the bullet. A few thousand times that is. (Bush got eviscerated on lying about niger yellow cake for months, Bush got eviscerated about outing Valerie Plame for months, Bush got eviscerated for leaking information, Bush got eviscerated for havingLibby leak Valerie)

If you don't kill the infection now, you're going to lose the entire arm. Bush just isn't bloodthirsty nor viciousness enough to kill the infection however. Regardless of whether it is Iran or some American hack.

Clinton was a master at leaking stuff to the press. It works because Clinton destroyed anyone who betrayed his confidences. Clinton was vicious and bloodthirsty enough (at least bloodthirsty for attention). Clinton is the classical example of great talent wasted on stupid frivolities.

It would be as if Abraham Lincoln had went to the Democrats and became President of the Confederacy.

The war party potential of the Democrats is high. Too bad "war party" means throwing Americans into the meat grinder for no result whatsoever.

At 6:39 PM, April 12, 2006, Blogger Tom Grey said...

Bush should be honestly saying the MSM seems to prefer hurting him AND helping terrorists, rather than telling the whole truth.

And review the untruths of the media.
Again and again.

Blame the media for people feeling bad about Iraq. Yes, there is still violence and killing -- but the Dem alternative is, um, Darfur. "Genocide", but not really, with ineffective words of the ICC (or UNSC) rather than real action for justice.

Justice is violent; not peaceful. And not just talk.

It's good that Saddam was booted; those against the war were against him being booted -- were in favor of him staying.

Bush ... certainly a failure in PR. His policies quite good.

At 12:07 AM, April 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today the Administration blasted ABC and some other news source for misleading the public about the latest "scandal," which was a nice start. However, if the pattern continues, they'll drop the topic as soon as the press does.

With "Bush lied" we heard that he lied forever and ever and ever. Bush refuted this. The moderate opposition dropped the topic.

Instead, Bush should have launched a counter-offensive, calling out the liars on their lies, changing the topic from "Bush lied" to "the Democrats and press lied" for a week or two.

When he doesn't do that and the subject is simply dropped, then the last thing most people have heard is only that Bush lied. Joe Wilson should not only have been refuted, but attacked until his duplicity became the entirety of the story.

This indeed smacks of Clintonism; Clinton did that stuff to save his own behind. Isn't the War on Terror just as important?

At 7:50 AM, April 13, 2006, Blogger Jack Trainor said...

My take is that Bush's inaction on the PR front is, like the Iraq War itself, the less worse alternative given the hostility he faces in the MSM and, as it turns out, in the State Dept and CIA as well.

If Bush had taken on the full-time job of rebutting the MSM and Democrats while the State Dept and CIA worked behind his back, it could have escalated into something much worse than we see today.

Bush is focused on producing results in Iraq and letting those results speak for themselves. Maybe it is the wrong call. Maybe it is just Bush's nature to avoid public squabbling and the risk of appearing weak and self-serving. Maybe what's going on with Iran in the near future will make all this seem trivial.

I don't know, but although I find it frustrating, I do see some wisdom in Bush's letting the MSM battles slide while he fights a larger war.

At 10:06 AM, April 13, 2006, Blogger Van said...

I see both the right and left wing media watch groups attacking the same media figures for different reasons, i.e. Kattie Couric.

She is vilified on News Busters as being a friend to the left and she is critiized on Media Matter as a news analyst who misses opportunities - blah, blah, blah.

There's no conspiracy here. The press is always slow to pick up on these stories, especially since there is such a corporate influence in the MSM nowadays.
Historically stories like this usually have to gain a lot of traction before the MSM will even consider reporting them, now it's even worse with profits being so important.
How long did the MSM press ignore the Watergate Scandal?

I find the mainstream media complicit to the needs of their share holders, not so much the right or left.

Be patient.
As a liberal, I want to know the truth about these documents too. I'm sure that there will be more revelations to come, but bashing the media over this is about as useful as screaming at a wall.

Anyway, thanks for this post, I'll be looking for some clarity on this issue now.

At 10:45 AM, April 13, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Bush could gut the CIA and State. The whole system is setup so that the Executive is 1/3rd of the government. Having bureacrats control 3/4ths of the 1/3rd Executive is not a good idea, regardless of any gains Bush thinks he is making. There comes a point when people has got to go, they need to get fired, and Bush is not good at firing people.

In a weird sort of dichotomy Trump is ruthless enough to fire people at a moment's notice if he doesn't like their performance, but Trump isn't even ruthless enough to support OIF or the Iraq Guerrila War, while Bush is. So there's an interesting dichotomy going on between political infighters like Trump and war leaders like Bush, in their policies.

This is of course, separate from non-important figures like Katie Couric.

At 1:02 PM, April 13, 2006, Blogger Jack Trainor said...

True. Bush could gut the CIA and the State Dept.

Bush could take any number of drastic measures if he wished, but even the President faces repercussions for his actions and even the President must build support for policies in the country and within the government

The Iraq War, once past the invasion, has not been a popular war. It's cost much blood and treasure. There has been good progess but it's been three years and that's a long time for the American public.

I think Bush knows his limits and picks his battles carefully.

At 1:30 PM, April 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my experience the Bush administration doesn't trumpet these amazing bits of evidence of a "clear connection" you guys find on the internet because they haven't been properly confirmed. See this from the 3rd paragraph in Hayes' article:

"According to this source, the documents had been examined by the U.S. intelligence community and judged "consistent with authentic documents"--the professionals' way of saying that these items cannot definitively be certified but seem to be the real thing."

But then again, Bush was talking about the "WMD trailers" and uranium shopping sprees in Nigeria after he knew those had been discredited, so who really knows.

Also, I can think of a few other rhetorical questions for you:

I can't help but note that these papers came to the Weekly Standard from an unnamed "senior U.S. government official." Aren't we supposed to be mistrustful of unnamed sources?

The original documents have been posted by the government on the web. Why won't this official stand behind those translations? And I wonder why he handed them over to Hayes at the Weekly Standard and not, say, the editors of The Wall Street Journal?

At 5:53 PM, April 13, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

One of the reasons why it hasn't been a popular war, when polls before OIF was at 60% supporta nd 68% support when statues fell, is because Bush hasn't personally destroyed the career bureacrats in State and CIA. Bush can get a lot of support from the grassroots of the intel community, NSA and SF for example, if he took their side irrevocably. Loyalty goes both ways in humanity. If CIA ain't loyal to you, why should you be loyal to the CIA and have them keep a job leaking stuff for their careers.

We forget perhaps, that the American people elected Bush, not Tenet and the CIA, the NSA, or anyone else in the bureacracy. We forget, that whatever repercussions Bush will take in firing bureacrats, he will take more damage being on the defensive (Think 9/11) than in taking the offensive and assaulting a strong point, regardless of the casualties.

Classical assault theory states that if you go through with an assault and move through the defensive fire, you will take casualties but you will for the most part, avoid most of the casualties once you have taken the beachhead. The more you try to dig in under massive fire, the more you are surrounded and beaten into a pulp. Launching himself against the CIA and the State and the bureacrats is dangerous, but far less dangerous than doing nothing and having your approval polls say "33 %".

Most Americans would love to see people in government get fired. Bush'll probably get 5% pts for every person he fires. Blood and treasure has never been an obstacle America could not overcome. It is the psychological depression and attacks that are the problem, the feeling of helplessness. That destroys more people than any bomb.

As Unknown Blogger knows, most people couldn't care less about Bush trumpeting "facts". The internet is for facts, Bush was elected so he could viciously savage the incompetent Democrats and raise support for American foreign policy abroad. The American public has plenty of facts, what they need is morale boosting uber-patriotism, ala Roosevelt. The State of the Union is for facts, the Presidency is for leadership. It ain't no John Kerry-Yale Debate Team Competition that is for sure.

When there is a will there is a way. When there is a fact, there is a lawyer, which is not the way.

At 6:05 PM, April 13, 2006, Blogger Jack Trainor said...

Ymarsakar -- I find your digression into Classical Assault Theory interesting, but I don't trust it as the final wisdom on government infighting.

Maybe Bush has called this one wrong, but I see no reason to suppose that an all-out assault would succeed either. It might well backfire horribly too. I do know that it would soak up much energy in his administration, and that energy might be better used as it is.

At 6:27 PM, April 13, 2006, Blogger Jack Trainor said...

Unknown Blogger -- I'm inclined to agree that one reason Bush doesn't press ahead on the terror connection is that the evidence so far is not the slam-dunk that would indisputably settle the issue.

However, those who oppose Bush, such as yourself, are pretty incautious when it comes to their claims. The evidence for the Niger uranium and the biological weapons trailers is strong. The claim you repeat that Bush knew they had been discredited when he said them has been refuted again and again, not that it matters to Bush's detractors, hence the frustration in this topic.

See two recent links here and here

At 1:57 PM, April 14, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

If Bush was pushing along with unilateral military operations and coalition of the willing in the world, then I might agree that pushing off the bureacratic excesses onto the next generation of political leaders and Presidents would be a good idea. But Bush isn't. Isn't doing a unilateral strategy, that is.

Because Bush chose to do multilateral strategy, which takes time and political effort, Bush cannot really afford to let people like Plame or her husband loose doing sabotage operations that he can stop with his power.

Multilateral strategies require support, specifically public support and international support. It is hard to get that when you allow the enemy or domestic opponents to win propaganda victory after propaganda victory.

If Bush was doing unilateral policies like air strikes and unilateral blockades and sanctions, then Bush would be correct to concentrate his efforts on future operations rather than his logistics lines. If Bush is on the attack, then his offense pushes the enemy so far back that they can't reach his logistics. Because Bush has chosen a defensive strategy, Bush needs to fortify and dig in. He cannot Not dig in, and Not attack. He has to do one or the other. Fortify up, or attack. He does neither.

Bush has 2 years to attack Iran unilaterally. If he continues with multilateral strategies, they will be as successful as his multilateral strategies in NK were. Meaning, a failure.

In certain affairs your energies should be devoted in such a way that they produce synergy. THey have to offset each other's weaknesses and promote the strengths in unified fashion.

You can't decide you're on the "attack" and deplete your forces by spreading them around your back lines. If you want to attack, you must devote your energies to the attack force, not the defense force.

On the other hand, if you want to defend, you should fortify up and concentrate your force into the Defense, and not spread them out where they may be defeated in detail by the enemy's attacking force.

Bush has decided on the defense strategy politicaly and militaristically, both in Iraq and in Iran. Tactically the military is on the offensive in Iraq, but strategically Bush pulls the strings.

Because Bush has decided on a defense strategy, Bush has to concentrate his force or at least have them close enough for mutual support. Because Bush sends a lot of his energy on stuff that doesn't matter in the defense, like Social Security and not Border security; as well as talking to Old Europe and giving them legitimacy to negotiate with Iran, it tends to spread his forces and thus his energy thin.

A lot of this wouldn't matter if this was peace time, but you really can't afford to scramble your assets in orientation in war.

Iraq is an offensive asset and strategic location. Brought about by an offensive strategy. Using Iraq as a defensive point of interest, is not a good idea. Because it inadequately makes use of territory won. Either we are on the offensive or we are not, and Bush's confusion over this matter wastes more of his energy than any concentrated attack or defense ever would.


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