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Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Blair too calls for WMD inquiry

A reporter based in London contacted me today asking whether I thought Tony Blair's call for a commission to investigate the WMD intelligence would satisfy his public and the war critics.

Here's my reply (it was an email exchange, and I've edited a little):

An inquiry into pre-war WMD intelligence may not help Blair much more than the Hutton investigation already should have. After all, unlike his counterparts in the Bush administration, Blair has now been cleared of charges that he inflated intelligence. The current question is whether the intelligence itself was sound. Hutton avoided that specific point.

If the inquiry proceeds quickly, and reaches "bureaucratic" conclusions (i.e., the intelligence agencies did a good job based on what was available, but they need more money and human agents in places like Iraq), then a new inquiry might bring closure that will allow Blair and Britain to "move on." Critics may not be fully satisfied, but the public would probably be forgiving.

However, Blair's long-term popularity has been partly based on technocratic skills. He made the trains run on time, as the saying goes. If his technocrats failed on something so important as war and WMD, then Blair's political strengths might be weakened significantly.

In the US, the congressional majority and the weapons inspector (David Kay) are both blaming the intelligence agencies for failure. However, Bush officials still face charges by critics (Democrats and former intelligence officers like the State Department's Greg Thielmann) that they "cherry picked" worst-case scenarios and thereby inflated the threat for public consumption.

It remains possible that new revelations in a US inquiry could travel across the Atlantic and damage Blair as well. That seems unlikely, but it could happen. Much will likely depend upon whether the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans is carefully scrutinized.

One other wildcard in these investigations is the pre-war work of the IAEA and the failure of the US and UK to acknowledge their conclusions. ElBaradei testified in March 2003, "After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapon program in Iraq." In this speech, he dismissed the aluminum tubes and disclosed the forged documents about uranium imports from Africa. At the time, lots of war critics thought it devastated the case for war.

If this IAEA work should become a major issue in the UK again, because of the failure to work within the UN process, the issue will not go away and Blair will continue to face dissent. Unlike Bush, Blair faces the defection of his political base, which would tend to be skeptical about the use of force, pro-UN, and supportive of arms control inspections.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Did Colin Powell Jump Off the Sinking Ship?

In a story in Tuesday morning's Washington Post, Colin Powell admits that he might not have supported war against Iraq if he had known then that they did not have WMD.
Asked if he would have recommended an invasion knowing Iraq had no prohibited weapons, Powell replied: "I don't know, because it was the stockpile that presented the final little piece that made it more of a real and present danger and threat to the region and to the world." He said the "absence of a stockpile changes the political calculus; it changes the answer you get."
Of course, through most of the interview, Powell defended the administration's actions.

Powell's emphasizes on several occasions that Saddam Hussein had the intent to acquire WMD.

I'm sure there are lots of states, terrorists, and gangsters worldwide who might want an atomic bomb. That doesn't mean they can get one.

Hussein had scientists who knew how to make WMD, asserts Powell -- and this is true. But crude chemical and biological weapons are not that difficult to make. A state with a pesticide factory has WMD potential by this standard -- as does a university with a strong chemistry department. Iraq had no nuclear program, had not done anything since 1998, and could not have produced a mushroom cloud this decade.

Heck, assume this -- the intelligence was wrong.

Regardless of why the Bush people believed what they say they believed, Iraq did not have WMD.

But now that the US knows Iraq did not have WMD, why are administration officials still pretending Saddam Hussein was a threat?

Sunday, February 01, 2004

The Bush Doctrine is Dead

On "Fox News Sunday" today, David Kay declared that the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war is dead.

Specifically, Kay said that a preemption strategy depends upon strong intelligence and the US obviously didn't have that in Iraq. AP ran this story (and I got it from yahoo):
Flawed intelligence undermines the Bush administration's policy of striking first if U.S. interests are threatened, the former chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq said Sunday.

"If you cannot rely on good, accurate intelligence that is credible to the American people and to others abroad, you certainly cannot have a policy of pre-emption," David Kay said. While the United States always has reserved the right of a first strike, President Bush has elevated the strategy of pre-emption to a central part of his foreign policy doctrine.

"Pristine intelligence, good accurate intelligence is a fundamental bedstone of any sort of policy of pre-emption to be even thought about," Kay told "Fox News Sunday."

Kay said that until it is clear how prewar intelligence about Iraq's cache of banned weapons ended up being off the mark, the public will be dubious of claims by the government that Iran, North Korea (news - web sites) or Syria, for instance, pose grave dangers.

"I think most of us would have greater doubts," Kay said. "I would hope even the president would have greater doubts until we understand the fundamental causes" of the flawed intelligence.
The National Security Strategy document from September 2002 acknowledges that preemption relies upon "timely, accurate information on threats, wherever they may emerge." NSS 2002 even says the US must "coordinate closely with allies to form a common assessment of the most dangerous threats."

This has profound implications for policy. As the authors of NSS 2002 wrote:
"Legal scholars and international jurists often conditioned the legitimacy of preemption on the existence of an imminent threat—most often a visible mobilization of armies, navies, and air forces preparing to attack."
The French were right. Domestic anti-war activists were right -- and the Bush Doctrine is dead.

Update: I found a transcript excerpt on the Fox News website. Kay was even more critical of the Bush administration than I first thought. Look at this Q&A with Chris Wallace:
WALLACE: Let's look at the other side of it, though, the second part. Did the president and his top officials hype the intelligence that they were told?

I have read the parts of the National Intelligence Estimate that were declassified in October of 2002. And let's take a look at part of it.

The State Department said it could not find a compelling case that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons. And yet, we were never told that by the administration.

KAY: Well, I think that's true. There are caveats that clearly dropped out, dissenting opinions that clearly dropped out, as you moved higher up and people read the headline summaries.
But Kay attempts to explain away the State Department's (people like Greg Thielmann) correct reading -- Iraq had no nukes, and was not a serious WMD threat.
WALLACE: But explain that. If, in fact, there was a dissenting opinion in this particular case about whether Saddam Hussein was developing nuclear weapons. Here was the State Department coming out in the National Intelligence Estimate and saying, "You know, we can't make a case for this." Why was it that it was dropped out?

That's a fairly serious thing, if there was a difference of opinion at the analyst level, but at the top officials level there wasn't that reflection.

KAY: Well, I think what you will find, as we walk back through that process, is the State Department, after all, has no operatives in the field. It's an analysis shop. That, in fact, the bulk, the CIA, DIA analyst, who actually have direct contact with collection, thought, in fact, there was a program there.

I think we've got two things to look at: How did the bulk of the analysts come to a conclusion that turns out to be wrong? And what is the process for feeding to top-level decisionmakers both the majority opinion and caveats, minority opinions, as they exist? Clearly there were failures on both.

Saturday, January 31, 2004

Ah, to be rich and famous

I'm a baseball fan -- but not one of those guys in his forties carefully tracking all the active major leaguers as old as he is. Note: those guys are taking a hit now that Jesse Orosco is apparently retiring.

I'm also not one of those people who wishes he had made a career of baseball. I'm a fan, who is mostly satisfied by following the game in the paper, on-line, and on TV. Indeed, with the development of the web and daily game broadcasts, it is more fun than ever to be this kind of fan.

Fantasy baseball is also an amusing distraction when my team (KC) is bad, which occurs with great frequency.

In any case, I'm also not really jealous of country singer Garth Brooks, who will be attending Royals spring training.

But I do question why the guy needs to bat in exhibition games to promote his charity.

Apparently, he's helped raise $37 million for children from athletes over the past 5 years. Great.

But Brooks is 1 for 39 over the years and got his lone hit in 1998. He's 42 years old (six months younger than me) and few real major leaguers survive at that age. KC had a winning record last year and shouldn't need this kind of distraction. At bats need to go to young guys like David DeJesus.

Friday, January 30, 2004

Intell Analysts Withstood Pressure

Apparently, the Bush administration didn't effectively pressure analysts to change their views on Iraq. Dana Priest reports this in Saturday's (that is, tomorrow's) Washington Post:
Congressional and CIA investigations into the prewar intelligence on Iraq's weapons and links to terrorism have found no evidence that CIA analysts colored their judgment because of perceived or actual political pressure from White House officials, according to intelligence officials and congressional officials from both parties.

Richard J. Kerr, a former deputy CIA director who is leading the CIA's review of its prewar Iraq assessment, said an examination of the secret analytical work done by CIA analysts showed that it remained consistent over many years.

"There was pressure and a lot of debate, and people should have a lot of debate, that's quite legitimate," Kerr said. "But the bottom line is, over a period of several years," the analysts' assessments "were very consistent. They didn't change their views."

Kerr's findings mirror those of two probes being conducted separately by the House and Senate intelligence committees, which have interviewed, under oath, every analyst involved in assessing Iraq's weapons programs and terrorist ties.

The panel chairmen, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.), and other congressional officials said in recent interviews that they found no evidence that analysts shaded their findings to more closely fit the White House's known desire to create the strongest, most urgent case for war with Iraq.
The article basically says the analysts were pressured, but didn't cave in to it.
There have been instances in which intelligence analysts said they sensed pressure to reach certain conclusions, but the House and Senate investigators said there was no indication they bowed to such wishes.

Last year, for example, some analysts at the CIA complained to senior officials when Vice President Cheney made multiple trips to CIA headquarters to question their studies of Iraq's weapons programs and alleged links to al Qaeda.

And analysts at the Defense Intelligence Agency told investigators they sensed pressure when civilian Defense Department leaders constantly questioned why their analysis had found only tentative links between al Qaeda and Iraq.

But "their constant message" to congressional investigators was "they didn't buckle to pressure," another congressional official said.

Neither the CIA inspector general nor the agency's ombudsmen received any complaints about outside meddling, a senior intelligence official said.

CIA spokesman Bill Harlow said Kerr's and the committees' findings mirror the CIA's view of its analysts' work: "We have long said and still say that our analysts didn't change their assessment of Iraq because of any outside pressure."

In fact, some analysts have told Kerr and congressional investigators that they welcomed the attention of Cheney on his visits.

"Analysts are very independent people," Kerr said. "When they get pressure, they tend to react the other way. They find it quite easy to stand up" to superiors. "It's kind of the culture."
David Kay said the same thing the other day.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

International Legitimacy

The paperback version of Robert Kagan's book, Of Power and Paradise, is now available. He works at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and writes regularly for The Washington Post. Of course, Kagan is better known as a neoconservative who was a founder of the Project for a New American Century. In January 1998, he wrote an op-ed for the New York Times called "Bombing Iraq Isn't Enough."

Here's the first paragraph of that piece:
Saddam Hussein must go. This imperative may seem too simple for some experts and too daunting for the Clinton Administration. But if the United States is committed, as the President said in his State of the Union Message, to insuring that the Iraqi leader never again uses weapons of mass destruction, the only way to achieve that goal is to remove Mr. Hussein and his regime from power. Any policy short of that will fail.
Kagan has long called for missile defense, applauded America's "benevolent empire," and has been pretty hawkish on China.

Why am I establishing Kagan's credentials?

Well, his new book includes a very interesting new "Afterward" that focuses on the importance of legitimacy in world politics.

The book in hardback was pretty thin and basically expanded on a much-circulated article he wrote in June 2002 for Policy Review, "Power and Weakness." In that piece, Kagan famously declared that
It is time to stop pretending that Europeans and Americans share a common view of the world, or even that they occupy the same world. On the all-important question of power — the efficacy of power, the morality of power, the desirability of power — American and European perspectives are diverging. Europe is turning away from power, or to put it a little differently, it is moving beyond power into a self-contained world of laws and rules and transnational negotiation and cooperation. It is entering a post-historical paradise of peace and relative prosperity, the realization of Kant’s “Perpetual Peace.” The United States, meanwhile, remains mired in history, exercising power in the anarchic Hobbesian world where international laws and rules are unreliable and where true security and the defense and promotion of a liberal order still depend on the possession and use of military might. That is why on major strategic and international questions today, Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus: They agree on little and understand one another less and less.
A lot of analysts embraced Kagan's argument to explain the rift between the US and most of the Europeans on the issue of Iraq.

Many Bush-supporters referenced Kagan to explain why the US had to act unilaterally (or with only a small number of states) to attack Iraq, fight terror, and stop WMD proliferation. Trying to get French and German approval would be futile.

The new "Afterward" (warning, this is a pdf file), however, argues that the US needs Europe -- to provide legitimacy for the war on terror. If a number of democracies refuses to accept the legitimacy of US actions, then the actions are not legitimate. America, in fact, faces a "crisis of legitimacy" according to Kagan.

Kagan says legitimacy has material implications, which is why the US is paying most of the costs in Iraq. But this isn't his main thesis. Kagan thinks that the US needs legitimacy and should be prepared to grant Europe some authority over its decisions (he approves of NATO) -- but only after the US and Europe agree about common threats. If the US acts without legitimacy, its power will ultimately be isolated and exhausted.

For the most part, Kagan is still engaged in an argument about power (Europe uses multilateral measures because it lacks power) and he continues to argue that Europe just doesn't appreciate threats that the US does (terror and WMD). But the argument in the afterward is new and provocative.

It certainly seems to encourage genuine dialogue about threats and responses among the US and its closest allies.

I saw Kagan on Charlie Rose Wednesday night, debating Harvard's Joe Nye (of "soft power" fame), and they didn't seem all that far apart. For those that want a condensed version of his latest argument, see the New York Times from January 24.

Much of my own work focuses on legitimacy in global politics. Unfortunately, my new book with Nayef Samhat is still at the printer and won't be out for almost a month (it was originally due today). We argue that order built on coersion and material self interest isn't legitimate -- it must be established through consensual dialogue.

Hey, that sounds a bit like what I'm reading in Kagan.

We'll all know more in two weeks. On February 12, 2004, I'm interviewing Kagan for the campus version of "Kentucky Author Forum."

Maybe I'll run in to him the weekend before that when I'm hanging around the halls of Carnegie, talking about preemptive war with some other scholars and analysts.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

David Kay Visits Congress

Today, the former head of the Iraq Survey Group, David Kay, called for an independent investigation of the the intelligence failure. He was testifying to the Senate Armed Services Committee (which has not yet posted his testimony). Wait, I found it on CNN.

The Bush White House immediately rejected that idea.

Meanwhile, the Democrats on the Committee kept accusing the White House of inflating intelligence -- even as the Republicans kept repeating that everyone thought Iraq had WMD and all the failures were by the intelligence agencies.

Kay sort of sides with the Republicans (as he did before the war), since he too blames the intell. Kay also rejects the idea that analysts were pressured:
And let me take one of the explanations most commonly given: Analysts were pressured to reach conclusions that would fit the political agenda of one or another administration. I deeply think that is a wrong explanation.

As leader of the effort of the Iraqi Survey Group, I spent most of my days not out in the field leading inspections. It's typically what you do at that level. I was trying to motivate, direct, find strategies.

In the course of doing that, I had innumerable analysts who came to me in apology that the world that we were finding was not the world that they had thought existed and that they had estimated. Reality on the ground differed in advance.

And never -- not in a single case -- was the explanation, "I was pressured to do this." The explanation was very often, "The limited data we had led one to reasonably conclude this. I now see that there's another explanation for it."

And each case was different, but the conversations were sufficiently in depth and our relationship was sufficiently frank that I'm convinced that, at least to the analysts I dealt with, I did not come across a single one that felt it had been, in the military term, "inappropriate command influence" that led them to take that position.

It was not that. It was the honest difficulty based on the intelligence that had -- the information that had been collected that led the analysts to that conclusion.
I reject Kay's latest spin.

Consider the remarks of Greg Thielmann, career foreign service officer from 1977-2002 (he retired in September) whose last post was head of the State Department's Office of Strategic Proliferation and Military Affairs. In his own words, after 7 years in intelligence and serving in his final post, Thielmann had "full access to the whole range of classified information on those subjects." CBS News, in regard to his appearance on "60 Minutes II," said (dated October 15, 2003 on the web), "He and his staff had the highest security clearances, and everything – whether it came into the CIA or the Defense Department – came through his office."

One of the things Thielmann investigated was the claim that Iraq sought uranium from Africa.
"We found that this was not a credible report. And so advised the senior leadership at the State Department.

You can't quite accurately describe this as somewhere in the bowels of the intelligence bureaucracy. I mean, this was not very many layers from the Secretary of State. And this was information that I had to assume Secretary of State brought with him to meetings with other Cabinet officials and the President.

"I find it hard to believe that no one at that level knew that there were serious questions raised about this information.
Thielmann was also unhappy with the way the administration referred to the aluminum tubes that the Bush administration claimed was necessary for centrifuges:
Well, this made me both disappointed and angry at the time when the most knowledgeable experts in the U.S. government believed that this was not the kind of aluminum that the Iraqis would have been seeking to use in centrifuges for uranium enrichment.
60 Minutes debunked this too:
Thielmann’s office was working on another explanation. It turned out the tubes' dimensions perfectly matched an Iraqi conventional rocket.

“The aluminum was exactly, I think, what the Iraqis wanted for artillery,” recalls Thielmann, who says he sent that word up to the Secretary of State months before.

Houston Wood was a consultant who worked on the Oak Ridge analysis of the tubes. He watched Powell’s speech, too.

“I guess I was angry, that’s the best way to describe my emotions. I was angry at that,” says Wood, who is among the world’s authorities on uranium enrichment by centrifuge. He found the tubes couldn’t be what the CIA thought they were. They were too heavy, three times too thick and certain to leak....

“I thought when I read that [NY Times story about the tubes] there must be some other tubes that people were talking about. I just was flabbergasted that people were still pushing that those might be centrifuges,” says Wood, who reached his conclusion back in 2001. “It didn’t make any sense to me.”

The New York Times reported that senior administration officials insisted the tubes were for an atom-bomb program.

“Science was not pushing this forward. Scientists had made their determination their evaluation and now we didn’t know what was happening,” says Wood.

In his U.N. speech, Secretary Powell acknowledged there was disagreement about the tubes, but he said most experts agreed with the nuclear theory.

“There is controversy about what these tubes are for. Most U.S. experts think they are intended to serve as rotors in centrifuges used to enrich uranium,” said Powell.

“Most experts are located at Oak Ridge and that was not the position there,” says Wood, who claims he doesn’t know anyone in academia or foreign government who would disagree with his appraisal. “I don’t know a single one anywhere.”
The Frontline program last week addressed the tubes too -- and I've noted that many experts dismissed the Iraqi nuclear threat before the war.

Most of the previous information from Thielmann I've been quoting is from a PBS program, "NOW," broadcast on June 13, 2003. Thielmann was interviewed by Bill Moyers. Look at this exchange:
MOYERS: So although no hard and reliable evidence had been offered to support the claim, by the time the President spoke to the nation on the eve of war, the term "weapons of mass destruction" had come to include nuclear weapons.

BUSH [3/17/03]: Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq Regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.

MOYERS: I remember watching him say that on television. And I thought nuclear weapons.

THIELMANN: I think that's exactly the reaction that anyone would have hearing that statement. I mean, the most lethal weapons ever devised ever by far are nuclear weapons. It's not a good way to inform the public if, in fact, he was talking about biological and chemical weapons.
I'm quoting all this because this stuff needs to be recalled:
THIELMANN: If one assumed that the threat was that imminent. The intelligence community as a whole in our considered wording and advice did not give the President the impression that there was an imminent threat.

THIELMANN: Our judgment was that Iraq had not reconstituted its nuclear weapons program in the sense that that's generally understood. And that it was a long way from posing an imminent security threat. It was not on the verge of acquiring enough fissile material to use in weapons. It was not… it did not have long range weapons of mass destruction that could pose even a threat to our allies in Europe or to the United States.

MOYERS: So you concluded that there was no immediate or imminent threat from Iraq?

THIELMANN: From Iraq. Across the board, that's right.

MOYERS: No imminent nuclear threat.

THIELMANN: No imminent nuclear threat. But in terms of biological and chemical weapons threats, these were not what I would call an imminent security threat to the United States.

MOYERS: So, when the Vice President of the United States says, "There's no doubt Saddam has weapons of mass destruction," he is lumping together nuclear weapons, which are clearly…

THIELMANN: Yeah.

MOYERS: …weapons of mass destruction. And chemical and biological weapons, which may not be.

THIELMANN: Well, that's my view of it. And in fact, the one thing that we should have made clear to the American people was that Saddam had no nuclear weapons.
60 Minutes also interviewed a former UN weapons inspector named Steven Allinson:
Allinson watched Powell’s speech in Iraq with a dozen U.N. inspectors. There was great anticipation in the room. Like waiting for the Super Bowl, they always suspected the U.S. was holding back its most damning evidence for this moment.

What was the reaction among the inspectors as they watched the speech?

“Various people would laugh at various times because the information he was presenting was just, you know, didn't mean anything, had no meaning,” says Allinson.

And what did he and the other inspectors say when Secretary Powell finished the speech?

“They have nothing,” says Allinson.
And here's the 60 Minutes wrapup on Thielmann:
As for Greg Thielmann, he told 60 Minutes II that he’s a reluctant witness. His decision to speak developed over time, and he says the president’s address worried him because he knew the African uranium story was false. He said he watched Secretary Powell’s speech with disappointment because, up until then, he had seen Powell bringing what he called “reason” to the administration’s inner circle.

Today, Thielmann believes the decision to go to war was made -- and the intelligence was interpreted to fit that conclusion.

“There’s plenty of blame to go around. The main problem was that the senior administration officials have what I call faith-based intelligence. They knew what they wanted the intelligence to show,” says Thielmann.

“They were really blind and deaf to any kind of countervailing information the intelligence community would produce. I would assign some blame to the intelligence community, and most of the blame to the senior administration officials.”
Thielmann said much the same thing in a Frontline interview posted October 9, 2003:
They were sure that Saddam was rejuvenating his nuclear program, and so they were looking for evidence to support what they already knew was the case, or they thought they knew was the case....

The conclusion that I ultimately came to was that this was a matter of, as I've called it, faith-based intelligence. Instead of our leadership forming conclusions based on a careful reading of the intelligence we provided them, they already had their conclusion to start out with, and they were cherry-picking the information that we provided to use whatever pieces of it that fit their overall interpretation. Worse than that, they were dropping qualifiers and distorting some of the information that we provided to make it seem more alarmist and more dangerous than the information that we were giving them.
Thielmann goes on in this interview to place blame on the Office of Special Plans, which didn't share their views, operated in secret from other intell people and pushed their data straight to high level officials.

Here's the bottom line
As reluctant as I am to try to understand the motives of people using the intelligence, my bottom line on this subject is that while the intelligence community did not do a good job, in my view, in being very careful to be precise for both decision makers and for the American public, the primary blame is in the way that senior officials of the administration made statements -- which I can only describe as dishonest statements -- about the nature of what the intelligence was saying.

I would, very reluctantly, have to include the secretary of state in that judgment. I've always said that the secretary of state is much more careful at not exaggerating than his Cabinet colleagues, as well as the vice president and the president.

So there was considerable unhappiness in the intelligence community of a number of states in the way that the war parties in those countries were using the information. I'm not a lone voice in that respect. I'm only unusual in that I was serving in the government at a time when the information was coming across my desk, and I then retired and am now not serving in government. That's what really makes me unusual, rather than the specific views that I have...
Gotta stop -- but this is obviously a followup to the "Lie Factory" entry.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Quick thoughts on New Hampshire

Apparently, the final score was Kerry 39%, Dean 26%, Clark and Edwards 12% each, and Lieberman 10%. Kucinich got 1%.

The two southeners and the most hawkish on Iraq received 34% of the vote and this is a significant voting bloc for Democrats. One of those three may yet emerge to energize voters in South Carolina or Oklahoma. Personally, I find Lieberman the most unlikely to be the one. Edwards is almost a favorite sun in South Carolina and Clark is supposed to be polling well in Oklahoma.

We'll soon find out how well John Kerry plays as the front-runner. I can see him winning Delaware next week, but what is going to happen in Arizona (Dean?) and Missouri -- a really important state for Democrats.

BULLETIN: Ron Reagan just used the word "dementia" in describing Bush's continuing insistence that Iraq has WMD. It's just after 11 pm ET.

New Spin on Iraq

I've been reading as many stories as I can about David Kay's weekend interviews -- and I've even seen a few on TV.

It's clear to me that Kay is now offering a unique and troubling spin on Iraq's WMD. The Charlotte Observer has a nice compilation of some of the best quotes. Here is Kay's new claim:
Since Saddam's fall, Mr. Kay said, it has become apparent that Iraq's government had descended into chaos before the invasion, so "there was little control over Iraq's weapons capabilities. I think it shows that Iraq was a very dangerous place. The country had the technology, the ability to produce, and there were terrorist groups passing through the country -- and no central control."
Think about that. Oh, and consider what that meant if the country was also under attack. Who would get the weapons in the "fog of war"? Kay now concludes, "I think, at the end of the inspection process, we'll paint a picture of Iraq that was far more dangerous than even we thought it was before the war."

While this is an important point (and I may return to it soon), that is not my point today. Instead, I'm concerned that the Bush administration was arguing that Saddam Hussein ruled a Stalinist police state. This is from Bush's October 2002 Cincinnati speech outlining the Iraqi threat (this is the "mushroom cloud" speech too):
The dictator of Iraq is a student of Stalin, using murder as a tool of terror and control, within his own cabinet, within his own army, and even within his own family.

On Saddam Hussein's orders, opponents have been decapitated, wives and mothers of political opponents have been systematically raped as a method of intimidation, and political prisoners have been forced to watch their own children being tortured.
So, did the US even have an idea of whether Saddam Hussein was in control of the country -- or not?

Does this sound like the Joe Stalin you know?
From interviews with Iraqi scientists and other sources, he said, his team learned that sometime around 1997 and 1998, Iraq plunged into what he called a "vortex of corruption," when government activities began to spin out of control because an increasingly isolated and fantasy-riven Saddam Hussein had insisted on personally authorizing major projects without input from others.

After the onset of this "dark ages," Dr. Kay said, Iraqi scientists realized they could go directly to Mr. Hussein and present fanciful plans for weapons programs, and receive approval and large amounts of money. Whatever was left of an effective weapons capability, he said, was largely subsumed into corrupt money-raising schemes by scientists skilled in the arts of lying and surviving in a fevered police state.

"The whole thing shifted from directed programs to a corrupted process," Dr. Kay said. "The regime was no longer in control; it was like a death spiral. Saddam was self-directing projects that were not vetted by anyone else. The scientists were able to fake programs."

In interviews after he was captured, Tariq Aziz, the former deputy prime minister, told Dr. Kay that Mr. Hussein had become increasingly divorced from reality during the last two years of his rule. Mr. Hussein would send Mr. Aziz manuscripts of novels he was writing, even as the American-led coalition was gearing up for war, Dr. Kay said.
If Kay's charges are true, this is a much bigger intelligence failure even than the missing WMD. After all, some WMD are easy to hide (vials of toxins, relatively small volumes of dangerous chemicals, etc.).

But, at minimum, the US should be able to figure out whether a tyrant is still in charge of his own country.

The long James Risen New York Times story on Kay from Monday makes this point.
"There is going to be an irreducible level of ambiguity because of all the looting," Dr. Kay said.

Dr. Kay said he believed that Iraq was a danger to the world, but not the same threat that the Bush administration publicly detailed.

"We know that terrorists were passing through Iraq," he said. "And now we know that there was little control over Iraq's weapons capabilities. I think it shows that Iraq was a very dangerous place. The country had the technology, the ability to produce, and there were terrorist groups passing through the country — and no central control."

But Dr. Kay said the C.I.A. missed the significance of the chaos in the leadership and had no idea how badly that chaos had corrupted Iraq's weapons capabilities or the threat it raised of loose scientific knowledge being handed over to terrorists. "The system became so corrupt, and we missed that," he said.
Before I wrap this up, I want to note that Kay attempts to debunk two arguments that war opponents have been making (and I've blogged about recently). Kay says that it was analysts, not political leaders, who cherry-picked the intelligence. He also says that the White House did not pressure analysts to alter their intelligence:
"I think that the system should have a way for an analyst to say, `I don't have enough information to make a judgment,' " Dr. Kay said. "There is really not a way to do that under the current system."

He added that while the analysts included caveats on their reports, those passages "tended to drop off as the reports would go up the food chain" inside the government.

As a result, virtually everyone in the United States intelligence community during both the Clinton and the current Bush administrations thought Iraq still had the illicit weapons, he said. And the government became a victim of its own certainty.

"Alarm bells should have gone off when everyone believes the same thing," Dr. Kay said. "No one stood up and said, `Let's examine the footings for these conclusions.' I think you ought to have a place for contrarian views in the system."

Dr. Kay said he was convinced that the analysts were not pressed by the Bush administration to make certain their prewar intelligence reports conformed to a White House agenda on Iraq.

Last year, some C.I.A. analysts said they had felt pressed to find links between Iraq and Al Qaeda to suit the administration. While Dr. Kay said he has no knowledge about that issue, he did not believe that pressure was placed on analysts regarding the weapons programs.

"All the analysts I have talked to said they never felt pressured on W.M.D.," he said. "Everyone believed that they had W.M.D."

Dr. Kay also said he never felt pressed by the Bush administration to shape his own reports on the status of Iraq's weapons. He said that in a White House meeting with Mr. Bush last August, the president urged him to uncover what really happened.

"The only comment I ever had from the president was to find the truth," Dr. Kay said. "I never got any pressure to find a certain outcome."
This is a story to watch.

Monday, January 26, 2004

New Hampshire

I haven't endorsed any candidates (yet) on this blog, but I've been thinking a great deal about Tuesday's vote in New Hampshire.

I'll admit from the start, that I have certain basic standards in a candidate -- and that virtually all the Democrats meet them. It's nearly impossible to imagine a scenario where I would vote Bush in November, but in some other election I can at least imagine voting for an alternative candidate as a protest for certain alternative Democratic choices. I voted Gore in 2000, not Nader.

Anyway, this is not a problem in 2004, and certainly not in the New Hampshire primary. I can see plausible arguments for voting Dean, Clark, Kerry or Edwards, the likely top vote-getters.

Right now, I'd think hard about voting for Clark or Edwards to make sure they survive into the next couple of weeks. I'm not ready for this race to boil down to a couple of New Englanders. I've long liked Kerry, but harbor strong doubts about his national electability. Perhaps I'm being unfair, but I'd prefer a presidential bio that doesn't include "rich guy who went to Yale."

That is a strike against Dean as well. His anti-war position was originally exciting, but at this point all the Democrats (save Lieberman) are trying to be anti-Bush on the question of Iraq. Dean keeps emphasizing his balanced budgets, but that just doesn't excite me that much. Perhaps it should. Still, I can think of lots of good ways to spend your money that you don't even have (that's a joke).

So, if I had a vote in New Hampshire, I guess I would vote for Edwards or Clark. In part, I'm assuming that Dean and Kerry are going to get 55 to 65% of the vote anyway and will still be there for later reconsideration.

Since I've written so much about Clark and everyone knows his military background, here's the lowdown on Edwards:
Born in 1953, Senator Edwards grew up in Robbins, a small town in the Piedmont. His father, Wallace, worked in textile mills for 36 years. His mother, Bobbie, had a number of jobs including working at the post office.

A product of North Carolina public schools, Senator Edwards was the first person in his family to go to college. He worked his way through North Carolina State University and graduated with an honors degree in textiles in 1974. He earned a law degree with honors in 1977 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
His Senate website covers his legislative accomplishments.

Update: Dean was on "The Daily Show" and the skit just wasn't that funny. His performance last Monday night was more entertaining.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Which analysts said "no WMD" before the war?

Since no WMD have been found in Iraq, some Bush administration officials and their allies in the media and/or in think tanks have been claiming that "everyone" thought Iraq had WMD before the war. Calpundit (Kevin Drum) and Tim Dunlap (The Road to Surfdom) have been blogging about this point over the weekend.

It's not true. Dunlap quotes British Cabinet Minister, Robin Cook, and Australian intelligence officer, Andrew Wilkie. But many other serious analysts said Iraq was not a threat.

As I've pointed out repeatedly, the IAEA (ElBaradei personally) proclaimed before the war, as a result of the most recent inspections, that Iraq had no nuclear program. A threatening nuclear program would be relatively easy to find because of the construction and power needs associated with it. El Baradei was pretty definitive.

The "mushroom cloud" fear was known to be false before the war.

Some private analysts were saying the same thing about the nuclear program long before the war. For example, Joseph Cirincione of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace declared in August, 2002: "Iraq almost certainly does not have nuclear weapons....There is no evidence that Iraq has a nuclear weapon or will soon have one." Cirincione cited open intelligence from the US that said a bomb would be several years away.

Cirincione believed Iraq had large stocks of chemical and biological weapons, but added:
"Iraq has limited means of delivering any weapon of mass destruction. Iraq has no capability to attack the United States from its own territory and only limited capability to attack neighboring countries by air."


A number of former weapons inspectors, like Scott Ritter, argued that Iraq had no WMD. None. Consider his June 2000 piece in Arms Control Today, "The Case for Iraq's Qualitative Disarmament." Ritter wrote then:
Most of UNSCOM's findings of Iraqi non-compliance concerned either the inability to verify an Iraqi declaration or peripheral matters, such as components and documentation, which by and of themselves do not constitute a weapon or program. By the end of 1998, Iraq had, in fact, been disarmed to a level unprecedented in modern history, but UNSCOM and the Security Council were unable—and in some instances unwilling—to acknowledge this accomplishment.
And of course Ritter went around the country in late 2002 and early 2003 saying Iraq was disarmed already.

From academia, Glen Rangwala, Lecturer in Politics at Cambridge University, was very clearly arguing that Iraq was not a significant WMD threat. For example, consider his coauthored piece (with Labour MP Alan Simpson), called "The dishonest case for war on Iraq" dated 17 September 2002. Rangwala wrote this in April 2002, before Iraq was even really on the radar for most people:
This briefing examines the evidence for Iraqi capabilities to launch attacks using WMDs. It finds that there is little evidence to suggest that Iraq retains extensive WMD capacities. Furthermore, US and UK policy towards Iraq since the end of the Gulf War has not been driven by an arms control agenda, suggesting that these governments have not perceived Iraq to be threatening regional or international security through an accumulation of non-conventional weapons.
More to come, so expect this to be edited.

Update: A reader reminded me that Colin Powell and Condi Rice were among those saying Iraq had no threatening WMD -- as recently as 2001. I blogged about their statements back in late September.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

David Kay Jumps Ship

I guess David Kay watched yesterday's "Frontline" program on Iraqi WMD inspections, "Chasing Saddam's Weapons."

Reuters is running a few parting comments from Kay, and they are pretty revealing:
In a direct challenge to the Bush administration, which says its invasion of Iraq was justified by the presence of illicit arms, Kay told Reuters in a telephone interview he had concluded there were no Iraqi stockpiles to be found.

"I don't think they existed," Kay said. "What everyone was talking about is stockpiles produced after the end of the last (1991) Gulf War, and I don't think there was a large-scale production program in the '90s," he said.
Unsurprisingly, Democrats were quick to pick up on this:
"It increasingly appears that our intelligence was wrong about Iraq's weapons, and the administration compounded that mistake by exaggerating the nuclear threat and Iraq's ties to al Qaeda. As a result, the United States is paying a very heavy price," said Sen. John Rockefeller of West Virginia, the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"Dr. Kay's astonishing statement today cannot be ignored. It is increasingly clear that there has been a massive intelligence failure," said Rep. Jane Harman of California, senior Democrat on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.

James Rubin, national security adviser for retired Gen. Wesley Clark, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, said Kay's comments meant "the major premise for urgent war in Iraq has been devastated by the administration's own findings."
I know everybody will see this story, but I wanted to preserve the quotes and link.

Update: The Los Angeles Times had a story Friday about Vice President Cheney's ongoing rhetorical efforts to link Iraq with Al Qaeda and WMD, despite almost no evidence to support either position. Here's a snippet on the alleged mobile biological weapons labs (which the reporter on "Frontline" showed on TV Thursday night):
"We've found a couple of semi-trailers at this point which we believe were in fact part of [a WMD] program," Cheney said. "I would deem that conclusive evidence, if you will, that he did in fact have programs for weapons of mass destruction."

That view is at odds with the judgment of the government's lead weapons inspector, David Kay, who said in an interim report in October that "we have not yet been able to corroborate the existence of a mobile [biological weapons] production effort."

In a BBC interview that aired Thursday night on public television in the United States, Kay said that is still the case. He said it was "premature and embarrassing" for the CIA to conclude shortly after the vehicles were discovered last year that they were weapons labs. "I wish that news hadn't come out," Kay said, calling the release of the information a "fiasco."

Experts are still in disagreement over the purpose of the vehicles, with some saying they may have been meant for biological weapons production and others saying it was more likely they were meant for making hydrogen.
Oh, I also decided to include a couple of additional quotes from Kay about the failed hunt for WMD in Iraq. These are from the same Reuters story cited above:
"We're not going to find much after June. Once the Iraqis take complete control of the government it is just almost impossible to operate in the way that we operate," Kay said.

"I think we have found probably 85 percent of what we're going to find," he said. "I think the best evidence is that they did not resume large-scale production and that's what we're really talking about."
The Chicago Tribune has a story today that includes a few other quotes from the same Kay interview:
While he [Kay] told Reuters his work had been complicated by looting, "you just could not find any physical evidence that supported a larger program."

He also said his group's interim finding from October on Iraq's alleged nuclear program--that there were only small and unsophisticated research initiatives under way--would probably be the final conclusion.

He told Reuters "there were a few little things going on, but it had not resumed in anything meaningful."
Kay's replacement, Charles Duelfer was deputy executive chairman of the UN team that carried out weapons inspections there 1993-1998. Kay has been home from Iraq, by the way, for over a month.




Friday, January 23, 2004

Sequels Planned?

Some blogs are concerned today with a claim by Jane's that the US intends to attack Hizbollah in Syria later this year.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune has a story about a German court questioning a source tying Iran to 9/11.
[Hamid Reza] Zakeri says the supreme Iranian leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the country's former president, Hashemi Rafsanjani, both were fully informed well before Sept. 11, 2001, that a brutal attack on America was planned.

"They were informed by Al Qaeda," which "needed the Iranian government's help," Zakeri says.

He says he knows this because he was working for a security and intelligence unit operating out of Khamenei's office in early 2001, when Iran was visited by Osama bin Laden's chief deputy.

Then, "four months and five days before 9/11," Zakeri says, one of bin Laden's sons, Saad bin Laden, turned up in the Iranian capital, met with Khamenei and Rafsanjani and gave them the details of the Sept. 11 plot.

His account, he says, can be corroborated by the Iranian security agent who served as Saad bin Laden's bodyguard during the visit, and who now is living quietly in Najaf, Iraq.
Apparently, Zakeri admits to being an Iranian intelligence agent and acknowledges that he is not revealing his real name.

Before anyone gets too excited, consider this:
Ali Nouri Zadeh, a Iranian-born writer for the London-based Arab newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat who first interviewed Zakeri more than a year ago, has mixed feelings about the man's veracity.

"What he says is partly correct--30 percent," Zadeh says. "Partly exaggerated--20 percent. And 50 percent is nonsense."

Told that some German and American intelligence officials had greeted his revelations with pronounced skepticism, Zakeri replied: "I don't know why they say that. We got lots of evidence."

At least some of what Zakeri says is inconsistent with known facts. Zakeri told the BKA, for example, that he had seen one of the hijack pilots, Ziad Jarrah, at a terrorist training camp in Iran in 1997, four years before Sept. 11.

"I did not recognize the person then," he said. Only after seeing Jarrah's picture in the wake of Sept. 11, Zakeri said, did he remember that "I had seen the person on the picture in Iran. ... I did not know his name before."

However, 1997 is the year that Jarrah arrived in Hamburg from his native Lebanon to study aircraft design at Hamburg's University of Applied Sciences. By all accounts he was the antithesis of a radical fundamentalist Muslim, spending his free time drinking, driving sports cars and living with a Turkish girlfriend. BKA interviews with Jarrah's neighbors and fellow students suggest that Jarrah didn't become radicalized until 1999, the same year he and several of the other hijackers visited an Al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan.
I wonder how long it takes for Doug Feith or John Bolton to mention this?



Thursday, January 22, 2004

Deans interviewed on TV

Hey, look at the TV set...it turns out Howard Dean is married.

Tonight, Judith Steinberg Dean gave her first television interview to Diane Sawyer of ABC's "Primetime." I watched most of it -- though I kept checking into the Kansas basketball game on ESPN 2 (hopeless cause...a home loss to Richmond).

Of course, both of the Deans were present (and yes, ABC showed tape of the famous 1992 interview with Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton).

ABC played the "crazy" Dean "yeehaw" moment (ABC spells it Eyyahh!) from earlier in the week. And then they played it again...and I'm pretty sure they played it again. Was in three times in all?

Maybe they kept playing it because of something Dean said: "I've only seen it once. I've only seen it once."

The tape does make Dean seem over-the-top, but it was a campaign event among true believers. That would be more like a sporting event, I think, than a policy event. At sporting events, crazy screaming is the norm.

Thus, I would say who cares about Dean's tape, but his poll numbers have been dropping and something must explain it. Maybe it was the "war whoop," as Chris Matthews called it.

In a nutshell, I think there are multiple possible reasons: Kerry has some momentum from Iowa and he's also from a next-door state.

Dean has been pushing his strengths, but they are not so novel any more -- or were never all that important. For example, just about every major candidate is now anti-Bush on Iraq. Even the guys who voted for war (save Lieberman) And not many Democrats are going to vote for a candidate just to achieve a balanced budget.

Dean needs some good news.

I think it may be that the race won't be decided until March 2 when California, New York, and 8 other states (including Vermont, Maryland, Minnesota and Massachusetts) vote.

Update: Apparently, Edwards made some major errors in regard to the Defense of Marriage Act in tonight's debate. Chris Matthews implied that it was intentional spin to try to play multiple sides of the issue.

Are you a Neocon?

The Christian Science Monitor has one of those short on-line quizzes (10 questions) that uses the responses to classify participants into major philosophical/ideological groupings. Thanks to a reader for pointing me to it.

This quiz is on foreign policy and the possible outcomes are realist, liberal, isolationist or neoconservative.

Surprise!

I'm not a neocon, nor a realist, nor an isolationist.

Should I write the quiz maker and explain that critical theorists are, well, quite critical of liberals too?

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Health Care

As someone who focuses on foreign policy and national security issues, I do not often think seriously about health care, nor do I blog about it.

Like many other citizens, I have to trust others to inform my decisions in these areas.

One person I trust on health care is Jim Reed, an attorney in Arizona. Last week, the Dean campaign released this statement to the press:
January 13, 2004

Contact: Press Office, 802-651-3257

Gore Lieberman 2000 Disability Outreach Director Jim Reed Joins Dean for America

BURLINGTON -- Dean for America today announced that Jim Reed, Gore/Lieberman's 2000 National Director for Disability Outreach, has joined Dean for America as the campaign's Disability Outreach Director. Reed will coordinate the campaign's outreach to the disabilities community and advise the campaign on disability and related health care policy....

During the 2000 presidential election, Reed coordinated all aspects of the Gore Lieberman campaign's disabilities outreach and represented it at the landmark November 1, 2000 Disabilities Townhall at the National Press Club....During the 2003 California Governor's Recall Election, Reed assisted the California State Democratic Party as the statewide disability rights attorney on Election Day. During 2003, Reed also acted as Disabilities Policy Advisor for the 2004 presidential campaign of Senator Joseph Lieberman.
Actually, this last tidbit could be a revealing early indicator of what's going to happen Tuesday in New Hampshire.

Not so long ago, Reed was endorsing Lieberman's health care plan on the Senator's campaign website:
Joe Lieberman's plan would make quality health insurance available to members of my community -- whether part-time employed, unemployed, on a fixed income, or a child in a family that lives near the poverty but does not qualify for state or federal assistance. Under the Lieberman health care plan, persons with chronic diseases would not face lifetime benefit caps, or be barred from individual plans because of pre-existing conditions. And no one would have to spend down their limited assets to qualify for Medicaid, or turn down part-time work because Medicare eligibility based on disability does not permit it.

Despite the many aspects of the proposal that are exciting, it is the extensive analysis of its funding that makes me believe it can work. People in the HIV/AIDS and hemophilia communities live in the real world, and programs with no hope of passage or of adequate funding do not excite us. The Lieberman initiative does.
Jim has promised to send me some material that I can use for this blog -- so look for more coverage on this issue eventually.

Friends who read this blog probably already know this fact from the Dean press release: "Reed holds a law degree from Columbia University, New York City, and is a graduate of the University of Kansas."

Rock chalk Jayhawk, KU.

But Cheney's Lips Barely Move!

I spent a lot of time Tuesday reading recent speeches by Vice President Dick Cheney.

Interesting stuff.

For example, he's going around saying that David Kay's team has found significant evidence of WMD in Iraq. Sometimes, as he did before the Heritage Foundation in October 2003 (a friendly crowd), Cheney quotes directly from Kay's report:
"Iraq's WMD programs spanned more than two, involved thousands of people, billions of dollars and were elaborately shielded by security and deception operations that continued even beyond the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom."

Dr. Kay further stated, "We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002. The discovery of these deliberate concealment efforts have come about both through the admissions of Iraqi scientists and officials concerning information they deliberately withheld, as well as through physical evidence of equipment and activities that the Iraq survey group has discovered [that] should have been declared to the United Nations."
Sometimes, he doesn't:
Among the items Dr. Kay and his team have already identified are the following: a clandestine network of laboratories and safe houses within the Iraqi intelligence service that contained equipment suitable for continuing chemical and biological weapons research; a prison laboratory complex, possibly used in human testing of biological weapons agents, that Iraqi officials were explicitly ordered not to declare to the United Nations; reference strains of biological organisms, concealed in a scientist's home, one of which can be used to produce biological weapons; new research on BW-applicable agents, Brucella and Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever, and continuing work on ricin and aflatoxin, which has not been declared to the United Nations; documents and equipment hidden in scientists' homes that would have been useful in resuming uranium enrichment by centrifuge and electromagnetic isotope separation; a line of unmanned aerial vehicles, not fully declared, and an admission that they had been tested out to a range of 500 kilometers -- 350 kilometers beyond the legal limit imposed by the U.N. after the Gulf War; plans and advanced design work for new long-range ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges capable of striking targets throughout the Middle East, which were prohibited by the U.N. and which Saddam sought to conceal from the U.N. weapons inspectors; clandestine attempts between late 1999 and 2002 to obtain from North Korea technology related to 1,300-kilometer range ballistic missiles, 300-kilometer range anti-ship cruise missiles and other prohibited military equipment.

Ladies and gentlemen, each and every one of these finding confirms a material breach by the former Iraqi regime of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441. Taken together, they constitute a massive breach of that unanimously-passed resolution and provide a compelling case for the use of force against Saddam Hussein.
I've included this because I think it explains something the President said in the State of the Union address last night:
Already, the Kay Report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations.
As Jon Stewart said on Wednesday's "Daily Show," after quoting back the President's words, "what the [bleeped] is that?"

Kay, by the way, reported that Iraq's nuclear scientists did no significant weapons-related work since 1991. So much for the mushroom cloud imagery that both Bush and Condi Rice invoked on many occasions.

Kay also reported bluntly, as everyone knows, "We have not yet found stocks of weapons."

Kay reported that Iraq had scientists and that those scientists had labs that could be used to research and develop WMD. However, it doesn't take much of a lab to build fairly primitive WMD (chemical weapons, after all, date to WW I and primitive bio weapons were used in the Revolutionary War). The "biological agent" Kay reported finding was botulinum. If you are worried about that bug, which you should be if you leave open cans of Campbell's soup in the sunlight for a few days before consuming them straight out of the can, then I suggest checking out the FDA website.

If you are worred abou the ricin agents Kay found, then you might want to check out this website at Cornell University, which describes out ricin comes fairly simply from castor beans.

By the standards Bush/Cheney are now using, the US could preemptively bomb just about any nation-state with sophisticated chemistry or biology labs.

And of course, they could attack just about any major research university.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Powell on Preemption

Regular readers of this blog may be surprised by this news, but Secretary of State Colin Powell, writing in the January/February 2004 issue of Foreign Affairs, asserts that the Bush administration has been “remarkably candid” about its foreign and security policy strategies. The September 2002 National Security Strategy of the United States, Powell says, succinctly and publicly lays out the Bush administration’s strategy, which he describes as “integrated…broad and deep, far ranging and forward looking.”

Despite releasing for public consideration an apparently frank and clear explication of US strategy, Powell notes that both domestic and foreign observers (including many partisans) have frequently misunderstood or actively distorted the meaning of US foreign policy strategy.

The Secretary points out that “U.S. strategy is widely accused of being unilateralist by design” and “of being imbalanced in favor of military methods.” Furthermore, Powell notes, “it is frequently described as being obsessed with terrorism and hence biased toward preemptive war on a global scale.” This last point receives even more direct attention, as the Secretary points out that “some observers have exaggerated both the scope of preemption in foreign policy and the centrality of preemption in U.S. strategy as a whole.”

According to Powell, while the NSS “made the concept of preemption explicit” its “novelty…lies less in its substance than in its explicitness.” There's more:
“As to preemption's scope, it applies only to the undeterrable threats that come from nonstate actors such as terrorist groups. It was never meant to displace deterrence, only to supplement it. As to its being central, it isn't. The discussion of preemption in the NSS takes up just two sentences in one of the document's eight sections.”
Contrast Powell's words to those of John R. Bolton, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. This is from a December 2003 speech:
“Rogue states such as Iran, North Korea, Syria, Libya and Cuba, whose pursuit of weapons of mass destruction makes them hostile to U.S. interests, will learn that their covert programs will not escape either detection or consequences. While we will pursue diplomatic solutions whenever possible, the United States and its allies are also willing to deploy more robust techniques, such as the interdiction and seizure of illicit goods. If rogue states are not willing to follow the logic of nonproliferation norms, they must be prepared to face the logic of adverse consequences. It is why we repeatedly caution that no option is off the table.”
I'll edit this later.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Strategic Voting?

As I write, with nearly 40% of the votes counted, John Kerry has 37% of the vote, John Edwards has 33%, Howard Dean 18% and Dick Gephardt only 11%.

Wow. No, WOW!

On CNN, they are spinning this as "electability." Those who decided late, and perhaps "soft" Dean supporters (not the "Deaniacs"), went for the guys who voted for the war -- even though 75% of the people attending the caucuses were anti-war.

CNN is switching to Larry King, so I've turned the channel to MSNBC. The talking heads there are spinning it as "electability too," though Chris Matthews is talking about Kerry's great TV ads.

I think this is good news for Wesley Clark too, so long as he can (a) demonstrate basic Democratic credentials and (b) overcome the apparent gender gap.

44% of the votes are now in and it's still 37-33-18.

Hey, just as I wrote that above, MSNBC is talking about Clark -- speculating that Kerry is passing Clark in New Hampshire.

Now 51%, 37-33-18.

This is going to be an interesting few weeks.

Gephardt's campaign is probably dead. Now the talking heads are saying this too. Maybe I should just stop posting, listen, and think.

Update: Over 90% of the votes are counted and it is still Kerry-Edwards-Dean 38-32-18. Gephardt is apparently dropping out of the race tomorrow.

On CNN at 10:12 pm ET, Jeff Greenfield said that the results hurt Clark. I wrote above that I think it helps Clark -- so let me explain. The Iowa result shows that Dean is vulnerable, even among an electorate that is anti-war. Kerry is the most national security-minded of the Democrats in Iowa (war hero record) and John Edwards is the southerner. Those guys nabbed 70% of the vote. Clark trumps Kerry's security record and he's from Arkansas (a state the Democrats can actually win).

If New Hampshire voting at all parallel's Iowa's, then Clark might grab a substantial portion of the majority voting base. Plus, Gephardt's 10% are up for grabs and I don't think those union guys are going to Dean. Actually, I can see those union guys going to Edwards.

I'm really looking forward to Arizona, Oklahoma and South Carolina. Kerry and Dean have home field advantage in New Hampshire, so these states are going to be more revealing.

Good Read: The Lie Factory

The January/February Mother Jones has a good article on "The Lie Factory," by Robert Dreyfuss and Jason Vest. It's not on-line at the website, but it's apparently available at some non-subscriber sites.

Basically, Dreyfuss and Vest recap the role of the neocons fomenting war against Iraq. They have a brief (if familiar) rundown of all the key players and included a nice flow chart of the bureaucracy. The neocon view isn't really all that shocking anymore, but it should be. Consider this:
Led by [Richard] Perle, the neocons seethed with contempt for the CIA. The CIA'S analysis, said Perle, "isn't worth the paper it's printed on." Standing in a crowded hallway during an AEI event, Perle added, "The CIA is status quo oriented. They don't want to take risks."
Dreyfuss and Vest also interviewed a bunch of people who worked in intelligence before the Iraq war who say that intelligence was manipulated. For example, consider this:
[Lt. Col. Karen] Kwiatkowski, 43, a now-retired Air Force officer who served in the Pentagon's Near East and South Asia (NESA) unit in the year before the invasion of Iraq, observed how the Pentagon's Iraq war-planning unit manufactured scare stories about Iraq's weapons and ties to terrorists. "It wasn't intelligence-it was propaganda," she says. "They'd take a little bit of intelligence, cherry-pick it, make it sound much more exciting, usually by taking it out of context, often by juxtaposition of two pieces of information that don't belong together."
After cherry-picking what they wanted, the neocons embedded within the Pentagon (in the Office of Special Plans) made sure their intell found its way up to the very top of the administration:
According to Lt. Colonel Kwiatkowski, [Deputy Undersecretary of Defense William] Luti and [OSP director Abram N.] Shulsky ran NESA and the Office of Special Plans with brutal efficiency, purging people they disagreed with and enforcing the party line. "It was organized like a machine," she says. "The people working on the neocon agenda had a narrow, well-defined political agenda. They had a sense of mission." At NESA, Shulsky, she says, began "hot-desking," or taking an office wherever he could find one, working with [Douglas] Feith and Luti, before formally taking the reins of the newly created OSP. Together, she says, Luti and Shulsky turned cherry-picked pieces of uncorroborated, anti-Iraq intelligence into talking points, on issues like Iraq's WMD and its links to Al Qaeda. Shulsky constantly updated these papers, drawing on the intelligence unit, and circulated them to Pentagon officials, including Rumsfeld, and to Vice President Cheney. "Of course, we never thought they'd go directly to the White House," she adds.

Kwiatkowski recalls one meeting in which Luti, pressed to finish a report, told the staff, "I've got to get this over to 'Scooter' right away." She later found out that "Scooter" was none other than Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff. According to Kwiatkowski, Cheney had direct ties through Luti into NESA/OSP, a connection that was highly unorthodox.

"Never, ever, ever would a deputy undersecretary of Defense work directly on a project for the vice president," she says. "It was a little clue that we had an informal network into Vice President Cheney's office."
In addition to these dubious administrative practices, the neocons also applied pressure on career intell people who were not parroting the party line:
According to Melvin Goodman, a former CIA official and an intelligence specialist at the National War College, the OSP officials routinely pushed lower-ranking staff around on intelligence matters. "People were being pulled aside [and being told], 'We saw your last piece and it's not what we're looking for,'" he says. "It was pretty blatant." Two State Department intelligence officials, Greg Thielmann and Christian Westermann, have both charged that pressure was being put on them to shape intelligence to fit policy, in particular from Bolton's office. "The Al Qaeda connection and nuclear weapons issue were the only two ways that you could link Iraq to an imminent security threat to the U.S.," Thielmann told the New York Times. "And the administration was grossly distorting the intelligence on both things."
As I've reported before, they also relied upon very unreliable information fed them by the Iraqi National Congress, led by Ahmad Chalabi.
According to multiple sources, Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress sent a steady stream of misleading and often faked intelligence reports into U.S. intelligence channels. That information would flow sometimes into NESA/OSP directly, sometimes through Defense Intelligence Agency debriefings of Iraqi defectors via the Defense Human Intelligence Service, and sometimes through the INC's own U.S.-funded Intelligence Collection Program, which was overseen by the Pentagon. The INC's intelligence "isn't reliable at all," according to Vincent Cannistraro, a former CIA chief of counterterrorism.

"Much of it is propaganda. Much of it is telling the Defense Department what they want to hear, using alleged informants and defectors who say what Chalabi wants them to say, [creating] cooked information that goes right into presidential and vice presidential speeches."
Some of the people quoted in the piece were not in government now, but they too offer interesting insights. Bluntly, as Secretary Powell has recently confirmed, there was no link between Iraq and Al Qaeda (and 9/11):
While the CIA and other intelligence agencies concentrated on Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda as the culprit in the 9/11 attacks, Wolfowitz and Feith obsessively focused on Iraq. It was a theory that was discredited, even ridiculed, among intelligence professionals. Daniel Benjamin, co-author of The Age of Sacred Terror, was director of counterterrorism at the National Security Council in the late 1990s. "In 1998, we went through every piece of intelligence we could find to see if there was a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq," he says. "We came to the conclusion that our intelligence agencies had it right: There was no noteworthy relationship between Al Qaeda and Iraq. I know that for a fact."

Edward Luttwak, a neoconservative scholar and author, says flatly that the Bush administration lied about the intelligence it had because it was afraid to go to the American people and say that the war was simply about getting rid of Saddam Hussein. Instead, says Luttwak, the White House was groping for a rationale to satisfy the United Nations' criteria for war. "Cheney was forced into this fake posture of worrying about weapons of mass destruction," he says. "The ties to Al Qaeda? That's complete nonsense."
That link was trumped up. Obviously, this whole thread figures into my paper on "The Bush Doctrine and Norms of Deliberation."

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Update on the Koufax Awards

Sandy Koufax is often considered the greatest left-handed pitcher in baseball history. While this may not be true, he was certainly an outstanding player (even if he was a Dodger).

Why am I telling you this? Well, in addition to the fact that I am a tremendous fan of baseball, the Wampum blog has been conducting the Koufax Awards -- for best lefty blogs -- for some weeks and finally posted a link for Best New Blog. I think interested readers are supposed to note their favorites in the "Comments" link. Several blogs I read regularly (see the links on the right hand side of this page) are nominated. Good luck to them -- and thanks again to the readers who nominated me.

Oh, and thanks to my new readers as well. Since the New Year started, traffic to this blog is up about 25-35% per day.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Habermas on the Bush Doctrine

I'm still working on my prospectus for "The Bush Doctrine and Norms of Deliberation," a paper for a conference I'm attending in DC in a few weeks.

Thursday, I found an interesting article in Constellations: an international journal of critical and democratic theory (September 2003) by Frankfurt School philosopher J├╝rgen Habermas that addresses the Bush Doctrine and war on terror.

Surprise: Habermas thinks that America's new preemptive war doctrine creates deliberative requirements. He also offers a lethal critique, pointing out that its reliance upon unilateral use of military is bound to be illegitimate -- even if some advocates claim that they are helping to democratize the world.

First, by making new claims about self defense, the Bush Doctrine creates the need for public justification. This snippet is from a translation on-line at Interactivist Info Exchange:
this connection of hegemonic unilateralism with defense against an insidious danger mobilizes the additional argument of self-defense.

At the cost however of then being saddled with a new burden of proof. The American administration had to seek to convince world public opinion of contacts between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaida.
We know how that turned out.

A few paragraphs later, Habermas added this thought about the audacity of America speaking for the world on matters of shared security and democracy:
There's no way of avoiding the question of the justification of the war in general. The decisive controversy revolves around the question whether justification in the light of international law can and should be replaced by the unilateral global politics of a self-empowering hegemon.
Some of the criticisms offered by Habermas focus on practical concerns, while others are moral and legal:
A nation which reduces all options to the dumb alternatives of war and peace runs up against the limits of its own organizational powers and resources. It also leads the negotiation with competing powers and foreign cultures in false channels and pushes the coordination costs to dizzying heights.

Even if this hegemonic unilateralism were realizable it would still have side-effects which would, by its own criteria, be morally undesirable. The more that political power manifests itself in the dimensions of military, secret service and police, the more does it undermine itself -- the politics of a globally operating civilizing power -- by endangering its own mission of improving the world according to liberal ideas.

In the United States itself, the permanent regime of a "War President" is already undermining the foundations of the rule of law. Quite apart from the practiced or tolerated torture methods beyond its borders, the war regime is not only denying the prisoners of Guantnamo Bay the legal rights conferred on them by the Geneva Convention. It confers powers on the security services which encroach on the constitutional rights of its own citizens.
However, the best argument against the regime-toppling element of the Bush Doctrine is its failure to deliver on its own premises. After pointing out that Kuwait's "liberation" did not include democratization, the German scholar concludes,
"It is the very universalistic core of democracy and human rights itself which forbids its universal propagation by fire and sword....'Values' -- including those for which one could expect global recognition -- don't hang in the air; they become binding only in the normative order and practices of specific cultural forms of life....even the good hegemon (presuming for itself trusteeship in the name of the common good) has no way of knowing whether the actions it claims to be in the interests of others is indeed equally good for all.

There is no meaningful alternative to the further cosmopolitan development of an international system of law in which the voices of all concerned are given an equal and reciprocal hearing."
Habermas can make for difficult reading, but I think his point is pretty clear. And spot on.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Recess appointment

Larry Solum just posted his thoughts on the recess appointment of Charles Pickering to the federal appellate bench.

On this blog, I tend to follow US foreign policy and the election, so I'm not quite sure what to make of this apparently major (and unprecedented?) political move. Pickering was filibustered by the Democrats in the Senate, so they are not going to be happy about this. Yet, I cannot see them filibustering all Bush's judicial appointments (that would be an open war with no winners). However, I can see them lowering the bar some and filibustering a few less controversial candidates.

Why would Pickering want the job for a year?

As someone with a sabbatical forthcoming next year, I have thought long and hard about how willing I'd be to uproot my family and move somewhere for an academic term or two. There are lots of social costs for my family, who now have many deep roots in the community, and a year is not a long time to accomplish much when moving and adjustment are factored into the equation.

I'd think that even an appellate judge would face adjustment issues. Would a recess appointed judge be kind of like a strike-breaking umpire? In baseball, those guys were never fully accepted by their cohorts on the diamonds.

In any case, after weighing everything, I've concluded that it would probably be worthwhile to leave town for a year -- or even for a semester, plus a summer.

So...if anyone knows of something good, let me know. That means I want time to research and write -- not teach.

Wesley Clark and Richard Perle

Howard Dean, who apparently once flirted with Wesley Clark to see if the General wanted to be his Vice President, now says Clark is a Republican. Josh Marshall reports that Ed Gillespie and Matt Drudge are quoting identical congressional testimony from Clark, September 26, 2002, ostensibly highlighting Clark's support for the Iraq war.

However, as Marshall points out, if one actually reads the entire testimony (and not just the blips pulled out by Drudge and the RNC), Clark argued for war only if backed by a broad and legitimate multilateral coalition (preferably with the full support of the UN Security Council) and only after prolonged inspections. Clark also said that war was a bad idea unless the US was fully prepared for the post-war environment, which was likely to be quite chaotic. He warned against sinister forces taking WMD before they could be controlled and against fundamentalist takeover of Iraq.

Neoconservative Richard Perle also testified that day and he accused Clark of being "wildly optimistic" about inspections and "wholly pessimistic" about the post-war situation.

Gee, which one has been proved closer to right?

IAEA inspectors said in 2003 before the war began that there was no nuclear program -- and there was no nuclear program.

As for the post-war situation. Get a load of what Perle said:
I think nearly 30 years of Saddam Hussein's rule will inspire in the Iraqi people a desire for decent, humane government, and with help from us, I see no reason to assume (inaudible) that that can't be done. I think it can be done and I think the chances of success in that regard are infinitely greater than the likelihood that we will find the weapons of mass destruction that even a good inspection regime would be incompetent to unearth.
Hey. Maybe Perle knew there were no WMD to find, so he could make this otherwise incredible comparison.

Clark also points out the lack of connections between Iraq and al Qaeda (other than minor contacts), while Perle says the lack of evidence reflects incompetent intelligence since real (and dangerous) links are surely there.

Bottom line: Clark clearly wasn't shying away from the possibility of war with Iraq, and seemed to support congressional backing to support US policy at the UN, but he clearly thought the US had plenty of time to deal with a threat that was neither imminent, nor more important than the threat from Al Qaeda. Clark advocates the "narrowing" of the congressional resolution so as to reflect a balance of domestic power between Congress and the executive (p. 24): "not giving a blank check but expressing an intent to sign the check when all other alternatives are exhausted."

And this: "I think it's not time yet to use force against Iraq, but it is certainly time to put that card on the table, to turn it face up and to wave it." But he worries openly about an "enfeebled" UN (p. 26) and says the US should "exhaust all of the non force of arms remedies. (p. 27). And later (p. 31): "I personally really mean that you (sic) got to exhaust all the options first" before using force.

Interestingly, Clark also asserts that the intell the administration was using about a nuclear device referred to a dirty bomb, not a nuclear weapon (p. 28).

Here's what Perle said about Clark after the General left the room:
He seems to be preoccupied, and I'm quoting now, with building legitimacy, with exhausting all diplomatic remedies as though we hadn't been through diplomacy for the last decade, and relegating the use of force to a last resort, to building the broadest possible coalition...So I think General Clark simply doesn't want to see us use military force and he has thrown out as many reasons as he can develop to that but the bottom line is he just doesn't want to take action. He wants to wait."
In short, General Clark was making exactly the kinds of arguments advanced by France and Germany.

Yet, nobody is going around saying Chirac and Schoeder were really for the war.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

The Disarmament Mission

The news stories about Paul O'Neill have again raised questions about the importance of "regime change" to US Iraq policy. Was the US planning to topple Saddam Hussein from the beginning of the Bush administration? Or, did 9/11 change the way the US thought about Iraq, as the President often asserts? Why do so many of the President's supporters now fall back on the humanitarian argument? Were 9/11 and WMD truly important, or not?

I've done a little digging...

First, consider the responses of Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who had the following exchange with Tim Russert on his October 20, 2002 interview on NBC's "Meet the Press." Powell said US Iraq policy was focused on disarmament, not regime change:
MR. RUSSERT: Some who support the Iraqi position of allow us more time, give us inspections, are saying, "Mr. United States, you're saying to us in Iraq, `Give us complete unfettered access. And guess what? Even if you do, there's going to be a regime change.'"

I asked you when you were on a month ago, could you have disarmament without regime change? You told the USA Today that is it perhaps possible that if Saddam Hussein disarmed completely he could stay in power. True?

SECRETARY POWELL: What I said was that if Saddam disarmed entirely and satisfied the international community, that, in effect, would be a change in attitude and a change in the way the regime is looking at its situation in the world, and it was consistent with what the President has said previously and subsequently.

MR. RUSSERT: So he can save himself, in effect, and remain in power --

SECRETARY POWELL: All we are interested in is getting rid of those weapons of mass destruction. We think the Iraqi people would be a lot better off with a different leader, a different regime, but the principal offense here are weapons of mass destruction, and that's what this resolution is working on. There are many other resolutions that he has violated, with respect to human rights, with respect to threatening his neighbors, with respect to return of prisoners. All of those, I think, have to be dealt with in due course. But the major issue before us is disarmament. And remember where regime change came from. It came out of the previous administration; it came out of the Congress in 1998 when it was thought the only way to get rid of weapons of mass destruction was to change the regime. And we will see whether they are going to cooperate or not.

The issue right now is not even how tough an inspection regime it is or isn't. The question is will Saddam and the Iraqi regime cooperate, really, really cooperate and let the inspectors do their job. If the inspectors do their job and we can satisfy the world community that they are disarmed, that's one path. If we can't satisfy the world community that they are disarmed, that takes us down another path.
Based on Powell's remarks, it seems like Saddam Hussein could have remained in power had he disarmed (which he apparently did).

The President himself was a little more ambiguous in his statements on this matter, implying that Hussein had to meet a larger number of goals:
However, if he [Hussein] were to meet all the conditions of the United Nations, the conditions that I've described very clearly in terms that everybody can understand, that in itself will signal the regime has changed.
Bush said something very similar in the October 7, 2002, Cincinnati speech outlining alleged threats from Iraq.

There's more. In the famous "scripted" National Press Conference just before the war started in March 2003, President Bush pretty clearly focused on WMD as the primary justification for war. These are the responses to two questions (about whether Iraq might become like Vietnam and about the last-minute British proposal to set a deadline for Iraq to act:
Our mission is clear in Iraq. Should we have to go in, our mission is very clear: disarmament. And in order to disarm, it would mean regime change. I'm confident we'll be able to achieve that objective, in a way that minimizes the loss of life. No doubt there's risks in any military operation; I know that. But it's very clear what we intend to do. And our mission won't change. Our mission is precisely what I just stated.

Anything that's debated must have resolution to this issue. It makes no sense to allow this issue to continue on and on, in the hopes that Saddam Hussein disarms. The whole purpose of the debate is for Saddam to disarm. We gave him a chance. As a matter of fact, we gave him 12 years of chances. But, recently, we gave him a chance, starting last fall. And it said, last chance to disarm. The resolution said that. And had he chosen to do so, it would be evident that he's disarmed.
Feel free to refer to these statements next time someone says that the Iraq war wasn't "just" about WMD.