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Bush still insists on lying to the American public

illumin8 (148082) writes | more than 10 years ago

United States 5

Yesterday, the 9/11 commission released a report on the ties (or lack thereof) between Iraq and Al Qaeda:

The 9/11 commission's report said bin Laden "explored possible cooperation with Iraq during his time in Sudan, despite his opposition to (Saddam) Hussein's secular regime."

It says the contact was pushed by the Sudanese, "to protect their own ties with Iraq," but after bin Laden asked for space in Iraq for training camps, "Iraq apparently never responded."

Yesterday, the 9/11 commission released a report on the ties (or lack thereof) between Iraq and Al Qaeda:

The 9/11 commission's report said bin Laden "explored possible cooperation with Iraq during his time in Sudan, despite his opposition to (Saddam) Hussein's secular regime."

It says the contact was pushed by the Sudanese, "to protect their own ties with Iraq," but after bin Laden asked for space in Iraq for training camps, "Iraq apparently never responded."

The report also said, "There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda also occurred after bin Laden had returned to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship." - Source - CNN.com.

In the face of this damning evidence, the honorable thing to do would be to admit your error and apologize to the American public. Of course, this is expecting entirely too much from an administration that has repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to deceive the people in order to accomplish their political objectives.

Instead, the administration has gone into full-on damage control mode by sending Cheney out to try and discredit the media.

Let's compare Bush's statement from October 2002 (at the bottom of this article), with the findings of the 9/11 commission, and Bush's statement yesterday:

"Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases." - GWB, October, 2002

"There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda also occurred after bin Laden had returned to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship." - 9/11 Commission, June, 2004

"The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda [is] because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda." - GWB, June, 2004

Let's summarize here. It appears that the administration's strategy to mitigate the political damage caused by telling one lie, is simply to tell more lies. Brilliant, but it won't work. Do they really think the American public is that stupid?

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not to be too cynical... (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 10 years ago | (#9469428)

but do you think they aren't that stupid?

Re:not to be too cynical... (1)

illumin8 (148082) | more than 10 years ago | (#9469826)

but do you think they aren't that stupid?

God, I hope not, but I just found this great Bushism that really explains a lot about their opinion of the American public:

"You can fool some of the people all the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on." -- George W. Bush (spoken at a Washington Dinner, March 2001)

Cheney's latest remarks on Iraqi-Al Qaeda ties (1)

LinuxParanoid (64467) | more than 10 years ago | (#9471420)

You raise two assertions. 1) Cheney was out to try and discredit the media, and 2) the administration, via these Cheney (and Bush) remarks, is trying to mitigate political damage by telling lies, hoping the American public is stupid.

A) Based on my reading of the transcript of the full Cheney interview [drudgereportarchives.com] , Cheney was largely attacking a misleading NY Times headline and was not engaged in an attempt to discredit the media in general. If you want to say equate the NY Times with "the media", then I would agree with you that that's what Cheney was doing; otherwise I'd say he had a more specific target.

While I do not give the administration a pass on their use of force in Iraq, I actually agree with Cheney that the NYTimes headline "Panel Finds No Qaeda-Iraqi Tie" [nytimes.com] is largely misleading.

The headline is true in the context of 9-11 alone, but false in the broader context; the panel examined the 9-11 context alone and specifically claimed not to be addressing the broader question of Al-Qaeda/Iraq ties.

The author of the article clearly understood this type of distinction, quoting the administration position that they were making a distinction between "Al Qaeda and 9-11 ties" (for which there's no known evidence besides the infamous possible Czech meeting) and "Al Qaeda and Iraq ties" (for which there is a range of evidence, described more below).

However, the NY Times headline writer was either incompetent or deceptive (note: the same complaint made about the Bush administration), not making that fairly relevant distinction in the headline. "Iraq" and "9-11" do contain the same number of letters, so the 'omitting accuracy in the interest of brevity' defense is not sufficient to explain the grossly misleading headline.

2) As I parse it, the 9/11 commission report says that Iraq and Al Qaeda doesn't have a collaborative relationship, while the administration is saying that they do have a relationship. (It's not 100% clear to me whether or not the commission is denying wholly that there was any type of relationship.)

The distinction presumably would be that "a collaborative relationship" is one where both parties are working together to achieve an objective, whereas "a relationship" represents a series of transactions and exchanges without any particular objective.

Cheney does try to defend that A) there were Al Qaeda-Iraqi ties, and B) those ties constituted a relationship, saying "First of all, on the question of whether or not there was any kind of a relationship, there clearly was a relationship. It's been testified to. The evidence is overwhelming. It goes back to the early '90s. It involves a whole series of contacts, high-level contacts between Osama bin Laden and Iraqi intelligence officials."

Extracting out points from the transcript of the Cheney interview above, his three key points appear to be:
  • "It involves a senior official, a brigadier general in the Iraqi intelligence service going to the Sudan before bin Laden ever went to Afghanistan to train them in bomb-making, helping teach them how to forge documents."

    (...elaborated on later in the interview:...) "...but in the fall of '95 and again in the summer of '96, bin Laden met with Iraqi intelligence service representatives at his farm in Sudan. Bin Laden asked for terror training from Iraq. The Iraqi intelligence service responded. It deployed a bomb-making expert, a brigadier general in the Iraqi intelligence.

    BORGER: OK, but now just let me stop you there, because what this report says is that he was not given the support that he had asked for from Iraq, that he had requested all of these things but, in fact, did not get them.

    Vice Pres. CHENEY: He got this. We know for a fact. This is from George Tenet's testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee February 12th, 2003, etc. I mean, it's there. It's ...(unintelligible). "

  • "Mr. Zarqawi, who's in Baghdad today, is an al-Qaida associate who took refuge in Baghdad, found sanctuary and safe harbor there before we ever launched into Iraq. "

    (...and elaborated on later in the interview:...)

    "Look at the Zarqawi case. Here's a man who's Jordanian by birth. He's described as an al-Qaida associate. He ran training camps in Afghanistan back before we went to war in Afghanistan. After we went in and hit his training camp, he fled to Baghdad. Found safe harbor and sanctuary in Baghdad in May of 2002. He arrived with about two dozen other supporters of his, members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which was Zawahiri's organization. He's the number two to bin Laden, which was merged with al-Qaida interchangeably. Egyptian Islamic Jihad, al-Qaida, same-same. They're all now part of one organization. They merged some years ago. So Zarqawi living in Baghdad. We arranged for information to be passed on his presence in Baghdad to the Iraqis through a third-party intelligence service. They did that twice. There's no question but what Saddam Hussein really was there. He was allowed to operate out of Baghdad. He ran the poisons factory in northern Iraq out of Baghdad, which became a safe harbor for Ansar al-Islam as well as al-Qaida fleeing Afghanistan. There clearly was a relationship there that stretched back over that period of time to at least May of '02, a year before we launched into Iraq. He is the worst offender. He's probably killed more Iraqis than any other man in Iraq today. He is probably the leading terrorist still operating in Iraq today.

    BORGER: Now some say that he corresponded with al-Qaida only after Saddam was deposed.

    Vice Pres. CHENEY: That's not true. He had been involved working side by side, as described by the CIA, with al-Qaida over the years. This is an old established relationship. He's the man who killed our man Foley in Jordan, an AID official, during this period of time. To suggest that there's no connection between Zarqawi, no relationship if you will, and Iraq just simply is not true. "

  • "There's a Mr. Yasin, who was a World Trade Center bomber in '93, who fled to Iraq after that and we found since when we got into Baghdad, documents showing that he was put on the payroll and given housing by Saddam Hussein after the '93 attack; in other words, provided safe harbor and sanctuary. There's clearly been a relationship. "

Now I don't know whether these three elements are sufficient to "prove" a relationship existed, but they would (for me) create a reasonable degree of suspicion that some sort of relationship existed. This fairly weak degree of relationship would not by itself justify a war of course, but I do not think raising it constitutes lies that are being used to cover up more lies.

I am, of course, open to correction on that. ;-) And if you can point out where I'm being "stupid", then so much the better.

--LP

Re:Cheney's latest remarks on Iraqi-Al Qaeda ties (0, Troll)

illumin8 (148082) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473747)

Wow, let me compliment you first of all on your research. You're very thorough. I hadn't read that Cheney interview and it reveals a lot of what they know, or "think they know".

I think I appreciate now that there is some type of distinction between Iraqi involvement in 9/11 and simply Iraqi support for Al-Qaeda. You and I probably agree that Iraq was not involved with the 9/11 attacks. Whether Iraq has a relationship with Al-Qaeda or not is still up for debate, and I think, if Cheney's intelligence is correct (big if, in my book, given Tenet's past missteps on WMDs), and if Cheney isn't fabricating the intelligence (second big if; think of the financial incentive he has to fabricate intelligence, given his Halliburton stock options that are worth millions), then yeah, that might justify somewhat invading Iraq.

You and I are very intelligent folks, and while we might be able to make the distinction between the two, the fact of the matter is, the American public is not that smart, and doesn't research matters like this. When Bush says "Al-Qaeda Bad! 9/11 Bad! Al-Qaeda has ties with Iraq", the public just naturally connects the dots in their head and says "yeah, get that Saddam guy, he must have caused 9/11". The Bush administration has never tried to clarify this misconception. They should have been more forthright and said "We don't want to mislead you into thinking that Saddam had anything to do with 9/11, but he does have ties with Al-Qaeda." Instead, they purposefully played off of that public misconception in order to justify invasion of Iraq. That is dishonest in my book.

Speaking of Cheney, the conflict of interest is HUGE. It's just too big to ignore. Halliburton was awarded Iraqi reconstruction contracts that no other companies were allowed to bid on. You may say that Halliburton is the only company capable of a project of this scale, but nevertheless the fact remains that the increase in Halliburton's stock price has made Cheney a very wealthy man several times over.

The problem I have with your sources is that they are only Cheney and Tenet! Cheney has a conflict of interest, and Tenet has been proven to give faulty intelligence to prop up the administration's need to go to war. Unless you can find an independent third source that will substantiate Cheney's testimony, I'm going to believe the 9/11 commission and other more impartial sources.

BTW, a very good read on these issues can be found at the House Committee on Government Reform. [house.gov] Of particular interest is the report titled Iraq on the Record, the Bush Administration's Public Statements on Iraq. [house.gov]

Cheney and Halliburton payoff (?) (1)

LinuxParanoid (64467) | more than 10 years ago | (#9501551)

Thank you for the respectful response. One is never quite sure on Slashdot what to expect. :-)

The $64 (or is it $640?) billion dollar question is whether Bush brought us into a just war, and did he do so justly. I confess to not being fully convinced one way or the other yet. For me the issue turns on issues like "Did Bush lie?" "Does Bush passing along Tenet's 'slam dunk' analysis constitute either a lie or incompetence in Bush's assessment of intel or political risks?" "Are there highly pertinent pieces of intelligence justifying the 'slam dunk' claim whose mere existence has never been disclosed to avoid jeapordizing super-secret sources & methods?" "How could (or should?) I try to distinguish between administration lies and secret-intel-driven analysis not even given to Congress?" "Did Iraq just move its WMD out of the country and try to maintain some just-in-time ability to fetch it back and or rebuild capabilities if needed?" "Did the US intel services fool themselves (due to political pressure, etc?)" "Did we really know all along that Iraq didn't have anything (a la Scott Ritter's now-fairly prescient claims)?"

Regarding "The Bush administration has never tried to clarify this misconception.", if you changed it to "The Bush administration never worked very hard to clarify this misperception", I'd agree with you. They did make a token attempt at clarifying it in December or so before the war according to my memory, but I basically agree with your complaint there.

The "Cheney is motivated by a Halliburton payoff" argument has never struck me as particularly strong. It seems more like a smear by corporate association, with a political payoff for the Democrats who make it the most frequently and with the most force. The case is flimsy at best, misleading at worst. (Such misleading is particularly ironic given that it's made in the same breath as complaints about Bush's misleading, etc...) Before I get into why I perceive that, I would disclose up-front that a very close family member has worked for the last 10 or so years at KBR, a Halliburton subsidiary, so I have watched the issue with more than a passing degree of interest: who doesn't want to know if their close relative works for a corrupt company? And who doesn't wonder if they can get the straight scoop from an insider they trust at the company?

Anyway, here are four basic reasons why the Halliburton conflict-of-interest story just doesn't make any sense to me:
  • Halliburton stock is up recently, but the stock is lower now than when Bush took office. See this 5-year chart [yahoo.com] . Over the last five years, Halliburton has generally done worse than the S&P 500! [yahoo.com] Cheney would be better off with his money in an index fund. Your claim that the increase in Halliburton's stock price has made Cheney a very wealthy man several times over just doesn't make sense to me.
  • I remember thinking that Cheney actually went beyond the call of duty when he got into office; I seem to recall him not just putting his Halliburton stock into a blind trust (which I would consider sufficient and is what I recall Gore doing with his Occidental Petroleum stock in an analogous controversy) but selling it off completely. A quick google turned up this liberal critique [perkel.com] of Cheney which seems to confirm this: On Meet the Press Sept. 14, Cheney disavowed any present connection to Halliburton: "And since I left Halliburton to become George Bush's vice president, I've severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interests. I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had now for over three years." although it goes on to make various other analysis which somehow shows Cheney making money in some way that I find fairly uncompelling.
  • My third claim is a bit harder for you to verify, but I think if you'll look into it, you'll be able to confirm it. The biggest single factor moving Halliburton's stock up and down has been the fate of a series of asbestos liabilities and litigation that Halliburton acquired when it merged with Dresser Industries. (Hrm, I thought I'd have a hard time documenting this, but Google [google.com] rapidly delivered both this [thestreet.com] and this [fool.com] stories which cover most of what I know.) And this story [independent-media.tv] covers the eventual outcome of that liability- the parts of Halliburton liable went into bankruptcy. (One could say this was a dodge of sorts, but that would sort of depend on your general view of trial lawyers, lawsuits, corporate responsibility, etc plus a raft of specifics that I've found to boring/irrelevant to investigate.) Anyway, my point here is that the stock is not being moved by Iraq-related profits, but deviations from the S&P have mostly been asbestos-related. This factoid is insider baseball a bit, but I think it's true and its relevant to any discussion of Halliburton stock fluctuations over the last 0-5 years.
  • Finally, while Halliburton was awarded reconstruction contracts on a no-bid basis (under Clinton too, not just Bush I might add), basically the company hasn't made much money on those contracts. I don't have exact figures here and don't know precisely how much Halliburton discloses on this stuff, but my understanding is that even on a billion-dollar contract, Halliburton makes in the tens of millions of dollars on it which doesn't add too much money to the bottom line of a $16-billion revenue company. A recent Financial Times [ft.com] article explains this from a Halliburton exec/shareholder perspective. Now between you and me, I wonder if any subcontractors somewhere/somehow are getting rich, but it doesn't seem like Halliburton or its shareholders are. And the proof of this in the end is the stock price, which as I discussed earlier, hasn't gone sideways or down depending on the timeframe you look at and is in any case widely acknowledged to be most heavily affected by this asbestos litigation issue.

    Sorry if this is overly thorough but the Cheney/Halliburton thing is a bit of a hotbutton with me that I have thought about and looked into. I should go back and reread those Waxman "Iraq on the Record" quotes that you mentioned as part of my excercise to make up my mind about the issues I raised in paragraph 2. I read articles about that Waxman-initiated document but never read the actual full thing.

    Cheers,
    --LP
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