Thursday, November 17, 2005

Differing Evidentiary Standards

Joel Engel, one of the most elegant writers working today, has an excellent piece about Democrats, 9/11, and Iraq.

Engel recalls the Democratic hysteria--the questioning of "What Bush knew and when he knew it" about 9/11--all of which was based on a single Presidential Daily Briefing from August 6, 2001. Engel then turns to Iraq:
Now comes early 2003. Saddam Hussein has failed to comply with his 17th United Nations resolution by, as even Hans Blix agreed, not providing a complete and detailed list of all WMD and ballistic missile capabilities (remember: it was up to him to come clean, not up to us to seek and find the weapons). The resolution (1441) has threatened "serious consequences" for failure to comply, but the French and Russians, their Security Council palms greased by oil-for-food bribes, are whispering in Saddam's ear that they won't go along with any military action and that, in fact, there's a good chance they can get the 12-year-old sanctions against him lifted. Indeed, this reflects a growing consensus of world opinion.

Back in Washington, the president and Congress have access to bales full of intelligence from around the world stating that Hussein has an active WMD program, including biological, chemical, and probably nuclear capabilities. Even the Egyptians are warning the president that Iraq is well-armed and dangerous. The Senate, having viewed that intelligence and consulted with international leaders, is on the record, both verbally and with a vote, as supporting the notion that Saddam Hussein needs to go before he attacks America. . . .

Think about this from the president's point of view: Much of the country is calling for your head regarding your alleged failure to prevent 9/11 when no firm intelligence predicted such a thing. Do you really have any choice but to act on the overwhelming amount of clear evidence that says bad things are happening beneath hidden bunkers in Iraq? No. You have no other way out than to fight preemptively. If you don't, well, heaven forbid another attack is made on American soil--with grotesque weapons that came out of Iraq after sanctions were lifted and Saddam's WMD program was reconstituted (as the Duelfur Report later extrapolated).

I'm only summarizing, as with everything Engel writes, this deserves to be read in full.


Anonymous said...

Give me a break:

"Much of the country is calling for your head regarding your alleged failure to prevent 9/11..."

And when are you yahoos going to stop blurring the distinction between 9/11 and Iraq?

Anonymous said...

9.16 Anon, stuff a sock in it already. Engel isn't blurring the distinction at all; he's pointing out that Bush was roundly castigated for not responding to a thinly intel'd threat on the one hand, while at the same time getting grief for formulating a response to a massively (albeit incorrectly) intel'd threat on the other.

If you want to harp on something, why not point out that "alleged failure to prevent 9/11" is a curious turn of phrase, since Bush *undeniably* failed to prevent 9/11, even if his culpability for that failure is open to debate.

Anonymous said...

This debate isn't going anywhere until it is acknowledged that the President cherry-picked which intelligence to share with Congress.

Anonymous said...

This debate isn't going anywhere until it is acknowledged by those that accuse the President of cherry-picking which intelligence to share with Congress that Congress got exactly the same intelligence as the President got.

Anonymous said...

Why do people keep talking about the intelligence the president "provided" to congress? Congress has it's own intelligence commttee. They can subpoena anyone they want to come and brief them. They're privy to everything the White House is. IT'S THE LAW THAT THEY ARE AND THEIR JOB TO PROVIDE OVERSIGHT.

kwAwk said...

Bush wasn't accused just of not responding to a thinly intel'd threat on 9/11. What he did was not place the proper level of importance on terrorism prevention that he should have, and that Clinton had done during the first few months of his administration. He had an outdated mindset, provided by Condi, that viewed the old Soviet block as our main adversary and not terrorists.

Bush dropped the ball in the first 9 months of his Presidency on the issue of terrorism and Al Qaida. This is not an excuse however, to go completely the opposite direction and invade Iraq on shakey grounds just to show that you get it now.

Righties need to quit pretending that Bush can do no wrong. What would have taken a lot of the steam out of the Bush Lied! arguement would have been for Bush himself, and the Repubs in congres and in the media, give an honest evaluation of the Presidents policies and actions and admit mistakes where mistakes were made.

Instead you folks want to keep pretending that Bush hasn't made some critical mistakes that have cost people lives. What you can see in the polls is that in the face of mounting evidence about those mistakes, your people look foolish and dishonest still pretending that Bush got it right.


kwAwk said...

Sorry. That should read Clinton's last months of his Presidency.

Anonymous said...

KwAwk -
Just give us one example of Clinton taking the terrorist threat seriously during the last months of his presidency? Oh, yeah. That's right. The massive retaliation that he called up in response to the Cole bombing.
You are being dishonest when you accuse "righties" of believing that the president can do no wrong. Many have criticized and continue to do so (some with better motivations than others). The reality is that Bush is the one that actually has to do the tough things and make the tough decisions and not just talk about them. I wish he could articulate it better, but I understand what the goal is.
What is most offensive to me (and I bet I speak for a lot of people) are those who take potshots at the president and do not offer any serious alternatives. The fact is we are there in Iraq and it does no good to bitch about the past. Let's have some serious thoughts and analysis from those on both sides as to what should be done and not this let's admit the mistakes crap. There is a time for that but that should not be the only focus like you want it to be.

kwAwk said...

My understanding is this, and as far as I know it has never been disputed. When terrorist chatter and activity of the type that occured in the summer before 9/11 occurred in the Clinton administration, Richard Clarke was granted the authority to bring all of the intelligence and law enforcement agencies together on a cabinet level to ensure that all of the agencies were working together to find out what was going on.

In the Bush administration none of this happened. Richard Clarke was practically begging Condi Rice to pay attention to the Al Qaida threat and get the President involved to no avail. Even if you believe that Richard Clarke is a partisan, or that Richard Clarke was "out of the loop" as Cheney said. Nobody from the Bush admin. has yet to point out who exactly it was that took over Richard Clarke's duties. Ofcourse they can't, because no one was doing that job.

kwAwk said...

And there have been many alternatives presented to the President's actions in Iraq. Increasing troop strenght to better control areas after we have driven out insurgents. Reducing troop strenght to see if the insurgency is being fueled by an American presence. Investing more heavily in infrastructure and daily life for people in Iraq to try to win the people over. Doing what is necessary to bring in more of the international community to take the focus off the US presence.

All of it has been shot down without consideration by this white house. After all if you can't admit that you have made mistakes, why would you feel the need to correct them?