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.

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.