Act IV

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
 
FRANCIS BACON QUOTE (Francis Bacon – Novum Organum Scientiarum, 1650)

The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion … draws all things else to support and agree with it. And though there be a greater number and weight of instances to be found on the other side, yet these it either neglects or despises … in order that by this great and pernicious predetermination the authority of its former conclusions may remain inviolate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RWM: It was never just “Bush’s War” — he had lots of help, including from the Democrats who are ever-accommodating on the national security front. Nobody can top Glenn Greenwald’s gold-standard summation of that from a 2008 article on Salon.com: “Here we have a perfect expression of the most self-destructive Democratic disease which they seem unable to cure. More than anything — they fear looking weak. To avoid this, they cave, surrender, capitulate — and stand for nothing.”

HUBRIS: Tom Daschle  — once again, was torn. He wasn’t sure what to make of the aerial photographs. In and of themselves, they didn’t mean anything. You couldn’t see much: they were blurry pictures of buildings or warehouses that could be anything. He later admitted that he was embarrassed that he hadn’t challenged Cheney. Daschle had once been an intelligence officer in the Air Force. It had been his job to interpret photos. But here was Cheney telling the four leaders of Congress what they were looking at. Daschle didn’t trust Cheney. But the Senate majority leader wanted to grant Cheney and Tenet the benefit of the doubt on fundamental questions of national security.

RWM: That epitomizes the façade that the Democratic Party lives by — undermining their instincts by eternally calculating the cost of conviction.

WASHINGTON, D.C. NEWSPAPER, THE HILL (June 19th, 2007): John Kerry later admitted to not reading the full N.I.E. report and voted in favor of the invasion: “I read the summary, but I didn’t read the full report because I got it from them straight” — referring to personal briefings he had with senior administration officials.

ASSOCIATED PRESS (October 3rd, 2004): Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry seized on the latest debate over flawed prewar intelligence as more evidence that the Bush administration misled the country into invading Iraq.

RWM: GIVE ME A BREAK! By miserably failing to ask tough questions, you abdicated your responsibility. You closed your eyes and then wondered why you couldn’t see. And then shamelessly cried foul — blaming it all on Bush out of convenience. The same way you cast your conscience aside in going along with the crowd.

RWM: In that September 24th, 2002 Senate foreign relations committee meeting, Tenet’s testimony revealed the reality of the intel — along with the on-tap acquiescence of the Democrats.

HUBRIS:  When Biden and other committee members pressed Tenet on the sourcing for these claims, they got little in the way of answers. During the questioning, a committee staff member slipped Senator Biden a note with a suggested query, and Biden put this question to Tenet: “What ‘technically collected’ evidence did the C.I.A. have of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction?” What the staffer had in mind was physical proof: radioactive emissions from nuclear sites, electronic intercepts, samples of biological agents. Anything that would be hard and irrefutable. “None, Senator,” Tenet replied.

RWM: It was Senator Biden who invited the witnesses from D.O.E. and I.N.R. to testify on the tubes — so he well aware of the dissenting arguments.  Couple that with the fact that the C.I.A. had to be compelled to produce the N.I.E. — and that the White House was peddling W.M.D. with certitude. And yet the Director of the C.I.A. was sitting there saying they had NO irrefutable evidence. Afflicted with Greenwald’s well-defined disease, Biden voted for the war resolution anyway. Bush loyalists love to seize on meaningless quotes by Democrats to bolster their beliefs — never mind that they are clinging to the word of people who spend their lives immersed in ulterior motives. Some circles call that evidence. I call it cowardice.

RWM: Republican  Representative Walter Jones became one of the few who had courage to admit that he was wrong — and he even confessed that his vote was politically motivated. You can tell this guy is sincere in the following clip,  and I have no desire to disparage him — I respect that he has the integrity for remorse. I offer his admission only to further illustrate how the war was rigged. What’s done is done, but it takes a lot of courage to come clean — which is something Colin Powell seems entirely incapable of.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUBRIS: SELLING THE IRAQ WAR

REP. WALTER JONES: If I had read the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, I probably would have been — have done myself a favor by being better informed on the intelligence rather than listening to the administration. . . . In my heart, I knew that a no to the authority for the president was the right vote, but yet I was not strong enough to vote my conscience. . . . I was more concerned about the politics in my decision, rather than what is right, and what is wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RWM: One of the finest moments I’ve ever seen on cable news was when Joe Scarborough took Chris Matthews to task for his over-the-top allegiance to Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORNING JOE November 6, 2008

CHRIS MATTHEWS: You know what, I want to do everything I can to make this thing work, this new presidency work.

JOE SCARBOROUGH:  Is that your job? You just talked about being a journalist.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Yeah, it is my job.

JOE SCARBOROUGH:  So your job as a journalist is to make this presidency work?

CHRIS MATTHEWS: To make this work successfully. Because this country needs a successful presidency — more than anything right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RWM: Even by the non-journalistic standards of cable news, that vastly lowers the bar. Unfortunately, Scarborough’s scrutiny was not so sharp when it mattered most. His nightly show Scarborough Country ran from April 2003 through June 2007. In all those episodes over 4 years, the only time he ever mentioned the aluminum tubes was on January 26th, 2005 — and only because he was defending Condoleezza Rice over a cartoon. The next time the tubes came up was later that year on December 7th with some back and forth between Scarborough and Al Franken over George Tenet’s “slam-dunk” assertion. Scarborough seized on that declaration as evidence to absolve Bush of any wrongdoing on the W.M.D. debacle. The following scene took place on December 21st, 2002 — and it’s from Bob Woodward’s second book in his 4-part series on the Bush Administration.

PLAN OF ATTACK: When Deputy C.I.A. Director John McLaughlin concluded his W.M.D. presentation — there was a look on the president’s face of — What’s this? “Nice try,” Bush said. — “I don’t think this is something that Joe Public would understand or gain a lot of confidence from.” Chief of Staff Andy Card was also underwhelmed. The presentation was a flop. In terms of marketing, the examples didn’t work, the charts didn’t work, the photos were not gripping, the intercepts were less than compelling. Bush turned to Tenet . . . “I’ve been told all this intelligence about having W.M.D. and this is the best we’ve got?” . . . “Don’t worry, it’s a slam dunk!,” Tenet said.

RWM: It should be incredibly telling that the President accepted Tenet’s affirmation at face value. His triumphant effort to soothe the president’s concerns smacks of someone eager to please. And take notice of the fact that Bush wasn’t worried about whether or not there were W.M.Ds — he was only concerned the weakness of the sales pitch. Tenet would later say that “slam dunk” were “the two dumbest words” he ever said. And therein lies the question. It somehow escaped Scarborough that in all his obsession over the fact that Tenet said it was a “slam-dunk” — the real question is why he said it. Franken tried to address the tubes — but Scarborough evaded the issue by redirecting the discussion back to the narrative he wants to spin. Your guest raised a critical point, Joe, but rather than show him some courtesy, and maybe an ounce of curiosity, your very next words were: “All right, Al, let me ask you this question.” . . . It amazes me that people can pull that stunt and still see themselves as a bastion of civility. Rather than take the opposition’s argument into account, Scarborough skated right on by it. “Defenders of the faith” are what I call the believers of the “faith-based intelligence” that Greg Thielmann coined. They are so fixated on protecting their platform that they will isolate anything to defend the indefensible.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THE O’REILLY FACTOR, March 3, 2011

BILL O’REILLY: But I submit to you and you know I was a supporter of the Iraq war. Ok? And I don’t blame you for weapons of mass destruction, I think what the data we had anybody could have made that mistake. New York Times had it on the front page they had weapons of mass destruction. But the way the war was waged, come on. That was a big screw up. We didn’t have enough troops there. We didn’t — we underestimated the problems there. Didn’t we?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RWM: BILL — you acted like Rumsfeld just ran a red light. AAAHHHHH . . . it can happen to anybody. And you’d think that someone in O’Reilly’s role would know after nine years that the New York Times tale was total bunk. And while I give him credit for rebuking Rumsfeld on the war itself — incisive inquiry demands far more than making critical commentary on the readily obvious. Reading up the aluminum tubes actually takes a little effort — and O’Reilly never budged one bit in that direction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THE O’REILLY FACTOR, March 20, 2007

ROCKY ANDERSON: Have you seen the national intelligence estimate that was provided in October of 2002 , in which the intelligence agency under the State Department said that Iraq was not building up a nuclear capability, that this whole story about the aluminum tubes was completely off base.

BILL O’REILLY: We had William Cohen, Secretary of Defense on here, under President Clinton. He believed, and so did President Clinton, that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.

Mayor, very instructive.

ROCKY ANDERSON:  Well.

BILL O’REILLY:  We appreciate you coming on the program. And we got to go because it’s only an hour program.

ROCKY ANDERSON:  You are really something, Bill.

BILL O’REILLY:  I know I am. I appreciate it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RWM: A one hour program that runs 5 days a week — and yet in its entire history, O’Reilly has never even uttered the words “aluminum tubes.” It just doesn’t register with the likes of O’Reilly that what Clinton and Cohen thought is entirely irrelevant to the tubes — but smugly circulating invalid arguments is the way of the world now. When debating our various views, we would do well to remember the wisdom of The Deer Hunter:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THE DEER HUNTER

Stanley, see this — this is this, this ain’t somethin’ else, this is this!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RWM: That 5 second scene is essence of arguing on the merits — which means to stay true to the topic at hand.  More specifically, let’s look at the definition of “merits” — since not everyone understands it (and so few practice it). From The Free Dictionary.com: “Merits are the intrinsic rights and wrongs of an issue — as distinct from extraneous matters and technicalities. The FACTUAL content of a matter — apart from emotional considerations.” Citing outdated and generic claims from Democrats is an emotional response to outright reject opposing arguments in a wholesale manner. That is the epitome of spin — to engineer an illusion — to make you believe that something meaningless has substance. O’Reilly wasn’t done deriding his guest. Later that month THE FACTOR did a follow-up called Telling the Truth — where O’Reilly invited a friend who would happily join him in ridiculing Rocky Anderson.

(BEGIN REENACTMENT)

REENACTMENT OF “THE O’REILLY FACTOR” INTERVIEW ON March 23, 2007:

BILL O’REILLY: Well our pal Debra Saunders, a columnist at The San Francisco Chronicle, saw that interview of Rocky Anderson and did a little research. She joins us now from San Fran. All right, tell us what you found out.

DEBRA SAUNDERS: Well, I’m watching the interview and it just made me angry. I thought I read the N.I.E. key judgments and I remember them a little differently. I pulled them up — and guess what? It says that Saddam Hussein has biological and chemical weapons — No doubt. Those are W.M.Ds. And the report also said that most intelligence agencies believe that Saddam was working on a nuclear program. So while there was one group that said that they were skeptical about the nuclear program — the majority of intelligence agencies believe that Saddam was working on them.

(END REENACTMENT)

RWM: First off, you brought on a conservative columnist who did 5 minutes of superficial research and this is your gold standard of veracity? Secondly, the key judgments do not remotely reflect the reality of the 92 page document. And undoubtedly she doesn’t have the slightest clue that the C.I.A. manipulated the majority vote on the tubes.

RWM: To be fair, not everyone on that network was so imprudent. One of the better interviews I’ve seen was Chris Wallace interviewing Condoleezza Rice on October 10th, 2004. She tried spinning the same talking points that George Stephanopoulos nailed her on the week before — which is all the more reason why Wallace should have been more prepared. Despite both of these guys handling her better than most, they were way off the mark given the overwhelming amount of evidence in the public domain at that time.

RWM: To be fair, not everyone on that network was so imprudent. One of the better interviews I’ve seen was Chris Wallace interviewing Condoleezza Rice on October 10th, 2004. She tried spinning the same talking points that George Stephanopoulos nailed her on the week before — which is all the more reason why Wallace should have been more prepared. Despite both of these guys handling her better than most, they were way off the mark given the overwhelming amount of evidence in the public domain at that time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCROLL LIST OF OVERWHELMING AMOUNT OF EVIDENCE AVAILABLE BY October 3, 2004:

Aluminum Tubing Is an Indicator
of an Iraqi Gas Centrifuge Program:
But Is the Tubing Specifically for Centrifuges?
9-page paper
By David Albright
The Institute for Science
and International Security
October 9, 2002

 

The CIA’s Aluminum Tubes’ Assessment:
Is the Nuclear Case Going Down the Tubes?
7-page paper
By David Albright
The Institute for Science
and International Security
March 10, 2003

 

Depiction of Threat
Outgrew Supporting Evidence
10-page article
THE WASHINGTON POST
August 10, 2003

 

Truth, War & Consequences
Greg Thielmann
PBS FRONTLINE
Air Date: October 9, 2003

 

The Man Who Knew
Greg Thielmann
Prof. Houston Wood
60 MINUTES II
Air Date: October 15, 2003

 

Spinning the Tubes
Prof. Houston Wood
David Albright
Greg Thielmann
Australia’s FOUR CORNERS
Air Date: October  27, 2003

 

Iraq’s Aluminum Tubes:
Separating Fact from Fiction
39-page paper
by David Albright
The Institute for Science
and International Security
December 5, 2003

WMD in IRAQ:
Evidence and Implications
108-page paper
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
January 2004

 

Greg Thielmann interview
CNN NEWSNIGHT
with Aaron Brown
Air Date: January 30, 2004

 

Senate Intelligence
Committee Report
511-page paper
July 9, 2004

 

White House
Embraced Suspect
Iraq Arms Intelligence
22-page article
NEW YORK TIMES
October 3, 2004

 

And so many great
books and articles that
followed . . . piling onto

Mount Everest
of the Obvious

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RWM: For people who ask questions for a living, I would think that they would have a better command of material of this magnitude. But they blew huge opportunities on even the most basic questions. In both interviews, Rice claimed that she knew there was a dispute on the tubes, but that she didn’t know the nature of it until the N.I.E. was being produced. How could their next question not be: “Wouldn’t it fall under your purview as National Security Adviser to investigate such a matter before touting mushroom clouds on TV?” And neither one of them asked: “Why didn’t the you force the C.I.A. to go through the Joint Atomic Energy Intelligence Committee to settle the dispute over the tubes?” And when Rice issued her  canned comeback that the Department of Energy “joined in the assessment that Iraq was reconstituting his nuclear weapons program,” that would have been a good time to bring up Thomas Ryder.

WORLD NET DAILY (August 6th, 2003): At the time of the National Intelligence Estimate, Ryder was only filling in as acting director of Energy’s intelligence office. “They were in a transition period, and the guy that was sitting at the table is not an intel guy. He’s an H.R. guy,” said an Energy source. “And they just left the guy in there.”

WORLD NET DAILY (August 12th, 2003): Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham gave Ryder a $13,000 performance bonus after the N.I.E. report was released and just before the war, department sources say. He had received an additional $7,500 before the report. “That’s a hell of a lot of money for an intelligence director who had no experience or background in intelligence, and who’d only been running the office for nine months,” said one source — who added: “Something’s fishy.” Energy officials say Ryder rubber-stamped the administration’s conclusion that Baghdad was reactivating a nuclear weapons program –over the objections of Energy’s nuclear weapons research labs and senior members of his own staff. George Tenet’s own book confirms Ryder’s lack of credentials: “The Department of Energy’s representative at the N.I.E. meeting delivered his agency’s assessment that the tubes were probably not part of a nuclear program. He was not a technical expert, however, and despite being given several opportunities — he was unable to explain the basis of his department’s view in anything approaching a convincing manner. About all we could take away from his statement was that the D.O.E. did not disagree that Saddam was trying to revive his nuclear weapons program.”

RWM: That’s pretty convenient. You knew Ryder didn’t know what he was talking about, but he told you what you wanted to hear — so why bother seeking out someone qualified? That’s par for the course since Tenet claimed to be in the dark on the tubes despite a holy war right in front of his face. The very article that Stephanopoulos cited from the New York Times addresses Ryder’s role in detail — and perfectly summed up its world-altering significance: “The C.I.A. seized on the Energy Department’s position to avoid the entire tubes debate — with written dissents relegated to a 10-page annex.” All that and a mountain of evidence more — and still Wallace and Stephanopoulos didn’t arm themselves with questions that insist on specificity.

When Stephanopoulos asked Rice why she claimed that the tubes were only suited for nuclear weapons, she put on a clinic of obfuscation. Since the story hinges on dimensions, material, and quantity — how could you fail to focus on those factors? Try this sampling on for size: “Ms. Rice — I know what the C.I.A. thought about the tubes — what I’m asking is why they thought that way.” And when she repeatedly deflects your questions to talk quantity, tolerances, tube price, and anodization — you’re armed to the teeth with questions that shut her down in every direction.

I would love to see the look on her face when someone asked her what the separative capacity of their doctored tube would be. It doesn’t matter if the audience doesn’t understand the essentials of uranium enrichment — what you’re trying to ascertain is whether or not she does. If she can’t explain even the basics behind why dimensions, material, and quantity matter in the context of U-235 output — now you can circle back around to those mushroom clouds and show that they simply made it up.

But what would have happened had Chris Wallace lived up to his potential and boxed Rice into a corner with probing questions? A consistently honest effort would have pealed back the layers of the entire charade. And with an intensive interest in the truth, how long would the likes of O’Reilly and Hannity continue to ignore the inquiries of their own colleagues? The answer to that lies in understanding what a pundit really is — which author Eric Alterman brings to light:

For pundit chat, the qualifications usually include: not being too fat or too ugly; the ability to speak in short sentences and project an engaging personality — and a willingness to speak knowingly about matters which one knows little or nothing. Believe it or not, ignorance is actually an advantage, since it allows you to ignore the inherent complexity of any given problem with a concise quip and a clear conscience. As Capital Gang panelist Margaret Carlson observed, ‘The less you know about something, the better off you are. Network executives and news producers are looking for the person who can sound learned without confusing the matter with too much knowledge.’ . . . Owing to its tangled roots in personal journalism, political commentary, and television production values, the pun-dit-ocracy never developed a recognizable code of ethics.

Nowhere is that more clear than the flagrant failure of the cable-news clans to address the evidence with intellectual inquiry. Matching Scarborough’s record, the only time Hannity ever uttered the words “aluminum tubes” was in defense of Condoleezza Rice over the cartoon of her nursing the tubes. Clearly the image was racist, but I would think that her record of titanic deception would be of more concern. Hannity’s co-host Alan Colmes brought up the tubes 9 times between January 29th, 2003 and December 12th, 2005 (8 of which were in Hannity’s presence). In each instance Hannity ignored the inquiry or deflected attention elsewhere. But what did Colmes expect with generic statements like: “We were misled about aluminum tubes.”? And Chris Matthews wasn’t any better. While the tubes were casually mentioned on HARDBALL over 40 times, not once were the dimensions discussed in any detail. But Lawrence O’Donnell takes the cake in his 2011 interview of Condoleezza Rice — where he just fired off empty rhetoric that made for another pointless interview. Mr. O’Donnell, you had NINE years of exhaustively-detailed material to work from — and the media’s history of failed interviews from which to recognize what doesn’t deliver answers. And yet you didn’t ask a single question of substance.

Connecting the dots is about finding a trail and taking it where it leads — and yet according to my Nexis news database search, Joe Turner’s name has never been mentioned on any of the networks. Contrast that with the cascade of coverage on Joe Wilson. One whiff of his wife Valerie Plame working at the C.I.A. — and in no time flat she’s got a “GATE” slapped on her last name. That trite tagline symbolizes how scandals are dirty cheap in an age where propaganda easily passes as information. All the more reason why in this story — 10 pages of reading trumps 10,000 hours of TV. That’s not hyperbole! Let’s say you watched around 3 hours of news every day over the last decade. All the networks combined wouldn’t come close to what The Washington Post wrote in its August 10th, 2003 article called — Depiction of Threat Outgrew Supporting Evidence. “His name was Joe” are the first four words.

This concludes Act IV

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FLAG ANIMATION TO THE BALLAD OF THE GREEN BERETS

Back at home a young wife waits
Her Green Beret has met his fate
He has died for those oppressed
Leaving her this last request

The Green Berets - Record Cover

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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