Saturday, November 12, 2005

Speaking of Veterans Day...

Speaking of Veterans Day, as we were yesterday, Florida Blues points out that George W. Bush spent it stretching the truth and outright lying.

It's all about The Stovepipe, as Seymour Hersh reported two years ago -- and explained more succinctly in a companion Q & A here. Here's an excerpt:
Q. AMY DAVIDSON: Your story in the magazine this week is called “The Stovepipe.” Why?

A. SEYMOUR M. HERSH: Well, inside the military, “stovepiping” is slang for the practice of taking a piece of intelligence or a request that should be pushed through the chain of command—checked at levels and sent from one level to another—and bringing it straight to the highest authority. One of the things that people in the intelligence community have learned over the years is that early reports are often wrong. And so, before you respond to the first piece of information you have, you analyze it, you vet it, you study it, and then you make a decision about what you’re going to do with it. Stovepiping allows them to cheat the process. When you stovepipe stuff, you leave yourself open to the worst kinds of results.

Q. Is that what happened when the Bush Administration was building its case against Iraq?

A. One basic problem is that the Bush Administration changed the process in a very dramatic way. They worked it so that the raw intelligence, the reports that they wanted to hear, got to the top right away. The pro-war hawks rigged the system so that negative information about Iraq, no matter where it came from—and in many cases, we now know, much of it came from defectors who were relayed through the Iraqi National Congress, the group run by Ahmad Chalabi—was stovepiped directly to the leadership without any assessment. And so you had a situation in the Pentagon, and in the State Department, in the office of Under-Secretary John Bolton, and in the Vice-President’s office, too, in which the professionals were cut out of the process. That’s how you get to a position where Secretary of State Colin Powell can show up at the United Nations, as he did in February, and make a series of very boisterous claims about Iraq, most of which now appear to be wrong.
Even the Washington Post is onto Bush, now.

Late Edition
(Added 11-12-05 at 6:28 pm)

Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo gives a point-by-point explanation of Mr. Bush's latest mendacity, followed by this trenchant conclusion:
In the president's new angle that his critics are trying to 'rewrite history', those critics might want to point out that his charge would be more timely after he stopped putting so much effort into obstructing any independent inquiry that could allow an accurate first draft of the history to be written. In any case, he must sense now that he's blowing into a fierce wind. The judgement of history hangs over this guy like a sharp, heavy knife. His desperation betrays him. He knows it too.

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