Politics and Religion

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james868779 reads

An Iraqi urban legend
Robert Novak


July 1, 2004


WASHINGTON -- On ABC's "This Week" program Sunday, host George Stephanopoulos picked up a chestnut that's been bouncing around Washington for three months and tossed it in National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's lap. Why, he asked, did the United States pass up chances to kill terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi in 2002 and 2003? "We never had a chance to get Zarqawi," Rice replied. That exchange tells a lot about this year's presidential politics.

Why would Stephanopolous bring up another network's March broadcast of an obscure story never reported elsewhere? It has been spread by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to imply President Bush held back the attack in order to gain support for invading Iraq. Unless Rice's flat disavowal stops it, this threatens to become an urban legend used against Bush in the next 17 weeks.

One CIA source puts this aborted Zarqawi raid in the same category as Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9-11," which spreads such false information as George W. Bush's conspiring to get Osama bin Laden's relatives out of the U.S. after the terrorist attacks. The persistence of these stories sets the level of discourse about Bush's Iraq policy during a presidential campaign.

On March 2, terrorist attacks brought the death toll attributed to Zarqawi to over 700. Jim Miklaszewski, the longtime Pentagon correspondent for NBC, reported multiple U.S. chances to "wipe out" Zarqawi and his bioweapons lab. The chances were missed, according to unnamed "military officials," because "the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq would undercut the case against Saddam."

Sources quoted by name were Roger Cressey, who worked closely with Richard Clarke in the Clinton White House (staying on for a while in the Bush administration), and Brookings Institution analyst Michael O'Hanlon, who supports John Kerry for president. Cressey was quoted as saying Bush officials were "more obsessed" with overthrowing Saddam Hussein than fighting terrorism.

Rep. Vic Snyder, a Clintonite Democrat from Arkansas, at a hearing the next day read the NBC report in full and asked Assistant Defense Secretary Peter Rodman whether "that story is true or not." Rodman said he never heard anyone oppose an attack because "it would interfere with a plan to go after Saddam," adding that an attack on a bioweapons lab "could have strengthened our case."

Sen. Clinton on the next day, March 4, called the NBC report "troubling" and asked Gen. John Abizaid about it. The Central Command commander in chief replied, "I would be very surprised to find out that we had a precise location on Zarqawi." Unsatisified, the senator asked for "further investigation."

On March 9, Hillary Clinton asked CIA Director George Tenet about the story. Tenet: "I don't know that Zarqawi was up there at the time, Senator. And I don't know that the report accurately reflects the give-and-take of the decision-making at the time." In CIA-speak, that was a "no."

Paul Begala, my colleague on CNN's "Crossfire," picked up the scent. A former Clinton White House aide and tireless Bush-basher, Begala put bluntly what Snyder and Clinton only hinted. On May 14, Begala said the terrorist leader's "mere presence" in Iraq "was used to justify Mr. Bush's invasion of Iraq." On June 23, he said that thanks to Bush's emphasis on making "a case for invading Iraq," Zarqawi was permitted "to live and to kill and to kill and to kill."

Stephanopoulos, like Begala a former Clinton White House political aide, took up the story on ABC Sunday but without overt accusations against the president. Unlike the cautious responses by the Defense and CIA officials, Rice's flat denial might make it more difficult to keep the urban legend going through the campaign.

Jim Miklaszewski told me he stands by his story, and pointed to House Armed Services Committee hearings April 21. Congressman Snyder brought the NBC story up to retired Gen. John Keane, and asked why the attack was rejected. "No, I can't help you," the former Army acting chief of staff replied. "We were looking at it as early as the Fourth of July weekend before we commenced activities against Iraq." That confirmed an attack on Zarqawi's camp was considered. It did not confirm the Iraqi urban legend spread by Hillary Clinton and friends.

2sense7861 reads

Hmm! Maybe if Novak had not participated in "outing" Valerie Plame (i.e., the non-official cover "noc" CIA agent), I'd be more inclined to listen to him.

And could someone please explain to me why Novak has not been indicted for this "slam-dunk" felony offense?

bribite10182 reads

You had no problem believing his report on Valerie Plame!  You might increase your credibility by just saying that you won't accept anything that doesn't agree with your preconceived notions.

And to your second statement, it's the First Amendment:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Which is pretty clear about speech, unlike the bastardization the left has made out of the religion part!

2sense9974 reads

As happens frequently, bribite you don't know what you're talking about.

It's irrelevant whether I believe Novak - the fact that it was published was sufficient to blow Valerie Plame's cover. I suppose it's also irrelevant whether any of her contacts and operatives were endangered or lost their lives.

Perhaps you could familiarize yourself with the federal statute which prohibits the aforementioned disclosure. The first amendment doesn't provide legal "cover" for such disclosures by the reporters.

On the other hand, when Kerry is elected in November, we undoubtedly will have a more vigorous enforcement of these laws. Unless, of course, George W. decides to hand out blanket pardons, as his last official "duty".

P.S. And to start off your lesson plan for today, bribite, I've included a backgrounder (see link) to fill you in on Novak's potential liabilities, under a Kerry administration, if not a George W.

-- Modified on 7/1/2004 7:48:31 PM

sdstud7814 reads

1st you say it's false, then you compare it to Fahrenheit 9/11, which would make it true.

Also, you continue to reitterate the false charge that Moore's movie claims that Bush "conspired to get Bin Laden's relatives out of the country"   Moore's film does NOT say that.

Exactly what it does say is this:  Prince Bandar asked the Bush Administration to assist in getting Saudi nationals, including the Bin Laden family, out of the U.S. quickly after 9/11.  This is a true fact.  Moore shows a clip of Bandar admitting exactly this to Larry King in an interview

Also, he says that the Bush Administration DID get the Saudis out quickly, including on flights that left BEFORE airspace was opened to charter flights.  This is also a true fact.  Richard Clarke (who was, at the time, part of the Bush administration)arranged these flights, and he knew what the Bush Administration's interests were in this regard.

As a lawyer, one would think that you would recognize the need to be precise with language, and not to pass along lies as truth.  Of course, since you haven't actually seen the film yet, it's safe to say that you actually don't know what the fuck you're talking about on this specific issue of what Moore's film ACTUALLY alleges with regard to the conduct of the Bush Administration.

james867365 reads

merely posted Novak's comments, I can't figure how it is that I "contradicted myself."  This is a quintessential "personal attack," brought by someone who would rather debunk individuals rather than ideas.

But aside from that, equating something to Michael Moore's screed would make it false, not true, or, at best, twisting a series of unrelated facts to come up with a grand conspiracy myth.

Moore is best debunked in a new book called "Michael Moore is a Big, Fat, Stupid White Man."  I commend it to all, since it details the Moore fantasies.

Except for Moore-ons, that is.

sdstud9407 reads

And please, don't revert to the false claim that Richard Clarke was not representing the Bush Administration when he arranged flights out of the country for the Saudi aristocracy in the days immediately after 9/11

and, also please don't bother repeating the false charge that there was never a Pipeline deal between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkistan, because such a deal WAS signed in December of 2002.  

It's hilarious that every right wing loony who's trying to discredit Moore's film is reverting to these same two false charges, even after they've been discredited.  Perhaps if they SAW the film, they might have a more accurate basis upon which to critique it.

stilltryin2510285 reads

The purist are always going to blame the leader of the opposite party for actions that a fair, detailed investigation would prove never happened.  That situation has been happening since our founding as a country.  
    Now for what I am really here for.  What do you think of Funtime's grossly anti-semitic posts?  No dude, this is not changing the subject and I am serious.

james866838 reads

off for a few days, blessedly incommunicado), I loathe anti-Semitism, but its adherents so thoroughly discredit themselves when they spew it, or use code words for it (aka condemning "neo-cons") that I appreciate their revelations.

I heard the other day that the commander at Abu Graib is now saying that some in Israeli intelligence may have been involved in the activities there.  So, once again, you have some trying to BLAME THE JEWS!!!

emeraldvodka7269 reads


   I simply cannot comprehend you defending the likes of Bush.  Sdstud mentioned you are a lawyer!!  The passion with which you defend Bush makes me want to believe you are one hell of a criminl defense attorney!!  I simply cannot understand how someone as intelligent as yourself can't see through this admin.  
   I just have one question for you.  Can you point out  one, and I mean only one lie that any member of the Bush admin has told??  I ask that question in all sincerity.  It just confounds me that someone with your brains can so vigerously defend this administration at every turn the way you do.  Its a little scary to tell you the truth!!  Honestly, I just don't get how someone with you thinking capacity simply cannot find any lies or deceptions with this group of politicians.  

stilltryin258173 reads

James appear capable of defending a lot of things.  My concern is not his defense of Mr. Bush, since as a moderate, I do not find fault with much of what he says on the issue of Mr. Bush and his policies.
    But I have an outstanding challenge to James that he has steadfastly ignored.  I will make a post tonight issuing a final challenge to him, if he fails that test then my subsequent post concerning the challenge will be my final definition of what I feel that he is as a person - and to use one of Bribite's terms, I will not give a rat's ass what anyone else thinks when I make that definition.

james868699 reads

Now that I've had a chance to scroll ahead, I've discovered that I did, in fact, respond to your challenge, quite promptly, in fact.  Yet it seems that your post (dated a day later) ignores my response.

What would you like with your order of crow?

stilltryin258151 reads

have posted my last challenge to you.
  BTW, I eat my crow with ketsup, but please throw a couple of shots of vodka in to make it go down easier.

sdstud7516 reads

I'd probably characterize his anti Clinton, pro Bush screeds as Pavlovian impulses, rather than infer any higher order rational thought being applied.

Snowman397692 reads

Does this have anything to do with his post??

NO....

Gee, let'e see, faced with a fact that the supporters of his guy are spreading false rumors, how does he counter? Change the subject.

If this is the best you can do, you have been bested and it is better to move on to the next thread...

zinaval8442 reads

Judging one's own status and morality on the basis of belief.  No longer is belief simply a mental process, no, it separates the good from the evil, and the deserving from the more deserving. The strength of you belief is supposed to be a salvation.

A contamination from monotheistic religion into the political system.  Bush has tapped into it with his crowd very effectively.  I think james86 will believe because he judges himself on the strength of his beliefs.

/Zin

james866922 reads

Virtually anything nice that he said about Slick Willie at his portrait's unveiling was probably a lie.

And it's funny that you should accuse me of being a "criminal defense attorney," since I'm not, but virtually any of Clinton's lawyers were, by definition.

In all seriousness, what you on the far Left (and EV, you seem to have gone over in recent months) insist on calling "lies" are virtually all about intelligence, which may or may not have been faulty.

Why don't you point to a "lie," which is defined as a knowing misrepresentation of the truth?

What tends to be characterized as "lies" here tend to be misrepresentations of actual Administration statements, such as the notion that they linked al Qaeda with Iraq in the context of 9/11.  That is a bold-faced misrepresentation.  Were there links between al Qaeda and Iraq?  Undeniably yes.  Were there links between al Qaeda and 9/11?  Again, undeniably yes.  Did the Administration ever say there were links between Iraq and 9/11?  Probably not, and the only evidence of such (Atta's meeting with Iraqi intelligence in Prague) is unconfirmed and possibly dubious.  But the far Lefties want to say that the Administration made the link between Iraq and 9/11, and it never did.

llcar10386 reads

Would it be fair to say that Bush/Cheney used the WTC attacks to garner support for the war in Iraq ?  If so, then you believe they made a bold-faced misrepresentation ?  Or is the ``War on Terror'' billing not a direct link between Iraq and 9/11.

  Let me guess.  It was easier/more profitable to remove Hussein than it is to get Bin Laden.  And your pleased with BushCo ?

zinaval7976 reads

Truthful would be to say, "weakens slightly."

Let's look at what they said. Gen. John Abizaid, the Commander and Chief was quoted as saying, "I would be very surprised to find out that we had a precise location on Zarqawi."  Ambiguous.  Would he be surprised to find out?  Or would he be surprised that it was precise.  And how precise?  Precise enough for a tac nuke, a cruise missile, or a sniper?  And if he hadn't found out already, it means, "I don't know."

Tenet's statement is translated by Novak to mean, "No."  Does it?  He says, "I don't know..." twice.  We should be thankful to Novak for pointing us in the right direction, otherwise we might have been confused to think "no" meant "no," and "I don't know" means "I don't know."

And then Peter Rodman: said he never heard anyone oppose an attack because "it would interfere with a plan to go after Saddam."  Could he have read it?  Might he have not been in the room when it was discussed in these terms (Between Rumsfeld and Bush/Cheney?)  And more important, did the Bush or Cheney, the decision-makers, believe it would have weakened it?  

Of course, the ones who could clear this up by releasing details of these discussions, are Bush/Cheney.  But apparently, openness in government is a commie plot to them.

/Zin  

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