Tuesday, June 20, 2006

They Did It With Smoke And Mirrors

Two book reviews, one in the New York Times, and the other in the Washington Post, examine Ron Suskind’s new book, “The One Percent Solution.”

The book’s title comes from Cheney’s post-9/11 doctrine that if there is even a one percent chance that a horrific terrorist attack could happen, the government should treat it as a certainty, and act with all due haste to prevent it. As Cheney described it, “it’s not about our analysis, it’s about our response.”

After enduring the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York City and the damage to the Pentagon in Virginia/Washington, people were shaken up enough for that to sound like a plausible doctrine to follow.

The only problem is that in practice it led to cherry picking intelligence and doctoring facts beyond recognition. Worse, it didn’t lead us to a more effective strategy to defeat Al Quaeda in Afghanistan but only to a misdirected turning of our attention to Saddam Hussein in Iraq, which never was a threat to us.

This book and these two reviews make it clear that Cheney and Rumsfeld held a deeply flawed doctrine and searched out and promoted deeply flawed intelligence to support their obsession with Iraq while the really bad guys got away with murder. Literally.

One of the book’s vignettes portrays the capture of Abu Zubaydah, who the administration touted as Al Quaeda’s chief of operations. The capture was much ballyhooed, and he was the first detainee shipped away to a secret overseas prison. Meanwhile, Zubaydah, despite the hype, turned out to be merely the conduit for arranging travel for wives and other minor logistical duties. And when he was caught, intelligence agents quickly recognized that he was actually mentally ill, suffering from split personality. Both Bush and Cheney were briefed about this. And at the request of George Bush, intelligence agents used “harsh interrogation techniques” on him. So, before you know it, this mentally ill guy is spinning plots and schemes, each more dire than the last because he’s both delusional and being tortured. He’ll say anything at that point. Great way to gather intelligence about something serious.

And the next thing you know, we spent all of 2004 responding to yellow and orange alerts all over the place as U.S. agents rushed hither and dither to follow up on the rantings of a mentally ill person who under torture was giving them what they wanted to hear, whether it had any basis in reality or not.

Listen, when good people like John Kerry, John Edwards and others in Congress admit that they were wrong to vote for this war because they were misled by faulty intelligence, it’s true. We were all snookered. Even George Tenet, the much maligned CIA chief, comes out looking like a conflicted public servant trying to be loyal to his president by providing information that he knew Bush and Cheney wanted to hear rather than what was actually true. So how do you fault people in Congress for their votes, given the disinformation and the climate of fear that prevailed and that was deliberately manipulated by a cynical government which no longer respected truth or facts?

And those who refused to be deceived, like Han Blix; the UN weapons inspector; Bob Graham of Florida, who served as the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee; Richard Clark, a top White House Security Adviser; and Paul O’Neill, former Treasury Secretary; found their careers and their personal reputations ruined by an administration that aggressively attacked and slimed any critic.

In fact, this administration is still trying to do it. Look at their attempts to paint critics like John Murtha as cowards. The administration’s favorite attack is now to accuse every critic of wanting to “cut and run.”

But it’s no longer working. There’s now a host of the most highly decorated officers from the Iraqi war who have retired or resigned their posts just to speak out. And the public realizes that what critics, like Jim Webb among others, has said from the beginning is true. You can’t just invade a hostile country without an exit strategy, without even a plan once you’ve won. We won the battle but we’re losing the war we never should have entered in the first place.

And meanwhile as Saddam Hussein is marched around like a show pony at a show trial, our true enemy, Osama bin Laden grows stronger in the mountains of Pakistan after we let him slip through our fingers. Something else, by the way, those intelligence analysts tried to warn the administration about and which the administration ignored. And this book lays it all out.

And now it’s time that we demand that they give us a timeline and get our troops out. That’s not cutting and running. That’s resource management. And common sense.

1 comment:

sevenpointman said...

The plan I am sending you has been approved by many prominent thinkers and
activists in the field. Which includes: Benjamin Ferencz, Chief Prosecutor
at the Nuremburg Trials, Ken Livingstone-Mayor of London,
Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit, Tom Hayden, Matthew Rothschild, Anthony Arnove, Danny Schecter, Tony Benn- Former Member of the British parliament ,Reggie Rivers,
Robert Jensen, Andrew Bard Schmookler and others.
I formulated this plan in September 2004, based on a comprehensive
study of the issues. For my plan to be successful it must be implemented
with all seven points beginning to happen within a very short period of
I have run up against a wall of doubt about my plan due to it's
rational nature ,and due to it's adherence to placing the blame on the
invaders, and then trying to formulate a process of extrication which would
put all entities in this conflict face to face, to begin to finally solve
the dilemmas that exist.
If you read my plan you will see that it is guided by a reasonable
and practical compromise that could end this war and alleviate the
internecine civil violence that is confronting Iraq at this juncture in it's
I am making a plea for my plan to be put into action on a wide-scale.
I need you to circulate it and use all the persuasion you have to bring it
to the attention of those in power.
Just reading my plan and sending off an e-mail to me that you received
it will not be enough.

This war must end-we who oppose it can do this by using my plan.
We must fight the power and end the killing.

If you would like to view some comments and criticism about my plan
I direct you to my blog: sevenpointman

Thank you my dear friend,

Howard Roberts

A Seven-point plan for an Exit Strategy in Iraq

1) A timetable for the complete withdrawal of American and British forces
must be announced.
I envision the following procedure, but suitable fine-tuning can be
applied by all the people involved.

A) A ceasefire should be offered by the Occupying side to
representatives of both the Sunni insurgency and the Shiite community. These
representatives would be guaranteed safe passage, to any meetings. The
individual insurgency groups would designate who would attend.
At this meeting a written document declaring a one-month ceasefire,
witnessed by a United Nations authority, will be fashioned and eventually
signed. This document will be released in full, to all Iraqi newspapers, the
foreign press, and the Internet.
B) US and British command will make public its withdrawal, within
sixth-months of 80 % of their troops.

C) Every month, a team of United Nations observers will verify the
effectiveness of the ceasefire.
All incidences on both sides will be reported.

D) Combined representative armed forces of both the Occupying
nations and the insurgency organizations that agreed to the cease fire will
protect the Iraqi people from actions by terrorist cells.

E) Combined representative armed forces from both the Occupying
nations and the insurgency organizations will begin creating a new military
and police force. Those who served, without extenuating circumstances, in
the previous Iraqi military or police, will be given the first option to

F) After the second month of the ceasefire, and thereafter, in
increments of 10-20% ,a total of 80% will be withdrawn, to enclaves in Qatar
and Bahrain. The governments of these countries will work out a temporary
land-lease housing arrangement for these troops. During the time the troops
will be in these countries they will not stand down, and can be re-activated
in the theater, if the chain of the command still in Iraq, the newly
formed Iraqi military, the leaders of the insurgency, and two international
ombudsman (one from the Arab League, one from the United Nations), as a
majority, deem it necessary.

G) One-half of those troops in enclaves will leave three-months after they
arrive, for the United States or other locations, not including Iraq.

H) The other half of the troops in enclaves will leave after

I) The remaining 20 % of the Occupying troops will, during this six
month interval, be used as peace-keepers, and will work with all the
designated organizations, to aid in reconstruction and nation-building.

J) After four months they will be moved to enclaves in the above
mentioned countries.
They will remain, still active, for two month, until their return to
the States, Britain and the other involved nations.

2) At the beginning of this period the United States will file a letter with
the Secretary General of the Security Council of the United Nations, making
null and void all written and proscribed orders by the CPA, under R. Paul
Bremer. This will be announced and duly noted.

3) At the beginning of this period all contracts signed by foreign countries
will be considered in abeyance until a system of fair bidding, by both
Iraqi and foreign countries, will be implemented ,by an interim Productivity
and Investment Board, chosen from pertinent sectors of the Iraqi economy.
Local representatives of the 18 provinces of Iraq will put this board
together, in local elections.

4) At the beginning of this period, the United Nations will declare that
Iraq is a sovereign state again, and will be forming a Union of 18
autonomous regions. Each region will, with the help of international
experts, and local bureaucrats, do a census as a first step toward the
creation of a municipal government for all 18 provinces. After the census, a
voting roll will be completed. Any group that gets a list of 15% of the
names on this census will be able to nominate a slate of representatives.
When all the parties have chosen their slates, a period of one-month will be
allowed for campaigning.
Then in a popular election the group with the most votes will represent that
When the voters choose a slate, they will also be asked to choose five
individual members of any of the slates.
The individuals who have the five highest vote counts will represent a
National government.
This whole process, in every province, will be watched by international
observers as well as the local bureaucrats.

During this process of local elections, a central governing board, made up
of United Nations, election governing experts, insurgency organizations, US
and British peacekeepers, and Arab league representatives, will assume the
temporary duties of administering Baghdad, and the central duties of

When the ninety representatives are elected they will assume the legislative
duties of Iraq for two years.

Within three months the parties that have at least 15% of the
representatives will nominate candidates for President and Prime Minister.

A national wide election for these offices will be held within three months
from their nomination.

The President and the Vice President and the Prime Minister will choose
their cabinet, after the election.

5) All debts accrued by Iraq will be rescheduled to begin payment, on the
principal after one year, and on the interest after two years. If Iraq is
able to handle another loan during this period she should be given a grace
period of two years, from the taking of the loan, to comply with any
structural adjustments.

6) The United States and the United Kingdom shall pay Iraq reparations for
its invasion in the total of 120 billion dollars over a period of twenty
years for damages to its infrastructure. This money can be defrayed as
investment, if the return does not exceed 6.5 %.

7) During the beginning period Saddam Hussein and any other prisoners who
are deemed by a Council of Iraqi Judges, elected by the National
representative body, as having committed crimes will be put up for trial.
The trial of Saddam Hussein will be before seven judges, chosen from this
Council of Judges.
One judge, one jury, again chosen by this Council, will try all other
All defendants will have the right to present any evidence they want, and to
choose freely their own lawyers.