Jean Edward Smith has a new biography of George W. Bush coming out soon. I’ll probably read it eventually, whenever I want to remember how horribly The Shrub screwed up the world…
Thomas Mallon of The New Yorker reviews the bio:
Jean Edward Smith’s biography of George W. Bush goes on sale a day before the former President’s seventieth birthday, and it’s safe to say that no one will be bringing it as a present to the ranch outside Crawford. Smith, a well-regarded practitioner of military history and Presidential-life writing, comes straight to the point in the first sentence of his preface: “Rarely in the history of the United States has the nation been so ill-served as during the presidency of George W. Bush.” By the book’s last sentence, Smith is predicting a long debate over whether Bush “was the worst president in American history,” and while the biographer doesn’t vote on the question himself, the unhappy shade of James Buchanan will feel strongly encouraged by his more than six hundred pages.
Smith points out that Bush attended no meetings of the National Security Council in the seven months prior to September 11, 2001. In her reports on these gatherings, Condoleezza Rice—Bush’s national-security adviser, workout partner, and something of an alter ego—tended to synthesize disagreements among the participants, leaving Bush with a false feeling of consensus. The President’s own focus was chiefly on matters like stem-cell-research regulation and the sort of educational reforms he had pushed through a Democratic legislature as governor of Texas. On the morning of 9/11, Laura Bush was in Ted Kennedy’s Senate office, having come to testify for the No Child Left Behind Act; the White House she returned to later that day was a wholly different place, a domestic cruise ship that had become an aircraft carrier.
In Smith’s view, the military and moral calamities began right then. If he is moderately critical of the President for being “asleep at the switch” in the period before the terrorist attacks—Bush felt no particular alarm when an August 6th C.I.A. briefing indicated that Osama bin Laden was up to at least something—the biographer is simply aghast once Bush seizes the controls. Within three days of September 11th, he says, the President had acquired a “boundless” confidence that put the country on a “permanent war footing” and the White House into a “hothouse climate of the President’s certitude.”
In another anti-superlative, Smith suspects that the invasion of Iraq will “likely go down in history as the worst foreign policy decision ever made by an American president.” The thirteen-year legacy of “preëmption” makes this a hard prophecy to counter, and Smith’s well-ordered scenes on the subject—Paul Wolfowitz pushing for war against Saddam on September 12th, just as he’d been pushing for it in April—do dismaying work. James Baker and Brent Scowcroft, the wise men of his father’s Administration, tell Bush to go slowly or not at all, but George Tenet, the holdover C.I.A. director from the Clinton years, assures him that convincing the public of the need to invade Iraq over W.M.D.s will be a “slam dunk.” As persuasively as anyone before him, Smith presents a strong story of how a successful military mission quickly unaccomplished itself; turned into quite something else (“the United States was going to bring democracy to the country”); and then festered into what Donald Rumsfeld himself, in his memoirs, judged to be “a long and heavy-handed occupation.”
The editor of this humble blog couldn’t think of a good topic to fit the day, instead assigning a day of leftovers. Steaming pile of lukewarm tidbits, most of which you’ve already read on Twitter or in your local fish wrap. Drive-by’s, one-hitters, hot-takes, all basically the same thing. Copy-pasta is what the blogosphere was built with. Without further ado, here are some plates of copy-pasta for your general amusement…
First off: I enjoyed the hell out of this book review essay from Scott Alexander, responding to David Hackett Fischer’s book, Albion’s Seed, a history of early American migration patterns.1
90% of Puritan names were taken from the Bible. Some Puritans took pride in their learning by giving their children obscure Biblical names they would expect nobody else to have heard of, like Mahershalalhasbaz. Others chose random Biblical terms that might not have technically been intended as names; “the son of Bostonian Samuel Pond was named Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin Pond”. Still others chose Biblical words completely at random and named their children things like Maybe or Notwithstanding.
These aristocrats didn’t want to do their own work, so they brought with them tens of thousands of indentured servants; more than 75% of all Virginian immigrants arrived in this position. Some of these people came willingly on a system where their master paid their passage over and they would be free after a certain number of years; others were sent by the courts as punishments; still others were just plain kidnapped. The gender ratio was 4:1 in favor of men, and there were entire English gangs dedicated to kidnapping women and sending them to Virginia, where they fetched a high price. Needless to say, these people came from a very different stratum than their masters or the Puritans.
People who came to Virginia mostly died. They died of malaria, typhoid fever, amoebiasis, and dysentery. Unlike in New England, where Europeans were better adapted to the cold climate than Africans, in Virginia it was Europeans who had the higher disease-related mortality rate. The whites who survived tended to become “sluggish and indolent”, according to the universal report of travellers and chroniclers, although I might be sluggish and indolent too if I had been kidnapped to go work on some rich person’s farm and sluggishness/indolence was an option.
The Virginians tried their best to oppress white people. Really, they did. The depths to which they sank in trying to oppress white people almost boggle the imagination. There was a rule that if a female indentured servant became pregnant, a few extra years were added on to their indenture, supposedly because they would be working less hard during their pregnancy and child-rearing so it wasn’t fair to the master. Virginian aristocrats would rape their own female servants, then add a penalty term on to their indenture for becoming pregnant. That is an impressive level of chutzpah. But despite these efforts, eventually all the white people either died, or became too sluggish to be useful, or worst of all just finished up their indentures and became legally free. The aristocrats started importing black slaves as per the model that had sprung up in the Caribbean, and so the stage was set for the antebellum South we read about in history classes.
Borderer town-naming policy was very different from the Biblical names of the Puritans or the Ye Olde English names of the Virginians. Early Borderer settlements include – just to stick to the creek-related ones – Lousy Creek, Naked Creek, Shitbritches Creek, Cuckold’s Creek, Bloodrun Creek, Pinchgut Creek, Whipping Creek, and Hangover Creek. There were also Whiskey Springs, Hell’s Half Acre, Scream Ridge, Scuffletown, and Grabtown. The overall aesthetic honestly sounds a bit Orcish.
Erick Erickson claims he’ll the flee the GOP. Doubtful, at best. I’m guessing 98% of Republicans will hold their noses and end up voting for Donald Trump instead of Hillary Clinton, despite what they say now. Maybe higher!
Prominent conservative talk radio host Erick Erickson said Tuesday night he will de-register as a member of the Republican Party if Donald Trump secures the presidential nomination.
“If Trump is the Republican Party nominee, I won’t be a Republican,” Erickson, who founded RedState, told the Daily Beast. “I’m not down with white supremacists.”
Climate Disruption is going to disrupt the planet until it is stopped, or we perish…
In 2006, six years after his presidential bid, Al Gore launched the documentary An Inconvenient Truth. The movie made headlines around the world, raising awareness of global warming and its predicted dire consequences for the planet and society.
The movie did more than this, though, as it also politicized global warming to an unprecedented level. It brought the spotlight to an issue that, as the title says, many investors and politicians find inconvenient. If nothing is done to curb the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, temperatures will rise, ice caps will melt, ocean levels will rise and weather patterns across the globe will be disrupted. This truth remains unchanged.
An article in Science News by Thomas Sumner does an excellent job summarizing what we’ve learned since the release of the movie, which predictions panned out and what was off the mark. Lonnie Thomson, the climate scientist whose studies of melting glaciers in the high Andes were featured in the documentary, says: “The physics and chemistry that we’ve known about for over 200 years is bearing out. We’ve learned so much in the last 10 years, but the fact that the unprecedented climate change of the last 40 years is being driven by increased carbon dioxide hasn’t changed.”
Don’t know if this is positive news or negative news for Donald Trump:
Neither George HW nor George W Bush, the only two living former Republican presidents of the United States, will endorse Donald Trump.
In statements released to the Guardian on Wednesday evening, spokesmen for both former presidents said they would be sitting out the 2016 election. Freddy Ford, a spokesman for George W Bush, told the Guardian: “President George W Bush does not plan to participate in or comment on the presidential campaign.”
The statement by the 43rd president was echoed in one released by his father. Jim McGrath, a spokesman for George HW Bush, told the Guardian: “At age 91, President Bush is retired from politics.
Speaking of idiots, Donald Trump has already began to flip-flop:
“I’ll be putting up money, but won’t be completely self-funding,” the presumptive Republican nominee said in an interview Wednesday. Mr. Trump, who had largely self-financed his successful primary run, added that he would create a “world-class finance organization.” The campaign will tap his expansive personal Rolodex and a new base of supporters who aren’t on party rolls, two Trump advisers said.
The new plan represents a shift for Mr. Trump, who has for months portrayed his Republican opponents as “puppets” for relying on super PACs and taking contributions from wealthy donors that he said came with strings attached.
Less than two weeks after the Gannett Company went public with an unsolicited bid to acquire Tribune Publishing Company, Tribune’s board formally responded with a firm answer: No.
On Wednesday, Tribune Publishing, which owns newspapers including The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune, sent a letter to Gannett saying its board had unanimously rejected the $815 million takeover offer, which included debt and other liabilities and represented a significant premium above Tribune’s share price.
This is just sad news: addiction is a real epidemic…
Prince Rogers Nelson had an unflinching reputation among those close to him for leading an assiduously clean lifestyle. He ate vegan and preferred to avoid the presence of meat entirely. He was known to eschew alcohol and marijuana, and no one who went on tour with him could indulge either.
But Prince appears to have shielded from even some of his closest friends that he had a problem with pain pills, one that grew so acute that his friends sought urgent medical help from Dr. Howard Kornfeld of California, who specializes in treating people addicted to pain medication.
Dr. Kornfeld, who runs a treatment center in Mill Valley, Calif., sent his son on an overnight flight to meet with Prince at his home to discuss a treatment plan, said William J. Mauzy, a lawyer for the Kornfeld family, during a news conference on Wednesday outside his Minneapolis office.
On a lighter note, at least Ted “Calgary” Cruz has suspended his campaign. Though I suspect he’ll still try to cause disruption at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, at least enough to get his name in the news again.
Before confronting for the first time the innate chaos contained in the phrase, “Presumptive Presidential Nominee Donald Trump,” let us pause for a moment to bid farewell to Tailgunner Ted Cruz, who probably is not the Zodiac Killer, whose father probably did not drink hurricanes in the French Quarter with Lee Harvey Oswald, and who definitely is not the towering figure in our national history that he fancies himself to be. Nothing became his ego so much as the speech in which he decided that his campaign was, indeed, a dead fish
He brought Carly Fiorina in as a mock running mate. (For the record, she was Cruz’s “running mate” for less time than Tom Eagleton was for George McGovern.) It didn’t work. He played the Urinal Cooties card. It didn’t work. Instead, he probably lost badly on Tuesday night at least in part because Trump deftly played The Oswald Card when it would do the most damage.
That was a bit of mock punditry there on my part, but the fact that Cruz couldn’t resist rising to that idiotic clickbait on the day of the primary is measure enough of the self-delusion that was his greatest weakness against a shameless and vulgar talking yam. It was Jeb (!) Bush who learned the second-worst thing for a candidate to be if he’s running against He, Trump—which is a humorless, privileged fop. The worst thing to be is what the Tailgunner was—a self-important dweeb with delusions of sacred grandeur. In both cases, you are a big bag of hot air in search of a needle. That is He, Trump’s only consistent political skill. No wonder Tom Brady loves him. Nobody is more skilled at deflating people than He, Trump.
Now that the South Carolina primary and the Nevada Caucus results are in, we can probably agree that Donald Trump is the presumptive GOP nominee. What is going to stop him? other than him becoming bored of “inflating his brand”, which as we know, is the main point of his existence.
Jeb Bush blew through hundreds of millions of dollars on the campaign, and netted exactly 4 delegates. If we use the $130,000,000 cited by the NYT, even though I’m sure the actual amount spent by John Ellis Bush! Bush’s campaign was greater than this number, that works out to $32,500,000 spent per delegate acquired. Damn! I should really start a political consulting business, there is some sweet, sweet cash available…
When Jeb Bush formally entered the presidential campaign in June, there was already more money behind him than every other Republican candidate combined. When he suspended his campaign on Saturday night in South Carolina, Mr. Bush had burned through the vast majority of that cash without winning a single state. It may go down as one of the least successful campaign spending binges in history.
Why exactly are business moguls and other wealthy people going to keep giving and giving to Super PACs if they get nothing to show for the largesse? David Frum explores this thought in greater detail:
The 2016 super PACs certainly had the funds to do it! In addition to the nine-digit haul at Right to Rise, super PACs aligned with Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker all raised amounts somewhere between handsome and staggering. Yet in this Republican presidential contest, “never in the history of political campaigns has so much, bought so little, so fleetingly.”
Or more exactly…
Never has so much bought so little of what it was meant to buy. Obviously the funds expended on behalf of Jeb Bush have bought a great deal for a great many people. Even if the estimate of Mike Murphy’s take is overstated—or possibly confuses gross billings by his firm with net income to himself—the 2016 super PACs have provided princely incomes for their principals and comfortable livelihoods for hundreds more. The question that is bound to occur to super PAC donors is: “Are we being cheated?” Increasingly, super PACs look like the political world’s equivalent of hedge funds: institutions that charge vastly above-market fees to deliver sub-market returns.
Disgust with the costly ineffectiveness of super PACs may explain one of the most important mysteries of the current phase of the 2016 campaign. We keep hearing that Marco Rubio has replaced Jeb Bush as the new darling of establishment Republicans. Yet Rubio’s fundraising has lagged. Rubio’s super PAC, Conservative Solutions, raised $14.4 million in the second half of 2015—the period in which Jeb Bush’s candidacy cratered. In January 2016, by which time Bush was plainly doomed, and Rubio cast by almost all reporters as theoretical front-runner, Conservative Solutions raised only $2.46 million.
And flashing forward in time, one has to wonder: How voluntary, really, were those gifts to Right to Rise? The campaign finance system is often described as organized bribery, but to many of those writing the checks, it must often feel like organized blackmail. How many would have appreciated some way to reply to the call from the Jeb Bush campaign: “Sure! Gladly! Love Jeb! Happy to give the legal maximum!”—in a world in which the legal maximum was $5,000 or $10,000 or $25,000. Like all human beings, multimillionaires have finite funds and infinite possibilities to expend those funds. Some must regard the local hospital or the homeless shelter or the city opera or their alma mater as more deserving causes than the ambitions of this politician or that. But the politician can retaliate, and the hospital, the homeless shelter, the opera, and the alma mater cannot. So it’s the politician who shoves his or her way to the head of the giving queue.
Cruz, deep down, knows he is not going to win, but is continuing the grift, to build his own brand, for those post-Senate years ahead…
Instead, Trump trounced the two senators, defeating Rubio, who came in second place, by twenty-two points and beating Cruz by almost twenty-five points. Combined, they still lost.
Rubio had enough good sense to leave the state before the results were tabulated and to stay off the television after Trump was declared the winner, at midnight.
In what has become a new development this campaign cycle, Cruz took the stage to deliver what sounded like a victory speech after a resounding loss. It was like watching a broadcast from North Korea. Cruz came onstage to cheers and applause from smiling supporters, who arrayed themselves behind him. “God bless the great state of Nevada!” Cruz announced. Even though the race had been called for Trump, Cruz said the ballots were still being counted and suggested there was some mystery about the results. “I want to congratulate Donald Trump on a strong evening tonight.” He couldn’t bring himself to admit Trump had won. “The only campaign that can beat Donald Trump is this campaign,” Cruz said, as the chyron next to his face on the cable screens showed him winning fewer than half as many votes as his rival. T
his morning, Rubio similarly tried to make the most of his poor Nevada showing during a round of TV interviews. “We did well, and we picked up delegates there last night, and we move on,” he said in one appearance.
So, who are the people who support Trump? Do they realize he cannot fulfill most of his campaign promises, unless he overthrows the US government and become dictator? Doesn’t matter, they are just pissed off at the status quo, and have been trained by years of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, et al, to despise the government, and undocumented workers, and non-Caucasians, and non-Christians, and you get the gist…
At this point, the only thing surprising about Donald Trump winning a Republican primary is the fact that we all—the media, the panicked liberal voters, the GOP Establishment—continue to be surprised. Almost immediately after voting ended in the chaotic Nevada caucuses Tuesday, the networks called the race for the Republican frontrunner, confirming what polls had long predicted in the Silver State. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Trump won 46 percent of the vote, nearly double the total for Marco Rubio, whose second-place finish somehow didn’t stop him from sounding triumphant in interviews.
The breakdown of the vote was similar to what it was in South Carolina days earlier, with Rubio barely edging out Ted Cruz, and Trump wiping the floor with both of them. According to CNN exit polling, Trump dominated across every demographic, even the ones he wasn’t supposed to win. He won among young voters and educated ones, among evangelicals and ultra-conservatives—hell, he even won among Hispanics.
But while Cruz may have the support of far-right state politicians—the sort of new Republican Establishment birthed by the Tea Party—Trump seems to have a solid lock on their rank-and-file. Obviously, this is a bad sign for Cruz, signaling that when conservatives are faced with the choice between him and Trump, they will continue to choose the candidate who’s louder, brasher, and even more of a dick. And should Cruz drop out of the race, it’s hard to imagine those ultra-conservatives deciding to embrace Rubio over Trump.
What Nevada demonstrated is what observers who’ve been dreading a Trump nomination haven’t been willing to admit: Republican voters really love Donald Trump. From the Deep South to the Northeast to the West, voters are angry and have found someone who validates, reflects, and amplifies their anger. It doesn’t particularly matter that he might not share their specific anger about land use rights or whatever.
This was the plot of the 2006 cult comedy “Idiocracy,” a satirical movie that poked fun at an imagined dystopian version of America, where everyone — including lawmakers and government officials — were morons. But this week, the film’s writer said the world of “Idiocracy” had become all too real.
“I never expected ‘Idiocracy’ to become a documentary,” Etan Cohen, who co-wrote the film, posted on Twitter on Wednesday.
Less-well educated voters are a core constituency for Trump:
“Actually, I won everything,” Donald Trump said this week, after his victory in South Carolina and before his rout in Nevada. “I won short people, tall people. I won fat people, skinny people. I won highly educated, OK educated, and practically not educated at all. I won the evangelicals big and I won the military.”
The Republican presidential frontrunner was, broadly speaking, correct. After his third consecutive victory, one that puts him on course to win the Republican nomination for the White House, it is less useful to ask who is voting for him than who isn’t.
The only state he didn’t win was Iowa, where he came second.
In New Hampshire, South Carolina and, on Tuesday, Nevada, Trump did not just win resoundingly by leveraging one or two types of conservative voters. Entrance polls reveal he triumphed by drawing on a pool of voters as wide as it was deep.
Who are Trump supporters? Insofar as the Republican electorate goes, the answer, for the moment at least, seems to be everyone.
Analysis of recent polling and elections survey data indicates that while his base his broad, its members tend, overall, to be older, whiter, poorer, less conservative, less-well educated and, going by past voting records, less likely to turn out than supporters of rival candidates. Many have spent their lives on the fringes of politics.
John Kerry at Austin Bergstrom Airport (taken on November 2, 2012), I almost asked him if he thought he’d become Secretary of State after the 2012 election concluded, but chickened out. I was right though.
John Kerry probably wouldn’t have been the best president, but he would have been much better than Bush. And this means that even Kerry (and especially his wife) admit that GWB didn’t win either election! Neither in 2000, nor in 2004. Jeez…
In 2004, when Kerry lost the Presidential race to George W. Bush, who is widely considered the worst President of the modern era, he refused to challenge the results, despite his suspicion that in certain states, particularly Ohio, where the Electoral College count hinged, proxies for Bush had rigged many voting machines. But he could not suffer the defeat in complete silence. He was outraged that Bush, who had won a stateside berth in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, used campaign surrogates, the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, to slime his military record. He was furious, too, at Robert Shrum, his chief strategist, and other campaign advisers who had restrained him from hitting back.
“For a long period, after 2004, every time he even half fell asleep all he saw was voting machines in the state of Ohio,” Mike Barnicle, a close friend of Kerry’s and a former columnist for the Boston Globe, told me. This summer, Barnicle spent time with Kerry on Nantucket, where Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz, have a house on the water and a seventy-six-foot, seven-million-dollar sailboat called Isabel. “We were sitting in the bow,” Barnicle recalled, “and we were talking about a bunch of different things—about Iran, about what the President of Iran was like—and I said, ‘Other than not being President, this is pretty good.’ There was a security boat sailing off to the side of us. Then he said, ‘Yeah, yeah, I realize how badly Shrum screwed me.’ ”
In a just world, these evil doers would be publicly humiliated, named by name, and forced to stand trial for war crimes at The Hague. The Bush administration too. It’s a travesty that President Obama’s response to war crimes perpetrated by his predecessor was to sweep all the evidence under the rug and shrug, “Bygones…”
The American Psychological Association secretly collaborated with the administration of President George W. Bush to bolster a legal and ethical justification for the torture of prisoners swept up in the post-Sept. 11 war on terror, according to a new report by a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists.
The report is the first to examine the association’s role in the interrogation program. It contends, using newly disclosed emails, that the group’s actions to keep psychologists involved in the interrogation program coincided closely with efforts by senior Bush administration officials to salvage the program after the public disclosure in 2004 of graphic photos of prisoner abuse by American military personnel at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
“The A.P.A. secretly coordinated with officials from the C.I.A., White House and the Department of Defense to create an A.P.A. ethics policy on national security interrogations which comported with then-classified legal guidance authorizing the C.I.A. torture program,” the report’s authors conclude.
The involvement of health professionals in the Bush-era interrogation program was significant because it enabled the Justice Department to argue in secret opinions that the program was legal and did not constitute torture, since the interrogations were being monitored by health professionals to make sure they were safe.
Oh, dandy. Aren’t you glad that Bush Cheney and that merry band of war criminals decided to piss away trillions of dollars and uncounted lives in the sands of Iraq in order to free Iraqi oil from Saddam Hussein?
Since the American-led invasion of 2003, Iraq has become one of the world’s top oil producers, and China is now its biggest customer.
China already buys nearly half the oil that Iraq produces, nearly 1.5 million barrels a day, and is angling for an even bigger share, bidding for a stake now owned by Exxon Mobil in one of Iraq’s largest oil fields.
“The Chinese are the biggest beneficiary of this post-Saddam oil boom in Iraq,” said Denise Natali, a Middle East expert at the National Defense University in Washington. “They need energy, and they want to get into the market.”
“We lost out,” said Michael Makovsky, a former Defense Department official in the Bush administration who worked on Iraq oil policy. “The Chinese had nothing to do with the war, but from an economic standpoint they are benefiting from it, and our Fifth Fleet and air forces are helping to assure their supply.”
Especially when it turns out Exxon Mobil and their ilk expected to be able to reap their usual massive profits…
Notably, what the Chinese are not doing is complaining. Unlike the executives of Western oil giants like Exxon Mobil, the Chinese happily accept the strict terms of Iraq’s oil contracts, which yield only minimal profits. China is more interested in energy to fuel its economy than profits to enrich its oil giants.
Chinese companies do not have to answer to shareholders, pay dividends or even generate profits. They are tools of Beijing’s foreign policy of securing a supply of energy for its increasingly prosperous and energy hungry population. “We don’t have any problems with them,” said Abdul Mahdi al-Meedi, an Iraqi Oil Ministry official who handles contracts with foreign oil companies. “They are very cooperative. There’s a big difference, the Chinese companies are state companies, while Exxon or BP or Shell are different.”
China is now making aggressive moves to expand its role, as Iraq is increasingly at odds with oil companies that have cut separate deals with Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdish region.
As our government was making a fraudulent case to attack Iraq in 2002-2003, the MSNBC television network was doing everything it could to help, including booting Phil Donahue and Jeff Cohen off the air. The Donahue Show was deemed likely to be insufficiently war-boosting and was thus removed 10 years ago next week, and 10 days after the largest antiwar (or anything else) demonstrations in the history of the world, as a preemptive strike against the voices of honest peaceful people. From there, MSNBC proceeded to support the war with mild critiques around the edges, and to white-out the idea of impeachment or accountability.
But now MSNBC has seen its way clear to airing a documentary about the fraudulent case it assisted in, a documentary titled Hubris. This short film (which aired between 9 and 10 p.m. ET Monday night, but with roughly half of those minutes occupied by commercials) pointed out the role of the New York Times in defrauding the public, but not MSNBC’s role.
By now, you’ve probably read Kurt Eichenwald’s bombshell OpEd about the Bush Administration’s negligence. If you haven’t, go read it. Many of us suspected as much about Bush’s priorities, or lack of, which is why the 9/11 Commission was such a disappointment. Bush should have been impeached for dereliction of duty. I’m sure the GOP is gearing up to smear Mr. Eichenwald as soon as they can figure out a way to do so, because his revelations undermine the carefully constructed edifice of the Republicans claim to power.
The NeoCons were so concerned about overthrowing Saddam Hussein so as to be able to privatize the Iraqi oilfields that they let thousands of innocents die – in the US, and in Afghanistan and Iraq. Civilians in Baghdad and Kabul had nothing to do with the destruction of the World Trade Center.
Mr. Eichenwald writes:
The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001. By May 1, the Central Intelligence Agency told the White House of a report that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation. Weeks later, on June 22, the daily brief reported that Qaeda strikes could be “imminent,” although intelligence suggested the time frame was flexible.
But some in the administration considered the warning to be just bluster. An intelligence official and a member of the Bush administration both told me in interviews that the neoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power at the Pentagon were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat. Intelligence officials, these sources said, protested that the idea of Bin Laden, an Islamic fundamentalist, conspiring with Mr. Hussein, an Iraqi secularist, was ridiculous, but the neoconservatives’ suspicions were nevertheless carrying the day.
In response, the C.I.A. prepared an analysis that all but pleaded with the White House to accept that the danger from Bin Laden was real.
Which brings me to another, related point – Mitt Romney’s campaign team employs many of these same NeoCon morons, as Ari Berman of The Nation reports:
A comprehensive review of [Romney’s] statements during the primary and his choice of advisers suggests a return to the hawkish, unilateral interventionism of the George W. Bush administration should he win the White House in November.
Romney is loath to mention Bush on the campaign trail, for obvious reasons, but today they sound like ideological soul mates on foreign policy. Listening to Romney, you’d never know that Bush left office bogged down by two unpopular wars that cost America dearly in blood and treasure. Of Romney’s forty identified foreign policy advisers, more than 70 percent worked for Bush. Many hail from the neoconservative wing of the party, were enthusiastic backers of the Iraq War and are proponents of a US or Israeli attack on Iran. Christopher Preble, a foreign policy expert at the Cato Institute, says, “Romney’s likely to be in the mold of George W. Bush when it comes to foreign policy if he were elected.” On some key issues, like Iran, Romney and his team are to the right of Bush. Romney’s embrace of the neoconservative cause—even if done cynically to woo the right—could turn into a policy nightmare if he becomes president.
If we take the candidate at his word, a Romney presidency would move toward war against Iran; closely align Washington with the Israeli right; leave troops in Afghanistan at least until 2014 and refuse to negotiate with the Taliban; reset the Obama administration’s “reset” with Russia; and pursue a Reagan-like military buildup at home. The Washington Monthly dubbed Romney’s foreign policy vision the “more enemies, fewer friends” doctrine, which is chillingly reminiscent of the world Obama inherited from Bush.
War criminals and their enablers like John Bolton, Paula Dobriansky, Eliot Cohen, Robert Kagan, Robert Joseph, Dan Señor, Eric Edelman and others. A vote for Romney is a vote for a belligerent American foreign policy based on faulty assumptions without consideration of consequences. Is that really what we want? We still haven’t recovered from the first time those idiots were the Decision Makers.
U.S. Kills Bin Laden
More from The Nation on the Romney NeoCon team:
Bolton is one of eight Romney advisers who signed letters drafted by the Project for a New American Century, an influential neoconservative advocacy group founded in the 1990s, urging the Clinton and Bush administrations to attack Iraq. PNAC founding member Paula Dobriansky, leading advocate of Bush’s ill-fated “freedom agenda” as an official in the State Department, recently joined the Romney campaign full time. Another PNAC founder, Eliot Cohen, counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from 2007 to 2009, wrote the foreword to the Romney campaign’s foreign policy white paper, which was titled, perhaps not coincidentally, “An American Century.” Cohen was a tutor to Bush administration neocons. Following 9/11, he dubbed the war on terror “World War IV,” arguing that Iraq, being an “obvious candidate, having not only helped Al Qaeda, but…developed weapons of mass destruction,” should be its center. In 2009 Cohen urged the Obama administration to “actively seek the overthrow” of Iran’s government.
The Romney campaign released the white paper and its initial roster of foreign policy advisers in October, to coincide with a major address at The Citadel. The cornerstone of Romney’s speech was a gauzy defense of American exceptionalism, a theme the candidate adopted from another PNAC founder and Romney adviser, Robert Kagan. The speech and white paper were long on distortions—claiming that Obama believed “there is nothing unique about the United States” and “issued apologies for America” abroad—and short on policy proposals. The few substantive ideas were costly and bellicose: increasing the number of warships the Navy builds per year from nine to fifteen (five more than the service requested in its 2012 budget), boosting the size of the military by 100,000 troops, placing a missile defense system in Europe and stationing two aircraft carriers near Iran. “What he articulated in the Citadel speech was one of the most inchoate, disorganized, cliché-filled foreign policy speeches that any serious candidate has ever given,” says Steve Clemons, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation.
Romney’s team is notable for including Bush aides tarnished by the Iraq fiasco: Robert Joseph, the National Security Council official who inserted the infamous “sixteen words” in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union message claiming that Iraq had tried to buy enriched uranium from Niger; Dan Senor, former spokesman for the hapless Coalition Provisional Authority under Paul Bremer in Iraq; and Eric Edelman, a top official at the Pentagon under Bush. “I can’t name a single Romney foreign policy adviser who believes the Iraq War was a mistake,” says Cato’s Preble. …
Shortly after McCain’s 2008 defeat, Kagan, Edelman, Senor and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol launched the Foreign Policy Initiative, a neocon successor to PNAC. FPI’s mission has been to keep the Bush doctrine alive in the Obama era—supporting a troop increase in Afghanistan and opposing a 2014 withdrawal; advocating a 20,000-troop residual force in Iraq; backing a military strike and/or regime change in Iran; promoting military intervention in Syria; urging a more confrontational posture toward Russia; and opposing cuts in military spending. Three of FPI’s four board members are advising Romney.
Edelman, having worked for Dick Cheney in both Bush administrations, is Romney’s link to Cheneyworld. (Edelman suggested to Cheney’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby, the idea of leaking the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame to undermine former ambassador Joe Wilson for his New York Times op-ed detailing the Bush administration’s falsified Iraq-Niger connection.) As ambassador to Turkey in 2003, Edelman failed to persuade Ankara to support the Iraq War. Turkish columnist Ibrahim Karagul called him “probably the least-liked and trusted American ambassador in Turkish history.” Edelman later moved to the Defense Department, where in 2007 he became infamous for scolding Hillary Clinton when she asked how the Pentagon was planning its withdrawal from Iraq. He’s one of nearly a dozen of Romney advisers who have urged that the United States consider an attack Iran.
Mitt Romney isn’t the only clown who pays too little in taxes.
Paul Krugman writes, in part:
Defenders of low taxes on the rich mainly make two arguments: that low taxes on capital gains are a time-honored principle, and that they are needed to promote economic growth and job creation. Both claims are false.
When you hear about the low, low taxes of people like Mr. Romney, what you need to know is that it wasn’t always thus — and the days when the superrich paid much higher taxes weren’t that long ago. Back in 1986, Ronald Reagan — yes, Ronald Reagan — signed a tax reform equalizing top rates on earned income and capital gains at 28 percent. The rate rose further, to more than 29 percent, during Bill Clinton’s first term.
Low capital gains taxes date only from 1997, when Mr. Clinton struck a deal with Republicans in Congress in which he cut taxes on the rich in return for creation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. And today’s ultralow rates — the lowest since the days of Herbert Hoover — date only from 2003, when former President George W. Bush rammed both a tax cut on capital gains and a tax cut on dividends through Congress, something he achieved by exploiting the illusion of triumph in Iraq.
Correspondingly, the low-tax status of the very rich is also a recent development. During Mr. Clinton’s first term, the top 400 taxpayers paid close to 30 percent of their income in federal taxes, and even after his tax deal they paid substantially more than they have since the 2003 cut.
So is it essential that the rich receive such a big tax break? There is a theoretical case for according special treatment to capital gains, but there are also theoretical and practical arguments against such special treatment. In particular, the huge gap between taxes on earned income and taxes on unearned income creates a perverse incentive to arrange one’s affairs so as to make income appear in the “right” category.
And the economic record certainly doesn’t support the notion that superlow taxes on the superrich are the key to prosperity. During that first Clinton term, when the very rich paid much higher taxes than they do now, the economy added 11.5 million jobs, dwarfing anything achieved even during the good years of the Bush administration.
Just seems like greed to me, and short-sightedness on the part of the 1%. If the US continues its slow, inexorable decline into a banana republic, that can’t bode well for the rich. Hard to stay wealthy when the risk of kidnapping and robbing is real, and omnipresent. America did the best when the middle class had enough money to spend on things…
Simply and unequivocally criminal. Disgustingly craven, and a lot more besides. We wrote about this travesty back in November, 2008.
The EPA’s controversial 2008 decision not to regulate a drinking water contaminant long connected to impaired brain development and decreased learning capability in infants had more to do with the interests of the Bush administration than with scientific findings regarding its safety, according to a report (146 page PDF) released Tuesday by a congressional watchdog agency, the LA Times reports.
Perchlorate is a toxin in rocket fuel and fireworks, is present in most states’ drinking water, lettuce and milk, and is found in high concentrations near current and former military bases as a byproduct of weapons testing. The E.P.A. currently says it could be contaminating the public wells supplying anywhere from 5 million to 17 million Americans. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) was asked to look into the EPA’s evaluation of the known thyroid-disturbant, and found that the path to the no-regulation decision “used a process and scientific analyses that were atypical, lacked transparency, and limited the agency’s independence in developing and communicating scientific findings.”
Instead of the EPA’s usual process—which begins with creating a work group of “professional staff with relevant expertise from across the agency”—the Agency placed a “less inclusive, small group of high-level officials” in charge of the deliberations.
These high-level members included officials who answered directly to the White House, from the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture. NASA and the Department of Defense were part of the board as well.
Not included in the work group was the Office of Children’s Health Protection, a bureau essentially created for this purpose, despite the EPA’s conclusion of the risk perchlorate poses to pregnant women and children. The chemical can inhibit iodide uptake, causing increased the risk of neurodevelopmental impairment in fetuses of pregnant women, and contribute to developmental delays and decreased learning capability in infants and children, according to the report.
“Everyone who’s paying attention knows that EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson is acutely tuned-in to the political signals coming from the White House – so tuned-in that his conversations with the executive branch have become a form of highly privileged state secret,” Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope told NBC in 2008.
The GAO report also found significant flaws in the actual testing process. The work group chose to use data from a 2005 National Academy of Sciences report, which was based primarily on the results of a single two-week clinical study which did not include infants or children younger than six years old.
Sad, but easily believable. We are talking about the Cheney-Bush Reign of Error after all. Juan Cole was (and is still) essential reading on all things Middle Eastern, and was a vocal critic of the Bush warmongering in Iraq and elsewhere. For the record, I’ve been reading Professor Cole’s blog since late 2003, you should too if you are interested in historical context and astute analysis of the region.
WASHINGTON — A former senior C.I.A. official says that officials in the Bush White House sought damaging personal information on a prominent American critic of the Iraq war in order to discredit him. Glenn L. Carle, a former C.I.A. officer, said he was “intensely disturbed” by what he said was an effort against Professor Cole. Glenn L. Carle, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer who was a top counterterrorism official during the administration of President George W. Bush, said the White House at least twice asked intelligence officials to gather sensitive information on Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor who writes an influential blog that criticized the war.
In an interview, Mr. Carle said his supervisor at the National Intelligence Council told him in 2005 that White House officials wanted “to get” Professor Cole, and made clear that he wanted Mr. Carle to collect information about him, an effort Mr. Carle rebuffed. Months later, Mr. Carle said, he confronted a C.I.A. official after learning of another attempt to collect information about Professor Cole. Mr. Carle said he contended at the time that such actions would have been unlawful.
It is not clear whether the White House received any damaging material about Professor Cole or whether the C.I.A. or other intelligence agencies ever provided any information or spied on him. Mr. Carle said that a memorandum written by his supervisor included derogatory details about Professor Cole, but that it may have been deleted before reaching the White House. Mr. Carle also said he did not know the origins of that information or who at the White House had requested it.
and of course the CIA has to vehemently deny the allegations because it is illegal:
Since a series of Watergate-era abuses involving spying on White House political enemies, the C.I.A. and other spy agencies have been prohibited from collecting intelligence concerning the activities of American citizens inside the United States.
“These allegations, if true, raise very troubling questions,” said Jeffrey H. Smith, a former C.I.A. general counsel. “The statute makes it very clear: you can’t spy on Americans.” Mr. Smith added that a 1981 executive order that prohibits the C.I.A. from spying on Americans places tight legal restrictions not only on the agency’s ability to collect information on United States citizens, but also on its retention or dissemination of that data.
Mr. Smith and several other experts on national security law said the question of whether government officials had crossed the line in the Cole matter would depend on the exact nature of any White House requests and whether any collection activities conducted by intelligence officials had been overly intrusive. The experts said it might not be unlawful for the C.I.A. to provide the White House with open source material — from public databases or published material, for example — about an American citizen. But if the intent was to discredit a political critic, that would be improper, they said.
Professor Cole responds (which I’m reposting in full as his website is extremely slow/non-responsive today – either a CIA/Karl Rove “dirty trick”, or just overwhelming traffic)
Ret’d. CIA Official Alleges Bush White House Used Agency to “Get” Cole
Posted on 06/16/2011 by Juan
Eminent National Security correspondent at the New York Times James Risen has been told by a retired former official of the Central Intelligence Agency that the Bush White House repeatedly asked the CIA to spy on me with a view to discovering “damaging” information with which to discredit my reputation. Glenn Carle says he was called into the office of his superior, David Low, in 2005 and was asked of me, “ ‘What do you think we might know about him, or could find out that could discredit him?’ ”
Low actually wrote up a brief attempt in this direction and submitted it to the White House but Carle says he intercepted it. Carle later discovered that yet another young analyst had been tasked with looking into me.
It seems to me clear that the Bush White House was upset by my blogging of the Iraq War, in which I was using Arabic and other primary sources, and which contradicted the propaganda efforts of the administration attempting to make the enterprise look like a wild shining success.
Carle’s revelations come as a visceral shock. You had thought that with all the shennanigans of the CIA against anti-Vietnam war protesters and then Nixon’s use of the agency against critics like Daniel Ellsberg, that the Company and successive White Houses would have learned that the agency had no business spying on American citizens.
I believe Carle’s insider account and discount the glib denials of people like Low. Carle is taking a substantial risk in making all this public. I hope that the Senate and House Intelligence Committees will immediately launch an investigation of this clear violation of the law by the Bush White House and by the CIA officials concerned. Like Mr. Carle, I am dismayed at how easy it seems to have been for corrupt WH officials to suborn CIA personnel into activities that had nothing to do with national security abroad and everything to do with silencing domestic critics. This effort was yet another attempt to gut the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, in this case as part of an effort to gut the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
I should point out that my blog was begun in 2002 with an eye toward analyzing open source information on the struggle against al-Qaeda. In 2003 I also began reporting on the unfolding Iraq War. My goal was to help inform the public and to present sources and analysis on the basis of my expertise as a Middle East and South Asia expert. In 2003-2005 and after I on a few occasions was asked to speak to military and intelligence professionals, most often as part of an inter-agency audience, and I presented to them in person distillations of my research. I never had a direct contract with the CIA, but some of the think tanks that every once in a while asked me to speak were clearly letting analysts and field officers know about the presentations (which were most often academic panels of a sort that would be mounted at any academic conference), and they attended. I should underline that these presentations involved small travel expenses and a small honorarium, and that I wasn’t a high-paid consultant but clearly was expected to speak my views and share my conclusions frankly. It was not a regular gig. Apparently one of the purposes of spying on me to discredit me, from the point of view of the Bush White House, was ironically to discourage Washington think tanks from inviting me to speak to the analysts, not only of the CIA but also the State Department Intelligence and Research and other officials concerned with counter-terrorism and with Iraq.
It seemed likely to some colleagues, according to what they told me, that the Bush administration had in fact succeeded in having me blackballed, since the invitations rather dropped off, and panels of a sort I had earlier participated in were being held without my presence. I do not know if smear tactics were used to produce this result, behind the scenes and within the government. It was all the same to me– I continued to provide what I believe was an important service to the Republic at my blog and I know for a fact that not only intelligence analysts but members of the Bush team continued to read some of what I wrote.
What alarms me most of all in the nakedly illegal deployment of the CIA against an academic for the explicit purpose of destroying his reputation for political purposes is that I know I am a relatively small fish and it seems to me rather likely that I was not the only target of the baleful team at the White House. After the Valerie Plame affair, it seemed clear that there was nothing those people wouldn’t stoop to. You wonder how many critics were effectively “destroyed.” It is sad that a politics of personal destruction was the response by the Bush White House to an attempt of a citizen to reason in public about a matter of great public interest. They have brought great shame upon the traditions of the White House, which go back to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, who had hoped that checks and balances would forestall such abuses of power.
Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney1 were either gullible, or duplicitous. Or perhaps both. No matter, they are war criminals now. How many civilian deaths resulted from this little fiction? 100,000? 1,000,000? more? Plus the lives of soldiers, and the near bankruptcy of the United States!
The defector who convinced the White House that Iraq had a secret biological weapons programme has admitted for the first time that he lied about his story, then watched in shock as it was used to justify the war.
Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, codenamed Curveball by German and American intelligence officials who dealt with his claims, has told the Guardian that he fabricated tales of mobile bioweapons trucks and clandestine factories in an attempt to bring down the Saddam Hussein regime, from which he had fled in 1995.
“Maybe I was right, maybe I was not right,” he said. “They gave me this chance. I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime. I and my sons are proud of that and we are proud that we were the reason to give Iraq the margin of democracy.”
The admission comes just after the eighth anniversary of Colin Powell’s speech to the United Nations in which the then-US secretary of state relied heavily on lies that Janabi had told the German secret service, the BND. It also follows the release of former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s memoirs, in which he admitted Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction programme.
The careers of both men were seriously damaged by their use of Janabi’s claims, which he now says could have been – and were – discredited well before Powell’s landmark speech to the UN on 5 February 2003.
The strange case of “Curveball” has become one of the most infamous episodes in the Bush administration’s case for war. Mr. Janabi’s claim about the mobile laboratories was featured prominently in Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s address to the United Nations in February 2003, when he laid out the administration’s case that Mr. Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction.
The United States invaded Iraq in March 2003, and eventually determined that Iraq did not have any such weapons. It later became clear that the Bush administration had relied heavily on bogus information from unreliable exiles like Mr. Janabi.
Even before the invasion, there was strong evidence that Mr. Janabi was an unreliable source, evidence which critics now say the Bush White House and the C.I.A.’s top leadership ignored.
Mr. Janabi, who defected to Germany in the 1990s, met repeatedly with German intelligence officials beginning in 2000. They refused to allow C.I.A. officials to meet directly with him, instead providing the Americans only with reports of what he had said.
Eventually, though, the Germans grew doubtful of their informer and passed on their suspicions to American intelligence officials.
Carne Ross of the Guardian, U.K., adds, in a follow up article, that the U.S. and U.K. wanted very much to justify going to war, and didn’t examine the evidence very carefully on purpose:
Each piece of evidence, whatever its source, was first subjected to rigorous cross-checking before inclusion in overall analyses. All sources of intelligence suffered from particular deficits: Iraq knew that its signals were monitored and thus limited its communications traffic; it also hid any WMD activity under roofs in military and civilian sites, thereby limiting the value of overhead reconnaissance. So, all evidence had to be tested by the simple method of seeking corroboration from other sources. This method was used across Whitehall, and in the Ministry of Defence and the Cabinet Office in particular, and was the basis for the Joint Intelligence Committee assessments of the WMD threat, several of which I contributed to. In the years I worked on the subject (1997-2002), the picture produced by this method was very clear: there was no credible evidence of substantial stocks of WMD in Iraq.
And it was this method – clearly – that was abandoned in advance of the war. Instead of a careful cross-checking of evidence, reports that suited the story of an imminent Iraqi threat were picked out, polished and formed the basis of public claims like Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN security council, or the No 10 dossier. This was exactly how a false case for war was constructed: not by the deliberate creation of a falsehood, but by willfully and secretly manipulating the evidence to exaggerate the importance of reports like Curveball’s, and to ignore contradictory evidence. This was a subtle process, elaborated from report to report, in such a way that allowed officials themselves to believe that they were not deliberately lying – more editing, perhaps, or simplifying for public presentation.
Not too surprising, considering George W Bush’s oft repeated aphorism, “Ya’ll Are Either With Us or Agin’ Us”. And on that subject, can you explain how Canada not joining in on an illegal war harmed Canada? Me either.
A cable briefing President George W. Bush before a visit to Ottawa in late 2004 shed further light on the asymmetrical relationship with Canada — a country, the embassy wrote, that was engaged in “soul-searching” about its “decline from ‘middle power’ status to that of an ‘active observer’ of global affairs, a trend which some Canadians believe should be reversed.”
It also noted that Canadian officials worried that they were being excluded from a club of English-speaking countries as a result of their refusal to take part in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The United States had created a channel for sharing intelligence related to Iraq operations with Britain and Australia, but Canada was not invited to join.
The Canadian government “has expressed concern at multiple levels that their exclusion from a traditional ‘four-eyes’ construct is ‘punishment’ for Canada’s non-participation in Iraq and they fear that the Iraq-related channel may evolve into a more permanent ‘three-eyes’ only structure,” the cable said.
Not sure if this changes anything, but amusing nonetheless:
George W. Bush’s bombastic return to the world stage has reminded me of my favourite Bush anecdote, which for various reasons we couldn’t publish at the time. Some of the witnesses still dine out on it.
The venue was the Oval Office. A group of British dignitaries, including Gordon Brown, were paying a visit. It was at the height of the 2008 presidential election campaign, not long after Bush publicly endorsed John McCain as his successor.
Naturally the election came up in conversation. Trying to be even-handed and polite, the Brits said something diplomatic about McCain’s campaign, expecting Bush to express some warm words of support for the Republican candidate.
Not a chance. “I probably won’t even vote for the guy,” Bush told the group, according to two people present.“I had to endorse him. But I’d have endorsed Obama if they’d asked me.”
Endorse Obama? Cue dumbfounded look from British officials, followed by some awkward remarks about the Washington weather. Even Gordon Brown’s poker face gave way to a flash of astonishment.
David Corn notices a key point in George W. Bush’s new selective autobiography: GWB still is pushing the line about Saddam Hussein’s pursuit of WMD, despite all evidence to the contrary.
Bush is mounting a defense, as selective as it might be, of the Iraq war. He acknowledges that he experiences “a sickening feeling every time” he recalls the absence of WMDs in Iraq, but he contends that invading Iraq was the right move because “America is safer without a homicidal dictator pursuing WMD.”
Yet that statement is flat-out wrong. Not the “safer” part, but the description of Saddam Hussein and WMDs. Bush is still trying to mislead the American public, for at the time of the invasion, Saddam, brutal dictator that he was, was not pursuing the development or production of WMDs. The Bush administration’s own investigation found this. Following the invasion, there was a probe of Iraq’s WMD activity conducted by Charles Duelfer, a hawkish fellow who had been handpicked by the administration to handle this sensitive job. In 2004, his Iraq Survey Group submitted its final report. The report noted that Saddam “aspired to develop a nuclear capability.” But it was quite clear on the key point: Iraq had not been actively working on WMD projects. The Duelfer report concluded that Iraq’s ability to produce nuclear weapons — the most troubling W in the WMD category — had “progressively decayed” since 1991 and that inspectors had found no signs of any “concerted efforts to restart the program.” In plain talk: nada on nuclear. The same was true, the report said, for biological and chemical weapons. It found that by 1995, under U.N. pressure, Iraq had abandoned its biological weapons efforts and that there was no evidence Iraq had made any chemical weapons in the preceding 12 years.
The report was blunt:
The former regime had no formal written strategy or plan for the revival of WMD after sanctions. Neither was there an identifiable group of WMD policy makers or planners. Nobody working on WMDs; no schemes to develop or obtain such weapons. The bottom line: Saddam was not pursuing weapons of mass destruction. The U.N. inspections of the 1990s and the international anti-Iraq sanctions had rendered Iraq’s weapons programs kaput.