The wisest thing you have done was to surround yourself with this mercenary body

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When conservatives like Peter Wehner at Opinion Journal write tripe like " Revisionist History Antiwar myths about Iraq, debunked" ( I will not be providing a link) There might be a temptation to say that Pete is an idiot, though possible, that is probably not the case. Wehner is a loyal member of the conservative politburo. Regardless of the evidence, it is his job to lie, obfuscate, and generally create a reality that is reassuring to the other true believers of the politiburo. Pete writes,

Iraqis can participate in three historic elections, pass the most liberal constitution in the Arab world

We all love irony, but considering the current administration's penchant for signing statements that circumvent the constitution, Pete may want to remind George and Dick that a constitution isn't worth the paper it is written on if those in power decide that they will only abide by it when it is convenient. The Soviets had a constitution,  Chapter 7: THE BASIC RIGHTS, FREEDOMS, AND DUTIES OF CITIZENS OF THE USSR

Article 39. Citizens of the USSR enjoy in full the social, economic, political and personal rights and freedoms proclaimed and guaranteed by the Constitution of the USSR and by Soviet laws. The socialist system ensures enlargement of the rights and freedoms of citizens and continuous improvement of their living standards as social, economic, and cultural development programmes are fulfilled.
Enjoyment by citizens of their rights and freedoms must not be to the detriment of the interests of society or the state, or infringe the rights of other citizens.

A constitution that enumerates rights is obviously no guarantee of those rights. The people must support them and the people must have the cultural and institutional stability to enforce those rights. Also that the rights in refernce must be more then empty doublespeak. Iraq is far from stable and its institutions exists almost in name only.

"There is no question [the Bush administration] misled the nation and led us into a quagmire in Iraq," according to Ted Kennedy. Jimmy Carter charged that on Iraq, "President Bush has not been honest with the American people." And Al Gore has said that an "abuse of the truth" characterized the administration's "march to war." These charges are themselves misleading, which explains why no independent body has found them credible. Most of the world was operating from essentially the same set of assumptions regarding Iraq's WMD capabilities. Important assumptions turned out wrong; but mistakenly relying on faulty intelligence is a world apart from lying about it.

"which explains why no independent body has found them credible"- I don't know what Pete means. I don't that he does either, but it makes for a nice sounding positive piece of hollow rhetoric and that is what really matters. The world, well except Pete and assorted Bushniks knows that Bush lied about WMD and that the whole issue of WMD was a red herring anyway.
RUMSFELD heeds intel warnings on weak WMD case

"Donald Rumsfeld led a congressionally appointed commission [before the war] that reviewed current intelligence about the WMD…His commission's findings on Iraq's WMD didn't materially differ from" a previous commission that found "the CIA's intel on Iraqi WMD was largely speculative," and an "absence of hard evidence so striking that panelists recall discussing a theory 'that the whole Iraq WMD program was smoke-and-mirrors, and Saddam was just a little guy behind a curtain.'"

OCTOBER 8, 1997 – IAEA SAYS IRAQ FREE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS: "As reported in detail in the progress report dated 8 October 1997…and based on all credible information available to date, the IAEA's verification activities in Iraq, have resulted in the evolution of a technically coherent picture of Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme. These verification activities have revealed no indications that Iraq had achieved its programme objective of producing nuclear weapons or that Iraq had produced more than a few grams of weapon-usable nuclear material or had clandestinely acquired such material. Furthermore, there are no indications that there remains in Iraq any physical capability for t he production of weapon-usable nuclear material of any practical significance." [Source: IAEA Report, 10/8/98]

SEPTEMBER 16, 2001 – CHENEY ACKNOWLEDGES IRAQ IS CONTAINED: Vice President Dick Cheney said that "Saddam Hussein is bottled up" – a confirmation of the intelligence he had received. [Source: Meet the Press, 9/16/2001]

JANUARY, 2002 – TENET DOES NOT MENTION IRAQ IN NUCLEAR THREAT REPORT: "In CIA Director George Tenet's January 2002 review of global weapons-technology proliferation, he did not even mention a nuclear threat from Iraq, though he did warn of one from North Korea." [Source: The New Republic, 6/30/03]

Sure the Bushies would have liked to have had some real evidence, but evidence didn't really matter, British Memo — Bush, Blair Agreed to Invade In Late Jan. 2003:

A memo of a two-hour meeting between [Bush and Blair] at the White House on January 31 2003 – nearly two months before the invasion – reveals that Mr Bush made it clear the US intended to invade whether or not there was a second UN resolution and even if UN inspectors found no evidence of a banned Iraqi weapons programme. [Guardian, 2/3/06]

Then Wehner goes and gets all officious on us,

Let's review what we know. The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) is the intelligence community's authoritative written judgment on specific national-security issues. The 2002 NIE provided a key judgment: "Iraq has continued its [WMD] programs in defiance of U.N. resolutions and restrictions. Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of U.N. restrictions; if left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade."

A Tale of Two Intelligence Estimates

A close comparison of the unclassified version (CIA White Paper: "Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs," published in October 2002) and the original classified NIE (parts of which were declassified and released after the war), reveals striking differences. In addition to changes presumably made to protect sensitive sources and methods, the differences are of two types. Some convey the impression that the intelligence community was much more confident and more united in its views than it actually was. Others appear designed to portray a sense of heightened threat, and particularly of a threat that could touch the U.S. homeland. Sentences and phrases in the classified NIE expressing uncertainty were deleted while new formulations alluding to gathering danger were added.

The words "we judge" and "we assess" were deleted from five key findings of the classified document. For example, the classified version read: "We judge that Iraq has continued its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs." The unclassified version stated: "Iraq has continued its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs." The classified NIE opined: "We judge Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating BW agents." In the unclassified version, this was a certainty: "Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating BW agents." The classified version expressed the view: "We assess that Baghdad has begun renewed production of mustard, sarin, GF (cyclosarin) and VX." The unclassified version was unequivocal: "Baghdad has begun renewed production of chemical warfare agents." In each case, uncertainties turned into fact.

The unclassified version had no reference to the dissenting opinions of the Department of Energy, U.S. Air Force, or the extensive dissenting views of the Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) on Iraq's nuclear weapons program and its attempts to acquire aluminum tubes. Instead, where there was agency disagreement, the unclassified version used the phrase "most analysts assess" or "most analysts believe." Only on one occasion did the unclassified version mention the reason why "some" analysts disagreed. We now know that entire government agencies rejected many of what were portrayed as consensus judgments and that they held less alarmist views of Iraqi behavior.

We have to assume that Pete has gone to the school of conservative school of public befuddlement in which it is considered a major sin to speak truth to words. Could the Department of Energy, U.S. Air Force, and Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research be the "independent" bodies that like Bush, Wehner ignoredand still chooses to treat like an invisible elephant. Pete drags out the, let us just say incomplete Silberman-Robb Commission report,

Thanks to the bipartisan Silberman-Robb Commission, which investigated the causes of intelligence failures in the run-up to the war….

Followed by incoherent babbling. Did I mention that Pete is deputy assistant to the president and director of the White House's Office of Strategic Initiatives. Maybe Pete was out to lunch that day, but he needs to check his version of reality against the Congressional Research Service report, Scottie in Denial: White House Still Clinging to “Same Intelligence” Myth and here, Limitations on Congressional Access to Certain National Intelligence

The executive branch generally does not routinely share with Congress four general types of intelligence information:

* the identities of intelligence sources;
* the "methods" employed by the Intelligence Community in collecting and analyzing intelligence;
* "raw" intelligence, which can be unevaluated or "lightly" evaluated intelligence, (18) which in the case of human intelligence (19) sometimes is provided by a single source, but which also could consist of intelligence derived from multiple sources when signals (20) and imagery (21) collection methods are employed; and,
* certain written intelligence products tailored to the specific needs of the President and other high-level executive branch policymakers. Included in the last category is the President's Daily Brief (PDB), a written intelligence product which is briefed daily to the President, and which consists of six to eight relatively short articles or briefs covering a broad array of topics. (22) The PDB emphasizes current intelligence (23) and is viewed as highly sensitive, in part, because it can contain intelligence source and operational information. Its dissemination is thus limited to the President and a small number of presidentially-designated senior administration policymakers. (24)

In short, Pete continues to perpetuate the myth that Congress gets the same intelligence information that the president does, not true. Pete is under the both comic and dangerous impression that his foremost duty is to serve his president and not his country. I find it impossible to explain how conservatives have confused the prerogatives of a president of a democracy with the prerogatives of an all powerful king. Wehner slips off the deep end of the pool of kool-aid when he writes,

"A liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region, by bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions. America's interests in security, and America's belief in liberty, both lead in the same direction: to a free and peaceful Iraq. . . . The world has a clear interest in the spread of democratic values, because stable and free nations do not breed the ideologies of murder.

All the same repressive regimes that existed in the middle-east five years ago still exists. Afghanistan has been allowed to slip back into warlordism and poppy production. Iraq is still not the country club that Bush and his supporters keep telling us it is. Iran has gone from leaning toward moderation to being more strident. If really given a choice tomorrow, majority rules and all, Iraqis would vote for being an authoritarian theocratic state. Majority rule without the checks and balances, and the stable institutions to enforce them do not a democracy make. Israel has been a middle-east democracy for over fifty years and the Arab world has hardly been impressed. Either Bush/Wehner don't understand the tribal, family, and religious tensions at play in the middle-east or they are playing the role of wilfully ignorant. Wilful ignorance is not a virtue in good governance. If it was Bush's approval ratings would be in the eighties, but I think Pete knows that and like all political propagandists and mercenaries he is just trying his best to create a reality outside the bounds of truth out of loyalty to his master.

The wisest thing you have done was to surround yourself with this mercenary body, whom you call the royal cuirassiers, only, instead of three hundred, you should have two thousand. Self-interest will make them true to you. You might find some means to pay them, for they would be a good buffer between you and your enemies. The president of the Diet and the members are passing bills which will eventually undermine you. How long it will take I can not say. But this last folly, the loan, which you could have got on without, caps
the climax. The duke was in the city last week unknown to you. Your minister of finance is his intimate. This loan was a connivance of them all. Why ten years, when it could easily be liquidated in five? I shall tell you. The duke expects to force you into bankruptcy within that time, and when the creditor demands and you can not pay, you will be driven from here in disgrace.

from THE PUPPET CROWN by Harold MacGrath

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