Saturday, February 17, 2007

Rumsfeld Legacy, Part II

Tomgram: Roger Morris,

Here's a classic Rumsfeldism: "We do have a saying in America: if you're in a hole, stop digging ... erm, I'm not sure I should have said that." In Part 2 of his historical excavation of the life and world of Donald Rumsfeld (not to speak of the worlds of both President Bushes, the neocons, the U.S. military, the GOP, and an indolent media), Roger Morris, already deep in that hole, just keeps digging away. In doing so, he offers us the rest of Rumsfeld's long march to power, his lasting legacies, and the costly lessons of this comeback kid. So much that went unheeded in the years in which Rumsfeld once again scaled the heights of power is now, thanks to Morris, compactly on the record.

"The absence of evidence is not necessarily the evidence of absence" is another infamous Rumsfeldism. How true. And in Rumsfeld's absence, the evidence of how he changed our world for the worse will be with us to consider for years to come. So, if you missed it, check out "Sharp Elbows," the first part of "The Undertaker's Tally," and then settle in for the sequel, the one you thought you knew until you read "The Power and the Glory." Read it and remember, the bell tolls for thee. Tom

The Power and the Glory
The Undertaker's Tally (Part 2)

By Roger Morris

In 1976, when Jimmy Carter took the Presidency from Gerald Ford, outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld went off to seek corporate wealth as head of G.D. Searle, a Skokie pharmaceutical company. His period running the business, inherited by the family of his North Shore friend and early backer Dan Searle, would become part of Rumsfeld's legend of success as a master manager, negligently accepted as fact by the media and Congressional representatives at his 2001 confirmation hearings.

The legend went this way: Political prodigy slashes payroll 60%, turns decrepit loser into mega-profit-maker, earns industry kudos and multiple millions. In looking at men of prominence like Rumsfeld who revolve in and out of the private sector, the Washington media almost invariably adopts the press-release or booster business-page version of events from what inside-the-Beltway types call "the real world." In Rumsfeld's case, behind the image of corporate savior lay a far more relevant and ominous history.

In the documented version of reality, derived from litigation and relatively obscure investigations in the U.S. and abroad, Searle turned out to enjoy its notable rise less thanks to Rumsfeldian innovative managerial genius than to old-fashioned reckless marketing of pharmaceuticals already on the shelf and the calling in of lobbying "markers" via its well-connected Republican CEO. And over it all wafted the distinctive odor of corrupt practices. A case in point was Searle's anti-diarrhea medicine Lomotil, sold ever more widely and profitably internationally (in industry terms "dumped") -- especially in Africa in the late 1970s -- despite the company's failure to warn of its potentially dire effects on younger children.

"A blindly harmful stopcock," one medical journal called the remedy, which could be poisonous to infants only slightly above Searle's recommended dosage. Even taken according to directions, Lomotil was known to mask dangerous dehydration and cause a lethal build-up of fluids internally. Having advertised the medicine as "ideal for every situation," Searle did not undertake a cautionary labeling change until the end of 1981, nearly five years into Rumsfeld's tenure, and then only when threatened with damaging publicity by children's advocacy groups. Part of the vast outrage of multinational "pharmas" exploiting the Third World, the company under Rumsfeld would, like the more publicized Upjohn with its Depo-Provera, be implicated in widespread bribery of officials (and others) in poorer countries to promote the sale of oral contraceptives which had been found unsafe for American or European women.

But Searle's magic potion, concocted well before Rumsfeld's arrival, was to be the controversial artificial sweetener aspertame, marketed under the trade name NutraSweet. By 1977, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had staunchly refused to approve aspertame for some 16 years, finding test data dubious or inconclusive and fearing that potential long-term dangers might prove prohibitive. As Rumsfeld took over in Skokie, the FDA was taking the rare step of recommending to Justice Department prosecutors that a grand jury investigate the company's applications for FDA approval for "willful and knowing failure to make reports… concealing material facts and making false statements" in connection with the statutory application process required by law and FDA standards.

Over the next four years, federal regulators held firm against Searle's heavily financed campaigns. Only with Reagan's election in 1980 did fix and favor supplant science and the public interest. Having campaigned for the new president and been named to his transition team, Rumsfeld told his Searle sales force, according to later testimony, that "he would call in all his markers and that no matter what, he would see to it that aspartame would be approved…"

The sequel would be a classic of the genre: Searle's reapplication to the FDA the day Reagan was inaugurated; the prompt appointment of an agreeable FDA commissioner who would later go to work for Searle's public relations firm for $1,000 a day; further questionable, company-commissioned tests with more doubts by FDA scientists but approval of aspertame nonetheless; a later plague of health problems but by then vast profits throughout the corporate food economy followed by lavish, multi-company contributions to Congressional committee members to stifle any outcry; eventually, a $350 million class-action suit alleging racketeering, fraud, and multiple abuses centering on Rumsfeld, who meanwhile had become gloriously rich from aspertame and the $2.7-billion sale of Searle to Monsanto in 1985.

In his return to the Pentagon in 2001, he would go duly unscathed by any of the company's history. By the time litigation would be filed, the United States was already 18 months into the occupation of Iraq.


As it was, despite his business conquests, Rumsfeld missed an even greater prize. He had been on a short list to become Ronald Reagan's running mate in the 1980 presidential campaign when the candidate unexpectedly reached for his defeated primary rival (and Rumsfeld nemesis) George H.W. Bush. While, over the next 12 years, Bush went on to the vice-presidency and presidency, and Jim Baker -- equally detested by Rumsfeld -- went along with his patron to White House staff and cabinet power, Rumsfeld would build his Searle fortune and bide his time.
The one exception to his involuntary Reagan-era exile from government would be a stint in 1983-1984 as special presidential envoy to the Middle East. He would be sent to arrange U.S. support for Saddam Hussein's Iraq in its war with the hated Iranians of Ayatollah Khomeini, a role little noticed at the time which nonetheless produced the notorious photo of Rumsfeld shaking hands with the Iraqi dictator. The deeper story was far more embarrassing than any simple handshake.

Most of the relevant records on Rumsfeld's several-month assignment are still classified, though it is clear that, as at the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO), he took on his mission with a passion. He worked to shower on Saddam (in a manner as unnoticed as possible) an infamous flow of intelligence, financial credits, and sensitive materials and technology that would come to underpin Iraqi chemical and bacteriological warfare programs, leading to hideous gas attacks on Shia dissidents and Kurds as well as the Iranian forces. In general, Rumsfeld put his shoulder to the wheel to shore up the war-worn Ba'athist regime that had attacked Iran in 1980.

In this mid-1980s de facto alliance with Saddam, as in much else, Rumsfeld was never alone. He was joined in this pro-Iraqi tilt in the Middle East by President Reagan, Vice President Bush, Secretary of State George Shultz, Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger, National Security Advisors William Clark and Robert McFarlane, and a number of still obscure men like Paul Wolfowitz at State, Colin Powell, then Weinberger's aide at the Pentagon, and Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle, not to speak of his zealot acolyte assistant Douglas Feith (who would return in a pivotal post under Rumsfeld in 2001) as well as Bill Casey and Robert Gates at the CIA, among other officials.

Their gambit was, in turn, backed by Senators and Congressmen in both parties who were briefed on Rumsfeld's mission and obligingly shunned oversight of the manifold aspects of the sometimes illegal collusion with the Iraqis. Their dereliction was assured, in part, by the general animus toward Iran on a Capitol Hill then effectively controlled by the Republicans, and increasingly under the bipartisan influence of the growing Israeli lobby and its Tel Aviv handlers. The lobby quietly, cynically pushed both for Reagan administration aid to Iraq and for covert arms-dealing with Iran (later exposed in the Iran-Contra scandal), viewing the ongoing no-winners carnage of two Islamic states as a boon. All this went on largely unreported, given the customary media diffidence or indolence on national security issues.

Historically, the moral outrage and far-reaching political folly of Washington's furtive arming of one tyranny to bleed another, with untold casualties on each side (including the murderous suppression of would-be democrats in both countries), would belong at the doorstep of Reagan's reactionary regime and the Washington foreign-policy establishment as a whole. Rumsfeld's role was instrumental and in some respects crucial, but only part of the larger disgrace.

At the same time, in the intelligence briefings he received as the first ranking U.S. official to go to Iraq since the Baghdad Pact of the 1950s, he would have been uniquely aware, as no other senior figure in Washington, of the brutal character of Saddam Hussein's regime and, in particular, the sectarian, regional, tribal, and clan politics that lay behind it. The Ba'athists were a government, after all, that the CIA itself had helped to recruit and install in the coup of 1963, reinstalled in 1968 when the Agency's original clients lost control, and then watched closely while Baghdad had a flirtation (involving an arms-supply relationship) with the feared Russians (whose influence the bloody 1963 coup was supposed to counter). This was particularly true in the aftermath of the Arab-Israeli War of 1973 with its peace agreements from which Iraq emerged as a principal remaining challenge to Israel.

By 1983-1984, the volatile, complex currents of Iraq's political culture, Saddam's essentially family and clan rule, and the now crude, now subtle layering of Sunni and Shia in the Ba'athist bureaucracy and plutocracy, as well as the wartime distrust and savage repression of a suspect, subordinate Shia majority, were well known to outside intelligence agencies as well as scholars and journalists. The CIA, DIA and State Department Bureaus of Near Eastern Affairs and Intelligence and Research -- and certainly Rumsfeld as presidential envoy -- also had reason to understand much about Saddam's grandiose ambition, in Iraq's old rivalry with Egypt, to lead a pan-Arab nationalist renaissance to some kind of future parity with Israel's nuclear-armed military might.

In addition to the usual extensive intelligence-sharing with Israel's Mossad, less than two years before Rumsfeld's Iraq mission CIA operatives had literally lit the way for Israeli F-16 fighter bombers in their June 1981 surprise attack on Saddam's fledgling nuclear reactor at Osiraq. They planted guidance transmitters along the low-level flight path under Jordanian and Iraqi radar to the point of painting the target with lasers. The Agency and Mossad then watched as the Iraqis dauntlessly, defiantly began to rebuild and expand their nuclear program. From some 400 scientists and technicians with $400 million in funding, that program would grow to perhaps 7,000 scientists and technicians with as much as $10 billion at their command, some of which was indirectly made possible by the bounty Rumsfeld carried to Baghdad in the mid-1980s

For anyone dealing seriously with these issues, there could have been little doubt that Saddam would use the considerable aid and trade Rumsfeld was sliding his way under the table to mount a better-armed, more bloody war on Iran, to further the regime's most ambitious dreams of weapons development, and to tyrannize all the more savagely potentially rebellious Iraqi Shiites and Kurds. As Washington watched, he did all of that -- and no one could have been less surprised than Rumsfeld himself. Long afterward, as some of the ugly essence of his mission to Baghdad dribbled out amid the ruins of Bush's Iraqi occupation, Rumsfeld would be faulted for pandering to, and appeasing, Saddam (whose gassing of the Kurds had already begun) -- in the wake of a single, timorous, hypocritical statement issued in Washington in March 1984 criticizing his use of chemical weapons. The actual toll of the policy to which he was integral would prove so much higher as time passed.

Iraqi chemical weapons plants bombed in the 1991 Gulf War released agents to which some 100,000 American troops were exposed. The infamous Gulf War Syndrome might evend be traced in some measure to the U.S. credits, materiel, and technology Rumsfeld knowingly conveyed seven years before. So, too, of course, could Saddam's brutal 1980s repression of the Shia, underlying the sectarian animus and resolve for vengeance and dominance by the U.S.-installed Shia regime after 2003 that shaped Rumsfeld's, and America's, historic failure in Iraq.
Others colluded at every turn in the long scandal of policy toward Iraq. Colin Powell, then the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Dick Cheney, as Secretary of Defense during the First Gulf War, would, for instance, be directly complicit in the Syndrome outrage. Yet none of the participants in the larger post-9/11 disaster was more directly responsible than Rumsfeld.
While Reagan's special envoy was, with his usual energy and sharp elbows, dickering with the Iraqis in the mid-1980s, Condoleezza Rice was an assistant professor of no scholarly distinction at Stanford; Cheney a third-term congressman from Wyoming squirming up the House leadership ladder; future viceroy of Baghdad L. Paul "Jerry" Bremer moving from State Department clerk and Alexander Haig protégé to lavish-party giving ambassador to the Netherlands; and George W. Bush, still by his own account given to "heavy drinking," absorbed in changing the name of his chronically failed Arbusto Energy oil company to Bush Exploration.

Waiting Game

By 1987, Rumsfeld was flexing his muscles once more, preparing for the ultimate goal, assembling money and party support for a presidential run against George H. W. Bush in 1988. But after a dozen years out of office, and against the entrenched power of an heir apparent, he would soon enough discover that backing just was not there. Off more recent prominence and with a wider political base, Cheney would try to mount his own presidential campaign in the early 1990s, only to meet the same bitter rejection

Historians will only guess at the rancor building in these two deeply ambitious, deeply disappointed figures at the president they had, George W. Bush, whom they no doubt saw as manifestly, maddeningly inferior. The Rumsfeld-Cheney recompense, at vast cost to the nation and world, would be their fierce seizure of power after September 11, 2001.

Rumsfeld spent the 1990s again in business, becoming CEO of General Instruments, then Chairman of Gilead Sciences Pharmaceuticals, with another history reminiscent of Searle. In 1990, he joined the board of ABB, a Swedish-Swiss conglomerate that had gobbled up companies in the latter 1980s, including Westinghouse energy operations, and would move aggressively to win a $200-million contract for "the design and key components" for light-water nuclear reactors in North Korea. Rumsfeld pursued this prize even while chairing a Congressional commission on missile threats that found a "clear danger" for the future from Pyongyang. In the alarming report, his otherwise fulsome résumé failed to mention that he was an ABB director.

In 1996, he took leave from Gilead to become chief foreign policy advisor, along with Wolfowitz, in Robert Dole's failed presidential run. He would end as the campaign's eighteen-hour-a-day manager. By 1997, amid the full-scale takeover of the Washington GOP by the long-churning cabal of neoconservatives, he joined Cheney and Wolfowitz on a Newt Gingirch-instigated Congressional Policy Advisory Board to shape attacks on the second Clinton Administration.

In January 1998, he signed the celebrated letter so publicly sent to Clinton from the right-wing, Israeli lobby-dominated Project for a New American Century. Alongside Wolfowitz, Perle, and others soon to be key players in the younger Bush's regime, he vigorously urged the "removal" of Saddam. In July 1998, there followed the "Rumsfeld Commission" report on missile threats, wildly claiming, in an unnamed debut of the "axis of evil" drawn from the testimony and staff work of right-wing ideologues, that Iran, Iraq, and North Korea would each be able to "inflict major destruction" on the U.S. by 2002. Through it all, including the first seven-and-a-half months of their rule after the seamy election of 2000, there would be no trace of the actual danger that erupted out of a September morning sky in 2001.

Though he had repaired surface relations with the Bushes, Rumsfeld took no major role in the 2000 race. In any case, the elder Bush had erased him from his son's list of possible running mates, while ultimately waving through Cheney, whose reactionary animus had been relatively well masked at the Pentagon in 1989-92. When, post-election, Cheney vetoed Governor Tom Ridge for the Pentagon, and there were throbbing neocon fears that a cosmetic Powell, bureaucrat at heart, would be far too equivocal at the State Department, Rumsfeld would be Cheney's, and so Bush's, antidote.

His appointment was a mark of the extreme poverty of Republican talent the administration reflected so graphically. The supposed party of national security, having held the White House for five of the last eight terms and dominated Congress for much of the previous 30 years, had no serious alternative to a man who had perched atop the Pentagon a full quarter-century before. Apart from the patently right-wing, widely discredited missile panel he had chaired, Rumsfeld had shown no palpable interest or competence in the ever more complex defense issues accumulating since then, much less the rapidly changing politics of the post-Cold War world. Nonetheless, fit, relatively youthful at 69, he strode again into the E-Ring. There was speculation that the old Halloween Massacre goal was still there, that Cheney, with his uncertain health, might step aside in 2004, that the undertaker might yet reach the Oval Office.


Rumsfeld began his Pentagon reprise by seizing on a dead Russian marshal and an octogenarian Washington bureaucrat few had ever heard of.

Like Osama bin Laden, steely-haired Nikolai Ogarkov first came to light during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. In 1977, at 50, he had become a prodigal chief of the Soviet General Staff. In that superannuated, medal-mummified company, he proved a dynamic, technically inclined, forward-thinking young general. Over the ensuing years, he would be an impressive Moscow spokesman on arms control, and defend stubbornly, even abjectly, the 1983 shooting down of a civilian Korean Airlines 747 that had veered into Soviet air space.

Ogarkov would fall from power in a 1984 Kremlin struggle over weapons spending, write a valedictory book warning of American militarism, and die in post-Soviet obscurity in 1994. But his main, if esoteric, historical distinction would lie in a slight 1982 pamphlet in which he blamed the early, nearly lethal Russian defeats in World War II on a failure to adapt to the new German blitzkrieg concepts in tank warfare. Recent U.S. advances in weapons technology, he argued, could leave the Russians similarly vulnerable if they didn't adapt quickly enough.

Sweeping changes in tactics and arms as well as more agile, responsive armed forces were needed to face the American challenge, the Marshal advised. Otherwise, Soviet forces would fall into a series of devastating traps on a future remote-targeted battlefield in which the enemy would utilize the latest computerized surveillance and information systems in a new form of high-tech warfare. His vision soon gained vogue as much in Washington as amid the stultified upper reaches of the Soviet military of the early 1980s. It was grandly christened -- and welcomed by Pentagon aficionados -- as the "Revolution in Military Affairs" or, in that acronym-laden world, RMA.

There was a certain banality to Ogarkov's stress on technology. That a fighting force should be best attuned to the battlefield and adversary of the moment -- modern, adaptable, quick, and informed -- should have been self-evident, on the order of the bloody lesson 80 years before of the Tsarist cavalry charging entrenched machine guns in the Russo-Japanese War. Yet however obvious the premise, the RMA concept -- transported to the Pentagon and put in the context of an onrushing generation of electronic warfare, of near-nuclear effects with non-nuclear means, along with Ogarkov's call for fresh tactics (and thus new weaponry and higher spending) -- was taken up by innovators, opportunists, and their assorted hybrids on both sides of the Cold War.
This was particularly so among the Soviets, whose rusty Europe-heavy military was already being shaken and bled in Afghanistan by the Mujahideen -- in 1982-1983, despite ample Saudi money, still only partially armed by their cynical CIA, Pakistani, and Chinese handlers. At any rate, Ogarkov's truism was also grist for the Pentagon's back-ring band of civilian military "theorists," career bureaucrats ever in search of a mission and occupationally disposed to attribute evil genius -- requiring a suitable Washington budgetary response -- to the Red Menace.

Short, bald, and with stylishly severe wire-rimmed glasses, Andrew Marshall was a Dickensian clerk of a man who took up the bureaucratic cudgel RMA represented and brought it down inside the Pentagon. An economist by training, he had begun at RAND as an analyst in the late 1940s, when Rumsfeld was still in New Trier High School. Marshall was archetypical in the career-making fear and folly of the U.S.-Russian mirror-image rivalry. He had been a protégé of think-the-unthinkable, World War III theorist Herman Kahn, and then, via Henry Kissinger's mentor Fritz Kraemer, had gone to work for Kissinger at the National Security Council (NSC) in the first Nixon term. In 1973, he moved on to the Pentagon where he presided over his own obscure nest, the Office of Net Assessment, from Rumsfeld I to II, while gradually gaining the reputation of resident genius of new war methods.

Discreet guru to reactionaries, ignored but thought untouchable by Democrats when in power, Marshall looked on as the Joint Chiefs not only spied on Kissinger's arms control negotiations with the Russians, but also played an ardent supporting role in Nixon's fall. He subsequently signed on to Rumsfeld I's denial of defeat in Vietnam and then, on RMA's advent, used the concept to evoke ominous fears of a new Kremlin military prowess, justifying the orgy of Pentagon spending that took place during the Reagan era. (Ironically, of course, Ogarkov in 1982 was arguing for a Russian response to a still largely prospective American escalation of weaponry and warfare.) While the U.S. armaments spree of the 1980s paid for some new RMA developments, most of the expenditures fit snugly within the corrupt, obtuse old Cold War system, with America's armed forces tailored to a lumbering Soviet threat in Europe, and no serious anticipation of the neo-insurgency wars that actually lay ahead.

As Marshall toyed with "flexibility" -- and the Joint Chiefs cherry-picked his conjuring of Moscow's might for their own budgetary purposes, while ignoring the real import, and limits, of RMA -- the Cold War ended in the equivocations and evasions of Bill Clinton's two terms in office and the low-rent, self-congratulatory installing of mafia regimes in Bosnia and Kosovo. The gnome-like Marshall, well past retirement but a lionized witness before the missile-threat commission, hung on for Rumsfeld's return.

The resulting history is far too close for much documented detail, though its silhouette is plain enough. Summoning Marshall as soothsayer, Rumsfeld made RMA the logo of his determination to gain managerial dominance over the Joint Chiefs and the Pentagon bureaucracy, exactly the opportunity he thought he had missed 25 years earlier. Under the old banner of a clash between a brave, beleaguered secretary of defense and the recalcitrant brass astride an impossible, "glandular" system, he held up the all-purpose, all-seasons ideal of Pentagon "reform." That "reform" movement was to be his ultimate takedown, his claim to greatness, and perhaps -- who knew in 2001 -- one last shot at the presidency.

Amid the inevitable claims of "streamlining" and "modernizing," Democrats applauded and reporters gushed reflexively about Rumsfeld as a celebrity CEO and national quipster. The willing ignorance, denial, careless trust, or craven acquiescence that marked the essential submissiveness of the political and media culture to Rumsfeld's rule were only part of a larger, thoughtless national abdication of judgment and responsibility in the wars he would propel in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

In blindly striking out after 9/11 -- a reflexive, grandly opportunistic, richly self-satisfying political act in America -- without seriously understanding the politics or history of either country, he plunged the Pentagon into blundering, plundering occupations that made the nightmares of 2007 and beyond nearly inevitable.

That was the price -- in the utter absence of serious dialogue in the 2000 election or the first eight months of 2001 -- of the original uncontested surrender of foreign-policy power and initiative to such evident presidential incompetence (including the shocking ineptitude of NSC Advisor Condoleezza Rice and her staff) and the long predictable Rumsfeld-Cheney dominance. All of it was plain in Washington soon after George W. Bush's arrival in the Oval Office; none of it was then questioned, much less challenged, by Congress, the remnant foreign policy establishment, or the mainstream media. No democratic process so completely failed a test of substance as America's after 9/11. No ensuing catastrophe was more consensual.

History will unravel only slowly Rumsfeld's relationship to the neocons, who dominated the middle and upper reaches of his Pentagon, a relationship more complex than contemporary hagiographies or demonologies have had it. Historically, he was their ally, patron, legitimizing figurehead, but never really of them, never a fellow ideologue, dogmatist, or slavish adherent to much of what they pursued. In enlisting Wolfowitz, Perle and their train, he would use them, much as he used Marshall, as he had used so many before, as a means to what was so largely a personal, megalomaniacal end. But that use, too, was characteristically heedless of substance and cost.

He opened government as never before to men who habitually, automatically assumed that U.S. and Israeli interests were identical, with no objectivity about American policy in a Middle East they scarcely understood to begin with. Their ignorance and presumption were matched only by their zeal to cluster in decisive quarters of the new Bush regime where decisions of grand strategy, of war and peace, were now shaped and predetermined.

"Like cancer cells," as eyewitness, Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiakowski, would describe them in action in Rumsfeld's Defense Department. Half-educated and fanatically loyal to the rote Israeli lobby view of the Middle East and the larger neocon craze for American post-Cold War global hegemony, they crowded the domains of the number three official at the Pentagon, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, whose career was a model of their kind and whose notorious Office of Special Plans was created as a fount for the fraudulent intelligence spurring the invasion of Iraq.

Historians will debate, too, the obvious blurred allegiance of what some call these American "Likudniks" with their utter conformity to the belligerent ultra-Zionist mentality of the Israeli right. Never before -- not even in the post-World War II heyday of the powerful China Lobby with its formidable grip on Capitol Hill but not within the upper reaches of the Executive itself -- had so many of such uncritical adherence to the policies of a foreign power been so well placed in Washington.

As often in American politics and government, however, no conspiracies were necessary, though a Pentagon-Israeli lobby spy scandal has yet to be played out. Unrelieved substantive shallowness, a perversely narrow sociology of knowledge, long-jockeyed-for power and career advancement, a grandiose parochial vision of a Pax Americana world nursed in a hundred forgotten think-tank papers and incestuous conferences -- all that as well imposed a stifling, disastrous orthodoxy on the administration.

Not least, they operated without the need to support their prejudices or delusions in authentic high-level debate, flourishing in their members-only domains of the Pentagon, the NSC Staff, and the State Department, enjoying exclusive channels of communication to the White House controlled by Cheney, and unchallenged under a President of uniquely closed mind.

As for Rumsfeld's relations with his generals, the subject of veiled accusations of his heedlessness to dissent or running roughshod over warnings of serious problems, we actually know very little. The calamity in Iraq has brought more public criticism by senior officers than any other war in American history, including Vietnam, but almost all of it hurled from the relatively safe seats of two-and three-star retirement -- and forlornly after the fact.

This much is clear: No major Pentagon leaks, the time-honored Washington weapon of dissenting commanders, marked the run-up to the invasion. There have been no public resignations in protest of his policies. And the negligence, incompetence, and inertia of commanders in recognizing and coping with the insurgency, in dealing with scandals of prisoner abuse, inadequate equipment and more, have been all too obvious. There is no evidence that any ranking American officer on duty pressed an intellectual or moral challenge to the unfolding debacle -- even after it was too glaring to be ignored. As in so much else in his long record, Rumsfeld enjoyed, by Washington's inimitable mix of careerism and cowardice, submission and opportunism, a large supporting cast in his folly.


In the exhilarating dash to Baghdad in 2003, none of the admiring gallery seemed to notice that Rumsfeld's "new" military was largely the old one, "reformed" in name only; nor did many note that the vaunted lean, mean machine of RMA and the again-lionized Marshall had no grasp of how profoundly political was the act of overthrowing 40 years of Ba'athist rule; how deeply political was the campaign to which so many American lives, so much of the country's material and symbolic national treasures, would be committed.

Rumsfeld would take his victory tour in the Gulf that spring as if circling the mat after a stunningly swift pin. What was his toughest call, trailing reporters asked --part of the traditional garlands of victory tossed his way -- and how did he "feel" at such a victorious moment?
It was hardly the time for the media, the seemingly omnipotent military, or the rest of government and the political culture to reflect on how much "shock and awe" depended on overwhelming force brought down on the near-defenseless, on how much the concept reeked of racism and colonial pretense – of natives on the scene and in the vicinity "shocked and awed" like Zulus pounded and panicked by the Queen's own latest howitzers.

It was far too early for other questions -- about a force cosseted at the end of vulnerable supply lines, nicely photogenic in night goggles but without enough body armor; about acronyms like IED that had yet to enter the vocabularies of either commanders or reporters; about the familiar chase for medals and the absence of an enemy admitting defeat and ready to surrender (a missing essential of "victory" that would have much worried Maxwell Taylor).

Unreformed, uninformed commanders, uninstructed beyond brief battles, led their charges into Iraq relying on their generals. The generals relied on civilians. The civilians relied on (or were seduced or bullied by) the neocons. The neocons relied on their own ersatz expertise, Mossad insiders, and Iraqi exiles long out of touch with their homeland. The exiles -- holed up in Baghdad palaces with U.S.-paid-for mercenary guards, ignorant and contemptuous of the Iraq that had passed them by, and where they were now powerless, even with the might of the Pentagon behind them -- relied on the Americans.

Rumsfeld, as always, relied on himself. The ranks trusted him -- and political decision-makers -- to know and manage post-Saddam politics in Iraq to secure the victory as well as to provide the political setting that fulfilled the military triumph. When they failed miserably, condemning the American force to a corrupt, untenable occupation and slow-wasting attrition of men and prestige, the debacle was complete.

Beyond Iraq were his other lasting legacies.

As no other cabinet officer in history, he turned over crucial, self-sustaining functions of his department to privateers and private armies. He surrendered vital supply and commissariat services for the American military to profit-plundering contractors for whom U.S. forces were neither fellow warriors, nor even share-holders, but captive "customers" to be treated with the offhandedness afforded by guaranteed contracts. He ceded security and combat functions essential to the national mission to a corps of thousands of hired guns whose qualifications, standards of conduct and ultimate loyalty -- all integral to the safety and success of American forces -- were beyond effective governmental control or measure. (Exposed in a Congressional hearing February 7, the scandal of the infamous Blackwell Security Corporation, shirking amid vast profit the arming and protection of its own ranks, would be only a glimpse of the larger disgrace.)

Not since the British hired hordes of Hessians to crush George Washington's revolutionary army had a military force tracing to America been so utterly mercenary. The potential direct and indirect levy on policy and the armed forces would not be known for years.

As no other cabinet officer in history, he squandered the integrity of his department and the unique, indispensable code of honor of its services. He joined, and often led, the rest of an intellectually degraded administration, heedless of Constitutional and human rights, in violating the very heart of their ostensibly conservative convictions. With the ready sanctioning, and then de facto cover-up of torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and the less noticed but equally gruesome prisons at Bagram Air Base and elsewhere in Afghanistan, he changed, for untold millions, the symbol of America and its once-proud military from freedom and the rule of law to the unforgettable prisoner's hood and shackles. Rumsfeld's impact would not vanish with terms of office or elections. By the very nature of contracts, personnel practices, and imparted ethics -- some of Washington's most permanent monuments -- his legacies would remain deep in the tissue and soul of the institution he was entrusted to lead. At the end, a pathetic climax to his more than four decades either in government or imploringly on its threshold, there was only his hackneyed memo on Iraq policy -- leaked, even more pathetically, in an apparent attempt somehow to vindicate him after all.

Thus, he growled that the Iraqi regime, like some seedy wrestling team, should "pull up its socks"; and, most poignantly, ever the politician conducting lethal policy as politics, he advised that Washington "announce that whatever new approach the US decides on, the US is doing so on a trial basis. This will give us the ability to re-adjust and move to another course, if necessary, and therefore not 'lose.'"

As he left office for the last time, it would be only the loss that mattered. As a pathologically unfit president struggled to recoup his historic blunder, as the neocons and Israeli lobby pressed on a gullible media and restive but still captive Congress the myth of an Iranian nuclear threat, as the Navy and Air Force, lesser actors in the Iraq action, promised wondrous results in Persia, the chaos and ineffable danger were left to Robert Gates, the puffy courtier.

Weeks after Rumsfeld's departure, history -- the little ever really known or understood -- was already being waved off, forgotten. The past was too complicated and troublesome, too guilt-ridden and close to home, too filled with chilling consequences.

The worst of it was the most basic and damning. Donald Rumsfeld and all he represented, all he did and did not do, came out of us. The undertaker's tally, including Iraq, was compiled at our leave, one way or another, at every turn. His tragedy was always ours.

Roger Morris, who served in the State Department and on the Senior Staff of the National Security Council under Presidents Johnson and Nixon, resigned in protest at the invasion of Cambodia. He then worked as a legislative advisor in the U.S. Senate and a director of policy studies at the Carnegie Endowment, and writes this Rumsfeldian history from intimate firsthand knowledge as well as extensive research. A Visiting Honors professor at the University of Washington and Research Fellow of the Green Institute (his work appears on its website), he is an award-winning historian and investigative journalist, including a National Book Award Silver Medal winner, and the author of books on Nixon, Kissinger, Haig, and the Clintons. More recently, he co-authored with Sally Denton The Money and the Power, a history of Las Vegas as the paradigm of national corruption. His latest work, Shadows of the Eagle, a history of U.S. covert interventions and policy in the Middle East and South Asia over the past half-century, will be published in 2007 by Knopf.

Copyright 2007 Roger Morris

.....and the truth shall set us free.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Monnie Times and Fabricated Lincoln Quote

As we've noted on two occasions this week, there has been a fabricated and widely-discredited quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln floating around among the pro-war (anti-liberty) conservatives. Well, now it's part of the official Congressional record. In his opposition speech on the House floor Wednesday, Alaska's lone Congressman, Rep. Don Young, opened his remarks with a fake quote that could not be more historically inaccurate.

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As Greenwald reminded Frank Gaffney on Colmes' radio show last night (.mp3), Abraham Lincoln spoke out fiercely against President Polk during the Mexican-America War, saying "show me the spot [where American blood was spilled]" because he believed the war was based on false pretenses. In other words, Abraham Lincoln acted in the exact opposite way as the right-wing historical revisionists are saying he did. Furthermore, although he was elected as a Republican, Lincoln was a staunch Whig who believed in the supremacy of Congress over the Executive. Polar opposite of the situation we see today.

(Nicole: Ironically, the quote in question came not from Lincoln, but from the Moonie Times, who has since issued a retraction.

Atrios figures as long as Young refuses to retract his fabricated quote, he'll cite some other fabricated quotes attributed to Young.)

....and the truth shall set us free.

More On McCain Mutiny


By: Nicole Belle @ 4:58 PM - PST
The Nation:

Just as the presidential nomination process begins in earnest, Senator John McCain has suffered a stinging defeat in his home state. For the Republican media darling declared recently by Chris Matthews to be the one candidate who "deserves the presidency," it was an unlikely loss, and so far it has gone unheralded by the national press corps that McCain once half-jokingly called "my base."

All that changed when (Republican state committeeman in Arizona's District 11 Rob) Haney organized a revolt that hardly needed encouragement. "People would be calling in to [state committee] headquarters every week, absolutely enraged, threatening to leave the party because of some comments McCain made," Haney told me. "The guy has no core, his only principle is winning the presidency. He likes to call his campaign the 'straight talk express.' Well, down here we call it the 'forked tongue express.'"

McCain's botched revenge (against Haney) has solidified his reputation in Arizona's Republican circles as a divisive, untrustworthy and even dangerous figure. Haney hopes the general public meets this side of McCain before his penchant for angry reprisals is invested with the powers of the presidency. "This just shows that McCain is mentally unstable and out of control and vindictive," Haney told me. "If he is determined to go through that much trouble to attack a district committee chairman, what does that say about his ability to handle real political problems?"

Ouch. That's gotta hurt.

...and the truth shall set us free.

My Personal Hero, Larry Johnson Tells It LIke It Is.

Former CIA officer Larry Johnson of NoQuarter blog was on Countdown Thursday and spoke with Keith about the Bush Administration's feeble attempts to convince the American public of Iran's increasing role in Iraq.

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Olbermann: Secretary Rice testified last week she had never seen the overture from Iran in '03 for talks with the U.S.- it would have perhaps provided assistance regarding Iraq. Once again, is this just blatant, head first, ram-it-through-the-wall kind of misinformation being passed off by the administration; are they just denying something that's obviously true?

Johnson - It's one of two things, Keith. Either it's incompetence, and we saw an element of that with her handling of the information prior to 9/11 or she has a medical problem, perhaps early onset Alzheimer's. You know, I can't figure it out.

Larry expands on how there's no there there at NoQuarter:

The truth about the Iranian threat is that the Bush Administration is not telling the real truth. Like any effective propagandist President Bush is using a kernel of truth and, with the help of many in the media, laying the foundation for another war. Only this time it will likely be a war of retaliation rather than one of pre-emption.

....and the truth shall set us free.

House Rebukes Bush (and Cheney, of course)

Rethugs continue to back Bush debacle, in large numbers.

Guess they didn't hear us last year or, more liley, they don't give a flying rat's ass

AP Special Correspondent

The Democratic-controlled House issued a symbolic rejection of President Bush's decision to deploy more troops to Iraq on Friday, opening an epic confrontation between Congress and commander in chief over an unpopular war that has taken the lives of more than 3,100 U.S. troops.

The vote on the nonbinding measure was 246-182, and within minutes, Democrats said their next move would be to challenge Bush's request for $93 billion in new funds for the Pentagon.

"The stakes in Iraq are too high to recycle proposals that have little prospect for success," said Speaker Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record), leader of Democrats who gained power last fall in elections framed by public opposition to the war.

"The passage of this legislation will signal a change in direction in Iraq that will end the fighting and bring our troops home," she vowed.

Citing recent comments by Democrats, Bush's Republican allies said repeatedly the measure would lead to attempts to cut off funds for the troops. Outnumbered, they turned to GOP Rep. Sam Johnson (news, bio, voting record) of Texas to close their case — and the former Vietnam prisoner of war stepped to the microphone as lawmakers in both parties rose to applaud his heroism.

"Now it's time to stand up for my friends who did not make it home, and for those who fought and died in Iraq already," he said. "We must not cut funding for our troops. We must stick by them," he added, snapping off a salute as he completed his remarks to yet another ovation.
Bush made no comment on the developments, and his spokesman said the president was too busy to watch the proceedings on television.

After a secure videoconference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Bush said the Iraqis reported providing troops to fight alongside Americans, making sure that no ethnic or religious factions are ignored in the security operations, providing $10 billion toward reconstruction and working on an oil revenue-sharing law.

"That's good news for the Iraqi people. And it should give people here in the United States confidence that his government knows its responsibilities and is following through on those responsibilities," Bush said.

More than 390 of 434 lawmakers spoke during nearly 45 hours of dignified debate that spilled across four days — an unusual amount of time devoted to what Republicans and Democrats alike said was the most significant issue confronting the country.

House Republican Leader John Boehner (news, bio, voting record) appeared to choke back tears at one point as he read from a letter that a husband of a former congressional aide wrote home before being killed in Fallujah.

Pelosi led the House in a moment of silence, out of respect, she said, for those who fought, and "particularly those who have lost their lives in the war, and their families."

Supporters of the nonbinding resolution included 229 Democrats and 17 Republicans — fewer GOP defections than Democrats had hoped to get and the White House and its allies had feared.

Two Democrats joined 180 Republicans in opposition. (We'll bee finding out who these yahoos are!)

Moving quickly, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (news, bio, voting record), D-Nev., set a test vote for Saturday on an identical measure, and several presidential contenders in both parties rearranged their weekend campaign schedules to be present.

Republican senators said in advance they would deny Democrats the 60 votes needed to advance the resolution, adding they would insist on equal treatment for a GOP-drafted alternative that opposes any reduction in funds for the troops.

Even so there were signs of Republican restlessness on the issue. Only two members of the GOP rank and file sided with Democrats on an earlier procedural vote; the total figured to be higher this time.

The developments unfolded as a new poll showed more than half those surveyed view the war as a hopeless cause.

A sizeable majority, 63 percent, opposes the decision to dispatch more troops, although support for Bush's plan has risen in the past few weeks from 26 percent to 35 percent, according to the AP-Ipsos poll.

The House measure disapproves of Bush's decision to increase troop strength, and pledges that Congress will "support and protect" the troops.

Bush has already said passage of the measure will not deter him from proceeding with the deployment of another 21,500 troops, designed primarily to quell sectarian violence in heavily populated Baghdad.

Already, troops of the Army's 82nd Airborne have arrived in Iraq. Another brigade is in Kuwait, undergoing final training before proceeding to Iraq. Three more brigades are ticketed for the Baghdad area, one each in March, April and May.

In addition, the Pentagon is sending two Marine battalions to Anbar province in the western part of the country, the heart of the Sunni insurgency.

Bush and his allies in Congress calculated days ago that the House measure would pass, and increasingly have focused their energy on the next steps in the Democrats' attempt to end U.S. participation in the war.

"The President believes that the Congress should provide the full funding and flexibility our Armed Forces need to succeed in their mission to protect our country," said White House press secretary Tony Snow.

But Rep. David Obey (news, bio, voting record), D-Wis., who chairs the committee that will review Bush's request, said, "the president wants a supplemental (spending bill). If he wants it, he's going to have to accept certain things."

Democrats have made clear in recent days they will use Bush's spending request to impose certain standards of readiness, training and rest for the troops.

"That stops the surge (in troops) for all intents and purposes, because ... they cannot sustain the deployment," Rep. John Murtha (news, bio, voting record), D-Pa., said recently.

Republicans pointed to Murtha's remarks repeatedly during the day as evidence that despite their claims to the contrary, Democrats intend to cut off funds for the troops.

"This is all part of their plan to eliminate funding for our troops that are in harm's way. And we stand here as Republicans ... committed to making sure our troops in harm's way have all the funds and equipment they need to win this war in Iraq," said Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the Republican leader.

....and the truth shall set us free.

BuCheney Are the Twin Trumps of Doom For Isarel

Are Bush and Cheney the Biggest Threats to Israel's Existence?

The Kervorkian Administration

By RAY McGOVERNFormer CIA analyst

President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are unwittingly playing Dr. Jack Kevorkian in helping the state of Israel commit suicide. For this is the inevitable consequence of the planned air and missile attack on Iran. The pockmarked, littered landscape in Iraq, Lebanon, and Afghanistan and the endless applicant queues at al-Qaeda and other terrorist recruiting stations testify eloquently to the unintended consequences of myopic policymakers in Washington and Tel Aviv.


Sadly, this is the best word to describe those of us awake to the inexorable march of folly to war with Iran and the growing danger to Israel's security, especially over the medium and long term. An American and/or Israeli attack on Iran will let slip the dogs of war. Those dogs never went to obedience school. They will not be denied their chance to bite, and Israel's arsenal of nuclear weapons will be powerless to muzzle them.

In my view, not since 1948 has the very existence of Israel hung so much in the balance. Can Bush/Cheney and the Israeli leaders not see it? Pity that no one seems to have read our first president's warning on the noxious effects of entangling alliances. The supreme irony is that in their fervor to help, as well as use, Israel, Bush and Cheney seem blissfully unaware that they are leading it down a garden path and off a cliff.

Provoke and Pre-empt

Whether it is putting the kibosh on direct talks with Iran or between Israel and Syria, the influence and motives of the vice president are more transparent than those of Bush. Sure, Cheney told CNN's Wolf Blitzer recently that the administration's Iraq policy would be "an enormous success story," but do not believe those who dismiss Cheney as "delusional." He and his "neo-conservative" friends are crazy like a fox. They have been pushing for confrontation with Iran for many years, and saw the invasion of Iraq in that context. Alluding to recent U.S. military moves, author Robert Dreyfuss rightly describes the neo-cons as "crossing their fingers in the hope that Iran will respond provocatively, making what is now a low-grade cold war inexorably heat up."

But what about the president? How to explain his fixation with fixing Iran's wagon? Cheney's influence over Bush has been shown to be considerable ever since the one-man search committee for the 2000 vice presidential candidate picked Cheney. The vice president can play Bush like a violin. But what strings is he using here? Where is the resonance?

Experience has shown the president to be an impressionable sort with a roulette penchant for putting great premium on initial impressions and latching onto people believed to be kindred souls-be it Russian President Vladimir Putin (trust at first sight), hail-fellow-well-met CIA director George Tenet, or oozing-testosterone-from-every-pore former Israeli Prime Minister Arial Sharon. Of particular concern was his relationship with Sharon. Retired Gen. Brent Scowcroft, a master of discretion with the media, saw fit to tell London's Financial Times two and a half years ago that Sharon had Bush "mesmerized" and "wrapped around his little finger."
As chair of the prestigious President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board under George W. Bush and national security adviser to his father, Scowcroft was uniquely positioned to know-and to draw comparisons. He was summarily fired after making the comments about Sharon and is now persona non grata at the White House.

Compassion Deficit Disorder

George W. Bush first met Sharon in 1998, when the Texas governor was taken on a tour of the Middle East by Matthew Brooks, then executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. Sharon was foreign minister and took Bush on a helicopter tour over the Israeli occupied territories. An Aug. 3, 2006 McClatchy wire story by Ron Hutcheson quotes Matthew Brooks:
"If there's a starting point for George W. Bush's attachment to Israel, it's the day in late 1998, when he stood on a hilltop where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount, and, with eyes brimming with tears, read aloud from his favorite hymn, 'Amazing Grace.' He was very emotional. It was a tear-filled experience. He brought Israel back home with him in his heart. I think he came away profoundly moved."

Bush made gratuitous but revealing reference to that trip at the first meeting of his National Security Council (NSC) on Jan. 30, 2001. After announcing he would abandon the decades-long role of honest broker between Israelis and Palestinians and would tilt pronouncedly toward Israel, Bush said he would let Sharon resolve the dispute however he saw fit. At that point he brought up his trip to Israel with the Republican Jewish Coalition and the flight over Palestinian camps, but there was no sense of concern for the lot of the Palestinians. In A Pretext for War James Bamford quotes Bush: "Looked real bad down there," he said with a frown. Then he said it was time to end America's efforts in the region. "I don't see much we can do over there at this point," he said.

So much for the Sermon on the Mount. The version I read puts a premium on actively working for justice. There is no suggestion that tears suffice.

Then-Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill, who was at the NSC meeting, reported that Colin Powell, the newly minted but nominal secretary of state, was taken completely by surprise at this nonchalant jettisoning of longstanding policy. Powell demurred, warning that this would unleash Sharon and "the consequences could be dire, especially for the Palestinians." But according to O'Neill, Bush just shrugged, saying, "Sometimes a show of strength by one side can really clarify things." O'Neill says that Powell seemed "startled." It is a safe bet that the vice president was in no way startled.

A similar account reflecting Bush's compassion deficit disorder leaps from the pages of Ron Susskind's The One Percent Doctrine. Crown Prince Abdullah, Saudi Arabia's de facto leader was in high dudgeon in April 2002 when he arrived in Crawford to take issue with Bush's decision to tilt toward Israel and jettison the long-standing American role of honest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. With Bush's freshly bestowed "man-of-peace" epithet for Sharon still ringing in Abdullah's ear, he began by insisting that before a word was spoken the president and his aides watch a 15-minute video the prince had brought of mayhem on the West Bank, of American-made tanks, bloodied and dead children, screaming mothers. Then, still wordless, they all filed into another room where the Saudis proceeded to make specific demands, but Bush appeared distracted and was non-responsive. After a few minutes, the president turned to Abdullah and said, "Let's go for a drive. Just you and me. I'll show you the ranch."

Bush was so obviously unprepared to discuss substance with his Saudi guests that some of the president's aides checked into what had happened. The briefing packet for the president had been diverted to Cheney's office. Bush never got it, so he was totally unaware of what the Saudis hoped to accomplish in making the hajj to Crawford. (There is little doubt that this has been a common experience over the past six years and that there are, in effect, two "deciders" in the White House, one of them controlling the paper flow.)

Not that Bush was starved for background briefings. Indeed, he showed a preference to get them from Prime Minister Sharon who, with his senior military aide, Gen. Yoav Galant, briefed the president both in Crawford (in 2005) and the Oval Office (in 2003) on Iran's "nuclear weapons program." Sorry if I find that odd. That used to be our job at CIA. I'll bet Sharon and Galant packed a bigger punch.

There is, no doubt, more at play here regarding Bush's attitude and behavior regarding Israel and Palestine. One need not be a psychologist to see ample evidence of oedipal tendencies. It is no secret that the president has been privately critical of what he perceives to be his father's mistakes. Susskind notes, for example, that Bush defended his tilt toward Israel by telling an old foreign policy hand, "I'm not going to be supportive of my father and all his Arab buddies!" And it seems certain that Ariel Sharon gave the young Bush an earful about the efforts of James Baker, his father's secretary of state, to do the unthinkable; i.e. e., crank Arab grievances into deals he tried to broker between Israel and the Palestinians. It seems clear that this is one reason the Baker-Hamilton report was dead on arrival.

With Friends Like These...

George W. Bush may have the best of intentions in his zeal to defend Israel, but he and Cheney have the most myopic of policies. Israeli leaders risk much if they take reassurance from the president's rhetoric, particularly vis-à-vis Iran. I am constantly amazed to find, as I speak around the country, that the vast majority of educated Americans believe we have a defense treaty with Israel. We don't, but one can readily see how it is they are misled. Listen to the president exactly two years ago:

"Clearly, if I was the leader of Israel and I'd listened to some of the statements b y the Iranian ayatollahs that regarded the security of my country, I'd be concerned about Iran having a nuclear weapon as well. And, in that Israel is our ally (sic)-and in that we've made a very strong commitment to support Israel-we will support Israel if her security is threatened."
We do no favors for Israeli leaders in giving them the impression they have carte blanche in their neighborhood-and especially vis-à-vis Iran, and that we will bail them out, no matter what. Have they learned nothing from the recent past? Far from enhancing Israel's security, the U.S. invasion of Iraq and Washington's encouragement of Israel's feckless attack on Lebanon last summer resulted in more breeding ground for terrorist activity against Israel. This will seem child's play compared to what would be in store, should the US and/or Israel bomb Iran.
Bottom line: there is a growing threat to Israel from suicide bombers. The most dangerous two work in the White House.

Ray McGovern was a CIA analyst from 1963 to 1990 and Robert Gates' branch chief in the early 1970s. McGovern now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). He is a contributor to Imperial Crusades, edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair. He can be reached at:

The original version of this article appeared on

....and the truth shall set us free.

We Recognize No Monarch

War is a Decision for Congress, Not the American Monarch


Aiding a nation against a foreign invasion is not grounds for war.

The US aided France against Germany and still brags about it.

WMD possession is not grounds for war. The US has more of them than anyone.

The motivation for attacking Iran was laid out in 2000 by the PNAC, and as early as 1992 in defense planning guidance -- written for then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney by then-Pentagon staffers I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, World Bank Chief Paul Wolfowitz, and ambassador-nominee to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad.

If the motivation for attacking Iran was aid to Iraqi resisters, the U.S. would be attacking Saudi Arabia too.

There is no evidence that Iran has nukes. NIE in 2005 said 2015 was the earliest Iran could have them.

There is no evidence that the government of Iran is involved in aiding Iraqis, a fact that Peter Pace and the CIA agree with.

The evidence that anyone in Iran is aiding Iraqis is weak. The intelligence community has refused to take part. The military is making these claims. The Iran Directorate is no more reliable (or legal) than was the Office of Special Plans. Those presenting the case are refusing to use their names or to allow any cameras in the room.

The idea that Iraqis cannot produce roadside bombs of the type described by the U.S. military is absurd. And what makes it laughable is that four years ago, the White House was telling us that Iraqis could produce long-range missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, nukes, and chemical and biological weapons.

The people pitching this Iran story are the same ones who lied to us about Iraq. And they've been lying to us about Iran in recent months, including claiming that Iran kicked out IAEA inspectors, which the IAEA denied; claiming North Korea was helping Iran with nukes, which N Korea denied and evidence refuted; and blaming incidents in Iraq on Iranian-trained fighters claims that the facts have conflicted with.

In 1976 President Ford offered Iran the nuclear technology it is now trying to develop in the face of US opposition. In 2003, Iran proposed negotiations with the United States with everything on the table, including its nuclear technology. Bush refused.

Bush's threats and provocations are boosting support in Iran for a militaristic leader.

Threats by that leader do not justify war.

If you want to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons, talk to Iran, work with Iran, and keep the inspectors in. Inspections worked with Iraq.

Attacking Iran would be a catastrophe for Iranians, Israelis, Americans, and others. A war could escalate dramatically.

War is a decision for Congress, not for an American monarch.

David Swanson can be reached at:

....and the truth shall set us free.

War With Iran, A Very Bad Idea!!!

War with Iran?
By Ken Silverstein.

02/14/07 "Harper's" -- - Is war with Iran on the way?

We hear from four former CIA officials.
Milt Bearden

Milt Bearden is an author and film consultant. A former senior CIA officer, he served as station chief in Pakistan from 1986 until the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989.

As insane as the prospect for war might seem to those of us who have spent parts of our lives in the shadow of a mosque, it is impossible to ignore the drumbeats for war with Iran. Yes, I think Americans should be prepared to wake up one morning and find themselves at war with Iran.

I am seeing constant trumpeting by the administration of “evidence” of Iranian weapons, equipment, or technology, linked with American casualties in Iraq. I don't know why anyone would be surprised by Iranian gambling in our Iraqi casino—especially as there are time-honored rules, at least a half-century old, for proxy wars. The Soviets and Chinese armed our adversaries in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, where we suffered about 100,000 killed in action. Nevertheless, successive American administrations never gave serious thought to attacking either China or the U.S.S.R. in response to their arming of our enemies. And I personally funneled much of the ordnance to the Afghan resistance fighters that killed 15,000 Soviet troops in Afghanistan. Here again, the U.S.S.R. never seriously considered striking at the source of their torment in Afghanistan.

If the administration uses Iran's involvement in the Iraq misadventure as a casus belli, the American people should at least know the historical realities before we're piped off to yet another folly. Going to war with Iran will have no good outcome for anyone except Iran. We have neither the forces nor the money for such a war, and those who think they can get by with “shock and awe” need to be shouted down now.

It is entirely possible that we've already lost the Iraq enterprise; it is also possible that as we turn up the heat in Afghanistan—there is much talk about an American “Spring offensive”—we will create a generalized resistance to our occupation and lose that war as well. Our planned tactics for the new “fighting season” in Afghanistan are hauntingly reminiscent of the failed tactics of the U.S.S.R. in their Afghan misadventure. I watched with amazement as the U.S.S.R. did everything wrong in Afghanistan, finally pulled out, and ended up losing their “empire.”

Take note.

Anonymous Former CIA Official #1:

A former CIA official, who asked to remain unnamed. He was stationed in the Persian Gulf during the first Gulf War and served in Iraq after the 2003 invasion.

I don't think the administration is about to carry out military action. The military does not want to do this. We will lose planes if there is a massive air strike over Iran, we'll have pilots killed and captured. Iran has a lot of ways to hurt us. If they decide to come after uniformed personnel in Iraq, or more easily, civilians and contractors, things could quickly get out of hand. You could have kidnappings or a mass casualty attack—they drove us out of Lebanon in the 1980s; a mass casualty attack like the Marine barracks bombing would likely be the end in Iraq.

But the administration's actions are increasing the chances for an accidental confrontation. People don't realize how small and narrow the Gulf is, especially as you approach the Straits of Hormuz. The tanker/container and related commerce traffic is incredible and it goes on twenty-four hours a day. We've already got one carrier battle group there and now we're going to put in another one, which will add a huge footprint. When you have, on both sides, nineteen-year-olds manning weapons, it's a formula for an accident that could spin out of control.

Here's an example: Every night, members of the Revolutionary Guard pack up their speed boats with rugs and crafts, really pricey stuff. They weave their way through all the traffic on the Gulf and sell the stuff on remote areas of beach just north of Sharjah, Ajman, and Umm al Qaywayn. They off-load and sell their goods and then load up with Jack Daniels, porn, CDs, electronics, satellite receivers, and computers, and weave their way back through traffic to Iran. At 3 a.m. on a moonless night, one of those boats speeding across the Gulf could easily cross the defensive radar signature of a U.S. frigate, and it's going to get shot up. So you have a situation that is essentially an accident, and all of a sudden you have a crisis.

Military action is not the best option. This is not like Iraq's Osirak reactor, which Israel destroyed in 1981. In that case, there was a single target. Iran's nuclear program is dispersed and our intelligence picture is thin because we don't have enough well-placed spies. It would take a massive air strike package with consecutive strikes to hit all the targets. You could hurt them and complicate their activities, but I don't think you could turn off their program.

The way to pressure the Iranian government is through pressure inside Iran and inside Iraq.

There's a thirst for information in Iran and we should be bombarding them with accurate information via conventional and unconventional means. We could be using TV and radio broadcasts, the Internet, Wi-Fi networks in Iraq, and underground newspapers to reach Iranians. There are about 60,000 Iranians in the Los Angeles area, many with daily contact with family and colleagues in Iran. Los Angeles is the headquarters for the American media/movie/television apparatus—and yet we're not broadcasting into Iran. Turn them loose! They can produce soap operas, talk shows, news programs, entertainment shows, all in Farsi.
Propagandizing is part of the CIA's mission charter, but the current leadership has decided against it. (They've also decided against covert action, direct action, covert influence, and other active measures.) The agency did it for years in Eastern Europe, Africa, Central and South America, and other parts of the world during the Cold War, with huge impact. With advances in technology, it's so much easier to do now.

When I started in this business, there was only TV, radio, and print, and it was very hard to influence what was shown on TV. Now you can plant a story on the Internet in a couple of minutes. You want to make Ahmadinejad react to stories—create the perception of a rift between him and the religious leadership and cast it as a problem in the country. The rumor mill works overtime in that part of the world. You'd want nuggets of truth in these stories, aimed at Iranian youth. We should be emphasizing the huge unemployment in Iran, the staleness of the revolution, the age of the mullahs, and how they live very well—their pious lifestyle is all baloney. But doing it requires too much effort, and careers could be risked.

Frank Anderson

Frank Anderson worked for the CIA from 1968 until 1995. He served three tours of duty in the Middle East as an agency station chief, headed the Afghan Task Force (1987-1989), and was chief of the Near East Division. He now runs a consulting practice that focuses on the Middle East.

I think that the Bush Administration has certainly ordered up contingency plans that give them military options for dealing with three possible Iran-related objectives. In decreasing order of importance, possible triggers for war are:

Reaction to Iranian support for attacks on U.S. troops;

Destruction or delay of Iranian nuclear capability; and/or
Regime change (the guys who brought us the Iraq war are still in charge).

Any administration would so prepare. This administration has, at least, a significant minority of officials who are determined to take on Iran, with the goals of destroying nuclear capabilities and/or regime change, before they leave office. Couple that with an abundant supply of provocations from an Iranian President whose political core is radically and almost recklessly anti-American. Thus, I think we're “locked and loaded” for an attack.

That said, the barriers to action are formidable. The President's party has lost control of the legislature and is in trouble over war in the Middle East. Interestingly, the last Iranian elections showed that the Iranian President is also in trouble, mostly over botched economic performance, but his opponents have linked the troubled economy to Ahmadinejad's confrontational foreign and nuclear policies. So, no matter how much the national executive on both sides might want a fight, they are both constrained. Moreover, it's difficult to come up with a “target deck” that, if struck, would make a strategic difference worth the political price. Of course, even the Administration's biggest war fans have to deal with the condition of our overall military capabilities and our weakened diplomatic position.

We should be trying to cope with Iran, rather than trying to take them out. Were I still taking a government paycheck, I would be pushing for coping mechanisms but also looking hard for intelligence on which to base strikes that could take out targets clearly tied to Iranian misdeeds in Iraq, like I.E.D. engineering and supply. I'd also look for, but doubt I could find, some set of critical targets whose destruction could seriously impact the prospects for an Iranian nuclear weapon.

My bottom-line guess is that we don't have the intelligence or military capability that would justify an attack on Iran that would be worth the significant cost. With the President politically constrained, that makes me bet against it, but the spread isn't big.
Anonymous Former CIA Official #2

A former senior CIA official, who preferred to remain unidentified, but who has broad experience in the Middle East.

The Bush Administration's combative rhetoric—its accusations about Iran's nuclear program, involvement in Iraq, and support for Hezbollah and Hamas—looks like a prelude to military action. It's eerily reminiscent of the fall 2002/winter 2003 rhetoric on Iraq, when the administration was talking about WMDs and Saddam Hussein's meddling in the region. It's back to the future. The administration is unlikely to embark upon military action immediately, but it's trying to squeeze Iran, to egg on the government, and hoping that Iran commits some sort of military action that the Bush Administration can use as justification for a strike. The administration was hurt by the accusation that it conducted a war of choice against Iraq, so it's trying to create a situation where it can say this is a war of necessity against Iran. But its actions are essentially the same thing as planning to go to war.

I see four types of evidence that the administration is planning military action. First, it is escalating its anti-Iran rhetoric. Second, it is parading evidence about Iranian involvement in Iraq, citing intelligence reports, serial numbers of weapons, and so on. Third, the United States is building up its military presence in the Gulf. Fourth, pro-United States regimes in the region, with encouragement, clearly, by the Bush Administration, are issuing statements denouncing Iran's threatening posture towards them, and its alleged efforts to pressure for the “Shiite-ification” of Sunni communities.

Despite differences between Shiites and Sunnis, a U.S. attack on Iran would be viewed in the region as the fifth in a series of American wars against Islam—after Afghanistan, Iraq, Hamas, and Hezbollah. Iran and its supporters will seek to respond, including through attacks on Israel. An American strike poses a huge threat to Israel, which I'm not sure the administration has thought through. It will also destabilize pro-American regimes in the region, solidify the jihadists in Iraq, and unify Iranians around their government.

....and the truth shall set us free.

¦ Cheney pushes corporate agenda

Surprise, Suprise!

The corporate Cheney-bot is at it again!

delawareonline ¦ The News Journal ¦ Cheney pushes corporate agenda:

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Dick Cheney on Wednesday urged the nation's top manufacturers to lobby Congress in what he says will be a difficult battle to extend trade promotion authority to President Bush.

This authority, which expires on July 1, allows the president to negotiate trade agreements that must be considered by Congress on an expedited basis that bars any amendments.

'I think it's going to be a tough fight,' Cheney said in a speech to the National Association of Manufacturers. 'We're strongly supportive of it. It's very important for us to continue to have that authority, but we're going to need help on Capitol Hill.'

Gulf States Plan Weapons Buying Binge

Here we go again. Junior is scaring the crap out of everyone.

The weapons sold to these states will one day be used against the sellers.

"Live by the sword, die by the sword"

Gulf States Plan Weapons Buying Binge | World Latest | Guardian Unlimited:

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - Deep fears about the war in Iraq and growing tension between the United States and Iran are driving the wealthy oil states of the Persian Gulf to go on shopping sprees for helicopters, ships and tanks, officials say.

Some 900 weapons makers and security firms from around the world, including the U.S. and Russia, will compete for those military buys at the IDEX military show that opens Sunday in Abu Dhabi. At stake are contracts predicted to soar past the $2 billion signed at the last such show two years ago.

"The shopping lists are directly correlated to the threat perception,'' said military analyst Mustafa Alani of the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center. "For the past 15 years, these countries didn't invest a lot in rearming.''

But now they're rushing to upgrade.

Auditors: Billions Wasted in Iraq |

Time to start freezing the assets of war-profiteers and other thieves, including those in high office.

Auditors: Billions Wasted in Iraq | World Latest | Guardian Unlimited:

WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. government is at risk of squandering significantly more money in an Iraq war and reconstruction effort that has already wasted or otherwise overcharged taxpayers billions of dollars, federal investigators said Thursday.

The three top auditors overseeing contract work in Iraq told a House committee that $10 billion in spending was wasteful or poorly tracked. They pointed to numerous instances in which Defense and State department officials condoned or otherwise allowed poor accounting, repeated work delays, bloated expenses and payments for work shoddily or never done by U.S. contractors.

That problem could worsen, the Government Accountability Office said, given limited improvement so far by the Department of Defense even as the Bush administration prepares to boost the U.S. presence in Iraq.

Tearing Down the Old Lie Factory

Breakdown At The Iraq Lie Factory

Robert Dreyfuss
February 15, 2007

Robert Dreyfuss is an Alexandria, Va.-based writer specializing in politics and national security issues. He is the author of Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam (Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books, 2005), a contributing editor at The Nation and a writer for Mother Jones, The American Prospect and Rolling Stone. He can be reached through his website,

It was, President Bush must have been thinking, a heck of a lot easier five years ago. Back in 2002, the president had a smoothly running lie factory humming along in the Pentagon, producing reams of fake intelligence about Iraq, led by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Doug Feith and his Office of Special Plans. Back then, he had a tightly knit cabal of neoconservatives, led by I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, based in Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, to carry out a coordinated effort to distribute the lies to the media. And he had a chorus of yes-men in the Republican-controlled Congress ready to echo the party line.

In 2007, Bush stands nearly alone, and he never looked lonelier than during a bumbling, awkward news conference on the Iraq-Iran tangle Wednesday.

Feith is long gone, and last week his lie factory was exposed by the Pentagon’s own inspector general, who told Congress that Feith had pretty much made up everything that his rogue intelligence unit manufactured. Libby is long gone, apparently about to be sentenced to jail for lying about Cheney’s frantic effort to cover up the lie factory’s work. And the congressional echo chamber is gone: In six weeks, the Democrats have held more than four dozen hearings to investigate the White House’s catastrophic Middle East policy, and even Hillary Clinton is warning that Bush had better keep his hands off Iran, saying: “It would be a mistake of historical proportions if the administration thought that the 2002 resolution authorizing force against Iraq was a blank check for the use of force against Iran.”

Without his Orwellian apparatus behind him, the president spent most of his hour-long news conference yesterday shrugging and smirking, jutting his jaw out with false bravado, joshing inappropriately with reporters asking deadly serious questions and stumbling over his words. It was painful to listen to him trying to justify the nonsensical claims that Iran and its paramilitary “Quds Force” are somehow responsible for the chaos in Iraq:

What we do know is that the Quds force was instrumental in providing these deadly IEDs to networks inside of Iraq. We know that. And we also know that the Quds force is a part of the Iranian government. That's a known. What we don't know is whether or not the head leaders of Iran ordered the Quds force to do what they did.

Pressed about what the “head leaders” are doing, he went on:
Either they knew or didn't know, and what matters is, is that they're there. What's worse, that the government knew or that the government didn't know? … What’s worse, them ordering it and it happening, or them not ordering it and it happening?

If that makes no sense to you, well, that’s because the whole thing makes no sense.

It’s a farcical replay of Iraq 2002, when the White House demonized Saddam Hussein with fake intelligence, turning him into a menacing al-Qaida backer armed with weapons of mass destruction. This time, however, the lie factory has been dismantled. All by himself, the president is trying to turn Iran into a scary, al-Qaida-allied, nuke-wielding menace. But he’s not fooling anyone. The potent “war president” of 2002-2003 is now an incoherent, mewling Wizard of Oz-like figure, and people are paying attention to the man behind the curtain.

Unlike 2002, when the White House fired salvo after salvo of fake intelligence about Iraq, today it can’t even stage its lies properly.

Like the incompetents who couldn’t organize a two-car funeral, the remaining Iran war hawks in the administration held a briefing in Baghdad on Sunday to present alleged evidence that Iran is masterminding the insurgency in Iraq. But it was a comedy of errors that convinced no one. Twice, at least, the administration had earlier postponed or canceled the much-promoted event, designed to reveal the supposed secrets behind Iran’s actions in Iraq. When it was finally held, it was not in Washington, but in Baghdad, with not a single White House official, no U.S. diplomat, no State Department official, no CIA official and no one from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Instead, a couple of anonymous military officers held a background-only briefing, barring cameras and tape recorders, to present some blurry photographs of bomb-looking things—and not a shred of evidence of Iranian government involvement.

It was as if Adlai Stevenson had gotten up at the United Nations during the missile crisis in Cuba and, rather than showing detailed U-2 photographs of missile emplacements, had simply said, “Ladies and gentleman, some Cuban guy we talked to said the Russians are putting missiles in Cuba.”

According to The Washington Times, the effort to blame Iran was directly torpedoed by the U.S. intelligence community, through the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The ODNI, said the Times , “sought to play down the intelligence on Iranian involvement, fearing that the report will be used as a basis to launch an attack on Iran.” Many earlier reports noted that both the State Department and the U.S. intelligence community were strongly opposed to any attempt to demonize Iran. There’s nothing like a bureaucracy scorned to conduct passive-aggressive sabotage of misguided policies, and in this case the bureaucracy apparently succeeded. The dog-and-pony show on Iranian meddling in Iraq not only didn’t scare anyone, it caused guffaws of laughter and ridicule.

And then there was the hilarious presidential press conference yesterday, to top it off.

There is, of course, no basis for arguing that the civil war in Iraq is caused by Iran. And there is no basis—“not supported by underlying intelligence,” as the Pentagon I.G. said about Doug Feith’s 2002 work—to argue that Iran is responsible for a significant part of American deaths in Iraq. Nearly all of the U.S. casualties in Iraq are caused by the secular-Baathist Sunni-led resistance and religious Sunni extremists fighting the occupation, and none of the forces allied with the resistance have ties to Iran. Even the anonymous briefers at the dog-and-camel show in Baghdad admitted that Iran is helping the Shiite militias, not the Sunnis; in other words, Iran is helping the self-same militias that are being trained and armed by the United States.

And the spurious claim that 170 Americans have died in attacks using Iranian-supplied super-IED’s since 2004 can only mean one thing: that the Pentagon is counting the numbers of U.S. soldiers and Marines who died in April and August, 2004. That was when the United States waged two mini-wars against Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army. It was the only time in the past four years when the United States suffered significant casualties fighting the Shiites—though the administration presented zero evidence that Sadr’s Mahdi Army gets weapons from Iran, or needs to. But if they’re counting as far back as 2004—and, according to the Pentagon, the super-IED’s started showing up in 2004—then the whole issue is absurd, since what happened three years ago has little or no relevance to current conditions.

Those prone to believe, along with the president, that Iran is fomenting the violence in Iraq have already drunk deep of the neocon Kool-Aid.

The rest of us can only shake our heads in wonder that the president thinks he can get away with this. (or in wonder that the damn fool is still the president?)

....and the truth shall set us free.

Bush/Cheney - Are They Trying To Destroy The Military?

If so, who will protect the interests of the multinationals, hired mercenaries?

Iraq Troop Boost Erodes Readiness, General Says -

Outgoing Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker said yesterday that the increase of 17,500 Army combat troops in Iraq represents only the 'tip of the iceberg' and will potentially require thousands of additional support troops and trainers, as well as equipment -- further eroding the Army's readiness to respond to other world contingencies.

Although final decisions on deployments have not been made, Schoomaker said, U.S. commanders in Iraq have requested an additional 2,500 soldiers to serve as embedded trainers for Iraqi forces, and 5,000 to 6,000 additional soldiers could be needed to provide logistical and other support to the five Army combat brigades flowing into Baghdad.

State Democrats Feel the People's Frustration!

February 16, 2007

Democrats in State Capitols Push Antiwar Resolutions


LOS ANGELES, Feb. 15 — Frustrated by the inability of Democrats in Congress to pass a resolution opposing President Bush’s policies in Iraq, state legislators across the country, led by Democrats and under pressure from liberal advocacy groups, are pushing forward with their own resolutions.

Resolutions have passed in chambers of three legislatures, in California, Iowa and Vermont. The Maryland General Assembly sent a letter to its Congressional delegation, signed by a majority of the State Senate and close to a majority of the House, urging opposition to the increase in troops in Iraq.

Letters or resolutions are being drafted in at least 19 other states. The goal is to embarrass Congress into passing its own resolution and to provide cover for Democrats and Republicans looking for concrete evidence back home that anti-Iraq resolutions enjoy popular support.

“The end of this war has to start sometime and somewhere,” the president of the Iowa Senate, John P. Kibbie, a Democrat, said Thursday. “And stopping the expansion of these troops needs to happen now.”

The activity was spurred in a conference call last month that included state legislators; Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts; and advocacy groups like the Progressive States Network and

Mr. Kennedy said pressure by the states would push Washington to oppose the Iraq plans of the Bush administration. “Your voices, your calls, your e-mails and your resolutions have an impact on the debate,” Mr. Kennedy said.

Many Republicans in state legislatures have remained silent on the resolutions, seeing no advantage in signing or voting for them. Others have called the actions essentially votes of no confidence in the troops on the ground.

“These resolutions are a colossal waste of time,” said Kris Kobach, chairman of the Republican Party in Kansas, where a resolution was killed in committee. “Legislatures are spending valuable and limited time acting in an area where they have no authority. If all we are doing is sending messages, we should be concerned about the fact that soldiers are being told that their states are not behind them. I think that is particularly troubling.”

When willl the GOP have the intelligence to understand what the troops have long understood. They have our support. Bush, Cheney and the NeoCons do not. See how simple that is?

Many resolutions use language from the Progressive States Network that apes language in a proposed resolution in Congress that says President Bush should obtain explicit Congressional approval before adding troops in Iraq.

That's right! We want everybody on record, anew.

Other resolutions go further, calling for a deadline for departure, immediate troop withdrawal or stopping the financing of the war. The votes have largely fallen along party lines — Democrats for and Republicans against — although there have been exceptions. In North Dakota, a Democrat and a Republican are sponsoring a resolution urging Congress and Mr. Bush to “disengage American combat forces in Iraq.”

In a vote on Thursday in the Iowa Senate, Republicans insisted on a voice vote rather than a roll call on a resolution to condemn the increase in troops. The measure, which passed, is headed to the House, where its fate is uncertain.

The resolutions, much like the ones that Congress is considering, are nonbinding and have little effect beyond politics. But the states’ debates function as an echo chamber for the debate over withdrawing troops from Iraq and help demonstrate growing concerns on the war.

“These resolutions have generated an incredible amount of local media,” said Joel Barkin, executive director of the Progressive States Network, a liberal group that works to influence bills. “So they raise awareness that this is a local issue. But it is aimed at pressuring the Congress.”

In California, Democrats and Republicans in the State Senate spoke passionately about a resolution that passed on Tuesday.

“As a people, we are getting fed up and want to express it and not be haunted by the effects of silence,” said State Senator Carole Migden, Democrat of San Francisco, who sponsored the resolution. “We are trying to capture the mood of the people and offer some guidance as to how the largest state in the union is disposed in the matter.”

Fed up ain't the word for it, Madam!

State Senator Dennis Hollingsworth, Republican of Temecula, an opponent of the measure, said: “This resolution talks about not only opposing the troop increase but cutting off their funding. It lays bare the Democrats’ true intentions. So they can stop the platitudes about supporting the troops but not supporting the mission. They want us to lose this war.”

Hey, Bozo, we have already lost! Don't you get that? Don't you know, you Rethug moralist, that nothing built on deception, especially deception in the form of fear-mongering and vengeance-stirring, can ever succeed?

In states where Republicans control the legislatures, passage of such antiwar resolutions seems unlikely. Kansas lawmakers held a perfunctory hearing, only to have the committee chairman, Senator Pete Brungardt, Republican of Salina, say he would not schedule a vote.

“A number of people felt that was a rather public vote without an upside,” Mr. Brungardt said. “There is not really a winning answer for them.”

....and the truth shall set us free.