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July 23, 2003

Just Call Me "Patsie"

Following in the footsteps of Lee Harvey Oswald, Stephen Hadley, the deputy national security advisor has apparently agreed to be the latest patsie in American history. Here is the story as written on AOL:

Bush Aide Takes Blame for Iraq Claim

By Tom Raum, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (July 23) - A top White House national security adviser is taking the blame for allowing a tainted intelligence report suggesting Iraq was trying to buy uranium in Africa to find its way into President Bush's State of the Union address.

Deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley said two CIA memos and a call from CIA Director George Tenet had persuaded him to take a similar passage out of a presidential speech in October - and that he should have done likewise when it turned up again in State of the Union drafts.

''Had I done so, this would have avoided the whole current controversy,'' Hadley said on Tuesday. ''It is now clear to me that I failed in that responsibility.''

Why do you think it so long for Hadley's name to surface? Is it possible that all of a sudden he thought, "Well damn, this controversy might be my fault?" I doubt it. I think a conversation took place that might sound similar to this one:

Bush: Well, I said some things, um, that have gotten me into some trouble here lately. How do you think that happened?

Hadley: Sir, I gave you some unconfirmed information to look over, but I never suggested that you mention it in your state of the union speech. I give you lots of classified information all the time, but don't suggest that you share it with the rest of the world.

Bush: Hadley, do you like your job?

Hadley: Well, yes sir.

Bush: It does have a nice fancy title associated with it doesn't it? It's got a nice ring, deputy national security advisor. Kind of like Deputy Dawg, but without a badge and a gun. How about if you take the fall on this one, whadda ya say, buddy?

Hadley: Sir, I don't think it really was my fault. I showed you the information and you were aware of the source. I don't think that I want my name associated with this particular scandal, especially if I was just doing what you had told me to do.

Bush: Thanks, I knew you would see it my way. You see, I'm very important. I'm the leader of the free world, have my own bat phone, and fly around on a very fast jet that has its own bar. Do you have a jet with a bar in it?

Hadley: Well, I......

Bush: Do you? I didn't think so. The American people don't want to think that a guy with his own plane could make this mistake, so they will have to think you did it. You're the best, Steve.

News like this has to pass so many channels, I cannot imagine that just one person should be at fault for this. I'm not saying that Bush has done anything wrong, I'm just saying that Hadley cannot be completely responsible for what happened either. And all of you will come to believe me as well once Hadley is shot in the streets by a guy with three names.

Posted by Woundwort at July 23, 2003 01:20 PM | TrackBack
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That conversation sounds about right to me.

Posted by: MarcL at July 23, 2003 08:42 PM


Lemme see if I get this straight.

Bush oughta be impeached because prior to 9/11, he took questionable intel, ignored it, and failed to act. He also oughta be impeached because after 9/11, he takes questionable intel, if it's 50/50 figures its true, and takes action.

Okay, I'm clear on that now.

But if the intel is wrong - and the Brits claim it isn't - could you explain what the high level Iraqi trade delegation was doing in Niger? After all, 65% of the country's exports are uranium products, followed by livestock and cowpeas - the latter two which are found in abundance in Iraq.

Against the Brits, we have the word of a retired state department wag, who was wined and dined by members of the government of Niger, who assured him they would never even think of illegally exporting uranium to Iraq, nor would they ever have done so. Well, except for that one time with the Osirak facility the Israelis bombed. But other than that, of course, they wouldn't think of it...

And as Dick Gephardt so clearly pointed out yesterday, if we had one piece of intel that wasn't good, it clearly negates all the other reasons for going there. There was simply no reason to go to war with Iraq, if that intel about Niger was shaky...

Posted by: Omnibus Bill at July 24, 2003 10:11 AM

Dude, I don't think he should be impeached. Being President is a tough job requiring tough choices. I do think it is funny though that Republicans (the stories I have heard) don't think this should be discussed as an impeachable offense (his possibly fibbing about threats) yet we impeached a guy for lying about getting a blow job? Only in America.

Posted by: Woundwort at July 24, 2003 01:20 PM

Good to see you're contributing again, Woundwort.

Posted by: Omnibus Bill at July 24, 2003 03:42 PM

O. Bill, I always look forward to reading your comments and talking back and forth with you. You always write well-constructed comments that make me think about my position on things, and I hope you know that my responses to you are made in a joking manner, no disrespect intended.

Posted by: Woundwort at July 25, 2003 08:48 AM

I always like reading your stuff as well. You make me justify my opinions, some of which I arrive at by gut instinct. I never take any offense at your comments, and hope that my trenchant responses that are often dripping with foul sarcasm don't offend you.

But living in Raleigh, you've probably been exposed to plenty of ex-pat New Yorkers who've adopted the North State, so I'm guessing you take the evil heart of darkness of my prose with a grain of salt, too.

As for that impeachment thing... I suppose it's fair, and it's just part of the further debasement of American politics.

I suppose the next president will be subject to impeachment if he forgets to say "excuse me" after belching.

I thought the Starr investigation was ridiculous, not because nothing was there. Rather, it took an investigation where 20+ of Clinton's business associates had been sent to prison for land fraud and other "white collar" crimes, and utterly failed to catch him in anything other than a (highly) improper blowjob, and a (truly illegal) act of perjury before the court in an unrelated civil law matter. How a business partner could evade responsibility for acts of a partnership, where most of the other partners went to jail, is beyond me... I mean we're sending these Enron and MCI bastards to jail...

So no, I don't think impeachment questions are out of the question here. It's politics and fair and Cholly Rangel and Bob Graham can raise the question.

I do think that it perfectly obscures the larger question, which is "do we need to do something radical to reconfigure the middle east?"

Not everyone agrees, but I think the answer to that is self-evident. If you agree, then you have to conclude that a lot of the other stuff -- including the Republican wrangling over drug benefits and pension rules changes -- is a bit of a tawdry penny-theater political sideshow.

After working in D.C. for a few years now, I'm thoroughly disgusted with the cheapness and dirtyness of bullshit politics for petty personal gain. It has always gone on, but I can't even begin to describe how shitty and nasty it's gotten here in the last few years.

Insofar as the folks at 1600 Pennsylvania are stretching intel and bending the truth, they are doing it because the Congressional Dems don't see any threat at all in the middle east. Any issue they can use to pummell Bush will do. The executive branch is over-controlling, incredibly disciplined and anal retentive because anything at all that could possibly be construed as a negative will be used to beat the piss out of them, and run them into the ground. Then we can get a chap like Howard Dean, who not only thinks that Afghan and Iraq intervention is misguided, but also thinks that if we sit down and chat with Osama bin Laden, that he'll somehow stop hating our mother loving guts...

As a result of the crapulent tactical political scene, you get an executive branch that can't tell the truth we need to end the oppression in the middle east, which is in good part the real "root cause" of Arab hatred of the U.S.

Instead, the Prez has to gin up all sorts of secondary arguments for U.S. involvement over there, and hope that one or another of the stretched arguments carries the day. He can't say, as Tony Blair did the other week, that to secure ourselves we need to spread liberty, and that we're the ones who have to do it because fate has placed us here, with our power, at this time, and it's our job.

Instead, he has to go back to a bunch of 51% correct intel, and hope somebody buys it...

Being in the guts of the machine and seeing what goes on up close, I lose patience pretty quickly. Yeah, I'm libertarian / conservative, but I'll admit a lot of the Republicans are schmucks too. I think if people knew how much time is spent fighting for re-election, and demagoging, they'd throw out most of the representatives and start all over. There's a really, truly big threat afoot, and the question isn't whether Bush got us into Iraq too soon, it's why the hell we didn't have troops knocking off middle eastern tyrants 12 years ago, or 20 years ago, or 30 years ago; why we weren't focused on building democracy as much as just maintaining proxies against the Sovs. Why the hell were we so short sighted, not realizing the disaster our proxy strongmen would create when the Sovs fell? And where are we going twenty years from today?

Those are the real questions that need to be asked, but it can't even be broached in today's atmosphere...

Posted by: Omnibus Bill at July 25, 2003 10:13 AM

Sorry to rain on your parade, OB, but that's not what was in Wilson's piece in the NYT. Here's the money quote about what happened when he was in Niger:

"I spent the next eight days drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people: current government officials, former government officials, people associated with the country's uranium business. It did not take long to conclude that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place.

Given the structure of the consortiums that operated the mines, it would be exceedingly difficult for Niger to transfer uranium to Iraq. Niger's uranium business consists of two mines, Somair and Cominak, which are run by French, Spanish, Japanese, German and Nigerian interests. If the government wanted to remove uranium from a mine, it would have to notify the consortium, which in turn is strictly monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Moreover, because the two mines are closely regulated, quasi-governmental entities, selling uranium would require the approval of the minister of mines, the prime minister and probably the president. In short, there's simply too much oversight over too small an industry for a sale to have transpired."

Somehow, that doesn't sound like he was wined and dined by goverment officials, unless your standards of hospitality are very low. Note that he talked to entities involved in the uranium mining outside the goverment, who would have no reason to help Niger sell uranium to Iraq. He even included in his report a contact between Iraqi representatives and Niger trade officials, which could've been an attempt to discuss selling uranium to Saddam, but in the end, amounted to nothing.

Your arguements make more sense if you stick to the facts at hand, or use reason and logic if you're going to discount what Wilson or others involved in this matter said or didn't say.

Posted by: Dark Avenger at July 25, 2003 03:08 PM
"I spent the next eight days drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people: current government officials, former government officials, people associated with the country's uranium business. It did not take long to conclude that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place."

Well, that's certainly sweating 'em under the bright lights.

Might I point out that a bunch of chats with folks, all of whom have a vested interest in portraying themselves as upright citizens, is not exactly confidence inspiring?

Their perfectly honest answers would be indistinguishable from self-serving lies (e.g. "Selling uranium to Saddam? Moi? Never!).

Niger did in fact supply uranium to Iraq in the 80s to operate the Osirak facility. And I know the IAEA is all-knowing, all-seeing, but having them on the ground monitoring doesn't exactly inspire confidence either.

We are also talking about an impoverished African country, and the rule of law in most such places is, well, relaxed.

Furthermore, the Brits never claimed that the Iraqi trade minister got off with a bunch of uranium; rather, they concluded that he tried to get it.

This is distinct from the claims in the forged documents that Wilson was sent to Iraq to investigate.

The alternative to the Brits' theory is that the trade minister and his delegation were in Niger in an attempt to purchase cowpeas, onions and or livestock, all of which are fairly plentiful in Iraq; and further he failed to accomplish this simple mission, returning to Iraq empty handed...

Posted by: Omnibus Bill at July 25, 2003 06:04 PM

OB: Yes, I'll grant you that Niger sold uranium in the past. So what? That says nothing about whether or not they had sold uranium during the time period in question.

The British intelligence didn't indicate a specific country from whom the Iraqis tried to buy the uranium. In the SOTU, aWol only stated that the attempt was made in Africa, period. Your decision that it was Niger is only conjecture, nothing more. If you have better information than has appeared to date, a lot of people would be very interested in finding out what you know and where the knowledge came from.

In your reply, you overlook the fact that the consortium that runs the mines, and has actual physical control over the ore, is run by interests that included Spanish and Japanese businesses that would have no motive, outside of sheer greed, to
participate in any sales to Iraq. Dealing with Iraq would subject them to problems from their goverments and ours, so I would say it unlikely that they would be involved. As to the other 2 participants, I will grant you that they would be likely to sell to Iraq, but they are irrelevant to the main crux of this issue.

That the IAEA is composed of humans, and therefore subject to human error, I'll grant
you. If you have any evidence that they would be likely to engage in stupid or greed-driven negligence or skullduggery so that Iraq would be able to get its hands on uranium from Niger, let us know what it is.

Yah, a small African country with underpaid and corrupt officials would be likely to be sell uranium to Iraq. They would need to deceive or bribe the consortium and the IAEA to pull off such a sale, but see above, yadda, yadda.

It could be that the British had information from an third countrys' asset in Iraq that the trade minister thing with Niger was in fact the first step in an Iraqi effort to obtain uranium. This would explain the British reticence to be more specific about where and when the attempt took place, as it could expose the country they got the info from, as well as endanger the asset and thus render them useless, dead, or both. This would explain all that has been transpired to date.

You've got a conspiracy theory that with a little re-writing could probably interest Oliver Stone and provide you with a nice chunk of change as well. Double-click your word processor program, load your printer with paper, have a couple of black ink cartriges on hand, and go for it.

Posted by: Dark Avenger at July 26, 2003 03:11 AM
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