Monday, September 10, 2007

Wa-Po Mo-Fo

Washington Post Up To Old Tricks

For several years I've been talking to family and friends re my concerns Bush/Cheney would take us into Iran. In July I extended the conversation into a Roundtable discussion on the future with my colleagues here at the Group News Blog.

We agree that war with Iran is on the table.

Last time as you'll recall, the war with Iraq was rolled out through a coordinated push through all of the right-wing channels starting shortly after Labor Day, continuing till they had sufficient public support to start feeding that support back and forth on itself, one lie supporting the next, people becoming more and more confused, all of it orchestrated.

You and I had the clear sense massive bullshit was at hand, but we were simply unable to convince the majority of the US population -- and couldn't come close to convincing a majority in the House or Senate, both of which were then controlled by the Republicans. Even so, our own party, afraid of being trashed as unpatriotic in the next election, literally begged the Republicans to let them vote for war. "Come on it, the waters fine."

They lied.

Leading the charge, complicit in all the lies, taking the tales from the administration, restating them into solemn words and repeating them with serious looks and using all the trust and credibility generations of journalists before had sacrificed for, the traditional media led the general population of the United States to war as a farmer leads a pig to slaughter. Trusting, fat and happy.

Thousands of Americans, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are dead because The New York Times and The Washington Post, specifically, sold out what many of us consider their sacred constitutional trust.

This isn't a game. It is not theory. Lives of young men and young women are at stake, sent over there to serve. And over in Iraq an entire country of people, women, men, children are being flayed alive because we are there. No doubt they would reach a different destiny were we not there. But it would be their own.

Now another push to war had begun. It is led by the same liars, the same men of corruption and death. Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States is the leader of the pack. There are others. George W. Bush, President of the United States sits in the middle, blowing in the wind, subject to the influences of drink and those who have access. Cheney has access and knows all too well how to work the President.

The Secretary of Defense is opposed to the proposed war, as are the Joint Chiefs, men who have not yet gone mad. There are others.

We should hope that in this moment we could count on The New York Times and The Washington Post having learned their lesson from last time. But the drums of war are beating. Power is a powerful aphrodisiac and the Wa Po is a Mo Fo, ready to screw Lady Liberty once again.

Harpers - A Letter to the Editors of the "Washington Post"

Dear Editors:

You employ one of the most gifted group of reporters in the newspaper industry. But I’m puzzled. You don’t really seem to appreciate the resources you’ve got or to play them to best effect. That’s been a persistent problem, but in the last couple of weeks, it’s gotten to be chronic. Back in the run-up to the Iraq War, you caught war fever. You abandoned your professional commitment to detached and disinterested reporting, and instead you decided to beat the drums of war. While you editors were running about like a squadron of headless chickens, your reporters were doing some of the best research and analysis published. You rewarded them for this by publishing their work buried deep in the back of the paper. Not on page A1 above the fold where it belonged—but on pages A-16-20. (Of course, this had some perverse consequences, including the compulsion I still find when picking up the Post of leafing quickly past the first dozen or so pages and looking deep inside, where the important reporting usually appears).

You gave us a statement of contrition over your wayward practices leading up to the Iraq War. You promised us that you would straighten up and fly right. But it seems, amidst talk everywhere of a new fall product rollout from the White House, that there has been a relapse. Dear editors, I think it’s time that your friends gather you in a room for an intervention. You’ve clearly started nipping at that bottle again. You owe it to your readers, and even more importantly to the best group of newspaper reporters anywhere on the planet, to go cold turkey. Let’s just consider a few for-instances from the last couple of days

Washington has one really Big Decision on the horizon. It revolves around Iraq. Was President Bush’s “Surge” strategy a success or a failure? Public opinion polls show consistently that the public views this as a Very Big Deal. Congress, while generally quite adverse to controversial decisions about anything, appears resolved to face this one and explore it. You have chronicled the amazing back-and-forth within the Baghdad Command, the Pentagon, the Intelligence Community over the issue. It’s a huge story.

And if there is one question at the core, it goes to the accepted key metric: civilian casualties. Now you assigned this story to Karen DeYoung, one of your best, and yesterday she delivered a discussion and analysis that is nothing short of brilliant—easily the best piece that has appeared on the story so far. I read it once, and then went back to the beginning and read it again, compared it with several other pieces and pretty quickly concluded that this was definitive. The reporting is steady, comprehensive, and the analysis goes like a laser beam through a stick of butter.

This Karen DeYoung is one hell of a reporter, already holds one Pulitzer and is certainly on the road to more.

So, kindly explain to me why the definitive story on the definitive question of the season is published on page A16 of yesterday’s Post? Yes, please explain that. You’re back to your old ways, my friends, nipping at the bottle.

You also decided to participate in the Bush Administration’s post-Labor Day product rollout: laying the foundations for a new war, with Iran. “We are not part of that camp,” you say, referring to the “Let’s bomb Iran” crew. Allow me to express my profound skepticism about that claim. You’re doing their work–pretty feverishly in fact.
What is this Bus Administration post-Labor Day product rollout?

Same shit, different year. TPM has the story.
TPMmuckraker - Selling War with Iran

Barnett Rubin is the last person to set off wild speculation about war with Iran: the longtime Afghanistan expert is wonky, moderate and thoroughly analytical. But that's exactly what happened on Wednesday, when Rubin blogged that an anonymous, plugged-in friend told him that Dick Cheney's office had issued "instructions" to conservative think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute to start a drumbeat for attacking Iran. In order to determine precisely what he's alleging, and get a sense of its credibility, I spoke with Rubin, a senior fellow at NYU's Center on International Cooperation this morning.

Cheney's likely motivation for issuing such instructions to his think-tank allies would be to win an inter-administration battle over the future of Iran policy. Cheney, an advocate of confronting the Iranians militarily, faces opposition from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where the primary concern is preventing an open-ended Iraq commitment from decimating military preparedness for additional crises. A new war is the last thing the chiefs want, and on this, they're backed by Defense Secretary Bob Gates. "It may be that the president hasn't decided yet," says Rubin.

On this reading, the real target of any coordinated campaign between the VP and right-wing D.C. think tanks on Iran isn't the Iranians themselves, or even general public opinion, but the Pentagon. Cheney needs to soften up his opposition inside the administration if Bush is to ultimately double down on a future conflict, something that a drumbeat of warnings about the Iranian threat can help accomplish. When asked if a third war seems surreal, given the depth of investment the U.S. has given Iraq and Afghanistan, Rubin replies, "I'm out of adjectives."

How would an actual war be launched, given the expected opposition of the Democratic-controlled Congress? To that end, President Bush's decision to declare Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist group provides an opportunity. If the IRGC, Iran's alternate military, is a terrorist group, Bush could claim authority under the September 18, 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Afghanistan to take action against Iran without Congressional approval, citing the AUMF's broad provision that "the President has authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States." (It's a stretch, but the administration has already made the more-tendentious argument that the AUMF authorized the warrantless surveillance program.) "The AUMF applies, according to the Cheney-Addington view of the Constitution," says Rubin.

In a post today, Rubin said the drumbeat has already started. He points to a Newsweek piece by AEI's Reuel Marc Gerecht contending that designating the IRGC a terrorist group "will do little to change the current state of play" between the U.S. and Iran, but that diplomacy is an exercise in futility, as the Iranians, "determined to sow chaos beyond [their] borders," are "accomplished practitioners of hard power." Rubin said he didn't know specifically that Gerecht was part of the campaign, but he pointed to the argument as fitting neatly within the pattern.

Similarly, on Monday, AEI will host two events that Rubin considers part of the drumbeat. First, that morning, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich will give a speech contending that the war on terrorism needs to be viewed as "a world war that pits civilization against terrorists and their state sponsors who wish to impose a new dark age," according to AEI's preview. That afternoon, AEI brings together a panel featuring former CIA Director Jim Woolsey, retired General Jack Keane, who helped design the surge in Iraq, and longtime Iran hawk Michael Ledeen to discuss Ledeen's new book, The Iranian Time Bomb: The Mullah Zealots’ Quest for Destruction. Rubin didn't mention it, but the Heritage Foundation recently hosted an interagency Bush administration war game attempting to anticipate Iranian responses to a U.S. bombing campaign.

None of this is to say that a military attack is imminent. But Rubin says that two conclusions are possible from the increased talk of war with Iran.

The Mo-Fo's are at it again. Including the Post.

Here's what is different.

You are.
"Wait, Aren't You Scared?"

Errr, no. And if you are, you frankly should be a little goddam embarrassed.

No false bravado and it's not that I don't take terrorism seriously. I do, which I why I voted for the guy who believed in securing our ports and fighting terrorism with criminal investigation methods -- which is, if we may remind everybody, how this particular plot was busted.

I am just not going to wet my pants every time some guys get arrested in a terror plot. I will do my best to stay informed. I will support the necessary law enforcement agencies. I will take whatever reasonable precautions seem, um, reasonable. But I will not be terrorized. I assume that the terror-ists would like me to be terror-ized, as that is what is says on their nametag, rather than, say, wanting me to surrender to ennui or negative body image, and they're just coming the long way around.

Osama Bin Laden got everything on his Christmas list after 9/11 -- US out of Saudi Arabia; the greatest military in the world over-extended, pinned down and distracted; the greatest proponent of democracy suddenly alienated from its allies; a US culture verily eager to destroy freedoms that little scumfuck could never even dream to touch himself -- I would like to deny him the last little check on the clipboard, i.e. constant terror. I panic, they win. To coin a phrase, Osama Bin Laden can suck my insouciance.

I am absolutely buffaloed by the people who insist I man up and take it in the teeth for the great Clash of Civilizations -- "Come ON, people, this is the EPIC LAST WAR!! You just don't have the stones to face that fact head-on!" -- who at the whiff of an actual terror plot will, with no apparent sense of irony, transform and run around shrieking, eyes rolling and Hello Kitty panties flashing like Japanese schoolgirls who have just realized that the call is coming from inside the house!

I may have shared too much there.

To be honest, it's not like I'm a brave man. I'm not. At all. It just, well, it doesn't take that much strength of will not to be scared. Who the hell am I supposed to be scared of? Joseph Padilla, dirty bomber who didn't actually know how to build a bomb, had no allies or supplies, and against whom the government case is so weak they're now shuffling him from court to court to avoid the public embarrassment of a trial? The fuckwits who were going to take down the Brooklyn Bridge with blowtorches? Richard Reid, the Zeppo of suicide bombers? The great Canadian plot that had organized over the internet, was penetrated by the Mounties on day one, and we were told had a TRUCK FULL OF EXPLOSIVES ... which they had bought from the Mounties in a sting operation but hey let's skip right over that. Or how about the "compound" of Christian cultists in Florida who were planning on blowing up the Sears Tower with ... kung fu?

And now these guys. As the initial "OH SWEET MOTHER OF GOD THEY CAN BLOW US UP WITH SNAPPLE BOTTLES!!" hysteria subsides, we discover that these guys had been under surveillance, completely penetrated, by no less than three major intelligence agencies. That they were planning on cell phones, and some of them openly travelled to Pakistan (way to keep the cover, Reilly, Ace of Spies). Hell, Chertoff knew about this two weeks ago, and the only reason that some people can scream this headline:

"The London Bombers were within DAYS of trying a dry run!!!"

-- was because MI-5, MI-6, and Scotland Yard let them get that close, so they could suck in the largest number of contacts (again, very spiffy police work). The fact that these wingnuts could have been rolled up, at will, at any time, seems to have competely escaped the media buzz.

This is terrorism's A-game? Sack up, people.

Again, this is not to do anything less than marvel as cool, well-trained, ruthless law-enforcement professionals -- who spent decades honing their craft chasing my IRA cousins -- execute their job magnificently. Should we take this seriously? DAMN STRAIGHT we take this seriously. Left unchecked, these terror-fanboy bastards would have gone down in history. These cretins' intent was monstrous; they should, and will, all go to jail for a very long time. This is the part where we all breathe a sigh of relief that there are some actual professionals working the job in some countries.

But God gave me a brain, and a modicum of spine. Taking something seriously, and panicking over it are two different things. I do not assign all dangers and risks equal value.

There's more...
Four years ago we didn't know the truth. Many of us suspected we were being lied to. But if we're ruthlessly honest with ourselves, we didn't know.

Worse, there was enough fear in the air, most people were at least a little afraid. Many people were scared a lot. The lies worked. Lies repeated enough times tend to work if no one tells the truth to counterbalance, or if the channels of communication are jammed.

Four years ago the traditional media betrayed us all. Now they're starting to do it again. Who they? Both they. The administration AND the traditional media.

This time we know the truth. They are lying but everything they say can be assumed to either be a direct lie or in service of a lie.

This time we are not afraid. They will try to scare us, but except for the 25% who live in fear from life-long programing, we refuse to be dominated by biological and linguistic triggers. The more they try and scare us, the more we get angry at their fumbling manipulations. Anytime we find ourselves afraid, our first response is figuring out how they managed the con. Fear is the lie they use; we know it and are no longer scared.

And this time we have our own communication. So bite me. You Wa-Po Mo-Fo.

It's time.

Write your senators, your congresswomen and congressmen. Tell them clearly and plainly:

"I expect you to do everything in your power to stop President Bush and Vice President Cheney from going to war with Iran." Explain how this matters to you (and your family.)

If you must, send it by email. A physical letter counts MUCH more. Do it today please.

I don't ask you for much. I'm asking you to do this. It's time to make a difference. And -- if you have time, while your pen and stamps and envelopes are out, send a similar letter to the editor of your local newspaper.

Blogging -- talking in the comments isn't enough. You need to tell the people who can put actual pressure on Bush and Cheney what you want them to do. They can't read your mind and they're not surfing blog comments. Write a letter. Mail it.

Don't let another war start and be left telling your kids and colleagues, "I didn't do absolutely everything I could to stop it before it started. There was more I could have done."

It's time to get to work. Thank you.