Thursday, July 07, 2005

Bush Lied!???

Another of a series of letters to the editor at the Missoulian, lead off with the screed that Bush lied about WMDs. Is it just me, or does this make no sense. Seems to me, that a lie is to knowingly make a false statement. How is it that Bush lied, if the Democratic leadership, including Senator Kerry, also said that there were WMDs in Iraq. Further, didn't Saddam do everything to perpetuate the idea that he had WMDs (getting large shipments of atropine, handing out chemical warfare suits, etc.).
Are these letters legitimate expressions of policy, or the cynical manipulation of facts in order to further a political agenda? Going further, could someone explain to me, how, if your enemy has the same objective as you do, (withdrawl of American troops) you are not in support of the people who are killing our soldiers? This is not to question anyone's patriotism, but I would appreciate an answer that makes sense as to why anyone would be in agreement with mass murderers and terrorists.

11 comments:

Wulfgar said...

That's a bit of falacious logic, Steve. That Kerry or anyone else believed the same falsehood as the administration does not mean at all that any of them knew that it was a falsehood. No one else's knowledge (or lack thereof) exonerates Bush or Rumsfeld if either of them told a lie. Further, professing to have knowledge that you don't actually have is, itself, a lie. Rumsfeld didn't just claim that the administration knew Saddam had WMDs, he claimed the administration knew exactly where they were.

There is another possibility, that you raise: that the administration (and presumably everyone else) was completely duped by Saddam into thinking that these weapons existed. But there's big problems with that, too. First, Saddam was cooperating with the weapons inspectors, so much so that Blix told Congress before the invasion that Saddam had no WMDs. Second, if Saddam was pulling a charade of sorts (and I'm inclined to think he tactically was, a tactic that cost him his fortune, his freedom and the lives of his sons), then perhaps the administration needn't cop to lying, but they must certainly own up to gross incompetence. That a lone dictator could fool the entirety of American Intelligence services so much so even the weapons inspectors on the ground are ignored in favor of the deception is a thought I find rather chilling, don't you? That is, chilling or much more likely not the case at all. So we're left with a few unsavory choices: the administration lied, the administration is incompetant, or both.

What I really wanted to comment on, however, was your last paragraph. First, bad logic again. That two disparate groups have a similarly stated goal does not necessitate that the groups have any relationship beyond that coincedental trick of language. By way of example, both the Seahawks and the Broncos want the same thing: to win the Super Bowl. No one would confuse that statement to assume that the Seahawks support the Broncos, or vice-versa.

So lets take a look at your question again, and not get confused with language this time. Those Americans who want our troops out of Iraq want that so the troopers will live. As you've indicated, the "terrorists" (a very poor word in this context) want the troops dead. Doesn't seem like there's any similarity in position there to me. If all the insurgents wanted was for the occupation to end, then wouldn't they all just stop fighting and fall into the Democratic line?

Nope, they ain't gonna do that, because your "terrorists" are actually many disparate groups of people with many different agendas and hatreds. The Sunnis hate the Shiites, and they both hate the Kurds. The true terrorists, non-Iraqi jihadists have exactly what they want, a war with the West, and they don't care how many Iraqis die in that war. Just a quick cursory look at this tears the idea that there is any ideological company between American war-protestors and the fighters in Iraq completely asunder.

Rocky Smith said...

Wulfgar-
There is a third possibility that you (intentionally?) missed. That being that there WERE WMD's and that they were removed to Syria , Iran or elsewhere. In any case, stating what you believe to be true and have it turn out otherwise might be misleading, but it isn't lying. Just consider whether it is possible, even though I'm sure you'll totally discount it.

Wulfgar said...

Rocky, you're being unfair in assuming that I will let an agenda overcome my reasoning on this topic. As to the third possibility, it is indeed, possible, but extremely unlikely for several reasons. Saddam didn't get along at all with the Mullahs, and would never have put his weapons in their hands ... so scratch Iran. Syria is more likely, but still extremely improbable. As was recently clarified, we've had spy planes over Iraq since the first Gulf War, as well as almost daily sorties leading up to the invasion. And yet there is no intelligence that leads us to believe that Saddam moved anything of that sort. Even the administration has discounted that as a possibility. But if you want to run in that direction, then I reiterate that that stands as evidence of administrative incompetence. The only other three possibilities are Turkey, Kuwait, and a naval transfer. We can scratch Turkey and Kuwait as "obviously not". (To get the weapons to Turkey would require trucking them through Kurdish heald territory, yes?) Now a naval transfer ... that's a possibility, perhaps on a North Korean sub. But that still means that Saddam didn't have, even remotely, the quantity of weapons that the administration claimed that they knew he had. Third, the weapons inspectors not only failed to find WMDs, they failed to find evidence of their production, which lead to Blix's testimony before Congress. And forth, weapons of that nature are expensive ... extremely expensive. Saddam was obviously amassing wealth, not buying weapons.

Occam's Razor leaves me quite comfortable in believing that the weapons simply weren't there. And hopefully, you can see that I have considered your possibility, quite a lot in fact. Now I have to ask you, Rocky, weren't you the one asking for discussion and playing nice?

Steve said...

Wulfgar, always a pleasure to have your thoughts. However, I don't understand some things that you said. "That Kerry or anyone else believed the same falsehood as the administration does not mean at all that any of them knew that it was a falsehood. No one else's knowledge (or lack thereof) exonerates Bush or Rumsfeld if either of them told a lie."
Not sure about this, You repeat the argument that Bush and Rumsfeld lied, but don't say how they knew something that no one else did. In 1998, when Saddam kicked the inspectors out, President Clinton sent cruise missiles into suspected weapons sites based on available intelligence at the time. So, did he lie, or was it that after the cruise missiles, Saddam suddenly decided to get rid of his programs?
As far as Saddam cooperating with the inspectors, My memory of it was that it was not full and total cooperation as required by the cease fire agreement after the first Gulf War.
As to being duped, your argument seems to be that if Bush didn't lie, then the governemnt was stupid.
I think that is based on a lack of understanding about intelligence. Without having a spy in the inner circles, we never really know what another country is thinking. For the most part, intelligence can only measure capabilities, not intentions. It would have been reasonable to believe that Saddam had weapons based on his actions. It would have been unreasonable to ignore his behavior saying that there is no proof. The risks of being wrong were the possible coalition of Saddam with terrorists use of chemical weapons. Which by the way, are not that hard to make. Any country with a pesticide capability can make chemical weapons. Think Diazanon and all of the other nasty things that we use to kill bugs which use a variant of a nerve agent.
But, some would say, that Saddam was a secularist, who was hated by the Fundamentalists of Iran and Osama bin Laden. True to a point, but involves wishful thinking. Saddam was an opportunist, and would have his son-in-laws executed if it served his purposes. The enemy of my enemy etc.
I think that your example of the Seahawks and the Broncos wanting to get to the Superbowl is inapt. Suppose instead that you were to posit that the Seahawks want to make sure that the Raiders don't get to the Superbowl, and are willing to give the Broncos their wide recievers and running backs to make sure that the Broncos win the Superbowl? Would that not be more what we are talking about?
In game theory, this is to the advantage of the Broncos, the disadvantage of the Raiders, and to an extent to the Seahawks.
And no, I don't apologize for the use of the word "terrorists" to describe those who use indiscriminate violence to terrorize. Insurgencies can be legitimate if they follow the rules of war. But targeting schools, hospitals, markets and other innocent civilians in order to impact American public opinion, without any real military objective is still terrorism.
What territory do your "insurgents" hold, what governement recognizes them?
I think though, that you hit the nail on the head, when you said; "If all the insurgents wanted was for the occupation to end, then wouldn't they all just stop fighting and fall into the Democratic line?"
So, we are in agreement, that this has nothing to do with our invasion and occupation, and everything to do with killing Americans. Hmm, if we were not in Iraq, where would they go to kill Americans then? Would they still target American soldiers who are trained, or just innocent civilians?
I guess, the reason that I posted the comment, was that if the anti-war crowd was morally consistant, would they not decry the actions of the jihadists, as much as the use of American forces to try and bring stability to a fledgling government? Seems all pretty one sided to me.

Matt Singer said...

Wulfgar covered this, but I think it bears repeating, there are a few possibilities here:

1a. Bush Administration made a claim about WMD that it knew to be false.
1b. Bush Administration made a claim about WMD that it believed to be true.
2a. Democrats made a claim about WMD that they knew to be false.
2b. Democrats made a claim about WMD that they believed to be true.

It's certainly possible for these to mesh up in a number of ways. The least likely of those is that Democrats intentionally lied while Bush et al. unintentionally misled.

And we do know that in at least a handful of situations, the Bush Administration continued to push "proof" of WMD activities that had already been debunked. For example, Nigerian yellowcake was peddled for a while even after Wilson had told the Administration there was no evidence for such a claim. Wilson was then thoroughly discredited by the damning indictment that his wife was a covert CIA operative.

In other words, Bush may not have lied when he said that Saddam had WMD. He may have truly believed that. It is pretty clear that his Administration lied in their attempts to prove it, which is, arguably, lying "about" WMD.

GeeGuy said...

You forgot one Matt: 2c. Clinton lied under oath, even though he had appealed a proposed right not to even testify all the way to the Supreme Court and lost, but it didn't matter because it was just about sex, not perjury.

It was a joke!

Wulfgar said...

Not sure about this, You repeat the argument that Bush and Rumsfeld lied, but don't say how they knew something that no one else did.

No, not at all. I'm raising the possibility that they *did* lie in contra to your assertion that if Dems believed a falsehood then those Dems were lying as well. Your assertion was bad logic. There is ignorance of the truth, and then there are bold claims of fact in the face of obvious ignorance. The current administration at least did the latter, claiming to know what they obviously didn't know. That in itself, is lying.

And actually, as a student of military history, I understand intelligence gathering pretty well. But there are many facets regarding communicating that information to decision makers. The certainty with which the administration addressed the Congress, the UN, and the American people speaks of a vastly superior intelligence then they possessed. Doing so doesn't imply incompetemce, it rather proves it.

Finally, you are once again attempting to lump all of those attacking US troops in Iraq into one bin. The ultimate proof of administrative incompetence is that they do the same thing. The Sunni fighters are killing Shiites, and hopefully any Americans that get in the way. Those folks are Iraqi, and feel themselves to be fighting for their own way of life. Many of them are trying to prevent the very theocratic government that many of us in America fear. Meanwhile, you've got outside influences killing indiscrimently, because this is the very war they hoped for. It is impossible to lump all of these people together, and worse, there is no agreement at all with Americans who want us out of this civil-war.

The facts of the case are these: Many anti-war types in America do stridently decry the actions of jihadists. I'm among those. I want terrorists dead, period. We're not just fighting those, however, we're fighting people who just want us out of their country. Sounds fair. If they want to kill each other, then fine. We won't stop that; in fact we can't. As to those who live to kill us; hunt them down and shoot them in the head. That's what we were doing in Afganistan, and what we gave up to invade Iraq.

Steve said...

Wulfgar, I appreciate that you have explained your position better than anyone else has, but I still disagree with you on your conclusions. You said "No, not at all. I'm raising the possibility that they *did* lie in contra to your assertion that if Dems believed a falsehood then those Dems were lying as well. Your assertion was bad logic. There is ignorance of the truth, and then there are bold claims of fact in the face of obvious ignorance. The current administration at least did the latter, claiming to know what they obviously didn't know. That in itself, is lying."
If I am guilty of anything, it is of setting up a straw man. My argument boils down to the fact that the Democrat leadership at the time believed it as well, not that they were lying. Unless you can show me that the Democratic leadership received different intel than the administration, I think my point still works.
If my logic is faulty, it must be because one of my premises are faulty, but which one? 1. That everyone, and not just the US intel community believed that Saddam had WMDs?; or 2. That Saddam did nothing to disprove that fact, and seems to have done a lot to perpetuate it, even though he eventually lost everything on his gamble?; or 3. That the administration would have been negligent to ignore the intel from our own intel community, that of the UN, France, Russia, Germany and Egypt , and that failure to act would have been disastrous if he did have them.
As to your point that the administration lied by presenting their side as "truth" even though they did not have 100% proof. Is that not like me relying on the weather report which says that there is a 70% chance of rain, and carrying a rain coat. If it doesn't rain, does this mean that the weather report lied, or that I lied, because I relied upon the report?
I honestly believed in the run up to the war that there were WMDs. We knew that he had them in the '80s, and also had them displaced to firing positions in the First Gulf War. We knew that the inspectors said that they could not account for all of them when they were kicked out in '98. We knew that Blix said that while he had not found them in his more recent search that they still could not account for all of the materials, and that the inspectors had found evidence of other violations of the agreement for the cease fire.
As to lumping the terrorists into one bin, perhaps I am guilty of that accusation, although I really hate the Michael Moore assertion that these are the equivalent of the Founding Fathers. The Sunni minority used to kill the Iraqis before the war, and that seems to be the only thing that they are good at. Most of the Shiite and Kurdish areas are relatively calmer than that of the Sunni triangle. I think that this is because the Sunnis realize that as a minority, their status and privleges are threatened by a democracy. Not that they are just that they are interested in the removal of the Americans. Could Iraq turn into another Iran? Possibly, and if they do it through the ballot box, who are we to disagree with them? But the evidence seems to be, at least from Al Sistani, that this is not what they want to happen. Besides, my forecast is that in 2 more years, there will be another revolution in Iran to overthrow the Mullahs.
Finally, I agree with what you said when you posted "The facts of the case are these: Many anti-war types in America do stridently decry the actions of jihadists. I'm among those. I want terrorists dead, period. We're not just fighting those, however, we're fighting people who just want us out of their country. Sounds fair. If they want to kill each other, then fine. We won't stop that; in fact we can't. As to those who live to kill us; hunt them down and shoot them in the head. That's what we were doing in Afganistan, and what we gave up to invade Iraq."
I would hope that it is simply an example of selective news coverage that prevents me from finding protests against the terrorists, but maybe, because I haven't seen it, I am justified in believing that it is just not there, like those who believe that the administration lied about the existance of WMDs.

Matt Singer said...

Geeguy - I'm typically more impressed with your arguments than I am here. What you've done is completely evade my line of reasoning on the question at hand. Did Bill Clinton lie under oath? Yes. Did he screw up with Monica Lewisnky? Yes. Was he also the target of an $80 million investigation? Yeah.

Frankly, if Dems had 1/8th of that to look into George W. Bush, we could probably nail him on selling coke to underage girls for the purpose of inducing abortions.

At the end of the day, the Whitewater investigation is one of the most embarassing enterprises in the history of this nation.

And it still doesn't have a damn thing to do with whether Bush lied about WMDs.

Now, can you answer the damn question?

Rocky Smith said...

Wulfgar,
I thought I was playing nice. I wasn't taking shots at you below the belt. I merely suggested a possibility that you left out. You went from there and totally discounted it, as I suggested you would. That's fine with me. Just don't come out like I'm being such a bad boy for predicting what you eventually did. It is VERY possible that there were no WMDs. I only suggested a possibility that you didn't. Don't get your panties in a wad, sir.

Steve said...

One of the things that I have overlooked in this discussion, is that Matt and Wulfgar seem to be saying that the intel on WMDs was "hyped" by Bush. But if I remember right, in Woodward's book didn't CIA director Tenet, (a Clinton appointee) say that the case for WMDs was a slam dunk?
Was Tenet a Republican plant, just in anticipation of the WMD issue?
Too conspriatorial for me.

By the way, Matt, where are you, I cna't get to your blog.