Skip to comments.My Rebuttal to a Media Brain-Washed Friend
Posted on 03/23/2004 12:50:55 PM PST by MikeA
I thought I'd send you all an e-mail exchange I had with a friend this morning, a squishy "moderate" who is gullable to the media and anything anti-Bush put out by a media he seems to have unquestioning faith in, a source of never ending frustration on my part. Below is the text of an e-mail he sent me on Iraq, Europe and the Clarke nonsense. My reply is below that. I hope it's helpful in answering the barrage of a pro-Kerry media machine.
In a message dated 3/23/2004 2:26:06 AM Pacific Standard Time, -------- writes:
"I think the Iraqi invasion was badly sold (or perhaps it would be more accurate to say it wasn't adequately sold). Too much emphasis was put on the WMD threat, which has proved to have been greatly exaggerated, and Iraq's support for terrorist groups, which has also proved very difficult to support. And the administration hasn't helped itself much by virtually abandoning these positions in the aftermath of the invasion and falling back on repetition of the mantra that the world is better off without Saddam. That's unquestionably true, but that's not how the invasion was justified.
The picture that has emerged is that of an invasion based more on the President's personal and political agenda than on any legitimate anti-terrorist concerns. (And yet another high-level defection, this time by Mr. Clarke, isn't helping a bit.)
So the administration really has its back to the wall on this, and I'm not terribly surprised at the outrage in Spain. This isn't an abandonment of morality. This IS a question of morality, but unfortunately we're on the losing side. Much of the world simply doesn't believe that our invasion last spring was necessary to our national security, an attitude that is even many Americans are coming to share. I don't know where this is all going, but as I'm sure you're well aware it's getting harder and harder to defend this administration."
My reply follows:
There is so much here, I don't even know where to begin. First off, 57% of Americans in a new poll say they believe what we did in Iraq was right. That's not changed much in about 6 months. And yes, there is a question of morality when Europeans are willing to take out a dictator in their back yard, Slobadon Milosevic, but say to hell with the Iraqis, let them suffer. The evidence was substantial that Saddam represented a threat to not just U.S. national security, but to that of the world. No such claim was or could ever be made about Slobadon Milosevic, to supplement the fact that he was a destabilizing and murderous presence in Europe, just like Saddam represented in his region. Yet Europe demanded the U.S. take action to end what was in effect a civil war there and a regime they found objectionable in Belgrade.
Every European intelligence agency was saying what the Bush administration was saying about Saddam and WMD and was saying it long before the Bush administration came along. Yet even before it was known that Saddam had somehow decommissioned his WMD stocks either through hiding them or spiriting them out of the country, the Europeans were against the idea of our taking action there. That speaks to how soft they've gone as a people. Notice in contrast Eastern Europe's willingness to have stood up to the threat posed by Saddam. They understood in having only recently been under the boot of tyrant better than France, Germany and now Spain that mass murdering tyrants cannot be appeased. Even with Poland's recent expressed doubts about WMD, they still say ending that regime was the right thing to do.
But right and wrong doesn't seem to have a place in the debate in much of Western Europe anymore. It's all about what's convenient for them, and their own self-serving modus operandi which believes in the use of force when it helps them in their own backyard (the Balkans) but won't repay the favor by now helping us out on Iraq.
On another issue, how can anyone dispute that Saddam was not extensively connected to terrorism, even if you want to ignore the evidence indicating that Saddam was connected with Al Qaeda? (Click here: TCS: Tech Central Station - The Iraq -- Al Qaeda Connections) The man financed, supported and trained most of the more radical Palestinian factions, including giving safe haven to their leaders. Here is just a small sampling from the "difficult to support" case that Saddam was involved in the support of terrorism: Hussein paid bonuses of up to $25,000 to the families of Palestinian homicide bombers. "President Saddam Hussein has recently told the head of the Palestinian political office, Faroq al-Kaddoumi, his decision to raise the sum granted to each family of the martyrs of the Palestinian uprising to $25,000 instead of $10,000," Iraq's former deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, declared at a Baghdad meeting of Arab politicians and businessmen on March 11, 2002, Reuters reported two days later. Mahmoud Besharat, who the White House says dispensed these funds across the West Bank, gratefully said: "You would have to ask President Saddam why he is being so generous. But he is a revolutionary and he wants this distinguished struggle, the intifada, to continue." Between Aziz's announcement and the March 20 launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 28 homicide bombers injured 1,209 people and killed 223 more, including at least eight Americans.
According to the State Department's May 21, 2002 "Patterns of Global Terrorism," the Abu Nidal Organization, the Arab Liberation Front, Hamas, the Kurdistan Worker's party, the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization and the Palestinian Liberation Front all operated offices or bases in Hussein's Iraq. Hussein's hospitality towards these mass murderers placed him in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687, which prohibited him from giving safe harbor to or otherwise supporting terrorists.
Coalition forces have found alive and well key terrorists who enjoyed Hussein's hospitality. Among them was Abu Abbas, mastermind of the October 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking and murder of Leon Klinghoffer, a 69-year-old Manhattan retiree who Abbas's men rolled, wheelchair and all, into the Mediterranean. Khala Khadr al-Salahat, accused of designing the bomb that destroyed Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988 (259 killed on board, 11 dead on the ground), also lived in Baathist Iraq.
Before fatally shooting himself four times in the head on August 16, 2002, as Baghdad claimed, Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal had resided in Iraq since 1999. As the AP's Sameer N. Yacoub reported on August 21, 2002, the Beirut office of the Abu Nidal Organization said he entered Iraq "with the full knowledge and preparations of the Iraqi authorities." Nidal's attacks in 20 countries killed at least 275 people and wounded some 625 others. Among other atrocities, ANO henchmen bombed a TWA airliner over the Aegean Sea in 1974, killing all 88 people on board.
Coalition troops destroyed at least three terrorist training camps including a base near Baghdad called Salman Pak. It featured a passenger-jet fuselage where numerous Iraqi defectors reported that foreign terrorists were instructed how to hijack airliners with utensils. (The Bush administration should bus a few dozen foreign correspondents and their camera crews from the bar of Baghdad's Palestine Hotel to Salman Pak for a guided tour. Network news footage of that ought to open a few eyes.)
As for Hussein's supposedly imaginary ties to al Qaeda, consider these disturbing facts:
The Philippine government expelled Hisham al Hussein, the second secretary at Iraq's Manila embassy, on February 13, 2003. Cell-phone records indicate that the diplomat had spoken with Abu Madja and Hamsiraji Sali, leaders of Abu Sayyaf, just before and just after this al Qaeda-allied Islamic militant group conducted an attack in Zamboanga City. Abu Sayyaf's nail-filled bomb exploded on October 2, 2002, injuring 23 individuals and killing two Filipinos and U.S. Special Forces Sergeant First Class Mark Wayne Jackson, age 40. As Dan Murphy wrote in the Christian Science Monitor last February 26, those phone records bolster Sali's claim in a November 2002 TV interview that the Iraqi diplomat had offered these Muslim extremists Baghdad's help with joint missions.
Journalist Stephen F. Hayes reported in July that the official Babylon Daily Political Newspaper published by Hussein's eldest son, Uday, ran what it called a "List of Honor." The paper's November 14, 2002, edition gave the names and titles of 600 leading Iraqis, including this passage: "Abid Al-Karim Muhamed Aswod, intelligence officer responsible for the coordination of activities with the Osama bin Laden group at the Iraqi embassy in Pakistan." That name, Hayes wrote, matches that of Iraq's then-ambassador to Islamabad.
Additionally, there is substantial evidence that one of Saddam's own intelligence chiefs headed up Ansar al Islam, for the purpose of using them to attack anti-Saddam Kurdish groups.
As for the outrage in Spain, it comes back to the idea of thinking one can appease terrorists and everything will be fine. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and even the UN have opposed the US on Iraq, and yet all 3 were the subject of 7 bombings by Al Qaeda last year, not to mention the Saudis are having daily shoot outs with these people on the streets. I entirely disagree with this notion that somehow Spain would not have been subject to terrorism if not for their support of us in Iraq.
Now on to Richard Clarke. I think he badly misinterprets the administration's looking at all possible culprits in the wake of 9-11 as meaning a "sole focus on Iraq." Everyone seems to be forgetting that in the end, we went into Afghanistan first and Iraq was "rushed into" 18 months later.
Clarke's claims of Condie Rice not knowing who AL Qaeda was (and he knows this solely by the look on her face) taxes his credibility. In further demonstrating his mind-reading abilities, Clarke claims he was "dragged into a room" by the president and asked to determine if Iraq played a role in 9-11. Now keep in mind Clarke says no one told him to invent a story, he could just tell that's what they wanted. This guy should be the new Ms. Cleo with his great mind-reading abilities. I'm sorry, a guy who builds his case on the few meetings he attended and then claims to have known what people were thinking strains credulity. Why didn't Clarke or anyone else for that matter tell Bob Woodward about this in the book "Bush at War?" Woodward was given free access to all the national security players on post 9-11 planning, including Mr. Clarke.
Woodward's book shows that while yes Iraq was investigated for possible complicity in the attack, so too were other terrorist-affiliated nations and groups as even Richard Clarke acknowledges below. Finally the president said to ignore Iraq because the evidence wasn't there. You've read the book. Remember Bush telling Wolfowitz that in a Camp David meeting? Bush specifically told Wolfowitz to shut up about Iraq. Clarke wasn't in that meeting. But Clarke is "dragged into" one meeting with the president and he's suddenly considered omniscient on all the administration's planning for the war?
I know you want to believe Clarke because you suddenly have your ear open to any administration critic regardless of their level of credibility. That shows in your new-found willingness to accept the ridiculous line that Bush acted out of some personal vendetta against Saddam.
I know I will be dismissed as nothing more than a partisan zombie for pointing out the enormous holes in this man's story, including the outrageous lie that Bush "did nothing about Al Qaeda" prior to 9-11 which contradicts yet again what Clarke claims in the book "Losing Bin Laden" by Richard Minitier, for which Clarke was the primary source. For doing so, I will be called "mean-spirited" and part of the "Republican attack machine" while the facts I present go all but unanswered. I better not also point out the fact that Time Magazine in July 2002 in an article about Richard Clarke reported that in May 2001, the president set the NSA to work on coming up with a plan to overthrow the Taliban and to put Al Qaeda on the run, a finalized plan for which was on his desk ironically enough on Sept. 10, 2001. Again, my "blind partisanship" is showing in pointing out that fact.
In that book Clarke places the blame for the failures leading up to 9-11 on Clinton's shoulders, not Bush's. Why the sudden change and in an election year? Could it be his bitterness at Condie Rice for demoting him? Could it be his bitterness at being past over for the top post at Homeland Security? Could it be his close association with John Kerry's top advisor on national security?? Oh I know, I'm just pure evil for pointing all this out and we really need to believe like the media tells us that Bush is an evil liar and his critics are 1000% credible and could have no possible contradictions or ill motives in the things they claim.
Look at this excerpt from an interview Clarke gave to NPR on March 20, 2002. My comments are in parenthesis:
Q: But didn't you push for military action after the Cole?
A: Yes, that's one of the exceptions.
Q: How important is that exception?
A: I believe that, had we destroyed the terrorist camps in Afghanistan earlier, that the conveyor belt that was producing terrorists sending them out around the world would have been destroyed. So many, many trained and indoctrinated Al Qaeda terrorists, which now we have to hunt down country by country, many of them would not be trained and would not be indoctrinated, because there wouldn't have been a safe place to do it if we had destroyed the camps earlier.
Q: So that's a pretty basic mistake that we made?
A: Well, I'm not prepared to call it a mistake. It was a judgment made by people who had to take into account a lot of other issues. None of these decisions took place in isolation. There was the Middle East peace process going on. There was the war in Yugoslavia going on. People above my rank had to judge what could be done in the counterterrorism world at a time when they were also pursuing other national goals.
(It wasn't a "mistake" for Clinton to not take bolder action against Al Qaeda in 8 years of his presidency, but it was a major mistake for Bush not to have done so in only the 8 months of his presidency prior to 9-11? So it's okay Clinton did nothing and had a lot of other "national goals" he needed to be attentive to, but Bush with all the things he had to be attentive to in order to get a new presidency up to speed and running should have taken up Clinton's slack immediately and begun a bombing campaign in Afghanistan? I guess Clarke can see all the other more important things Clinton had to do than fight terrorism, but not the fact that Bush could not solve every problem handed down to him in 8 months. And being distracted by Yugoslavia is okay, but not by Iraq? Huh? Credibility loss factor for Clarke: MAJOR.)
Q: A lot of people looked at Sept. 11, and said "Massive intelligence failure. Haven't seen an intelligence failure like this since Pearl Harbor." What's your opinion on that allegation?
A: I think it's a cheap shot. I think when people say, no matter what event it is, they say, "Oh, it was an intelligence failure," they frequently don't know what the intelligence community said prior to the event. In June 2001, the intelligence community issued a warning that a major Al Qaeda terrorist attack would take place in the next many weeks. They said they were unable to find out exactly where it might take place. They said they thought it might take place in Saudi Arabia.
We asked, "Could it take place in the United States?" They said, "We can't rule that out." So in my office in the White House complex, the CIA sat and briefed the domestic U.S. federal law enforcement agencies, Immigration, Federal Aviation, Coast Guard, and Customs. The FBI was there as well, agreeing with the CIA, and told them that we were entering a period when there was a very high probability of a major terrorist attack. Now I don't think that's an intelligence failure. It may be a failure of other parts of the government, but I don't think that was an intelligence failure.
(So the intelligence agencies did not fail, but Bush did according to Clarke's election year book? How is a president's knowledge of threat levels any better than that of his intelligence agencies? A president can only act on what his intelligence agencies give him. Clarke cannot claim this was Bush's failure, and not that of the intelligence agencies he relies on. Credibility loss factor for Clarke: MAJOR)
Q: The June-July warnings. A lot of things happened at that point. Do we think now that Sept. 11 was in fact what was being talked about?
A: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Q: Because one of the things that surprises a lot of the public, I think, is that immediately after Sept. 11, the administration knew exactly who had done it. Was that why?
A: No. On the day of Sept. 11, then the day or two following, we had a very open mind. CIA and FBI were asked, "See if it's Hezbollah. See if it's Hamas. Don't assume it's Al Qaeda. Don't just assume it's Al Qaeda." Frankly, there was absolutely not a shred of evidence that it was anybody else. The evidence that it was Al Qaeda began just to be massive within days after the attack.
(So Clarke himself admits that all possible parties were being looked into as possible culprits, not just Iraq? Why the sudden change in claims now in an election year? Credibility loss factor for Clarke: IRREPARABLE.)
You say the administration is getting harder to defend. I disagree. The facts that exonerate the positions of this administration are there for any wishing to access them. Unfortunately one must dig for them because the American media is not willing to provide them.
What's indefensible is the increasing desperation of the president's opponents and an American media that is now almost entirely on the side of bringing down this president, in a way not seen since Richard Nixon. Frankly the way they will give outsized attention to any critic of Bush while all but ignoring anything negative about Kerry represents a massive and illegal in-kind campaign contribution of free air time for the Kerry campaign and its efforts to tear down the president. Ask yourself when the last time 60 Minutes ran a negative segment on John Kerry? Not only have they not, they even gave him 20 minutes of free air time in the middle of the primary campaign in January to give a weepy interview about his "heroics" in Vietnam.
That you keep eating up everything the media feeds you without investigating deeper doesn't mean Bush is getting harder to defend. What's becoming harder is my ability to fathom your willingness to unquestioningly buy into the attacks by Bush's axe-grinding critics without even remotely questioning their motives, the silly things they claim ("I could tell by the look on her face") or past statements contradicting what they're asserting now. What's becoming even harder than that is the work I have to do in order to open your eyes to what the media isn't telling you as you refuse to look beyond what Leslie Stahl tells you to find out for yourself.
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