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John McCain Open Thread.--

If you want to comment on John McCain, his candidacy, or any Volokh Conspiracy post relating to him, you may do so below.

Please be substantive and civil.

James Lindgren (mail):
Welcome.
7.19.2008 3:41am
iambatman:
The Iraqis want a timetable for withdrawal. Obama has one, though some VC contributors are none to pleased with it. McCain, like Bush, scoffs at the notion we need one. Isn't that a little disrespectful of what we are told is the sovereign and legitimate government of Iraq?
7.19.2008 3:54am
iambatman:
In fact, McCain even said that al-Maliki couldn't have actually meant he wanted a timetable... What's that flushing sound? Oh, right. Self-determination.
7.19.2008 3:57am
Laura S.:
So was Reason's piece on McCain fair?


There is a more useful key to decode how he might behave as president. McCain’s singular goal in public life is to restore citizens’ faith in their government, to give us the same object of belief—national greatness—that helped save his life after he gave up hope as a POW in Vietnam... McCain regards Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln as political idols; like them, he never hesitates in asserting that government power should be used to rekindle American (and Republican) pride in government.
7.19.2008 4:07am
Lib:
iambatman...

Obama developed his timetable on his own: all combat troops out by March 31, 2008 - i.e., immediate (and even then, behind schedule). See SB433 110th Congress authored by Sen. Obama and dated January 31, 2007.

Is this the same timetable the Maliki government wants? If not, Obama's solution isn't necessarily any more what the Maliki government wants than what Bush or McCain will reach after responsible discussions with the Iraqi government.

Am I the only one who finds it odd that the candidate who is trying to take the moral high ground by claiming to be the one that will work with all parties and compromise is the one that appears to have picked a withdrawal date without consulting with the Iraqi's in determining firm policy around this keystone issue of his campaign? One can only imagine what he will do when the voters and the world aren't looking.
7.19.2008 4:20am
iambatman:
Well, it sounds to me like Obama successfully anticipated the need for a timetable, but this is actually the John McCain open thread, so why not discuss why McCain apparently has no idea what the Iraqis are asking for. After all, he makes a big deal out of visiting Iraq and knowing what's going on (and apparently of not needing body armor there, 'cept he did).
7.19.2008 4:25am
ahendo10 (mail):
I think you were right to let Obama off the hook on the civilian paramilitary force; clearly if it were his plan to create such a force he would give more than just a few passing words to it.

I'm also willing to let him off the hook on his "as well-funded as" comment, or at least I'm ready to take his words more generally than you have: The army is well-funded. The peace corps isn't. I think that Obama is saying that, under his presidency, the PC would become well-funded. Does that mean that the taxpayer cost per would become the same for the PC as is the Army, ballooning the costs of these programs as you've described? Only if you take his words at their most literal, and I'm not sure that was his intention.

Obama on the Peace Corps, from his website (with no mention of fundamentally retooling the Peace Corps with hundreds of billions of dollars):

Expand the Peace Corps: Obama will double the Peace Corps to 16,000 by 2011. He will work with the leaders of other countries to build an international network of overseas volunteers so that Americans work side-by-side with volunteers from other countries.

I think it's good to keep our politicians to their word, but here you're being way overly literal.
7.19.2008 5:14am
James Lindgren (mail):
Ahendo,

Thanks for the response.

I don't think I'm being over-literal. Two of the three scenarios that I discussed in my July 19th post assumed that AmeriCorps would be just as well funded as the military and yet I assumed that this would amount to only about 1/4th to 1/6th as high a budget as the military.

I think that Obama just gets carried away with his over-promising, not realizing what it would mean to actually do what he proposes to do.
7.19.2008 5:43am
Doug B. (mail) (www):
It is telling that a McCain thread has become an Obama discussion. I listen to the Ingram/Limbaugh/Hannity pundits and all they ever talk about is Obama.

I am genuinely eager to know more about McCain -- about whether some of his apparent flip-flops are revealing, about his commitment to family values in light of his own family history, about whether he is truly smart enough to be a good president (see his class rank in college), about whether he will surround himself with better people than some recent presidents have, etc.

I suppose I can understand why this coming election is already turning into an yeah/nea vote on Obama, but I really was hoping to see some McCain only discussion in a setting like this.
7.19.2008 8:55am
Jim at FSU (mail):
I heard in the NY Times and on NPR that the iraqis hope Obama is just lying for the campaign and that he won't actually use a timetable. There is widespread consensus amongst the iraqi leadership that an Obama type timetable would be a disaster because the iraqi army and police aren't ready to take care of things themselves yet.
7.19.2008 10:13am
becoming libertarian? (mail):
Politics and ideology aside, I am genuinely surprised at what a poor candidate McCain has turned out to be. He's worse than Dole in '96. Every time I watch McCain give a speech, my heart sinks. This is the best the Republicans could come up with?

I think McCain's time has come and gone. It would have been wonderful for him to win the Republican nomination and the presidency in 2000. But now he appears to have wandered in from another planet. And he looks and sounds very old, worse than Reagan in his post-presidency.

Sorry to be so negative, because I think McCain is obviously a great man in many ways. But I haven't seen anything that makes me think he will be a great or even adequate president.
7.19.2008 10:20am
EH (mail):
I think that McCain's violating OPSEC by telling reporters when he thinks Obama is going to be landing in Iraq calls into question his military judgement and credibility.

And regardless of Obama's old "March 2008" withdrawal plan, the story this morning is that Maliki explicitly agrees with Obama's 16 month timetable.
7.19.2008 11:24am
Just Dropping By (mail):
Every time I watch McCain give a speech, my heart sinks. This is the best the Republicans could come up with?

I believe it was Dave Weigel at Reason magazine who said that the more he watched McCain and the Republicans this year the more convinced he's become that "McCain was handed a gold watch that will explode after everyone else has left the room," or words to that effect.
7.19.2008 11:58am
Cliff (mail):
McCain really needs to take the gloves off. The Obama campaign is embarrassingly free of substance or even common sense in about 34983724 cases recently.

What McCain really needs is a Lee Atwater type to absolutely slam him every time he does something stupid. His campaign hasn't been able to do this yet. It doesn't seem to have the killer instinct.
7.19.2008 12:49pm
Harry Lime (mail):

Politics and ideology aside, I am genuinely surprised at what a poor candidate McCain has turned out to be. He's worse than Dole in '96. Every time I watch McCain give a speech, my heart sinks. This is the best the Republicans could come up with?

I think McCain's time has come and gone. It would have been wonderful for him to win the Republican nomination and the presidency in 2000. But now he appears to have wandered in from another planet. And he looks and sounds very old, worse than Reagan in his post-presidency.

Sorry to be so negative, because I think McCain is obviously a great man in many ways. But I haven't seen anything that makes me think he will be a great or even adequate president.


For the most part I agree with you that McCain has been a rather subpar candidate. And I too question what kind of president this guy would be and how smart he really is.

But you have to give him credit on a few issues. He advocated the surge early on at a time when it was unpopular to do so. He has generally always supported free trade and limited government spending. And I think he would appoint better (by my defintion) SCOTUS justices than Obama would. He's also a (recent?) supporter of the right to bear arms.

So he's getting my vote although I think he's going to lose.
7.19.2008 12:58pm
sbron:
Mark Krikorian's essay "John McCain, Multiculturalist" says it better than I can

http://tinyurl.com/yullcu

How anyone can view McCain's views on immigration, bilingualism, and racial preferences as remotely conservative is beyond me. Maybe libertarian by some stretch of reasoning, but not conservative. His views on these issues are identical to Obama's.
7.19.2008 1:07pm
James Lindgren (mail):
McCain is good one-on-one, but a poor public speaker.

The two best-run campaigns in my memory -- 1988 and 1992 -- had the same pattern, in part because the Clinton campaign in 92 modeled their effort on the Bush campaign in 88.

Each had a topic of the week (usually a weakness of the opponent) and every day for a week they hammered that point in talking to the press, op-eds, and campaign ads.

By the time the oppposing side developed a response, the winning campaign was on to the next topic. Each issue gained 0.5-2 % for the campaign, leading to a victory.
7.19.2008 1:10pm
sbron:
I have to include this quote from Krikorian's article, from a Teddy Roosevelt speech


We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, and American nationality, not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding house


Can one imagine any serious Presidential candidate saying such a thing today? Sadly no.
7.19.2008 1:12pm
stunned:
Of course, what worked in '88 and '92 wouldn't work in '08. The world has changed too much. See, e.g., blogs.
7.19.2008 1:16pm
NYer:

Can one imagine any serious Presidential candidate saying such a thing today? Sadly no.


You do realize that's because saying such a thing would turn the "serious Presidential candidate" into a non-serious Presidential candidate. Becoming xenophobic and putting one's head in the sand by ignoring other cultures and languages isn't exactly the best way to work with globalization. Maybe we just have different worldviews, but "living in a polyglot boarding house" doesn't strike me as a pejorative.
7.19.2008 1:35pm
iambatman:
JimFSU, great discussion of John McCain there.
7.19.2008 1:41pm
iambatman:
Although that post is a great example of how confirmation bias works. Never mind the majority of Iraqis who even support killing US troops. Why won't they let us liberate them, dammit?
7.19.2008 1:44pm
twitterwillow (mail):
Here's something I don't understand. The vast majority of Americans are upset over illegal immigration, and support enforcing existing law and cracking down on the borders. (Am I wrong about this?)

If McCain were to throw away his "reformist" perspective and argue fervently of the need to enforce immigration law, I think it would be a winning issue. He would be demonized by the media, but he would have the majority of the public on his side.

Why doesn't he do it? What is he afraid of?
7.19.2008 2:13pm
Psalm91 (mail):
"McCain really needs to take the gloves off. The Obama campaign is embarrassingly free of substance or even common sense in about 34983724 cases recently.

What McCain really needs is a Lee Atwater type to absolutely slam him every time he does something stupid. His campaign hasn't been able to do this yet. It doesn't seem to have the killer instinct."

Yes, what this campaign needs is more racist appeal. Even Atwater repenbted before his death. Is this the best you can offer for Senator McCain; "kill the opponent"? A very telling admission.
7.19.2008 2:20pm
SATA_Interface:
To me the saddest part of the republican machine this cycle is the lack of ideas. I don't hear cogent policy discussions or positive achievements to work towards. Everything has become a refutation and distancing from Bush or how Obama wears different color socks. Someone mentioned earlier in the thread about the right-wing screamers doing little other than complain about Michelle Obama and all the other Atwater-flavored commentary.

McCain has the opportunity to run a strong campaign that moves far away from the Atwater/Rove character-demolishing, smearing, and rumor mongering. I see those tactics from a party with no more ideas and an utter failure of policy as the legacy of 8 years.

I mean, McCain was one of the very few in the congress who could reasonably claim the mantle of an outsider who worked on principle, but that legacy was overshadowed by his close ties to Bush after being embarassed by Bush during the 2000 primaries. I would like McCain just for the divided government concept that helps to balance budgets and rein in spending.
7.19.2008 2:45pm
Dave N (mail):
I am not even going to get into the argument about Bush41 running a "racist" campaign in 1988. The Democrats' talking point is just as untrue as the argument this year about McCain wanting the war in Iraq to last 100 years.

As for McCain, I think his career has been honorable, taking positions that he thought were right, even if they went against the political preferences of his own party.

"McSame"? At least try to be more clever. "Bush's third term?" Give me a freaking break.

Finally, the denigration of his military service by Democrats this year has been absolutely despicable. Four years ago, John Kerry's military service was oh, so important for Democrats. How dare anyone say anything about it? This year, of course, John McCain's entire military career is considered either irrelevant or worthy of derision (and this from the party that was prepared to welcome him as Kerry's running mate a short 4 years ago).
7.19.2008 2:53pm
LM (mail):
Dave N,

I agree that the 100 years comment is being distorted, but didn't Lee Atwater apologize for appealing to racism in '88? If I'm remembering that wrong, I'll stand corrected.

I also agree that McCain's career has been honorable, both military and political. But who's denigrating his military career? If anything even remotely similar to the vicious smear campaign that was run against Kerry's military career has been going on, I've somehow missed it entirely, so please give me a head's up.
7.19.2008 3:09pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Maybe we just have different worldviews, but "living in a polyglot boarding house" doesn't strike me as a pejorative."

Evidentially you're not comfortable with America as a sovereign country. How is that the US must accommodate other cultures in the name of globalization, but not other countries? For example Japan accepts few immigrants and makes very difficult for a foreigner to get Japanese citizenship. Ditto for Korea. In fact no country would think that reducing itself to "polyglot boarding house" is in any way desirable.

Name me one country where you can jump the border and then demand to be made a legal resident, demand services in your native language, ballots in your native language. Could you get that in Russia? In France? Anywhere?

If American is merely a "polyglot boarding house," then it essentially has the status of an Antarctica, or the high seas. It ceases to remain a nation-state with common values, language and creed. In short, it's a nothing but a trading zone. Is this what you want?
7.19.2008 3:13pm
hawkins:

McCain is good one-on-one, but a poor public speaker.


Could not agree more. McCain would be great if he could do all of his campaigning as a guest on Meet the Press or Hardball. Unfortunately for him, people vote for politicians that inspire them. I expect his convention speech to be a complete failure. He would probably have a better chance of getting elected if he were not required to give one.
7.19.2008 3:23pm
MarkField (mail):

Finally, the denigration of his military service by Democrats this year has been absolutely despicable. Four years ago, John Kerry's military service was oh, so important for Democrats. How dare anyone say anything about it? This year, of course, John McCain's entire military career is considered either irrelevant or worthy of derision (and this from the party that was prepared to welcome him as Kerry's running mate a short 4 years ago).


I'm with LM -- who denigrated McCain's military career? I have seen comments that his career isn't a qualification for the Presidency (a debatable point), but nothing at all denigrating it (and I read the usual suspect liberal sites). Obama and Clinton never indicated anything but respect for his service (at least not that I saw).

Considering Bud Day is running around supporting Sen. McCain (with, it appears, the approval of Sen. McCain), I don't think the campaign is in much of a position to complain about attacks on military records even they were being made.
7.19.2008 3:38pm
Dave N (mail):
LM,

According to The New York Times, "In 1988," Mr. Atwater said, "fighting Dukakis, I said that I 'would strip the bark off the little bastard' and 'make Willie Horton his running mate.' I am sorry for both statements: the first for its naked cruelty, the second because it makes me sound racist, which I am not."

I don't read that apology as Atwater admitting the 1988 Bush campaign was racist.

As for denigrating John McCain's military record, we have had comments this year from Senator Jay Rockefeller, Senator Tom Harkin, and most recently, General Wesley Clark--and that, of course, is excluding the moonbattery from the Kool-Aid drinking left.
7.19.2008 3:46pm
Fub:
hawkins wrote at 7.19.2008 2:23pm:
McCain would be great if he could do all of his campaigning as a guest on Meet the Press or Hardball. Unfortunately for him, people vote for politicians that inspire them.
Generally agree with that and your referent as well. I'll offer a quick and dirty, not terribly precise assessment of both candidates relative to a former president, often revered in living memory:

Obama has political charisma approaching that of JFK, but without experience approaching JFK's Senate and military experience.

McCain has Senate and military experience comparable and even exceeding JFK's, but without anything approaching JFK's political charisma.

For better or for worse, I think charisma wins elections.
7.19.2008 3:51pm
hawkins:

we have had comments this year from Senator Jay Rockefeller, Senator Tom Harkin, and most recently, General Wesley Clark


What did Rockefeller and Harkin say? Didnt Clark just say McCain's military career does not qualify him to be President? How is that denigrating his military record?
7.19.2008 3:55pm
EH (mail):
Zarkov:
How is that the US must accommodate other cultures in the name of globalization, but not other countries?


I don't know where you get "in the name of globalization," but the rest of it is written on the Statue of Liberty. That doesn't rise to the level of "must," of course, but it does kind of establish an ethic, don't you think?
7.19.2008 4:08pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
I can't say that I am particularly happy with Obama's stand - his original, over-the-years stand - on the gun issue. DC vs Heller left an awful lot of room for government to regulate (but not ban; depending on the regulation, there's a difference?) gun ownership in ways definitely not in the spirit of the 2nd Amendment. It would be good to have a President who had a more realistic view of gun ownership and self defense than Obama. McCain's not perfect, but he's a lot better on the Issue.

As for other issues, well. I'm a libertarian conservative and Obama's the most "liberal" member of the US Senate. Nuff said!
7.19.2008 4:24pm
Dave N (mail):
Hawkins,

Here are the quotes—

Senator Jay Rockefeller: "McCain was a fighter pilot, who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when they hit.

"What happened when they [the missiles] get to the ground? He doesn't know. You have to care about the lives of people. McCain never gets into those issues."

Senator Tom Harkin:"I think he's trapped in that," Harkin said in a conference call with Iowa reporters. "Everything is looked at from his life experiences, from always having been in the military, and I think that can be pretty dangerous."

Harkin said that "it's one thing to have been drafted and served, but another thing when you come from generations of military people and that's just how you're steeped, how you've learned, how you've grown up."

General Wesley Clark: "He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee. And he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn't held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded — that wasn't a wartime squadron,” Clark said.

“I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president.”

As for the Kool-Aid drinkers, how about this example, "Yes, we all know that John McCain was captured and tortured in Vietnam (McCain won't let you forget). A lot of people don't know, however, that McCain made a propaganda tape for the enemy while he was in captivity. Putting that bit of disloyalty aside, what exactly is McCain's military experience that prepares him for being commander in chief? It's not like McCain rose to the level of general or something. He's a vet. We get it. But simply being a vet, as laudable as it is, doesn't really tell you much about someone's qualifications for being commander in chief. If McCain is going to play the "I was tortured" card every five minutes as a justification for electing him president, then he shouldn't throw a hissy fit any time any one asks to know more about his military experience. Getting shot down, tortured, and then doing propaganda for the enemy is not command experience. Again, it's not nice to say say, but we're not running for class president here. We deserve real answers, not emotional outbursts designed to quell the questions."
7.19.2008 4:25pm
iambatman:
Dave N, please explain how getting shot down does qualify a candidate for president. As this is the John McCain open thread, no points will be awarded for whining about the Kerry campaign... the final grade is based entirely on the affirmative case for a McCain presidency. (Academic honor code: Copying from shrill rightist screed blogs is cheating.)
7.19.2008 4:35pm
hawkins:
Rockefeller's is worse than the statements from Harkin or Clark, but I dont see any as denigrating his military service.
7.19.2008 4:35pm
hawkins:
Also, as far the anonymous quote goes - the bit about his "disloyalty" is obviously a cheap shot and in poor taste. But I find the rest of it to be remarkably unoffensive. I would assume there is much worse out there.
7.19.2008 4:38pm
CiarandDenlane (mail):
Are any of the V. conspirators going to address Prof. Chin's article arguing that Sen. McCain is not, after all, a natural-born citizen?

It's not an area I know much about. I'm not sure it's in any of your wheelhouses either, but you have bigger wheelhouses.

I haven't made up my mind yet who to vote for. Do I have to conclude that the Constitution gives me no choice (among the major party candidates, in any event)?
7.19.2008 4:39pm
iambatman:
I could be mistaken, but I think EV did address that point a while back, and concluded that he was.
7.19.2008 4:42pm
Dave N (mail):
Frankly, I read Harkins as being the worst, since it denigrates everyone in the professional military--excepting, I suppose, Wesley Clark.

As for "copying from shill rightist screed blogs" I quoted from newspapers in West Virginia and Iowa and from the Politco.

And aren't we shifting goal posts here. I made my comment about Obama surrogates denigrating McCain's military service.

But to answer your cheap political question, getting shot down doesn't prove much. How you handle yourself as a POW certainly does--which leads to the blogger quote I also supplied--which basically accuses McCain of treason--but hey, that's just a crazy blogger and we shouldn't take that seriously at all.
7.19.2008 4:42pm
hawkins:
I suppose we have different understandings of "denigrate."
7.19.2008 4:50pm
Dave N (mail):
Hawkins,

Merriam-Webster defines "denigrate" this way:
1 : to attack the reputation of : defame "denigrate one's opponents";
2 : to deny the importance or validity of : belittle "denigrate their achievements".
Senator Rockefeller's and Senator Harkin's comments certainly meet the second definition and arguably meet the first. General Clark's comment seems to meet the second definition.

As for the blogger's comments (the first I found, I had no desire to explore the fever swamps), it absolutely meets both.
7.19.2008 5:05pm
byomtov (mail):
Dave N.,

It is possible to claim that someone's achievement or experience is not relevant to a particular job without denigrating it.

If I say "Winning a Nobel Prize in physics is not a qualification for playing shortstop," I'm not denigrating the Nobelist.
7.19.2008 5:24pm
MarkField (mail):
Dave, I'll give you Rockefeller's comment, and much of the americablog screed as well. I don't see Harkins or Clark "denigrating his service". They're challenging whether that service qualifies him to be President, which is a related but different (and fair) issue.

I'm curious, though -- do you really think that such comments approach anything like the level of the Swift Boat campaign against Kerry? I don't mean to set the bar that low, but you did mention it in your first post. I don't see Obama or his campaign even remotely approaching that.
7.19.2008 5:30pm
ERF (mail):
The point might be that many supporters of Kerry in 2004 argued that his military experience gave him an advantage over Bush in qualification to be President. In 2008 some of those same people are saying McCain's hugely greater military experience than Kerry (of course Obama has no military experience at all) should not count in McCain's favor.
7.19.2008 5:32pm
hawkins:
Only Rockefeller's seems close to me, because he's essentially saying that McCain does not care about the destruction of his bombs.

Harkin essentially says it is better not to have life long soldiers as President because they are conditioned to view all things through military and war experiences. This clearly does not attack anyone's reputation, nor does it belittle his achievements. It is a valid argument that life long soldier's may be predisposed to solving conflicts through war, while pesident should use diplomacy if possible.

Both Clark and Harkin's comments are completely respectful.
7.19.2008 5:35pm
hawkins:

The point might be that many supporters of Kerry in 2004 argued that his military experience gave him an advantage over Bush in qualification to be President.


This is a valid argument
7.19.2008 5:47pm
EH (mail):
In 2008 some of those same people are saying McCain's hugely greater military experience than Kerry (of course Obama has no military experience at all) should not count in McCain's favor.

Can you define your use of "hugely greater," here?
7.19.2008 5:56pm
Dave N (mail):
"Hugely greater" is hardly a term of art.

However, McCain served in the United States Navy from 1958 to 1981.

Kerry served in the United States Navy from 1966 5o 1970.

I would say under most circumstances that 22 years is "hugely greater" than 4 years.
7.19.2008 6:10pm
Brian K (mail):
"Finally, the denigration of his military service by Democrats this year has been absolutely despicable. Four years ago, John Kerry's military service was oh, so important for Democrats. How dare anyone say anything about it? This year, of course, John McCain's entire military career is considered either irrelevant or worthy of derision (and this from the party that was prepared to welcome him as Kerry's running mate a short 4 years ago)."

i don't recall hearing many, or even a few, republicans defending kerry from the swift boaters. if repubicans didn't consider kerry's military service a point in his favor, why should democrats consider it a point in mccains favor? your basic position seems to be "military service only counts when it benefits republicans"
7.19.2008 6:15pm
James Lindgren (mail):
CiarandDenlane,

Yes, I'm planning to write on the Chin article when I get time in August. here are some very preliminary thoughts, subject to change.

Most of the Chin article is about two 1930s statutes, one of which grants citizenship to people born in the canal zone (even the sections of his paper that start off talking about more central constitutional issues quickly devolve into discussions of statutes of marginal relevance). The 1930s statutes that Chin relies on are not the primary basis for McCain's status as a natural born citizen under the constitution (or under the Tribe/Olsen opinion), a status based on the original constitution, not a 1930s statute on the canal zone.

Chin consistently confuses naturalization with being natural born (something that he is not alone in doing in the immigration literature), arguing that, unless there is a statute naturalizing McCain he can't be a natural born citizen.

As an originalist matter at least, that is wrong. A naturalized citizen is not a natural born citizen anyway, so I don't see what statutes have to do with McCain's candidacy. And Congress has never passed a statute that says that persons born abroad are not natural born citizens, despite what Chin and some confused courts have said.

From about 1795 through 1940 there was no statute granting citizenship to natural born citizens and yet a lot of Presidents (such as Abe Lincoln) were born during that period. Just like McCain, they based their natural born citizenship on the Constitution, not on a federal statute.

Chin does not deal entirely fairly with even the statutes he analyzes so vigorously. First, the two of the most analyzed ones merely "declare" that certain people are citizens, which is usually (though not always) used by Congress to show that the statute is not necessarily changing the law. Chin largely skirts this problem with his argument.

Second, his reading of statutes is a literal textualist one (except for implicitly his conveniently nontextualist reading of "declare"). Literal textualism is not a jurisprudential approach advocated by anyone I've read lately, though I hear it referred to occasionally. Original public meaning is usually taken to mean that one reads the statute as someone reading it would have.

I've now done a fair amount of research and the originalist material showing that someone born abroad of native parents in service of the sovereign was considered a natural born citizen is truly overwhelming. Indeed, it was recognized consistently in England from 1351 on.

If not for the 14th amendment, Obama's claim under the "natural born citizen" clause of the original constitution would be weaker than McCain's, because though born in the US, his father was a foreign national; thus, Obama's natural allegiance was potentially split. Indeed, at the time of the framing, treating someone born abroad of native parents in service of the sovereign was in some respects even better established than being born in the country, because the rule for those born in the country had several exceptions (eg, relating to allegiances of parents), while the status of children born abroad of two native parents in service of the sovereign had no exceptions: they were and always had been treated as natural born citizens.

The one thing that Chin's article does show is that there is a lot of Supreme Court dicta on immigration cases that is just plain ridiculous. It is hard to know what a court would do with this dicta (which points in general in Chin's direction).

So, as an originalist matter, the case for McCain is much stronger than I thought even a few months ago, but the case law in the Warren court era (and immediately after) seems to have strayed quite far from original meanings of citizenship.
7.19.2008 6:18pm
David Starr (mail) (www):
Issue Number one in this election is Iraq. McCain promises to prosecute the war and secure victory. Obama promises to pull our troops out, one brigade a month. We are within spitting distance of beating Al Quada and setting up a real democracy in Iraq. McCain will hold the line, keep up the pressure, and lock in the victory that is within our grasp. Obama will abandon Iraq to Al Quada.
7.19.2008 6:20pm
Dave N (mail):
Irony of irony, BrianK, is that John McCain sharply criticized the Swift Boaters and came to John Kerry's defense.

John Kerry has yet to be heard this year returning the favor.
7.19.2008 6:21pm
Just Dropping By (mail):
Clark's statement, "I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president," was quoting back the words of his interviewer:

SCHIEFFER: I have to say, Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down. I mean --

CLARK: Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.


http://mediamatters.org/items/200807010005
7.19.2008 6:23pm
hawkins:

if repubicans didn't consider kerry's military service a point in his favor, why should democrats consider it a point in mccains favor?


This is the reason I intensely dislike both parties
7.19.2008 6:26pm
EH (mail):
David Starr: Actually, if you read the news this morning there are the stirrings of possibility that Iraq as a war is being taken off the election table. Unless you want to say that Maliki is abandoning Iraq as well, you'll have to rethink your sense of the landscape of this election.

"...spitting distance of beating Al Qaeda?"
7.19.2008 6:27pm
LM (mail):
Dave N (mail):

Irony of irony, BrianK, is that John McCain sharply criticized the Swift Boaters and came to John Kerry's defense.

John Kerry has yet to be heard this year returning the favor.

I'm guessing that's because like everyone else outside of the right wing blogosphere, he has no idea there's this despicable left wing campaign to denigrate McCain's military service -- because obviously there's no such thing. I'll bet you [$YOU TELL ME] that if Kerry's ever asked (the only way we'll know for sure he's aware of it) about McCain's loyalty, the legitimacy of McCain's medals and commendations, or the accuracy of McCain's narrative of his military service (i.e., the kind of accusations the swift boaters made), he'll come to McCain's defense.
7.19.2008 6:43pm
Dave N (mail):
Just Dropping By,

The Face the Nation transcript perhaps provides even a better source than MediaMatters.

To put General Clark's comments completely into context, it is perhaps best to start with Senator Lieberman's interview that preceded General Clark's comments:

And that's why I decided to endorse Senator McCain. I did it last December, when all the candidates
in both parties were there, and I did it for two main reasons. One is that John McCain is ready to be
commander in chief on day one. He knows the world, he's been tested, he's ready to protect the
security of the American people. . . .

John McCain is more ready to
be president on foreign and domestic policy because of his extraordinary experience. And it's good
experience. It's experience where he's had the guts to do what's right for his country, including in
Iraq, where he opposed the administration policy for a long time.
General Clark, who appeared separately and after Senator Lieberman, responded in this exchange with Bob Schieffer:
SCHIEFFER: With us now from Little Rock, Arkansas, retired General Wesley Clark. He was for
Hillary Clinton during the primaries. Once Hillary was out of it, he announced that he was
supporting Barack Obama.

And let's get right to it here, General. You heard what Senator Lieberman said. He said that Barack
Obama is simply more ready to be president than Barack Obama.

General WESLEY CLARK (Retired; Obama Supporter): Well, I think--I think Joe has it exactly
backwards here. I think being president is about having good judgment, it's about the ability to
communicate. As one of the great presidential historians, Richard Neustadt, said, `The greatest
power of the presidency is the power to persuade.' And what Barack Obama brings is incredible
communication skills, proven judgment. You look at his meteoric rise in politics and you see a guy
who deals with people well, who understands issues, who brings people together and who has good
judgment in moving forward. And I think what we need to do, Bob, is we need to stop talking about
the old politics of left and right and we need to pull together and move the country forward. And I
think that's what Barack Obama will do for America.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you went so far as to say that you thought John McCain was, quote, and these
are your words, "untested and untried." And I must say, I had to read that twice, because you're
talking about somebody who was a prisoner of war, he was a squadron commander of the largest
squadron in the Navy, he's been on the Senate Armed Services Committee for lo these many years.
How can you say that John McCain is untested and untried, General?

Gen. CLARK: Because in the matters of national security policy making, it's a matter of
understanding risk, it's a matter of gauging your opponents and it's a matter of being held
accountable. John McCain's never done any of that in his official positions. I certainly honor his
service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands of millions of others
in the armed forces as a prisoner of war. He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services
Committee and he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn't held executive responsibility. That
large squadron in the Navy that he commanded wasn't a wartime squadron. He hasn't been there and
ordered the bombs to fall. He hasn't seen what it's like when diplomats come in and say, `I don't
know whether we're going to be able to get this point through or not. Do you want to take the risk?
What about your reputation? How do we handle it publicly?'

SCHIEFFER: Well...

Gen. CLARK: He hasn't made those calls, Bob. So...

SCHIEFFER: Well, General, maybe--could I just interrupt you?

Gen. CLARK: Sure.

SCHIEFFER: I have to say, Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences either, nor has he
ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down. I mean...

Gen. CLARK: Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification
to be president.

SCHIEFFER: Really?

Gen. CLARK: But Barack is not--he is not running on the fact that he has made these national
security pronouncements, he's running on his other strengths. He's running on the strengths of
character, on the strengths of his communication skills, on the strengths of his judgment, and those
are qualities that we seek in our national leadership.
The way I read is that General Clark doesn't think McCain has foreign policy and command experience and that it doesn't matter that Obama doesn't either because Obama knows how to communicate.

Amazingly vapid.
7.19.2008 6:45pm
LM (mail):
Dave N:

According to The New York Times, "In 1988," Mr. Atwater said, "fighting Dukakis, I said that I 'would strip the bark off the little bastard' and 'make Willie Horton his running mate.' I am sorry for both statements: the first for its naked cruelty, the second because it makes me sound racist, which I am not."

I don't read that apology as Atwater admitting the 1988 Bush campaign was racist.

That's consistent with my recollection. I agree he's not admitting the Bush campaign was racist, but it's a fair inference that he wouldn't blame anyone who got the impression it was.
7.19.2008 6:48pm
ERF (mail):
My understanding is that, among other differences, Kerry was in Vietnam for four and a half months, from November 17, 1968 to the first of April, 1969, versus McCain's something like six years. Kerry was not captured, or imprisoned, or seriously wounded, or tortured. McCain also had more experience in military command, both during and after his time in Vietnam.
7.19.2008 6:51pm
dr:
hey erf, do you still have your purple bandaid from the republican convention, or did you sell it on e-bay?
7.19.2008 7:04pm
Brian K (mail):
"John Kerry has yet to be heard this year returning the favor."

when someone denigrates mccains service, i fully expect him to. but, assuming your examples are the worst out there, no one has come close to the level of swift boaters in veracity or prominence.
7.19.2008 7:07pm
LM (mail):
Dave,

The way I read is that General Clark doesn't think McCain has foreign policy and command experience and that it doesn't matter that Obama doesn't either because Obama knows how to communicate.

Amazingly vapid.

I'm confused. Haven't you been arguing that Wesley Clark denigrated McCain's military service? Because that transcript couldn't make it clearer how incorrect that is. But if I've misunderstood, and what you've really been trying to get at is that Wesley Clark is a pathetically inept spokesman for Obama's candidacy, then I apologize for the confusion. You're absolutely right.
7.19.2008 7:07pm
ERF (mail):
I didn't realize this was the Democratic Underground website. Sorry for my mistake. Goodbye.
7.19.2008 7:10pm
Dave N (mail):
LM,

A Daily Kos diarist claims McCain and his being a POW is somehow not heroic because McCain had no choice in the matter.

Jeffrey Klein in the Huffington Post appears to be claiming that McCain got off softly as a POW and is embelishing his military record.

Ben Smith at the Politico has chronicled it here.

Or does Ben Smith share the same fantasy the "the rightwing blogosphere" and I do?
7.19.2008 7:12pm
LM (mail):
ERF,

When we hold a national referendum on which of McCain and Kerry made the longer, more heroic sacrifice, you have my word that like everyone else I'll be voting for McCain. But what exactly was your point?
7.19.2008 7:13pm
hawkins:

John Kerry has yet to be heard this year returning the favor.


Because you're the only one who believes Democrats are denigrating McCain! It really shows your blind partisanship that you see this phantom denigration yet do not believe Atwater at least exploited racism in 1988.
7.19.2008 7:14pm
ERF (mail):
I was responding to the 6:04 PM comment. I should have been clearer.
7.19.2008 7:17pm
Dave N (mail):
hawkins,

I am not alone. I realize we likely cross-posted, but I will add Andrew Sullivan to the list of those who agree with me.

And I don't think you or anyone else would accuse Andrew Sullivan of being blindly partisan.
7.19.2008 7:20pm
dr:
erf, my suggestion was that this:


Kerry was not captured, or imprisoned, or seriously wounded, or tortured.


made you sound like the very swiftboaters who wore purple bandaids on the floor of the republican convention in 2004 in order to nakedly denigrate john kerry's purple hearts. perhaps I should have been clearer.

but i didn't realize that made me a member of the democratic underground. whatever that is.


that said, i believe hawkins was asking what your point was with the statement to which I was responding, not to your strangely wounded response to me.
7.19.2008 7:32pm
hawkins:
I just watched the Clark clip for the first time. I dont know what Sullivan sees, but its even less offensive than I assumed. He stated that he honored McCain's service and that McCain was a hero to him, but that those experiences have nothing to do with being president. What exactly is offensive of denigrating in that?!?
7.19.2008 7:37pm
MarkField (mail):

A Daily Kos diarist claims McCain and his being a POW is somehow not heroic because McCain had no choice in the matter.


That's not much different than relying on a comment here. That hardly makes for a concerted effort by Dems to denigrate McCain. Now, if kos himself made such a post, that's a different story (just as it would be very different if one of the posters here said some of the things the commenters say).


Jeffrey Klein in the Huffington Post appears to be claiming that McCain got off softly as a POW and is embelishing his military record.


I'm not sure about the "got off softly" part, but he is challenging McCain's overall service record.


Or does Ben Smith share the same fantasy the "the rightwing blogosphere" and I do?


His examples duplicate yours to a substantial extent. His additional ones represent the real fringe, hardly mainstream Democrats. Nor have these comments received the press attention or advertising of the Swift Boat thugs.


I will add Andrew Sullivan to the list of those who agree with me.


Sullivan's only sources were Politico and the Wesley Clark interview (which I think is erroneously included).

Again, the notion that these few examples are somehow equivalent to the Swift Boaters strikes me as far-fetched.
7.19.2008 7:54pm
LM (mail):
Dave,

I never said there's nobody out there flinging this sort of crap. I said I hadn't seen it, and this is in fact the first I'm seeing any of it except for the Wesley Clark comment. It's a pretty big internet, and there are plenty of sleaze bags on both sides of the aisle. But so far this is nothing more than isolated shots in the dark by the sort of creeps who trade in that stuff. The real question is what happens on day two. We know how quickly and energetically the Swift Boat Campaign was taken up by the mainstream right. I guess we'll have to wait and see if that happens on the left. But it hasn't yet and I predict it won't. Still, I've been wrong before, and if I am again I'll admit it. But until then, you've shown us nothing that doesn't qualify as "dog bites man."

(BTW, I'd also dispute that, apart from the Americablog piece, anything you've shown is remotely comparable to the Swift Boat stuff in its rank vitriol. But that's an argument I'm content to save for another day, if any when it actually ripens into something relevant.)
7.19.2008 7:57pm
Dave N (mail):
His examples duplicate yours to a substantial extent. His additional ones represent the real fringe, hardly mainstream Democrats. Nor have these comments received the press attention or advertising of the Swift Boat thugs.
So if and when George Soros or others of his ilk do start advertising this crap, you will loudly condemn it?
7.19.2008 8:02pm
Dave N (mail):
MarkField,

I don't read Kos so maybe I am wrong (simple Google searches today found every cite I have provided), but a diarist on Kos appears to have posting authority much akin to say, Jim Lindgrin or Orin Kerr, since there are comments following the post.

Now maybe Kos allows diarists without too much restriction (I neither know nor care) but I certainly don't have a separate comment thread when I post here.
7.19.2008 8:11pm
hawkins:

but I certainly don't have a separate comment thread when I post here.


What do you think this is?


On a side note, Romney just denigrated Obama's good works by saying his days a 'community organizer' do not qualify him to be president.
7.19.2008 8:16pm
TLB (mail) (www):
twitterwillow says: If McCain were to throw away his "reformist" perspective and argue fervently of the need to enforce immigration law, I think it would be a winning issue. He would be demonized by the media, but he would have the majority of the public on his side.

Part of the reason why he won't do that is because he's corrupt: he most likely gets donations from those who profit from illegal activity. He's also quite sheltered, and he might actually think that the NCLR is something other than a far-left group. And, he might actually believe some of the other idiotic things he says.

However, it might be possible to force him to take that position by making it very difficult for him to support "reform".

To do that, go to one of his appearances, press him on this issue, then upload his response to video sharing sites. Others have tried to pin him down and failed, but surely someone who's familiar with asking real questions can do a better job.
7.19.2008 8:27pm
EH (mail):
Now maybe Kos allows diarists without too much restriction (I neither know nor care) but I certainly don't have a separate comment thread when I post here.

It's low enough that Karl Rove could have authored the piece, for all we know.
7.19.2008 8:46pm
MarkField (mail):

So if and when George Soros or others of his ilk do start advertising this crap, you will loudly condemn it?


I'll condemn anyone who does it, as loudly as I can.


I don't read Kos so maybe I am wrong (simple Google searches today found every cite I have provided), but a diarist on Kos appears to have posting authority much akin to say, Jim Lindgrin or Orin Kerr, since there are comments following the post.


I read kos but have never posted there. As I understand it, the only ones equivalent to the professors here are those whose posts appear on the left hand side of the page. The right hand side contains posts which any person who registers can make. Aside from the registration requirement, those commenters are the equivalent of you and me. Only not as good. :)
7.19.2008 8:51pm
LM (mail):
I see as usual Mark has gotten to it faster and no doubt better, but since this time mine isn't entirely duplicative I'll post it anyway.

Dave,

So if and when George Soros or others of his ilk do start advertising this crap, you will loudly condemn it?

That depends on what the definition of "it" is.

- I'd certainly condemn, as I do now, anything like the Americablog piece, even if it's factually accurate (I don't know whether McCain ever made such a video, but it doesn't matter).

- I thought the Huffington Post piece was pointless, but mostly innocuous, since it disputed a New York Times article, not McCain's personal version of events. In fact it seemed to rely on McCain's book to dispute the Times' version. I think there may have been some incidental material I found mildly annoying.

- The Kos diarist was just clueless. He was mostly asking, not telling. I disagree with how he defines heroism, but there's nothing inherently offensive about his definition. The quality of the diary was beneath that of the average comment on this thread. It's not worth spending even this much time on, except to point out that it's a big deal only to those for whom it validates their deterministic narrative about the left.

- The Rockefeller comment buried a fair point beneath an abysmal tone and, I suspect, an inadvertently offensive implication.

- I think attempts to shout down comments like Harkins' or Clark's for allegedly denigrating McCain's military service should be condemned.
7.19.2008 8:58pm
steve l. (mail):
...no one has come close to the level of swift boaters in veracity...

have to say I'm in complete agreement with that, but then, are you sure that's the word you wanted to use?

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/veracity
7.19.2008 9:21pm
Brian K (mail):
have to say I'm in complete agreement with that, but then, are you sure that's the word you wanted to use?

congrats on catching a typo! you deserve a gold star!

it should be "voracity"
7.19.2008 11:20pm
Hoosier:
McCain should choose Marsha Blackburn as his running-mate.


And Sarah Palin should go camping with me.
7.19.2008 11:55pm
Benjamin Coates (mail):
On a side note, Romney just denigrated Obama's good works by saying his days a 'community organizer' do not qualify him to be president.

What good works? I haven't heard a lot from Obama supporters about this period aside from a vague idea that he's a good guy for doing whatever it was he did before he went into electoral politics instead of being a corporate lawyer.
7.20.2008 3:32am
AKD:

Senator Jay Rockefeller: "McCain was a fighter pilot, who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when they hit.

"What happened when they [the missiles] get to the ground? He doesn't know. You have to care about the lives of people. McCain never gets into those issues."


The cravenness of the attack aside, it is also incredibly ignorant. McCain was shot down flying at 4,500 feet while dropping unguided bombs on power plant in the Hanoi area, at the time one of the most heavily defended places on earth. Not that he would have been that much safer at 35,000 feet as North Vietnam's air defenses (including 45,000 ft. ceiling surface-to-air missiles and advanced Soviet fighters) were rapidly reaching their peak in late 1967.
7.20.2008 3:33am
Psalm91 (mail):
"Irony of irony, BrianK, is that John McCain sharply criticized the Swift Boaters and came to John Kerry's defense.

John Kerry has yet to be heard this year returning the favor."

Because:

1. There have been no comparable attacks on McCain; and

2. The Swiftboaters, i.e., Bud Day, are now part of the McCain campaign.

By the way, this thread, in both the Obama and McCain sub-threads, is now almost 24 hours old, and there is still not one positive statement attesting to McCain's qualifications or judgement. Pretty telling admission that his supporters are silent on this matter.
7.20.2008 4:20am
MarkField (mail):

The cravenness of the attack aside, it is also incredibly ignorant.


You expected something more from Jay Rockefeller?????
7.20.2008 12:19pm
lawrefugee:
Why McCain?

(1) On the military, he's got a strong track record on the issues that matter most. Following 9/11, he wanted to expand the military; Bush didn't and we're paying the cost now. He's also been a perceptive critic of Bush's handling of the post-invasion from a perspective that indicates he wants to win, not just make political points.

(2) On social issues, he's conservative but not doctrinaire. Given his personal life, how could he be? I think it's a fair statement to say that most parents/voters believe that they should be able to pass on the middle-class values of success without: (a) constant attacks from the relativist left esp. from schools; and (b) without cramming down their values from the federal govt.

(3) On economic issues, he's generally right. Free trade is an immense good, but it causes dislocation for some. Better to treat the symptom than go all Hoot-Smawley. Deficit reduction, attacks on pork and a simplified tax code are all good things. He fought the tax cuts from Bush because he had a different (dare I say better) priorities, but in a struggling economy he's not putting a large damper back on. Is that perfect? No. Understandable? Yes.

(4) On immigration, he wants to achieve a solution. Sometimes he fails to give those with issues over the size, scope and expense of illegal immigration their due, but his version of the middle ground is better than the Dems. I'm for pretty open legal immigration, but after the problems after '86, the lack of political will, and the perception that both parties just want to keep driving down wages in the sectors most affected, enforcement needs stressing as well -- particularly on employers.

(5) Throughout his career, McCain has shown a capacity to work both sides of the aisle, to adopt to events as they change, and to get these things done. Obama has yet to DO any of those things with the possible exception of the Lugar bill re: nukes.

(6) McCain also clearly stands for something in addition to or beyond his own self-aggrandizement. He's put his political career at risk in ways that are foreign to 99.9% of the elected establishment.

(7) McCain will demand competence. Bush didn't and we see where that got us. I think Obama is slightly better than Bush on this score, but it is too beholden to the traditional democratic interests and ideologies to really make a mark.

(8) McCain is right on judges. I don't want right-leaning judges because they'll simply put their own biases into constitutional law; I want them because they generally throw more issues into the political realm where WE can make a difference, debate them and move forward with sloppy, non-doctrinaire compromises. And that's the essence of a working democracy.

(11) McCain understands foreign policy in a way that neither Bush nor Obama ever appeared to. He's been talking to world leaders for twenty-odd years; Obama can't even show up to run a committee on one of the most pressing issues this country faces.

(12) McCain is on the right side of the '60s divide. To their detriment, the Democrats just can't seem to get over 1968. This primary would have been great time to do it, but once again they picked a candidate who veered left in the primary and is saddled with an updated version of the same cultural baggage. At some point, they may fully get the memo that Americans don't like being told they're the problem in a world filled with genocide, corruption, lack of sacrifice from the developed world, etc. Perfect? No. A general source of good? We like to think so.
7.20.2008 12:29pm
Thoughtful (mail):
David Starr: "We are within spitting distance of beating Al Quada and setting up a real democracy in Iraq."

Latest edition of Guinness Book of World Records:

"Spitting distance: David Starr...."
7.20.2008 1:21pm
LM (mail):
Hoosier,

Mrs. Hoosier came around here looking for you. She was muttering something about Sarah Palin.
7.20.2008 4:06pm
TLB (mail) (www):
Regarding lawrefugee's #4, the positions of McCain, BHO, and the MexicanGovernment are all pretty much the same, and none are "middle ground". All are radical plans that will have a disastrous impact on the U.S. And, all those plans will give even more power inside the U.S. to the far-left, racial power groups, corrupt business groups, the MexicanGovernment, and all the rest. They'll use that increased power to make sure that enforcement doesn't happen. They already fight against enforcement in every way possible, and they'll simply ramp that up from a stronger position.
7.20.2008 4:15pm
Daedalus (mail):
McCain may hold the high ground on many positions, but his very poor delivery of his thoughts scare me almost as much as BO's radical socialist positions. If these two guys are the best a country of 300 million can put forth, then we have truly sunk to a position where the future of the country is questionable at best.......
7.20.2008 4:23pm
lawrefugee:
IMHO, McCain's much better at delivering his message when he just talks then speeches, although on occasion he puts together a pretty decent speech. His biggest weakness is the big-event stump speech.

But he's many, many times more eloquent then Bush. It's a low bar, but it's what we have.
7.20.2008 6:41pm
Hoosier:
LM--Did you tell her I was camping "with the guys"? Please?
7.20.2008 7:59pm
Cliff (mail):
As typical, liberals ignore the issue and scream racism:

Yes, what this campaign needs is more racist appeal.

You said it, not me. I said they needed to humiliate Obama for his amateurish and unserious policy positions, blatant politically motivated flip-flops and almost complete lack of serious experience.

If that's racist, call me Louis Farrakan.


Even Atwater repenbted before his death. Is this the best you can offer for Senator McCain; "kill the opponent"? A very telling admission.


I won't even get in to Atwater's "repentance" which I doubt you'd understand on several levels anyway, but yes, "Killer Instinct" is a very important political commodity and no person who's ever won the Presidency has lacked it.

So in short, yes, I believe in hardball politics, especially when self-righteous morons such as yourself glibly accuse people of racism with no evidence in an attempt to score political points and then have the sheer audacity to accuse the other side of playing too dirty.

Oh, and Atwater didn't do the Willie Horton ad that you were so upset about because it made your guy lose because it was "racist". It was an outside group. Oh, and Dukakis would have lost anyway.
7.20.2008 8:45pm
EH (mail):
So in short, yes, I believe in hardball politics, especially when self-righteous morons such as yourself glibly accuse people of racism with no evidence in an attempt to score political points and then have the sheer audacity to accuse the other side of playing too dirty.

And what exactly makes a statement like "morons such as yourself" not moronic? You don't sound as doddering and half-dead as McCain, so surely you have a good reason even if it's because you aren't given to an appreciation of contour and subtlety.

Pretty strange that Atwater would apologize for an ad that he had nothing to do with, eh?
7.20.2008 9:07pm
LM (mail):
Hoosier,

I told her that after some phone call you ran out abruptly, grinning and humming "God Bless America." I didn't say anything wrong, did I?
7.20.2008 9:31pm
LM (mail):
This being a McCain thread, I'll throw in my positive two cents about him. As much as I prefer Obama, I'd nonetheless consider a McCain win a big step forward. Within the limitations of political necessity, he shows a lot of character. And politically I like that since he's reviled by both extremes he could probably be expected to govern perforce from the middle. And I'm guessing there'd be lots of free beer for everybody.
7.21.2008 12:50am
Psalm91 (mail):
Cliff:

Thank you for your revealing post, in which you counter mine with nothing but reflexive invective. I am not a "liberal", nor a "moron" (remember the parable of the man who called another "fool"), nor was I a supporter of Dukakis, but I do have a pretty good understanding of repentance. Any righteousness I have is not from my own efforts. I will be pleased to discuss theology with you if you like.
7.21.2008 3:10am
Cliff (mail):
Thank you for your revealing post, in which you counter mine

I didn't counter yours. You would have had to make a point in order for me to counter it. You didn't make a point. You accused me of racism and declared the conversation over. That's not an argument, that's a pose that someone without an argument takes.
7.21.2008 8:53am
Patrick216:
Like many commenters here, I fear McCain is a very sub-par candidate. It's truly a shame, because Obama is an empty suit with a glass jaw -- and support for him declines precipitiously when that fact is brought to the American people's attention. The proof of that is in the Democratic primaries. Once Hillary fired her incompetent campaign managers and brought new ones in (and got James Carville out of retirement to assist her behind the scenes), she pulverized Obama and came dangerously close to pulling off a "come from behind" win.

But McCain is just old, tired, and boring. He doesn't inspire Republicans and doesn't provide leadership. He has no message and despite the fact that he's running several concurrent national ads (and Obama is running no ads), Obama is beating him in earned media 3:1. Even this thread talks about Obama more than McCain!

This election will go down as being a major missed opportunity for Republicans. The only plus side is that the Dems are so focused on Obama that the DNC has virtually no money this season, whereas the RNC has a ton. I suspect that once the conventions are over and Obama has a solid statistical lead, the RNC will pull the plug on funding for McCain, effectively conceding to Obama, and will focus on trying to preserve as many House, Senate, and Governor seats as possible. That way, when Obama implodes within the first two years of his administration (which will, without a doubt, happen), we're poised to take back Congress.
7.21.2008 10:29am
Eli Rabett (www):
Over on the Obama thread, one Zarkov is going on and on with

To draw inferences about BHO's class standing, we need accurate information about HLS's grading system and the correlation between LSAT scores and grades. If the tests are easy enough (normed to the high talent pool they have) then a student's class standing could have a large random component making the correlation between grades and LSAT weak. In other words class standing might not be an indicator of ability. Thus a good but nevertheless middle ability student could end up in the upper 10% by chance alone.


Now, we know that McCain graduated fifth from the bottom in his class, so, we can Zarkov that he really had failed and only graduated because he benefited from AA (Admiral's Action) or he deserved to fail, and only got through by luck. We also know that naval aviators are usually recruited from the top of the class. Again, McCain benefited from AA. And finally, he crashed three planes on his own indicating that he was not such a good flyer. FWIW
7.21.2008 12:15pm
David Starr (mail) (www):

David Starr: Actually, if you read the news this morning there are the stirrings of possibility that Iraq as a war is being taken off the election table. Unless you want to say that Maliki is abandoning Iraq as well, you'll have to rethink your sense of the landscape of this election.


If the Iraqi government truly says that they can survive a US withdrawal, then we have won the Iraq war. But. Does Der Spiegel have it right? They are the only ones who say Maliki endorsed Obama's 16 month pullout plan. Others dispute Der Spiegel's slant on the story.
The American war aim in Iraq is to deny the country to Al Quada by establishing a decent and democratic Iraqi government strong enough to control the country. We are close to achieving that aim. Talk about American pullout by the new Iraqi government is a very encouraging sign pointing to success. Let's celebrate it as such.
7.21.2008 12:52pm
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmmmm.

"Does Der Spiegel have it right? They are the only ones who say Maliki endorsed Obama's 16 month pullout plan. Others dispute Der Spiegel's slant on the story."

No it's a mangled quote deliberate manipulated to make Obama look good.

What's missing is Maliki's caveat "if conditions continue to improve".
7.21.2008 2:47pm
PLR:
Speaking as a 49 year old lawyer, this contest is no contest. But even if McCain were not a volatile septuagenarian with little command of facts, law or economics, he has thrown his lot in with the despicable KKK,* and I cannot support him. Obama seems to have taken on their soul sister Ms. Albright, but I am cautiously optimistic that we will not see her face around the nation's capital after the inauguration.



________________________
*Kristol, Krauthammer and the Kagan clan.
7.21.2008 2:51pm
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmmmm.

"Now, we know that McCain graduated fifth from the bottom in his class, so, we can Zarkov that he really had failed and only graduated because he benefited from AA (Admiral's Action) or he deserved to fail, and only got through by luck. We also know that naval aviators are usually recruited from the top of the class. Again, McCain benefited from AA. And finally, he crashed three planes on his own indicating that he was not such a good flyer. FWIW"

1. Frankly I don't like McCain but where is this info that he graduated *5th* from the bottom? And is that source of information something that can be trusted or simply another example of astroturfing?

2. Unlike the jets of today the jets during the Vietnam War sucked. The crash rate, and death rate, were many times what they are today and that's without combat included.

Additionally McCain was a **naval aviator**.

I challenge you to land a combat jet, at night, in a heavy rainstorm on the pitching deck of an aircraft carrier that not only pitches an arc of over 15 feet but also yaws as well.

So before casting aspersions like this I'd suggest you look in a mirror as ask yourself if you're really this stupid.
7.21.2008 2:53pm
Angus:
Re: The McCain editorial being rejected. After reading both of them, I can see the NYTime's point. Obama's editorial is outlining his plan, mentioning McCain's disagreement fleetingly only twice. Mcain's seems to be one long extended middle finger saying, "F--- you, Obama!".
7.21.2008 3:10pm
Shelby (mail):
Not a fan of this policy of ghettoizing comments. An open thread is fine, but redirecting comments on specific posts to a generic thread is really annoying.
7.21.2008 3:13pm
Hoosier:
ed--Thanks for not making me issue the b****-slap to Eli.

I am a McCain admirer. I am not a fan of GWB in any way, however. And yet I recall being brought up short when I overdid the criticism of Bush's decision to serve in the Texas Air National Guard. I made a comment about how "safe" that choice was. My friend in the aviation field pointed out how dangerous it was to fly the F-102. More were lost in crashes in Vietnam than in combat.

I don't take back the assessment that Bush took a safER path than had he taken his chances with the regular military. But he certainly was in more danger than was, say, Cheney.


But since Eli (above) seems to be including the plane lost in the Forrestal fire as one of the three McCain lost "on his own," I think your slap-down was quite gentle.
7.21.2008 3:13pm
ChrisIowa (mail):

Now, we know that McCain graduated fifth from the bottom in his class,


General McClellan (Civil War) graduated at the top of his class, but could make no progress towards winning despite a large advantage in numbers. It took General Grant, who graduated at the bottom of his class, to do the hard stuff needed to get the War won.

McCain knew early on what was needed to get the war won in Iraq, and said so.
7.21.2008 3:19pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I wonder how many drafts the NYT required of the "General Betrayus" ad.
I presume there are some who will pretend to believe that the editor in question is telling the truth when he says he objects to the style...?
7.21.2008 3:24pm
ehrlichman:
Let's not jump to conclusions. If the Times has asked for editorials from candidates before, does it retain some kind of editorial control or authority? How many drafts did Obama need to submit? This might be an unfair exclusion of McCain or a regualar step in the process.

The corollary is the story on the Huffington Post that a New Yorker writer was excluded from Obama's press plane, perhaps because of the controversial cover cartoon last week. It could also be due to the fact that there were more than 200 media members seeking 40 spots on the plane.
7.21.2008 3:26pm
Jay (mail):
Im more interested in the facts of the story, pertaining to the circumstances of the NY Times rejection of a McCain piece.

To my friends on the left, does it give you pause, do you question your allegiances, do you feel the need to reevaluate at all, the facts on which you base your beliefs... when it is routinely shown that the facts pushed out to the consumer's of news are so slanted as to NOT inform, but to influence, decidedly in your direction?

Its HARD to admit one has been duped. As a conservative, Ive had to do so a few times. But its better to recalibrate and progress, than to believe a known falsehood.

If I were a true believer of the left, I would be even MORE skeptical of "facts" in the fishwraps. David Shipley apparently thinks he can do your thinking for you.
7.21.2008 3:32pm
AntonK (mail):
Yes, the NYTimes refuses to run McCain's op-ed, but they've got no problem running op-eds by spokesmen for Hamas, along with a pathetic defense of that decision: The Danger of the One-Sided Debate - New York Times.
7.21.2008 3:36pm
Paul B:
McCain should not waste any further resources on rallying the conservative base, as the folks at the New York Times have graciously volunteered to take on that task for him.
7.21.2008 3:38pm
hawkins:
McCain's argument is factually wrong - we already did win in Iraq, remember?!?!
7.21.2008 3:41pm
JAL (mail):
Psalm 91 -- Bud Day is not / was not one of the a "Swiftboaters." He did appear in an anti-Kerry ad as did other vets and Swiftboaters.

And FWIW (Alert: Rabbit trail) -- Have the claims of the Swiftboaters been disproved? Why hasn't Kerry sued them? Did anyone claim Pickens' prize? Where is The Hat? SBers are an exampe of cultural rewrite of history. The implication is that Swiftboating = promoting lies to derail Kerry. That is not correct.

Using "Swiftboating" is a Democrat code for dirty lying politics in an ad hominum manner on their opposition. Too bad someone brought it up with John McCain.

John McCain has more positive character, integrity, wisdom, substance and experience than BHO. Get real. Obama has NO experience. He didn't even bother to do the job he did have in the Senate (for what -- way less than 200 days). If he was so concerned about Afghanistan, why didn't he use his position in the Senate NATO committee to fix the problem? Or even inform himself. This man simply does NOT KNOW what he is doing. I want adults -- not kids in short pants and 1960s rejects children represnting America to the world and making decisons for me.
7.21.2008 3:47pm
hawkins:

Why hasn't Kerry sued them?


It's nearly impossible to prove
7.21.2008 3:53pm
byomtov (mail):
Did anyone claim Pickens' prize?

But Pickens has been backing and filling and crawfishing and slip-sliding and side-stepping and hemming and hawing and doing anything he can to avoid paying up.
7.21.2008 3:59pm
Jim Rhoads (mail):
I studied government, history and law from 1957 until 1965 with a year and a half off for full time employment to fund my law school education.

Throughout that period, I seldom missed a day reading the NYT from front page to back. It was part of my education in current events.

During election campaigns, the speeches of both candidates were generally printed verbatim, as were transcripts of debates and interviews like on Meet The Press. (Major Supreme Court decisions were also printed complete with dissents.)

IMO, it would have been inconceivable back then for the NYT to pull the kind of stuff we are discussing. Ike and Nixon got equal time with Adlai and JFK. That was despite the Times' well-known antipaty for all things Republican.

I hate to sound like an old fart, but wouldn't it really be nice to have the NYT return to its traditional role as the "paper of record"? What the candidates actually say is the "news". Not just what the NYT deigns to print.
7.21.2008 4:05pm
Eli Rabett (www):
a. McCain graduates fifth from bottom of his class. Believe it


b. In reverse order

1. Shot down in Vietnam
2. Plane destroyed by a loose rocked from another plane on a carrier deck

No fault for either of those


3. Flamed out in a trainer on the way to an Army/Navy game
4. Took out a bunch of electrical transmission wires on the Iberian Peninsula
5. Screwed up a landing into Corpus Christi Bay
7.21.2008 4:11pm
Anon1ms (mail):
It seems to me that the reason the NYT rejected the article submitted by the McCain campaign is that it was not a companion piece to Obama's "My Plan for Iraq," in that it appears McCain's submission did not deal with his plan for Iraq, but rather just an argument against Obama's.

Rather than spell out his plan for the future, for the most part McCain's article is backward looking, outlining how, in his opinion, we got to where we are, but not how he plans to solve the problems that remain.
7.21.2008 4:15pm
Kazinski:
While McCain's editorial does a good job of pointing out how badly Obama's Iraq policy would have turned out a year or two years ago, Iraq simply won't be much of an issue in this years campaign. The war is over for all intents and purposes, and it is too far won for Obama to screw it up now. McCain was spot on in his judgement about the surge but it won't do him any good with the electorate now, ask George H.W. Bush about 1992 or even Winston Churchill about 1945. Voters don't care much about even the recent past.

The key to victory for McCain is focusing on an energy plan that emphasizes drill now, algea later. Obama isn't going to win over the war hawks, and McCain is going to take the climate change vote, but there are enough voters in the middle that are concerned about economic issues to swing the election to either side. Obama has the edge with these voters now, but they can be pried away, because Obama's platform will do nothing to lower energy prices, now or in the future. If McCain can convince these voters that his plan can reduce oil prices, while still paying at least lip service to future sources of new energy then he can take the election. Because voters understand that lower energy prices mean a healthier economy.

None of Obama's policies, and the voters understand this, will result in a healthier economy, all they will do is try to put bandaids on where poeple are hurting. If that is all that can be done, then the voters will settle for that. They just need to be convinced we can do better.
7.21.2008 4:17pm
CherryGhost:
From the FNC's reporting of the Times' justification:


It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama’s piece. To that end, the article would have to articulate, in concrete terms, how Senator McCain defines victory in Iraq. It would also have to lay out a clear plan for achieving victory — with troops levels, timetables and measures for compelling the Iraqis to cooperate. And it would need to describe the Senator’s Afghanistan strategy, spelling out how it meshes with his Iraq plan


Having read McCain's piece (in comparison to Obama's), I think this is a very fair criticism and a understandable editorial decision. That said, from a political perspective it makes much more sense for McCain to write something he knows the Times won't publish then run to the blogs wait for the umbrage to begin. Who (of us) knows if the piece was written with that in mind, but as a post hoc strategy it's pretty good.
7.21.2008 4:36pm
Passing By:
McCain's "editorial" is a campaign ad against Obama. If he wants to run it, he can pay for the ad space. I'm sure they would be happy to print McCain's contrary viewpoint, if he is capable of actually articulating his policy. But they are quite correct to reject an attack ad under the guise of editorial response.
7.21.2008 4:38pm
Paul B:
Jim Rhoads, your memory is failing you. The New York Times was a Republican paper on its editorial page during the 1950s and endorsed Ike both times. Newspapers were overwhelmingly Republican at that time, and Adlai Stevenson gave a speech in which he criticized the "one party press." How times have changed.

Your larger point, namely that the Times attempted to be meticulous in separating its news coverage from its editorial views back then, is spot on.
7.21.2008 4:42pm
Oren:
McCain's "editorial" is a campaign ad against Obama. If he wants to run it, he can pay for the ad space. I'm sure they would be happy to print McCain's contrary viewpoint, if he is capable of actually articulating his policy. But they are quite correct to reject an attack ad under the guise of editorial response.
Absolutely agreed, with the caveat that they should promulgate an official policy on op-eds by candidates that sets out the specific requirements.
7.21.2008 4:50pm
Jim Rhoads (mail):
If McCain chooses to rebut Obama with an op-ed "attack ad" why not publish it and point it out on the editorial page?

Let the discussion of the two approaches differentiate the candidates. Why try to control them?
7.21.2008 5:08pm
MarkField (mail):

Bud Day is not / was not one of the a "Swiftboaters."


While it's not definitive, this article says he was. In any case, he appeared in more than one ad.
7.21.2008 5:11pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Obama did not write his op-ed as a disinterested pundit. He must have seen some possible benefit for the campaign for him.
McCain's op-ed is a benefit for him because it points out that Obama was wrong. You can't prove something won't work in the future, no matter how unlikely success is, because it hasn't yet happened.
You can show what happened in the past. Talking about Obama's plans for the future suffers from the same problem. He can't be proven wrong. Looking at the past we can see where he was wrong.
That's an important datum.
Looking forward is the tactic of the guy who screwed up in the past.
"That's history," means that, although I screwed up, I am not about to learn from it, and you shouldn't.
7.21.2008 5:16pm
Curious Passerby (mail):
Newspapers were overwhelmingly Republican at that time

In 1936 the Chicago Tribune published a box on the from page each day with the "number of days remaining to save America" by defeating Roosevelt in the November election. Yes, times have changed...
7.21.2008 5:26pm
JRL:

It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama’s piece. To that end, the article would have to articulate, in concrete terms, how Senator McCain defines victory in Iraq. It would also have to lay out a clear plan for achieving victory — with troops levels, timetables and measures for compelling the Iraqis to cooperate. And it would need to describe the Senator’s Afghanistan strategy, spelling out how it meshes with his Iraq plan


I understand the Times has agreed to publish McCain's economic plan provided he says exactly how much he plans to raise taxes on the rich, how much he plans to raise capital gains taxes, how much of a "windfall profits" tax he plans to impose, what percentage of our health care system he's plans to socialize (so long as it's more than 60%) and how much he plans to immediately raise CAFE standards.

This is more than bias or being in the tank, this is just plan arrogant.
7.21.2008 5:29pm
JRL:
plan s/b plain

Regardless, it's gross.
7.21.2008 5:31pm
rarango (mail):
Looks like a whole lit of bytes have been maimed and abused re McCain's service--I for one would like to posit the reverse chicken hawk card--If you havent been a viet nam vet and/or POW, you cant comment and if you do, you're talking out of your ass.

That said--While I think Obama is a totally empty suit, McCain does not impress me as having any fire in his belly. He can run on such issues as: gas prices and a do nothing congress who clearly prefers to keep high gas prices because they, the dems, think they have the issue; he could run on the media's performance in covering Obama and the increasing view (according to Rasmussen) that the media is in the tank for Obama; he could run on the importance of having a divided government and the danger of legislative and executive branches in the same hands.
He has failed to pick up on such stupid Obama statements as every child should speak spanish. In short, if McCain handles the country as well as he is handling his campaign, I am having serious doubts. The only thing I am sure of, is that I am voting against Obama.
7.21.2008 5:35pm
SIG357:
Every time I watch McCain give a speech, my heart sinks. This is the best the Republicans could come up with?


Don't blame him on Republicans. It was independents and Democrats voting in open primaries who handed the nomination to McCain. Now that's a real Operation Chaos.
7.21.2008 5:36pm
Jim Rhoads (mail):
From 1957 to 1965, there was a more Democratic than Republican slant IIRC, Paul. For example, IIRC, I don't think it endorsed Nixon or Goldwater in 1960 and 1964. But I may be wrong.

Still I don't think it would have been pulling the stunt we are commenting about.
7.21.2008 5:46pm
SIG357:
If these two guys are the best a country of 300 million can put forth, then we have truly sunk to a position where the future of the country is questionable at best.......

They're not the best the country can produce. They are the best that our broken and corrupt "two party" political system can manage.
7.21.2008 5:49pm
rarango (mail):
I doubt that the NYT's refusual to run an infomercial for Obama, and not McCain is going to surprise anyone--This doesnt hurt McCain as I doubt that any of the NYT niche readership was going to change their minds. But the fact that they refused to run it is a great campaign issue and plays into the increasing belief that the media is in the tank for BO
7.21.2008 5:51pm
Jim at FSU (mail):

Every time I watch McCain give a speech, my heart sinks. This is the best the Republicans could come up with?


No, it's the best the California, NY, etc could come up with. McCain only got the nomination because of the republican's winner-take all approach and the fact that McCain appeals to liberals more than the other republican candidates do. This would be an advantage if Obama wasn't noticeably more charismatic than McCain. Unfortunately...

Obama's charisma is probably going to win the day unless he makes a catastrophic mistake of some sort. And with the mainstream media running constant interference for him, I don't see how that is going to materialize.

I just hope him and the dems don't manage to push through another LBJ style Great Society style mess and hit us with another wave of entitlement spending that never ends. It sucks because there aren't really any places left in the world that haven't been taxed to death already.
7.21.2008 5:51pm
SIG357:
I'd also dispute that, apart from the Americablog piece, anything you've shown is remotely comparable to the Swift Boat stuff in its rank vitriol

I guess somebody has to ask. So, what "rank vitriol" came from the Swift Boat Vets? I recall them quoting from Kerry's "Winter Soldier" testimony.
7.21.2008 5:55pm
Kazinski:
The rot in the NYT goes back at least to Walter Durranty. It is very likely that the editorial pages were insulated from the communists and fellow travelers at least until the early 70's. Alas, while unlike a fish (or the LA Times), the rot didn't start at the head, it is now rotted clear through.
7.21.2008 5:56pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Eli Rabbet:


"Now, we know that McCain graduated fifth from the bottom in his class, so, we can Zarkov that he really had failed and only graduated because he benefited from AA (Admiral's Action) or he deserved to fail, and only got through by luck."


McCain's class rank certainly does not speak well of him, and for that and other more contemporary reasons I regard him as somewhat of nitwit, unfit for any office let alone the presidency.

I would be more comfortable with BHO if he would level with us and reveal more about his background including his full academic record, and the details of what he did after graduating for Columbia.
7.21.2008 5:56pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Zarkov.
Getting into Annapolis is a feat, as is graduating at all.
Keep in mind that the service academies test/teach far more than academics. They are a full-service character filter.
Extra curricular activities, as they are known in civilian schools, don't even come close to matching the non-academic stressors of academy life.
7.21.2008 6:00pm
rarango (mail):
Eli Rabbet maybelooking at the graduates of his fine institution and thinking that a low class standing at the Naval Academy is in someway comparable to those of Eli's institution. I would hire a the last man in his class from USNA to the first man in most other schools--and certainly one from Eli's institution.
7.21.2008 6:02pm
ejo:
why would one be shocked at the NYT's conduct? to paraphrase Sally Field, McCain is stuck standing there saying, I thought they liked me, I thought they really really liked me. for most people, it would serve as a wakeup call-for McCain, I doubt it.
7.21.2008 6:06pm
rarango (mail):
To suggest that John McCain was somehow a failure because of low class standing displays how genuinely ignorant of US Service Academies some commenters are. While McCain might have graduate 5th from the bottom, that is 5th from the bottom of the 60 percent of the entering class that made it through--The service academies wash out cadets and middies every semester--class ranks are simply artifacts of the grading system. The last man in my graduating class went on the Medical School and is now on the faculty of a prestigious NW Medical School.
7.21.2008 6:15pm
PLR:
To suggest that John McCain was somehow a failure because of low class standing displays how genuinely ignorant of US Service Academies some commenters are.

From which one did you graduate?
7.21.2008 6:30pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Getting into Annapolis is a feat, as is graduating at all."

Does everyone get in on Merit alone? Might not some have a little extra help?
7.21.2008 6:32pm
Eli Rabett (www):
One of the problems with the USNA (and a number of friends who teach there have pointed this out to me) is the can-do attitude that they drill into the Middies. This is great except that they lack the ability to stand back and ask is this something that should be done.
7.21.2008 6:44pm
LM (mail):
Just when I thought our political discourse couldn't be emptier of content, McCain surprises me. When the Times published Obama's op-ed, I criticized him for giving us a piece of re-hashed campaign fluff, consoling myself only in the expectation that given the chance McCain would do likewise. Apparently I gave McCain too much credit, because his piece is nothing like Obama's, which at least was a positive policy statement, albeit containing nothing we didn't already know. But McCain's isn't even that. It's just a cheap attack ad which tells us even less about McCain's position that Obama's did about his. It's beneath McCain and we deserve much better.

And let me offer a little encouragement to those who seem certain that The Times' recognition of a definitive difference between these two op-eds somehow confirms its bias. Though determinism is no substitute for empiricism if you actually want the right answer, it's certainly a lot less work. So if knowing the answer before you ask the question is working for you, I say go with it.
7.21.2008 6:45pm
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
I'm no expert on the service academies but my understanding is and assertions I've read hold that class rank in the academies is determined by not only academic achievement but also in part by demerits — and John McCain was a youthful hell raiser who consistently earned just short of enough demerits to have him thrown out of Annapolis. To then claim that this shows that he was academically deficient is a non sequitur.
7.21.2008 7:12pm
Michael B (mail):
"While McCain's editorial does a good job of pointing out how badly Obama's Iraq policy would have turned out a year or two years ago, Iraq simply won't be much of an issue in this years campaign. The war is over for all intents and purposes, and it is too far won for Obama to screw it up now. McCain was spot on in his judgement about the surge but it won't do him any good with the electorate now, ask George H.W. Bush about 1992 or even Winston Churchill about 1945. Voters don't care much about even the recent past." Kazinski, emphasis added

Yep.
7.21.2008 7:37pm
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
Winston Churchill was just as old as McCain is now (71) when he (or rather, his party) lost the 1945 election — then Churchill came back into office in 1951 and continued as prime minister until a decade after his 1945 loss.

Those who think McCain is too old and tired might want to acquaint themselves with his marathon campaign road schedule. Moreover, McCain's mother is still vigorously living at age 96, while Obama's mother died of ovarian cancer when only six years older (52) than Obama is now. Perhaps one needs worry about Obama's natural longevity?

And for those down on McCain for crashing those three jets — he certainly is deficient compared with his grandfather, Admiral John “Slew” McCain — who crashed five planes!
7.21.2008 8:22pm
Michael B (mail):
LM,

You comment concerning empirical evidence, yet fail to forward a reasoned or empirically based argument on behalf of your own skepticism. Here's some empirical evidence in a related vein, excerpt:

"Have you been keeping up with the good news out of Mosul, al-Qaida's last urban stronghold in Iraq? The good news is that it's not an al-Qaida stronghold any more. Thanks to the latest American and Iraqi offensive.

"But you might not have heard about that welcome development. American victories don't get all that much play in this country - a pattern that dates back at least to David Halberstam's heyday as a New York Times war correspondent and behind-the-scenes player in Vietnam.

"For news of victory, Americans may have to look to the foreign press. For example, The Times of London, which carried a piece by Marie Colvin the other day. She reported that 'American and Iraqi forces are driving al-Qaida in Iraq out of its last redoubt in the north of the country in the culmination of one of the most spectacular victories of the war on terror.'

"Who knew? I must have overlooked the story in the New York Times. Nor did I see it on the AP wire. And I missed it on NPR, too. For much of the American media, good news is no news."

Is that anything like the empirical evidence you were seeking?
7.21.2008 8:30pm
Michael B (mail):
Link to the article cited above.
7.21.2008 8:31pm
NYer:
Having read McCain's op-ed, I can see why the Times decided against running it. That being said, I do hope they run an eventual op-ed by McCain, assuming he redrafts it.

I don't really get the argument by some commenters here that this is evidence of the Times' liberal bias. Do you really think they're so biased that they wouldn't publish a piece by the Republican nominee for President? That seems to be less illustrative of bias and more so of head-in-the-sand ostrich behavior. It also doesn't make any sense. What does the Times have to lose by printing McCain's op-ed? He's one of the most important people in the country right now. They've been printing a weekly column by the conservative Bill Kristol since January and have printed plenty of conservative op-eds in the past.

I also don't think that it's so astounding that a paper would control what is printed on their own op-ed page. I know of several instances where opinion pieces weren't published in a conservative paper, e.g., the WSJ, because the Journal didn't agree with the viewpoint. In the end, though the general public may not feel this way, I think this looks a lot worse on McCain - who appears to have gotten a draft rejected from the Times and then instead of rewriting it, leaked the info to Drudge to get some good old liberal-hating publicity.
7.21.2008 8:47pm
Hoosier:
Michael Edward McNeil--Good point.

And let us not forget "the great Konrad Adenauer," to use Kissinger's adjective. (With which at least one Hoosier agrees.) Known as "der Alte" ["the Old Man"] to the West Germans during his chancellorship, he was first elected in 1949, at the age of 73. His health history had some parallels with that of McCain: Disfiguring auto accident during the Great War, maltreatment at a Nazi consentration camp in the war after that, and so on.

He was re-elected by a wide margin in 1953. He was re-elected in 1957, in an election that gave the Union Parties an absolute majority in the Bundestag--the only time this has happened in free election in Germany. He was re-elected chancellor in 1961, and stepped down in 1963 at the age of 88.

A 2003 ZDF-viewer poll put Adenauer at the top of the list as "Greatest German of All Time." (Number 2 was Martin Luther, thus assuring that the man who established relations with Israel came in ahead of Germany's second-most notorious anti-semite.)

Perhaps it's also worth remembering Charles De Gaulle, President of France from 1959 to 1969 (b. 1890).

I suspect it has occured to McCain that the nation that made him a POW was led, at the time of his capture, by a 77-year-old president. Ho's right-hand man and military commander, Vo Nguyen Giap, will turn 97 next month.

I will be in Vietnam next February, if all goes as planned. I will have to ask them what they thought of this "McCain is too old" bias. As a result of 1000 years of Chinese occupation, the Viets absorbed Confucianism rather deeply. So I suspect I know the answer.
7.21.2008 9:16pm
Michael B (mail):
NYer and others,

This faith in the NYT amuses greatly. No one is saying they know with certainty the motivations of this ex-Clinton administration official who is now serving at the NYT and acting as gatekeeper in this case. How would that be possible, to know with certainty? But this naively accepting faith in the NYT, in a positive sense, is itself expressive of a certainty or near-certainty.

And the NYT was willing to run the "General Betrayus" ad from MoveOn.org - and did so at a discount price. But no doubt that will be pooh-poohed as reflecting bias or ideological bigotry on the part of the vaunted NYT as well.

Seems we are being scolded for not having sufficient faith, a faith in, the NYT. Puhleez. Eschew these scoldings and moralizings and support your certitudes and faith with well reasoned, empirically based arguments.

McCain is running for the presidency, let his opinion speak for itself. If it's poorly written or in any way poorly articulated, let the voters, let the various polities decided for themselves. We don't need an ex-Clinton admin. official acting as gatekeeper and we don't need your scoldings and moralizings. You don't have certainty on your side any more than the skeptics have certainty on their side.
7.21.2008 9:21pm
Eli Rabett (www):
I am sure that McCain is perfectly welcome to buy a full page ad in the Times
7.21.2008 9:26pm
LM (mail):
rarango:

Looks like a whole lit of bytes have been maimed and abused re McCain's service--I for one would like to posit the reverse chicken hawk card--If you havent been a viet nam vet and/or POW, you cant comment and if you do, you're talking out of your ass.

And so it comes full circle.

A purported justification for swiftboating John Kerry was that he was "running on his military record." A spurious corollary was the notion that Democrats saw Kerry's military service as a basis for claiming superior qualification to opine on matters of war and defense. And that notion only passes the straight face test if you ignore almost 40 years of Republicans painting Democrats as anti-American McGovernites(*) utterly unqualified to opine on matters of defense, an attitude often featured in these threads.

That attitude reached a fevered pitch in attacks on Bill Clinton, both the candidate running against consecutive war heroes, and the President. In fact I can barely remember any of my conservative friends mentioning Clinton's name in those days without tacking on some version of "draft-dodging liberal Democrat who lacks the "moral authority" to lead the military."

So, by 2004 when, against that backdrop, Iraq war opponents were being smeared as unpatriotic, the appeal to Democrats of John Kerry's military record wasn't as a sword, but as a shield against all that demagogic tripe. And when some of those war opponents did (wrongly in my opinion) go on to criticize Cheney, Feith, Wolfowitz, et al, as chicken hawks, the at least understandable explanation was, "turnabout is fair play." But the proper Republican response to that, including in these threads, has been that military policy is in the civilian domain, and military service is prerequisite neither to understanding nor commenting on military matters.

So, given all that, it's good to see that now that the world has returned to its proper orbit with a Republican having the military background and the Democrat not, we can expect all denigrating and shouting down of criticism of anything military to be directed at Democrats by Republicans.

How far we've come.

------------------

(*)After all, we all know what a coward McGovern was in the military.
7.21.2008 9:28pm
Hoosier:
NYer--I don't think this is /strong/ evidence for NYT liberal/partisan bias. But I am astounded that anyone would DENY that the bias is both real and distorting (Not saying you did, by the way).

So the Times has only itself to blame. Any suspicious activity leaves the NYT with the burden of proof.

Just two examples: For some time in 2004, it looked as if Howard Dean would be the Democratic nominee running against Bush. (Ahh! Remember those days?) The Times reviewed a book on Bush's foreign policy. The reviewer was *Dean's foreign policy advisor* Ivo Daalder. This *was not acknowledged by the Times*.

I wrote to the Public Editor, who forwarded my letter to the book-review editor. He in turn replied with a snippy email stating that Daalder was a "well-respected foreign policy expert."

Which was true, I responded. But many other well-respected experts on foreign policy were NOT tied to the camp of Bush's presumptive opponent. And, in any event, the book focused on the Middle East, which even Daalder--bilingual in Dutch and English--does not claim as an area of special knowledge for him. Besides which, my primary objection had been the failure to identify Daalder's affiliation.

No response to my response to his response. But perhaps the Tmes is just behind in its correspondence.

The last straw, for me, was the anti-Alito editorial. It not only repeated a discredited story about questionable financial dealings, which the Times editorial board clearly knew had been discredited. More to the point, it was entitled "Judge Alito in His Own Words."

Would you like to guess--based on that header-- what was missing from the editorial?

Shameful. I called an cancelled my subscription that very day, after ~12 years of continuous home-delivery.

I was too patient with them, in retrospect.
7.21.2008 9:34pm
LM (mail):
Michael B,

I know you're too smart to believe that what may or may not be evidence of bias in another instance (but let's stipulate arguendo that it is) shows bias in this one.
7.21.2008 9:38pm
Brian K (mail):
while Obama's mother died of ovarian cancer when only six years older (52) than Obama is now. Perhaps one needs worry about Obama's natural longevity?

you might want to read up on the differences in male and female anatomy. i know it's going to be a big task for you, so i'll give you a hint: only women have ovaries.
7.21.2008 9:51pm
Michael B (mail):
LM,

In what sense I'm smart or otherwise is of little consequence here, but I am smart enough not to fall for your misdirection. We're talking about a limited subject and you've offered little more than scoffs and scoldings.

Likewise, I didn't say one instance of bias or ideological bigotry showed or proved another instance, you're distorting what I said in order to dismiss it in its more limited but still relevant cast. It paints a picture, a backdrop, reflective of a much broader history, from David Halberstam and through to the present, and is therein suggestive - and in turn that's what my own comment was saying: not a positive or absolute proof.

And you've still avoided your own positive, empirically based argument. You're asking it of others, so ... live up to your own standards.
7.21.2008 9:55pm
AKD:

a. McCain graduates fifth from bottom of his class. Believe it


b. In reverse order

1. Shot down in Vietnam
2. Plane destroyed by a loose rocked from another plane on a carrier deck

No fault for either of those


3. Flamed out in a trainer on the way to an Army/Navy game
4. Took out a bunch of electrical transmission wires on the Iberian Peninsula
5. Screwed up a landing into Corpus Christi Bay


If I recall, according to his roommates, McCain did well in subjects he was very interested in, especially history and english, but just got by in others (I don't know if Obama HAD to take upper-level math, engineering, etc.). Plus demerits and other factors affect class rank, and he got about as many demerits as you can without being kicked out.
7.21.2008 10:11pm
LM (mail):
Michael,

You're asking me for empirical evidence of an absence of bias?
7.21.2008 10:13pm
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
Brian K: only women have ovaries.

Gee… wha’d’ya know — and I suppose if one’s parents die of cancer that happens to emerge in a bodily part that you do not share — then you’re completely off the hook cancer-wise, and ought to live to be a hundred, right?

Think that theory will fly with your doctor?
7.21.2008 10:17pm
NYer:
I'm not saying the NYT is without bias or telling you to have all-forgiving faith in the Times' editors. Of course there's bias (both in the news and especially on the opinion page), but that's not the point. I just don't think that this is evidence of it -- though I can't say that I'm surprised by all the press this story is getting.

I also don't think my comment contained "scoldings and moralizings" -- my point was simply that I didn't think it made sense for the Times to bury this op-ed because of their bias. In fact, wouldn't bias seem to point in the opposite direction? If the Times truly thought this was poorly written or poorly-articulated and they wanted to bolster their liberal position, wouldn't it make more sense to publish the piece? Why would they ask for a better document?

The McCain campaign argument seems to be that the NYT wants him to rewrite his op-ed and change his views so that the piece comports with the NYT's (i.e., Obama's) view of the Iraq/Afghanistan conflict. That strikes me as nonsensical, but - as you rightly said - I don't speak with certainty. I guess there is always a chance that's what Shipley wanted to do.

I don't think I ever advocated the use of "an ex-Clinton admin as a gatekeeper." I don't want gatekeepers of either partisan affiliation - but in the end, if the NYT board is acting irrationally and extremely biased, McCain can always try to get the piece published in another major paper (and the Times would lose a scoop). Since I can't imagine why they would want that, it's hard to fathom why they'd reject the piece based on ideology alone.
7.21.2008 10:18pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
The NYT took a submission by an officer called to active duty and quite positive about it, rejiggered it to make it sound as if the guy was annoyed and felt he'd been ill-used. The excuse for that one was that they rewrite submissions and then unrewrite them and the latter process didn't happen for some reason.
And they cut off a dead Marine's last letter to keep out the part where he said he was proud and positive with what he and his comrades had done. Their excuse when caught this time was that there were plenty of letters they'd run which were positive.
If this is truly a style issue, it's a HUGE change in the NYT's operating principles.
7.21.2008 10:28pm
LM (mail):
Michael Edward McNeil:

Think that theory will fly with your doctor?

That's a good question. Would you mind if I ask my doctor?

Brian K, what do you think?

(He's not my primary care doc, but he is my specialist for VC related matters.)
7.21.2008 10:30pm
Michael B (mail):
LM,

You keep asking questions and redirecting, you keep dancing.

I'm asking you to live up to the standard you're asking of others. I'm not asking for any type of absolute and positive "proof," I'm asking you to live up to your own standards, support your argument in the manner you'd require of others. Too, why should I even have to ask, why aren't you willingly living up to the same standards you'd require of others?

Your faith in the NYT is amusing, but for someone putatively concerned about empirically, rationally based arguments, you sure know how to dance.

You're just short of needing a choreographer.

NYer,

No one said you were positively advocating an ex-Clinton admin. official to be the gatekeeper here, but if you read the relevant post you'll note that "Shipley served in the Clinton Administration from 1995 until 1997 as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Presidential Speechwriter." You do understand that, right?

And when I stated "McCain is running for the presidency, let his opinion speak for itself. If it's poorly written or in any way poorly articulated, let the voters, let the various polities decided for themselves. We don't need an ex-Clinton admin. official acting as gatekeeper ...," what exactly is wrong with that idea? Indeed, why aren't the putative liberals here, including those who are supporting Obama's candidacy, supporting that idea? It's a fairly plain classical liberal concept - allow people, allow this candidate for the presidency, to speak for himself, in his own vernacular and let the American people decide - not the NYT and not this ex-Clinton admin. official.

The NYT itself purports to be a public trust, so they need to act according to the principles they profess on occasion.

And btw, there is nothing that is particularly well reasoned in your argument. I'm not saying you are scolding in an exaggerated sense, like a school marm, but you do not soundly support your position in the least, in any very cogent, convincing sense. For example, this:

"If the Times truly thought this was poorly written or poorly-articulated and they wanted to bolster their liberal position, wouldn't it make more sense to publish the piece? Why would they ask for a better document?"

is nothing more than question begging. Do you not understand that? I don't tend to believe the NYT's explanation, why should I? It makes little sense. I understand that you're convinced you're right, but you're not in the least convincing, not remotely so.
7.22.2008 12:29am
Brian K (mail):
LM,

thanks for the ringing endorsement!


-----------

Michael Edward McNeil,

you can add cancer to the list of things you need to research. report back to us tomorrow with 1) what are the most common causes of cancer in MEN and 2) what, if any, risk factors does obama have.
7.22.2008 1:11am
SIG357:
A purported justification for swiftboating John Kerry was that he was "running on his military record."

If some commenters will insist on using "swiftboating" as a synonym for "smearing" then it might be a good idea if they presented some evidence that the Swift Boat Vets smeared John Kerry. As opposed to reminding people of his record.
7.22.2008 1:32am
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
Brian K: you can add cancer to the list of things you need to research. report back to us tomorrow with 1) what are the most common causes of cancer in MEN and 2) what, if any, risk factors does obama have.

I have investigated the nature of cancer (have you?), and I’m reasonably familiar with research results showing that cancer generally obtains from an evolutionary process within the body, whereby lineages of body cells “learn” step-by-step through mutation and selection how to escape the body's regulatory apparatus, giving rise when the process is complete to uncontrolled growth: cancer.

Not only can such a process reach fruition within most any organ in the body, depending on where random mutations happen to occur, but susceptibility varies greatly among individuals based on their preexisting genetic heritage — “oncogenes” (cancer-causing genes) and proto-oncogenes — inherited from one’s parents.

Hence, one’s immediate ancestors’ medical histories, including especially a history of cancer (regardless of organ involved), is extremely relevant to one’s own future prospects.
7.22.2008 2:26am
LM (mail):
SIG357:

"A purported justification for swiftboating John Kerry was that he was "running on his military record."

If some commenters will insist on using "swiftboating" as a synonym for "smearing" then it might be a good idea if they presented some evidence that the Swift Boat Vets smeared John Kerry.

Your inference is fair from how I used the term, but the only meaning I intended was the narrower one, i.e., the actual Swift Boat Veterans' campaign (print, video, interviews, etc.). Whether that constituted "smearing" is a discussion I'll save for another day, but however you come out on that, I found it objectionable. Just as I've said upthread I'd consider a similar campaign directed at John McCain objectionable.
7.22.2008 2:46am
Anonymous #345:
'So, what "rank vitriol" came from the Swift Boat Vets?'

Leftism requires totalitarianism. Totalitarianism requires coercion. Coercion requires mendacity.

The problem isn't with the calling of names and "anarchist" displays* to distract one power grab by calling attention to another, as much as no one else calling them on it. Given McCain's real-world experience and record (hence "the devil we know"), it would be troubling if he remains as inarticulate about his opposition's massive defects during the general election. Whether he does that, and whether (if he does) that can make up for his own defects is unlikely.

*hint for the Left: society must be able to throw off government to survive, not force government to subsume all aspects of life. The former is anarchism (or, more realistically, minarchism); the latter is fascism.
7.22.2008 4:51am
LM (mail):
Michael B:

You keep asking questions and redirecting, you keep dancing.

Where I come from, Michael, if you don't know what somebody wants, you ask.

I'm not asking for any type of absolute and positive "proof," I'm asking you to live up to your own standards, support your argument in the manner you'd require of others.

What argument? That people in this thread have made conclusory statements and insinuations about the Times' bias concerning the McCain op-ed? Do you dispute that? I'll give you the links if you really disagree.

Too, why should I even have to ask, why aren't you willingly living up to the same standards you'd require of others?

These aren't rhetorical questions I'm asking you, Michael. Believe it or not I've more than once had no idea what the heck you were talking about. I'd gladly chalk that up to my own stupidity if it wouldn't add fuel to the "lawyers are morons" fire on the other thread. Anyway, you haven't been specific and my confusion is real. I'm incredulous that you actually disagree with what I said above, which is why I asked you earlier if you wanted empirical evidence of the absence of bias. But that would be equally puzzling since, apart from the conceptual difficulty of proving the negative, I never said Shipley wasn't biased. I said nobody's shown evidence that he was. All I know is he gave a facially plausible explanation, and the only contrary arguments I've seen here amount to, "but it's the NEW YORK TIMES.... they're OBVIOUSLY biased." I'm sorry, but that's not evidence. And no, neither is that story you quoted.

Your faith in the NYT is amusing,

I have no "faith" in or opposed to The New York Times. I suppose I'd be pretty surprised if The Times was perfectly unbiased, but I'm also skeptical of conspiracy theories. So the faith some people here apparently have in the Times' routine practice of furthering some left wing agenda looks pretty anecdotal to be treated with so much reverence. It also looks very ad hoc. Is the Times supposed to be biased in its reporting, editorializing or both? Editorials are by definition biased, so what would be the accusation there? Is it particular people, departments, the whole shebang, and if so, by whose hand? The editors? The Publisher? The CFR? Could what's perceived be mostly involuntary background biases of a predominantly liberal corps or reporters and editors despite their sincere efforts to comply with canons of objectivity [my own unsupported assumption]? Or is it necessarily institutional and nefarious?

I see smatterings of attention to that kind of detail, but it's the exception. There's mostly just a sloppy, common article of faith that the Times is in the bag to the Left. Whatever that means. So if the Times does something unpopular, then "hey, it's the Times, what do you expect?" and if the Times reports something agreeable, it's "even the Times says..." Well that forms a deterministic loop that reinforces the validity of both your preferred viewpoint and the Times' bias. Challenging it is like challenging the idea that George Bush is a moron on a far left wing website. At best you'll convince the locals of your own bona fides, but Bush's stupidity will never be in doubt.

Would it surprise you to know that there are people as intelligent and well-informed as present company who are convinced the Times has a right wing bias? Sorry, that's wrong. The way it's usually described is, a "mainstream corporatist" bias. And they marshal their own friendly facts and put together narratives and arguments which, if you didn't know there was something called "the other side" would be pretty convincing. As between Left and Right both complaining that the Times is out to get them, I do believe the Right has the better argument. But that doesn't make it a good argument. It doesn't even eliminate the plausibility of the other side's argument. You know the difference between anecdotal and empirical analysis (yes I realize this is the former). And though I'm not saying it doesn't exist, I've yet to see a proper showing that the Times is routinely, meaningfully biased by any legitimate journalistic standard.

but for someone putatively concerned about empirically, rationally based arguments, you sure know how to dance.

I realize virtually everything I've said is unsupported personal observation and anecdote. And to be clear, I'm not suggesting it accurately describes any particular person. In fact I'm sure it's quite inaccurate as to most people individually. It's just my hodgepodge impression of a group dynamic that seems to chug along here relatively unchallenged. As for why the only empirical data I'm offering is my own observations, it's because I haven't made any categorical claims that would require otherwise.

... and about my "sure know[ing] how to dance," my fiancee would differ.
7.22.2008 7:50am
Hoosier:
"I've yet to see a proper showing that the Times is routinely, meaningfully biased by any legitimate journalistic standard. "

In the news (rpt: news) section, the Times uses the phrases "pro-choice" and "anti-choice".

QED.
7.22.2008 8:11am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
It is impossible to "prove" media bias.
For example, a list of obviously biased incidents will be met by, "but it's true, isn't it?", leading to a usefully distracting argument on the accuracy of the reports.
So, "Irag's a failure." is the report. Bias is the suggestion. How to define "failure" becomes the argument and you never get back to the question of bias.

And, yes, it's more than likely the result of an insular culture, albeit one with little interest in the canons of journalistic objectivity. IOW, they don't see their bias, except when they think they need to screw the pooch but good. Then it's okay, because it's in the interest of justice. Or something.

I'd be interested in whether the Augusta golf club all the time--forty days, or thereabouts?--indicated either bias or serious corporate mental illness. All abu Ghraib all the time? After, say three weeks of non-stop coverage, isn't the rest of it indicative of something beyond journalism?

Did they do anything for Michael Murphy's MOH?

I have a solution: It is impossible to prove bias. Even a management letter imposing bias which is leaked wouldn't force the people claiming the NYT isn't biased to admit to anything. They simply won't.
So...forget them. The NYT is biased, everybody knows it, even if it's politically useful to pretend otherwise, and everybody knows everybody knows it.
But we can stop arguing about what, exactly, constitutes proof.
Obviously, an endless line of anecdotes won't do it.
7.22.2008 8:42am
LM (mail):

In the news (rpt: news) section, the Times uses the phrases "pro-choice" and "anti-choice".

If that's a consistent practice, and it's not based on some consistently applied extrinsic rule (e.g., terminology in matters subject to legal dispute being derived by reference to the current law), then it's the most relevant data point I've seen on this thread. But it's not quite the comprehensive analysis I had in mind.
7.22.2008 8:44am
Angus:
In the news (rpt: news) section, the Times uses the phrases "pro-choice" and "anti-choice".

I'd need to see some proof of this. I just did a yahoo search of the nytimes.com domain using "anti-choice" and the only hits I came up with on the first few pages were letters to the editor and in an interview with an abortion clinic worker whose clinic was being picketed and blocked (the term was used by the worker, not by the reporter).
7.22.2008 8:55am
rarango (mail):
PLR asks: from which one did I graduate. The United States Military Academy, Class of 1967.
7.22.2008 9:12am
Michael B (mail):
"Just as I've said upthread I'd consider a similar campaign directed at John McCain objectionable." LM

Sounds hollow. You have no problem with Shipley and the NYT evidencing their bias - arguably an ideological bigotry of the first order - against McCain in the current situation, opting for a plausible deniability defense in the process, not to mention the derision expressed toward those failing to follow the faith you have in the NYT. After all, if only as a byproduct or secondary aspect of what Shipley and the NYT are doing here, there is a subtle smear involved since it reflects a back of the hand given to McCain by Shipley and the NYT.

Face it, Shipley has his head pile-driven, he pulls it out, tells the world it smells like roses in there. He asks you and others to follow him back in for a spell. You do so, you comply, them come back out and, in tandem with Shipley now, attempt to tell us it smells like roses in there. And if that is not a fairly accurate analogy, my name is Pinch Sulzberger.

No thank you.
7.22.2008 9:52am
LM (mail):
Hoosier,

I just skimmed the 10 articles on the first page of the Times' abortion articles section. I didn't see a single mention of "anti-choice." In fact I didn't see a single mention of "pro-choice." Most of the articles seemed to avoid using any descriptive terms for the opposing sides, referring to organizational names or using quotes that make the affiliation clear. The only descriptions I saw in a few places were "supporters of abortion rights," "abortion rights supporters," "abortion opponents" and "[people] who oppose abortion." The Times is pretty obviously going out of its way to avoid using any sort of biased or provocative abortion-related language.

You're welcome to check for yourself and let me know what you find, but I have to say that my limited look-see showed anything but what you said. On the contrary, they're bending over backwards to be fair.
7.22.2008 9:57am
LM (mail):
Michael,

Face it, Shipley has his head pile-driven, he pulls it out, tells the world it smells like roses in there. He asks you and others to follow him back in for a spell. You do so, you comply, them come back out and, in tandem with Shipley now, attempt to tell us it smells like roses in there. And if that is not a fairly accurate analogy, my name is Pinch Sulzberger.

Thanks for the classy response.
7.22.2008 10:02am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
michael b:

This faith in the NYT amuses greatly.


Your faith in right-wing sources amuses greatly. As far as I can tell, the only external source you've used to support your claims in this thread is townhall.com. Are you claiming they are objective? Are you claiming that they are less biased than NYT allegedly is? Why should anyone take them seriously, and why should anyone take you seriously, when you rely on them as a source?

As I have demonstrated on multiple occasions (see here), your MO is to quote dishonest right-wing sources, and then cut and run when this is proven.

Anyway, anyone who claims the NYT has a liberal bias should explain why they helped Bush lie to us about aluminum tubes (details here).
7.22.2008 10:29am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
juke.
The NYT has been--see Pressthink back a few months--beating itself up about their having been "suckered" by Judy Miller on the issue of WMD.
They don't think they lied.
So if the admin lied, the NYT bought it.
They didn't "help", and your list of admin failings is not relevant to your accusation.
7.22.2008 10:53am
Hoosier:
LM--I'm not 'talking out of my behind,' but I'm on a deadline today at "work." I'll find some stuff for you when I get a chance. Didn't want you to think I'd bailed on you, however; they've really said "pro-" and "anti-choice". (Can one check articles older than a couple weeks without paying?)

The Alito editorial I mentioned earlier is called "Judge Alito in His Own words." I recall that, since . . . well, that's my point. This should be easy to find.

More later.
7.22.2008 11:31am
Michael B (mail):
LM,

Classy? The analogy is spot-on, is apropos. Btw, it was Shipley himself who approved the recent op-ed by Hamas spokesman Ahmed Yousef. How's that for classy? (In turn, it was Ahmed Yousef who voiced support for Obama's candidacy.)
7.22.2008 11:44am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
richard:

The NYT has been … beating itself up about their having been "suckered" by Judy Miller on the issue of WMD.


I know they've expressed regret, and they should (and they haven't gone far enough, in that regard). But that doesn't change the fact they wrote what they wrote. They helped Bush sell the war. Someone needs to reconcile this with the narrative that NYT is 'liberal.'

They don't think they lied.


Miller published false information, even after she was told it was false (google judith miller aluminum tubes david albright). I hold NYT responsible for this, even though they would like to claim the blame is all hers.

So if the admin lied, the NYT bought it.


Not 'if.' Someone sent by Bush lied to Miller (I already cited the details). Yes, the NYT bought it. Someone needs to reconcile this with the narrative that NYT is 'liberal.'

They didn't "help"


Miller published what Bush asked her to publish, even though she knew it was false. How can you claim "they didn't 'help' ?"

By the way, another good example is choosing to hold Risen's FISA story until after the election (in response to a request by Bush).
7.22.2008 12:20pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Juke.
If you think it's true, you're not lying when it turns out to be false. That's just the way it works and beating up on conservatives is not an excuse for changing that.
Risen's story should have been held permanently.
The previous public editor said, in an apology, that the program was legal, was effective, and breaking it reduced its effectiveness. He had, originally, gotten all defensive because people got mad at the NYT. He later changed his view.
7.22.2008 12:33pm
PLR:
PLR asks: from which one did I graduate. The United States Military Academy, Class of 1967.

Thanks for the reply, rarango.
7.22.2008 12:56pm
LM (mail):
Pinch,

I'm content to let our remarks speak for, among other things, the "classiness" of yours and the "hollowness" of mine.
7.22.2008 4:29pm
Michael B (mail):
Content to avoid, content to require a standard of others you refuse to apply to yourself, content to moralize in the manner of straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel ...

Content. You've certainly been that, that much is incontestable.
7.22.2008 5:33pm
LM (mail):
Hoosier,

I didn't suspect that you'd either "talked out of your behind" or bailed. If you're under deadline, don't worry about this. If there's something you want to show me, even if this thread closes in the interim, you can do it on another one. That said, if what you want to show me is just that the words were used, that's really not necessary. Though I didn't see them personally, I took (and take) for granted on your say-so that they're out there, and frankly I made no attempt to find them. I went straight to the most recent articles to try to discern the paper's policy from its current practice.

I'm guessing now that I misconstrued your comment to imply that the usage was part of an ongoing pattern, and thus at least arguably reflected the paper's current intentions. If your point was only that it's happened once or even a limited number of times, yet the current practice is as I reported, I'd be disappointed but not at all surprised that somebody with a bias could get away with that. But if things now are indeed as I perceived, I'd hardly read the situation as suggesting any bias by the Times itself. I wouldn't draw any conclusions about how things evolved to their current state, but at least as of now it would seem to indicate the Time's intention to avoid, not implement, a biased practice.

I'd be happy to look at anything else you think is relevant, and as mentioned, you can let me know about that here or elsewhere, whenever convenient.
7.22.2008 5:35pm
LM (mail):
Michael,

Your commentary challenges me constantly to remember that, like honesty, civility must often be its own reward.
7.22.2008 5:47pm
Votary of the All Knowing (mail):
LM,

As previously suggested, you value superficiality rather more highly than honesty or civility. The subject matter being addressed here is not Barbie & Ken doll collections. So do moralize and reward yourself with all the pats on the back you care to indulge. To be hugely over-kind, I'm unimpressed.
7.22.2008 6:28pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
richard:

If you think it's true, you're not lying when it turns out to be false.


You are utterly and completely ignoring the facts that I documented here. The person (probably Libby) who was sent to talk to Miller didn't just tell Miller that he thought the tubes were for centrifuges, or that CIA thought that, or that an IC consensus thought that. He specifically told her that DOE took that position. That was a direct, brazen, outright lie. DOE had taken the contrary position, repeatedly and emphatically, starting a year earlier.

And Miller printed what Scooter told her to print, even though Albright told her directly that it was false.

Tell us again how this fits the narrative that NYT is 'liberal.'

The previous public editor said, in an apology, that the program was legal, was effective, and breaking it reduced its effectiveness. He had, originally, gotten all defensive because people got mad at the NYT. He later changed his view.


You're mixing up two different events. I'm talking about FISA. You're talking about a program that was used to trace money.
7.22.2008 6:50pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
michael:

Content to avoid


A perfect description of your MO, as I have proven in detail.
7.22.2008 6:53pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Let us just take this as a marker for how truthful the Swift Boatees were. One of the accusations was that Kerry did not deserve a Bronze Star award because he did not come under fire. OTOH one of those swift boaties himself won a bronze star for the same action. The person that Kerry rescued that day (for which he won the Bronze Star) backs Kerry.

You can google it
7.22.2008 7:28pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
juke.
As regards FISA, right.

Did Miller tell the NYT that she was going to lie?

Nope.

Thus, at worst, the NYT got suckered.
7.22.2008 8:11pm
Brian K (mail):
"(have you?)"
you should have been able to infer the answer to this question from LM's post. the fact that you didn't does not speak well for your reading comprehension.


"and I’m reasonably familiar with research results showing that cancer generally obtains from an evolutionary process within the body, whereby lineages of body cells “learn” step-by-step through mutation and selection how to escape the body's regulatory apparatus, giving rise when the process is complete to uncontrolled growth: cancer."
define "reasonable". what you've said here can be found in a book written for a teenager.

"Not only can such a process reach fruition within most any organ in the body, depending on where random mutations happen to occur, but susceptibility varies greatly among individuals based on their preexisting genetic heritage — “oncogenes” (cancer-causing genes) and proto-oncogenes — inherited from one’s parents."
so which oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes are involved in the formation of ovarian cancer and how does this affect male offspring? given you extensive reading, you should have no trouble at all answer this question.

"Hence, one’s immediate ancestors’ medical histories, including especially a history of cancer (regardless of organ involved), is extremely relevant to one’s own future prospects."
not necessarily. you seem to be forgetting that not all cancers are hereditary. many arise by spontaneous mutation at a rate that varies according to the type of cancer. so what is the epidemiology and pathology of ovarian cancer that leads to you believe it is in any way relevent to obama? since you've read up so widely on this, it should be easy for you to answer.
7.22.2008 8:58pm
MlR (mail):
They're not the best the country can produce. They are the best that our broken and corrupt "two party" political system can manage.

Indeed. One guy got the Democratic nomination because he's half black. The other guy got the Republican nomination because of events that happened 35 years ago. And Hillary Clinton, for her part, was only a serious contender because she was the ex-wife of a former president.
7.22.2008 10:32pm
MlR (mail):
she was the ex-wife of a former president.

*wife

Freudian slip of some sort, perhaps.
7.22.2008 10:34pm
LM (mail):
Votary of the All Knowing:

As previously suggested, you value superficiality rather more highly than honesty or civility.

The irony of that is self-evident.

The subject matter being addressed here is not Barbie &Ken doll collections.

That doesn't bode well for my obsession with the superficial, huh?

So do moralize and reward yourself with all the pats on the back you care to indulge.

No need. I bask in your adulation.

To be hugely over-kind, I'm unimpressed.

I'll be sure to take on your feedback in the spirit it was intended. And yes, you are too, too kind.
7.23.2008 1:12am
David M. Nieporent (www):
I know they've expressed regret, and they should (and they haven't gone far enough, in that regard). But that doesn't change the fact they wrote what they wrote. They helped Bush sell the war. Someone needs to reconcile this with the narrative that NYT is 'liberal.'
Sure: it's an utter falsehood. The fact that Miller published a couple of balanced stories mixed in with the NYT news section's absurd campaign against the war is hardly a sign of lack of bias.

Really, there's only one article by Miller that was unbalanced, in which she reported that a secret team that she couldn't talk about had found WMD -- but that was after the war.
7.23.2008 1:56am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Miller published false information, even after she was told it was false (google judith miller aluminum tubes david albright). I hold NYT responsible for this, even though they would like to claim the blame is all hers.
She published nothing "false," and she wasn't told that it was false. She was told that there was disagreement about it, and she reported that. See this long piece in the New York Review of Books which devastatingly refutes the idea that the New York Times and Miller published false pro-war stories.
7.23.2008 1:58am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
richard:

Did Miller tell the NYT that she was going to lie? Nope. Thus, at worst, the NYT got suckered.


I see your point, but I don't buy it. They got suckered over and over again. I just gave one example. Beyond a certain point, the alibi is just too transparent. It's like they're saying 'we're not evil, only dumb.' A lot of Bush's alibis sound like that.

If they were truly so "liberal," they would not have been so easy to sucker.
7.23.2008 2:20am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
david:

Miller published a couple of balanced stories


Miller lied. I documented that in detail.

She published nothing "false"


Wrong. She said DOE agreed with CIA about the tubes. That was a lie.

and she wasn't told that it was false.


Wrong. Albright warned her not to write that.

She was told that there was disagreement about it, and she reported that


She finally acknowledged some disagreement in a second article, but still greatly minimized the dissent. And she told a blatant lie about DOE. That lie is documented in SSCI.

See this long piece in the New York Review of Books which devastatingly refutes the idea that the New York Times and Miller published false pro-war stories.


You're obviously joking. That excellent article verifies what I've said, and says nothing contrary to what I've said. For example, the article says this:

The nearer the war drew, and the more determined the administration seemed to wage it, the less editors were willing to ask tough questions. …

The performance of the Times was especially deficient. While occasionally running articles that questioned administration claims, it more often deferred to them. (The Times's editorial page was consistently much more skeptical.) Compared to other major papers, the Times placed more credence in defectors, expressed less confidence in inspectors, and paid less attention to dissenters. The September 8 story on the aluminum tubes was especially significant. Not only did it put the Times's imprimatur on one of the administration's chief claims, but it also established a position at the paper that apparently discouraged further investigation into this and related topics.

… there were many people challenging the administration's assertions. It's revealing that Gordon encountered so few of them. On the aluminum tubes, David Albright, as noted above, made a special effort to alert Judith Miller to the dissent surrounding them, to no avail.

Asked about this, Miller said that as an investigative reporter in the intelligence area, "my job isn't to assess the government's information and be an independent intelligence analyst myself. My job is to tell readers of The New York Times what the government thought about Iraq's arsenal." Many journalists would disagree with this; instead, they would consider offering an independent evaluation of official claims one of their chief responsibilities.


More detail about the tubes is in section 3 of the long article.

If you know of any article that "devastatingly refutes the idea that the New York Times and Miller published false pro-war stories," you should tell us where to find it, because it's not this one.
7.23.2008 2:20am
Michael B (mail):
LM,

And thru it all, no empirically based argument, the very standard you'd set for others ...
7.23.2008 12:23pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Tell us about the "empirically based argument" you presented in your comments which I cited here.
7.23.2008 2:27pm
JosephSlater (mail):
So. . . it's been almost a day and a half since the last post that mentioned McCain's name. . . .
7.23.2008 4:00pm
LM (mail):
Michael B,

Let's summarize:

Some VC commenters insinuated or flatly claimed that Shipley's decision was a manifestation of the Times' left-wing bias.

I mentioned that that was jumping to conclusions, which isn't a reliable approach.

You demanded I provide evidence (of what I had no idea), and tossed in some commentary from Town Hall, which shockingly seems to think the Times is biased.

I , confused, asked if you were requesting evidence of an absence of bias.

You implied I was a credulous hypocrite, and again demanded unspecified evidence.

I reminded you that I originally pointed out that some commenters had been jumping to conclusions, and I asked if you really disputed that they had. You didn't. Anyway, I offered my evidence for that empirical observation in the form of links to the specific comments. I then added some views on the bias question, which I acknowledged were impressionistic.

You, ignoring my response, simply presumed the Times' and Shipley's bias, and gratuitously accused me of insincerity on a different subject. You then alluded to Shipley's head and mine both being rammed some unspecified place where the odor is foul.

I expressed my appreciation for your classy reply.

You defended your comment, and used it as a pretext (or changed the subject -- your choice) to imply some kind of association among the Times, Hammas and Barack Obama.

I expressed my willingness to let our comments speak for themselves.

You apparently felt the moment was right for a few gratuitous insults.

I implied that your personal attacks are to civility what ankle weights are to basketball.

You, apparently either re-writing or forgetting history, implied I'm a hypocrite, as if I've made any unsupported assertions that require evidence.

That's all of it, I think, but I scrolled through the comments pretty quickly, so if I missed any, feel free to add them. At the end of the day, I don't know about you, but I'm still pretty content to let our comments speak for themselves.
7.23.2008 7:03pm
LM (mail):
Corr. = offered to provide my evidence
7.23.2008 7:11pm
Michael B (mail):
It's as if you want to play Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First" - and you're proudly capable of playing both parts.

Shipley is shoveling bullshit with a gold plated shovel and you want me to talk about the gold plated shovel. I'm interested in what he's shoveling. I'm confused about your notably convenient confusion as well, but, as you're plainly capable of explaining your "confusion" to the one person who matters where - yourself - I think I'll take a pass.
7.23.2008 8:31pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
lm:

You, ignoring my response, simply presumed the Times' and Shipley's bias


I'm just noticing that I made a very similar observation. I said it to him this way:

you freely take your own assumptions and deliver them as if they are proven facts.


I notice that the general pattern in the other thread is very much like what you summarized. I never summarized it so clearly, but what he said and didn't say in that thread convinced me beyond any doubt that he's a waste of time.

I also notice that he has an uncanny ability to describe his own techniques:

ad hominem slights, broad swipes of dismissiveness and other simplistic forms of tendentiousness
7.23.2008 9:44pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Miller lied. I documented that in detail.
Nothing in that post demonstrates any "lie" by Miller.

Wrong. She said DOE agreed with CIA about the tubes. That was a lie.
No, she said that someone told her that DOE agreed with CIA about the tubes. That was not a lie (presumably).

Wrong. Albright warned her not to write that.
First, Albright only "warned her" after the first article was written. Second, so what? Since when did Albright become The Way And The Truth? Someone said one thing, Albright said another. There's no reason Miller should have chosen to believe Albright. But in any case, Miller may have picked the wrong sources to rely upon, but that in no way is "lying."

She finally acknowledged some disagreement in a second article, but still greatly minimized the dissent.
Ah, so she "minimized" it. Well, that's a little different than your original claim, don't you think? She didn't give the weight to one side of the debate that you wanted her to give. Hardly the same thing as "lying."
7.23.2008 10:17pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
david:

Nothing in that post demonstrates any "lie" by Miller. … she said that someone told her that DOE agreed with CIA about the tubes. That was not a lie (presumably).


You're using the same 'logic' that is commonly used to defend Bush's 16 words. That 'logic' goes like this: 'Bush didn't say that Saddam sought yellowcake; he only said that UK said that; and UK really said that, so Bush wasn't lying.'

How lame. Trouble is, Bush had good reason to know that the UK claim was bogus. CIA had said so. That's precisely why he was quoting UK instead of CIA.

Same thing with Miller. Yes, it wasn't a lie for her to say 'someone said these words to me.' But she had good reason to know that the words she heard, and which she passed approvingly to her readers, were a lie.

You are determined to deny reality, so let's review some basic facts that are exceedingly simple. On 9/13/02, NYT published an article called "THREATS AND RESPONSES: BAGHDAD'S ARSENAL; White House Lists Iraq Steps To Build Banned Weapons." It was written by Miller and Gordon. (The article is here; the text can also be found via here.) This is the last paragraph of the article:

'There are tubes and then there are tubes,'' the administration official said. He added that the best technical experts and nuclear scientists at laboratories like Oak Ridge supported the C.I.A. assessment.


Fast forward to SSCI 2004. Here's what a GOP-controlled Senate committee said about that statement:

A September 13, 2002 New York Times article which discussed the IC debate about the aluminum tubes, noted that an administration official said, "... the best technical experts and nuclear scientists at laboratories like Oak Ridge supported the CIA assessments." ... DOE officials, including the Director of the Oak Ridge Field Intelligence Element, told Committee staff that the vast majority of scientists and nuclear experts at the DOE and the National Labs did not agree with the CIA's analysis.


(Emphasis added.) In other words, there is no doubt that the "administration official" made a false statement to Miller. And it takes a lot of unwarranted generosity to construe that false statement as anything other than a lie.

And Miller was warned that she was being told lies. David Albright is a physicist, UN weapons inspector, and expert on nuclear proliferation. His bio is here. He wrote a detailed paper about the tubes, including his role in trying to warn Miller. He said this (pdf):

Judy Miller had called me at home and left a message before her September 8th story, but I was out of town and only got home on the day the story appeared. I called her back and alerted her to the internal expert criticism of the administration’s public claims. Partly in response, she decided to do another article, which appeared on September 13. In a surprising development, however, the article was heavily slanted to the CIA’s position, and the views of the other side were trivialized. An administration official was quoted as saying that “the best” technical experts and nuclear scientists at laboratories like Oak Ridge supported the CIA assessment. These inaccuracies made their way into the story despite several discussions that I had with Miller on the day before the story appeared—some well into the night. In the end, nobody was quoted questioning the CIA’s position, as I would have expected.


(Emphasis added.) Miller knew Albright was an expert. That's why she called him, to begin with. She solicited his advice. She had multiple discussions with him. But when he told her about "the internal expert criticism" (DOE's view that CIA was wrong), she ignored this, didn't mention this, and approvingly quoted the false statement she had been fed by the "administration official." Even though the nuclear expert she had sought out, Albright, had warned her the government statement was false.

Albright only "warned her" after the first article was written.


It's obvious that you're confused about basic facts. Yes, "Albright only 'warned her' after the first article was written." Trouble is, the lie I'm pointing out, which was also pointed out by SSCI, appeared in her second article, which was after Albright warned her.

Since when did Albright become The Way And The Truth? Someone said one thing, Albright said another. There's no reason Miller should have chosen to believe Albright.


The issue is not what Miller had "chosen to believe." The issue is what she chose to report. You cited an article which made this point very well. "Offering an independent evaluation of official claims" is what a journalist is supposed to do. Otherwise, they're not a journalist. They're just a branch of the Ministry of Information (kind of like Armstrong Williams).

Miller called Albright, seemingly to get that "independent evaluation." And he provided an evaluation, which happened to be correct. Specifically, he told her that DOE opposed the CIA view. This is a key fact. But instead of telling her readers that she was hearing conflicting information from these multiple sources, on this key fact, she decided to print the false statement handed her by the government, without mentioning that the independent expert she herself sought to interview had warned her the government statement, on this key fact, was false.

That's not journalism. It's propaganda.

Miller may have picked the wrong sources to rely upon, but that in no way is "lying."


Miller published a false statement even though the expert she selected warned her the statement was false. And she saw no need to convey this warning to her readers. If you don't think this is "lying," that means your standards are too low. But we already knew that.

so she "minimized" it. Well, that's a little different than your original claim, don't you think?


You're implying that it replaces my original claim. Wrong. It's in addition to my original claim. She did both of the following things: she minimized the dissent, in general, and she knowingly conveyed a brazenly false statement regarding the position of the DOE.

And speaking of false statements, we're still waiting for you to explain why you claimed (here) that this article "devastatingly refutes the idea that the New York Times and Miller published false pro-war stories," when it fact it does essentially the opposite of that.
7.24.2008 1:20am
LM (mail):
Juke,

Obviously I know the frustration, but I suppose my naive, bleeding liberal heart clings to the possibility there's someone in there who actually wants a dialog.(*) Besides, (seriously) he reminds me a little of a couple of friends who have better sides I'd never see if all I did was argue with them over stuff like this. Anyway, since about half the time I have no idea what the hell he's talking about, I wouldn't want to risk that those parts have coded messages to Al Qaeda I might interrupt if I cut him off prematurely.

-------------------
(*)That ought to trigger a few night sweats over Barack letting our defenses down with someone he's too clueless to notice is out to annihilate us.
7.24.2008 1:24am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
lm:

the possibility there's someone in there who actually wants a dialog


I definitely understand and respect your perspective. And of course "there's someone in there who actually wants a dialog." I think there always is. But in certain cases, like his, the walls are exceptionally thick. And old, and personal. They're most likely not coming down in this lifetime. Anyway, it's OK, because folks like him perform an inadvertent public service. He's a great teacher, despite himself.

about half the time I have no idea what the hell he's talking about


I think there's a large group that has no idea what the hell he's talking about, and I think he's a leading member of that group. But the affected, ornate, impenetrable style has entertainment value.

I wouldn't want to risk that those parts have coded messages to Al Qaeda


I think the idea is more like AQ will be reading his stuff and then doze off, so then we can sneak up and grab their scimitars.
7.24.2008 1:54am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
david:

I assume by "yellowcake" you mean the uranium that Joe Wilson found that Iraq was trying to buy from Niger, but that he lied about later when he wrote an Op/Ed in the Times.


I just noticed this comment you posted on a thread that died about a week ago. I'm going to reply to it here.

the uranium that Joe Wilson found that Iraq was trying to buy from Niger


Wilson did not find that Iraq was trying to buy yellowcake from Niger.

According to ancient wingnut tradition, two pieces of bogus evidence are offered for this bogus claim you're making. One has to do with the magic words "expanding commercial relations," and the other has to do with a claim about 400 tons of yellowcake being sought by a delegation in 1998. Let us know which bogus evidence you have in mind.

that he lied about later when he wrote an Op/Ed in the Times


Wilson's oped is here. The key statement is this:

if the president [16 words in SOTU] had been referring to Niger, then his conclusion was not borne out by the facts as I understood them


You should show us your basis for claiming that this statement, or any other statement in Wilson's article, is a lie. Then again, since you already made a false claim about the NY Review of Books article, I guess we shouldn't be surprised that you're also making a false claim about Wilson's article.
7.24.2008 1:55am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
This might be a good moment to recall that you have a prior track record of telling lies on these exact subjects (one summary is here), and then disappearing when they are shown to be lies. So all you're proving is that you like to humiliate yourself.
7.24.2008 11:10am
David M. Nieporent (www):
You're using the same 'logic' that is commonly used to defend Bush's 16 words. That 'logic' goes like this: 'Bush didn't say that Saddam sought yellowcake; he only said that UK said that; and UK really said that, so Bush wasn't lying.'

How lame. Trouble is, Bush had good reason to know that the UK claim was bogus. CIA had said so. That's precisely why he was quoting UK instead of CIA.
But the UK claim wasn't bogus. Didn't you pay attention to Joe Wilson's report? (Not his Op/Ed, but his report.) He found that Saddam sought uranium from Niger, too.
7.24.2008 6:10pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
(Emphasis added.) In other words, there is no doubt that the "administration official" made a false statement to Miller. And it takes a lot of unwarranted generosity to construe that false statement as anything other than a lie.
Setting aside your assumption that "DOE officials" must be believed over an "administration official," setting aside that what DOE officials tell the SSCI a couple of years after the fact must be believed about what they were saying a couple of years earlier, so what? The most you've proven with that quote is that the administration official lied. What does that have to do with Miller?

(Emphasis added.) Miller knew Albright was an expert. That's why she called him, to begin with. She solicited his advice. She had multiple discussions with him. But when he told her about "the internal expert criticism" (DOE's view that CIA was wrong), she ignored this, didn't mention this, and approvingly quoted the false statement she had been fed by the "administration official." Even though the nuclear expert she had sought out, Albright, had warned her the government statement was false.
Again, so what? David Albright is "an expert." He is not the only expert. He is certainly not the word of god. He didn't even work for the DOE at the time. Why exactly is Judith Miller supposed to be David Albright's press agent? Miller was seeking out expert opinions in order to understand a story better. Sounds like her job. Doesn't mean she's supposed to report something as true just because one of her expert sources tells it to her.

It's obvious that you're confused about basic facts. Yes, "Albright only 'warned her' after the first article was written." Trouble is, the lie I'm pointing out, which was also pointed out by SSCI, appeared in her second article, which was after Albright warned her.
But you didn’t point out a lie by Miller. You pointed out an alleged lie by an administration official.

But instead of telling her readers that she was hearing conflicting information from these multiple sources, on this key fact, she decided to print the false statement handed her by the government, without mentioning that the independent expert she herself sought to interview had warned her the government statement, on this key fact, was false.
And when you say, "instead of telling her readers that she was hearing conflicting information," you mean "She did tell her readers that she was hearing conflicting information, but she didn't place enough emphasis on the conflict." She "minimized" it, to use your term.

You're implying that it replaces my original claim. Wrong. It's in addition to my original claim. She did both of the following things: she minimized the dissent, in general, and she knowingly conveyed a brazenly false statement regarding the position of the DOE.
She only "knowingly" conveyed a "brazenly false statement" if she knew that Albright's statement was accurate and the administration official's was not.

And speaking of false statements, we're still waiting for you to explain why you claimed (here) that this article "devastatingly refutes the idea that the New York Times and Miller published false pro-war stories," when it fact it does essentially the opposite of that.
Because it devastatingly refutes the idea that the New York Times and Miller published false pro-war stories. It points out that Miller, given conflicting information, ultimately believed the wrong sources. But it doesn't point out a single incident of Miller, knowing a statement to be false, reporting it anyway. (And, no, the fact that David Albright challenged a statement does not mean that she knew it was false.)

No, a reporter's job is not simply to report as true what a government official tells her. It also isn't to assume the government official is lying, find a source which contradicts the government official, and then report that source's statements as true. Particularly in the arena of intelligence, where there are always conflicting views.
7.24.2008 6:30pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Oh, and on the Joe Wilson point, anonymous Jukeboxgrad, who can't argue in good faith and doesn't even have the decency to use his own name as he calls people liars, doesn't seem to have done even a tiny amount of research, perhaps because he's a partisan hack and it would shake his worldview to find out that his heroes have feet of clay.

Oh, I see his followup post, where he thinks that by throwing around the I'm-not-to-be-taken-seriously portmanteau "wingnut," he can disguise the fact that using the word "bogus" doesn't make a claim bogus.
7.24.2008 6:36pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
david:

the UK claim wasn't bogus


There's lots of evidence that the UK claim was bogus. Here's one piece that will suffice for now, from SSCI:

On October 4, 2002, the NSC sent a draft of a speech they were preparing for the President to deliver in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was draft six of the speech and contained the line, "and the regime has been caught attempting to purchase up to 500 metric tons of uranium oxide from Africa - an essential ingredient in the enrichment process." …

[The CIA] raised concerns about the sourcing and some of the facts of the Niger reporting … Referring to the sentence on uranium from Africa the CIA said, "remove the sentence … We told Congress that the Brits have exaggerated this issue."

… The NSC then removed the uranium reference from the draft of the speech.


If the UK claim wasn't bogus, CIA would not have expressed "concerns … that the Brits have exaggerated this issue." If the UK claim wasn't bogus, CIA would not have asked Bush to remove it from his Ohio speech. Bush did in fact remove the UK claim from his Ohio speech. There would have been no need for him to do so if the claim wasn't bogus.

Didn't you pay attention to Joe Wilson's report?


You should tell us about your secret source that provided you with a copy of Wilson's report. It has never been released to the public. And that's another clue that the UK claim was bogus, and that Wilson's report did not support the UK claim. If Wilson's report had actually contained meaningful support for the UK claim, then CIA would not have expressed "concerns … that the Brits have exaggerated this issue." It would not have been necessary to remove the claim from the Ohio speech. Further, it would not have been necessary for Tenet to retract the 16 words, in response to Wilson's article.

The entire response to Wilson's article proves that Wilson's report did not say what you claim it says. If Wilson's report had contained meaningful support for the 16 words, then the day after Wilson's article appeared, Cheney would have granted an exclusive interview with Brit Hume, and they would have been holding Wilson's report (or at least excerpts of it) up to the camera so we could see for ourselves what a big fat liar Wilson is.

Even now, Bush has chosen to still keep Wilson's report classified. This makes no sense, if the contents of that report actually undermine Wilson and support the 16 words.

You're making a fuss about three magic words: "expanding commercial relations." (You've been too cowardly to cite those words directly, but those are the words you are citing by implication.) There are lots of reasons why those words don't mean what you claim they mean (and at the moment I won't bother listing them). But the circumstances show that no one took those words seriously until after Wilson's article, when it became politically useful to do so. If those words had been taken seriously prior to that time, then the UK claim would not have been removed from Bush's Ohio speech, and there would have been no need for Tenet to retract the 16 words from the SOTU.

He [Wilson] found that Saddam sought uranium from Niger


You are repeating this claim, without offering proof, even though I challenged you to show proof. One more indication that you have nothing to show.

I just mentioned a few of the ways we know that Wilson's report did not say what you claim it said. There's a long list of other reasons I haven't mentioned yet.
7.25.2008 11:54am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Setting aside your assumption that "DOE officials" must be believed over an "administration official"


You're very confused. Miller did not talk to "DOE officials." It's not a question of Miller deciding that " 'DOE officials' must be believed over an 'administration official,' " or vice versa. It's simply a question of making a false claim about where DOE stood. The point is not even that DOE turned out to be right (although that's true, and relevant). The point is that Miller falsely described the DOE position, and she did so knowingly.

setting aside that what DOE officials tell the SSCI a couple of years after the fact must be believed about what they were saying a couple of years earlier


Wrong. You're implying that DOE officials lied to SSCI "after the fact," and misrepresented what the DOE position had been in 2001-2002. That's complete nonsense. You're showing that you're extremely ignorant about well-documented facts. Either that, or extremely dishonest. Maybe both. From SSCI:

One day after the CIA published its assessment [4/10/01], the DOE published their own analysis of the aluminum tube procurement. The DOE paper provided a more detailed analysis of the aluminum tubes and their applicability to a uranium centrifuge enrichment program. … On May 9, 2001, DOE published another Daily Intelligence Highlight … On August 17, 2001, DOE published a Technical Intelligence Note (TIN), Iraq's Gas Centrifuge Program: Is Reconstitution Underway? (TIN000064) which contained an extensive eight page analysis of whether the aluminum tubes were intended for a rocket or a centrifuge program.


SSCI describes in detail a series of reports produced by DOE, in 2001, documenting the DOE belief that the tubes were most likely for rockets, not centrifuges. Everyone now knows this was the official DOE position. SSCI was not just relying on "what DOE officials tell the SSCI a couple of years after the fact."

The most you've proven with that quote is that the administration official lied


Indeed, I have proven that. And it's interesting to note that the GOP-controlled SSCI made no apparent effort to identify that person or hold them accountable.

What does that have to do with Miller?


Miller was lied to, and she knowingly passed the lie along to her readers.

David Albright is "an expert." He is not the only expert. He is certainly not the word of god.


He is the expert Miller chose to interview. And when he told her, correctly, that the government was lying to her, she chose to ignore him, and she chose to hide that information from her readers. This is sufficient to show that she is a propagandist, not a journalist.

Why exactly is Judith Miller supposed to be David Albright's press agent?


You have it backwards. Albright didn't look for Miller. Miller decided to look for Albright. That's called journalism: get information from multiple sources, and report it. Except that Miller decided to hide the information which indicated the government was lying.

Doesn't mean she's supposed to report something as true just because one of her expert sources tells it to her.


She wasn't obligated to report Albright's statement "as true." She was simply obligated to report Albright's statement, because he was a credible source (selected by her) who was directly contradicting a statement that she did choose to report "as true."

you didn’t point out a lie by Miller


Someone who knowingly passes along a lie is a liar.

you mean "She did tell her readers that she was hearing conflicting information, but she didn't place enough emphasis on the conflict." She "minimized" it, to use your term.


Nice job ignoring what I already said. Aside from minimizing the dissent, in general, she told a specific lie regarding the position of the DOE. With regard to that key fact, she definitely didn't "tell her readers that she was hearing conflicting information." Even though she was.

She only "knowingly" conveyed a "brazenly false statement" if she knew that Albright's statement was accurate and the administration official's was not.


She knew that the government statement was questionable, at best. Because the expert she selected told her the government statement was false. She hid this from her readers. That's enough to make her a liar.

It [NYRB] points out that Miller, given conflicting information, ultimately believed the wrong sources.


The article "points out" a lot more than that. It says this:

The performance of the Times was especially deficient. While occasionally running articles that questioned administration claims, it more often deferred to them. … there were many people challenging the administration's assertions. … On the aluminum tubes, David Albright, as noted above, made a special effort to alert Judith Miller to the dissent surrounding them, to no avail.

Asked about this, Miller said that as an investigative reporter in the intelligence area, "my job isn't to assess the government's information and be an independent intelligence analyst myself. My job is to tell readers of The New York Times what the government thought about Iraq's arsenal." Many journalists would disagree with this; instead, they would consider offering an independent evaluation of official claims one of their chief responsibilities.


It's pretty amazing that you're willing to claim that this "devastatingly refutes the idea that the New York Times and Miller published false pro-war stories." When Miller wrote that DOE supported CIA, that was definitely "false," and it was definitely "pro-war." And NYRB is explicitly pointing out that NYT, in doing this, was "especially deficient" in its duty of "offering an independent evaluation of official claims."

it doesn't point out a single incident of Miller, knowing a statement to be false, reporting it anyway


You have to acknowledge that what Miller wrote (regarding the position of DOE) was both false, and pro-war. The straw you're now clinging to is the idea that she didn't do this knowingly. But that's not what you claimed, before. You didn't say NYRB 'devastatingly refutes the idea that the New York Times and Miller knowingly published false pro-war stories.' You said NYRB "devastatingly refutes the idea that the New York Times and Miller published false pro-war stories." You're sneakily trying to move the goal posts, now that you've been trapped by the facts.

No, a reporter's job is not simply to report as true what a government official tells her.


But that's exactly what she did. Even though she had good reason to believe the statement was false.

It also isn't to assume the government official is lying, find a source which contradicts the government official, and then report that source's statements as true.


I'm not claiming that Miller needed to tell her readers that the government official was wrong and Albright was right. I'm not claiming Miller was obligated to report Albright's statement "as true." She was simply obligated to report Albright's statement. Instead, she concealed it, and reported the government's statement "as true." That makes her a liar.

Particularly in the arena of intelligence, where there are always conflicting views.


You're conflating two separate issues, and you're doing this deliberately and deceptively. On the question of what the tubes were for, yes, there were "conflicting views." But on the question of where the DOE stood, there were not "conflicting views." There was only the truth, and a lie. Miller chose to report the lie.
7.25.2008 11:55am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
using the word "bogus" doesn't make a claim bogus.


I don't just use the word. I show proof for my claims. You should do the same. You have not.

anonymous Jukeboxgrad, who can't argue in good faith and doesn't even have the decency to use his own name as he calls people liars


Nice job tossing in a complete red herring. You're implying there's something dishonorable about anonymous blogging. There isn't. There are good reasons for it. If you disagree, start a movement. You'll only need to eliminate about 90% of all comments on all blogs.

My identity would matter only if I were expecting readers to accept my words at face value, or based on my reputation as a known expert in a particular field. But I don't do anything like that. Unlike you, I show proof to back up my assertions.
7.25.2008 11:55am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
doesn't seem to have done even a tiny amount of research


You're citing a factcheck article. They are often a good source, and this article has some helpful information. It also has some serious flaws. The first major problem with this article is that it's out-of-date. It was last updated on 8/23/04. And that problem is related to the next problem: the article fails to take into account the findings of the Silberman-Robb report, which was released in 2005. That makes a difference.

The article quotes a number of sources, but it relies mostly on two particular sources. Those two sources are prominently highlighted in the Supporting Documents section at the upper-left corner of the page. Those two sources are the Butler Report, and the 2004 SSCI report. Unfortunately, these two sources are very far from impartial. They both contain some helpful information, but they also both contain a lot of crap.

The Butler report was published on 7/14/04. Mostly what it proves it that Bush has a friend in Blair and Blair has a friend in Lord Butler. The Butler report discussion of yellowcake is basically a rehash of UK claims that the CIA never took very seriously (and that's why Bush quoted UK instead of quoting CIA: CIA was telling him that UK was wrong). Those British claims are discussed in the SSCI report:

On October 2, 2002, the Deputy DCI testified before the SSCI. Senator Jon Kyl asked the Deputy DCI whether he had read the British white paper and whether he disagreed with anything in the report. The Deputy DCI testified that "the one thing where I think they stretched a little bit beyond where we would stretch is on the points about Iraq seeking uranium from various African locations. We've looked at those reports and we don't think they are very credible"


(Emphasis added.) In other words, CIA never took the UK intel very seriously.

Aside from the biased Butler report, the factcheck article's other major source is the 2004 SSCI report. This report was produced by the Senate Intelligence Committee, when it was controlled by the GOP. It was released on 7/9/04, just a few months before a crucial election. It was designed to transfer blame from Bush to the CIA, and it was very effective, in that regard. It did this by twisting the truth in various ways. Back to that in a minute.

The Silberman-Robb report was issued on 3/31/05. The factcheck article obviously does not take S-R into account. While you and factcheck take the UK intel seriously (as cited by Butler), CIA does not, and S-R does not. Here's what S-R says about yellowcake:

the NIE … did note that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure uranium ore and yellowcake' from Africa. This statement was based largely on reporting from a foreign government intelligence service … several months after the NIE, the reporting that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger was judged to be based on forged documents and was recalled … In addition to recalling the reporting, CIA briefed the congressional intelligence committees in June 2003 that, given the recall of the earlier reporting, there was insufficient evidence to conclude that Iraq had recently sought uranium from Africa.


In other words, according to S-R (and CIA), the idea of yellowcake from Africa was "based largely" on the forged documents. And without those documents, "there was insufficient evidence to conclude that Iraq had recently sought uranium from Africa." In other words, S-R didn't take Butler (and the UK intel underlying Butler) very seriously, and neither should anyone else. If the UK had anything remotely solid, S-R/CIA would not have said these words I just quoted, and Tenet would not have recalled the 16 words. They did so because the UK intel was simply rumors that ultimate trace back to the forged documents.
7.25.2008 11:56am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Along with S-R, SSCI also makes clear that once it became known that the yellowcake allegation was based on forged documents, that it was no longer much of an allegation:

K. Niger Conclusions … (U) Conclusion 12. Until October 2002 when the Intelligence Community obtained the forged foreign language documents on the Iraq-Niger uranium deal, it was reasonable for analysts to assess that Iraq may have been seeking uranium from Africa based on Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reporting and other available intelligence.


This is delicately phrased, but it's clear what it means. Once we obtained the forged documents, it was no longer "reasonable for analysts to assess that Iraq may have been seeking uranium from Africa." This is the exact same point that S-R made, except S-R was more blunt.

Once we knew the documents were forged, there was no separate evidence supporting the yellowcake allegation. We had no such separate evidence and neither did the UK. If the UK ever had anything solid (independent of the forged documents), Tenet never would have fallen on his sword and taken the blame for the 16 words, and the two reports cited above would not have said what they said.

The real mystery is why anyone ever pretended the documents were genuine, since a year before Bush spoke we had enough information to conclude they were forged. Some of our analysts did reach that conclusion, before Bush spoke, but they were ignored, for reasons that have not yet been explained.

The Butler Report proves only that a few months before Bush's re-election, Blair's buddy Butler was happy to help Blair's buddy Bush get out of a tight spot. The fact that Bushists are still incessantly citing the Butler report, and ignoring the relevant findings in S-R and SSCI, proves only that the GOP is dishonest.

That dishonesty is reflected in what SSCI said about the forged documents. The statement I cited has some truth, but it's still a whitewash. It says we "obtained the forged foreign language documents" on 10/02. That's less than a half-truth. In 10/02 we obtained photocopies of the documents, but we had "verbatim text" no later than 2/02. The verbatim text was enough to reveal the forgery. SSCI doesn't want readers to ask the obvious question: why did it take us so long to detect an obvious forgery?
7.25.2008 11:56am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Some statements in the factcheck article give us a nice chance to review various aspects of the yellowcake story that are generally unknown or misunderstood. So let's do that.

A British intelligence review released July 14 calls Bush’s 16 words “well founded.”


Yes, Butler makes the claim that the UK intel is solid, backing up Bush in his moment of need. But the UK intel was rejected by Tenet, CIA, S-R and even SSCI. I just explained all that. Both S-R and SSCI say that in the absence of the forged documents, there was nothing to back up the yellowcake claim. They would not have said this if UK ever had anything other than rumors that ultimately trace back to the forged documents.

Simple question: if the UK intel was solid, why did Tenet promptly retract the 16 words, in reaction to Wilson's article? Why not simply stand by the 16 words, and announce that UK has proof that Wilson was wrong? Answer: the UK intel was pure vaporware.

A separate report by the US Senate Intelligence Committee said July 7 that the US also had similar information from “a number of intelligence reports,” a fact that was classified at the time Bush spoke.


This is an instance of factcheck quoting baloney from the SSCI report. Here's the more complete passage they are quoting:

The Committee has examined the Niger uranium issue in depth and reported the information and findings on the issue in a separate section of this report. The Committee notes, however, that there were a number of intelligence reports which indicated Iraq was attempting to procure uranium from several countries in Africa, including Niger, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Somalia. At the time the NIE was written the forged foreign language documents were not available to the IC


It takes only a moment of analysis to realize that SSCI is contradicting itself. Recall the other passage I already cited:

Until October 2002 when the Intelligence Community obtained the forged foreign language documents on the Iraq-Niger uranium deal, it was reasonable for analysts to assess that Iraq may have been seeking uranium from Africa based on Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reporting and other available intelligence.


In other words, after 10/02, it was not "reasonable for analysts to assess that Iraq may have been seeking uranium from Africa based on Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reporting and other available intelligence." In other words, that business about Congo and Somalia is pure smoke. Because if we had anything solid on Congo/Somalia, it would not have mattered that the documents were forged (the forged documents were strictly about Niger). Aside from that, any mention of Congo/Somalia is bogus, because their yellowcake production is extremely low.

And also note that same whitewash again, regarding the dates we obtained the forged documents:

At the time the NIE was written the forged foreign language documents were not available to the IC


This is very close to an outright lie. The NIE wasn't written until 10/02. In 10/02 we obtained photocopies of the documents, but we had "verbatim text" no later than 2/02. We know this from SSCI:

Reporting on the uranium transaction did not surface again until February 5, 2002 when the CIA's DO issued a second intelligence report [redacted] which again cited the source as a "[foreign] government service." Although not identified in the report, this source was also from the foreign service. The second report provided more details about the previously reported Iraq-Niger uranium agreement and provided what was said to be "verbatim text" of the accord.


In many places, including SSCI itself, we see many instances of this critical fact being obfuscated: we had full text of the forged documents in 2/02, not 10/02. And the verbatim text was sufficient to reveal the obvious forgery, but we pretended they were genuine until 2003, more than a year after we first obtained them.
7.25.2008 11:56am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Ironically, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who later called Bush’s 16 words a “lie”, supplied information that the Central Intelligence Agency took as confirmation that Iraq may indeed have been seeking uranium from Niger.


That's GOP crap from the SSCI report, which factcheck is accepting uncritically. This is a reference to the three magic words ("expanding commercial relations") that I discussed in an earlier post. Simple question: if it's really true that Wilson brought back "confirmation" of the yellowcake story, why did Tenet retract the 16 words? Calling the three magic words "confirmation" of anything is ridiculous. But GOP put that claim in SSCI, and factcheck didn't bother to think about whether or not the claim made sense.

Both the US and British investigations make clear that some forged Italian documents, exposed as fakes soon after Bush spoke, were not the basis for the British intelligence Bush cited, or the CIA's conclusion that Iraq was trying to get uranium.


S-R, released after these words were written, proves that they are nonsense. I already the cited the text where S-R points out that the yellowcake claim relied on the forged documents.

what he said – that Iraq sought uranium – is just what both British and US intelligence were telling him at the time.


This is simply wrong. Yes, UK intel was saying that. But US intel was not. That's exactly why Bush made the UK claim. He would not have needed to quote UK if CIA had been telling him what he wanted to hear. CIA was telling him not to make the yellowcake claim.

According to Wilson, Mayaki steered the conversation away from any discussion of trade.


This is a case of factcheck adding its own embellishment. What SSCI actually said is this:

although the meeting took place, Mayaki let the matter drop due to the UN sanctions on Iraq.


Mayaki didn't say there was no "discussion of trade." He said he "let the matter drop." That's much vaguer, and factcheck applied its own interpretation.

The Intelligence Committee concluded that "it was reasonable for analysts to assess that Iraq may have been seeking uranium from Africa based on Central Intelligence Agency reporting and other available intelligence."


This is an instance of factcheck quoting SSCI in a very misleading way. It's hard to tell if this is bias or sloppiness. But look at the context they sliced off. The more complete SSCI passage is this:

K. Niger Conclusions … (U) Conclusion 12. Until October 2002 when the Intelligence Community obtained the forged foreign language documents on the Iraq-Niger uranium deal, it was reasonable for analysts to assess that Iraq may have been seeking uranium from Africa based on Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reporting and other available intelligence.


(Emphasis added, to show the important language that factcheck omitted.) In other words, factcheck is obscuring a critical fact: "it was reasonable for analysts to assess that Iraq may have been seeking uranium from Africa" only up until 10/02. Trouble is, Bush made the claim in 1/03. And we had the verbatim text in 2/02, not 10/02. The factcheck analysis sweeps these important facts under the rug.

Both the Butler report and the Senate Intelligence Committee report make clear that Bush's 16 words weren't based on the fake documents.


It's true that Butler tries to take that position. But SSCI, in the passage I just cited, indicates that Butler is wrong. And S-R made the same statement (contradicting Butler) in 2005.

The British didn't even see them until after issuing the reports -- based on other sources -- that Bush quoted in his 16 words.


This is a paraphrase of a statement in Butler, that UK hadn't seen the documents at the time they issued their intel. But this means precisely nothing. The fact that they hadn't yet seen the documents in no way rules out what later became obvious: their reporting was simply a reflection of rumors that ultimately traced back to the forged documents. Those "other sources" were simple rumors about the same documents.

But discovery of the Italian fraud did trigger a belated reassessment of the Iraq/Niger story by the CIA.


This is misleading. CIA was very skeptical about the yellowcake story even before the forgery was acknowledged. But it's true that they later took an even stronger position, rejecting the UK intel more emphatically.
7.25.2008 11:57am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Rice: What we've said subsequently is, knowing what we now know, that some of the Niger documents were apparently forged, we wouldn't have put this in the President's speech -- but that's knowing what we know now.


This is interesting, because it's Rice agreeing with CIA, SSCI and S-R, and disagreeing with Butler and factcheck. Rice is admitting that Bush's statement was based on the forged documents. There's no other way to interpret what she said.

The Senate report doesn't make clear why discovery of the forged documents changed the CIA's thinking. Logically, that discovery should have made little difference since the documents weren't the basis for the CIA's original belief that Saddam was seeking uranium.


Here the factcheck writer is on the edge of realizing that they have taken a position that doesn't make sense (as a result of not giving Butler and SSCI a more careful examination). They are on the verge of realizing what should be obvious: if anyone at all ever had any real evidence outside of the forged documents, then discovering the forgery would have meant little or nothing. The discovery of the forgery was a big deal only because there was never any evidence outside of those documents. Even today, UK has come up with zilch.

As far as "the CIA's original belief that Saddam was seeking uranium," there was never anything solid behind that. CIA assessed that Saddam probably wanted uranium, but the forged documents were the closest anyone ever came to proving that Saddam was actually pursuing his alleged desire.

When coordinating the State of the Union, no Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analysts or officials told the National Security Council (NSC) to remove the "16 words" or that there were concerns about the credibility of the Iraq-Niger uranium reporting.


This is an interesting and murky area. CIA had already instructed the White House to remove the yellowcake claim from an earlier speech. We've never been given a clear explanation of how the claim managed to sneak back into the SOTU. SSCI, of course, tried to shift the blame to CIA.
7.25.2008 11:57am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
In short: you're simply repeating old talking points that don't hold up under close scrutiny. If you can find any errors in my analysis, I'll be very grateful to hear about them.
7.25.2008 11:57am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
There's another piece that's worth including, about the three magic words, and why they don't mean what you claim they mean. The story of those magic words starts here, in this passage from SSCI:

The intelligence report [i.e., Wilson's report] indicated that former Nigerien Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki was unaware of any contracts that had been signed between Niger and any rogue states for the sale of yellowcake while he was Prime Minister (1997-1999) or Foreign Minister (1996-1997). Mayaki said that if there had been any such contract during his tenure, he would have been aware of it. Mayaki said, however, that in June 1999, [redacted] businessman, approached him and insisted that Mayaki meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss "expanding commercial relations" between Niger and Iraq. The intelligence report said that Mayaki interpreted "expanding commercial relations" to mean that the delegation wanted to discuss uranium yellowcake sales. The intelligence report also said that "although the meeting took place, Mayaki let the matter drop due to the UN sanctions on Iraq."


So let's review a few of the problems with your bogus claim.

A) Mayaki has a natural incentive to tell us that countries like Iraq are trying to get his yellowcake. His country is very poor, and he wants us to buy it instead. This was already known. From the same document: " 'previous Nigerien governments have suggested that the best way the [U.S. government] could keep Niger's uranium from the wrong hands' was for the U.S. to purchase it."

B) Mayaki's 'evidence' is incredibly thin. All he has are three words ("expanding commercial relations") uttered by an unknown person. We don't even know if that person was an Iraqi (later, we learned otherwise; see below). Further, the meeting took place, and there is no indication that any Iraqi said anything about yellowcake. What a peculiar way to go shopping for yellowcake: send some people to get it, and instruct them to never ask for it!

C) A talking point repeated constantly is that the three magic words ("expanding commercial relations") could not possibly have been a reference to anything other than yellowcake, because Niger is a poor country and doesn't have much else to sell. This talking point cleverly obscures the fact that "commercial relations" can go in both directions, and can be about either buying or selling. It is a documented fact that Niger bought oil from Iraq. The three magic words could have been a reference to oil. The Silberman-Robb report mentions "a visit to Iraq by a Nigerien minister to discuss Nigerien purchases of oil from Iraq ... [this deal was] cash in exchange for petroleum." This deal is documented "by a crude oil contract, dated June 26, 2001, recovered by the ISG." So much for the specious idea, cited repeatedly by Wilson's attackers, that the only possible form of trade between these two countries would be yellowcake (and therefore there is only one possible interpretation of the words "expanding commercial relations").
7.25.2008 12:32pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
One of many things you're glossing over is the fact that we know almost nothing about the person who allegedly uttered the three magic words ("expanding commercial relations"). The relevant passage in SSCI doesn't even indicate that this person is Iraqi.

It turns out that there is a bit more information about this person now available, thanks to the Libby trial. Certain documents were declassified and entered into evidence. One of those documents is a State Dept. memo issued by Carl Ford (pdf). It expands the info provided by SSCI. In particular, it tells us that the person who said the three magic words was not even an Iraqi. The person was "Barka ((Tefridj)), a Nigerien/Algerian businessman."

So let's get this straight. A Nigerien/Algerian businessman allegedly uttered the words "expanding commercial relations," and this is what the Bushists consider 'proof' to support Bush's 16 words. Even though the Iraqi delegation that was allegedly looking for yellowcake never mentioned yellowcake. And even though the discussion was probably about oil, since it is a documented fact that Iraq was selling oil to Niger.
7.25.2008 12:32pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
The Libby exhibits are pretty fascinating, because they give us previously unknown details about the contents of Wilson's report. For example, here's more of the information Wilson brought back from Manga (one of the Nigerien officials he interviewed; from the same pdf I cited above):

uranium from Niger’s mines is very tightly controlled and accounted for from the time it is mined until the time is [sic] loaded onto ships at the port of Cotonou, Benin … even a kilogram of uranium would be noticed missing at the mines. On-site storage is limited … each shipment of uranium is under Nigerien armed military escort from the time it leaves one of the two Nigerien mines until it is loaded on to a ship in Cotonou. … Trucking barrels of yellowcake northward would require an experienced guide and many armed guards, due to the shifting dunes and bandits in that region … it would be difficult, if not impossible, to arrange a special shipment of uranium to a pariah state given these strict controls and the close monitoring by the Nigerien government and the two mining companies.


More from the same trial exhibit:

The alleged contract between Niger and Iraq says that Niger will sell Iraq 500 tons of Uranium in two tranches per year. INR explained that would mean somewhere between one sixth and one eighth of the total output of the two mines and that twice a year 25 semi tractor trailers loads of yellow cake would have to be driven down roads where one seldom sees even a bush taxi. In other words, it would be very hard to hide such a shipment. When the idea of moving the stuff across the desert to Sudan (???) was broached INR responded that while it is not difficult to drive across much of the hard packed flat desert terrain, there are many problems including heat up to 130 degrees F, wear and tear on the vehicles, water, fuel and drifting sand that would make such a trip difficult in the extreme.


It's helpful to notice that Bush thought it was very important to tell us about a rumor based on forged documents, at the same time he was hiding from us these very basic facts about the extreme unlikelihood of Saddam ever actually obtaining any Nigerien yellowcake. Heckuva job, Dubya! Mission accomplished.
7.25.2008 12:33pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
You're implying there's something dishonorable about anonymous blogging. There isn't.
No, I'm openly stating -- not "implying" -- that there's something dishonorable about anonymously insulting people.
There are good reasons for it.
Sure. Moral and intellectual cowardice.

If the UK claim wasn't bogus, CIA would not have expressed "concerns … that the Brits have exaggerated this issue."
That doesn't follow in the least. You've now proven that you don't understand intelligence gathering, journalism, or bureaucracy. If the CIA knew that the UK claim was bogus, the CIA would not have expressed "concerns ... that the Brits have exaggerated this issue." It would have said, "The UK claim is bogus." "Concerns" means "maybe," and "exaggerated" means "true but to a lesser degree." Instead, the CIA was basically saying, "Not invented here. We can't confirm this, but we can't refute it either, so we don't want to get caught with our pants down either way."

You're very confused. Miller did not talk to "DOE officials."
Nor did I say she did. I was talking about you, not about her, in that statement.

Indeed, I have proven that. And it's interesting to note that the GOP-controlled SSCI made no apparent effort to identify that person or hold them accountable.
Is it really "interesting"? Do congressional investigations often make efforts to hold people "accountable" for lying to the the press? What "accountability" would there be for such an act? Would anyone in Washington have a job if there were?
7.25.2008 1:41pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
He is the expert Miller chose to interview. And when he told her, correctly, that the government was lying to her, she chose to ignore him, and she chose to hide that information from her readers. This is sufficient to show that she is a propagandist, not a journalist.
She didn't "ignore" him; he told her that there was dissent, and she reported it. She just "minimized" what he said. You seem to think that this is some sort of equal time issue. After talking to the government, Miller talked to an outside source. Reporters routinely talk to outside sources, to gain background or a different perspective on a story. That doesn't mean that they're obligated to report the perspective of those sources.
That's called journalism: get information from multiple sources, and report it.
No. "Some say the earth is round, and others say the earth is flat" is not called journalism, although many reporters do fall into that trap. Talk to various people, yes. But just because those people contradict other information doesn't mean that the reporter must report it.

You bizarrely put a ridiculously inordinate amount of weight on the fact that Miller called Albright rather than vice versa. The fact that she sought him out as an expert and he told her something different than what she had previously been told does not therefore mean she's obligated to do a he-said-she-said between the administration and him. She is not obligated to report Albright's statement.

The article "points out" a lot more than that. It says this: The performance of the Times was especially deficient. While occasionally running articles that questioned administration claims, it more often deferred to them.
And I agree that this might be a legitimate criticism of the Times. But it's very different than the one you're making. There's a big difference between "They weren't as thorough as they should have been" or "They were negligent" and "They lied."
You said NYRB "devastatingly refutes the idea that the New York Times and Miller published false pro-war stories." You're sneakily trying to move the goal posts, now that you've been trapped by the facts.
Not in the least. The problem you have is that your "facts" aren't facts at all. Miller didn't write, "DOE officials agree with the CIA." She wrote, "the administration official said. He added that the best technical experts and nuclear scientists at laboratories like Oak Ridge supported the C.I.A. assessment." That statement was true.

You're conflating two separate issues, and you're doing this deliberately and deceptively. On the question of what the tubes were for, yes, there were "conflicting views." But on the question of where the DOE stood, there were not "conflicting views." There was only the truth, and a lie. Miller chose to report the lie.
No, from the point of view of an outsider such as Miller, there were conflicting views as to where the DOE stood. And these are not "separate issues," but inextricably intertwined. By definition, if there were conflicting views on what the tubes were for, then someone must be dissenting.
7.25.2008 1:42pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
The Butler report was published on 7/14/04. Mostly what it proves it that Bush has a friend in Blair and Blair has a friend in Lord Butler.
Shorter Jukeboxgrad: "Since I'm a partisan hack, I'll assume everyone else is. Unless they agree with me. Then they must be telling the truth. If there's disagreement between intelligence agencies, then the ones that agree with me are right and honest, and the ones that disagree are both wrong and dishonest and nobody should have believed them and nobody honest would have believed them. Bureaucrats never cover their asses after the fact when their assessments are wrong; they must have been lying to start with."

Your assessment of the Niger issue and the SSCI thing seems to completely misunderstand that the British had a separate source than the CIA. The CIA had insufficient evidence, once it learned the documents were forged, to conclude that Iraq was buying uranium from Niger, but that doesn't mean that the UK did, and if the U.S. was relying on the UK rather than the CIA, then your argument falls apart.

Mayaki has a natural incentive to tell us that countries like Iraq are trying to get his yellowcake. His country is very poor, and he wants us to buy it instead. This was already known. From the same document: " 'previous Nigerien governments have suggested that the best way the [U.S. government] could keep Niger's uranium from the wrong hands' was for the U.S. to purchase it."
That doesn't make any sense, if Wilson's argument that Iraq couldn't possibly get Nigerien uranium because it was all allocated already is true.

The three magic words could have been a reference to oil.
It could have been, if one thinks that Iraq would need to send delegations to "very poor" countries to find someone, somewhere, who might be interested in buying oil. Plus, you just argued, "What a peculiar way to go shopping for yellowcake: send some people to get it, and instruct them to never ask for it!" It's an idiotic argument in the case of uranium, since that's contraband as far as Iraq is concerned and Iraq would want deniability. But it's applicable to oil; it would be an extremely peculiar way to go searching for a market for one's oil to use oblique references instead of just saying "oil."

uranium from Niger’s mines is very tightly controlled and accounted for from the time it is mined until the time is [sic] loaded onto ships at the port of Cotonou, Benin … even a kilogram of uranium would be noticed missing at the mines. On-site storage is limited … each shipment of uranium is under Nigerien armed military escort from the time it leaves one of the two Nigerien mines until it is loaded on to a ship in Cotonou. … Trucking barrels of yellowcake northward would require an experienced guide and many armed guards, due to the shifting dunes and bandits in that region … it would be difficult, if not impossible, to arrange a special shipment of uranium to a pariah state given these strict controls and the close monitoring by the Nigerien government and the two mining companies.
You're just begging not to be taken seriously, aren't you? Wilson's comments are a joke. You think there's no possibility of corruption? Nigerien government officials are so well compensated that the fact that they monitor the uranium means it can't be diverted? Do I need to remind you of the oil-for-food scandal at the UN? Since when is "it would need to be smuggled out" an argument that it wasn't done?

Moreover, the entire argument -- including your next quote, where you say it couldn't be smuggled without being detected -- misses the point. Nobody -- including Bush -- ever argued that Iraq actually purchased uranium from Niger; the claim was that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger. If Iraq was seeking uranium, that fact was of tremendous significance, independent of its success. It means Iraq was working to reconstitute its nuclear program. And if it was, we needed to worry. (Do I need to remind you about the way CIA and the rest of the world have been surprised about nuclear proliferation so many times in the past?)
7.25.2008 2:04pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
dave:

there's something dishonorable about anonymously insulting people


There's nothing dishonorable about calling a liar a liar. And my anonymity has no bearing on the question of whether or not you're a liar. You've revealed that you are, over and over again, in this thread and in the prior thread (where, among other things, you made a blatantly false claim about something that was allegedly "reported on the front page of the New York Times").

You have made a long series of deceptive statements. And when your deceptions are highlighted, you pretend not to notice, and attempt to shift the focus elsewhere. Here's one of many examples. Earlier you said this:

… setting aside that what DOE officials tell the SSCI a couple of years after the fact must be believed about what they were saying a couple of years earlier …


You were implying that DOE's position in 2001 was not documented, and our only source for information on this was "what DOE officials tell the SSCI a couple of years after the fact." Trouble is, that's baloney. As I demonstrated here, DOE's position was clearly documented. It's hard to believe you really didn't know this. So either you're a complete ignoramus, on this subject, or you were deliberately trying to deceive. Which is it? This is one of many issues I've already raised, which you're too cowardly to address.
7.25.2008 6:24pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
the CIA was basically saying, "Not invented here. We can't confirm this, but we can't refute it either, so we don't want to get caught with our pants down either way."


Nice job contradicting yourself. According to you, Wilson "found that Saddam sought uranium from Niger." If that's really what Wilson found, then CIA did indeed have confirmation of the UK intel. You would prefer not to notice what's said in the SSCI report:

On October 2, 2002, the Deputy DCI testified before the SSCI. Senator Jon Kyl asked the Deputy DCI whether he had read the British white paper and whether he disagreed with anything in the report. The Deputy DCI testified that "the one thing where I think they stretched a little bit beyond where we would stretch is on the points about Iraq seeking uranium from various African locations. We've looked at those reports and we don't think they are very credible"


If Wilson had really "found that Saddam sought uranium from Niger," then CIA would not have said that the UK intel was not "very credible." Wilson's report would have been independent confirmation of that intel.
7.25.2008 6:25pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Nor did I say she did. I was talking about you, not about her, in that statement.


You're being incoherent. Your earlier statement was this:

Setting aside your assumption that "DOE officials" must be believed over an "administration official"


I never claimed that " 'DOE officials' must be believed over an 'administration official.' " I said that Miller conveyed a lie in describing the position of "DOE officials." Not the same thing. You should tell us what you're trying to say, because as it is you're making no sense.

Do congressional investigations often make efforts to hold people "accountable" for lying to the the press?


No, but they should. It's part of their oversight responsibility. And the fact that they don't helps explain why the public is disgusted with congress.

What "accountability" would there be for such an act?


When the liar is identified to the public, the public would decide how to express accountability.

Would anyone in Washington have a job if there were?


You're pointing out, correctly, that there are lots of liars in Washington. Especially in recent years. That doesn't make it OK, although apparently it's OK with you. But that's no surprise, since you're also a liar.

And speaking of lying on this subject, the unnamed official (probably Scooter) who lied to Miller was not the only liar. Cheney and Rice also lied, on this exact subject, at the exact same time. Rice told us the tubes were "only really suited for nuclear weapons programs." Cheney told us we knew this as a matter of "absolute certainty."

In these statements, they took a position even more extreme than the position taken by Joe, the CIA analyst who was the main advocate of the centrifuge story. Even Joe admitted he didn't know for sure that the tubes were for centrifuges. He admitted the tubes may have been for rockets. Cheney and Rice went beyond just contradicting and hiding the DOE report. They also went beyond the claim that Joe made. They pretended to know something they didn't actually know. That's called lying.
7.25.2008 6:25pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
She just "minimized" what he said.


How Clintonesque of you. If an expert tells a reporter that 1+1=2, and the reporter reports that 1+1=4, the reporter has not "minimized" what the expert said. The reporter has lied.

The question was very simple: did DOE support the CIA position, or not? There's not a lot of gray area there, although you're trying to pretend there is.

Reporters routinely talk to outside sources, to gain background or a different perspective on a story. That doesn't mean that they're obligated to report the perspective of those sources … just because those people contradict other information doesn't mean that the reporter must report it.


If a credible source, sought out by the reporter, directly contradicts something the reporter is about to print, the reporter does indeed have a responsibility to investigate further. Otherwise, they're a propagandist, not a reporter.

You bizarrely put a ridiculously inordinate amount of weight on the fact that Miller called Albright rather than vice versa.


It's important that she called him, because it shows that she knew he was a credible source. Otherwise, there would have been no point in calling him.

There's a big difference between "They weren't as thorough as they should have been" or "They were negligent" and "They lied."


They did all of the above. And even if they were 'only' negligent, that undermines the theory that they are 'liberal,' and always looking for ways to hurt Bush. Which is where this subthread started. If that was truly their slant, Albright's statement would have been in the first paragraph. If that was truly their slant, NYRB would not have been able to demonstrate that NYT "more often deferred" to government claims.

Miller didn't write, "DOE officials agree with the CIA." She wrote, "the administration official said. He added that the best technical experts and nuclear scientists at laboratories like Oak Ridge supported the C.I.A. assessment."


You're pointing out that she didn't originate the lie, but 'only' passed it along approvingly. Trouble is, that still makes her a liar. As NYRB said, she "put the Times's imprimatur on one of the administration's chief claims." A reader would fairly assume (especially because NYT is allegedly 'liberal') that NYT would not simply parrot Bush's various claims, unless it had done independent verification. But NYT did something worse than fail to verify. They verified, and then ignored the information when it contradicted Bush.

from the point of view of an outsider such as Miller, there were conflicting views as to where the DOE stood


Indeed. From her perspective, there were indeed "conflicting views as to where the DOE stood." Trouble is, she hid that reality from her readers, and only reported the Bush view "as to where the DOE stood." Even though she was well-aware of the possibility (at the very least) that this view was a lie.

if there were conflicting views on what the tubes were for, then someone must be dissenting


It's true that Miller acknowledged some dissent. But she also conveyed a blatant falsehood about the position of the DOE.
7.25.2008 6:25pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
"If there's disagreement between intelligence agencies, then the ones that agree with me are right and honest, and the ones that disagree are both wrong and dishonest"


You're claiming that I'm doing this, but actually you're the one who's doing this. I don't reject Butler because they disagree with me. I reject Butler because they are out on a limb, expressing a view that is contradicted by multiple other sources (like CIA, SSCI, S-R and Rice). And UK has offered nothing to support the Butler view, even all these years later.

You, on the other hand, are not lifting a finger to address the proof I've brought from those other sources. Instead, you claim that Butler's right, and that's that.

The further irony is that while Butler supports Bush on yellowcake, it contradicts him on the tubes. When UK said what Bush wanted to hear (on yellowcake), he quoted UK. But when they said what he didn't want to hear (on tubes), he swept their opinion under the rug, and sent Cheney to make statements like "no doubt." The cherry-picking is screamingly transparent.

"Bureaucrats never cover their asses after the fact when their assessments are wrong; they must have been lying to start with"


You're implying that Bush was simply misled by bad intel, and wasn't actually lying. But I've proven otherwise. The tubes are a good example. Cheney and Rice made statements that went beyond any opinion expressed in the IC. Aside from being contrary to UK, a source they liked only when it was convenient.
7.25.2008 6:25pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
the British had a separate source than the CIA


Really? Prove it. If your claim was true, then CIA, SSCI, S-R and Rice would not have all made statements indicating that the 16 words had no basis outside the forged documents.

If your claim was true, we would have learned more by now, so many years later, about that "separate source." Here's how much information has ever been released about that "separate source:" none.

If your claim was true, there would have been no need for Tenet to retract the 16 words. Especially since, according to you, Wilson's report also supported the 16 words.

if the U.S. was relying on the UK rather than the CIA, then your argument falls apart


"If the U.S. was relying on the UK rather than the CIA," because UK really had a "separate source," then Wilson's article would have been no problem at all, and Tenet would not have retracted the 16 words.

Wilson didn't say he knew for sure that Saddam was not trying to get Nigerien yellowcake. Wilson only said that this claim was inconsistent with what he saw on his visit. If "the U.S. was relying on the UK," and the UK really had a separate source, and if Wilson's report really supported the 16 words, then there would have been no need to pay any attention at all to Wilson and his article. Wilson was a problem for Bush only because Wilson was right.

These are all issues that you are ducking. You're not even making a pretense of addressing them. The one whose "argument falls apart" is you.
7.25.2008 6:26pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
That doesn't make any sense, if Wilson's argument that Iraq couldn't possibly get Nigerien uranium because it was all allocated already is true.


That's only one of many reasons why it was very unlikely that Saddam would actually obtain Nigerien yellowcake. It's also a fact that " 'previous Nigerien governments have suggested that the best way the [U.S. government] could keep Niger's uranium from the wrong hands' was for the U.S. to purchase it." So Mayaki did indeed have a motivation to scare us. But we also had a lot of information indicating we had little reason to be scared. Both things are true. Your claim that this "doesn't make any sense" is what doesn't make any sense.

It could have been, if one thinks that Iraq would need to send delegations to "very poor" countries to find someone, somewhere, who might be interested in buying oil


It's perfectly logical that "Iraq would need to send delegations to 'very poor' countries to find someone, somewhere, who might be interested in buying oil." Iraq was being isolated, commercially and diplomatically. It was under extreme pressure. It's no surprise that they were trying to build ties anywhere they could. And they did in fact sell oil to Niger.

It's an idiotic argument in the case of uranium, since that's contraband as far as Iraq is concerned and Iraq would want deniability


Yes, and they were so concerned about "deniability" that no Iraqi ever uttered the words "yellowcake" or "uranium," or any similar words. And the person who said "expanding commercial relations" was not even Iraqi. Your 'logic' is a perfect example of the thinking behind the war: the fact that no Iraqi asked a Nigerien for yellowcake (as far as we know) is used as proof of how badly the Iraqis wanted Nigerien yellowcake.

We heard the same logic with WMD: 'of course we can't find it; that proves that he's working really hard to hide it.' How Orwellian.

But it's applicable to oil; it would be an extremely peculiar way to go searching for a market for one's oil to use oblique references instead of just saying "oil."


You're wrong, because there were indeed restrictions on Iraq's ability to sell oil. So there could have been a reason for "oblique references."

Aside from that, show us your evidence that the Iraqis who met with Mayaki didn't mention oil. While you're at it, show us your evidence that the non-Iraqi who said "expanding commercial relations" didn't mention oil. The fact is that Iraq sold oil to Niger, and it happened around the time of this meeting. Therefore it's likely that oil was mentioned at the meeting, and there's no evidence to the contrary.
7.25.2008 6:26pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Wilson's comments are a joke.


Work on your reading comprehension. The source of the comments I cited (about the extreme difficulty of moving yellowcake) were Manga, a Nigerien minister, not Wilson (although they were conveyed by Wilson, just as Mayaki's words were conveyed by Wilson).

Nigerien government officials are so well compensated that the fact that they monitor the uranium means it can't be diverted?


You're ignoring many of the difficulties that were mentioned, like the fact that it would be physically impossible to move a large amount secretly. Regardless of the size of the bribe.

Do I need to remind you of the oil-for-food scandal at the UN? Since when is "it would need to be smuggled out" an argument that it wasn't done?


Oh, the irony. I guess you must be thinking of the Oil-for-Food scandal that Bush helped facilitate:

the Bush administration was made aware of illegal oil sales and kickbacks paid to the Saddam Hussein regime but did nothing to stop them ... the Senate report found that US oil purchases accounted for 52% of the kickbacks paid to the regime in return for sales of cheap oil - more than the rest of the world put together ... The United States was not only aware of Iraqi oil sales which violated UN sanctions and provided the bulk of the illicit money Saddam Hussein obtained from circumventing UN sanctions ... On occasion, the United States actually facilitated the illicit oil sales.


Yes, Saddam was able to smuggle oil, because Bush helped him. Similarly, Saddam would have been able to smuggle yellowcake out of Niger only if Bush decided to ignore the evidence of this that would have inevitably come to us, via satellite and other means.
7.25.2008 6:26pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Nobody -- including Bush -- ever argued that Iraq actually purchased uranium from Niger; the claim was that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger


Nice job revealing how painfully ignorant you are. I guess you never heard of the forged documents. They were evidence, allegedly, of an actual purchase. Not just an attempt to purchase. To the extent that anyone ever took the forged documents seriously, it was because consideration was being given to the possibility that an actual purchase had taken place. And CIA treated the documents as genuine, or at least pretended to think they were genuine, for over a year. Or at least certain people at CIA did so. This is a mystery that's never been explained, because the documents were a very obvious forgery.

If Iraq was seeking uranium, that fact was of tremendous significance, independent of its success.


Wrong. The fact is of "tremendous significance" only if there's a possibility of the desire coming to fruition. I might be "seeking" a wild vacation getaway with the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, but this fact only has "tremendous significance" if there's actually a chance it might happen.

It was appropriate for us to make an assessment of what Saddam was "seeking." It was also appropriate for us to make an assessment of the likelihood that he could actually obtain what he was seeking. In the overall risk assessment, both factors are obviously relevant. What has "tremendous significance" is that Bush greatly exaggerated (if not fabricated) the information about "seeking," while also hiding from us the intel that showed the enormous difficulty in actually obtaining Nigerien yellowcake. This too was a form of lying.

Do I need to remind you about the way CIA and the rest of the world have been surprised about nuclear proliferation so many times in the past?


There are risks in underestimating a threat, and there are risks in overestimating a threat. Either way, there is no excuse for lying. Trouble is, that's what Bush did.
7.25.2008 6:26pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
This too was a form of lying.
How about presenting a minority report of a Senate subcommittee as though it were an actual report, which doesn't have anything to do with Bush, and then claiming that "Bush helped facilitate" something? Would that be a "form of lying"? Or is everyone a liar except you? You're incapable of arguing in good faith, aren't you?

Nice job contradicting yourself. According to you, Wilson "found that Saddam sought uranium from Niger." If that's really what Wilson found, then CIA did indeed have confirmation of the UK intel.
Wrong. See what I mean about your complete inability to understand intelligence work? Unfortunately, it's harder than blogging and pulling a few quotes out of context and calling everyone a liar. The CIA had a piece of evidence. Not "confirmation." It bolstered the credibility of the British claim; it didn't prove it.

The further irony is that while Butler supports Bush on yellowcake, it contradicts him on the tubes. When UK said what Bush wanted to hear (on yellowcake), he quoted UK. But when they said what he didn't want to hear (on tubes), he swept their opinion under the rug, and sent Cheney to make statements like "no doubt." The cherry-picking is screamingly transparent.
See what I mean about not understanding intelligence work? Cherry picking is an essential part of intelligence work. You also don't understand the difference between a factual statement -- Iraq sought to buy uranium from Niger -- and a prediction -- the tubes would probably be used for rockets.

If a credible source, sought out by the reporter, directly contradicts something the reporter is about to print, the reporter does indeed have a responsibility to investigate further. Otherwise, they're a propagandist, not a reporter.
Failing to investigate makes one negligent, not a liar.
It's important that she called him, because it shows that she knew he was a credible source. Otherwise, there would have been no point in calling him.
The point is to hear an outside point of view. That doesn't mean you always print what he says. You don't understand how reporting works.


You're pointing out that she didn't originate the lie, but 'only' passed it along approvingly. Trouble is, that still makes her a liar.
Telling the truth cannot make someone a liar. You really should stop throwing around the word indiscriminately like that; it just makes you look foolish.
As NYRB said, she "put the Times's imprimatur on one of the administration's chief claims." A reader would fairly assume (especially because NYT is allegedly 'liberal') that NYT would not simply parrot Bush's various claims, unless it had done independent verification.
It didn't parrot his claims. Miller didn't write that the DOE supported the CIA. Miller wrote that an administration official said that the DOE supported the CIA. A reader would fairly assume -- I mean an intelligent reader, here -- that an administration official said that the DOE supported the CIA.

Really? Prove it. If your claim was true, then CIA, SSCI, S-R and Rice would not have all made statements indicating that the 16 words had no basis outside the forged documents.
They didn't say that. In fact, everyone has always maintained that the 16 words were not based upon the forged documents. (How could they be, when the 16 words were based on the British claim, and the British claim wasn't based upon the forged documents?)

It's perfectly logical that "Iraq would need to send delegations to 'very poor' countries to find someone, somewhere, who might be interested in buying oil." Iraq was being isolated, commercially and diplomatically.
False. In fact, the sanctions regime had virtually collapsed by 1999. The left-wing talking point was how sanctions were killing Iraqi children. The French and Russians were desperate to do deals with Iraq.
You're wrong, because there were indeed restrictions on Iraq's ability to sell oil. So there could have been a reason for "oblique references."
No. There were restrictions on what Iraq could do with the money.

Work on your reading comprehension. The source of the comments I cited (about the extreme difficulty of moving yellowcake) were Manga, a Nigerien minister, not Wilson (although they were conveyed by Wilson, just as Mayaki's words were conveyed by Wilson).
Saying that something Wilson said weren't Wilson's words is a "form of lying." Just because he purported to be passing along someone else's opinions doesn't mean they weren't his words. You also ignore the obvious fact that if Niger were smuggling uranium, it wouldn't exactly have an incentive to admit this to Wilson; of course it would say that it didn't and couldn't happen. Wilson, who was supposed to be investigating the deal, did no actual investigating; he just talked to Nigerien officials. Now that's propaganda.

Nobody -- including Bush -- ever argued that Iraq actually purchased uranium from Niger; the claim was that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger

Nice job revealing how painfully ignorant you are. I guess you never heard of the forged documents. They were evidence, allegedly, of an actual purchase.
Nice job revealing how dishonest you are. Nobody claimed that there was such a purchase. The documents were forged, and not relied upon. Read the 16 words again. No claim of a purchase. No claim by Cheney, Libby, or anybody else.

Wrong. The fact is of "tremendous significance" only if there's a possibility of the desire coming to fruition. I might be "seeking" a wild vacation getaway with the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, but this fact only has "tremendous significance" if there's actually a chance it might happen.
Well, since it's rather questionable as to whether you've ever spoken with a girl, that may be true as to your half of the equation -- but Iraq had had a nuclear weapons program, one which it managed to conceal in the past. So it was of tremendous significance if it was trying to acquire uranium.

It was appropriate for us to make an assessment of what Saddam was "seeking." It was also appropriate for us to make an assessment of the likelihood that he could actually obtain what he was seeking. In the overall risk assessment, both factors are obviously relevant.
The problem is, we couldn't know what the likelihood was that he could actually obtain what he was seeking. Again you demonstrate your ignorance of intelligence work. You can't just "make an assessment" based on fragmentary information and then assume that this assessment is correct and so ignore the possibility that it isn't.
7.25.2008 7:56pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
How about presenting a minority report of a Senate subcommittee as though it were an actual report, which doesn't have anything to do with Bush, and then claiming that "Bush helped facilitate" something?


How about blowing pure smoke because you're not in a position to deal with facts?

This "minority report of a Senate subcommittee" is indeed "an actual report," and it's based on actual facts that are backed up by actual documents, which do indeed prove Bush's role in facilitating Saddam's illegal oil shipments. The report can be found in this pdf (warning, it's about 80mb). Tell Adobe Reader to take you to page 849.

Shorter versions of the same facts can be found here and here. A good summary is also provided by WP. Fox gives us a helpful transcript of the testimony of a key witness (Senate Counsel Dan Berkovitz), who does a good job of explaining all the details in a clear, succinct way. Including this detail: "oil imported into the U.S. financed about 52 percent of the illegal surcharges paid to the Hussein regime." That claim is supported by extensive documentation, which can be found in the large pdf.

What we did and didn't do at Khor al-Amaya put $53 million in Saddam's pocket, at the exact moment that we were telling the world what an evil man he was. We allowed 14 tankers to leave Iraq shortly before we invaded. Some people in the oil business made a lot of money, while Dubya looked the other way. What a surprise. These facts don't disappear simply because you wave your hand and claim, with no support whatsoever, that they don't "have anything to do with Bush."

You're incapable of arguing in good faith, aren't you?


If you want to show that you're "arguing in good faith," then prove these facts are wrong. Suggesting that they can be safely ignored because they are found in "a minority report" has nothing to do with "arguing in good faith."
7.26.2008 3:22pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
It bolstered the credibility of the British claim


There you go again, with your Clintonesque parsings. If Wilson's report truly "bolstered the credibility of the British claim," then CIA would not have said this

the one thing where I think they stretched a little bit beyond where we would stretch is on the points about Iraq seeking uranium from various African locations. We've looked at those reports and we don't think they are very credible


Trouble is, that's what they said. This statement, and others like it, prove that no one took the three magic words ("expanding commercial relations") seriously until after Wilson's article, when it became politically convenient to do so.

If Wilson's report really "bolstered the credibility of the British claim," then why did CIA insist that Bush remove the British claim from his Ohio speech? And why did he agree to do so? This is one of many issues that you are repeatedly ducking.

The CIA had a piece of evidence. Not "confirmation."


Really? Wilson's report was not "confirmation" of the UK claim? It only "bolstered" the claim, but was not "confirmation?" Gee, that's interesting. Because the factcheck article that impresses you said this:

Ironically, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who later called Bush’s 16 words a “lie”, supplied information that the Central Intelligence Agency took as confirmation that Iraq may indeed have been seeking uranium from Niger.


(Emphasis added.) Here I explained why that statement is wrong. But thanks for helping me prove what I already said: your source, factcheck, has made a lot of mistakes.

pulling a few quotes out of context


You've shown this many examples of me doing so: zero.
7.26.2008 3:22pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Cherry picking is an essential part of intelligence work.


More Clintonesque baloney. When "cherry picking" means choosing which evidence to take seriously, and which to dismiss, there's nothing wrong with that, and it's something every decision maker does (and not just in intelligence work). But when "cherry picking" means pretending you know something you don't know (or pretending to not know something that you do know), that's lying, and it's not OK. "Cherry picking" is also not OK when it means reflexively dismissing and hiding all evidence that contradicts a preconceived conclusion. Most of us learned this in kindergarten. You still have time to catch up.

You also don't understand the difference between a factual statement -- Iraq sought to buy uranium from Niger -- and a prediction -- the tubes would probably be used for rockets.


You're working hard to deny the reality of what was actually said. Rice, for example, said the tubes were "only really suited for nuclear weapons programs." That was not a "prediction." It was a factual statement. It was also a lie, and it was a lie told knowingly. Even the CIA did not claim that the tubes were "only really suited for nuclear weapons programs." Joe, the primary advocate of the centrifuge story, acknowledged that the tubes could be used for rockets. And DOE, whose nuclear expertise was much greater than Joe's, said emphatically and repeatedly that the tubes were most likely for rockets.

Failing to investigate makes one negligent, not a liar.


Since you're admitting that NYT was "negligent," explain how this fits the narrative that they are 'liberal' and out to get Bush. This 'negligence' was conveniently pro-war. Kind of like how voting machines made lots of mysterious errors that mostly leaned in a certain direction.

A reader would fairly assume -- I mean an intelligent reader, here -- that an administration official said that the DOE supported the CIA.


A reader would also fairly assume that NYT would not simply repeat this without making some effort to verify it. This was explained by your own source: NYRB. And speaking of repeating things, you are simply repeating your asinine claim without even making a pretense of addressing what I said about it.

everyone has always maintained that the 16 words were not based upon the forged documents. (How could they be, when the 16 words were based on the British claim, and the British claim wasn't based upon the forged documents?)


There you again, simply repeating your false claims, without making even a pretense of dealing with the contrary proof that was presented.

If "the 16 words were not based upon the forged documents," why did Tenet retract them? If "the British claim wasn't based upon the forged documents," then what were they based on, and how come we've never seen any evidence of any kind? These are just examples of the many questions that you are repeatedly ducking. That's because you're a coward and a liar.
7.26.2008 3:22pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
the sanctions regime had virtually collapsed by 1999


Really? Someone should have told Mayaki. SSCI said this: "although the meeting took place, Mayaki let the matter drop due to the UN sanctions on Iraq."

And someone should have told Iraq. Pay attention to what Duelfer said:

Duelfer also found no information to support allegations that Iraq sought uranium from Africa or any other country after 1991, as Bush once asserted in a major speech before the invasion. The only two contacts with Niger that were discovered were an invitation to the president of Niger to visit Baghdad, and a visit to Baghdad by a Niger minister in 2001 seeking petroleum products for cash. There was one offer to Iraq of "yellowcake" uranium, and that was from a Ugandan businessman offering uranium from Congo. The deal was turned down, and the Ugandan was told that Baghdad was not interested because of the sanctions.


(Emphasis added.) And someone should have told Powell and Rice. Powell said this (2/24/01): "[Saddam] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors."

On 5/15/01, Powell said that Saddam had not been able to “build his military back up or to develop weapons of mass destruction” for “the last 10 years.” Powell said we had succeeded in keeping Saddam “in a box.”

And Rice said this (7/29/01): “But in terms of Saddam Hussein being there, let’s remember that his country is divided, in effect. He does not control the northern part of his country. We are able to keep arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt.”

If "the sanctions regime had virtually collapsed by 1999," then none of these statements would make sense. You have a seemingly endless supply of stale right-wing talking points that are totally divorced from reality.

The French and Russians were desperate to do deals with Iraq.


How ironic you would bring that up, since I have already shown that "oil imported into the U.S. financed about 52 percent of the illegal surcharges paid to the Hussein regime." Bush's pals were also "desperate to do deals with Iraq," and Bush was happy to let them.
7.26.2008 3:22pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
No. There were restrictions on what Iraq could do with the money.


You're claiming that there were no restrictions on Iraq's ability to sell oil, but only "restrictions on what Iraq could do with the money." A classic example of a distinction without a difference. Yes, "there were restrictions on what Iraq could do with the money," which meant that Iraq couldn't sell as much oil as it wanted to. Which meant that there indeed could have been a motivation for Iraq to discuss oil sales in a discreet manner ("expanding commercial relations"). Although, as I have already pointed out, the person who said that wasn't even an Iraqi. This relates to your earlier claim:

It's an idiotic argument in the case of uranium, since that's contraband as far as Iraq is concerned and Iraq would want deniability. But it's applicable to oil; it would be an extremely peculiar way to go searching for a market for one's oil to use oblique references instead of just saying "oil."


Iraq could indeed "want deniability" with regard to oil sales, since it might have wanted to sell oil secretly, which would mean it could use the money in an unrestricted manner. So oil could indeed be "contraband."
7.26.2008 3:23pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Just because he purported to be passing along someone else's opinions doesn't mean they weren't his words


Gosh, that's really funny. So Wilson is supposed to be considered trustworthy when he quotes Mayaki (who, in turn, is quoting someone else who said "expanding commercial relations"), but Wilson is supposed to be considered untrustworthy when he quotes Manga, who explained in detail why it would be almost impossible for Saddam to get his hands on Nigerien yellowcake.

Makes perfect sense. Thanks for giving us another nice example of your dishonest cherry-picking.

You also ignore the obvious fact that if Niger were smuggling uranium, it wouldn't exactly have an incentive to admit this to Wilson


You have it exactly backwards. It's true that the officials would not want to admit to helping Iraq. However, they did indeed have an incentive to tell us that Iraq was trying to get yellowcake. I already cited the relevant text from SSCI: " 'previous Nigerien governments have suggested that the best way the [U.S. government] could keep Niger's uranium from the wrong hands' was for the U.S. to purchase it." So Mayaki did indeed have a motivation to scare us. And still, the best he could do is come up with a vague phrase ("expanding commercial relations") allegedly spoken by someone who is not even Iraqi. This "obvious fact" is one of many that you're ignoring.

Here's another one I haven't mentioned yet. If Wilson was a dishonest partisan, instead of someone trying to do a thorough investigation, why did he bother telling his CIA debriefers about the three magic words? Why not just forget to mention it?

Wilson, who was supposed to be investigating the deal, did no actual investigating; he just talked to Nigerien officials


Since you know so much about spying and intelligence work, you should tell us how you would have gone about "investigating the deal:" sneak around in a trenchcoat? Is that what "actual investigating" looks like?

By the way, it was Tenet's CIA who decided Wilson was qualified for this mission. And they had sent him on a similar mission, previously. If it was dumb for CIA to do this, why did Dubya give Tenet a medal?

Also, Wilson didn't claim that he knew for sure that Saddam was not getting yellowcake from Niger. Wilson never claimed to have done a perfect investigation. He only said that what he saw in Niger didn't support the 16 words. That's a truthful statement. We're still waiting for you to show proof for your claim that Wilson's column contained one or more lies.
7.26.2008 3:23pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Nobody claimed that there was such a purchase.


Everyone who treated the documents as genuine (and that included, at the very least, certain people inside the CIA) was believing in the premise that there was a purchase.

The documents were forged, and not relied upon.


The CIA didn't admit the documents were forged until well into 2003. Earlier, they took the documents seriously, although admitting that further confirmation was desirable. On 10/18/01, CIA said this:

According to a foreign government service, Niger as of early this year planned to send several tons of uranium to Iraq under an agreement concluded late last year.


Earlier, you said this:

Nobody -- including Bush -- ever argued that Iraq actually purchased uranium from Niger; the claim was that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger


You're simply and obviously wrong. Certain people in the CIA took the forged documents seriously, and indeed "argued that Iraq actually purchased uranium from Niger." It's true that Bush didn't go that far in the 16 words, but certain people in the CIA did indeed go that far, starting in 10/01. And this is exactly what led to Wilson's trip. If no one ever took the forged documents seriously, and "relied" on them, Wilson's trip would not have happened. This is explained very clearly in SSCI.

Read the 16 words again. No claim of a purchase. No claim by Cheney, Libby, or anybody else.


Nice job trying to pretend that you said something other than what you actually said. You didn't just say that Bush et al never made a public claim about an actual purchase. You said that "nobody … ever argued that Iraq actually purchased uranium from Niger." But people in the CIA did indeed make that argument, and that's what led to Wilson's trip.

it was of tremendous significance if it was trying to acquire uranium


Only if there was a real chance he could actually get some, and do so secretly (and even then, it would have been useless without centrifuges). And with regard to Niger, there wasn't such a chance. And Bush knew this, and concealed this from us. This was a form of lying.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is that Iraq already had a large quantity of yellowcake. It was useless, because Saddam had no means to enrich it. Why would he want more, from far away, when he already had a large amount? This is one of many issues you are not going to address.

So: he wasn't trying to get yellowcake (it didn't make sense to try, because he already had a large amount). And even if he tried, he would not have succeeded. And even if he succeeded, the material would have been useless, because he lacked centrifuges. But by telling a series of lies about yellowcake and tubes, Bush et al managed to obscure all this.
7.26.2008 3:23pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
we couldn't know what the likelihood was that he could actually obtain what he was seeking. Again you demonstrate your ignorance of intelligence work. You can't just "make an assessment" based on fragmentary information and then assume that this assessment is correct and so ignore the possibility that it isn't.


Now you tell us. Suddenly you have a great awareness of what "we couldn't know," and the issue of "fragmentary information." Yes, we did indeed just have "fragmentary information." Trouble is, Bush et al pretended otherwise. They frequently used terms like "no doubt" and "absolute certainty," even though, as you have now helpfully admitted, the underlying intel was very far from absolutely certain. They repeatedly pretended to know things that they didn't know. And they repeatedly pretended to not know things that they did know. This is called lying.

Speaking of lying, we're still waiting for you to explain your many attempts at deception, a couple of which I summarized here. You're continuing your normal MO, which is to pretend to not notice when you've been caught making false statements.
7.26.2008 3:24pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Just noticed yet another indication that you don't know what you're talking about. And that you can't manage to avoid contradicting yourself, because you're trapped in the web of your lies. You said this:

Nobody claimed that there was such a purchase. The documents were forged, and not relied upon.


Those statements are false, and you know they're false. About six hours earlier, you had said this:

The CIA had insufficient evidence, once it learned the documents were forged, to conclude that Iraq was buying uranium from Niger


Here you revealed that you know what's true: that certain people inside the CIA did indeed "conclude that Iraq was buying uranium from Niger," and they continued to make this claim until "it learned the documents were forged." Because until that time, the documents were treated as genuine, and treated as evidence "that there was such a purchase." The forged documents were indeed "relied upon" to make this claim.

There's lots of evidence of this. Earlier I cited text from S-R which tells us this. Here is some relevant text from SSCI:

On June 17, 2003, nearly five months after the President delivered the State of the Union address, the CIA produced a memorandum for the DCI which said, "since learning that the Iraq-Niger uranium deal was based on false documents earlier this spring, we no longer believe that there is sufficient other reporting to conclude that Iraq pursued uranium from abroad." This memorandum was not distributed outside the CIA and the Committee has not been provided with any intelligence products in which the CIA published its corrected assessment on Iraq's pursuit of uranium from Niger outside of the agency.


This makes clear that CIA didn't formally acknowledge the documents were forged until 6/03. And until that time the documents were indeed "relied upon."

There's also this:

Conclusion 18. When documents regarding the Iraq-Niger uranium reporting became available to the Intelligence Community in October 2002, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analysts and operations officers should have made an effort to obtain copies. As a result of not obtaining the documents, CIA Iraq nuclear analysts continued to report on Iraqi efforts to procure uranium from Africa and continued to approve the use of such language in Administration publications and speeches.


This also makes clear that the forged documents were "relied upon" to make claims about "Iraqi efforts to procure uranium from Africa."

(As an aside: the passage is confusing, and partially incorrect, perhaps intentionally. It obfuscates the fact that we had verbatim text of the documents no later than 2/02. This should have been enough to alert us to the forgery. Finally, in 10/02, we did obtain actual copies. It was during the period prior to 10/02 that CIA "should have made an effort to obtain copies," and pointedly neglected to do so. Still, it wasn't until months later that CIA finally admitted the documents were forged. SSCI seems to be trying to shift blame to CIA, while also obscuring the full extent of the CIA shenanigans which assisted Bush.)

There's more:

Conclusion 19. Even after obtaining the forged documents and being alerted by.a State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) analyst about problems with them, analysts at both the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) did not examine them carefully enough to see the obvious problems with the documents. Both agencies continued to publish assessments that Iraq may have been seeking uranium from Africa. In addition, CIA continued to approve the use of similar language in Administration publications and speeches, including the State of the Union.


This is yet another very explicit indication that the forged documents were treated as genuine, and were indeed "relied upon" to claim "that Iraq may have been seeking uranium from Africa."

The forged documents, and not UK intel (and not Wilson's report), were the fuel that drove the yellowcake allegation, inside our IC. If UK intel and/or Wilson's report were actually independent, meaningful support for the 16 words (as Bushists like you persistently argue), then the discovery of the forgery would have meant nothing. SSCI and other sources make it clear that the discovery of the forgery was a big deal. It was a big deal only because there was no other evidence. The UK intel was just vague rumors that traced back to the same forged documents. That's why UK, even at this late date, has never shown anything remotely resembling separate evidence. There are many reasons why such a thing would have been published or leaked, long ago, if it actually existed.

And that's why SSCI, S-R and Rice have all made statements indicating that once we knew the documents were forged, there was no longer a basis to conclude that Iraq had bought yellowcake, or had sought yellowcake. If the UK intel was real, and independent, then those statements by SSCI, S-R and Rice would be wrong.

Bush understood he could not make a claim based on these documents (pre-SOTU, certain people in our IC were already pointing out the forgery, although it took months for CIA to make a formal acknowledgement). But thanks to his pal Blair, he found a way to make a claim based on a reflection, or echo, of the documents. This is essentially a form of information laundering. It's analogous to money laundering, and it's just as crooked.
7.27.2008 7:40am

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