September 24, 2003

Kennedy's 'Uncivil' Truths on Iraq

In early September, General Zinni spoke to the US
Marine Corp Association about having heard "the
garbage and lies" during the Vietnam War. Early this
week, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Camelot) spoke about the
"fraud" and "bribery" involved in the _resident's
foolish military adventure in Iraq...These two
instances of direct, bold communication are very
important...Look back, as Zinni exhorts us, to
Vietnam. The US foreign policy establishment wandered
into that quagmire, the US intelligence community
wandered into it (although a few brave analysts
advised against it), the US military wandered into it,
the country as a whole wandered into the Heart of
Darkness, but Iraq is different. There was widespread
opposition (hundreds of thousands in the street when
the "US mainstream news media" reported tens of
thousands, tens of thousands when the "US mainstream
news media" reported thousands), BUT more importantly,
the US foreign policy establishment was against going
into Iraq without the UN or the Western alliance, the
US millitary was at least two-thirds against going
into Iraq under such circumstances, and an educated
LNS guess says that two-thirds of the US inteligence
community was against going into Iraq...We have a
rogue regime on our hands in the US. Many of us knew
this sad fact after the theft of the 2000 election,
but we were told to "get over it" and ridiculed as the
"US mainstream news media" pretended it was "too
close" and had more to do with hanging chads then
conspiracy to de-rail the majority vote in Fraudida.
The tragedy of 9/11 disturbed a lot of people. There
are some ghastly questions to answer. But
understandably many powerful people and interests
looked the other way. But Iraq, Iraq is different. The
Bush cabal went to far, and they did not pull it
off...and the body bags of young US soldiers are
piling up...and hundreds of billions of dollars are
going to have to be spent...and untold damage has been
done to our role in the UN Security Council and to the
Western alliance...They went to far...The Zinni factor
has kicked in...The US military, the US intelligence
community, the US foreign policy establishment have to
be buzzing with discussion of how the US extricates
itself not from Iraq (we may not be able to for a long
time) but from this rogue regime in the US. Listen,
Kennedy's remarks are still being talked about openly
in the "US mainstream news media." You know what they
do to the messenger who brings bad news? Yes, but
Kennedy is near the end of his long career, he has his
own financial security, and he has no aspiration left
for higher office (it went off that bridge so long
ago). Kennedy has nothing to lose, and so he said it:
"a fraud perpetrated in Texas." It is the opposite of
the Politics of Denial. The Politics of Denial has led
the Democrats to almost losing their historic
role...But it is over now...His comments would have
been ignored or dismissed before, but the power
structure itself is turning now...That's why Howard
(D-Jeffords) and Wesley Clark (D-NATO) have captured
the public imagination. Because they have rejected the
Politics of Denial. They are reaching people because
they are not trying to parse and pacify...It is why
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mekong Delta) is still struggling,
becauase he tried to play the margins. He is a good
man, and if it had gone differently in Iraq, he wuld
have been proven right..But here we are...Remember
this analysis going forward, the Politics of Denial is
finished, articulate the Zinni Factor, and in the
words of Mark Crispin Miller, "Pick a fight!" In the
period ahead of us you may see the corporatist media
shift, or allow a shift away from the Deep
Fix...Meanwhile, the Information Rebellion is alive
and well on the Internet...Share this analysis and the
story below with others...

Published on Tuesday, September 23, 2003 by the
Boston Globe
Kennedy's 'Uncivil' Truths on Iraq
by Thomas Oliphant

GIVE OR TAKE a couple of nouns -- "bribery" and
"fraud," to be precise -- here are the facts behind
what Senator Edward Kennedy had to say last week about
the mess in Iraq.The secrecy surrounding the way
President Bush is spending military billions appears
to have a purpose, one that has nothing to do with
keeping valuable intelligence from our enemies. In
addition to keeping secret the actual expenditures for
specific activities, the president is also keeping
secret the precise destinations of the dollars, one of
which just happens to be the treasuries of other
countries. One example is the "international" division
of troops on the scene, nominally led by the Poles. As
far as anyone can determine, not a dime of the costs
associated with this division's presence in Iraq is
being paid for by any of the countries participating
in it. The United States is paying all the freight,
and those troops would not be in Iraq -- their
governments would not have sent them -- if it weren't.

Take another, more troubling example. Over the
weekend, the Bush administration signed papers for an
$8.5 billion package of loans and other goodies for
Turkey -- the country that stiffed us on the eve of
the invasion of Iraq, eliminating the possibility of
an attack from the north. This package is a cousin to
earlier attempts to use grants, loans, and other
economic concessions to get Turkey into Iraq -- which
is a dangerous idea even on its merits, given Turkey's
miserable record vis a vis the Kurds.

In announcing that the package had been finalized,
triggering a Turkish Cabinet meeting to consider
sending forces into Iraq, Treasury Secretary John Snow
denied that the package of goodies was explicitly
conditioned on Turkey's joining America's band of
bought-and-paid-for allies. However, he did
acknowledge that it assumed Turkey's "cooperation" on
Iraq matters -- a distinction too cute for hacks like

This raises an interesting question. Just what do you
call a payment of money to a government in return for
its performance of an act like sending troops to Iraq
that it would not perform but for the payment of the
money? Those who call it bribery may be accused of
being accurate and tough but hardly inaccurate and not
at all "uncivil" (to use President Bush's complaining

As Kennedy said in his Boston interview last week with
the Associated Press, the diligent folks at the
Congressional Budget Office have encountered nothing
but roadblocks in attempting to track Bush's military
money and do not accept the administration's rough
estimate of the ongoing costs: nearly $4 billion a

Kennedy was referring to a CBO report earlier this
month summarizing its efforts to get at the truth. It
included this sentence: "CBO believes that the $3.9
billion figure may include some one-time costs that
CBO would not incorporate in its estimate of the costs
of long-term occupation."

I'm told that was in part a reference to these
payments for other countries that meet all the
dictionary tests of bribery.

As for the war itself, consider the facts again. The
president chose March 20 as an invasion date
arbitrarily, not for any reasons involving a threat to
our nation that demanded an attack then, much less an
attack with only Britain as a major ally. Just as
arbitrarily, he chose to justify the date on the basis
of supposed threats from Iraq's alleged weapons of
mass destruction and "ties" to the terrorists who
attacked the United States two years ago.

s the facts have unfolded in ways that make these
claims, shall we say, spurious, other justifications
have emerged after the fact (transforming the entire
Middle East, stopping a human rights violator from his
murderous ways). This is the substitution of one bill
of goods with another bill of goods. The old
bait-and-switch is one of the classic elements of what
is called fraud with legal precision.

nd lest anyone be shocked at the suggestion by Kennedy
that politics was involved in all this, I invite a
reading of White House guru Karl Rove's intemperate
speech to the Republican National Committee early in
2002 and the subsequent use of "national security" and
morphed images of Saddam Hussein to question the
loyalty of Democrats in that year's ugly congressional

Such political habits die hard -- hence Tom DeLay's
reaction to Kennedy, accusing him of attacking Bush
with more verve than he ever used against Saddam
Hussein, or Attorney General Ashcroft's repeated
equation of opposition to the Patriot Act with

Like nearly all Democrats, Kennedy is prepared to
support more money for Iraq, possibly even to support
something like the $87 billion Bush has requested.

The essential precondition for all this money,
however, is the truth. Kennedy raised a lot of
eyebrows with some tough language, but unlike the
president he had the facts behind him. Instead of
complaining about language, Bush would be wiser to
realize that the truth about bribery and an end to the
fraud would be much more productive.

Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company


Posted by richard at September 24, 2003 09:59 AM