February 06, 2004

Right now America is going through an Orwellian moment.

Paul Krugman, the voice of Greater Greenspania and the
moral conscience of the NYTwits, articulates the
absurity of the _resident's position and reveals the
utter complictity of the propapunditgandists who
refuse to describe the complete picture that now
presents itself ("connect the dots" is now longer the
operative phrase, because "connect the dots" implies
that there are still gaps in the picture)...The
_resident has gutted the federal surplus and built in
trillions of dollars of debts stretching out for
decades into the future. Using false pretexts to
launch a foolish military adveneture, the _resident
has led the country into a quagmire in Iraq, spilling
our blood and treasure on the sand, while answering
Osama bin Laden's every prayer and draining away
precious resources from the real war on terrorism.

Paul Krugman, New York Times: Right now America is
going through an Orwellian moment. On both the foreign
policy and the fiscal fronts, the Bush administration
is trying to rewrite history, to explain away its
current embarrassments.

Restore Fiscal Responsibility to the White House, Show
Up for Democracy in 2004: Defeat Bush (again!)


February 6, 2004
Get Me Rewrite!

Right now America is going through an Orwellian moment.
On both the foreign policy and the fiscal fronts, the
Bush administration is trying to rewrite history, to
explain away its current embarrassments.

Let's start with the case of the missing W.M.D. Do you
remember when the C.I.A. was reviled by hawks because
its analysts were reluctant to present a sufficiently
alarming picture of the Iraqi threat? Your memories
are no longer operative. On or about last Saturday,
history was revised: see, it's the C.I.A.'s fault that
the threat was overstated. Given its warnings, the
administration had no choice but to invade.

A tip from Joshua Marshall, of
www.talkingpointsmemo.com, led me to a stark reminder
of how different the story line used to be. Last year
Laurie Mylroie published a book titled "Bush vs. the
Beltway: How the C.I.A. and the State Department Tried
to Stop the War on Terror." Ms. Mylroie's book came
with an encomium from Richard Perle; she's known to be
close to Paul Wolfowitz and to Dick Cheney's chief of
staff. According to the jacket copy, "Mylroie
describes how the C.I.A. and the State Department have
systematically discredited critical intelligence about
Saddam's regime, including indisputable evidence of
its possession of weapons of mass destruction."

Currently serving intelligence officials may deny that
they faced any pressure after what happened to
Valerie Plame, what would you do in their place? but
former officials tell a different story. The latest
revelation is from Britain. Brian Jones, who was the
Ministry of Defense's top W.M.D. analyst when Tony
Blair assembled his case for war, says that the
crucial dossier used to make that case didn't reflect
the views of the professionals: "The expert
intelligence experts of the D.I.S. [Defense
Intelligence Staff] were overruled." All the experts
agreed that the dossier's claims should have been
"carefully caveated"; they weren't.

And don't forget the Pentagon's Office of Special
Plans, created specifically to offer a more alarming
picture of the Iraq threat than the intelligence
professionals were willing to provide.

Can all these awkward facts be whited out of the
historical record? Probably. Almost surely, President
Bush's handpicked "independent" commission won't
investigate the Office of Special Plans. Like Lord
Hutton in Britain who chose to disregard Mr. Jones's
testimony it will brush aside evidence that
intelligence professionals were pressured. It will
focus only on intelligence mistakes, not on the fact
that the experts, while wrong, weren't nearly wrong
enough to satisfy their political masters. (Among
those mentioned as possible members of the commission
is James Woolsey, who wrote one of the blurbs for Ms.
Mylroie's book.)

And if top political figures have their way, there
will be further rewriting to come. You may remember
that Saddam gave in to U.N. demands that he allow
inspectors to roam Iraq, looking for banned weapons.
But your memories may soon be invalid. Recently Mr.
Bush said that war had been justified because Saddam
"did not let us in." And this claim was repeated by
Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate
Intelligence Committee: "Why on earth didn't [Saddam]
let the inspectors in and avoid the war?"

Now let's turn to the administration's other big
embarrassment, the budget deficit.

The fiscal 2005 budget report admits that this year's
expected $521 billion deficit belies the rosy
forecasts of 2001. But the report offers an
explanation: stuff happens. "Today's budget deficits
are the unavoidable result of the revenue erosion from
the stock market collapse that began in early 2000, an
economy recovering from recession and a nation
confronting serious security threats." Sure, the
administration was wrong but so was everyone.

The trouble is that accepting that excuse requires
forgetting a lot of recent history. By February 2002,
when the administration released its fiscal 2003
budget, all of the bad news the bursting of the
bubble, the recession, and, yes, 9/11 had already
happened. Yet that budget projected only a $14 billion
deficit this year, and a return to surpluses next
year. Why did that forecast turn out so wrong? Because
administration officials fudged the facts, as usual.

I'd like to think that the administration's crass
efforts to rewrite history will backfire, that the
media and the informed public won't let officials get
away with this. Have we finally had enough?

E-mail: krugman@nytimes.com

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Posted by richard at February 6, 2004 02:53 PM