Sunday, August 08, 2004

Gaslight watch: Bush outs our mole in AQ and liberals feel guilty 

Gee, it's funny, but the only newspaper [1] on the North American land mass to pick up the story that Bush, during the latest extremely non-political terror alert, outed a mole that Pakistan placed in AQ (back), is in Toronto (see " incompetence or worse"). I wonder why? But read on:

There seems to be a meme that's gotten loose in the blogosphere—not, as yet, picked up and amplified by the VWRC, a sign that this story is way too hot for them to handle safely—that somehow the liberals are responsible for Bush's actions. The normally staunch Kevin Drum (did he move to DC?) writes:

I'm beside myself that Bush administration officials are so spineless that they'd kill an undercover operation just to remove some political heat from themselves. But: I'm also angry that the reaction to Sunday's terror warning from Bush critics was so hysterical that the Bushies got panicked into doing this. And yet: I'm furious that Bush and his cronies have so corrupted our intelligence services that deep skepticism was hardly an unfair reaction.
(via Washington Monthly)

Philosoraptor makes the same point in different words:

However it is worth reflecting on the context in which this occurred. It is not clear to me whether charges of wagging the dog with regard to the terrorism alerts were warranted before the information about Khan was revealed. Suppose for the sake of argument that such charges were not warranted. In that case, the unwarranted charges raised the political stakes and gave the Bush administration more incentive to do what they did as a way of deflecting those unwarranted charges. That does not excuse their actions, but only explains them.
(via Philosoraptor)

Ah, the voice of sweet reason. Sheesh. Liberals pick up guilt the way a bellybutton picks up lint, don't they?

1. I'm surprised that the normally responsible Kevin Drum uses the word "hysterical." That's an RNC blast-fax code word. Why is Drum using it to categorize a reasonable effort to decode the motives of the Bush administration?

There's a prima facie case that Ridge politicized the alert from the word Go, as New York Times readers noticed (back). Then Waura and the Twins take Manhattan for a campaign photo op (back)—in the city where the Republican coronation convention is going to take place. Then, when the questions keep coming, the administration reveals that some of the captured enemy documents were persuasive to them since they were written "in perfect English" (back). Then, when this revelation somehow fails to persuade, Khan's cover gets blown. And this isn't wag the dog? Or, perhaps, wag the wolf? Isn't it pretty to think so....

2. Both Drum and Philosoraptor assume that the Bush administration is in some sort of dialogue, however dysfunctional, with its ("hysterical," forsooth) critics. Hysterical critics yammer; Bush panics and releases priceless intelligence information.

Everything we know about the way the Bush administration/campaign operates makes this an extremely implausible scenario. So far, Bush has listened exactly and only to the base—and now he's seeking a few tens of thousands of "wise," "discerning" undecided voters at the margin in the swing states. Exactly the kind of people, who haven't followed the story in great detail and who may still be inclined to give Bush the benefit of the doubt, who might be persuaded by revealing the "additional stream" of current intelligence. And if this outs a mole in AQ, and trashes ongoing British and Pakistani operations? "What difference does it make?"

3. Where was the "unwarranted" "hysterical" reaction that so "panicked" Bush coming from?

Not the SCLM—they've helpfully buried the story, as usual (back). Not the Democrats; Dean, of course, had the courage to speak out, but only a few others followed (back). So where, exactly, was the Mighty Force that panicked Bush? The Press? Supine as usual. The Democrats? No. What's left? The blogosphere? Bush is panicked by the blogosphere? 'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished...

4. Finally, Drum and Philosoraptor seem to make a deep assumption: That the (so-called) "war on terror" would somehow be conducted with all of us working together with Bush. That sweet reason can somehow prevail—And if only those damn critics weren't throwing Bush off his stroke and distracting and panicking him, the terror alerts, and the "war on terror," would somehow be conducted in the interests of the Union, of country as a whole. Tell all that to Max Cleland.

This is first step material, pure and simple: "Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over the Bush administration."

(1) The Bush administration has already fixed its strategy in the war on terror: a Dirty War in the Islamic world (back here).

(2) There's no reason to think the Bush administration is competent to wage or win that dirty war, if indeed such a war can be won. (See: WMD fiasco; Afghanistan as failed state; Iraq as diversion from AQ(follow the money); botched post-war planning; etc., etc.)

(3) Bush has broken the Union in terms of protecting the nation as a whole—all of us. That's why the per capita, pork barrel distribution of "Homeland" "Security" money favors the Red States, and not the large cities truly at risk. That's why the cities and ports aren't being protected against loose nukes ("Reckless indifference to the nightmare scenario"). That's why the budgets for (unionized, urban) first responders are being cut. Some guy on a porch in West Vriginia feels safer with Bush? I'm happy for him, but he's nowhere near the front lines. I live in Philly, a major port. What about a loose nuke in a shipping container?

Bush has, as we might expect, structured his war strategy to protect his political base. We're not part of the base. Therefore, we are powerless over (1), powerless over (2), and powerless over (3). It takes two to tango.

Having taken the first step, we've admitted that we're powerless over the Bush administration. Therefore, there is exactly one course of action for us to take, and sweet reason and liberal guilt won't help: The Bush administration must be decisively repudiated at the polls in November. ("Decisive" to avoid fraud in a close election, to give Kerry a mandate, and to restore the confidence of our allies.) Not to say that we should just "make shit up," like the $300 million (back) VWRC does (Howler)—but let's at least try to agree among ourselves that building a case that the terror alerts, and the "war on terror" itself, have been systematically politicized is in no way "hysterical."

Right now Bush is like a cornered rat: Terrified and snapping at anyone or anything that comes near. So, Kevin, Philosoraptor: Let's not blame the people who cornered the rat because the rat snaps. Eh? Eyes on the prize!

NOTE The essential Juan Cole has more.

UPDATE Let me clarify. When I wrote "did [Drum] move to DC?" I meant to write "did [Drum] move to DC and start drinking that Inside-The-Beltway Kool-Aid they put in the drinking water for aspiring pundits?" Hope that helps.

UPDATE Condi blew Khan's cover. From Juan Cole via Atrios. Unbelievable? All too believable.

[1] OK, OK, the Post, from the wires: "THE MOLE; TECH GENIUS OUTED FIENDS". Love the headline, but I said "newspaper," right?

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