Tuesday, June 14, 2005

First The Good News 

images One small step for man? In the NYTimes this a.m., "Cheney Calls Guantánamo Prison Essential":
"He added that it was a "myth" that detainees were tortured at Guantánamo."
But the in the final sentence that follows:
"A growing body of evidence has shown that a significant number of prisoners were subject to interrogations in which they were shackled to the floor for many hours, stripped or forced to urinate and defecate on themselves."
A small sign that reporters are remembering that their job is getting at the truth and informing the public as opposed to simply parroting the talking points handed them by the government?

But on the other hand we had this yesterday from Bush helpmeet David Sanger, writing about the second UK memo in the same paper:
"A memorandum written by Prime Minister Tony Blair's cabinet office in late July 2002 explicitly states that the Bush administration had made "no political decisions" to invade Iraq, but that American military planning for the possibility was advanced. The memo also said American planning, in the eyes of Mr. Blair's aides, was "virtually silent" on the problems of a postwar occupation."
Sanger helpfully translates the phrase "no political decisions have been taken" to mean that Bush had not at that time given the word to invade. I don't believe that is how the phrase "political decision" was being used, given the context of the memo, which 5 paragraphs earlier states:
"The US Government's military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding apace. But, as yet, it lacks a political framework. In particular, little thought has been given to creating the political conditions for military action, or the aftermath and how to shape it."
I read "political framework" here to mean specifically the means to sell the war to the public and to handle the aftermath of the invasion. In the next paragraph the memo then states:
" When the Prime Minister discussed Iraq with President Bush at Crawford in April he said that the UK would support military action to bring about regime change.."
and in the next:
"We need now to reinforce this message and to encourage the US Government to place its military planning within a political framework, partly to forestall the risk that military action is precipitated in an unplanned way by, for example, an incident in the No Fly Zones."
I read "political decision" as "putting military action within a political framework", which in this case doesn't mean Bush hadn't decided he was going to invade Iraq. It means he hadn't thought too closely yet about how to go about making it happen. The very fact that Blair was assuring Bush in April 2002 that he would support Bush's military action tells you all you need to know about whether a decision had been made. That and the pages of any progressive paper or magazine at the time who heard Bush's war drums. All this at the same time that Bush's boy Bolton was engineering the removal of a stubborn obstacle to creating a political excuse for the war.

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