by John Tully
The New York Herald Sun
July 26, 2009
Whether it was Michael Wolff’s “piece” in Vanity Fair on Politico or the Paris tap water that produced the explosive diarrhea on a hot sweaty July night in the City of Lights, we’ll never know…
Time moves both slow and fast in these Dog Days of Summer and the memory hole of the past eight bloody years is fading and digging deeper.
I take you back to the city of D.C.
A few years ago…
A quaint city, soon to written about like Rome, gilded on their own lily and pathetic to boot.
Sucked in to television, watching the camera moves, editing, and heavy music to a story about a mom and a dad and a wife who lose their little/big man to a fiery explosion in Iraq. The soldier leaves a “just in case” final video for his bride, tells her of his deep love, and urges her to go on with life: “get married, have kids” It’s a noble gesture from a brave young man and the camera cuts to the weeping widow watching the tape.
The evening news comes on and the 80 year-old man who marched against Iraq in a February freeze watches a report on two dead Marines and 17 Iraqi dead civilians . Remember seeing that look on the face of the Marines’ mother or the site of yet another widow with two babies that finally punches the gut.
At this point in the war, President Bush hadn’t been to one funeral service for them.
Remember banned television cameras at the arrival of the bodies from Germany, at the base in Delaware .
The cowering, obedient press corpse giving the President a free pass after 9/11 and the Administration using it to make the United States less safe, less secure, and spoil environmental and geopolitical progress for years to come.
Remembering Television and Freedom Fries and Terror Alerts here in Paris 6 years later, the mind once again boggles and crunches the serious, sad, mistaken war of choice that ignored all plans and warnings of consequences.
Powered by arrogance and breathtaking hubris and television’s Meet The Press and This Week With Will for the latest talking points of the day.
MR. RUSSERT: All right, this way: Should the blogs, talk radio, cable TV—should people lower their voices, and, and, and control their rhetoric?
Remember that very same week when the Vice-President poked a fat finger in the eye of Russia while the Bush Administration reflexively rejected the first written communication from Iran in seventeen years. Neither Vice President Cheney’s speech or the letter was ever mentioned on either program.
Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney had blown the cover of longtime C.I.A. agent Valerie Plame who it turns out was working on nuclear proliferation. Her contacts through front company Brewster Jennings were actively working the underground nukes world. That intel might have been helpful that very same week in dealing with Iran.
Instead, the latest Cool-Kids Media Club Memes emerged: “Anger on the Blogs”
That’s right. Three different allusions to blogs and anger on both Meet The Press and This Week complete with an obligatory question from Tim Russert to new/old ham Newt Gingrich.
Schmuck David Brooks, perpetual mealy-mouthed defender of the Bush administration throwing out his shoulder shrugging off the incident at Haditha in front of two shocked Marines: Mark Shields and Jim Lehrer.
Remember when columnist Tony Blankley said the war protests were organized by the communist party and the Press corps labeled Al Gore as Crazy for his pre-war criticism about invading Iraq.
How about when war hero Max Cleland was derisively compared to both Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein in a television advertisement by his republican opponent, Saxby Chambliss during their Senate race? Mr. Cleland lost his legs and an arm during Vietnam but the republican claimed the democrat was soft on National Security. Mr. Chambliss sat out the war with a bad knee.
Go back in time and recall when Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz had no idea how many Americans had been killed in Iraq and called the idea of two hundred thousand troops needed in Iraq as “wildly off the mark”
It’s apparent that there Was Not a massive intelligence failure and the administration indeed was warned about the vagueness of the information about Iraq.
Remember that classic “Everybody thought-even-France and Germany” song about W.M.D.’s.
The Memory-Hole pieces together the events of the past six years but can never illuminate fully how one of the most brilliant countries in history could now be cowardly defending war atrocities and blaming, as Mr. Blankley said that very same week about the incident at Haditha: “Over reporting by a gleeful media is more damaging than any single fact”
Come to think of it-maybe that gleeful, fluffy, Politico piece that completely failed to mention the publication’s Reagan connection was responsible for that gut bomb the other night.
Either way, I’m still sick as a dog.
“A pitiful week, which found Colin Powell apologizing for a fraudulent State Department report on terrorism that suffered from shockingly wrong statistics and apparent, er, printing problems”
BY JOHN TULLY
THE LOS ANGELES SUN
Jan. 25 2005
There are weeks on that tiny hill full of impressive buildings and important people when swirling winds truly collide. Halfway through 2004, the June sun was shining, the war was spiraling out of control, and nobody except maybe Joe Biden had the faintest trace of a viable plan to stop digging the hole .
It had been an extraordinary few days, one which brought William Jefferson Clinton back to the limelight that he loves so much. The former president’s book tour received a curious mixture of scoffing and slathering from the networks while they just about ignored a visit from the Special Prosecutor to the Oval Office, He was there to find out who gave Bob Novak the identity of C.I.A. agent Valerie Plame, which ruined her long undercover career.
A pitiful week, which found Colin Powell apologizing for a fraudulent State Department report on terrorism that suffered from shockingly wrong statistics and apparent, er, printing problems. The original report stated that terrorism acts in the world against America, for the year 2003, had gone down.
It hadn’t .
Terrorism acts actually went up for the year; what do you know? It turned out that they had only looked at part of the year and in fact attacks were up by a record amount.
A typical week, as the Vice-President was given a break by the Supreme Court when it sent the now infamous lawsuit about his energy policy meetings back down to the lower courts.
As usual the mainstream media got lost in the shuffle about Ken Lay and Big Oil running energy policy. Forgotten once again was the release in 2003 of curious Energy Task-Force documents that contained detailed Iraqi oil field maps, pipelines and terminals, and a list of “Foreign Suitors of Iraqi Oil Field Contracts”.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, it had been a long week for Congressman Henry Waxman who called for a Select House committee to investigate the abuses at a prison named Abu-Ghraib after weeks of outright stonewalling by the administration.
A partial and select document dump of memos late on a Tuesday evening by the White House, showed that the President had approved a document on February 7, 2002 approving a new set of interrogation techniques that fall outside the law of the Geneva Convention and could be used in future conflicts.
Now, six months later, the fellow who cleared those torture memos will be our new Attorney General, the head of the C.I.A. who claimed the intelligence about Iraq’s imminent threat was a “slam dunk” gets a medal, and the President’s adviser on national security for the past four years and two failed wars gets to head up the State Department.
Oy that Bush….
We Were So Naive
2005 THE LOS ANGELES SUN
Saturday, July 24 2004
THE LOS ANGELES SUN
Amazing that the two-year old Sandy Berger investigation leak came out two days before the (now all-but-forgotten, complete stonewalling every step along the way by this administration) 9/11 report would be released…
David Brooks was just salivating the other night about how this five hundred page report is such a great symbol of blah blah blah…A beacon, if you will, of light, in an otherwise dark period of time, in this great nation or somesuch trite.
Get a root canal now.
Hey this report would have come out earlier if the Bush Jr. administration hadn’t delayed, delayed, delayed.As usual, the media is now parroting each other this week in urging /warning/encouraging Kerry to not Bush-bash….I mean everyone in the cool- kids media club is squawking about it…Awesome!
The whole ” Who is the real John Kerry?” nonsense? The Dems. are going to listen and Kerry, who IS charismatic, will give a so-so mushy speech instead of what everyone, of either political party, is salivating to see to see in a politician: someone who lays it on the line and stands for something, anything.
Prolly won’t happen, Kerry will win anyway and it’s a good thing I don’t run campaigns.
I can’t for the life of me find a valid account of Sandy Berger stuffing his pockets/pants with secrets, etc. etc. Ah, and there’s the rub these days in the Cool Kids Media Club. I tried hard; I love a good research hunt and spent some coin calling D.C. but I’m new in the media game so I don’t have many contacts yet. Nothing, nada, zilch, and rumor becomes fact.
Robert Novak saying that everyone knew Valerie Plame was undercover?
He’s still saying this and seems more confident now that the second round of the “Smear Ambassador Wilson Patrol” is out and about.
He’s going to swallow
his wet teeth one of these days.
Jack Cafferty isn’t dead and was on CNN Monday morning grumbling about….
you guessed it, Berger stuffing things into his… socks er…jacket,er….pants… ….and the boys on Imus were snickering like seventh graders about that SPY stealing secrets in his underwear…
©2004 THE LOS ANGELES SUN
By JOHN TULLY
The LOS ANGELES SUN
June 20 2004
One of the unfortunate things about doing things completely different
from the Clinton administration is that you’re bound to trip all
over yourself and skin your shins doing just that.
Richard Clarke, the counter-terror chief for President Clinton, kept
on by the Bush administration and whom Vice President Cheney claimed
was “out of the loop”, repeatedly warned of planes being
used as a weapon, probably by al Qaeda, in as late as summer of 2001
to anyone on the new team who would listen.
In fact, on 31 January of 2001, The United States Commission on National
Security concludes that we are not only unprepared for an attack
on American soil but specifically mentions the phrase “weapon
of mass destruction in a high-rise building”. The report basically
states that there is a real lack of coordination between our intelligence agencies and a fragmented system to deal with threats.The White House, disregarding even their own master of hand moves,
Donald Rumsfeld, stifles the call for hearings and sets up a task
force that meets a total of once, on September the fourth.
It’s not surprising then, that a memo in July of that summer from the
FBI doesn’t raise any eyebrows. Agent Kenneth Williams worries about
Middle Eastern men attending flight schools and German and Russian
intelligence has Arabic terrorists training to fly airplanes as weapons
against the U.S. and Israel. They are ignored or not coordinated.
Scarry with two R’s.
Think of the 9/11 commission and it’s sordid history as the perfect
metaphor for this administration and the sheer chutzpah of it’s officials.
Having thwarted the very creation of such a commission, they’ve monkey wrenched every single aspect of it from the start. The families of the deceased have entire web sites set up that document the complete unwillingness of the Bush administration to hand over even the simplest of file requests.
But can anybody ever, in their lifetime, forget the brilliant appointment of Henry Kissinger as the Commission’s first Chairman?
Certainly the honorable Tom Kean, former governor of New Jersey and
general good guy would be perfect for the job. Unfortunately, Mr.
Kean is a director of Amerada-Hess, a partner with an outfit called
Delta Oil Ltd. of Saudi Arabia. Delta is partly owned by Osama Bin
laden’s brother-in-law: financier Khalid bin Mahfouz, formerly of
that whole messy BCCI bank scandal. His partner in Delta is Mohammed
Hussein al Amoudi and both are thought to have funnelled many millions to al-Qaeda and it’s network.
Co- chairmen Lee Hamilton is widely known to have looked the other
way when confronted with the evidence that former Presidents Reagan
and Bush were very much “in the loop” during the secret
Iran-Contra covert arms transactions. One would assume that this
Trilateral Commission member would give the kid the same free pass.
He also sits on the President’s Homeland Security Advisory Council.The rest of the commission doesn’t instill in one the feeling of impartiality.
Democrat Richard Ben-Veniste, the scourge of the Right, is a former
lawyer for one of the drug runners during Iran-Contra. He still represents United Airlines.
Fred Fielding is a former Nixon crony who vetted cabinet members on
the Bush transition team and works for the law firm that lobbies
for United Airlines.
Commission member Jamie Gorelick is a former lawyer for two of the
American men, Clark Clifford and Robert Altman, most responsible
when the Bank of Commerce and Credit International robbed depositors
of $10 billion. It was an early nineties transcontinental giant ponzi scheme of a bank scandal. While she was the second in command at the Justice Department in the Clinton administration she was responsible for a memo suggesting a separation of counterintelligence and criminal
investigations and their record on infiltrating and weakening al-Qaeda can only be described as less than stellar.
Her law firm is representing Muhammed al-Faisal,
the Saudi prince who allegedly financed Osama bin laden. The plaintiffs are 9/11 family members.
Former Senator Slade Gorton has ties to Boeing who built all the planes that crashed on 9/11 and his law firm represents Delta Airlines.
Two days after the attack The Seattle Times reported that he said
to a public television audience that there was “nothing government
intelligence officials could have done to thwart the attack”
By far though, the most interesting of appointees to the National Commission
on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States; the 9/11 commission’s
official name, is it’s executive director, Mr. Philip Zelicow.
He served on the President?s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and
as a member of the Bush administration’s transition team, often briefed incoming security staff on Iraq and al-Qaeda. Of course his well known personal friendship with the President’s National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, with whom he wrote a book, is widely known.
He’s a member of the controversial Council on Foreign Relations and
The Aspen Strategy Group, a foreign policy think-tank that counts
Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and Ms. Rice as members. Mr. Zelicow
allegedly made the claim at UVA in the fall of 2002 that the real
Iraqi threat was not to America: “Why would Iraq attack America
or use nuclear weapons against us? I’ll tell you what I think the
real threat [is] and actually has been since 1990 — it’s the threat
Mr. Zelicow is also executive director of the National Commission on
Federal Election Reform and general editor of the University of Virginia’s Miller Center for Presidential Recordings Program that, among other things, transcribes presidential telephone conversations and meetings recorded during the fifties, sixties and seventies.
Unfortunately the transcriptions have been found to contain at least a hundred key mistakes that ironically have been attributed by Zelikow to his work on the 9/11 commission and have still not been corrected.
This week the commission issued it’s preliminary report, read by Mr.
Zelicow. Among other findings was the statement: “We have
no credible evidence that Iraq and Al Qaeda cooperated on attacks
against the United States” While Bin Laden was in the Sudan
he reportedly met with a senior Iraqi official after the man’s third
attempt. This was apparently at the behest of the Sudanese who wanted him to cease his support of anti-Saddam Islamists in the Kurdish north.
In case there might still be some confusion, the commission’s report
goes further and reads: “There have been reports that contacts
between Iraq and al Qaeda also occurred after bin Laden had returned
to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship”The next morning the President immediately chimed in, saying: “The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda” is “because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.
The Vice President was outraged by the outrage and blamed the New York Times and it’s headlines as the culprit. He also derided the media in general for the confusion.
But there was Mr. Cheney just this past Monday crowing that Saddam “had long-established ties with al Qaeda.” and last fall when he said that Iraq was: “the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11. Most impressively though was the Vice President’s outright insistence Thursday night that the old battle ax herself, the “Prague meeting”, wherein Mohammed Atta, one of the nineteen highjackers, meets with Iraqi officials, actually took place. “It’s never been refuted.” he weakly snorted.
The Commission’s Staff Report 15 clearly states: “We do not believe
that such a meeting occurred.” Various intelligence has placed
Atta in Florida at the time and Commissioner Hamilton claimed Sunday
morning that the Iraqi spy wasn’t there either. Newsweek is now reporting that Commission staff members were “astonished” that the
Vice President still clings to this story.
Now that’s what you call Chuztpah.
Welcome to Dick Cheney’s America.
2004 THE LOS ANGELES SUN
A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
An Open Letter to:
People who thought this war was a good idea.
Subtitle: You know who you are.
JUNE 19 2004
You don’t get to sneer about how the evidence was there.
You don’t get to scoff about how even Bill Clinton, Germany and France thought there were WMD’s.
You don’t get to shriek about media-elite liberals just Bush-hating, conspiracy theorists whining about Halliburton, and Saddam gassing his own people:
…Not when our leaders were so fully unprepared for this war that there was no legitimate flank or rear security support for the thousands of vehicles, many endlessly breaking down, in that convoy that stretched across the Iraqi desert at the beginning of the war.
…Not when they couldn’t even bribe Turkey into letting us enter Iraq from the north.
…Not when there weren’t enough MRE’s, tanks that would work in the sand and flack-jackets for our troops .
…Not when our Marines suddenly became gendarmes on the streets of Baghdad while we completely disbanded both the Iraqi army and police and the country was being destroyed from the bottom up as the looters demolished everything that the precision guided bombs did not.
…Not when Republican Senators Richard Shelby, Chuck Hagel and Dick Lugar had been screaming about the need for a plan post-war Iraq and what to do about the Shiites/Sunnis/Kurds on The News Hour and Charlie Rose virtually every night for the twelve months leading up to the start of the attack.
…Not when there was no budget for the war, funding was asked for on the eve of the initial strike and there have been no plans to pay for the ever-increasing cost.
…Not when Deputy Secretary Of Defense Paul Wolfowitz is asked to give the number of Americans killed in Iraq during a congressional commitee on April 29 2004 and he’s off by over two hundred soldiers.
…Not when they won’t let us see the bodies at Dover and undercount casualties received in combat by the thousands.
Now bugger off and prepare for the trials.
©2004 THE LOS ANGELES SUN
BY JOHN TULLY
THE LOS ANGELES SUN
JUNE 1 2004
The Today Show, America’s number one source for morning infotainment seemed almost obsessed by two stories in the Fall of Two-Thousand Two. Elizabeth Smart, a young girl from Utah had been abducted from her home by a man at gunpoint that summer and it continued to be a big story. In October, seemingly random citizens of the Washington D.C. metropolitan area were being gunned down by a mysterious shooter.
Katie and Matt stoically opened the show almost every morning with these two stories.
At the same time, a war in Iraq was looming and the shadow of a vote in Congress giving the President authorization to use military force was creeping forward. The vote was even more crucial because the midterm elections were just ahead in November and the GOP was playing the Patriot card like the pros they are.
The Bush administration had strolled into power promising anyone within earshot that they would be exactly the opposite of everything the Clinton administration was and added that the “W” missing from some computer keyboards was not funny.
They vowed to be different from President Clinton: different on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, and a plan of disengagement was put in place as a way to “back off” and let the two sides work it out for a while.
Mr. Clinton had “coddled” North Korea they said, and now the Bush White House was going to get tough. Moscow and Beijing would know who the new boss was with the plan going forward to build a missile defense shield.
Throw out Kyoto because it’s bad for business and bad for America, and by the way, tell the domestic bad guys that John Ashcroft was putting law and order back into the Justice Department where it belonged.
Presidential transition teams notwithstanding, the grownups were now in charge, and in the first nine months of this new administration they made that fact perfectly clear.
Then the whole world watched in horror as airplanes struck New York, D.C. and Pennsylvania.
This was truly a call to leadership for Mr. Bush.
But perhaps as a sign of things to come, his initial statements thereafter and his address in the pit at Ground Zero on a bullhorn was almost universally praised by the mainstream media though neither speech had much substance or style. Various pundits declared that simply “everything had changed.”
The rest is history.
Two wars, three tax cuts, and the whole world is watching in horror. Sixty miles outside of Kabul, Afghanistan the Taliban have taken over again. Opium production has tripled by some accounts, sure to sweep obscene amounts of heroin into Europe this year. The same conditions that led the country to harbor Al-Qaeda before that war are present once again and we have too few troops there to do the job.
Iraq and Afghanistan have taken close to a thousand lives and wounded at least five-thousand troops. There have been over thirteen-thousand medi-vacs or medical evacuations-mostly American forces. The Bush administration, while publically trying to form a coalition of countries willing to put boots on the ground in Iraq for violations of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1441, had privately trashed that very same U.N. as “irrelevant” at every opportunity.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld scoffed and sneered his way through press conferences, dismissively declaring that he knew where the Weapons of Mass Destruction were, and did we mention that the U.N. is irrelevant? And FRANCE.
The CIA, DIA, FBI, independent intelligence, Congressman Jim McDermott, The Dixie Chicks and The Pope all expressed concern about the attack on Iraq but the administration pooh-poohed all dissent. While Prime Minister Tony Blair was getting absolutely grilled by the House of Commons, the U.S. Congress was eerily silent and on the first day of the War on Iraq Kent Conrad seemed to be all alone on the Senate floor as he lamented the lack of even a basic budget for the conflict and it’s aftermath.
There was a complete breakdown of even basic diplomacy shown by President Bush, failing to privately convince skeptical nations to join him in the fight as his father had done in the first Gulf War and using words like “crusade” “bring ’em on” and “axis of evil” to further alienate the Muslim world.
The mealy-mouthed-chicken-hawk-think tankers in Northwest D.C. kept the pot stirring as well with talks of regime change, disarmament and virtual screaming about resolution 1441. Despite the evidence of dissipating mustard and sarin gas over the last ten years in Iraq, continued flyovers, sanctions and inspections, we were told there may be nuclear program-related activities; the ultimate McGuffin of the war debate. While the term imminent threat was never officially used, the talk of a nuke mushroom cloud not being our smoking gun got the point across stoutly. Throw in chatter about forty-five minute deployment and unmanned aerial vehicles and the cake was baked.
The military and diplomatic tracks never intersected. Spring came around, and the U.S. demanded that Saddam destroy his conventional Al -Samoud missiles even while almost 100,000 troops were amassed on Iraq’s border and CNN was reporting that the first attack was only days away. “Might as well go in now that we’ve gone in” was all the noise that week.
President Bush of course had the complete support of Congress to go right ahead in, and everyone north of MacArthur Boulevard knew he didn’t really have to go back for more approval. That crucial vote in Congress, that blank check, is now brought up whenever there is criticism of the war and rightly so. Because not one of these Senators or Congressmen were really pressed by the Press on this vote, they showed no guts in standing up to the march to Baghdad. Perhaps if the morning shows and popular media had pumped up the voting issue and specific plans for post-war Iraq like the Laci Peterson/MichaelJackson/Elizabeth Smart/Sniper stories with full saturation coverage a real debate would have resulted.
We’ll never know.
In the middle of a War on Terrorism The United States Of America invaded a sovereign Muslim nation of twenty-five million people. Because there were no real plans for the occupation, and no substantive debate about it, we’ve got eighteen year-olds from Cedar Rapids, Iowa negotiating foreign policy on the streets of Fallujah.
This arrogant smug administration has made our country less safe. We’ve lost credibility and our moral standing in the world. Most importantly there can be no doubt that this invasion has created more terrorists that hate America.