Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hope, Boys, Is a Cheap Thing, Cheap Thing 

We were jumping for joy when we heard about the Rumsfeld resignation, because we were certain that Mr. Bush was about to step down as well; only a week ago he'd promised the nation that Death's Head Don would remain as Secretary of Defense "until the end of his presidency," and that meant, by our calculations, that the end of his presidency would be, well . . . today.

The cynics among you may think us naive, but it would be hard to overstate our shock and bewilderment when the Quacker-in-Chief stepped up to the mike and, instead of formally handing over the keys to the Oval Office washroom as we had expected, confessed that he'd been lying all along:
REPORTER: Last week you told us Secretary Rumsfeld would be staying on. Why is the timing right now, and how much does it have to do with the election results?

BUSH: You and Hunt and Keil came into the Oval Office and asked me to question one week before the campaign. Basically, are you going to do something about Rumsfeld and the Vice President? The reason why is I did not want to make a major decision in the final days of the campaign. The only way to answer that question, and get it on to another question, was to give you that answer. The truth of the matter is as well, that is one reason I gave the answer. The other reason why is I had not had a chance to visit with Bob Gates yet. I had not had my final conversation with Don Rumsfeld yet at that point. I had been talking with Don Rumsfeld over a period of time about fresh perspectives. He likes to call it fresh eyes.
We wonder whether Mr. Bush, in planning to fill the incipient vacancy, ever considered ex-Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL). He was definitely available, and after all -- if you can't get fresh eyes, why not settle for short eyes?

SIDEBAR (via our esteemed colleagues at BuzzFlash): Here's what Sen. Tom Harkin had to say about SecDef-designate Robert Gates back in 1991, when Bush I nominated him as Director of CIA:
Mr. President, at the outset of the confirmation hearings, I had serious reservations about the nominee. The confirmation hearings only raised more questions and greater doubts. Questions and doubts about Mr. Gates' past activities, managerial style, judgment, lapses in memory and analytical abilities. Questions and doubts about his role in the Iran-Contra Affair and in providing military intelligence to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war; and questions and doubts about whether he will be able to remove the ideological blinders reflected in his writings and speeches or whether Mr. Gates is so rooted in the past, that he will not be able to lead the Agency into the post-cold war era. Because of these concerns, I have concluded that Mr. Gates is not the right person for the important job of overseeing our intelligence operations in this New World.

Mr. President, Robert Gates is a career Soviet analyst and former Deputy Director of the CIA who was wrong about what CIA analyst Harold Ford described as `the central analytic target of the past few years: the probable fortunes of the USSR and the Soviet European bloc.' And I believe that the committee report points out one possible reason why the CIA failed to predict the collapse of the Soviet Union. According to testimony, Mr. Gates was busy pursuing hypotheses and making unsubstantiated arguments attempting to show Soviet expansion in the Third World, instead of looking for or paying attention to facts that pointed in the opposite direction. Why? Why, as Mentor Moynihan has pointed out, was the CIA able to tell Presidents everything about the Soviet Union except the fact that it was falling apart?

Mr. Gates was also wrong about the Soviet threat to Iran in 1985. The 1985 Special National Intelligence Estimate on Iran stressed possible Soviet inroads into Iran. Gates admits that the analysis was an anomaly. It was a clear departure from previous analyses and almost immediately proven wrong by subsequent events. Gates was involved in preparing that analysis. According to Hal Ford, whose testimony the nominee never refuted, Gates leaned heavily on the Iran Estimate, in effect, `insisting on his own views and discouraging dissent.' What was the result? The 1985 estimate was skewed and contributed to the biggest foreign policy debacle of the Reagan administration, the sale of arms to Iran . . . .

Mr. President, I also have doubts and questions about Mr. Gates' role in the secret intelligence sharing operation with Iraq. Robert Gates served as assistant to the Director of the CIA in 1981 and as Deputy Director for Intelligence for 1982 to 1986. In that capacity he helped develop options in dealing with the Iran-Iraq war, which eventually involved into a secret intelligence liaison relationship with Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Gates was in charge of the directorate that prepared the intelligence information that was passed on to Iraq. He testified that he was also an active participant in the operation during 1986. The secret intelligence sharing operation with Iraq was not only a highly questionable and possibly illegal operation, but also may have jeopardized American lives and our national interests. The photo reconnaissance, highly sensitive electronic eavesdropping and narrative texts provided to Saddam, may not only have helped him in Iraq's war against Iran but also in the recent gulf war. Saddam Hussein may have discovered the value of underground land lines as opposed to radio communications after he was give our intelligence information. That made it more difficult for the allied coalition to get quick and accurate intelligence during the gulf war. Further, after the Persian Gulf war, our intelligence community was surprised at the extent of Iraq's nuclear program. One reason Saddam may have hidden his nuclear program so effectively from detection was because of his knowledge of our satellite photos. What also concerns me about that operation is that we spend millions of dollars keeping secrets from the Soviets and then we give it to Saddam who sells them to the Soviets. In short, the coddling of Saddam was a mistake of the first order.
If the Bush administration were any more inbred, we'd have to relocate the capital to Tennessee.

UPDATE (from our truculent colleague J. Schwarz of A Tiny Revolution): No one can deny that, as Secretary of Defense, Rumsfeld was an unmitigated disaster. But history will show that he performed magnificently in his second job -- as a human shield.

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