Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Thursday | June 05, 2003

"... things that can't be defended"

The WaPo tells a tale of senior administration officials giving the Iraq intelligence pipeline an unusual degree of hands-on massage:

Cheney and his most senior aide made multiple trips to the CIA ... visits by the vice president and his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, "sent signals, intended or otherwise, that a certain output was desired from here," one senior agency official said ...

"They were the browbeaters," said a former defense intelligence official who attended some of the meetings in which Wolfowitz and others pressed for a different approach to the assessments they were receiving. "In interagency meetings," he said, "Wolfowitz treated the analysts' work with contempt." ...

A senior defense official also defended Wolfowitz's questioning: "Does he ask hard questions? Absolutely. I don't think he was trying to get people to come up with answers that weren't true. He's looking for data and answers and he gets frustrated with a lack of answers and diligence and with things that can't be defended."

Very well. We are now picking through the debris of a whole culture of unreality, including an entire monumental architecture of things that can't be defended.

And senior administration officials are working through the classic problem-determination flowchart: "Is it messed up? [Y/N] Did you mess with it? [Y/N] Did anyone see you mess with it? [Y/N] ...".

Josh Marshall, discussing yet another Person of Interest, makes a telling point:

People hold their positions because of a latticework of ideological positions, interpersonal connections, reliability, their usefulness for various tasks and constituencies. When enough of those are pulled away, a person's position can grow precarious.
It's a giant game of Jenga (maybe the adult Truth or Dare version) -- how many supporting blocks can you pull out before the tower collapses?

Who falls first? I like Deputy Sec. of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. Marshall likes Undersec. of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith. You could make a case for Undersec. of State John Bolton ... or Dark Eminence of the Defense Policy Board Richard Perle ... or even DCI George Tenet.

We're only in the opening stages of the game. Denialists haven't even converged on a standard theory of denial ("WMDs will be turn up." "WMDs don't matter." "WMDs did turn up!") ... but all have already gone on record defending things that can't be defended.

Things take time. No matter how the opening moves play out, we're a long way from the key junctures. Powell. Rumsfeld. Cheney.

And Cheney must fall. Almost all the key supporting blocks are Cheney's People. Almost the whole supporting system is Cheney's System. The underlying agenda was Cheney's Agenda.

When Cheney falls, his replacement will not be Bush's prerogative alone. The whole matter will be negotiated in consensus with whatever surviving grown-ups can be rounded up. Leading members of the Senate (both parties). Elder Statesmen. Retired Military. The Court. Captains of Industry. Constitutional Scholars. Foreign Powers. Central Bankers. Even the Punditocracy.

Cheney's Implosion will be a seismographic event in US history ... a deliberate adjustment in the Chain of Succession, either containing the damage and preserving the topmost block, or clearing ground for its unavoidable fall.

21st century American culture raises specious polemics to the status of high art, but there comes a Day of Reckoning ... a day when things that can't be defended are no longer defended.

RonK, Seattle

Posted June 05, 2003 10:40 AM | Comments (164)


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