Bush Administration

Iraq War Supporters Run For The Hills

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AP Photo / J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE

TPM DC

Among the prominent Iraq War figures TPM contacted: Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Kagan, Douglas J. Feith, Bill Kristol, Scooter Libby, Peter Feaver, Bruce Jackson, and Stephen Cambone. They all either declined to comment or did not respond to TPM’s request for comment.

“They’re in their foxholes and they don’t want to say things, because they’re all sort of positioning to engage these candidates, be in the inner circle for these candidates,” said Shawn Brimley, executive vice president and director of studies at the Center for a New American Security who previously served on Obama’s National Security Council staff.

It was not too long ago, however, that many of the voices that initially cheered the Bush administration towards war were still loudly defending the decision.

Kristol, a neoconservative commentator who now is the editor of The Weekly Standard, told CNN last June he would not apologize for supporting the war, as it was the “right thing to do and necessary and just thing to do.” Likewise, Rumsfeld said in 2013 it would have been “immoral” not to invade Iraq. Former Vice President Dick Cheney also said last summer he had no regrets when asked about the decision.

Jeb Bush has tapped a number of members of his brother’s administration to advise him on foreign policy, including Wolfowitz, making Jeb’s grappling with the issue particularly awkward.

Republicans are “finally having the reckoning that is long overdue on the issue of Iraq,” according to Brimley.

“The silver lining for the Republicans is that it’s good that this reckoning is happening now, potentially very early in the primary,” Brimley said.

Still, a few Iraq defenders have emerged from the woodwork in recent days. John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Bush, said unequivocally that the decision to invade Iraq was the correct one.

Other hawks have danced around the intel heralded at the time — that Iraq was in possession of WMDs. They argue that was to blame.

“I think that most of the Republicans would say no — that the proximate cause of the invasion was the intel about WMDs. And had that intel not been there, we would’ve tried to get the no-fly zone going and the sanctions going,” Elliott Abrams, a former national security adviser in the Bush administration, told Bloomberg.

Michael Rubin, a Pentagon official during the Bush years, also said in an email to TPM that President Bush’s decision was justified by the intelligence available to him at the time. He added, “Reconstruction, redevelopment, and lengthy occupation both in Afghanistan and Iraq were mistakes. We have little to show for our efforts in either. The Washington model of throwing money at problems doesn’t work in the Middle East.”

Jim Hanson, executive vice president at the Center for Security Policy — which is led by Frank Gaffney, one of the most vocal Iraq War advocates — said judging a position on the Iraq War by what is known now is “unfair” and a “ complete cop out.”

“You don’t get to make decisions in hindsight. You take the best available intelligence and you make the best decision you can at that point in time,” he said. “Hindsight is not a part of the game, so I think it’s an unfair question to ask.”

Richard Perle, another prominent figure from the pre-invasion days, defended the 2003 decision in an interview with Huffington Post last week: “The evidence is strong enough and the cost of standing down would be not delaying for a week or two, but essentially abandoning the capacity.”

But some of the Iraq War’s biggest cheerleaders just wanted to move away from the argument entirely.

“Our collective intellectual efforts would be much better employed trying to understand how to manage the wars and threats we face now — none of which are going well — than continuing to rehash an argument we’ve been having for more than a decade,” Fred Kagan, once a promoter of the Iraq War who is now a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, told TPM in an email.

Prominent Iraq War critics were not surprised.

“Clearly it was one of the largest blunders the U.S. has ever made in its foreign policy history,” said Paul Pillar, a former CIA counterintelligence official. “We still have much cognitive dissonance among those who promoted the war who have had a hard time recognizing that. If we are getting silence from neocons, it’s because they don’t have anything plausible to say in defense of the decision.”

Last Monday, Bush told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly that, even knowing what is known now, he supported his brother’s decision to invade Iraq and his Republican rivals were quick to pounce. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) lined up against Bush, arguing that at least in retrospect, the decision to intervene in Iraq was a mistake.

Meanwhile, Bush recalibrated his position a few more times, before settling on an opinionThursday that, “I would have not engaged. I would not have gone into Iraq.”

The issue of Iraq is unlikely to go away for Republicans.

“By virtue of who Secretary Clinton is — and she is the presumptive nominee, I would assume, on the Democratic side — they’re going to have to run at her on national security and foreign policy,” Brimley said. “Does being hawkish on foreign policy mean having to embrace all of the hawkish elements of the George W. Bush- kind of legacy? They’re struggling with this right now.”

Tellingly, Rubio — who counts Abrams and former Dick Cheney aide Eric Edelman among his advisors — has flipped again on the issue, arguing Sunday to Fox News’ Chris Wallace that “the world is a better place because Saddam Hussein doesn’t run Iraq.”

When pressed whether the decision was a mistake knowing Hussein didn’t have WMDs, Rubio still wouldn’t say that President Bush made the wrong decision. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who is mulling a presidential run, also said Saturday that Bush made the correct decision given what was known then. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who is also expected to announce his White House candidacy next month, conceded Monday, “If I [knew] then what I know now, a land invasion may not have been the right answer,” but said the war was not a mistake and blamed Obama for withdrawing troops in 2011.

“We have somewhat similar debate going on right now with Iran — the fact that having a nuclear program doesn’t by itself constitute a case to do any one thing — to go to war, to negotiate or whatever,” Pillar said. “You have to argue the pros and cons.”

According to Pillar, the broader back-and-forth proves that we “are still stuck in the framework that the war promoters in the Bush administration gave us,” in that perceived threat alone justifies an invasion.

~TIERNEY SNEED

Ex-Bush Official Blasts GOP: Bush Would Have Done The Same Thing

Liberaland

With the Afghanistan war winding down, the United States would be required to return prisoners to Afghanistan. We can’t hold them indefinitely.

“I don’t see how these particular Taliban officials could ever have been tried in the southern district of New York,” John Bellinger, who served as an adviser to President George W. Bush explained during an appearance on Fox News Tuesday. “They’re certainly some Al Qaeda detainees who committed actual terrorist acts against Americans who perhaps could have been tried in a federal court because they committed federal crimes, but these particular Taliban detainees I think could never have been tried in federal court.” Although some of the released prisoners posed a danger to the United States when they were captured in 2002, especially toward soldiers serving in Afghanistan, several of the detainees did not commit crimes against Americans…

Though Cheney told Fox News on Monday that he would not have agreed to the deal, Bellinger stressed that the Bush administration “returned something like 500 detainees from Guantanamo.” Statistics from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence show that only 6 percent (5 in total) of Guantanamo detainees released during the Obama administration have potentially engaged in militant activities. That compares with a rate of nearly 30 percent under the Bush administration.

“I’m not saying this is clearly an easy choice but frankly I think a Republican, a president of either party, Republican or Democratic confronted with this opportunity to get back Sgt. Bergdahl, who is apparently in failing health, would have taken this opportunity to do this,” he added. “I think we would have made the same decision in the Bush administration.”

Bummed George Bush laments how Putin ‘changed’

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and his U.S. counterpart George W. Bush (R) talk during a dinner at the NATO summit in Bucharest April 3, 2008.(Xinhua Photo)

In my opinion Putin never changed.  President George W. Bush was a lot like Putin back then.  Their national security methods were quite similar.  When the Bush administration ordered water boarding and other forms of torture, it was already the norm for Russia at the time.  No, Putin hasn’t changed…Bush simply retired and is no longer required to give those orders.

Bush has famously said that he looked into Putin’s eyes and saw his “soul”.  I suspect Bush simply saw a kindred soul back then…dark and evil.

The Week

Former President George W. Bush once remarked that he’d peered into Vladimir Putin’s and eyes and seen his soul. That soul, he now says, has “changed” for the worse.

In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Bush said he truly believed Putin wanted to mend fences with the West when he was still in office. Bush pursued a closer relationship with Moscow during his tenure, and the Obama White House continued that effort in the early years of Obama’s presidency, too. But Bush said a spike in the price of oil convinced Putin to take a more militaristic, confrontational approach to the rest of the world of late, culminating with the situation in Ukraine.

“I think it changed his attitude,” Bush said. “And I think it emboldened him to follow in his game that pretty much zero-sum, you know, I win and you lose and vice versa.”

Bush did not say whether he would as a result be painting a new portrait of the Russian leader to jibe with his new assessment of the man.

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When the IRS targeted liberals

When the IRS targeted liberals

Thanks to Jueseppi B. for bringing this to my attention.

So, my question to the “outraged” Tea Party, GOP and most Republicans in general:

Where was your outrage in 2006 when the Bush administration targeted dissenters of his administration?

Salon

Under George W. Bush, it went after the NAACP, Greenpeace and even a liberal church

While few are defending the Internal Revenue Service for targeting some 300 conservative groups, there are two critical pieces of context missing from the conventional wisdom on the “scandal.” First, at least from what we know so far, the groups were not targeted in a political vendetta — but rather were executing a makeshift enforcement test (an ugly one, mind you) for IRS employees tasked with separating political groups not allowed to claim tax-exempt status, from bona fide social welfare organizations. Employees are given almost zero official guidance on how to do that, so they went after Tea Party groups because those seemed like they might be political. Keep in mind, the commissioner of the IRS at the time was a Bush appointee.

The second is that while this is the first time this kind of thing has become a national scandal, it’s not the first time such activity has occurred.

“I wish there was more GOP interest when I raised the same issue during the Bush administration, where they audited a progressive church in my district in what look liked a very selective way,” California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said on MSNBC Monday. “I found only one Republican, [North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones], that would join me in calling for an investigation during the Bush administration. I’m glad now that the GOP has found interest in this issue and it ought to be a bipartisan concern.”

The well-known church, All Saints Episcopal in Pasadena, became a bit of a cause célèbre on the left after the IRS threatened to revoke the church’s tax-exempt status over an anti-Iraq War sermon the Sunday before the 2004 election. “Jesus [would say], ‘Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine,’” rector George Regas said from the dais.

The church, which said progressive activism was in its “DNA,” hired a powerful Washington lawyer and enlisted the help of Schiff, who met with the commissioner of the IRS twice and called for a Government Accountability Office investigation, saying the IRS audit violated the First Amendment and was unduly targeting a political opponent of the Bush administration. “My client is very concerned that the close coordination undertaken by the IRS allowed partisan political concerns to direct the course of the All Saints examination,” church attorney Marcus Owens, who is widely considered one of the country’s leading experts on this area of the law, said at the time. In 2007, the IRS closed the case, decreeing that the church violated rules preventing political intervention, but it did not revoke its nonprofit status.

And while All Saints came under the gun, conservative churches across the country were helping to mobilize voters for Bush with little oversight. In 2006, citing the precedent of All Saints, “a group of religious leaders accused the Internal Revenue Service yesterday of playing politics by ignoring its complaint that two large churches in Ohio are engaging in what it says are political activities, in violation of the tax code,” the New York Times reported at the time. The churches essentially campaigned for a Republican gubernatorial candidate, they alleged, and even flew him on one of their planes.

Meanwhile, Citizens for Ethics in Washington filed two ethics complaints against a church in Minnesota. “You know we can’t publicly endorse as a church and would not for any candidate, but I can tell you personally that I’m going to vote for Michele Bachmann,” pastor Mac Hammond of the Living Word Christian Center in Minnesota said in 2006 before welcoming her to the church. The IRS opened an audit into the church, but it went nowhere after the church appealed the audit on a technicality.

And it wasn’t just churches. In 2004, the IRS went after the NAACP, auditing the nation’s oldest civil rights group after its chairman criticized President Bush for being the first sitting president since Herbert Hoover not to address the organization. “They are saying if you criticize the president we are going to take your tax exemption away from you,” then-chairman Julian Bond said. “It’s pretty obvious that the complainant was someone who doesn’t believe George Bush should be criticized, and it’s obvious of their response that the IRS believes this, too.”

In a letter to the IRS, Democratic Reps. Charles Rangel, Pete Stark and John Conyers wrote: “It is obvious that the timing of this IRS examination is nothing more than an effort to intimidate the members of the NAACP, and the communities the organization represents, in their get-out-the-vote effort nationwide.”

Then, in 2006, the Wall Street Journal broke the story of a how a little-known pressure group called Public Interest Watch — which received 97 percent of its funds from Exxon Mobile one year — managed to get the IRS to open an investigation into Greenpeace. Greenpeace had labeled Exxon Mobil the “No. 1 climate criminal.” The IRS acknowledged its audit was initiated by Public Interest Watch and threatened to revoke Greenpeace’s tax-exempt status, but closed the investigation three months later.

As the Journal reporter, Steve Stecklow, later said in an interview, “This comes against a backdrop where a number of conservative groups have been attacking nonprofits and NGOs over their tax-exempt status. There have been hearings on Capitol Hill. There have been a number of conservative groups in Washington who have been quite critical.”

Indeed, the year before that, the Senate held a hearing on nonprofits’ political activity. Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, the then-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the IRS needed better enforcement, but also “legislative changes” to better define the lines between politics and social welfare, since they had not been updated in “a generation.” Unfortunately, neither Congress nor the IRS has defined 501(c)4′s sufficiently to this day, leaving the door open for IRS auditors to make up their own, discriminatory rules.

Those cases mostly involved 501(c)3 organizations, which live in a different section of the tax code for real charities like hospitals and schools. The rules are much stronger and better developed for (c)3′s, in part because they’ve been around longer. But with “social welfare” (c)4 groups, the kind of political activity we saw in 2010 and 2012 is so unprecedented that you get cases like Emerge America, a progressive nonprofit that trains Democratic female candidates for public office. The group has chapters across the country, but in 2011, chapters in Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada were denied 501(c)4 tax-exempt status. Leaders called the situation “bizarre” because in the five years Nevada had waited for approval, the Kentucky chapter was approved, only for the other three to be denied.

A former IRS official told the New York Times that probably meant the applications were sent to different offices, which use slightly different standards. Different offices within the same organization that are supposed to impose the exact same rules in a consistent manner have such uneven conceptions of where to draw the line at a political group, that they can approve one organization and then deny its twin in a different state.

All of these stories suggest that while concern with the IRS posture toward conservative groups now may be merited, to fully understand the situation requires a bit of context and history.

How the rich created the Social Security “crisis”

Salon

The Bush tax cuts coupled with a decades-long smear campaign are the real threat to the successful program

Now and then, George W. Bush told the unvarnished truth—most often in jest. Consider the GOP presidential nominee’s Oct. 20, 2000, speech at a high-society $800-a-plate fundraiser at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria. Resplendent in a black tailcoat, waistcoat and white bow tie, Bush greeted the swells with evident satisfaction.

“This is an impressive crowd,” he said. “The haves and the have-mores. Some people call you the elites; I call you my base.”

Any questions?

Eight months later, President Bush delivered sweeping tax cuts to that patrician base. Given current hysteria over what a recent Washington Post article called “the runaway national debt,” it requires an act of historical memory to recall that the Bush administration rationalized reducing taxes on inherited wealth because paying down the debt too soon might roil financial markets.

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Dick Cheney Takes Credit for al-Awlaki Strike, Wants Obama to Apologize

:::Gagging:::

Proponents of the last administration are trying their best to undermine President Obama’s foreign policy successes.  Cheney is the latest in a long line of pundits and ex-Bush administration officials trying to give Dubya credit for his foreign policy programs which enabled Obama’s latest foreign policy coup.

Firedoglake

I realize that Dick Cheney is basically a troll these days, but I’m going to go ahead and feed him a little for this one.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney applauded the U.S. drone strike that killed American-born al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki but added that President Obama now owed the Bush administration an apology for claiming they “overreacted to 9/11.”

Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, Cheney said Obama was inconsistent for criticizing the former administration’s approach to terrorism while also using “some of the same techniques the Bush administration did.”

We developed the technique and the technology for it,” said Cheney of the drone strike that killed Awlaki.

Cheney sounds a lot like Dubya, who basically took credit for killing bin Laden. But reports indicate that al-Awlaki was killed by a Predator (introduced during the Clinton administration) armed with Hellfire missiles (developed during the Reagan administration) — so it’s not clear what Cheney is talking about here.

The thing I’m waiting for is for the administration to go back and correct something they said two years ago when they criticized us for ‘overreacting’ to the events of 9/11,” said Cheney. “They, in effect, said that we had walked away from our ideals, or taken policy contrary to our ideals when we had enhanced interrogation techniques.”

Most Americans agree that setting up torture gulags all over the world, illegally spying on Americans, creating a sprawling new department of the federal government and launching a preemptive, unrelated war of choice that killed half-a-million people — was an overreaction.

But is Cheney claiming that the Obama administration found Awlaki through torture? If so, that’s news.

Related articles

Fired U.S. Attorneys: Bush Administration ‘Turned The Justice Department Into The Laughingstock Of The Country’

I followed the case of the fired United States Attorneys which took place during the second term of the Bush administration.  Most were fired for not carrying out the demands of higher ups in the administration which included prosecuting democrats and minorities for “voter fraud”.  Greg Palast also followed that news story very closely.

Huffington Post

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Five of the federal prosecutors whose firings in 2006 sparked an investigation into President George W. Bush’s Justice Department blamed their ouster Monday on politics in the department, which one of them said became a “laughingstock.”

The five former U.S. attorneys, among nine who were let go, appeared together during a forum in Little Rock.

They blamed former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ intense political loyalty to Bush for costing them their jobs.

“There were a number of people who made terrible decisions,” said John McKay, a former U.S. attorney for the western district of Washington state. “They turned the Justice Department into the laughingstock of the country.”

Prosecutors closed a two-year investigation into the firings in July with a conclusion that the Justice Department’s actions were inappropriately political but not criminal. The episode contributed to Gonzales’ resignation.

Other ousted prosecutors participating in the forum were Bud Cummins of Arkansas, Paul Charlton of Arizona, Carol Lam of California and David Iglesias of New Mexico.

The forum, held by the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, comes as the man who temporarily replaced Cummins seeks a congressional seat in central Arkansas.

Skip Rutherford, the Clinton School dean, said the event had been in the works for several months and was not related to the election.

Tim Griffin, now the Republican nominee for the 2nd Congressional District, was named interim U.S. attorney for eastern Arkansas after Cummins’ firing. Griffin is running against Democratic state Sen. Joyce Elliott, who attended Monday’s forum.

Continue reading…

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Blame | Video Cafe

 

 

Ya gotta love Jon Stewart… 

Crooks & Liars 

Brilliant. From The Daily Show: 

Fox &Friends” deems it inappropriate for the Obama administration to mention Bush when talking about the wars, economy or oil spill. 

…So everything bad that happened during the Bush administration, was Bill Clinton’s fault.

Pelosi: We’ll stop blaming Bush when his problems go away

Crooks & Liars

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn’t hesitate to blame the Bush administration for issues facing this country and that isn’t going to change until the problem he created are solved. 

In an interview that aired Friday on MSNBC, Chuck Todd asked Pelosi if there was a statue of limitations on placing responsibility on President George W. Bush.”Well, it runs out when the problems go away,” Pelosi replied. 

 

Valerie Plame Movie ‘Fair Game’ Opens in Cannes

I have followed the Valerie Plame Wilson story since  Joe Wilson’s op-ed in the New York Times in 2003. 

I’ve read Mrs. Wilson’s book Fair Game and I enjoyed it as much as I could.  The CIA had her redact almost one-third of her book, legitimately fearing  exposing over seas operatives and for some other, rather mundane reasons.

The movie Fair Game had it’s debut at the Cannes Film Festival last week.  In my opinion, it’s about time!

Newsweek

Bringing the Valerie Plame affair to the silver screen, director Doug Liman explores the abuse of power in Washington.

When columnist Robert Novak unveiled Valerie Plame as a CIA undercover operative in his syndicated column in 2003, Plame reportedly confessed to a friend, “I didn’t plan for this day.” It would be safe to say that she also didn’t plan on a red-carpet world premiere for Fair Game, a film based on her story starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn, at the Cannes Film Festival. Or the standing ovations both she and the film received at the gala black-tie screening on Thursday evening. “What a night!” Plame exclaimed to NEWSWEEK after the event.

And what a movie. In Fair Game, director Doug Liman bravely tackles the now well-known story of how Plame’s husband, former career diplomat Joseph Wilson, wrote an op-ed in The New York Times  accusing President George W. Bush of knowingly lying in his State of the Union address about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and how, in return, White House officials leaked Plame’s true identity to the media. As MSNBC’s Chris Matthews reportedly told Wilson, Karl Rove declared, “Wilson’s wife is fair game.”

But instead of mounting a play-by-play of the political scandal again, Liman and the film’s two screenwriters, Jez and John-Henry Butterworth, wisely decided to focus on how the media and political maelstrom affected both Plame and Wilson personally. As a result, the film is a crisp snapshot of Washington players, a rarity for Hollywood; critics in Cannes immediately began to compare it to Alan Pakula’s masterful All the President’s Men.

Read more…