April 27, 2007

"Who Controls the Past Controls the Future..."

Hatched by Dafydd

"...Who controls the present controls the past."

I'm getting angrier and angrier about the brazen attempt by the elite media -- all of them -- to rewrite history... history that is so recent, the ink has barely dried. I was perusing the New York Times article on George Tenet's spit-and-tell biography, and I stumbled across this paragraph:

Mr. Tenet hints at some score-settling in the book. He describes in particular the extraordinary tension between him and Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser, and her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, in internal debate over how the president came to say erroneously in his 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq was seeking uranium in Africa.


Just in case anybody here missed it the last time, here is the quotation from the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into the pre-war intelligence, released in 2004. As before, scroll to page 8 on the pdf:

The intelligence report based on the former ambassador’s trip was disseminated on March 8,2002....

The intelligence report indicated that former Nigerien Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki was unaware of any contracts that had been signed between Niger and any rogue states for the sale of yellowcake while he was Prime Minister (1997-1999) or Foreign Minister (1996-1997). Mavaki said that if there had been any such contract during his tenure, he would have been aware’of it. Mayaki said, however, that in June 1999, [name redacted] businessman, approached him and insisted that Mayaki meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss “expanding commercial relations” between Niger and Iraq. The intelligence report said that Mayaki interpreted “expanding commercial relations” to mean that the delegation wanted to discuss uranium yellowcake sales. The intelligence report also said that “although the meeting took place, Mayaki let the matter drop due to the UN sanctions on Iraq.”

I have now seen the same pugnaciously ignorant pronouncement of falsity from AP, Reuters, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and several other newspapers; and it has become clear that this is no accident: I am now convinced that the elite media editors have literally conspired with each other to rewrite the past. They pretend that the Intel Committee report said that Bush lied and Joe Wilson was right about Iraq seeking uranium in Africa -- when in fact, it was the other way 'round.

The media rely upon the fact that the vast, vast majority of their readers no not remember that the Senate Intelligence Committee conducted a lengthy, extensive, detailed, and bipartisan examination of pre-war intelligence; and that the readers would not have access to the report even if they should vaguely recall it. The drive-by writers and editors know they won't be called on their deliberate disinformation campaign... so they have no check of conscience to stop them.

This is utterly despicable. They will do more damage to the First Amendment by their thuggish, irresponsible lying than a hundred McCain-Feingold bills and a thousand Patriot Acts could ever do.

The Party said that Oceania had never been in alliance with Eurasia. He, Winston Smith, knew that Oceania had been in alliance with Eurasia as short a time as four years ago. But where did that knowledge exist? Only in his own consciousness, which in any case must soon be annihilated. And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed -- if all records told the same tale -- then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past,' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.' And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. 'Reality control', they called it: in Newspeak, 'doublethink'.
-- George Orwell, 1984, chapter 3.

Bear in mind, this entire article is nothing but an advertisement for Tenet's book, a puff piece that assumes throughout that Tenet's version is simply the truth, hence any competing view is biased, irrelevant, and ultimately ignorable. For example, on the claim that the "sixteen words" were "erroneous," the Times never even once bothers to ask anyone else: neither the White House nor the British MI6 (who made the original claim); they don't quote from the 2003 State of the Union speech; and God knows they never mention the Intelligence Committee report.

The article makes its pronouncements in the same spirit as one would say "Bill Clinton said erroneously that he never had sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky." (But of course, the Times today would never say that.)

In fact, they don't even put a single question to George Tenet himself! The article takes as its only source Tenet's holy writ.

Thus, we have the spectacle of a major newspaper that won't even go so far out on a limb as to say that Hamas is a terrorist group (it's only alleged); but they know for a fact that Iraq never, ever, ever tried to obtain uranium ore from Niger or any other country on that continent.

On another point, George Tenet now claims that he only used the term "slam dunk" to say that a good job of salesmanship would "sell" the war:

During the meeting, the deputy C.I.A. director, John McLaughlin, unveiled a draft of a proposed public presentation that left the group unimpressed. Mr. Tenet recalls that Mr. Bush suggested that they could “add punch” by bringing in lawyers trained to argue cases before a jury.

“I told the president that strengthening the public presentation was a ‘slam dunk,’ a phrase that was later taken completely out of context,” Mr. Tenet writes. “If I had simply said, ‘I’m sure we can do better,’ I wouldn’t be writing this chapter -- or maybe even this book.”

Even while recounting this, the Times couldn't even be bothered to interview Bob Woodward, in whose book Plan of Attack the exchange occurs, as CBS News reported:

”McLaughlin has access to all the satellite photos, and he goes in and he has flip charts in the oval office. The president listens to all of this and McLaughlin's done. And, and the president kind of, as he's inclined to do, says ‘Nice try, but that isn't gonna sell Joe Public. That isn't gonna convince Joe Public,’” says Woodward.

In his book, Woodward writes: "The presentation was a flop. The photos were not gripping. The intercepts were less than compelling. And then George Bush turns to George Tenet and says, 'This is the best we've got?'"

Says Woodward: “George Tenet's sitting on the couch, stands up, and says, ‘Don't worry, it's a slam dunk case.’" And the president challenges him again and Tenet says, ‘The case, it's a slam dunk.’ ...I asked the president about this and he said it was very important to have the CIA director -- ‘Slam-dunk is as I interpreted is a sure thing, guaranteed. No possibility it won't go through the hoop.’ Others present, Cheney, very impressed.”

Not "strengthening the public presentation was a ‘slam dunk,’" as Tenet now says he said... just "it's a slam-dunk case."

Which version should we believe? The one Tenet tells in his book, defending his career, now that he knows no stockpiles of WMD were found in Iraq (not counting all the stuff we found that was the wrong kind of WMD)? Or should we buy the version that everybody else in the room told to Bob Woodward in 2004?

For heaven's sake, the version that Tenet retails today doesn't even make semantic sense. What on earth does it mean to say "strengthening the public presentation [is] a ‘slam dunk’?" I can't even parse the sentence. It's like saying "adding more cayenne pepper to the stew is a home run": It might make the stew into a home run, but the act of adding a particular spice is not itself a home run.

Nor does the Times tell us who George Tenet is. As a young man, Tenet worked three years for Republican Sen. John Heinz (Teresa Heinz Kerry's first husband). But from 1985 on, he was a Democratic wunderkind.

In that year, Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT, 95%) brought Tenet into the committee as director of the committee's oversight of all arms-control agreements. In 1988, the chairman of that committee, then Democratic Sen. David Boren of Oklahoma, made him Staff Director of the committee.

Sometime in early 1993, President Clinton invited Tenet to join his national-security transition team; and when the transition was complete, Clinton appointed Tenet Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Intelligence Programs at the National Security Council. Two years later, Clinton elevated him to Deputy Director of the CIA; and a year later, the president made him acting Director of Central Intelligence, to which position he was confirmed in 1997.

We are not talking about a career civil servant here; Tenet was never a bipartisan, neutral, above-the-fray kind of guy... he was a golden boy, a protégé first of Pat Leahy, then David Broder, and finally Bill Clinton. The Times mentions none of this.

They do slightly hint at the fact that he might have somewhat of an axe to grind, since he believes he was blamed in part both for 9/11 itself -- he was DCI for four years before the attack -- and for the CIA claims of huge stockpiles of WMD that filled the various intelligence estimates that were partially responsible for our decision to invade Iraq.

Tenet in particular is aware that Vice President Dick Cheney and then National Security Advisor, now Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice both advocated dumping Tenet early in the first term. But the Times does not really address the point that Tenet definitely has a dog in the tree: When he lambastes Cheney and Rice, he is getting even with people he sees as having thwarted him (for example, on the inclusion of the sixteen words in the 2003 SOTU).

Even so, I strongly suspect that the New York Times reads into Tenet's book what it wants to read, ignoring much that might mitigate the anti-Bush charge the Times wants Tenet to make.

For instance, this Sunday, Tenet will appear on 60 Minutes as part two of his publicity tour (part 1 was the puff piece in the New York Times and other, lesser advertising broadsheets). In the CBS interview, according to Matt Drudge, George Tenet says the following (hat tip to Friend Lee):

The High Value Detainee program uses “enhanced” techniques said to include sleep deprivation, exposure to extreme temperatures, and water boarding, in which suspects are reportedly restrained as a steady stream of water is poured over their faces, causing a severe gag reflex and a terrifying fear of drowning. In Sunday’s interview, Pelley challenges Tenet on the “enhanced interrogations,” a topic that gets little play in his much-anticipated book, At the Center of the Storm. “Here’s what I would say to you, to the Congress, to the American people, to the President of the United States: I know that this program has saved lives. I know we’ve disrupted plots,” he tells Pelley. “I know this program alone is worth more than [what] the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency put together, have been able to tell us.”

Evidently, the Times writers and editors don't read the Drudge Report. Of course, they probably think it's a blog. They do reluctantly admit that Tenet sometimes defends Bush, generally speaking:

Despite such sweeping indictments, Mr. Bush, who in 2004 awarded Mr. Tenet a Presidential Medal of Freedom, is portrayed personally in a largely positive light, with particular praise for the his leadership after the 2001 attacks. “He was absolutely in charge, determined, and directed,” Mr. Tenet writes of the president, whom he describes as a blunt-spoken kindred spirit.

But even here, the paper tries very hard to put a quid-pro-quo interpretation of Tenet's defense: After all, Bush did award him a Medal of Freedom... what do you expect Tenet to say? And then they return to prune-picking more attacks on Bush administration stalwarts.

I truly believe that the American mainstream news media are drifting back in time, back to the days of the 19th or even 18th century. Back then, newspapers chose up sides in joyous abandonment of any shred of impartiality, referring to John Adams as a "tyrant" and depicting Abraham Lincoln as a "hairy ape." And the media appear to remain blithely unaware that, as their credibility goes, so go their subscribers.

But what's a few million dollars in lost advertising revenue? It's just so much rubbish; at least, compared to the urgent work of saving the world... from Republicans.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 27, 2007, at the time of 7:04 PM

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