Friday, July 29, 2005

Connecting the dots...leads back to Clinton?

And now I learn that Enron is one of the dots. As the plot of this spellbinding novel of deadly international intrigue has unfolded from Rovegate back through the Downing Street Memo, I learned that John Bolton and even Jeff Gannon/Guckert are involved along with more familiar names like Rumsfeld, Miller and Libby. But the trail of dots doesn't stop at 10 Downing Street in 2002. It continues back from there through 1999 with Mickey Herskowitz's revelation that candidate Bush was looking forward to having the opportunity to invade Iraq if elected President.

But it also doesn't stop there. John Loftus, a former Justice Department prosecutor, wrote in an article on 31 May 2002:
In the early 1990’s, a []consortium of American oil companies (lead by Unocal) had hired []Enron to determine the profitability of building an oil and gas pipeline across Afghanistan.
Former Afghanistan CIA agent []Robert Baer has recently published a book charging that the cover-up of the 1990's pipeline negotiations [with the Taliban] revealed extensive financial corruption inside the []Clinton administration, and contributed to the lack of intelligence before 9/11.
Having now learned this, I'm surprised that the right isn't beating the drums about Clinton's coverup of the pipeline negotiations being solely responsible for 9/11 and the war in Iraq. However, the left does need to accept the fact that the Clinton administration shares part of the blame for allowing the situation to go on as long as it did. According to Loftus, "The Taliban negotiations temporarily collapsed in 1999 after Clinton reversed his NSC advisor's policy, and ordered a missile strike against terrorists in Afghanistan." But during the first month of the Bush presidency, Cheney "allegedly reinstated the []intelligence block and expanded it to effectively preclude any investigations whatsoever of Saudi-Taliban-Afghan oil connections."

And, as you can probably guess, it doesn't stop there. The dot that precedes Clinton is Bush Sr., who, according to Loftus (but with no supporting information, so caveat lector regarding Loftus), "was business partners in the Carlyle Group with the []Bin Laden family during this period." Loftus states that Bush Sr. "lectured" Bush Jr. that he should placate the Saudis. Loftus then writes that Bush Jr. ignored his father's advice

and secrtely ordered all American troops to begin a total withdrawal from Saudi Arabia. White House sources began a steady drumbeat of leaks about Saudi involvement with terrorism, and even authorized long-delayed raids on the Saudi charities in Virginia that served as a money laundry for terrorist operations against Israel.

Suddenly, President Bush made a sudden and startling switch to adopt a more pro-Saudi view. The []documents seized in the Virginia raids are barely being translated, let alone investigated.
A plausible explanation for the dramatic policy reversal is that someone (allegedly Cheney) told President Bush to call off the dogs at CIA and FBI, because if the Saudis went down, they would take his father down with them.
But it doesn't stop there. To follow the dots to their logical origin, we need to go all the way back to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979, when Carter had one year left in his term. According to Loftus:

[]Saudi intelligence (not the CIA as has been reported) funded the early Taliban faction and later []Al Qaida as part of the insurgency to throw the Russians out of Afghanistan. A few years afterwards, US energy companies (Enron, as the Afghan pipeline consultant for UNOCAL) used the Saudi intelligence connection to the Taliban to begin negotiations for a pipeline across Afghanistan.
It's doubtful that the negotiations with the Taliban had begun yet in the final year of the Carter presidency, and so the origin dot should be placed within the Reagan administration. An oil pipeline was dreamed up by American energy companies, and negotiations with the Taliban were subsequently covered up by the Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton and Bush Jr. administrations. Those negotiations finally collapsed in August 2001, precipitating the 9/11 attacks. offers a detailed timeline that begins on 1 December 1998 with Wolfowitz publishing an article stating that Saddam must be taken out.

Following is a sampling from the timeline.

On 16 December 2000, Powell states that "Saddam Hussein is sitting on a failed regime that is not going to be around in a few years' time."

In February 2001, the Bush administration suggests that replacements for Saddam be interviewed.

On 24 February 2001, Powell states that Saddam "has not developed a significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction."

On 11 September 2001, Rumsfeld is quoted as saying "[I want the] best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time. Not only UBL [Usama bin Laden]. ... Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not."

On 20 September 2001, Bush tells Blair "We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq."

In February 2002, Senator Bob Graham is told "We have stopped fighting the war on terror in Afghanistan. We are []moving military and intelligence personnel and resources out of Afghanistan to get ready for a future war in Iraq."

From June 2002 to March 2003, "Allies flew 21,736 sorties over southern Iraq, attacking 349 carefully selected targets."

In July 2002, "They get the []money [to prepare for the invasion of Iraq] from a supplemental appropriation for the Afghan War, which Congress has approved...Congress was totally in the dark on this."

23 July 2002: The Downing Street Minutes are written.

In September 2002, the Defense Intelligence Agency reports "There is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons."

On 18 September 2002, Saddam offers to allow inspectors to return and Bush calls this "his latest ploy."

At the Doo-Dah Parade in Pasadena, California on 24 November 2002.

28 January 2003: The State of the Union Address includes "sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

20 March 2003: U.S. forces invade Iraq.

On 30 March 2003, Rumsfeld pinpoints WMD in Tikrit and Baghdad in an ABC interview.

1 May 2003: "Mission Accomplished."

On 14 May 2003, Rumsfeld says "I don't believe anyone that I know in the administration ever said that Iraq had nuclear weapons."

On 6 July 2003, Wilson concludes "that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat."

11 July 2003: Rove's conversation with Cooper.

14 July 2003: Novak outs Plame.

16 September 2003: McClellan denies Rove involvement.

On 22 January 2004, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald presents a grand jury with evidence regarding the Plame leak.

6 October 2004: The Duelfer Report regarding WMD is published.

1 May 2005: The Downing Street Memo is leaked.

7 June 2005: Bush says "There is nothing farther from the truth. My conversation with the prime minister was, 'How can we do this peacefully?'" it turns out, if you connect the dots, you get a detailed picture of an oil pipeline crossing the arid terrain of Afghanistan. Suitable for framing. Free with any purchase, while supplies last.

Friday, July 15, 2005

The AMUHM Evidence

The argument against the Downing Street Memo being an important story is that it presented no information that was not already known before the documents were leaked. MSNBC's David Shuster offered these examples in an article on 24 June 2005:
In former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's book The Price of Loyalty, it says getting rid of Saddam was at the top of President Bush's agenda in his very first cabinet meeting back in January 2001; Counter Terrorism Czar Richard Clarke wrote that President Bush pressured him to come up with evidence linking 9/11 to Iraq; Bob Woodward, in his book Plan of Attack, reported the administration was determined to invade Iraq long before the president went to the United Nations in September 2002.
And even those revelations are trumped by Houston Chronicle columnist Mickey Herskowitz's statement in a 27 October 2004 interview on "He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999."

Of course the story of the outing of Valerie Plame as a CIA officer has eclipsed the Downing Street Memo story because of Karl Rove's superstar status. In quick searches on and, Shuster's article mentioned above—from three weeks ago—was the most recent DSM story on either website.

However, this reduction in priority of a story that was already low-priority doesn't indicate its unimportance. The story is a quietly significant piece of information that will still be there when the smoke and strobe lights of the Rove story wind down and Rove returns to his job with even greater influence over policy-making.

Perhaps a more effective way to gain a higher profile for the Downing Street Memo would be to concatenate it with all the revelations that preceded it, starting with Herskowitz's interview of candidate Bush in 1999, and to give that catena of revelations a unifying name. "The Backstory." "Early Dissembling." "The AMUHM (Already Made Up His Mind) Evidence." Something like that.

If the DSM isn't "the smoking gun," then it certainly is the barrel or the trigger guard or some other part of the smoking gun composed of all the revelations collectively.

It's not the crime, it's the cover-up? The outing of Plame was obviously part of the cover-up. But so was the State of the Union Address in 2003 in which Bush knowingly included faulty intelligence. And Bush and Rumsfeld stating in May 2002, as reported on NPR, that they had no plans to invade Iraq was also part of the cover-up. I wonder how many other pieces could be assembled.

If this story were about the Bush administration awarding fat "pork" contracts to some construction buddies in Texas, it would be annoying but understandable if the story got lost under a pile of other stories. But the result of the actual deception and cover-up is so much more serious than that. As of today, 1,946 coalition military personnel have been killed in the war in Iraq, and the disputed number of civilian deaths is a multiple of that.

Because of the death toll resulting from the deception leading up to the invasion of Iraq (and only in subsequent cases resulting in a high death toll), "high crimes and misdemeanors" should be very loosely interpreted.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

A reply from Congressman Schiff regarding Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Thank you for contacting me regarding your support for the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1059). I appreciate hearing from you and welcome your input.

As you may know, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act would repeal the current military policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and replace it with a non-discrimination policy that would allow gay and lesbian soldiers to serve openly in the Armed Forces. This bill has been referred to the House Armed Services Committee where it awaits further action.

While in Congress, I have been a strong supporter of efforts to ensure equal opportunity for all Americans, regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation. In my own office, I have signed and continued to maintain a written commitment affirming that the sexual orientation of an individual is not a consideration in the hiring, promoting, or terminating of an employee in my congressional office. In addition, I have supported specific legislative proposals that would bar discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation and provide equal treatment with regard to family and medical leave, domestic partnership benefits, the tax treatment of health benefits, and permanent partner immigration rights.

Brave men and women, including gays and lesbians, are currently putting their lives on the line to protect us and are among the courageous veterans who have fought for our country. I believe that our military should continue to recruit and retain the best and the brightest troops for service regardless of their race, gender, or sexual orientation. Please be assured that I will keep your views in mind as Congress considers this legislation.

Again, thank you for your input. If I can be of any additional assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Adam B. Schiff
Member of Congress
29th District of California

Write your Congressman.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The President of the Apocalypse

A document was leaked yesterday about American and British troop reduction in Iraq to less than half by mid-2006? I should think that a policy change like this, which everybody from L.A. to Kabul would welcome (for quite different reasons), would be announced in press conferences, not leaked.

And Karl Rove has now been directly linked in Cooper's email to the outing of Plame. As John Aravosis observes on Americablog, "Bush said he wanted to get to the bottom of this over a year ago...If Rove was so innocent, why didn't he just come forward immediately and say 'Yeah, it was me, but I didn't realize she was undercover'?"

Aravosis also asks a couple of good questions: "Who told Rove that Plame was a CIA agent?" and "Who was the SECOND administration source who leaked the info about Plame? Remember, Novak said TWO administration sources confirmed that Plame was CIA. Who was the second one?"

While reading through the comments on Aravosis' blog post, I came across the name Bolton. Bolton? (I understand that the writers of these comments may not have any of the facts straight and there aren't very many links from the comments to credible sources. Caveat lector.) A blogger named KnaveRupe commented:

Who was in charge of non-proliferation (what Valerie Plame was working on)?

Who requested classified documents about intelligence personnel working in that field?

Whose confirmation is being held up because the govt is stonwalling the documentation on those requests?

Bolton docs will blow the whole thing wide open.
Wow. The storyline is getting really complex. This Washington Post article illuminates Bolton's role as undersecretary of state and how relations with Russia have improved since his departure from that position. Hunter at the Daily Kos wrote an extensive post about whether Bolton, as undersecretary of state, "was explicitly tasked with counterintelligence operations against barriers to the acceptance of the 'fixed' Bush administration intelligence position," but he warned against drawing a direct link between Bolton and Plame.

Jeff Gannon?? Wait a minute. What's he doing here? Actually I shouldn't be surprised since the Washington Post posted this article on February 16:

Gannon is also embroiled in the Valerie Plame story. In 2003 he interviewed Plame's husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson, after unnamed administration officials leaked her role as a CIA operative to columnist Robert Novak. According to his Talon News story, Gannon asked Wilson about "an internal government memo prepared by U.S. intelligence personnel [detailing] a meeting in early 2002 where your wife, a member of the agency for clandestine service working on Iraqi weapons issues, suggested that you could be sent to investigate the reports."
How would he have seen a memo like that? Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has asked that Gannon be included in the investigation.

And today, Iraq's former interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, was quoted by the London Times as saying:
If we don’t build a state we will lose. Not just as Iraq, but the region as a whole and Europe should say goodbye to stability and so should the United States.
I wonder how this story will end? What an epic cycle, on the vast scale of Lord of the Rings. A presidential candidate intent, even before he's elected, on invading Iraq. A questionable election. 9/11. The invasion of Afghanistan, a surreal land of desert and burqas. Osama bin Laden, a member of a Saudi family with close ties to the President's family, evading capture and still at large. Fixed intelligence linking Saddam with bin Laden. Napalm-like firebombs clearing the way for the invasion of Baghdad, an exotic, mythical city where beheadings still occur. A President, an aircraft carrier, a flight suit, and a "Mission Accomplished" banner. The outing of a non-supportive CIA operative. A quagmire occupation and a swelling insurgency. The polarization of a nation and an unfathomable reelection. A journalist of questionable credentials and suspicious access to the White House. Leaked documents and calls for impeachment. Falling approval ratings. Power brokers appearing before a grand jury. Bombings in London. Leaked documents about a troop pullout. A warning of a civil war and its destabilizing ripple effect.

This story is just a little too intense for me. Let me know what happens in the next chapter. I'll be hiding under the bed.

Friday, July 08, 2005

The timing of the London attack (Updated)

The theory proposed yesterday by The Impolitic, that the bombing in London was actually a "CIA black-ops job," could potentially get everybody's hair in a really big frizz—the left, that The Impolitic would put such an extreme idea out there, and the right, that the liberal loonies are now officially outside the solar system. The theory:
Goddess forgive my cynicism, and God rest the dead in London, but my gut reaction when I heard the news was, what a perfect CIA black-ops job. You have to admit the timing is pretty bloody convenient. Bush's approval rating is at an all time low, support for the occupation diminishes daily, the press is zealously covering the Plame case again, which suddenly promises to implicate members of the White House inner circle in treasonous acts and two days ago, 250,000 people peaceably assembled in London to demonstrate against US policy. Blair is having his own problems with the Downing Street Minutes and diminishing popular support at home.

Think about what both Bush and Blair stand to gain here. If I was a terrorist smart enough to bomb a subway system, I wouldn't do something so stupid as to time it so it would help my opponents get out of the hot seats of their own making. On the other hand, if I was a CIA agent pretending to be Al-Qaeda - I certainly would.
You can just picture the summer-blockbuster version of that scenario, can't you? The ominous score, the dramatic low-key lighting in the subway, the grim face of the actor playing the President revealing his distaste for doing what has to be done for the greater good, the quickening intercutting as we approach the point of the detonation, the software-generated fireball, the cloud of flying debris controlled by particle-generation software. Who would play the CIA operatives costumed as al-Qaeda operatives costumed as London commuters? Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor? Trust me: as you read this, that project is being pitched to someone in Hollywood.

But I'm with you. After considering the hypothesis, I've decided that it couldn't have been our operatives. That would indicate a level of insanity that really isn't evident when Rummy & Friends speak to the press. The possibility exists, of course. Every government, even the Clinton administration, includes nut cases somewhere within its structure who would go to any extreme if they received orders to do so. The possibility exists, but those in charge are rational enough to realize that the implementation of a plan like that would be counterproductive to achieving their objectives.


The Impolitic is right: the timing is a giveaway. And so a counter-hypothesis I would like to propose is that the bombing was passively allowed to happen.

I remember a long time ago encountering a conspiracy theory that FDR knew about the planned bombing of Pearl Harbor and allowed it to happen to create a justification for entering the war. FDR's direct collusion is unlikely, but it may be that every conspiracy theory has a tiny kernel of truth at the center, however distorted it eventually becomes. Even if FDR's administration actually did receive intelligence that an attack was imminent or underway (this has probably been documented and/or disproved numerous times since then), it's very unlikely that FDR himself would have made the decision to do nothing. However, someone within the structure could have taken it upon himself to delay the information so that America's entrance into the war would be inevitable.

Similarly, it's not difficult to imagine that somewhere in the Byzantine connections between the governments of the U.S. and Britain, a small window of opportunity was quietly allowed to open in a specific location such that the destruction would be limited but the emotional impact would be optimized.

Why then? Why there? I feel it's just too coincidental. The Plame story is turning into a second smoking gun because it's becoming more widely known that Plame's role in the CIA at the time of her outing was much more significant than we'd been told before. This post appeared on the Daily Kos on June 30:
All the attention has focused on Plame as victim, the CIA operative whose safety has been threatened and career compromised by being "outed." But most folks ignore her then-current role, as analyst at the CIA WMD desk.

Since the CIA was shooting down reasons for war as fast as Chalabi could make them up, the Bushies (paticularly Cheney and Rumsfeld) set up the Office of Special Plans at DOD to "stovepipe" the good stuff and package it for public and international consumption. There were reports of "war" within the intelligence community between the CIA regulars and the prowar DOD. Plame was a top CIA WMD analyst. She was one of the generals on the other side.

So when Patrick Fitzgerald shows up to investigate the outing of a CIA operative, the White House folks have a problem. They can hardly explain that they inadvertently outed an agent because they wanted to link Wilson to a faction at CIA that thought there were no WMD.

What was their Grand Jury testimony?
And then Karl Rove was "outed" on July 4, and the next day Matt Cooper agreed to testify regarding the identity of the source who leaked Plame's CIA status to him. It could be that the Bush administration felt it was becoming increasingly important to distract the public's attention from those developments and to reignite Britain's support for the war on terror. And so, a quiet, cryptic message could have made its way to the London cell that security at such-and-such station was going to be light.

Implausible? Of course not. Unlikely? I hope so.

However 2.

But then again, Osama himself could chuckle as he posts a comment in response to the above like "You writers are all alike. It occurred on that particular day simply because the detonator caps that were on back-order for us for three months at our online supplier were finally delivered. If they'd been in stock, the incident would've occurred in April, before the dems on the House Intelligence Committee wrote to Gonzalez about why no charges had been brought as a result of the Plame investigation. No connection, except in your imagination."


The Impolitic on July 9 took note of my "really big frizz" comment above and on July 11 posted an article entitled "Bombs in London - Theory Vindicated" which points to an article on Prison Planet entitled "London Underground Bombing 'Exercises' Took Place at Same Time as Real Attack," with the subtitle "Culpability cover scenario echoes 9/11 wargames."

Watson and Jones of Prison Planet make a plausible case that it was hardly coincidental that war games or emergency exercises were taking place at exactly the same time and place as the attack on 9/11 and the recent London attack on 7/7. If their source material is credible and verifiable, it's pretty scary. The black-ops scenario isn't nearly as unlikely as I thought.

However, my skepticometer pegs when I study their website design and see that they have books and videos to sell. These guys are career conspiracy theorists. That, of course, doesn't make what they say untrue. It just means caveat lector.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Sir Karl of Rove has suffered merely a small setback in the Great Crusade

Crusaders, who are charged with, among other noble tasks, defending the sacred institution of marriage for the Kingdom of Heaven, are sometimes tripped up by small missteps like breaking federal laws or giving false information that incidentally results in thousands of deaths.

As you know, the latest misstep, possibly taken by Sir Karl of Rove, who in the coming years is to be canonized as St. Karl the Kerryslayer, is the disclosure to several journalists that Valerie Plame was, at the time of the disclosure, a CIA officer. Under federal law, such a disclosure is a crime. According to Lawrence O'Donnell at The Huffington Post, Sir Karl has been served with three subpoenas in this case, and O'Donnell surmises that "three trips to the same grand jury is frequently an indicator of subject status."

But Sir Karl of Rove is a close friend of and trusted advisor to King George the Woolly Headed, who will move Heaven and Earth to protect Sir Karl's honor. The good subjects of the King can rest assured that this trifling controversy will be expunged from the illustrious history of the King and from his legacy as the Wartime King Who Commanded Vast Armies Against the Infidel Hordes.

For more insidious threats against which marriage must be defended,
like outsourcing and relevance, visit my gallery of free wallpapers.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Under the hood to fix the presidential primary system

A Resolution Establishing a Commission on Presidential Nomination Timing and Scheduling

Whereas, the timing of the delegate selection process and the scheduling of presidential primaries and caucuses is a critical component in the nomination of a candidate for president by the Democratic Party; and
Be It Further Resolved, the Commission shall issue its report and recommendations to the Democratic National Committee by December 31, 2005 for consideration and action by the Democratic National Committee.

Read and Adopted July 26, 2004
Read the full document

M Spencer Green/AP
This is really not one of the glamorous blog topics like the Downing Street Memo, is it? I don't think there will be too many blogswarms about rescheduling primaries. When I did a search for "commission on presidential nomination timing" on, I got zero results. Not a hot topic.

But as I recall from last year, the momentum for Kerry started in Iowa (January 19) and by the time the California primary rolled around (March 2), my own first choice, Wesley Clark, and several others had dropped out of the race. As Matt Cohen of observed, "Only in America does the largest state in the union vote after the top race has been decided."

Would the outcome of the November election have been different if Dean had swept the primaries as expected? Or if Edwards had pulled out in front? My own personal suspicion is that Edwards was the candidate who could've won the White House. He has that same gosh-darn Southern charm that red-staters seem to need to see in a candidate, plus he has two things that Bush lacks: integrity and the ability to keep facts straight.

A article from 12 March 2005 reports that Rep. David E. Price (D-NC), who co-chairs the Commission on Presidential Nomination Timing and Scheduling, "does not believe the system is at fault for the Democrats' failure to win the presidency in the past two elections."

I disagree with Price on the recent election. Disproportionately small and atypically populated Iowa and New Hampshire unquestionably set the course for the rest of the primary season last year. And as a result, because Kerry lacked the personal charisma of a Reagan or a Clinton or even a Dubya, all Bush had to do during the presidential debates was drop the words "trial lawyer" into an occasional sentence to dampen what little warm-fuzzy feelings voters might have developed for his opponent.

Would the outcome have been different with Edwards? No one, especially not the voter, knows how a voter subjectively chooses his or her candidates. Last November, BBC News asked voters why they voted for Bush, and one senses, while reading through some of the published responses, that voters see in a candidate what we want to see, or we see ourselves reflected in a candidate. One response, from a voter named Cathy Jones of Bayonet Point, Florida, was "I voted for Bush because he is an honourable man who makes decisions based on principles, not polls and a man who can be taken at his word." Another, Margaret of Minneapolis, responded "I was very impressed with Mr. Bush on how he handled the 9/11 tragedy. He mourned and shed tears like the rest of us, during the ceremonies." John of St. Paul wrote "Had there been a Democrat president in office at the time [of the 9/11 attacks] the most he would have done is throw a few harsh words at Osama and then would have forgot the whole thing happened." Gary Williams of Granbury, Texas, responded "I'm a native Texan and I see in President Bush the best of the Texas character."

Would voters have been able to see themselves reflected more clearly in Edwards than in Kerry? Probably. Would that have changed the outcome of the election? Don't know. Would a shorter primary season have resulted in Edwards being the candidate to go up against the incumbent? Maybe not. Even if the primary season were shortened to only one week, the early results could still affect how people voted later in the week.

What if all the primaries were held on the same day? It's probably safe to say that on Election Day in November, the votes cast in the morning on the East Coast do not significantly alter how votes are cast in the late afternoon on the West Coast. And as a result, the November election is a truer picture of our intentions because later voters aren't intimidated into conforming to the voting patterns of earlier voters.

Could we take a lesson from that and focus the primary season to a single day so that those results would also be a truer picture of our intentions?