S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

False Claims and Flip-flops -- Is There Any Difference?

If it walks like a duck . . .

Senator Barack Obama is correct to assert that a McCain presidency would signal just another Bush term. Today's post focuses on two related issues: 1) New revelations coming out of the final sections of the Senate Intel Report, show that the Bush administration lied in the run-up to the Iraq war. 2) Senator John McCain recently made a contradictory switch in position away from advocating staying within the rule of law regarding the administration's subsequent widespread spying on Americans. As it happened unjustified aggression against Iraq precipitated parallel unjustified assaults on U.S. citizens' civil liberties.

Bush and others made false claims -- After a very long delay that started when Kansas Republican Senator Pat Roberts chaired the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, a new investigative committee report shows that the Bush administration deliberately ignored intelligence to the contrary, and lied about Iraq's supposed threat to the U.S. A post from Think Progress (6/5/08) - "Iraq Report Undermines Bush’s Claim That He Is A ‘Credible’ Leader Because He ‘Reads The Intelligence’," by Satyam, summarizes the report's most significant aspects. To quote:

Today, the Senate Select Intelligence Committee released the final two sections of its pre-war intelligence report. As Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said, the report concludes “that the Administration made significant claims that were not supported by the intelligence.”

No truth to the administration's assertions -- Even if the pre-war intelligence was wrong, flawed or inadequate there was never any justification for OCP and his people deliberately misleading the American people in order to start the war. An excellent post by Steve Benen from The Carpetbagger Report (6/5/08) was titled,"The White House used false intel -- which they knew was false." (Steve's next day follow-up is also very pertinent). To quote:

In a statement, Intelligence Committee Chairman John Rockefeller (D- W. Va.) said, “There is no question we all relied on flawed intelligence. But, there is a fundamental difference between relying on incorrect intelligence and deliberately painting a picture to the American people that you know is not fully accurate.”

. . .To this day, Still-President Bush will talk about his obviously false pre-war claims in the context of mistaken intelligence, which “everybody” believed at the time. But this long-overdue report is a reminder of just how wrong the Bush defense is — he (and his team) weren’t fooled by errors, they fooled others with arguments they knew had no foundation in fact.

Is any of this still relevant now? Maybe. There is a historical record to be concerned with, and it’s important to establish the fact that the White House knowingly said things that weren’t true, specifically to launch a disastrous war.

And then, of course, there’s John McCain, who’s running on his national security expertise and judgment on military matters, who bought every line Bush told him, then parroted it to the nation. Worse, McCain has assured voters that “every [intelligence] assessment” justified the 2003 invasion. Today reminds us how wrong this is.

Bush administration never held accountable -- Richard Clarke has an idea of what to do to hold the Bush administration accountable for the misstatements and distortions revealed by the second half of the Intel Committee report. Think Progress has the story about Clarke's discussion on this with Keith Olbermann. "We just can't let these people back into polite society," said Clarke, suggesting some sort of truth and reconciliation commission to which they would petition for forgiveness. To quote:

Noting that “prominent Democrats” had ruled out impeachment, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann asked former counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke on his show last night, what “remedy” there could be for the lies and misinformation highlighted in the new Senate Intelligence Committee reports on the Bush administration’s misuse of pre-war Iraq intelligence.

“Someone should have to pay in some way for the decisions that they made to mislead the American people,” said Clarke. He suggested that “some sort of truth and reconciliation commission” might be appropriate because, he said, we can’t “let these people back into polite society”

Is there a difference of gravity between lying and reversing polity views? Of course there is. Making false claims is unethical and un-American behavior from our government, and should carry accountability. Government officials always have the right to change positions, however, though the risk of doing it may also have a negative price. But in both cases we feel betrayed when officials break their word to us.

Application of the rule of law -- Steve Benen, who writes The Carpetbagger Report, headlines (6/6/08) that "McCain contradicts precisely what he said earlier." His post explores Senator McCain's apparent change from asserting that a President is not above the law, to asserting that the President can make his own law. To quote:

Just six short months ago, McCain told the Boston Globe that he, unlike the current occupant of the Oval Office, felt compelled to follow the law when protecting U.S. national security.

. . . [now] the McCain campaign is arguing that the president’s inherent authority as Commander in Chief gives him the right to do literally anything in the interests of protecting national security. FISA gives the president certain powers, but according to this argument, the president need not feel bound to follow the law . . .

Flip-flop or not? It is disturbing to learn that Senator McCain now subscribes to the flawed unitary presidency theory that we all hoped had been discredited. That is always the danger with presidential power-grabs. The next president in line may not want to relinquish it. Senator Obama is right. It appears there would be no difference except in the face, with another Republican occupant in the oval office. A similar post from Wired-Threat Level (6/3/08) "McCain: I'd Spy on Americans Secretly, too, " was written by Ryan Singel. To quote:

If elected president, Senator John McCain would reserve the right to run his own warrantless wiretapping program against Americans, based on the theory that the president's wartime powers trump federal criminal statutes and court oversight, according to a statement released by his campaign Monday.

When it comes to similarities between Our Current President (OCP) and the Current Republican Applicant for President (CRAP - pardon me, I couldn't resist), there are many. Subsequent posts will fill them in.

Additional Intel references from Congressional Quarterly "Behind the Lines" newsletter. To quote:

Sign up for your free Congressional Quarterly newsletter here.

View my current slide show about the Bush years -- "Millennium" -- at the bottom of this column.

(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)

My “creativity and dreaming” post today is at Making Good Mondays.

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