Skip to main content

Fahrenheit 9/11 makes the following points about Bin Laden and about Afghanistan, and makes them in this order:

1) The Bin Laden family (if not exactly Osama himself) had a close if convoluted business relationship with the Bush family, through the Carlyle Group.

2) Saudi capital in general is a very large element of foreign investment in the United States.

3) The Unocal company in Texas had been willing to discuss a gas pipeline across Afghanistan with the Taliban, as had other vested interests.

4) The Bush administration sent far too few ground troops to Afghanistan and thus allowed far too many Taliban and al-Qaida members to escape.

5) The Afghan government, in supporting the coalition in Iraq, was purely risible in that its non-army was purely American.

6) The American lives lost in Afghanistan have been wasted. (This I divine from the fact that this supposedly "antiwar" film is dedicated ruefully to all those killed there, as well as in Iraq.)

It must be evident to anyone, despite the rapid-fire way in which Moore's direction eases the audience hastily past the contradictions, that these discrepant scatter shots do not cohere at any point. Either the Saudis run U.S. policy (through family ties or overwhelming economic interest), or they do not. As allies and patrons of the Taliban regime, they either opposed Bush's removal of it, or they did not. (They opposed the removal, all right: They wouldn't even let Tony Blair land his own plane on their soil at the time of the operation.) Either we sent too many troops, or were wrong to send any at all"”the latter was Moore's view as late as 2002"”or we sent too few. If we were going to make sure no Taliban or al-Qaida forces survived or escaped, we would have had to be more ruthless than I suspect that Mr. Moore is really recommending. And these are simply observations on what is "in" the film. If we turn to the facts that are deliberately left out, we discover that there is an emerging Afghan army, that the country is now a joint NATO responsibility and thus under the protection of the broadest military alliance in history, that it has a new constitution and is preparing against hellish odds to hold a general election, and that at least a million and a half of its former refugees have opted to return. I don't think a pipeline is being constructed yet, not that Afghanistan couldn't do with a pipeline. But a highway from Kabul to Kandahar"”an insurance against warlordism and a condition of nation-building"”is nearing completion with infinite labor and risk. We also discover that the parties of the Afghan secular left"”like the parties of the Iraqi secular left"”are strongly in favor of the regime change. But this is not the sort of irony in which Moore chooses to deal.

He prefers leaden sarcasm to irony and, indeed, may not appreciate the distinction. In a long and paranoid (and tedious) section at the opening of the film, he makes heavy innuendoes about the flights that took members of the Bin Laden family out of the country after Sept. 11. I banged on about this myself at the time and wrote a Nation column drawing attention to the groveling Larry King interview with the insufferable Prince Bandar, which Moore excerpts. However, recent developments have not been kind to our Mike. In the interval between Moore's triumph at Cannes and the release of the film in the United States, the 9/11 commission has found nothing to complain of in the timing or arrangement of the flights. And Richard Clarke, Bush's former chief of counterterrorism, has come forward to say that he, and he alone, took the responsibility for authorizing those Saudi departures. This might not matter so much to the ethos of Fahrenheit 9/11, except that"”as you might expect"”Clarke is presented throughout as the brow-furrowed ethical hero of the entire post-9/11 moment. And it does not seem very likely that, in his open admission about the Bin Laden family evacuation, Clarke is taking a fall, or a spear in the chest, for the Bush administration. So, that's another bust for this windy and bloated cinematic "key to all mythologies."

A film that bases itself on a big lie and a big misrepresentation can only sustain itself by a dizzying succession of smaller falsehoods, beefed up by wilder and (if possible) yet more-contradictory claims. President Bush is accused of taking too many lazy vacations. (What is that about, by the way? Isn't he supposed to be an unceasing planner for future aggressive wars?) But the shot of him "relaxing at Camp David" shows him side by side with Tony Blair. I say "shows," even though this photograph is on-screen so briefly that if you sneeze or blink, you won't recognize the other figure. A meeting with the prime minister of the United Kingdom, or at least with this prime minister, is not a goof-off.

The president is also captured in a well-worn TV news clip, on a golf course, making a boilerplate response to a question on terrorism and then asking the reporters to watch his drive. Well, that's what you get if you catch the president on a golf course. If Eisenhower had done this, as he often did, it would have been presented as calm statesmanship. If Clinton had done it, as he often did, it would have shown his charm. More interesting is the moment where Bush is shown frozen on his chair at the infant school in Florida, looking stunned and useless for seven whole minutes after the news of the second plane on 9/11. Many are those who say that he should have leaped from his stool, adopted a Russell Crowe stance, and gone to work. I could even wish that myself. But if he had done any such thing then (as he did with his "Let's roll" and "dead or alive" remarks a month later), half the Michael Moore community would now be calling him a man who went to war on a hectic, crazed impulse. The other half would be saying what they already say"”that he knew the attack was coming, was using it to cement himself in power, and couldn't wait to get on with his coup.

This is the line taken by Gore Vidal and by a scandalous recent book that also revives the charge of FDR's collusion over Pearl Harbor. At least Moore's film should put the shameful purveyors of that last theory back in their paranoid box.

But it won't because it encourages their half-baked fantasies in so many other ways. We are introduced to Iraq, "a sovereign nation." (In fact, Iraq's "sovereignty" was heavily qualified by international sanctions, however questionable, which reflected its noncompliance with important U.N. resolutions.) In this peaceable kingdom, according to Moore's flabbergasting choice of film shots, children are flying little kites, shoppers are smiling in the sunshine, and the gentle rhythms of life are undisturbed. Then"”wham! From the night sky come the terror weapons of American imperialism. Watching the clips Moore uses, and recalling them well, I can recognize various Saddam palaces and military and police centers getting the treatment. But these sites are not identified as such. In fact, I don't think Al Jazeera would, on a bad day, have transmitted anything so utterly propagandistic. You would also be led to think that the term "civilian casualty" had not even been in the Iraqi vocabulary until March 2003.

I remember asking Moore at Telluride if he was or was not a pacifist. He would not give a straight answer then, and he doesn't now, either. I'll just say that the "insurgent" side is presented in this film as justifiably outraged, whereas the 30-year record of Baathist war crimes and repression and aggression is not mentioned once. (Actually, that's not quite right. It is briefly mentioned but only, and smarmily, because of the bad period when Washington preferred Saddam to the likewise unmentioned Ayatollah Khomeini.)

That this"”his pro-American moment"”was the worst Moore could possibly say of Saddam's depravity is further suggested by some astonishing falsifications. Moore asserts that Iraq under Saddam had never attacked or killed or even threatened (his words) any American. I never quite know whether Moore is as ignorant as he looks, or even if that would be humanly possible. Baghdad was for years the official, undisguised home address of Abu Nidal, then the most-wanted gangster in the world, who had been sentenced to death even by the PLO and had blown up airports in Vienna* and Rome. Baghdad was the safe house for the man whose "operation" murdered Leon Klinghoffer.

Saddam boasted publicly of his financial sponsorship of suicide bombers in Israel. (Quite a few Americans of all denominations walk the streets of Jerusalem.) In 1991, a large number of Western hostages were taken by the hideous Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and held in terrible conditions for a long time. After that same invasion was repelled"”Saddam having killed quite a few Americans and Egyptians and Syrians and Brits in the meantime and having threatened to kill many more"”the Iraqi secret police were caught trying to murder former President Bush during his visit to Kuwait. Never mind whether his son should take that personally. (Though why should he not?) Should you and I not resent any foreign dictatorship that attempts to kill one of our retired chief executives? (President Clinton certainly took it that way: He ordered the destruction by cruise missiles of the Baathist "security" headquarters.) Iraqi forces fired, every day, for 10 years, on the aircraft that patrolled the no-fly zones and staved off further genocide in the north and south of the country. In 1993, a certain Mr. Yasin helped mix the chemicals for the bomb at the World Trade Center and then skipped to Iraq, where he remained a guest of the state until the overthrow of Saddam.

In 2001, Saddam's regime was the only one in the region that openly celebrated the attacks on New York and Washington and described them as just the beginning of a larger revenge. Its official media regularly spewed out a stream of anti-Semitic incitement. I think one might describe that as "threatening," even if one was narrow enough to think that anti-Semitism only menaces Jews. And it was after, and not before, the 9/11 attacks that Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi moved from Afghanistan to Baghdad and began to plan his now very open and lethal design for a holy and ethnic civil war. On Dec. 1, 2003, the New York Times reported"”and the David Kay report had established"”that Saddam had been secretly negotiating with the "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-il in a series of secret meetings in Syria, as late as the spring of 2003, to buy a North Korean missile system, and missile-production system, right off the shelf. (This attempt was not uncovered until after the fall of Baghdad, the coalition's presence having meanwhile put an end to the negotiations.)

Thus, in spite of the film's loaded bias against the work of the mind, you can grasp even while watching it that Michael Moore has just said, in so many words, the one thing that no reflective or informed person can possibly believe: that Saddam Hussein was no problem. No problem at all. Now look again at the facts I have cited above. If these things had been allowed to happen under any other administration, you can be sure that Moore and others would now glibly be accusing the president of ignoring, or of having ignored, some fairly unmistakable "warnings."

The same "let's have it both ways" opportunism infects his treatment of another very serious subject, namely domestic counterterrorist policy. From being accused of overlooking too many warnings"”not exactly an original point"”the administration is now lavishly taunted for issuing too many. (Would there not have been "fear" if the harbingers of 9/11 had been taken seriously?) We are shown some American civilians who have had absurd encounters with idiotic "security" staff. (Have you ever met anyone who can't tell such a story?) Then we are immediately shown underfunded police departments that don't have the means or the manpower to do any stop-and-search: a power suddenly demanded by Moore on their behalf that we know by definition would at least lead to some ridiculous interrogations. Finally, Moore complains that there isn't enough intrusion and confiscation at airports and says that it is appalling that every air traveler is not forcibly relieved of all matches and lighters. (Cue mood music for sinister influence of Big Tobacco.)

So"”he wants even more pocket-rummaging by airport officials? Uh, no, not exactly. But by this stage, who's counting? Moore is having it three ways and asserting everything and nothing. Again"”simply not serious.

Circling back to where we began, why did Moore's evil Saudis not join "the Coalition of the Willing"? Why instead did they force the United States to switch its regional military headquarters to Qatar? If the Bush family and the al-Saud dynasty live in each other's pockets, as is alleged in a sort of vulgar sub-Brechtian scene with Arab headdresses replacing top hats, then how come the most reactionary regime in the region has been powerless to stop Bush from demolishing its clone in Kabul and its buffer regime in Baghdad? The Saudis hate, as they did in 1991, the idea that Iraq's recuperated oil industry might challenge their near-monopoly. They fear the liberation of the Shiite Muslims they so despise. To make these elementary points is to collapse the whole pathetic edifice of the film's "theory." Perhaps Moore prefers the pro-Saudi Kissinger/Scowcroft plan for the Middle East, where stability trumps every other consideration and where one dare not upset the local house of cards, or killing-field of Kurds? This would be a strange position for a purported radical. Then again, perhaps he does not take this conservative line because his real pitch is not to any audience member with a serious interest in foreign policy. It is to the provincial isolationist.

I have already said that Moore's film has the staunch courage to mock Bush for his verbal infelicity. Yet it's much, much braver than that. From Fahrenheit 9/11 you can glean even more astounding and hidden disclosures, such as the capitalist nature of American society, the existence of Eisenhower's "military-industrial complex," and the use of "spin" in the presentation of our politicians. It's high time someone had the nerve to point this out. There's more. Poor people often volunteer to join the army, and some of them are duskier than others. Betcha didn't know that. Back in Flint, Mich., Moore feels on safe ground. There are no martyred rabbits this time. Instead, it's the poor and black who shoulder the packs and rifles and march away. I won't dwell on the fact that black Americans have fought for almost a century and a half, from insisting on their right to join the U.S. Army and fight in the Civil War to the right to have a desegregated Army that set the pace for post-1945 civil rights. I'll merely ask this: In the film, Moore says loudly and repeatedly that not enough troops were sent to garrison Afghanistan and Iraq. (This is now a favorite cleverness of those who were, in the first place, against sending any soldiers at all.) Well, where does he think those needful heroes and heroines would have come from? Does he favor a draft"”the most statist and oppressive solution? Does he think that only hapless and gullible proles sign up for the Marines? Does he think"”as he seems to suggest"”that parents can "send" their children, as he stupidly asks elected members of Congress to do? Would he have abandoned Gettysburg because the Union allowed civilians to pay proxies to serve in their place? Would he have supported the antidraft (and very antiblack) riots against Lincoln in New York?

After a point, one realizes that it's a waste of time asking him questions of this sort. It would be too much like taking him seriously. He'll just try anything once and see if it floats or flies or gets a cheer.


Trying to talk congressmen into sending their sons to war

Indeed, Moore's affected and ostentatious concern for black America is one of the most suspect ingredients of his pitch package. In a recent interview, he yelled that if the hijacked civilians of 9/11 had been black, they would have fought back, unlike the stupid and presumably cowardly white men and women (and children). Never mind for now how many black passengers were on those planes"”we happen to know what Moore does not care to mention: that Todd Beamer and a few of his co-passengers, shouting "Let's roll," rammed the hijackers with a trolley, fought them tooth and nail, and helped bring down a United Airlines plane, in Pennsylvania, that was speeding toward either the White House or the Capitol. There are no words for real, impromptu bravery like that, which helped save our republic from worse than actually befell.

The Pennsylvania drama also reminds one of the self-evident fact that this war is not fought only "overseas" or in uniform, but is being brought to our cities. Yet Moore is a silly and shady man who does not recognize courage of any sort even when he sees it because he cannot summon it in himself. To him, easy applause, in front of credulous audiences, is everything.

Moore has announced that he won't even appear on TV shows where he might face hostile questioning. I notice from the New York Times of June 20 that he has pompously established a rapid response team, and a fact-checking staff, and some tough lawyers, to bulwark himself against attack. He'll sue, Moore says, if anyone insults him or his pet. Some right-wing hack groups, I gather, are planning to bring pressure on their local movie theaters to drop the film. How dumb or thuggish do you have to be in order to counter one form of stupidity and cowardice with another? By all means go and see this terrible film, and take your friends, and if the fools in the audience strike up one cry, in favor of surrender or defeat, feel free to join in the conversation.

However, I think we can agree that the film is so flat-out phony that "fact-checking" is beside the point. And as for the scary lawyers"”get a life, or maybe see me in court. But I offer this, to Moore and to his rapid response rabble. Any time, Michael my boy. Let's redo Telluride. Any show. Any place. Any platform. Let's see what you're made of.

Some people soothingly say that one should relax about all this. It's only a movie. No biggie. It's no worse than the tomfoolery of Oliver Stone. It's kick-ass entertainment. It might even help get out "the youth vote." Yeah, well, I have myself written and presented about a dozen low-budget made-for-TV documentaries, on subjects as various as Mother Teresa and Bill Clinton and the Cyprus crisis, and I also helped produce a slightly more polished one on Henry Kissinger that was shown in movie theaters. So I know, thanks, before you tell me, that a documentary must have a "POV" or point of view and that it must also impose a narrative line. But if you leave out absolutely everything that might give your "narrative" a problem and throw in any old rubbish that might support it, and you don't even care that one bit of that rubbish flatly contradicts the next bit, and you give no chance to those who might differ, then you have betrayed your craft. If you flatter and fawn upon your potential audience, I might add, you are patronizing them and insulting them.

By the same token, if I write an article and I quote somebody and for space reasons put in an ellipsis like this (...), I swear on my children that I am not leaving out anything that, if quoted in full, would alter the original meaning or its significance. Those who violate this pact with readers or viewers are to be despised. At no point does Michael Moore make the smallest effort to be objective. At no moment does he pass up the chance of a cheap sneer or a jeer. He pitilessly focuses his camera, for minutes after he should have turned it off, on a distraught and bereaved mother whose grief we have already shared. (But then, this is the guy who thought it so clever and amusing to catch Charlton Heston, in Bowling for Columbine, at the onset of his senile dementia.) Such courage.

Perhaps vaguely aware that his movie so completely lacks gravitas, Moore concludes with a sonorous reading of some words from George Orwell. The words are taken from 1984 and consist of a third-person analysis of a hypothetical, endless, and contrived war between three superpowers. The clear intention, as clumsily excerpted like this (...) is to suggest that there is no moral distinction between the United States, the Taliban, and the Baath Party and that the war against jihad is about nothing. If Moore had studied a bit more, or at all, he could have read Orwell really saying, and in his own voice, the following:

The majority of pacifists either belong to obscure religious sects or are simply humanitarians who object to taking life and prefer not to follow their thoughts beyond that point. But there is a minority of intellectual pacifists, whose real though unacknowledged motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration for totalitarianism. Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writing of the younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States ...

And that's just from Orwell's Notes on Nationalism in May 1945. A short word of advice: In general, it's highly unwise to quote Orwell if you are already way out of your depth on the question of moral equivalence. It's also incautious to remind people of Orwell if you are engaged in a sophomoric celluloid rewriting of recent history.

If Michael Moore had had his way, Slobodan Milosevic would still be the big man in a starved and tyrannical Serbia. Bosnia and Kosovo would have been cleansed and annexed. If Michael Moore had been listened to, Afghanistan would still be under Taliban rule, and Kuwait would have remained part of Iraq. And Iraq itself would still be the personal property of a psychopathic crime family, bargaining covertly with the slave state of North Korea for WMD. You might hope that a retrospective awareness of this kind would induce a little modesty. To the contrary, it is employed to pump air into one of the great sagging blimps of our sorry, mediocre, celeb-rotten culture. Rock the vote, indeed.

Correction, June 22, 2004: This piece originally referred to terrorist attacks by Abu Nidal's group on the Munich and Rome airports. The 1985 attacks occurred at the Rome and Vienna airports. (Return to the corrected sentence.)

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair.
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

I'll do my home work and make the middle east connection later....JanesT, what are you, a white right-winger or a black CONservative? You obviously defend the people and topic positions that have been most detremental to black people...and you do it with that old white antibellum sotuherner's 100% consistency. What race are you actually JanesT?

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bush Family Values: War, Wealth, Oil
Four generations have created an unsavory web of links that could prove an election-year Achilles' heel for the president.
By Kevin Phillips
Kevin Phillips' new book, just published, is "American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush."

February 8, 2004

WASHINGTON "” Despite February polls showing President Bush losing his early reelection lead, he's still the favorite. No modern president running unopposed in his party's primaries and caucuses has ever lost in November.

But there may be a key to undoing that precedent. The two Bush presidencies are so closely linked, especially over Iraq, that the 43rd can't be understood apart from the 41st. Beyond that, for a full portrait of what the Bushes are about, we must return to the family's emergence on the national scene in the early 20th century.

This four-generation evolution of the Bushes involves multiple links that could become Bush's election-year Achilles' heel "” if a clever and tough 2004 Democratic opponent can punch and slice at them. Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry, the clear Democratic front-runner, could be best positioned to do so. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he investigated the Iran-Contra and Bank of Credit and Commerce International scandals, both of which touched George H.W. Bush's Saudi, Iraqi and Middle Eastern arms-deal entanglements.

Washington lawyer Jack Blum, the ace investigator for Kerry's subcommittee back then, is said to be advising him now, which could be meaningful. Ironically, the Bush family's century of involvement in oil, armaments and global intrigue has never been at the center of the national debate since the Bushes starting running for president in 1980.

The reason? Insufficient public knowledge. The only Bush biography published before George H.W. Bush won election in 1988 was a puff job written by a former press secretary, and the biographies of George W. Bush in 2000 barely mentioned his forefathers. Millions of Republicans who have loyally voted for Bushes in three presidential elections simply have no idea. Here are circumstances and biases especially worth noting.

The Bushes and the military-industrial complex: George H. Walker and Samuel Prescott Bush were the dynasty's founding fathers during the years of and after World War I. Walker, a St. Louis financier, made his mark in corporate reorganizations and war contracts. By 1919, he was enlisted by railroad heir W. Averell Harriman to be president of Wall Street-based WA Harriman, which invested in oil, shipping, aviation and manganese, partly in Russia and Germany, during the 1920s. Sam Bush, the current president's other great-grandfather, ran an Ohio company, Buckeye Steel Castings, that produced armaments. In 1917, he went to Washington to head the small arms, ammunition and ordnance section of the federal War Industries Board. Both men were present at the emergence of what became the U.S. military-industrial complex.

Prescott Bush, the Connecticut senator and grandfather of the current president, had some German corporate ties at the outbreak of World War II, but the better yardstick of his connections was his directorships of companies involved in U.S. war production. Dresser Industries, for example, produced the incendiary bombs dropped on Tokyo and made gaseous diffusion pumps for the atomic bomb project. George H.W. Bush later worked for Dresser's oil-services businesses. Then, as CIA director, vice president and president, one of his priorities was the U.S. weapons trade and secret arms deals with Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the moujahedeen in Afghanistan.

In his 1961 farewell address, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned about how "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex." That complex's recent mega-leap to power came under George H.W. Bush and even more under George W. Bush "” with the post-9/11 expansion of the military and creation of the Department of Homeland Security. But armaments and arms deals seem to have been in the Bushes' blood for nearly a century.

Oil: The Bushes' ties to John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil go back 100 years, when Rockefeller made Buckeye Steel Castings wildly successful by convincing railroads that carried their oil to buy heavy equipment from Buckeye. George H. Walker helped refurbish the Soviet oil industry in the 1920s, and Prescott Bush acquired experience in the international oil business as a 22-year director of Dresser Industries. George H.W. Bush, in turn, worked for Dresser and ran his own offshore oil-drilling business, Zapata Offshore. George W. Bush mostly raised money from investors for oil businesses that failed. Currently, the family's oil focus is principally in the Middle East.

Enron is another family connection. The company's Kenneth L. Lay made his first connections with George H.W. Bush in the early 1980s when the latter was working on energy deregulation. When Bush became president in 1989, he gave Lay two prominent international roles: membership on the President's Export Council and the task of planning for a G-7 summit in Houston. Lay parlayed that exposure into new business overseas and clout with Washington agencies. Family favoritism soon followed. When Bush senior lost the 1992 election, Lay picked up with son George W., first in Texas and then as a top contributor to Bush's 2000 presidential campaign. Before Enron imploded in late 2001, it had more influence in a new administration than any other corporation in memory.

The intelligence community: Bushes and Walkers have been involved with the intelligence community since World War I. The importance of Sam Bush's wartime munitions-regulating role was obvious. During the 1920s, when George H. Walker was doing a lot of business in Russia and Germany, he became a director of the American International Corporation, formed during the war for purposes of overseas investment and intelligence-gathering. Prescott Bush's pre-1941 corporate and banking contacts with Germany, sensationalized on many Internet sites, appear to have been passed along to officials in government and intelligence circles.

George H.W. Bush may have had CIA connections before the agency's unsuccessful Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961. A number of published sources suggest that Zapata Offshore was a CIA front long before he went on to become director of Central Intelligence in 1976. As for George W. Bush, his limited ties are said to have come through investments in, and buyouts of, several of his oil businesses by CIA- and BCCI-connected firms and individuals.

Top 1% economics: Over four generations, the Bush family has been involved with more than 20 securities firms, banks, brokerage houses and investment management firms, ranging from Wall Street giants like Brown Brothers Harriman and E.F. Hutton to small firms like J. Bush & Co. and Riggs Investment Management Corp. This relentless record of handling money for rich people has bred a vocational hauteur. In their eyes, the economic top 1% of Americans are the ones who count. Investors and their inheritors are favored "” a good explanation of why George W. Bush has cut taxes on both dividends and estates, where most of the benefit goes to the top 1%. Over the course of George H.W. Bush's career, he was close to a number of the merger kings and leveraged-buyout specialists of the 1980s who came from Oklahoma and Texas: T. Boone Pickens, Henry Kravis and Hugh Liedtke. "Little guy" economics has almost no niche in the Bush economic worldview.

Debt and deficits: Whenever a Bush is president, private debt and government deficits seem to grow. Middle- and low-income Americans borrow to offset the income squeeze of recessions. The hallmark of Bush economics during both presidencies has been favoritism toward capital over workers. Federal budget deficits have soared because of a combination of upper-bracket tax favors, middle-income job shrinkage, big federal spending to hype election-year economic growth, huge defense outlays and overseas military spending for the wars in Iraq and elsewhere. Imperial hubris costs a lot of money.

Politically, over four generations the Bush past has been prologue. Despite George W. Bush's new good ol' boy image "” cowboy boots and born-again ties to the religious right "” his basic tendencies go in the same directions "” oil, crony capitalism, top 1% economics and military-industrial-establishment loyalties "” that the previous Bush and Walker generations have traveled. The old biases and loyalties seem ineradicable; so, too, for old grudges, like the two-generation fixation on Saddam Hussein.

The presidency is an old Bush ambition. As early as the 1940s, Barbara Bush talked to friends about becoming first lady. The current president's grandfather, Prescott Bush, told his wife before he retired in 1962 that he wished he'd been president. By 1963, George W. Bush, a student at Andover Academy, was talking about his own father's desire to be president.

In short, the word "dynasty" fits the Bushes all too well. They have had plenty of time to sort out their ambitions, loyalties and intentions. They know what they're in politics for "” although this year may pose a new problem. The American people are also starting to find out.
I've provided a case by case, fact by fact, rebuttal of the Moore movie in the opening article here. And this is only one of about 4 I've seen.

What have you done in support of Moore's version of reality? Answer=nothing but attack me personally.

Moore's movie doesn't stand the test of credibility, as evidenced by Hitchen's article above. I guess I was asking too much of you to see if you could verify any of what Moore claims yourself. You already believe that tripe, without hesitation, despite the facts telling another story in direct opposition to Moore and his movie.

So be it, I have no problem with people giving up as you have, especially when they are in error.
Okay, for the slow among us ... YES or NO ... HAVE YOU SEEN THE MOVIE?

That's not a hard question, is it?

Hmmm, tough position to be in, Huh?

If you say you didn't see the movie, you must acknowledge that your opinions on the movie (and its contents) are not your's, but rather the opinions of others that you haven't credited.

On the other hand, if you say that you have and then are asked the most basic question regarding the movie, you will be proven a liar.

So you simply don't answer the question.

On any hand, you have proven yourself to be intellectually dishonest.
**From a TBWT forum

Senate WMD report whacks the CIA not Bush

David Corn


The United States went to war on the basis of false claims. More than
800 Americans and countless Iraqis have lost their lives because of
these false claims. The American taxpayer has to pay up to $200
billion--and maybe more--because of these false claims. The United
States' standing in the world has fallen precipitously because of these
false claims. Two days before the war, when George W. Bush justified
the coming invasion of Iraq by saying \"intelligence gathered by this
and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to
possess and conceal\" weapons of mass destruction, he was dead wrong.
And when he later claimed his decision to attack Iraq had been
predicated upon \"good, solid intelligence,\" he was dead wrong.

The debate is over--or it should be. According to the report released
today by the Senate intelligence committee, the intelligence
community--led by the CIA--\"overstated\" and \"mischaracterized\" the
intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. In the National
Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, produced hastily and haphazardly in
October 2002, the intelligence community concluded that Saddam
Hussein's regime possessed chemical and biological weapons, was
\"reconstituting\" its nuclear weapons program, was supporting an
\"active\" and \"advanced\" biological weapons program, and was
developing an unmanned aerial vehicle \"probably intended to deliver\"
biological weapons. All of these critical findings, the committee
report says, \"either overstated, or were not supported by, the
underlying intelligence reporting.\"


As Senator Jay Rockefeller, the ranking Democrat on the intelligence
committee, put it at a press conference, this is one of the \"most
devastating...intelligence failures in the history of the nation.\" The
500 page report repeatedly details instances when the intelligence
community botched its job by ignoring contrary evidence, embracing
questionable sources, and rushing to judgments that just so happened to
fit the preconceived notions of the Bush Administration. If CIA
director George Tenet had not said good-bye to the CIA the day before
the report came out, he would deserve immediate dismissal. But the
report--justifiably harsh in its evaluation of the CIA--is part of an
effort to protect Bush and his lieutenants. The political mission: make
the CIA the fall guy.


The report does not examine how Bush and his senior aides handled and
represented the flawed intelligence. Senator Pat Roberts, the
Republican chairman of the committee, has delayed that portion of the
investigation and other aspects of the inquiry (including the role
played by Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress and the controversial
actions of the office of Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of defense
for policy). The results of the committee's work on these fronts are
not expected to appear until next year--that is, after the election.

But the case is already undeniable. Bush and his lot overstated the
overstatements of the intelligence community. The National Intelligence
Estimate said Iraq had an extensive biological weapons program. Bush
said Hussein was sitting on a \"massive stockpile\" of biological
weapons. The NIE concluded (also falsely) that Iraq was developing
unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to hit the United States
with biological weapons. Bush warned that Iraq already had a \"growing
fleet\" of UAVs ready to hit the United States. The NIE noted that Iraq
was \"reconstituting\" its nuclear weapons program but had no nuclear
weapons yet. Bush said, \"We don't know whether or not [Hussein] has a
nuclear weapon\"--a comment suggesting he might possess one.

The Senate intelligence report indirectly indicts Bush. It notes that
there was one area where the intelligence community was correct: the
supposed relationship between Hussein and Al Qaeda. \"The Central
Intelligence Agency,\" the report says, \"reasonably assessed that
there were likely several instances of contacts between Iraq and
al-Qaida throughout the 1990s, but that these contacts did not add up
to an established formal relationship.\" This means that when Bush said
before the war that Saddam Hussein was \"a threat because he's dealing
with Al Qaeda,\" he was not basing this significant assertion on the
findings of the US intelligence community. And he ignored the
intelligence when he called Saddam Hussein \"an ally\" of Al Qaeda
during his May 1, 2003, speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.

The Senate intelligence committee also reports that the CIA's
\"assessment that Saddam Hussein was most likely to use his own
intelligence service operatives to conduct attacks was reasonable, and
turned out to be accurate.\" Yet before the war the Bush White House
declared there was a \"high risk\" that Hussein would hand over his
WMDs to terrorists--presumably Al Qaeda--who would use them against the
United States. What was the basis for this claim? Not the available
intelligence. And the report notes that the CIA's \"assessments on
Iraq's links to terrorism were widely disseminated\" to policymakers.
Perhaps Bush neglected to read them--as he neglected to read the
National Intelligence Estimate. (Don't believe that? Click here.)

Even without the Senate intelligence committee doing a single stitch of
work regarding Bush's use of the intelligence, this report demonstrates
that Bush hyped the threat to get his war. And weeks ago, when the
independent, bipartisan 9/11 commission declared it had not found
evidence of \"collaborative relationship\" between Hussein and Al
Qaeda, Bush and Cheney insisted that there had been a \"relationship.\"
The Senate intelligence committee report is yet another reason to
dismiss anything Bush and Cheney have to say on this subject.
Iraq-Al Qaeda Link Discounted
Senate report affirms CIA assessment that there were contacts but no formal connection between Hussein and Bin Laden's network.
By Paul Richter
Times Staff Writer

July 10, 2004

WASHINGTON "” Although it harshly criticized the CIA on many subjects, the Senate report on prewar intelligence sided squarely with the spy agency on one sensitive subject: the nature of links between Saddam Hussein's regime and Al Qaeda.

The Senate Intelligence Committee's report said CIA analysts were reasonable in their conclusion that there was no "established, formal" relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda, nor proof that the two had collaborated in attacks. The committee noted that no new information had emerged since the CIA's key reports to suggest otherwise.

Democratic committee members and other critics of the war seized on this conclusion to criticize the Bush administration for its continuing assertions of an important link between Hussein and the militant group.

"Our report found that the intelligence community's judgments were right on Iraq's ties to the terrorists, which is another way of saying that the administration's conclusions were wrong," Sen. John D. "Jay" Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), the ranking minority member of the panel, said at a news conference.

But the White House contended that the committee's acknowledgment of "several" contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda during the 1990s supported its contention. "The report does not refute that there were contacts," Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director, said on CNN.

The committee analyzed at length the evidence and sources the CIA had used to reach its conclusions, and in the process supported the agency on several related issues.

It said the CIA had reasonably concluded that Iraq appeared to have been reaching out to terrorist groups, such as the anti-Israeli Hezbollah and Hamas, and might have intended to use such surrogates in the event of war. It agreed that, based on the evidence, Iraq "” if it were "sufficiently desperate" during a war "” might have tried to use "terrorists with global reach," such as Al Qaeda.

But the committee described as reasonable the intelligence agency's conclusions that Hussein was most likely to use his own intelligence operatives to carry out attacks. This assessment "turned out to be accurate" when war came, the report said.

The report said the CIA had acknowledged the limits of what it knew of the Iraq-Al Qaeda tie.

It said that in one important report, CIA analysts "were unable to make conclusive assessments" on the relationship, due to the "limited amount and questionable quality of reporting" on what Hussein and Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had in mind.

The report said the CIA had conceded: "Our knowledge of Iraq's ties to terrorism is evolving."

The agency was sound in concluding that some operatives of Al Qaeda or associated groups had found haven in Baghdad and in the northeastern section of Iraq under the control of ethnic Kurds, the report said.

It accepted the agency's view that the "most problematic area of contact between Iraq and Al Qaeda" involved reports that Iraq had provided training in the use of unconventional weapons, specifically chemical and biological weapons. President Bush and other administration officials repeatedly mentioned such training in building the case for the war.

Though the Senate report did not challenge CIA assertions that there was evidence Iraq in the past had trained Al Qaeda members in combat, bomb-making and unconventional weapons, it pointed out that the sources of this information were of "varying reliability." The report noted that the agency was cautious in assessing the use of Iraq as a haven by terrorist groups.

The report said the CIA had estimated 100 to 200 Al Qaeda members had relocated to northeastern Iraq before the war. And the agency said that "a variety of reporting" indicated that Abu Musab Zarqawi, a senior Al Qaeda associate, was in Baghdad between May and July 2002 under an assumed identity.

But though the CIA said it believed Iraq was "aware of the general nature and scope of the activity taking place there," it did not assert that the Hussein regime had agreed to any arrangement permitting Al Qaeda members to pass through or live within Iraq.

The report cited the debriefings of two high-level Al Qaeda members on the relationship.

Abu Zubaydah, a captured senior Al Qaeda official, told interrogators that he believed some Al Qaeda members had good personal relationships with Iraqi government officials. But he said he was unaware of any relationship between the two organizations, and thought it was "extremely unlikely" that Bin Laden would ally himself with Hussein, the report said.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, also maintained he was unaware of any such relationship, and said ideological disagreements would have been an obstacle, the report said. The CIA, it said, concluded that Mohammed probably was telling the truth.

Add Reply

Post
×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×