This is why we read Den Beste.
Indeed it is.
It’s also a compelling reason for never setting foot over Hesiod[sic]‘s pad. There’s very little worse than intellectual pretension coupled with a below-average reasoning ability.
I keep telling the euros at The Independent’s chat site that even tho they know our history better than we do and have been watching US for 200 years, they still don’t get US. (Boy can you feel the luvvies there!)
And there’s a reason our ancestors never went back.
If you read Den Beste because posts like this one, then you’re in need of a better reason. He says that “[liberals] unspoken therefore is ‘therefore we shouldn’t have attacked Iraq’,” which is so obtuse as to be dishonest.
There is no unspoken therefore.
Bush lied, therefore Bush lied. End of story. Lies are anathema to Democratic process. The war stands or falls on it’s own merits – it is irrelevent to the question of whether Bush lied and whether there should be a thorough investigation into whether Bush lied. To conflate the issue with the separate issue of whether the war should have been fought is a sleazy obfuscation. What happened to all the moral clarity and indignation Republicans expressed when Clinton lied about his affair? He may have had a legitimate reason to have that affair (insert joke here, all you Hillary-phobes) but you didn’t care then – all you knew was that he lied, and that this was a very bad thing for a president to do. I don’t really expect intellectual consistency from Republican bloggers, but this is exceptionally weak.
I don’t read Den Beste regularly, but if this is a typical post, let me suggest that you find a better way to spend your blog-reading time.
Uhm, schrifty? Show me where ‘Bush lied’. Where in those 16 words is there a lie? He made a very clear statement. The Brits still back it up. No lie, therefore no foul.
You’re awfully literal there Greg – I wasn’t actually saying that Bush lied – I was restating Den Beste’s hypothesis that liberals say (paraphrasing) “Bush lied, therefore the war was bad.”
IF Bush lied (and it IS a big IF) then it’s very important that we know and deal with it. Of course I don’t know if he lied – partially because the administration is stonewalling like old pros at requests for the information that would let us know if he lied.
And by the way, if Bush lied – we all lose.
Schrifty, what makes u think Den Beste went all crazy over clinton’s lying. I’ve read him for over a year, and I haven’t seen him talk about the clinton impeachment scandal directly, i don’t recall him even mentioning it in passing. Is it so hard to believe that there are people out there who:
1) Disagree with u and are not Republicans
2) Thought the whole Clinton thing was BS and that the Bush thing is BS.
And i believe that one of the points of the article was that perhaps Bush lied because telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth would have made him unable to pursue his diplomatic agenda. Hell, diplomacy is the art of obfuscating the truth.
And lastly b/c everyone is too much of a partisan to actually give me all the information so i can figure it out for myself (quotes out of context really are useless) I don’t even know if Bush lied.
If I’ve painted Den Beste unfairly with my Republican brush, then that’s unfortunate, but his post really was terribly constructed.
Nevertheless, you’re too generous. I thought Clinton was a great president, and I never thought he should have been asked about his sex life, but once he actually lied under oath, there was nothing do be done about it – the impeachment proceedings were the only logical result. Bush’s “lie” (if it was one) deserves the same treatment.
A president has no right, implied or otherwise, to intentionally mislead the public. We deserve to know the truth and be able to decide for ourselves how to deal with it.
A) Bush didn’t lie.
B) IF he did, it certainly wasn’t under oath.
Therefore: Impeachment is not an option. If it is, then every politician who ever opened their mouth is impeachable.
Get a life.
Got one, thanks.
A) You don’t know. Neither do I.
B) From John Dean, at FindLaw:
To put it bluntly, if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked. Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be “a high crime” under the Constitution’s impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony “to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose.”
To put it bluntly, if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked.
And you immediately fall into the trap of tarring enormous, wide swaths of evidence with one questionable item. Which was, of course, exactly the problem SDB was talking about.
You read his article… but why cannot you apparently comprehend it well enough not to make the same mistake?
I have this sinister urge to create a web virus that simply replaces the phrases “bogus information”, “Bush lied”, or “war (near) questionable/bogus (near) intelligence” with the entire releveant section of the SOTU stripped of those 16 lines.
How long do YOU think it would be before half the tinfoil-hatters website crashed from too much text?
Now, THINK about what I just said. We’ll be here when you get back.
It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony “to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose.”
Uh, I’m surprised John Dean got through law school with that kind of blather. First of all, the conspiracy statute required defrauding the U.S. of something tangible, like money. More fundamentally, you need to show materiality (i.e., relevance to a decision), whereas here the relevant decisionmakers were Congress (who voted months before SOTU) and Bush himself. Did the President conspire to defraud himself? I don’t think so.
The law (both the law of fraud and the law of defamation) wisely recognizes the distinction between lies that conceal information and statements that reveal their sources — it’s the difference between “I read this document and it makes clear that Joe is a thief” and “Joe is a thief.” The former lets the listener in on what you’re relying on, so they can judge for themselves (granted, here Bush was relying on a source that was itself opaque). The latter implies that you know something you don’t. The qualifier is important.
Lie: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky”
Not as bad: “It depends what the definition of ‘is’ is.”
The latter may also be untrue, but Clinton was quibbling; witnesses do that all the time. The problematic thing about his prior denials was that they gave the listener no way to know what he had done; they just dropped a curtain of falsehood.
When Bush said the things he said about Iraq’s nuke program, there was a chorus of criticism. Anyone who wanted could listen to the critics who argued that Bush’s assessment was (in their view) overly alarmist. And the documents that were actually forgeries were revealed before the war started. Plus, as SDB has exhaustively detailed, both the real and stated reasons for war went far beyond the attempted purchase of uranium in Africa.
Bush said something that was true, and for all we know his source (British intelligence) may have been right. You can argue that he should have been more cautious given the doubts of our own intel people, but is that a lie? It’s really the same thing we get on the budget: bureaucrats get wedded to their projections and the president is accused of “lying” if he doesn’t buy their worldview.
Dean’s law is fine, and in fact he thinks that Bush will survive the scandal – he was giving the worst-case scenario if it turned out that Bush really lied.
Crank and Ryan both offer the most favorable standards against which Bush should be judged. Can you both honestly say that were Bush judged against the absurdly low thresholds to which Clinton was held that he couldn’t be impeached? That’s nonsense.
In fairness to you, I prefer the higher threshold too, but the precedent was established by Ken Starr, The American Spectator and the Republican leadership. If you honestly think this President could survive those standards then there’s no point in arguing with you.
Can you both honestly say that were Bush judged against the absurdly low thresholds to which Clinton was held that he couldn’t be impeached?
Clinton was impeached for the kind of stuff people get indicted for routinely — perjury in a civil case, obstruction of justice — and for official misconduct related to those crimes. In short, for the confluence of personal corruption and abuse of office to cover that up.
This is so totally different it’s ridiculous. It’s the Left that tried in the 1980s, and is trying again, to criminalize the making of public policy itself. There’s no claim here that Bush made stuff up, just that he credited reports which we ourselves couldn’t verify. (Need I remind you that that’s what Clinton did as well when we bombed the aspirin factory.) Nor does anyone in their right mind suggest that we would not have gone to war if Bush hadn’t mentioned these claims.
In fact, if you look at the impeachment precedents for non-Presidents (generally judges), what you find are cases much like Clinton’s — judges who committed crimes of personal dishonesty and/or official corruption, rather than judges who, say, were accused of something like the charge against Bush (an analogy would be a judge who misrepresented facts in the record in writing an opinion, which we’ve all seen happen but nobody gets impeached over it).
The funny thing is that Clinton undertook three major uses of force that could be compared w/ Dubya’s war in Iraq:
1. Bombing of Kosovo
2. Operation Desert Fox
3. Cruise missiling of Sudan and Afghanistan.
In the third case, he clearly had bad intel, since the Sudanese plant has never been found to actually have produced chem/bio agents. Were there accusations of him lying in his justifications for attacking the plant? IIRC, the feeling was that bad intel led to a bad decision.
Nor were there cries of “impeachment” or “he lied” for Kosovo (which, while the Serbs were vile and nasty, don’t seem to have quite lived down to the “genocide” that Maddie Albright claimed). And neither Kosovo nor Desert Fox (or Sudan/Afghanistan) had UN approval, either, iirc. (Sudan/Afghanistan didn’t have Congressional approval, either.)
So, if there were going to be cries for impeachment, you had ample opportunity for them to be sounded.
Funny thing, I don’t seem to recall that happening at all….
I opposed the impeachment of Clinton. That’s mainly because I didn’t think that the issues involved actually rose to the level that I believe is required to justify impeachment, and because I feared that the precedent would cause the impeachment process itself (and the rhetorical threat of it) to be cheapened and abused.
Rereading my last post, I might have been unclear. I said:
> Can you both honestly say that were Bush judged against the absurdly low thresholds to which Clinton was held that he couldn’t be impeached?
The context was “if it turns out that he lied.” I don’t contend that Bush could be impeached on the basis of the scandal as it stands now.
Having said that, this is not the criminalization of the making of public policy. The charge would be lying to the American people – not going to war under false pretenses. Remember that “high crime” is an incredibly vague term, and that impeachment is not the same as conviction.
What I really should have asked, though, is:
> Can you both honestly say that were Bush judged against the absurdly low thresholds to which Clinton was held that he wouldn’t today be facing an independent prosecutor?
I think the thing that offends me so deeply about Republican morality is encompassed in your sentence “This is so totally different it’s ridiculous.” Yes, it’s different – it would be far, far worse. How do Republicans not get that? I could see you guys saying over and over “he didn’t lie”, but half the time you hedge your bets and say “even if he did lie it wouldn’t be an impeachable offense.” I think that’s a sleazy attitude to take.
And Dean – it’s really off topic, but I’ve read this comparison to the Sudanese plant a couple of times now, and it’s just wrong. There was never any suggestion that Clinton knew the intel was wrong and used it anyway. Here, there’s strongly suggestive evidence that several people in the white house knew the intel was bad and used it anyway.
Maybe not – maybe Hadley was as high as the knowledge ever went (although surely you’d admit that represents an entirely different sort of problem), but shouldn’t it be investigated?
Can you both honestly say that were Bush judged against the absurdly low thresholds to which Clinton was held that he wouldn’t today be facing an independent prosecutor?
Absolutely he would. Hey, Lawrence Walsh is still breathing, isn’t he? This is why I and most conservatives thought Justice Scalia was right in 1989 when he argued (dissenting alone, in the face of the scorn of the liberal legal establishment) that the independent counsel statute was an unconstitutional monstrosity that would do the Republic great harm. A decade later, everyone who’d supported that statute had to agree he was right.
In fact, without an independent counsel statute, Congress would have had to investigate Clinton and make much tougher choices; either they would have built a public case against him or (if the congressional probes that did happen are an indication) at some point they would have given up. In a way, the statute hobbled the Right as well, since the investigations were done in one-sided secrecy, where Starr could never fully respond to the daily barrage of attacks.
Your other point is counter-factual. Impeaching a president for lying in a speech would be a big stretch; it would have to be a major premise of the war, not just one niggling detail, and it would have to be a clear fabrication, not a murky judgment call.
How the hell can you say that suggesting that a country we were contemplating going to war with was attempting to acquire nuclear weapons when our intelligence strongly suggested that they were not was a “niggling detail?” For many Americans, that could have been the critical detail in deciding whether or not to support the war. I’ll buy that it wasn’t all that important to Bush (obviously) but who the hell are you to suggest that it wasn’t important to me (an American citizen.)
But the other side of this issue is starting to gain importance in my eyes – doesn’t it bother you that the President would have believed that Iraq attempted to buy Uranium from Niger at a time when he was making an incredibly important decision concerning Iraq, when his administration was full of people who knew better. Shouldn’t that scare the crap out of all of us?
In your comment, schrifty, you make a flat-out lie. Our intelligence did not “strongly” suggest that Iraq wasn’t buying uranium. The comment in Bush’s speech wasn’t about “buying” but trying to buy. And you dishonestly conflate the intelligence about Niger with the claim in Bush’s speech which wasn’t specifically citing Niger. So once again, we see how unreliable your comments are.
Or are your many mistatements just “niggling details” ?
So, the idea of a single agent, scooping up dirt OUTSIDE a plant, which was then tested and showed some evidence of a chemical that, AMONG OTHER THINGS could be used as a precursor is NOT suggestive of misinterpretation of data, but receipt of intelligence from an allied source THAT CONTINUES TO STAND BY IT is??
And how the Hell do you conclude what the intel “strongly suggested”? Have you seen it? Have you read the actual NIE? All these characterizations of what is and is not in evidence, of how “ludicrous” and “obvious” the evidence was fake or not.
I never realized how many intel professionals hung out on blog comment boards.
Robin – you’re just plain rude – I certainly didn’t lie. I may have conflated the two (highly interrelated) issues, but I don’t think that’s a very critical distinction, given that Hadley and Tenet have already said that the intel “didn’t rise to the level of a presidential speech.” Note that they didn’t say (as you seem to be saying) “that intel was trustworthy.” There’s a growing body of evidence suggesting that “someone(s)” in the administration knew that the British intel was baloney at the time the speech was made (4 months earlier, actually). Hadley and Tenet certainly knew something, and it looks like Dr. Rice is probably going to be implicated. Now it’s just a matter of seeing how far up the ladder it goes.
And Dean – I’m only quoting about 1000 public sources when I use the words “ludicrous” and “obvious”, but I’m not asking anyone to take my word for it. I’m just looking for the answers that Fleischer and McClellan seem congenitally unable to provide.
All I want, personally, is an investigation run by someone as thorough as the estimable Ken Starr, with a similar budget. Is that too much to ask?
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