Morning Report 6/24/05Rove Cleans Up


Bush regime’s war on terror is feeble, but its war on Democrats takes no prisoners

Despotism (1946)


Summer camp for Democrats: A still from Despotism, a 1946 educational film produced by the Encyclopedia Britannica, preserved and made freely available these days by Rick Prelinger.

Dirty laundry from Downing Street? No problem. Karl Rove has gone directly to the spin cycle.

There’s no greater testimony to the skill of Rove (left) at working a crowd of 300 million Americans than the fact that what he’s currently spinning against doesn’t even get a mention in the ensuing press flap.

In his flammable speech Wednesday to the New York Conservative Party, Rove said:

“Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.”

Note the “prepared for war.” Even before the smoldering anger over the Iraq invasion’s pre-war plot—as revealed by the Downing Street Memo and other British government documents—has burst into flames, the Bush regime is spinning it. Once again, Bush’s handlers set the agenda for what is written about.

As to Dick Durbin‘s ridiculous apology—he just played right into Rove’s hands. This isn’t the first time someone has used Nazi-era imagery and words to describe the Bush regime’s handling of prisoners.

Apparently everybody’s forgotten that during the runup to the Iraq war, Secretary of State Colin Powell referred to Pentagon neocon Doug Feith‘s cabal—which later directed the handling of prisoners— as the “Gestapo office.” That morsel was reported by Bob Woodward in Plan of Attack.

What’s even more absurd about Rove’s attack is his depiction of how tough the Bush regime has been on terrorism. Apparently everybody’s forgotten that, according to the 9-11 Commission Report, the incoming Bush administration left unfilled—until after 9/11—the crucial job of assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict. The commission called it “the key counter-terrorism policy office in the Pentagon.”

And after 9/11, we scaled back the hunt for Osama bin Laden so we could invade Iraq, where we have started something that we can’t finish.

Oh, Rove portrays the Bush regime as so tough and dedicated in what it likes to call GWOT—the “Global War on Terror.” But none of the stories reporting his bluster mentioned the astonishing high-level bungling since 9/11 by FBI administrators on the very topic of counter-terrorism.

As the AP’s John Solomon reported on Monday:

In sworn testimony that contrasts with their promises to the public, the FBI managers who crafted the post-Sept. 11 fight against terrorism say expertise about the Mideast or terrorism was not important in choosing the agents they promoted to top jobs.

And they still do not believe such experience is necessary today even as terrorist acts occur across the globe.

The testimony came in a lawsuit against the FBI by an aggrieved agent. Solomon’s story continued:

In a development that has escaped public attention, FBI agent Bassem Youssef has questioned under oath many of the FBI’s top leaders, including Director Robert Mueller and his predecessor, Louis Freeh, in an effort to show he was passed over for top terrorism jobs despite his expertise. Testimony from his lawsuit was recently sent to Congress.

Those who have held the bureau’s top terrorism-fighting jobs since Sept. 11 often said in their testimony that they—and many they have promoted since—had no significant terrorism or Middle East experience. Some could not even explain the difference between Sunnis and Shiites, the two primary groups of Muslims.

Of course, that didn’t stop former Attorney General John Ashcroft and his FBI from unjustifiably sweeping thousands of American Muslims off the street and detaining them for months on end for no reason. (Read my review last August of the film Persons of Interest.)

Despite Rove’s assault on our intelligence, the fact is that the unwarranted invasion of Iraq has turned that country into the world’s prime breeding ground and training camp for terrorists. As Doug Jehl reported Wednesday in the New York Times:

A new classified assessment by the Central Intelligence Agency says Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was in Al Qaeda’s early days, because it is serving as a real-world laboratory for urban combat.

The assessment, completed last month and circulated among government agencies, was described in recent days by several Congressional and intelligence officials. The officials said it made clear that the war was likely to produce a dangerous legacy by dispersing to other countries Iraqi and foreign combatants more adept and better organized than they were before the conflict.

Not that this is a big surprise. But it makes Don Rumsfeld‘s vow to leave a permanent war to the next generation a self-fulfilling prophecy.