Sunday, July 17, 2005

It's the War, Stupid!

All the sound and fury around Plamegate should not deflect our attention from the primary issue. Just as Watergate was not about a bungled burglary, Plamegate isn't about the leaking of a CIA agent's identity. Plamegate is about the war in Iraq and is one of the most obvious pieces of evidence of what the Downing Street Memo describe as "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

As Frank Rich points out in the today's New York Times, Plamegate is about:

…the gang that sent American sons and daughters to war on trumped-up grounds and in so doing diverted finite resources, human and otherwise, from fighting the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. That's why the stakes are so high: this scandal is about the unmasking of an ill-conceived war….
Just as the Democratic office break-in was only a piece of the total Watergate scandal, the outing of Valerie Wilson in an effort to discredit her husband and deflect attention from his charges of "fixing intelligence around policy" is just one part of what may be the most horrific and egregious policy of deception and official corruption in American history. Presidential malfeasance that make Watergate look like the daily fare on Judge Judy.

And, like Watergate, the lies and corruption keep on with no end in sight.

AMERICABlog links a detailed breakdown of more lies that the Bush Administration is promoting about Iraq contained in a lengthy article from the London Review of Books. The LRB article discusses the Bush Administration policy of disinformation about the size and readiness of Iraqi security forces, to which AMERICABlog adds further detail.

That figure -- 140,000 [trained Iraqi troops] -- is a lie, plain and simple. Bush knows perfectly well that the facts don't back him up and yet he stood in front of the American people on national television in primetime last month and lied. As we've said before, only 2,500 are fully trained (that is, can fight on their own -- which is the only standard that matters). About 8,900 can fight with our help. That means about 130,000 of those troops Bush keeps mentioning can't fight even with our help. So 90% of the Iraqi troops are useless in battle.

The main emphasis of the LRB article is the systematic looting of Iraq with the support and consent of American leadership and the equally systematic robbery of America taxpayers, whose tax dollars are being siphoned off to American companies such as Halliburton, with no oversight or accountablity.

The ‘financial irregularities’ described in audit reports carried out by agencies of the American government and auditors working for the international community collectively give a detailed insight into the mentality of the American occupation authorities and the way they operated, handing out truckloads of dollars for which neither they nor the recipients felt any need to be accountable. The auditors have so far referred more than a hundred contracts, involving billions of dollars paid to American personnel and corporations, for investigation and possible criminal prosecution.
The real issue here is not Valerie Wilson. Plamegate is a single strand in a dark cloak of corruption and lies. Its importance is that it is a strand that can lead to the whole cloth of deceit coming unraveled.