The Watch

The Watch is concerned about the increasing pressure towards feudalism in the United States from corporations, social regressives, warmongers, and the media. We also are concerned with future history concerning our current times, as non-truths which are “widely reported” become the basis for completely false narratives.

Friday, January 12, 2007

History doesn't repeat, it rhymes

Studying history is a very useful thing, and of course something that Americans do very little of. A good reading of ancient history, and even American history, might show people the sorrows of empire and put some brakes on the imperialistic aggression we are displaying these last few years. But more important even than ancient history, we lack a knowledge of recent history that leaves us incapable of choosing our leaders wisely.

For example, let’s consider some claims that are advanced from time to time by opponents of the Cheney regime.
  1. Cheney and Rumsfeld colluded to run the US government over a weak president.
  2. Cheney and Rumsfeld created a subdivision of intelligence analysts specifically to gin up lies about how dangerous a foreign threat we are facing.
  3. Cheney lied us into a war in Iraq, specifically claiming imminent attack.
  4. Bush lied us into a war in Iraq, specially citing human rights abuses and threats to our allies.
  5. Cheney advocated invading and occupying Baghdad and deposing Saddam, despite predictions by experts that this would lead to a horrible, bloody occupation with no good way out.
Put these claims together in one place, and one is likely to be ridiculed by the corporate media as a left-wing nutjob conspiracy-theorizing terrorist sympathizer.

But are any of the claims credible? Should we consider these behaviors likely in these men, or are they out of character for them? How can we judge?

If we had the resources and the supposed mandate of the media to keep track of such things, we might be able to judge for ourselves if these claims are credible. We might even include such information during a presidential race, about what we know of the men who would lead us, and what they were capable of, based on their previous actions.

Each of the five statements above is undoubtedly true for the time period of 2001-2003. There are mounds of evidence that the Cheney/Rumsfeld cabal stove-piped intelligence data to create a false picture of a threat-filled Iraq, and over the objections of intelligence professionals, the State Department, and regional experts, knowingly used that distorted picture to justify a war of aggression leading to a bloody occupation. The results have been greater political control for them and truckloads of money for war profiteers. But if you suggest these things to Bush supporters or vapid media types like Wolf Blitzer, they clap their hands to their faces in Munsch-like horror, in as much to say “How could you accuse these men of such things”?

It cannot, or should not come as a surprise to people that these accusations are true, however, because each of these five actions not only occurred between 2001-2003, but are also true of the time period from 1974-1992, as well. Each of these things occurred before Bush/Cheney were appointed to power, and the men responsible for them escaped with no punishment. It should not surprise us that they felt free to repeat them, having gotten away with it at least once. And so it really is an insult to be treated as if these accusations insult the “honor” of Cheney, Rumsfeld, or Bush. All they were doing was going back to the game plan that worked so well for them before. Let’s take them one by one.

1. Cheney and Rumsfeld colluded to run the US government over a weak president.

Rumsfeld and Cheney both had appointments in the Nixon administration. When Ford became President after Nixon resigned, Rumsfeld was chosen to manage the transition, and became Ford’s de facto chief of staff. Cheney was his deputy. Their real rival for power in the Ford administration was Henry Kissinger, and so
Having turned Ford into their instrument, Rumsfeld and Cheney staged a palace coup. They pushed Ford to fire Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, tell Vice President Nelson Rockefeller to look for another job and remove Henry Kissinger from his post as national security adviser. Rumsfeld was named secretary of defense, and Cheney became chief of staff to the president. The Yale dropout and draft dodger was, at the age of thirty-four, the second-most-powerful man in the White House.
Compare this behavior with what happened to Colin Powell, and note that neither Ford nor G. W. Bungle was elected to the office. Hmmm. Given this information, would it surprise us to find that Cheney and Rumsfeld ran roughshod over our beloved, retarded man-child leader in 2001?

2. Cheney and Rumsfeld created a subdivision of intelligence analysts specifically to gin up lies about how dangerous a foreign threat we are facing.

The main objection that Cheney and Rumsfeld had to Kissinger was his policy of “détente”, a lessening of tensions with the Soviet Union. Say what you will about the evils of Kissinger and Nixon, they both were working to reduce the threat of thermonuclear Armageddon. This absolutely wouldn’t do for Rumsfeld and Cheney. After all, if we – the American people – weren’t scared out of our minds about a foreign enemy to the point where we would do whatever the government told us to do, such as give huge amounts of tax money to arms manufacturers, then we might actually be able to use the government to do social good. Their solution? First, they got Ford to scuttle the SALT II arms control treaty. Then, they created Team B, a group of “outside specialists” whose mandate was to claim that the Soviets were much more of a threat than the CIA considered them to be. This group of six government outsiders (including Paul Wolfowitz and given the go ahead by then-CIA director George H. W. Bush), essentially were people scared to death of the evil commies sapping our vital fluids. As former CIA-director William Colby put it, it was hard

"to envisage how an ad hoc independent group of analysts could prepare a more thorough, comprehensive assessment of Soviet strategic capabilities than could the intelligence community."

Team B essentially created a bunch of fairy tales about all of these scary phantom weapons capabilities that the Soviets had, and how the Soviets were planning to launch and win a first strike nuclear war. All of their assessments have since been proven completely false. But they were useful for raising the defense budget.
Donald Rumsfeld began to make speeches arguing that the Soviets were ignoring Kissinger’s treaties and secretly building up their weapons, with the intention of attacking America. The CIA strongly disagreed with Team B's assessments, calling Rumsfeld's position a "complete fiction" and pointing out that the Soviet Union was disintegrating from within, could barely afford to feed their own people, and would collapse within a decade or two if simply left alone. A top CIA analyst called it "a kangaroo court of outside critics all picked from one point of view."
Now, given all of that, what do we make of the accusations that Cheney and Rumsfeld created the Office of Special Plans to cherry-pick intelligence to try to make Iraq look like more of a threat than it was? Is that a completely wild accusation? Or does it sound possible?

3. Cheney lied us into a war in Iraq, specifically claiming imminent attack.

In 1990, Cheney was Bush I’s Secretary of Defense. As they were ginning up domestic and international support for an invasion of Iraq, Cheney claimed that Defense Department satellites had shown “120,000 Iraqi troops with 850 tanks had poured into Kuwait and moved south to threaten Saudi Arabia”. This lie was repeated by Bush I. However,
Jean Heller, an investigative reporter on the St Petersburg Times decided to investigate. Satellite photos from a commercial satellite - Soyuz Karta were obtained for around US$ 3,000. On January 6, 1991 she wrote an article detailing what had been found, titled "Photos Don't Show Buildup." The photos were reviewed by several experts and did not show any evidence to support the claims of George H.W. Bush. No buildup of troops in anywhere near the amounts stated by the President were visible in the photos.
This story, of course, was not “picked up” by the corporate media. Now, should we be surprised that Cheney would feel free to lie to us a second time, to start a second war with Iraq? After all, he had lied with impunity in 1990, and suffered no consequence.

4. Bush lied us into a war in Iraq, specially citing human rights abuses and threats to our allies.

Ok, this one is a bit of a cheat in that it cites both Bush I in 1990 and Bush II in 2002/3. But clearly the son must have learned from his father and Cheney what would be allowed as far as lying to start a war was concerned. In addition to the lie about the Iraqi buildup, cited above, Bush I also was part of the infamous “incubator babies” PR stunt (parodied in the movie Wag the Dog which was not, no matter how many people think so, about Clinton and Monica Lewinski, but about Bush I and the Gulf War):
Although the human rights abuses of the Iraq regime before and after the Kuwait invasion were well-documented, the government of Kuwait set out to influence American opinion with a few accounts. Shortly after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the organization Citizens for a Free Kuwait was formed in the U.S. It hired the public relations firm Hill & Knowlton for about $11 million, paid by the Kuwaiti government. This firm went on to manufacture a campaign in which a nurse working in the Kuwait City hospital described Iraqi soldiers pulling babies out of incubators and letting them die on the floor. The story was an influence in tipping both the public and Congress towards a war with Iraq: six Congressmen said the testimony was enough for them to support military action against Iraq and seven Senators referenced the testimony in debate. The Senate supported the military actions in a 52-47 vote. One year later, however, this allegation was labeled a fabricated hoax. The woman who had testified was found to be a member of the Kuwaiti Royal Family living in Paris during the war, and therefore could not have been present during the alleged crime.
After this young woman, the daughter of Kuwait’s ambassador to the US, gave her false, PR-firm coached testimony to a congressional committee, congressional support swung over to the invasion. Bush I referenced these atrocities in speeches justifying the war. Is it any wonder that Bush II, seeing his father emerge smelling like a rose after lying us into the Gulf War, thought that he could do it too?

5. Cheney advocated invading and occupying Baghdad and deposing Saddam, despite predictions by experts that this would lead to a horrible, bloody occupation with no good way out.

We know that this is true for the Iraq War. The clues to it for the Gulf War are harder to follow, but Norman Schwarzkopf hinted at it in his memoirs. Sure, in 1993 Cheney toed the party line and claimed “Now you can say well you should have gone to Baghdad and gotten Saddam, I don't think so I think if we had done that we would have been bogged down there for a very long period of time with the real possibility we might not have succeeded.”, but during the war his department repeatedly sent plans to Schwarzkopf detailing how Baghdad might be attacked. And if he was so smart in 1993, what made him so seemingly stupid in 2003?

When politicians begin doing the same things they did 20-30 years ago, repeating their same old modus operandi, don’t the media owe it to the public to point this out? Shouldn’t we have been told all of this before the 2000 election? Yes is the answer, and yes.

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