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Thursday July 17, 2003

Ah, the Uranium flap. I've even heard some punsters refer to the whole issue as "WeaponsGate". Come on folks, get a grip. Bush said in his State of the Union Address that foreign intelligence sources have indicated that Saddam has sought Uranium from African countries. Because some of our intelligence sources don't agree with the assessment (granted, some of the info was based on forged documents) Bush's detractors (essentially everyone in the mainstream media, local papers, hourly news updates on radio, etc) say, "He Lied!! Here's the take from Clifford May:

British intelligence analysts did believe that Saddam Hussein was seeking uranium in Africa. British Prime Minister Tony Blair says he believed it then - and that he believes it now, based on sources "independent from that of the U.S."

That doesn't mean there's no problem with what Bush said. But the problem hasn't to do with honesty. It has to do with whether a president, in a major speech, should cite foreign intelligence reports that his own intelligence analysts cannot independently confirm. National Security Advisor Condi Rice and Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet say that shouldn't have happened.

Now comes an article in the OpinionJournal refering to a National Intelligence Estimate which was published last October:

We're reliably told that that now famous NIE, which is meant to be the best summary judgment of the intelligence community, isn't nearly as full of doubt about that yellowcake story as the critics assert or as even CIA director George Tenet has suggested. The section on Iraq's hunt for uranium, for example, asserts bluntly that "Iraq also began vigorously trying to procure uranium ore and yellowcake" and that "acquiring either would shorten the time Baghdad needs to produce nuclear weapons."

Regarding the supposedly discredited Niger story, the NIE says that "a foreign government service reported that as of early 2001 Niger planned to send several tons of 'pure uranium' (probably yellowcake) to Iraq. As of early 2001, Niger and Iraq reportedly were still working out arrangements for this deal, which could be for up to 500 tons of yellowcake. We do not know the status of this arrangement."

That foreign government service is of course the British, who still stand by their intelligence. In the next paragraph, the NIE goes on to say that "reports indicate Iraq also has sought uranium ore from Somalia and possibly the Democratic Republic of the Congo." It then adds that "we cannot confirm whether Iraq has succeeded in acquiring uranium ore and/or yellowcake from these sources."

Nevertheless, we continue to hear arguments like this from Sen Bob Graham:

The administration of George W. Bush is looking more and more like a bait-and-switch operation. Much like a profiteer who advertises a too-good-to-be-true deal to lure customers into his store, this White House is willing to shade and manipulate information to sell its policies to the American people and our allies around the world...

...To justify a pre-emptive war with Iraq, President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other high-level officials selectively used - and may have misused - intelligence information to make the case that Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat to his neighbors, to U.S. interests in the Mideast and even to Americans here at home.

Does anyone really believe I mean really deep down believe that this is true. Hey, isn't Senator Bob Graham running for something...?

Now I think the White House has been very ill-advised in their handling of this story. They should have either 1) just ignored the allegations that "He Lied" or, preferably, 2) vigorously defended the language and meaning of the "actual words" in the SOTU Address. Unfortunately, they have taken a middle road, offering meek apologies or stating that the information shouldn't have been included in the SOTU Address. This is like throwing red meat to hungry wolves.

The media are purporting that if the administration hadn't "spun" the intelligence to the American people that the nation might have decided otherwise about going to war against Iraq. This is pure hogwash. Congress had already voted to authorize the President to use military force in Iraq months before his speech to the nation. Surely some of these members (especially those on the intelligence committee) have seen the intelligence on Saddam. This is all much ado about nothing.

One other point: Intelligence rarely a sure thing. They are intelligence estimates. Numerous signals from countless sources arrive every hour of every day. It is the job of the intelligence services to separate the wheat from the chaff. There is always a certain amount of speculation and disagreement. Immediately after 9/11 there was an enormous hew and cry (and perhaps rightly so) that U.S. intelligence failed to "connect the dots". After 9/11 we began connecting dots and we created the portrait of Saddam.

Fortunately, I don't think the American people are as gullible as some liberals would like. I believe most Americans believe in our President (if not his policies and actions, at least his character). The thought that he would purposely lie or mislead Congress and the People in order to justify military action just doesn't (pundit verbiage alert) resonate with the voters.


Recent progress on "The Roadmap":

In the wake of last month's summit in Jordan involving President Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, there are dramatically conflicting indications about the direction of the peace process. On the positive side of the ledger, following the June 29 declaration of a three-month cease-fire by the three leading Palestinian terrorist groups Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades there has been a falloff in the number of attacks against Israel.

Just a few weeks ago, Israeli security forces were issuing upward of 50 warnings a day based on specific intelligence information that suicide bombers have been dispatched to carry out attacks. Today, the number is half as large. There has also been a dimunition in the degree of Palestinian incitement against Israelis and Jews in general, and Israeli and Palestinian officials have inaugurated an anti-incitement committee in order to end the glorification of suicide bombers in Palestinian society particularly in the schools.

Puttering along the roadmap indeed. Call me a cynic ok, you're a cynic but I do not believe that this will succeed. Like all other plans before it, The Roadmap will collapse due to the stated, ingrained, deep-seated desire of the Palestinians: to rid the Middle East of the jews.


Speaking of the Middle East, compelling allegations of media bias of Reuters on their reportage of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict from Honest Reporting. Excerpt,

In the world of Reuters headlines, when Israel acts, Israel is always perpetrating an active assault, and the Palestinian victim is consistently identified. But when Palestinian terrorists act, their Israeli victims are faceless, and the Palestinian perpetrators are rarely named nor described in active terms. Moreover, Palestinian diplomats pursue peace, but are frustrated by their obstinate Israeli counterparts.

Reuters' obvious message? Israel is the aggressor, and Palestinians are the victims.

For the past three years, HonestReporting readers have intuitively sensed that Reuters is taking sides in this conflict. HonestReporting's one-month analysis of Reuters' headlines demonstrates that the claim of Reuters' bias is indeed grounded in fact.

Example 1:
"Israeli Troops Shoot Dead Palestinian in W.Bank" (July 3)
Israel named as perpetrator; Palestinian named as victim; described in active voice.
vs.
"New West Bank Shooting Mars Truce" (July 1)
Palestinian not named as perpetrator; Israeli not named as victim; shooting described in passive voice.

Example 2: "Israel Kills Three Militants; Gaza Deal Seen Close" (June 27)
Israel named as perpetrator; Palestinians ("Militants") named as victims; described in active voice.
vs.
"Bus Blows Up in Central Jerusalem" (June 11)
Palestinian not named as perpetrator; Israelis not named as victims; described in passive voice.

Example 3:
"Israeli Tank Kills 3 Militants in Gaza - Witnesses" (June 22)
Israel named as perpetrator; Palestinians ("Militants") named as victims; described in active voice.
vs.
"Israeli Girl Killed, Fueling Cycle of Violence" (June 18)
Palestinian not named as perpetrator; killing described in passive voice.


The Conservative Advocate posits that syndicated liberal radio is no threat to "El Rushbo". Excerpt,

No, what the liberals need is a sympathetic audience, and this they have proven incapable of either finding or creating. A moment's thought will suggest why. Rush Limbaugh's huge audience (just to take the easiest example) shares a set of core beliefs which he addresses every day. Broadly speaking, they are patriots who think of themselves as members of the larger American community. They defend its traditional values, and oppose its critics. As one of those critics said recently, they are "an army."

Liberals, on the other hand, have no such unifying concept, save perhaps their hatred of conservatives. They are contemptuous of patriotism, dislike much about America, and usually save their deepest loyalty for some special cause: ultrafeminism, gay liberation, environmentalism, welfare expansion, gun control, teachers' pay or whatever.


Derrick Z. Jackson takes a dim view of ESPN hiring MahaRushie for an NFL Pregame gig. Read it if you can bear. Perhaps I'm not sufficiently culturally sensitive, but I laughed out loud when I read this quote:

What connections Limbaugh has made between people of color and sports are dubious at best. When a Mexican won the New York marathon, Limbaugh said, ''An immigration agent chased him the last 10 miles.''