Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Monday, April 19, 2004  


Following the Woodward accusations against the Bush administration, there's a strange media calm. It's as if everyone's pretty much inured to another week of accusations that the President was acting like a tin-pot dictator. Hey, how'd the Cubs do?

Yet these are the most potent accusations of any we've heard. They're particularly dangerous because they add new charges (including a particularly thorny charge of subverting the Constitution) and confirm early reports from Ron Suskind and Richard Clarke. Let's review what we learned.

- The administration began planning an Iraq invasion two months after 9/11.

- During the run-up to the war, the administration secretly diverted $700 million to fund the war, subverting Congress's Constitutional charge to fund government.

- Even while it was actively planning for an invasion, the administration lied about Iraqi designs.

- In discussing an invasion of Iraq, Colin Powell was kept out of the loop until after the decision had been made--and after Saudia Arabia had learned of the US plan. Furthermore, Saudia Arabia was privy to top-secret meetings where war planning was discussed.

- Ultimately, Bush made the decision to invade without any formal recommendation from his advisors. Woodward hinted that he felt authorized to invade by God.

- The White House had a secret plan with Saudi Arabia for the latter to keep the price of gasoline low leading up to the election.

- The administration had no plans for a post-war reconstruction, genuinely believing that the Iraqis would welcome the US as liberators.

- Woodward also presented the President as a dolt with a messianic complex who bobbed on the waves of his advisors' advice--hardly the bold decision-maker Rove sells.

(Incidentally, the Post continues its excerpts today with an account of pre-invasion planning.)

I assume the White House is preparing its counteroffensive, and in the absence of their lead, surrogates are waiting to see how to respond. (The brain trust at the New Republic, for example, though they had all weekend to prepare a rebuttal, instead settled for attacks on Kerry and 9/11 Commissioner Jame Gorelick.) The problem now is that there are so many fronts--simply attacking Woodward isn't gong to be enough. Three of his charges aren't of lapses in judgment--they're of breaking the law. As to the press; I'll be charitable and assume they're checking Woodward's claims through their own sources. If so, that will in turn unleash another wave of accusations for the administration to refute.

Let's be clear: if even one of Woodward's charges about illegal activity--subverting Congress, conspiring with Saudi Arabia--turns out to be true, we may not be looking at an election. We may be looking at an ugly investigation and possibly an impeachment. I'd say the White House far bigger fish to fry this week than whether John Kerry's "misery index" is accurate.

Oh, for those good ol' days.

posted by Jeff | 8:10 AM |
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