Updated: 5/16/2006; 2:51:06 PM.

Current events
Post-9-11 events and analyses


daily link  Tuesday, September 28, 2004


Ellsberg: Truths Worth Telling:  Great piece (background also available):  "On a tape recording made in the Oval Office on June 14, 1971, H. R. Haldeman [spoke] on the effect of the Pentagon Papers..:

"Rumsfeld was making this point this morning,'' Haldeman says. "To the ordinary guy, all this is a bunch of gobbledygook. But out of the gobbledygook comes a very clear thing: you can't trust the government; you can't believe what they say, and you can't rely on their judgment. And the implicit infallibility of presidents, which has been an accepted thing in America, is badly hurt by this, because it shows that people do things the president wants to do even though it's wrong, and the president can be wrong."

He got it exactly right. But it's a lesson that each generation of voters and each new set of leaders have to learn for themselves. Perhaps Mr. Rumsfeld - now secretary of defense, of course - has reflected on this truth recently as he has contemplated the deteriorating conditions in Iraq. According to the government's own reporting, the situation there is far bleaker than Mr. Rumsfeld has recognized or President Bush has acknowledged on the campaign trail.

Understandably, the American people are reluctant to believe that their president has made errors of judgment that have cost American lives. To convince them otherwise, there is no substitute for hard evidence: documents, photographs, transcripts. Often the only way for the public to get such evidence is if a dedicated public servant decides to release it without permission.

Such a leak occurred recently with the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which was prepared in July. Reports of the estimate's existence and overall pessimism - but not its actual conclusions - have prompted a long-overdue debate on the realities and prospects of the war. But its judgments of the relative likelihood and the strength of evidence pointing to the worst possibilities remain undisclosed. Since the White House has refused to release the full report, someone else should do so...

The military's real estimates of the projected costs - in manpower, money and casualties - of various long-term plans for Iraq should be made public, in addition to the more immediate costs in American and Iraqi lives of the planned offensive against resistant cities in Iraq that appears scheduled for November. If military or intelligence experts within the government predict disastrous political consequences in Iraq from such urban attacks, these judgments should not remain secret. ..

[In 1964] President Lyndon Johnson might not have won in a landslide had voters known he was lying when he said that his administration sought "no wider war." Seven years and almost 50,000 American deaths later, after I had leaked the Pentagon Papers, I had a conversation with Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon, one of the two senators who had voted against the Tonkin Gulf resolution in August 1964. If I had leaked the documents then, he said, the resolution never would have passed.

That was hard to hear. But in 1964 it hadn't occurred to me to break my vow of secrecy. Though I knew that the war was a mistake, my loyalties then were to the secretary of defense and the president. It took five years of war before I recognized the higher loyalty all officials owe to the Constitution, the rule of law, the soldiers in harm's way or their fellow citizens.

Like Robert McNamara, under whom I served, Mr. Rumsfeld appears to inspire great loyalty among his aides. ..

All administrations classify far more information than is justifiable in a democracy - and the Bush administration has been especially secretive. Information should never be classified as secret merely because it is embarrassing or incriminating. But in practice, in this as in any administration, no information is guarded more closely. .. Some 140,000 Americans are risking their lives every day in Iraq. Our nation is in urgent need of comparable moral courage from its public officials."

  10:39:47 PM  permalink  

Debate advice to Kerry: "Bush is tough. But he's wrong. And America is less secure."  8:20:46 PM  permalink  

Prewar Assessment on Iraq: The intel community strikes back, with an i-told-you-so.  The administration was warned about the upcoming insurgency:  "The same intelligence unit that produced a gloomy report in July about the prospect of growing instability in Iraq warned the Bush administration about the potential costly consequences of an American-led invasion two months before the war began, government officials said Monday.

The estimate came in two classified reports prepared for President Bush in January 2003 by the National Intelligence Council, an independent group that advises the director of central intelligence. The assessments predicted that an American-led invasion of Iraq would increase support for political Islam and would result in a deeply divided Iraqi society prone to violent internal conflict.

One of the reports also warned of a possible insurgency against the new Iraqi government or American-led forces, saying that rogue elements from Saddam Hussein's government could work with existing terrorist groups or act independently to wage guerrilla warfare, the officials said. The assessments also said a war would increase sympathy across the Islamic world for some terrorist objectives, at least in the short run, the officials said. "

  8:26:35 AM  permalink  

 
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Copyright 2006 © Ken Novak.
Last update: 5/16/2006; 2:51:06 PM.