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June 19, 2004

One Last Post

Frequent contibutor to Ace of Spades HQ Kerry is Unelectable tries to explain why Bush isn't making the Iraq-AQ case more strongly at his blog:

The President wants this to change and the best way to do this is to let the press undermine their own credibility over and over until no one believes them anymore. Remember, this is a hostile press. Most strongly disagree with the President's policies. They will continue to twist and spin and outright lie as we get closer to the election and people's trust in the media will continue to erode. We should also keep in mind that misreporting the news isn't just dishonest, it's unprofitable. In the end the sky will prove not to have been falling all along and the press will suffer the consequences.

There's more to it, but that's representative.

I'd like to say I agree, but I fear this is wishful thinking. I don't think Bush has some master plan.

Dick Morris said something that might bear on this. He felt that Bush's prime-time press conference at the beginning of the month was weak and without much new information. He said he knew exactly why-- the intelligence services heavily vet a President's speeches as regards his use of intelligence. If he attempts to say anything that differs from their consensus agreement -- even if he just wants to say it stronger and with fewer caveats -- they accuse him of politicizing the nation's intelligence.

He said that Clinton, and himself I'm guessing, were always frustrated by this process.

Based on this, I'm guessing -- and "guessing" is the operative word here -- the following:

The problem is basically that half the CIA doesn't believe the Iraq-AQ connection. Half does.

The agency's consensus view -- the compromise view between those who believe and those who don't -- is that there was a connection, but not a connection connection. It's a connection, yes, but not a connection.

This all stinks to high heaven of politics. It seems that there are liberals in the CIA who know there are connections between Iraq and AQ, but they refuse to call them "connections."

So the agency, as its consensus view, allows that there are connections, but they condemn the president when he says so. The official line is that there are connections (this part of the compromise satisfies the conservatives and also, coincidentally, the truth) but that these connections aren't quite connections (this is the sop to the liberals, who know that the CIA formally announcing "connections" would doom the Democrats to 20 years in the political wilderness).

If the President goes any further than this, the liberals begin leaking to the New York Times that he's "misrepresenting" and "distorting" the CIA position.

So, there you have it. There is a disagreement within the CIA, but the President is not allowed to take sides between those warring camps. The CIA has its consensus view, and he's supposed to stick to that.

I don't know how he can get out of this box. Perhaps he'll keep on muddling through, so long as he regains the lead in the polls. If he doesn't, he'll have to confront the CIA and risk the leaks from the Valerie Plame brigades.

By the way, Kerry is Unelectable also has a link to a good article on the Patriot Act. Just scroll down a bit.

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posted by Ace at 03:22 AM

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