Fat Steve's Blatherings

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Come Again?

        James Risen is promoting his book, State of War: The Secret History of the C.I.A. and the Bush Administration.  Katie Couric interviewed him, and Risen said:
        . . .the checks and balances that normally keep American foreign policy and national security policy toward the center kind of broke down.  You had more of a radicalization, in which the career professionals were not really given a chance to forge a consensus within the administration.  The principals: Rumsfeld, Cheney, Tenet and Rice were meeting constantly, setting policy and never allowing the experts, the people who understand the region to have a say.

        That's very damning to the Administration, because we all know the experts are never wrong.

        Couric and Risen, by the way, think having decisions made by elected and presidentially appointed officials, rather than unfirable bureaucrats, is a "power grab."  Which tells you all you really need to know about the MSM's attitude to a democratic republican form of govt.  (Hat tip: Tom Maguire).

        Time also has a story about the book, containing some typical MSM disinformation:
Bush authorized the National Security Agency to wiretap telephone and e-mail communications inside the U.S. without court-sanctioned warrants.

        In fact, Bush authorized the NSA to monitor calls in which at least one end was overseas.  Not quite the same thing.  And the phrase "without court-sanctioned warrants" implies that warrants were needed, when there is an ongoing legal dispute about that (WARNING — PDF!).

        But what really intrigues me is these two quotes:
        Risen's chief target is the CIA, where, he argues, institutional dysfunction and feckless leadership after 9/11 led to intelligence breakdowns that continue to haunt the U.S.

        Gee, I guess we're doing a lousy anti-terrorism job, right?  Well, Time notes:
        Despite the intelligence failures documented in the book, Risen concludes that as a result of the U.S.'s counterterrorist efforts, "al-Qaeda now seems to lack the power to conduct another 9/11."

        Translated into English, I think that comes down to:
        As with all human activities, the Administration's efforts aren't perfect.  But overall, they're highly effective.

        The article concludes:
        The question facing policymakers is how to balance that apparent gain in security with its attendant costs--to the military in Iraq, to civil liberties at home and to the U.S.'s standing in the world.  State of War ends too hastily to tackle such dilemmas.  The book sheds welcome light on the conduct of the war on terrorism so far, but it leaves readers in the dark about where we go from here.

        It's typical of the MSM that they worry about our "standing in the world" as equal in danger to the prospect of thousands of people being murdered by terrorists.  As for the "costs" to "civil liberties," I'm not aware of any, unless plotting murder is a civil liberty I never knew about.

        Nice to see them publicly worrying about the troops, though — even if I do somehow find myself doubting their sincerity.  Perhaps the doubt is because they never ask 'How can we aid the war effort?'

        So, MSM, could you tell me what your problem with this program is?  Because I just don't get it.

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