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06 January 2007


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semper fubar

OK. Just let me know when these bastards go so far that we should impeach them, because I'm convinced that's the only way we're going to stop them. Too illegal for Negroponte? That's a scary thought.

Babak Makkinejad

There was a region wide alliance against Iran and the Shia in 1980s. But the linchpin of that alliance is gone - Iraq.

I cannot see how it could be successful. They no longer have Saddam Hussein to carry that load for them.

I am not a specialist but I cannot see a credible Arab military component to this alliance - the Persian Gulf Arab states have no military that can be up to the task (if they had, there would always be a danger of a military coup) and Egypt is too far away.

Here is my take on this: Arabs will fight Iran to the last American.


This is clearly getting way out of hand. Stepped up domestic surveillance?? Is the next step martial law, suspension of the constitution and arrest for dissent? It seems the Bandar-Israel-NeoCon nexus to thwart the Shia-Iran upswing that we created has some serious basis. The Decider blunders into making Iran & the Shia more powerful and then his "rasputin" is out getting those they screwed to up the ante into a major regional conflagration. These guys are nuts!!

I really hope the American public will not allow such fascist ideas to become reality here at home. It seems that we need to place public pressure on Republican senators to support relieving the Decider and his "rasputin" of command. High time for a Gerald Ford moment.

Stan henning

I'm not sure these comments are completely relevant for this particular posting, but they sum up my views on this whole mess.

Unfortunately, we acted too precipitately - disbanded the Iraqi military, encouraged "democracy" before the conditions were right, and may not now be able to repair the damage. Sending more troops to Iraq will not likely solve anything without a clear objective (and capability) that goes beyond providing a police force.

As I noted earlier, the only way you can handle inter-tribal conflict is to declare martial law, disarm everyone, treat everyone equal and hope they will learn first to coexist, and ultimately to cooperate rather than kill each other. We have so far failed on every count. At this point, we essentially have a Sunni-heavy insurgency opposing a Shia-heavy government that cannot control a major, deadly, faction within its own ranks.

For instance, what good are a few more American troops going to be if the al-Sadr faction is allowed to continue its depredations AND the government remains Shia-heavy?

It looks like America is committing national suicide through slow self imposed strangulation, and draining its resources, both moral and material, on a bungled intervention that should never have been undertaken in the first place.

I feel that the reason we have reached this state of affairs is none other than poor leadership, both civil (including Congress) and military, involving a combination of factors, including ignorance, dogmatism, and careerism, all of which also breed a host of harmful traits such as failure to question or speak up on issues; unwillingness/inability to listen to others, weigh the facts, and let the chips fall where they will rather than where someone wants them to; misplaced loyalties, and failure to adequately assess harmful interaction between senior staff and subordinates. All-in-all, I would say the U.S. civil-military establishment is highly qualified to be a collective poster child for Norman Dixon's Psychology of Military Incompetence.


John von Neumann,the brilliant physicist and mathematican, was the template for Dr. Strangelove.

He was intimately involved with the industrial military complex. He preferred to hang out with admirals vs. genrals. He found they were more sociable and imbibed more.

God Help Us.

"Admiral" from the Arabic Emir 'l mai via Spanish.


The only part of Mr. Sale's explanation that doesn't quite compute for me is that Negroponte landed at another Bush administration post. If he had such a serious policy dispute with Cheney, wouldn't he just leave the Bush cabal altogether? Was he promised one of those Medals of Freedom?


Can Sale's observations be more widely disseminated?

Psychopaths like Bush and Cheney taunt society until they are punished. If Bush and Cheney are never punished, they will drag the country down to annihilation. Punishing them, however, will be extremely difficult, because they will be masters, and are masters, of dishonesty.

Let me give you an example of annihilation. Apparently the centerpiece of the "surge" is deploying American troops throughout Baghdad. That is a recipe for having 20 or 30 troops killed in a single action...which of course will lead Bush and Cheney to shout that we must be loyal to our troops and send more.

In other words, the surge and the tactics to go with it are designed with one purpose in mind: increase American casualities.

2008 cannot come quickly enough. I would vote for any Democrat at this point.

I thank all the other commenters and this excellent blog for truly superb commentary.

robt willmann

Well now, the claim that the request from Vice President Cheney to increase domestic collection by the National Security Agency on U.S. citizens made John Negroponte so queasy that he ``refused'' is a curious matter, indeed.

Who was sitting behind Colin Powell when he gave his sad and disgraceful speech to the United Nations to push an aggressive war on Iraq? That picture is burned in our memories: CIA director George Tenet and U.N. Ambassador John Negroponte.

Then Negroponte is made ``ambassador'' to Iraq. After which comes the appointment as the first Director of National Intelligence, under the law passed by Congress that weakens, rather than strengthens, the information gathering process and the security of it.

And when Negroponte claimed a lack of knowledge of the torture, disappearances, and murders that occurred during his time in Latin America, I was reminded of what we say in Texas about the aftermath of a fight or shooting in a bar: everyone was in the bathroom when it happened and no one saw anything.

Some unanswered questions arise from Mr. Sale's post.

1. The domestic intelligence collection by the NSA is to be increased from what type of surveillance of U.S. citizens to what new, wider scope?

2. The ``pressure built to get rid of'' Negroponte from whom? Cheney only? He and his staff? Some foundation?

3. If Negroponte ``did not go voluntarily'' to the State Department, and was ``forced out'' of his job as Nat'l. Intel Director, then why did he go to State? Why didn't he resign on principle or make the White House fire him and then say he refuses to be involved in even more domestic spying on U.S. citizens in violation of the criminal provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Constitution?

4. Similarly, if Negroponte is so aghast at an increase in illegal domestic spying on U.S. citizens, why is he even agreeing to still be a part of the present Bush jr. administration? He doesn't need the money from that government job.

5. If Negroponte and the Nat'l. Intel office are producing drafts of reports describing the mess in Iraq and that an increase in troops will not help, what does Negroponte say about Iran and launching a military attack on it? Does Bush, Cheney, Rice, and others in and out of the government know whether Negroponte would ``refuse'' to be a part of a war with Iran?

6. As Deputy Secretary of State, what role or responsibility will Negroponte have with the Iran Syria Policy and Operations Group (ISOG)? The Boston Globe has a story about that outfit, which obviously exists to gin up a war with Iran.
ISOG was ``modeled after the Iraq Policy and Operations Group, set up in 2004 to shepherd information and coordinate US action in Iraq'', the article says.

No one who is not in lockstep with the gangster foreign policy of the present administration will have any job of even modest significance in the federal government. And certainly will not be appointed Deputy Secretary of State.

The explanation that Negroponte's ``involuntary'' move to be Deputy Secretary of State was based mainly on his refusal to go along with increased domestic spying does not make sense in light of his past behavior and the pattern and practice of the present administration.

W. Patrick Lang


You folks underestimate how difficult it is to get rid of a really senior person who does not wish to go.

The risk is that he will go public, therefore, another job, medals, etc. pl

Frank Durkee

How does all of this relate to the report out of London reporting on purported Isreali preparation for an attack on Iranian facilities utilizing nuclear 'bunker busters'. How do you all read the report and hwo does this all fit together?


robt willmann:
The ISOG described in that article is nothing like the IPOG that I attended a few weeks ago. The IPOG is just a big meeting where lots of people get together and talk about what they and their agencies are doing, but where little is actually "coordinated." IPOG is too big and has too many people to actually coordinate anything, its more just a way to keep people informed.
If ISOG actually is based on IPOG then I would find it hard to believe that its actually ginning up a war, and is more likely just a PR campaign (which can be a prelude of course but won't be successful due to the lack of trust in the administration) or a way of making sure that everybody in all the agencies is talking to each other.

Chris Marlowe

The failure of the Iraqi occupation can be traced directly to an order issued by Paul Bremer: the deBaathification order issued immediately after he was appointed to his position as the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in April 2003, after the abrupt dismissal of Jay Garner. Garner had proven effective in providing a safety zone for the Kurds in northern Iraq, but the feeling in Washington was that he was soft and had "gone native" since he had too much sympathy with the Iraqis.

Bremer told Rumsfeld that the deBaathification order might have bad consequences since it would render unemployed virtually everyone in the Iraqi military. Rumsfeld indicated that he had no choice since the order came "right from the top".

I believe that the deBaathification order came directly from VP Cheney's office, and was communicated verbally to Rumsfeld to pass onto Bremer. I cannot imagine President Bush paying attention to, or even understanding, the consequences of such an order.

If the deBaathification order did indeed come from the VP's office, then the American defeat in Iraq can be traced directly back to an order which came from Cheney's office.

This is an issue which deserves closer scrutiny.


Col. Lang,

So I guess my question to you would be: is it that much easier to rid yourself of a troublesome military man like Gen. Shinseki than a senior diplomat like Negroponte? And if the answer is yes, then why?

W. Patrick Lang


Yes. Shinseki was institutional head of a profession that amounts to a vocation and his time had ended.

Negroponte is a life-long public servant but thinks his time is not ended. pl

W. Patrick Lang


It is a major error to think that someone whose moral and ethical code is different from yours does not have real standards of behavior. pl



The writer at the Times (a Murdoch publication) has written about such an Israeli attack using bunker-busting tactical nukes many times before as Laura Rozen points out on her blog.

Peter Principle

"Of course, intelligence is simply evaluated information. Its purpose is to help inform decisions by policymakers, as Pat as so often pointed out. But this administration perceives objectivity as a inadequate commitment or as an absence of complete loyalty."

The bottom line is that this administration doesn't BELIEVE in intelligence -- as they demonstrate daily.

Or, as the Falangists put it during the Spanish Civil War "Down with intelligence; long live death!"


My thought was the same as Col. Lang's: Bush/Cheney do not need Negroponte to go off the reservation right now, likewise Casey. Negroponte knows where the bodies are buried (literally?) and could make life very difficult if not handled carefully. They already have their hands full with ex-admins (Powell, Card, all those retired generals, etc.) who won't keep their mouth shut and probably figure that except for true believers (and maybe not even then) they are better off not letting the rats leave this sinking ship.

They successfully marginalized Powell in State, why would they not assume the same could be done with Negroponte? Heck, they may have even promised him Condi's job.

Speaking of - any bets on the Condi Rice deathwatch?

The Oracle

"...the Persian Gulf Arab states have no military that can be up to the task...." (Babak's post).

Well, actually they do have a military...the U.S. military.

Over the past several years, Bush and Cheney have been quietly building up U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf Arab states. (This is similar to their shifting manpower and materials from Afghanistan to Kuwait in 2002 to prepare for their attack on Iraq).

Bush and Cheney needed "staging areas" close to the Strait of Hormuz, in case hostilities broke out with Iran. But the Arab states involved wanted something in return for their cooperation...maybe in the form of an economic incentive package?

Thus, a couple of years ago, the Bush administration (and the Republican Congress) quietly pushed for Free Trade Agreements with Dubai, Oman and other Arab states across the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz from Iran. (For example, remember the Dubai port deal?).

In exchange, these Arab states agreed to an increased U.S. military presence on their soil...with much of this increased presence involving U.S. naval and air force personnel, along with the latest in U.S. military hardware. Stealth bombers in Oman (per one report last year), naval amphibious-hover landing craft in Dubai/UAE, naval mine-sweepers, etc etc..

Now, we hear about another carrier group being deployed to the Persian Gulf.

Democrats in Congress should demand an immediate accounting of where all our military personnel and equipment are in the Persian Gulf area. Plus, they should revisit these Free Trade Agreements to uncover what exactly the Bush administration promised to these Persian Gulf Arab states in exchange for their acting as "staging areas."

I believe the Democrats in Congress will really be surprised at all that Bush and Cheney have been secretly doing in preparation for a war with Iran...behind the back of Congress and the backs of U.S. citizens.

Oh, and I find it interesting that two key positions in the Bush war administration, DNI and head of Centcom, are being filled by U.S. admirals. During my time in the military we had a term for suck-ups like these...brown nosers. Which, apparently, is all that Bush and Cheney are looking for in the way of appointees. People who will brown nose them, obey orders (no matter how illegal), drop nukes without question (CentCom) and expand illegal surveillance of U.S. citizens without a moment's hesitation (DNI).

Pray for the children of our great nation if this is allowed to continue.

anna missed

A most fascinating post and commentary. Not exactly the Negroponte the left has come to assume, but for sure, there is a never ending line of (lifer) military suiters willing to materalize a fantasy, and get paid for it, oddly enough, in the name of the republic.

The Oracle

Oh, BTW, and another synchronicity observation.

The same week that BushCo announces Negroponte is being replaced by McConnell as director of national intelligence gave us Pat Robertson stating that God has revealed to him that there will be a deadly terrorist attack inside the United States later this year...several months before the 2008 campaign season kicks off.

There's, of course, probably no sinister connection between the two, unless Robertson received a White House memo (from God?) telling him to talk up an impending terrorist attack inside the U.S..

Just sayin'.


"Negroponte flatly refused"

This is noteworthy. John D. Negroponte, the right wing 'man for all seasons', a man who is not known to be crippled by any ethical scruples, refused to go further in turning the US into a police state. Well, in his carreer, he didn't refuse to become involved in the secret funding of the Contras and in the coverup of the US support for death squads in Honduras.

And pls note that Olli North publicly argued against the 'surge' on Fox news, too. If those men aren't willing to support the course of the current administration anymore, this shows how extremist Bush and Cheney have become. They are to the right even of their most unscrupulous supporters.


Patrick, it is a major error, too, to think that someone has real standards of behavior when he never showed any moral and ethical code limiting him/her. Sociopaths aren't a Hollywood invention, they are living among us.

Negroponte showed that he still has some dignity left. Good for him. As for Bush and Cheney, we can't be certain.


An above comment favors disarming the people of Iraq. I disagree.
I can make a very strong arguement for disarmanet. But not for the notion of stripping The People of their right to self defense. Especially in a place where such criminals roam heavily armed?
With respect to the Negraponte shift? Something very dramatic surely must have occured behind closed doors? I mean really think about it, career guy who spent a life time in service, gets a call one day form the decider, and then replies yes, and a year down the road says , ya know? ya owe me deciderous one, hows about ya send me to the # 2 job over here cause hey, thats where Ive always wanted to be? Something doesnt fit? Unless of course the spy master seeks closer access under the cover of portfolio penetrating the UN? But these are the musings of a uninitiated unwashed observer, nothing more...course all this goes out the window if you are ready to accept the notion that somewhere in the byzantine make up of intel there is a veritable army of career intel officers who are highly disatisfied with the new order of US intel structure and arein revolt because of that reshuffle as some new guy was decided on over there strenuos objection (*Demi Moore-A Few Good Men)and the decider was strong armed into appointing a carrer spook?

semper fubar

My new theory, based on purely speculative dot-connecting:

Negroponte moves over to State to take Condi's job, who replaces the "ailing" Cheney. (h/t TPM)

So, the question then remains, was Cheney pushed or did he jump? Consider the following news story today:

"The US government has been involved in drawing up the law, a draft of which has been seen by The Independent on Sunday. It would give big oil companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon 30-year contracts to extract Iraqi crude and allow the first large-scale operation of foreign oil interests in the country since the industry was nationalised in 1972." (UK Independent)

I predict a sudden improvement in Cheney's health, followed by a nice fat executive job in the oil industry.

Et voila! Cheney goes from Halliburton CEO to VPOTUS who engineers the private takeover of the Iraqi oil business, and back to oil industry CEO, all in 8 short years!

No war for oil, my *ss.

Meanwhile he dumps the huge political and military mess of his Iraqi Adventure into the oh-so-incapable hands of The Idiot Son and Condi.

There must he a hanging offense in here somewhere.

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