Sunday, June 05, 2005

Melhman's tepid Bartelby impression

I missed Meet the Press today but Crooks & Liars has some video of his new dud single "I would respectfully disagree." Yes Mr. Melhman, you respectfully disagreed and you avoided acknowledging the truth:
MEHLMAN: Tim, that report has been discredited by everyone else who's looked at it since then. Whether it's the 9/11 Commission, whether it's the Senate, whoever's looked at this has said there was no effort to change the intelligence at all.

The fact is that the intelligence of this country, the intelligence of Britain, the intelligence of the United Nations, the intelligence all over the world said that there were weapons of mass destruction present in Iraq.


So I believe that individual report not only has been discredited, but that the overall reasons for removing Saddam Hussein were broadest than that, they were correct. We're now safer and certainly the people of Iraq are safer now that Saddam Hussein has been removed from power.

RUSSERT: I don't believe that the authenticity of this report has been discredited.

MEHLMAN: I believe that the findings of the report, the fact that the intelligence was somehow fixed, have been totally discredited by everyone who's looked at it.
Not exactly discredited, certainly not by everyone, not even by all Republicans.
RUSSERT: The primary rationale given for the war, however, was the elimination of weapons of mass destruction. And again I refer you to the memo of the prime minister's meeting: "It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbors, and his WMD capability was less than half that of Libya, North Korea and Iran."

MEHLMAN: Well, the president, I think, was responsible in saying we need to simultaneously prepare for war and also try to avoid that war. There were simultaneous efforts at the diplomatic stages that were made, and yet at the same time it would have been irresponsible for us to say we're going to wait, and then plan for war later, because we wouldn't have had as effective an effort as we did to remove Saddam Hussein from power. So we needed to do both at the same time.
I don't seem to recall any steps or statements by the Bush Administration in which there was actual discussion of trying to avoid the war, quite the contrary actually. always seemed to me that the administration was pushing for a showdown and an excuse to attack.

Meeting minutes, Prime Minister's meeting on Iraq, 23 July 2002
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

CDS said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August.


The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.

The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.

The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult.
I wonder what Melman's next refrain will be; Bartelby's didn't quite work out for him.

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