The Shameless Partisan Bias of Facts


The article isn't online yet, but Justin Logan finds a startling (well, maybe not startling anymore) excerpt from a piece in the most recent American Conservative:

On Sept. 28, at the Vice President's request, the Agency provided a special briefing on the subject of Jordanian terrorist Mu'sab al-Zarqawi. The CIA's Counter Terrorism Center (CTC) reviewed all of the available intelligence on the subject and based its briefing on a just completed comprehensive intelligence analysis. The CTC concluded that Saddam Hussein had not materially supported Zarqawi before the U.S.-led invasion and that Zarqawi's infrastructure in Iraq before the war was confined to the northern no-fly zones of Kurdistan, beyond Baghdad's reach. Cheney reacted with fury, screaming at the briefer that CIA was trying to get John Kerry elected by contradicting the president's stance that Saddam had supported terrorism and therefore needed to be overthrown. The hapless briefer was shaken by the vice president's outburst, and the incident was reported back to Goss, who indicated that he was reluctant to confront the vice president's staff regarding it.

Caveat: At least as far as I can tell from what's at Logan's site, the anecdote's not sourced. Ingest as much sodium chloride as seems appropriate.


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  1. “trying to get John Kerry elected by contradicting the president’s stance that Saddam had supported terrorism and therefore needed to be overthrown.”

    Why am I not surprised that Cheney would say that?

  2. You think those facts are biased? Wait until somebody tries to tell W that the earth is at least 4 or 5 billion years old! To some Republicans, that would be an unacceptably partisan statement!

    Then again, to some Democrats a statement like “When supply decreases price will increase” would be considered unacceptably partisan.

  3. And the truth shall set you off!

  4. the story of cheney yelling at the staffer for telling him the truth isn’t sourced — was this a leak from the the cia, etc what?

  5. “Why am I not surprised that Cheney would say that?”

    I’m not surprised either, and I find myself wondering why. Even if the story isn’t true, it certainly rings true to the public’s perception of Cheney’s personality. We’ve filed him somewhere between the boogey-man and Dr. Strangelove, I think.

  6. Ingest as much sodium chloride as seems appropriate.

    You should be careful before making statements like that. Have you seen the Material Safety Data Sheet for sodium chloride? A lawyer could probably sue Reason on behalf of every American with high blood pressure and put you guys out of business! 😉

  7. I haven’t picked up a copy of the latest AmCon yet, but, assuming this is from Giraldi’s regular intelligence round-up, there won’t be a named source. His “deep background” pieces on internal CIA matters are never sourced because they supposedly come from active duty personnel he remains in contact with. I can’t say whether this is true or not, but I can’t recall an instance where his earlier writings were proven wrong. (Unlike, say, Dick Cheney…)

  8. Then again, to some Democrats a statement like “When supply decreases price will increase” would be considered unacceptably partisan.

    Actually, what they say is, “Only in theory, not in the real world!”

  9. As interesting a story as this is, it’s just that. Without any sources, I could easily post some clever anecdote to the internet. No source, it’s no different than hearing a whisper in the hallway about who’s sleeping with whom.


  10. Facts are decadent.

  11. This has already been reported elsewhere, IIRC, but without the little detail about helping Kerry.

  12. Sorry if a bit off-topic, but speaking of partisan bias, check-out Badnarik on FOX news from today. He could’ve done better, but to say the host kept baiting him is an insult to worms everywhere!

  13. Time freaking Magazine had a story about Cheney going over to Langley and giving a bunch of analysts a good talking to. The Vice President.

    Yeah, Cheney wants to hear what he wants to hear. It’s amazing how many things I’ve known for a couple of years are suddenly dawning on people.

    Poor George Bush, he got bad intelligence. Shucks, what bad luck. Whaddya gonna do?

  14. Zarqawi was with Ansar al-Islam. Ansar al-Islam was based near Halabja. Halabja lies 75km south of the 36th parallel. The 36th parallel makes up the southern border of the northern no-fly zone. Therefore, while he was in Kurd controlled territory, he was not in the no-fly zone. These two things are not one and the same. Saddam’s access to them was not identical. I’m not saying the whole piece is wrong or that Cheney didn’t burst a blood vessel (though given his constant demeanor and heart condition, the description seems suspect), but that’s a major fuck up for a CTC guy to make. So either the intel problem is considerably worse than we thought (uh, no-fly zone? where’s at?), Zarqawi was with some other outfit functioning at the time that we haven’t even identified, or this piece isn’t entirely truthful.

    Just to save yourself some typing, if you want links, check my posts on the subject from yesterday, do your own homework (maps aplenty though oddly hard to find one showing both Halabja and the no-fly zone, spatial relation time) or just get yourself an atlas.
    Also, if you are just going to tell me that you reject everything I said because anyone who finds factual criticism with anything that attacks Bushco must be making shit up just to cover for the incompetence of the administration, save it. Not everyone views this thing like a football game.

  15. chthus,

    Halabja was surrounded by Kurd fighters before the March 2003 invasion. How long had they been surrounding it?

  16. In a way, this fits in with the flu vaccine shortage.

    Under Kerry, don’t you think the head of HHS would be certain to make sure that the head of the FDA was making sure that flu shots were on there way?

    Instead, under Bush, the FDA didn’t inspect the Liverpool factory all throughout 2004, despite knowing about a problem in 2003 and that the factory had had a few problems in the past.

    And, consider al Qaqaa. Why didn’t news of things like this filter up to Bush, and why didn’t he do things about it?

    Someone who’s familiar with management issues could speak about this better, but it looks like their whole management system is broken. With obviously horrendous results for the country.

  17. Have you seen the Material Safety Data Sheet for sodium chloride?

    Don’t worry, Henry David. If it is diluted in enough dihydrogen monoxide, and ingested over a long enough time period, it is fairly harmless.


  18. Under Kerry, don’t you think the head of HHS would be certain to make sure that the head of the FDA was making sure that flu shots were on there way?

    Why on earth should anybody think that? Because of his reputation for dilligent attention to detail, and machine-like efficiency?

  19. Umbriel,

    Uh, yes. All of Kerry’s most significant achievements in public life – from mob convictions to the BCCI investigation to the research on POW claims and the re-establishment of relations with Vietnam – have demonstrated exactly the sort of nuts-n-bolts wonkery and close study that you scoff at.

    I guess I come to this with the advantage of having watched Kerry’s career in real time, rather than learning about him based on Bush’s (and his own) silly campaign stunts.

  20. why oh why oh why oh why oh why did the LP pick a dove with no no no vision of foreign policy as a “spoiler” for Bush? yeah, Badnarik was baited, but that’s because his position [get troops out of iraq in 3-6 months because it’s oh-so-so-so baaaaaad waaaaaahboohoo] is so unbelievably defeatist and pathetic that he deserved to be baited and crushed by a pathetic lil’ afternoon talk show hostess. i’m still votin’ for the sonofabitch, but c’mmmmmmmmon. was there a libertarian hawk in the running this year?

  21. Why would the LP waste its energy running a pro-war candidate? Polls show 30-40% of Americans favor either an immediate pull-out from Iraq or a pull-out as quick as can be done safely. Neither the Republicans nor Democrats were running a candidate promising that. As a third-party, it makes infinitely more sense to run a candidate who appeals to voters whose interests are being ignored, rather than run on a me-too platform.

  22. Jason,

    No one had Halabja surrounded at any point, nor would it have made any sense. The reason I used the term NEAR Halabja is that it is the closest notably sized city on most maps and it’s history makes it easy to remember. Ansar al-Islam had actually taken over a few smaller villages acouple kms east and east-northeast of Halabja. Their bases were in a mountainous region slightly closer to the Iran border than these.
    As for having these areas surrounded, the Kurds didn’t. One, they took up enough area that surrounding wasn’t plausible for a force their size. Second, surrounding them would have placed Kurd troops in Iran.
    They did have them at least engaged from as far back as Ansar’s start up around Aug/Sept, 2001.

    Hope that helps.

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