The administration's latest memory lapse is remembering where our enemies in Iraq got their weapons.
February 16, 2007
ACCORDING TO the defense lawyers at his trial, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby didn't lie to investigators about his role in outing covert CIA agent Valerie Plame. He was just so darn busy with pressing national security matters that he kept forgetting the chummy chats about Plame he'd had with NBC's Tim Russert and Time magazine's Matt Cooper — not to mention his two-hour lunch on the same subject with Judith Miller (late of the New York Times).
The ladies and gentlemen of the press appear skeptical about Libby's "bad memory" defense. But, personally, I find his claim entirely credible.
After all, in the run-up to the Iraq war, President Bush was so busy with pressing national security matters that he completely forgot to ask any questions about the gaping holes in the intelligence presented to him. Condoleezza Rice was so busy with pressing national security matters that she forgot to take false information about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction out of Bush's 2003 State of the Union address, even though the CIA told her that it was false. Dick Cheney was so busy with pressing national security matters (water-boarding prisoners; shooting small animals) that he totally forgot you're not supposed to pressure people to come up with bogus intelligence in the first place.
And the easily forgettable journalists mentioned above were so busy enjoying their access to administration national security officials that they forgot that journalists are supposed to actually investigate stuff, instead of just breathlessly repeating what an "anonymous source" told them over lunch.
Given all the forgetting that was going on back in 2003, why shouldn't we believe that Scooter had a faulty memory too?
Astute observers will have noticed that there's still an awful lot of national security-related forgetting going on today. The Bush administration, for instance, has already forgotten that relying on questionable intelligence can lead to disaster and has taken to announcing direct Iranian involvement in attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq as if it were incontrovertible fact.
According to some anonymous U.S. officials at a very secret, no-recording-or-photography-allowed session in Baghdad on Sunday, U.S. forces have discovered Iranian-made components in some of the bombs used by Iraqi insurgents. Naturally (having forgotten that there might be no war in Iraq at all if it hadn't been for excessive media respect for anonymous sources), every U.S. media outlet dutifully played along and reported the claims. Of course, those claims are hard to verify because both the evidence and the identity of the officials are secret.
Meanwhile, Bush, who keeps forgetting that our intelligence has at times been dangerously wrong, insists that he "can say with certainty that the Quds force, a part of the Iranian government, has provided these sophisticated IEDs that have harmed our troops…. When we find the networks that are enabling these weapons to end up in Iraq, we will deal with them."
Reinforce your bomb shelter, President Ahmadinejad.
Oh, wait; I forgot something too! (Just so you know, I'm also really busy thinking about pressing national security matters.) My fellow Americans, it is my duty to reveal to you that Iran is not the only powerful state that's arming the Iraqi insurgents. On the contrary. There's equally solid evidence that another major world power has been providing the Iraqi insurgents with thousands of new RPGs, machine guns, sniper rifles and other weapons.
Just who is behind this act of hostility? The United States — or anyway, the U.S. Department of Defense.
You heard me. According to the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, about 14,000 of the weapons bought (with your tax dollars!) for distribution to Iraqi security forces got, um, misplaced somewhere between getting to Iraq and being transferred to the Iraqi army and police. Instead, analysts say, many of those weapons ended up in the hands of You Know Who.
And that's not even counting the weapons that do get delivered to the Iraqi forces but are "lost," and then reappear shortly thereafter in black market weapons bazaars, where they can be bought by the bad guys and used against our troops.
Is Bush aware that an agency of the U.S. government is providing weapons to the Iraqi insurgents? Or is he so busy with other pressing national security matters that he forgot to read the inspector general's report?
As with Iran, I suppose it doesn't really matter whether Bush knows that U.S. weapons are ending up with insurgents. He said it best himself, when discussing the Iranian government's responsibility for supplying weapons to Iraqi insurgents: "Either [top Iranian officials] knew or didn't know" that Iranian weapons were going to end up with insurgents, but "what matters … is that they're there. What's worse, that the government knew or that the government didn't know?"
Indeed. But do me a favor, OK? If you pass this along, just say you forgot where you read it.