Memo To: Website Fans, Browsers, Clients
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: The President’s National Security Advisor
For some reason which I cannot explain, the Bush administration’s heavy hitters on foreign policy last weekend kept out of sight. Instead, they sent a nice girl to do a man’s job. Condi appeared on several shows to explain that we have to bomb the bejeesus out of Baghdad because Saddam Hussein is a really, really bad guy who commits unspeakable atrocities. Here she was on FoxNewsSunday in a powderpuff interview by Tony Snow:
SNOW: Do you think the protesters are naive?
RICE: I just think that it would be worthwhile to step back -- it's fine to protest -- but to step back and to remember the true nature of the Iraqi regime, to remember how they rape and torture, to remember how they kill women in front of their families to make a point, to remember that he's acquiring and has acquired weapons of mass destruction, that he's used chemical weapons on his own population and on his neighbors, and to ask yourself, "Do you really want this regime to go unchallenged for the next 12 years, as we've done for the last 12 years?"
And then on to Tim Russert with NBC’s Meet the Press....
RICE: I thought that Prime Minister Blair was really quite eloquent the other day, on Saturday, when he talked about the long-suffering Iraqi people. These are people who are tortured, who are beaten, whose tongues are cut out for saying anything against the government.
In fact, in the days that followed, here was Condi, a National Security Advisor who is eminently qualified to teach Russian history, which is what the warhawks found her doing at Stanford. But in her White House job, all she does is take dictation from Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and the other tough guys at the Pentagon, so I usually tune out when I see her pretty face on the tube. But as she seemed to be everywhere on Sunday, I had not choice but listen to her prattle on about Saddam’s atrocities, stories that have been recycled again and again over the years by the Perle Team. I e-mailed Tony Snow and asked if it had crossed his mind where all these atrocity stories were coming from. The President, after all, has been citing some of them as well. But as FoxNews is knocking the stuffing out of CNN these days by beating the war drums, I suppose Tony has little choice but to march with the other real men at his network.
Actually, there has never been any confirmation about any of these gruesome stories by the intelligence agencies. I don’t recall Secretary of State Colin Powell ever citing them, as he probably knows they were spun by Perle and his buddies, who had access to the raw files of the CIA in the latter days of the Reagan administration and fed them to a man named Kanan Makiya, who turned the files into a 1989 bestseller, “Republic of Fear.” In case you do not understand “raw files,” that means Perle or Wolfowitz or their sidekick, Frank Gaffney, could slip these stories into the CIA mailbox, without attribution, and the CIA would put them into their files. As Saddam Hussein has been a player in the Middle East for 40 years and has more enemies than you can shake a stick at, the CIA’s raw files are bulging with stories about atrocities and rapes and tongues being snipped out. Kanan Makiya is a celebrity around the Bush administration these days, even getting to meet President Bush recently, a visit probably arranged by Condi. Makiya’s supply of atrocity stories is endless. One of my favorites came from David Ignatius of the Washington Post last October 6:
Makiya and other Iraqi dissidents describe scenes of unimaginable cruelty--children thrown from helicopters to force their parents to confess to crimes against the regime, for example...To quote one horrific passage from the British government report on Iraq: “Prisoners at the Qurtiyya Prison in Baghdad and elsewhere are kept in metal boxes the size of tea chests. If they do not confess, they are left to die.”
In case you forget, folks, somewhere in the Pentagon there is an Office of Strategic Influence, which does not go by that name, but which according to the NYTimes employs the same people who floated the story in 1990 that the Iraqi troops who invaded Kuwait had fun in a maternity ward, yanking infants out of incubators and leaving them to die on the floor. The story was designed to get several U.S. Senators who were suspicious about signing on to the Gulf War, and five of them on the fence gagged on the atrocity story and voted “aye.” It was subsequently revealed that the New York PR firm had cooked up the story and that the eye-witness to the horrific scene was none other than the daughter of Kuwait’s information minister. Most recently, the story was floated that actual documents existed showing that Saddam Hussein employed a professional rapist, until a closer examination of the documents showed they constituted an indictment of a man for rape, and were not employment papers.
Do I believe any of the stories about Saddam Hussein’s brutality? Let me put it this way: I cannot believe any specific story just because it has been in the papers over and over again. But do I believe Saddam’s regime has sanctioned torture, assassinations and other human rights abuses? Of course I do. But there is not a single country in the Middle East that has not engaged in such uncivilized behavior. Israel acknowledges it has routinely engaged in such practices and that it is forced to do so to defend itself against its foes. The Middle East has been a nasty place for a long time.
Of course Condaleezza Rice believes all stories about Saddam. So does President Bush, because his office is set up to feed him nothing but propaganda. And he has a compassionate heart that is filled with disgust, with the idea that Saddam is skulking around in one of his palaces doing terrible things to little girls. Come to think of it, this is exactly what happened to President Clinton in 1993, when he was advised the Branch Davidians were doing unspeakable things to the little girls in their Waco compound. Hilary Clinton was so outraged that she simply demanded that action be taken forthwith, to save the children from the monsters holed up in the compound. So the Feds burned down the whole place, killing everyone therein, including all the little girls, who no longer had to face a fate worse than death.
Now Condaleezza, bless her heart, is urging America’s allies to join us in campaign to drop 3000 bombs on Baghdad, a city of 4.5 million, just for starters. By gosh, Saddam Hussein might not have any weapons of mass destruction at the moment, but he is really a bad guy. We have to save those little Iraqi girls.