Friday, October 31, 2003

The Memory Hole: An Indispensable Source of Information

For anyone interested in learning about documents, stories, and events concerning American foreign policy (and other matters as well) that ought to be widely known but aren't, I urge you to check out a web site known as The Memory Hole, whose motto is "rescuing knowledge, freeing information." Russ Kick, who came up with the site, is relentless, creative and highly skilled in tracking down and making available source documents that those in authority would rather escape public notice. I depend heavily on this site for reliable leads. To visit the site, see The Memory Hole

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Values Clarification for Foreign Policy: New Site Launches

American Choices is an interactive self-assessment that helps users understand today’s foreign policy debates. By taking a 12-question survey, users get a sophisticated but accessible analysis of their stand on foreign policy issues, and how it compares with that of others. You can preview the new site by going to American Choices

The site's sponsors believe that American Choices can help people cut through the highly charged foreign policy debate, and contribute to making the American conversation less polarized and more informed. The goal is to get 100,000 people to consider our foreign policy options through American Choices by the end of November.

American Choices was developed in conjunction with the MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour and By The People. It is available free of charge thanks to a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

A Foreign-Policy Emergency

by Robert Kuttner
Nov. 1, 2003

The hallmark of the Bush foreign policy has been a naive radicalism married to an operational incompetence. A small clique with a preconceived blueprint took advantage of a national emergency and a callow president, blowing a containable threat into war while dismissing more ominous menaces. These people are out to remake the world, with little sense of risk, proportion or history. At this writing, the president's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, has seized some authority over the Iraq policy from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who responded with adolescent pique. The long-abused Secretary of State Colin Powell offered new respect for the UN. President Bush even directly contradicted Vice President Dick Cheney's discredited claim of a link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.

In a different administration, these shifts would signal that the chief executive, clearly in control, had recognized the misjudgments and costs of a failed policy, demoted those responsible and shifted authority to others. But Bush seems incapable of that kind of decisiveness or discernment. These are mere skirmishes, indicative of the absence of leadership at the top. Bush is as callow as ever. The man even boasts that he never reads the papers.

For the rest of this biting analysis of the Bush foreign policy, see The American Prospect

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

The Man Who Knew

Oct. 15, 2003
CBSNews--"60 minutes II"

In the run-up to the war in Iraq, one moment seemed to be a turning point: the day Secretary of State Colin Powell went to the United Nations to make the case for the invasion.

Millions of people watched as he laid out the evidence and reached a damning conclusion -- that Saddam Hussein was in possession of weapons of mass destruction.

Correspondent Scott Pelley has an interview with Greg Thielmann, a former expert on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Thielmann, a foreign-service officer for 25 years, now says that key evidence in the speech was misrepresented and the public was deceived.
“I had a couple of initial reactions. Then I had a more mature reaction,” says Thielmann, commenting on Powell's presentation to the United Nations.

“I think my conclusion now is that it's probably one of the low points in his long, distinguished service to the nation.”

Thielmann's last job at the State Department was director of the Office of Strategic Proliferation and Military Affairs, which was responsible for analyzing the Iraqi weapons threat for Secretary Powell. He and his staff had the highest security clearances, and everything – whether it came into the CIA or the Defense Department – came through his office.

For the rest of the CBS interview with Thielmann, see

Monday, October 13, 2003

Rice Fails to Repair Rifts, Officials Say
Cabinet Rivalries Complicate Her Role

By Glenn Kessler and Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, October 12, 2003; Page A01

Last week, the White House announced that national security adviser Condoleezza Rice had been given the new responsibility of managing the struggling effort to rebuild Iraq. In the words of one official, Rice would "crack the whip, frankly."

The announcement was met by puzzlement throughout the foreign policy community: Isn't that what the national security adviser is supposed to do in the first place?

Rice has proved to be a poised and articulate defender of President Bush's policies. But her management of the National Security Council -- the principal coordinator and enforcer of presidential decision making -- has come under fire from former and current administration officials and a range of foreign policy experts. To read the rest of this "all is not well in national security circles" piece, see Washington Post

Friday, October 10, 2003

Iraq War Background on PBS' "Nightline"

PBS' "Frontline" presented an outstanding 90 minute program on "The Long Road to War, [Oct. 9]" concerning the process by which America decided to intervene in Iraq. For those who missed it you can watch the program on line or get a detailed time line of US statements, and extensive interviews with key individuals beyond what was shown on TV at "Frontline"

Saturday, October 04, 2003

The Elusive Iraqi Weapons

The New York Times, Editorial
Oct. 4, 2003

The most striking findings in David Kay's interim report on the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq are his revelations about the backward state of Iraq's chemical and nuclear programs. Based on the evidence gathered so far in three months of searching, it seems clear that these programs barely existed and posed no immediate threat to the global community. To the contrary, it looks as if international inspectors succeeded in reducing or eliminating Iraq's arsenals and dedicated production capacity, forcing Saddam Hussein to lie low and wait for a new opportunity. For the rest of this editorial dealing with the interim report on the search for WMD in Iraq, see New York Times

Wanna Buy a Bridge?

Washington Post
By Colbert I. King
Saturday, October 4, 2003; Page A19

"And on a rough recollection, oil revenues of that country could bring in between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years. We're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon."

-- Deputy Secretary of Defense and key Iraqi war architect Paul Wolfowitz, March 27 (from the Oct. 1 Congressional Record).

Now, would you buy a used car from that man?

For the rest of this biting examination of the Bush Administration's claims about the Iraq situation, see King's full column Washington Post