Tony’s New Job

Bush announced that Tony Snow will be his new press secretary:

President Bush announced his new White House press secretary on Wednesday: former Fox News host Tony Snow.

“As a professional journalist, Tony Snow understands the importance of the relationship between government and those whose job it is to cover the government,” Bush said during a White House appearance.

Snow replaces Scott McClellan, who announced last week he would step down during a West Wing makeover by Josh Bolten, the new White House chief of staff.

Snow, 50, was a weekend news anchor and political analyst for the Fox News Channel, which he joined in 1996. He also hosted “The Tony Snow Show” on Fox News Radio.

Some quick thoughts:

1.) I have no idea what would motivate ANYONE to be the WH press secretary for ANY administration.

2.) Why anyone would want to be the press secretary for THIS administration makes even less sense.

3.) I would have chosen someone who was not affiliated with Fox news, for the obvious reasons.

4.) I haven’t seen anyone do it yet, but I am sure by this time next week I will be ready to slug people who use the phrase ‘snow job’ and think they are being clever.

That having been said, Tony Snow didn’t seem like a crazy person on the news shows I have seen him do, but I have heard him be occassionally hacktacular on his own show. I guess we will find out and see which Tony Snow we get.

Open Thread

Guys, please bear with me. I am just swamped trying to get things done, and I am having major problems with one of my projects- leading to about 80 students who can not view their final exams yet. A disaster, in other words.

I will be back, I swear. I hate finals.

Lateral Move

White House flack to become White House flack. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Bush will not salvage his presidency by firing his press secretary, not unless the Defense Secretary, the Secretary of Homeland Security and probably the Vice President follow McClellan out the door, but it will not hurt to bring on a press secretary who has enough art to make bullshit taste like something other than dirt and fermented hay.

Your Hate Magnet Du Jour

Congratulations to Mary McCarthy, this week’s rightwing hate magnet. Whether or not she committed a crime remains to be seen, but you can practically smell the flopsweat as the rightwing blogosphere dances chanting around her burning effigy in an effort to drive away unpleasant visions of a fading party and a presidency sunk beyond repair.

Don’t get me wrong, McCarthy appears to have committed a breach of some sort (although she now denies it, see link at bottom) and will likely face more retribution for her actions than simply losing her job. That is fine with me, as far as I am concerned anybody who breaks the law should be ready to go to jail. If you broke the law for what you see as a good reason, fine, go to jail and feel good about it. Movement-wise jail did no harm to Martin Luther King or Ghandi. It is also fine with me if rightwingers want to spin elaborate theories in which every one of their hated enemies will get sucked into a web of conspiracy and go down en masse. Good luck with that guys, I’m sure that those Wilson indictments are just around the corner.

Apparently among other crimes McCarthy gave money to the Democratic party. Score one for the Partisan Activist smear. By the same logic convicted spy Larry Franklin must damn the entire neoconservative circle in which he ran, correct? The Wolfowitzes and Perles who feted Franklin and treated him like a cherished pal must answer for their questionable connections. Hearings, I say, we need hearings! Or not. You see, Larry Franklin was a Republican so what he did was ok, and even if it somehow hurt America it certainly does not say anything bad about Republicans even though he was tightly knit into their leading circle. Just one low-ranking bad apple. It makes no sense to exonerate Franklin’s friends and indict McCarthy’s, but good luck telling that to someone when they have a good simmering hate on.

Another logical pretzel holds that America does not really disappear foreign suspects into gulag-style prisons that operate outside any sort of legal oversight, but McCarthy damaged American security by making people think that we do. Huh? If you want to hang her for treason, as some commenters and a particularly frothy emailer clearly do, then you have to figure that she damaged actual operations. You can’t have it both ways.

Anyhow the NYT story casting doubt on the prisons story comes to no conclusion for or against – the official claiming to have found no incontrovertible proof has hardly claimed that they do not exist, and his opinion appears far from unanimous among commissioners. Eventually the truth will out and somebody will be proven wrong, but the facts remain too unclear to justify the joyous dancing that the article engendered.


Other points on the same subject:

Note the sadly unsurprising way that the president has set about to clean up the intelligence service:

The White House also has recently barraged the agency with questions about the political affiliations of some of its senior intelligence officers, according to intelligence officials.

That’s right folks, the real problem with intelligence is that it is not partisan enough. I suppose that with Iran we won’t have those pesky dissenters getting in the way of a unanimous threat assessment they way they did with Iraq.

Finally, this will undoubtedly provide more meat for the partisan frothing. Rand Beers indeed.

Not Dead

Just in the middle of something.

Should be back later today. If there are things you want to discuss, this is the place to do it.

Our Leadership In A Nutshell

If you missed 60 Minutes this weekend rest assured that they remain the same nest of anti-American terrorist-lovers, or whatever we call people with the temerity to criticize the president. An extended interview with Tyler Drumheller, a 26-year veteran of the agency and former director of European operations, uncovered at least two extremely interesting bits of information.

First, the most important prewar intelligence coup that you never heard about:

[T]he CIA had made a major intelligence breakthrough on Iraq’s nuclear program. Naji Sabri, Iraq’s foreign minister, had made a deal to reveal Iraq’s military secrets to the CIA. Drumheller was in charge of the operation.

“This was a very high inner circle of Saddam Hussein. Someone who would know what he was talking about,” Drumheller says.

Talk about credible sources. Did the White House know that we had such a high-placed informant? You bet:

According to Drumheller, CIA Director George Tenet delivered the news about the Iraqi foreign minister at a high-level meeting at the White House, including the president, the vice president and Secretary of State Rice.

At that meeting, Drumheller says, “They were enthusiastic because they said, they were excited that we had a high-level penetration of Iraqis.”

With every level of our administration on tenterhooks, the Iraqi foreign minister delivered his bombshell:

What did this high-level source tell him?

“He told us that they had no active weapons of mass destruction program,” says Drumheller.

If you guessed that our leaders’ “enthusiasm” would not survive having their preconceived notions contradicted, congratulations:

“The group that was dealing with preparation for the Iraq war came back and said they’re no longer interested,” Drumheller recalls. “And we said, ‘Well, what about the intel?’ And they said, ‘Well, this isn’t about intel anymore. This is about regime change.'”

“And if I understand you correctly, when the White House learned that you had this source from the inner circle of Saddam Hussein, they were thrilled with that,” Bradley asked.

“The first we heard, they were. Yes,” Drumheller replied.

Once they learned what it was the source had to say — that Saddam Hussein did not have the capability to wage nuclear war or have an active WMD program, Drumheller says, “They stopped being interested in the intelligence.”

Condoleeza Rice responded to the story by insisting that we had “other sources.” That’s right, we had Curveball.

There you have everything that you need to know about our leadership in one tidy anecdote. When they found out that we had turned the best-placed informant imaginable they practically soiled themselves in anticipation, until they heard what he had to say. Then his testimony suddenly seemed less interesting than the latest brain dropping from some serial-fabricating expatriate who couldn’t be bothered to keep his multiple stories straight.

When it came to promoting the Iraq war positive information couldn’t make it to the press fast enough. Pesky concepts like declassification and dissenting analysts just seemed to go up in smoke when pro-war leakmeisters like Judith Miller or your average stenographer at FOX came calling. Somehow negative information like Sabri’s testimony never received the same celebrity treatment.

CNN puts a finer point on it:

CBS said the White House declined to respond to the charge and that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said Sabri was just one source and therefore not reliable.

But Drumheller said it was not unusual for the administration to rely on single-source stories when those stories confirmed what the White House wanted to hear.

He cited a report the CIA received in late 2001 that alleged Iraq had bought 500 tons of uranium-containing compounds from Africa.

“They certainly took information that came from single sources on the yellowcake story and on several other stories with no corroboration at all,” he said.

The second important revelation from Sunday’s interview is that it was a revelation at all. As Josh Marshall points out we have had two major investigations into pre-war intelligence, one hand-picked by the president (the Robb-Silbermann commission) and one run Pat Roberts, whose shameless toadying embarrasses even the right-wing editorial board of the Wichita Eagle. It makes no sense that two separate commissions tasked with investigating prewar Iraq intelligence would both fail to mention America’s single most important intelligence coup from the prewar period. Either the respective chairmen of both commissions are mind-bogglingly stupid, or else the goal of illuminating took a backseat to covering up.

Josh Marshall confirmed that both commissions repeatedly interviewed Drumheller about Sabri, so stupid is not an option.

POSTCSCRIPT – can you guess which dishonest credibility smear Drumheller’s attackers will choose? As always the choices are Partisan Activist, Mentally Imbalanced, Disgruntled Ex-Employee and Promoting a Book.

Hint: he has a book coming out.

Saturday Thread

Get it off your chest.