Sunday, July 20, 2003

The current scandal over the series of lies told by the Bush Administration to trick Congress and the American people into the utterly disastrous attack on Iraq has numerous parallels with the Watergate scandal:

  1. The most obvious parallel is how this scandal is starting to feel like the Watergate scandal. We are seeing the same constant series of small developments, each one contradicting the latest attempt by the Bush Administration to lie itself out of trouble. Each day, you can read the newspaper articles and expect to see a new revelation damaging to Bush. Even more reminiscent of Watergate, many of these articles are appearing in the moribund Washington Post, which had become a sad mockery of its former self having fallen to the status of a mere government propaganda sheet. We are also seeing exactly the same attempts at holding back the tide by Republican legislators, failing each time due to the unremitting series of damaging leaks. We even now have a political murder in the death of David Kelly, which reminds me of the mysterious plane crash of the airliner containing Dorothy Hunt, wife of Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt, who immediately got the message and stopped being difficult and pled guilty. Kelly's death will ensure that poodle Tony won't have to put up with any more annoying leaks.

  2. At a deeper level, the Watergate matter only became important when Nixon, in a stupid and clumsy move, tried to blackmail the CIA into helping him out of the problem by threatening to reveal what he knew about the CIA's role in the JFK assassination (what Nixon referred to as 'the whole Bay of Pigs thing'). This brought the wrath of the 'Company' down upon him, and effectively sealed his fate. Karl Rove has made a similar mistake in having Tenet make the humiliating admission that the inclusion of the Niger uranium allegations in the State of the Union address was entirely the fault of the CIA (particularly galling in that the CIA did everything it could to keep the Niger allegations from being used). This was a massive tactical error for two reasons:

    • it angered the CIA, which knows where all the bodies are buried and has an unsurpassed mastery of the slow leak of damaging information to select journalists; and

    • by having the admission of responsibility happen so soon, Rove has removed any reason for the CIA to lie, which means that everything the CIA says on this issue has 100% credibility (so when Joseph of the Bush Administration directly contradicts Foley of the CIA on the key point, and Foley has absolutely no reason to lie, who are you going to believe?).

    The romanticized notion that journalists cracked open the Watergate case has been replaced by the idea that the leakers of information controlled the whole process of the downfall of Nixon. Instead of being some kind of victory for the 'system', it appears that Watergate may just have been another in the series of coup d'etats which plague American politics, with Nixon being removed because of fears that his attempts at being a great President might have led him to end the Cold War twenty years early, thus causing great harm to the military-industrial complex. In the current case, insulting the CIA may have triggered the series of leaks, but we have to delve deeper into Watergate parallels to understand more of the symmetry.

  3. One of the oddities about Watergate is that we still don't know why it happened. There have been at least three deep and dark suggestions:

    • one theory is that the Watergate burglary had something to do with a call-girl ring which was being used for sexual political blackmail in Washington (an even odder theory is that John Dean's actions were motivated by his attempts to cover up Mo Biner's involvement in this call-girl ring, a theory which has fairly recent reverberations);

    • another theory is that the whole Watergate matter was deeply connected with the financing of the American political process by foreign countries in order to obtain favorable foreign policy treatment from the United States; and

    • finally, the most interesting theory is that the whole Watergate matter turned on a turf war between the Pentagon and Henry Kissinger.

    So what are the parallels to the current scandal?

  4. I don't see any parallel to the sexual blackmail aspect of Watergate, although you would think that the kind of holier-than-thou evangelical Christians who have taken over the White House would be the kind of hypocrites who would find themselves in this kind of trouble, so it is something to watch out for in the future.

  5. The foreign involvement in American politics has an exact parallel in the current case, with the curious influence of Israel over American foreign and military policy. We know that Ariel Sharon's office had a direct line to the sausage factory of the Office of Special Plans (or here or here), and played a direct role in the production of the 100% beef sausages which justified the attack on Iraq (there were so many sausages involved, they actually seem to have had a production line to make them). Indeed, with all the Zionist neocons in and around the White House-Pentagon axis, many of whom actually seem to hold Israeli passports and all of whom show much more loyalty to the interests of Israel than to the interests of the United States, it is not unfair to say that the United States has been acting like a colony of Israel (instead of the other way around). If the American people ever come to realize the treason that has been involved here in tricking them into a new Vietnam all for the benefit of the Likudniks, Bush won't last longer than Nixon.

  6. Finally, there are parallels to the Pentagon-State Department conflict in Nixon's White House. Basically, Kissinger had decided that he alone was going to run all American foreign and military policy, and had excluded the Pentagon from even participating in the debate. Things got so bad that the Joint Chiefs of Staff actually attempted to put a spy in the White House, but were caught, and had to be forgiven by Nixon (probably Nixon's first mistake). This conflict seems to have precipitated a decision to remove Nixon, and Alexander Haig's role in this remains a large part of the whole mystery (read the whole story here - a must read!). In the current case, the problem is exactly the mirror image of Nixon's problem. In this case, the Pentagon has taken over all the military and foreign policy planning of the American government, completely squeezing out the State Department. At the same time, the Office of Special Plans has been created to produce 'intelligence' to support the plans of the Pentagon, and the CIA has been completely excluded from any meaningful role in gathering and analyzing information. The improper concentration of power in the military has led to a view of every issue in the world as a military issue, with the resulting debacles in Afghanistan and Iraq, and no doubt Iran, Syria and North Korea in the future. All this is in line with the neocon quasi-fascist ideology (Ledeen), which would like to see the United States constantly involved in wars all over the world, and regards diplomacy as a sign of weakness. These people simply like wars and the accompanying military ethos which would pervade American society, and their views are a recipe for disaster. The lies which deceived the United States into the attack on Iraq are the symptoms of this disease, and the reaction of the American body politic to the disease is the series of leaks we are beginning to see.

If the Watergate parallels play out we should see an ongoing series of small leaks each in response to a White House attempt at deception. The scandal will eventually focus on the process of the cover-up, and the additional illegalities which will no doubt have to occur. In no event can Bush admit that American foreign policy is controlled by and for the exclusive benefit of Israel, so he will have to ask people to lie. We'll also be hearing a lot of the concept of 'executive privilege', as he attempts to keep conspirators from testifying. Eventually, he'll have to start sacrificing some of the neocons in an attempt to make the problem go away. Someone will get caught in a lie, or will try to save themselves from allegations of treason, and will start to squeal. Moderate Republicans will start to get cold feet, and things may get quite dicey for Bush. On the other hand, and what is far more likely, the disgusting American media will order that reporters stop working on this story and the whole thing will disappear.