"You're a funny man, Sully ...

that's why I'm going to kill you last."


Friday, March 11, 2005


The inestimable Mr. Whiteside writes of Sullivan’s privacy blather:
While actual journalists are writing about things like the personal data policies, Andrew has discovered that now, people are prying into things that famous people do and say! And with this newfangled email, people sometimes forward what someone says to them onto other people — why, that was completely impossible with letters! How could you show them to anyone, or copy them? He also talks about W’s phone conversations being tapped. Why, no one ever taped a famous person’s phone calls before! This truly is a whole new world.

posted by Sully 3/11/2005 02:23:00 PM


Wholly Without Merit John raps Sully’s knuckles over his Gannon/Guckert post.

posted by Sully 3/11/2005 02:09:00 PM


As we patiently noted a year ago today (and to give credit where credit is due P O’Neill did as well (gotta love that timestamp for that post!)), to shorthand the Madrid train bombings as “3/11” is not only incorrect but insensitive, subtly trying to frame a Spanish tragedy for American aims.

posted by Sully 3/11/2005 02:01:00 PM

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


Now, to the other bucket of neocon swill Sullivan carried yesterday, for John Bolton ...

Everyone knows this is a consolation prize for not getting to be Secretary of State. But Bolton shouldn’t be UN ambassador either. “Strong U.N. critic”? Yes, but Kirkpatrick and Moynihan accepted the legitimacy of the organization in a way that Bolton, as Matt Yglesias reminds us at TAPped, never has:
It might make sense to appoint an ambassador who’s very skeptical of the UN’s efficacy in order to let that person kick a little ass and push for some worthy reforms that could make the UN more useful. Bolton, however, isn’t like that at all. He’s opposed to permanent multilateral institutions and international law in principle. He’s on the record as saying that even when some piece of international law appears to serve short-term U.S. interests we ought to still oppose it and try to undermine it because the very concept of international law is a long-term plot against America. Any action that would appear to give legitimacy to the concept is, therefore, to be avoided. Even if we could do something really great through Security Council resolutions, treaties, and international tribunals Bolton would say we shouldn’t do it. Indeed, his view is that it’s especially important not to resort to international law when international law might work, because the threat isn’t that international law is ineffective but that it might become effective.
For the real dope, Matt sends us to Ed Kilgore, who on this post at least puts the “Democrat” in “New Democrat”:
Is there a single constructive impulse in administration foreign policy that Bolton hasn’t mocked or rejected in the past? Hard to think of one. U.N. reform? Bolton seems to think the organization is inherently an affront to U.S. power. Collective action to stop genocide? Bolton has opposed any U.N. role in “civil conflicts,” up to and including genocide, and as the country's best-known critic of U.S. cooperation with the International Criminal Court, he's certainly not in a good position to propose any immediate effort to bring the Darfur murderers to justice. Engagement with China to bring that country more fully into the community of rules-observing nations? As a former hired hand of the Taiwanese government, and an outspoken proponent of formal Taiwanese independence, Bolton isn’t likely to get onto drinking-buddy terms with Beijing’s representatives at the U.N.

You read it here first. Bolton’s diplomatic skills are fine for pro wrestling, as his infamous exchange with North Korea shows, but not for American interests at the United Nations.

Also, thanks to that Wikipedia page, here’s David Corn on just how loose a cannon Bolton is (besides participating in the Florida election recount personally):

Last year, he single-handedly tried to revise U.S. nuclear policy by asserting that Washington no longer felt bound to state that it would not use nuclear weapons against nations that do not possess nuclear weapons. (A State Department spokesman quickly claimed that Bolton had not said what he had indeed said.) Bolton also claimed that Cuba was developing biological weapons — a charge that was not substantiated by any evidence and that was challenged by experts. In July, he was about to allege in congressional testimony that Syria posed a weapons-of-mass-destruction threat before the CIA and other agencies, who considered his threat assessment to be exaggerated, objected to his statement.

When England, France and Germany recently tried to develop a carrot-and-stick approach in negotiating an end to Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program, Bolton huffed, “I don’t do carrots.”

OK. Any more questions?

posted by Sully 3/09/2005 11:08:00 AM

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Apparently Sullivan has gotten glum that we seem to have forgotten what he used to be like, so he put forth two reminders today with his posts on Bolton and Wolfowitz.

Would he please disclose the extent of his personal acquaintanceship with the latter? Because that would help make clear why he can’t understand the demonization of this man (and why we consider him to be trying to humanize a demon).

Bush may be incompetent, unintelligent and vindictive, among many other things, but we can see how people could like him.

Wolfowitz, along with Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, is evil. Not Mike Myers funny-evil. Satanic evil.

Yes, way back when he was Reagan’s ambassador to Indonesia he warmed the hearts of that country’s populace with a strong pro-democracy speech to the country’s autocratic rulers. Yes, he’s stood up for Iranian dissidents. Yes, he’s been heckled by Zionists for his support for a Palestinian state (enough, perhaps, that he has done little other than state that ... it’s not like he actually has to help bring it about or anything).

But don’t let his good deeds offset the other side of the ledger, where the blood-red ink runs pretty thick.

Go back to before Reagan, when Wolfowitz was one of the notorious “Team B” that was used by neocons to paint the CIA as passive underestimators of the Soviet Threat.

... [T]he entire framework for what would later become known as the neo-cons was formed by Team B, as can be seen from this passage by Zeynep Toufe (Ronald Reagan, Neo-Cons, and the “Intelligence Failure” of the Cold War: Déjà Vu All Over Again – June 10, 2004): “One can trace the first policy victory of the neo-conservatives to the creation of the infamous “Team B” in the seventies where a panel was authorized by then-CIA chief George Herbert Walker Bush, and whose members included Daniel Pipes and Paul Wolfowitz, whose architect was Richard Perle, and whose backers included Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.”

Minor correction there; that’s Richard Pipes, the father, not Daniel, the son (people do get them confused). As one of Sullivan’s many great and good Harvard buddies, Fareed Zakaria, points out, forgotten today is that while it made headlines at the time, they got it way wrong:

It all started with the now famous “Team B” exercise. During the early 1970s, hard-line conservatives pilloried the CIA for being soft on the Soviets. As a result, CIA Director George Bush agreed to allow a team of outside experts to look at the intelligence and come to their own conclusions. Team B — which included Paul Wolfowitz — produced a scathing report, claiming that the Soviet threat had been badly underestimated.

In retrospect, Team B’s conclusions were wildly off the mark. Describing the Soviet Union, in 1976, as having “a large and expanding Gross National Product,” it predicted that it would modernize and expand its military at an awesome pace. For example, it predicted that the Backfire bomber “probably will be produced in substantial numbers, with perhaps 500 aircraft off the line by early 1984.” In fact, the Soviets had 235 in 1984.

The reality was that even the CIA’s own estimates — savaged as too low by Team B — were, in retrospect, gross exaggerations. In 1989, the CIA published an internal review of its threat assessments from 1974 to 1986 and came to the conclusion that every year it had “substantially overestimated” the Soviet threat along all dimensions.

If you want to have some real fun, read the elder Pipes’ memoir in which he not once addresses the contradiction between painting the Soviets as a dangerous threat and the intelligence he began reading in the early 1980s which led him to believe (correctly) what the CIA’s own analysts had been saying all along: that the Soviet economy was unsustainable and collapsing of its own weight.

Nevertheless, Reagan instituted a huge defense buildup and got the US involved more overtly in bloody proxy wars in Central America for which our image is still paying.

Now let’s go forward to the Iraq war, the real nut of the case against Wolfowitz.

Even before 9/11, he was a member in good standing of the Future War Criminals of America the Project For the New American Century, which advocated and planned intensely for U.S. war with Iraq. We know that Wolfowitz was so fixated on the idea that Osama just had to have Saddam behind him that he even sent James Woolsey off to England after 9/11 to check out one of Laurie Mylroie’s crackpot theories (and the word “crackpot” is redundant where Mylroie is concerned).

Before it started, let’s remember how he carried water for the administration when then-Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki said it would take several hundred thousand American troops to occupy and secure Iraq. The Administration didn’t want the public to hear this, so it sent Wolfowitz out to rebut him.

But Shinseki, cut off at the knees by Rumsfeld in retaliation, was right. And Wolfie? No wonder he was wrong; he can’t even keep count of the dead soldiers accurately.

And during the war, there are just too many incidents to count when Wolfowitz smoothed things over for his Iraqi patron, the truth and ethics-impaired Ahmad Chalabi (Sebastian has one here). So much of what has gone wrong in Iraq can directly be traced to Wolfowitzian intervention, which Josh Marshall has ably kept track of. (Here’s one that’s really good. And another).

We’ve often imagined ourselves encountering Wolfowitz at the Safeway near downtown Bethesda, even after splitting with his wife and leaving her the nearby house and the kids while he shacked up with his Iranian girlfriend, where he reportedly shops for groceries. We would confront him. This man, and his fellow Maryland suburbanites Perle and Feith, do not deserve the peace of living amongst us unaccosted. They are butchers, pure and simple.

UPDATE: Jo Fish seconds.

posted by Sully 3/08/2005 02:39:00 PM


P O’Neill exegizes Sully’s latest Times screed on privacy so we don’t have to:

Strangely for someone with libertarian pretensions, missing from his analysis is the role of choice. His first privacy victim is, of all people, Dubya, via the taping of his off-the-record conversations as candidate Bush with a family associate in 1999. Note here Sully’s ability to explain the injustice done to Dubya without mention of what Linda Tripp did to Monica Lewinsky, and likewise his discussion of White House avoidance of electronic paper trails without mentioning Inquisitor-General Ken Starr.

Sully then turns to the Web as a tool of privacy encroachment, and is now definitely relying on his British readers being less au courant with his own issues in this regard than their American counterparts. Sully’s Web victim is Jeff Gannon/James Guckert, White House plant in the briefing room, and player-manager of a gay escort service. And of course any notion of the latter as a secret life goes out the window once one remembers that this information was pieced together from publicly accessible websites. So Gannon in fact becomes a proxy for Sully's own Internet visibility, an issue recurringly documented by Sullywatch, with the Gannon-Sully commonality tied together here.

So the Quinns and Gannon and Sully have all chosen in different ways to air their private lives; the rationality of those choices is a different question. Then there’s the role of political choices in eroding personal space, something Sully never mentions at all, because it’s too tied in with his pro-life, pro-War on Terror policy positions; for him it’s technology per se that’s at fault.

posted by Sully 3/08/2005 02:30:00 PM

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Excerpts from Lee Siegel's 2001 Harper's piece

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