Friday, January 30, 2004

Putting my money where my mouth is

I, for one, am mighty sick and tired of seeing one particular meme floating around in regards to the whole Iraq situation. I'm talking about this one, most recently from the idiotic Robert Scheer (quoted in the Arab Times:)

The administration’s systematic abuse of the facts, including the fraudulent link of Saddam to Sept. 11, has been obvious for two years.

Put up or shut up. No spokesman or high-ranking official in the Bush administration has ever made the claim that Hussein was involved in the September 11 attacks, and Bush went so far as to flatly deny any such links. The only systematic abuse of the facts is coming from Scheer, whose slipshod commentary has been a blight on the Los Angeles Times for quite some time. (The fact that it lowers the quality of the LAT is quite an accomplishment in and of itself.)

I offer this challenge: I will pay, out of my own pocket, $200.00 to the first person who offers me a quote from a senior figure (in a legitimate news source, such as a major newpaper, network news, or newsmagazine) that explicitly links Hussein and September 11. Not links between Hussein and Al-Qaeda, but a quote that states that Hussein was involved in the September 11 attacks. Leave me a comment (with a real e-mail address) if you believe you can prove me wrong. A link to the original article (I will accept a google cache link) will be required; I'm not going to pay out for allegations without some type of corroboration. In the case of multiple submissions of the same link, I will pay only once, to the first person who provides the link. Payment will be by personal check or via paypal, so if you wish to remain anonymous, you will have to sit this one out.

The closest allusion to a connection I've seen is the Czech report that Atta met with Iraqi officials in Prague. However, even the most ardent supporters of the alleged meeting (discounted by the CIA) have ever claimed that the meeting was proof of Iraqi complicity in the September 11 attacks. I have also seen many administration figures, including Bush, Cheney, Rice, and Rove, tying Hussein to Al Qaeda, which may or may not be true. However, the "Bush Lied about Saddam's ties to 9/11" trope is one that I'd like to see stopped dead in its tracks right now.

Let's see how this works out.

posted at 08:08 AM | permalink | Comments (18)

I'll add $10 to the pot and urge other bloggers to do the same.

The reward is now $210. I'll trust the blogger of Horologium to determine the winner.

posted by Bill Hobbs on February 6, 2004 10:48 AM

I'm a sporting man. Put me down for $25.

Maybe we should post an announcement over here.

posted by Darren on February 6, 2004 11:35 AM

I'll add $20. That raises the total to $255.

posted by Michael on February 6, 2004 01:28 PM

I'll add $45 to the pot to make it an even $300.

posted by Chuck on February 7, 2004 06:00 AM

I believe I've won.

posted by JadeGold on February 7, 2004 11:55 AM

The issue facing our nation and the world is the extension of the war on terror to places like Iraq. Prior to September the 11th, there was apparently no connection between a place like Iraq and terror. Oh, sure, he had run some terrorist networks out of his country, and that was of concern to us. But it was very difficult to link a terrorist network and Saddam Hussein to the American soil. As a matter of fact, it was very difficult to link any attack on the American soil, because prior to September the 11th, we were confident that two oceans could protect us from harm.

pay up, loser

posted by Kevin on February 7, 2004 11:30 PM

BZZZZT. Thanks for playing, Jade Gold and Kevin. We have some lovely parting gifts for you.

Jade, as I have outlined on HobbsOnline, Perle is not a member of the administration.

Kevin, there is no tie there. It pretty conclusively links Saddam to terrorism, but it doesn't explicitly link Iraq to 9/11.

posted by timekeeper on February 8, 2004 01:18 AM

Posted to the HobbsOnline Site:

Timekeeper: No insult was made or intended. But the plain fact is you've decided that you will not honor the terms of the challenge---in any circumstance. It's been apparent since the day it was issued as the terms have sometimes 'evolved.' The goalposts will always move.

1. At the time Perle issued his remarks, he was chairman of the Defense Policy Board (DPB). He has since resigned as chairman (due to some ethical improprieties) but remains a member of that board.

2. The DPB Chairman has an office (paid for by the US taxpayers) two doors down from the SecDef at the Pentagon. Offices surrounding Perle's are those of various Asst. SecDefs as well as uniformed heads of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). The DPB has full and unfettered access to classified defense information. The Chairman of the DPB serves at the pleasure of the SecDef; indeed, when Perle resigned his Chairmanship, he submitted his resignation to Rumsfeld directly.

3. Previously, I've posted an excerpt of DPB's Charter which makes it clear its functions and reponsibilities are in "the public interest." This is an important detail; it means the DPB is part of the US Government.

4. In the events leading up to Perle's resignation from the Chairmanship, DoD's Inspector General (IG) investigated several of Perle's business activities for alleged conflict of interest or misuse of public office. Kindly note the term 'public office.'

5. Perle is, and has been, a frequent guest on the various news/pundit shows where he is introduced as a Senior Advisor to the SecDef and a spokesman for this appointed administration.

6. WRT AFP; AFP claims to be the world's oldest news agency. It provides coverage to some 165 countries. It also provides news services to outlets such as Yahoo USA as well as outlets in Europe, Japan, and Taiwan. Until recently, AFP was teamed with the Associated Press (AP). It certainly is considered a reputable, large, and established news service. Further, this same story was picked up by Reuters, the Australian Associated Press (AAP), the South African Press Association (SAPA), Times of India, and many others.

7. Perle's comment cannot be construed as anything but an explicit charge that Saddam was informed about and/or a participant to the attacks of 9/11 by a reasonable person. Here, again, is Perle's comment:

"Mohammed Atta met Saddam Hussein in Baghdad prior to September 11. We have proof of that, and we are sure he wasn‘t just there for a holiday,"

I believe we both can agree Mohammed Atta was considered to be the operational leader of the terrorist attacks on 9/11. And I think we have consensus as to who Saddam is and what country Baghdad is in.

The timing of this alleged meeting is also important. According to Perle, it happened about 2 months before the attacks. What conceivable reason would there be for Mohammed Atta, who was not an Iraqi citizen and had no apparent ties to Iraq, to meet with the dictator of Iraq a few weeks before one of history's most terrible acts of terrorism? We can rule out a vacation, according to Perle.

Again, as I mentioned earlier, I'm not out to take anyone's money. Everyone can see this 'challenge' was never intended to be honored.

posted by JadeGold on February 8, 2004 08:11 AM

**This comments thread** referenced by JadeGold, above, provides context for her and Kevin's posts.

Timekeeper said, "I will pay... $200.00 to the first person who offers me a quote from a senior figure (in a legitimate news source...) that explicitly links Hussein and September 11. Not links between Hussein and Al-Qaeda, but a quote that states that Hussein was involved in the September 11 attacks."

On the "Senior Figure" question, JadeGold argues that Richard Perle is one by virtue of his advisory-panel membership, office location, and media visibility (repeated in her points 1-5, above). Timekeeper and Bill Hobbs argue that Perle is not, as he is unpaid and not subject to Senate confirmation.

Analogous contentiousness about what Perle explicitly claimed in his quoted remarks.

JadeGold's position seems weak to me, especially on the former question. "Confirmed by the Senate" would seem to be a reasonable quality to expect of a "Senior Figure" of an Administration.

posted by AMac on February 9, 2004 07:21 AM

Many, inarguably senior, positions in the Government do not require Senate approval. For example, the number two man at the State Dept.--Richard Armitage--did not require Senate confirmation. It would be foolish of anyone to contend the Deputy Secretary of State is not a "senior figure."

Again, key to this issue is the fact Perle worked in a public office under a charter which specifically noted "the public interest" and served at the pleasure of the SecDef.

Every Presidential election year, a book is issued which is known as the "Plum Book." It lists positions made by Presidential appointment which do not require Senate confirmation. The Plum Book also notes:

"The duties of many such positions may involve advocacy of administration policies and programs and the incumbents usually have a close and confidential working relationship with the agency head or other key officials."

posted by JadeGold on February 9, 2004 01:08 PM


Your post made me curious. The GPO has the 2000 Plum Book online. The 31-page Dept. of Defense section is *here*. At about 15 positions per page, that's ~450 DoD positions. For the "Office of the Secretary," the first listing is for Secretary of Defense Cohen; the last is for Stames E. Walker, the Project Manager for Science and Technology at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency in Fort Belvoir, VA.

As the latest edition was published in 2000, there was no point searching for "Richard Perle." Searches for "Defense Policy Board" and "DPB" came up empty.


--Inclusion of a position in the "Plum Book" doesn't necessarily make it "Senior" in the sense used here.

--Converesely, are "Senior" positions not requiring Senate confirmation necessarily listed in the "Plum Book"?

--Defense Policy Board positions aren't in the DoD section of the "Plum Book" (are they elsewhere, perhaps?)

--The text you quote in italics ("The duties of..." ff) appears to be boilerplate, not a reflection of the "Senior" nature of all "Plum Book" listings.

posted by AMac on February 9, 2004 01:59 PM

AMac: Each position in the "Plum Book" has a code. The code for those appointments not requiring Senate approval is "PA."

There are typically about 500 Presidentially appointed positions at DoD.

Also, the "Plum Book" lists those positions that are to be filled (i.e., vacant.)

The boilerplate text I cite demonstrates that such appointments are expected to serve as advocates of administration policies. One of the criteria set forth by TimeKeeper was "spokesman."

Again, those who understand the Pentagon pecking order understand that the location of Perle's office certainly places him in the upper echelons of DoD.

posted by JadeGold on February 9, 2004 03:02 PM


Converesely, are "Senior" positions not requiring Senate confirmation necessarily listed in the "Plum Book"?

I didn't make this clear in my last. The "Plum Book" lists those vacant positions. Usually, most of the "senior" positions have already been filled prior to the transition process. For example, it's doubtful the Deputy Secretary of State position would be in the "Plum Book" as Colin Powell had already tapped him and several others.

posted by JadeGold on February 9, 2004 03:06 PM

Jade Gold—

Here is a PDF of an organizational chart for the entire Department of Defense (from the DoD website). The Defense Policy Board is nowhere to be found. Nor is the current chair of the DPB (can you name her, BTW?) listed on the "top leaders" page of the DOD site. Going a bit deeper, I finally found the DPB in an organizational chart. It's located five levels below the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. Sorry, that does not constitute a senior administration figure.

BTW, the org chart is a bit out of date, as Ann Hansen is no longer chair of the DPB. Another woman is currently heading the board. Who is she?

posted by timekeeper on February 9, 2004 11:39 PM

Thanks JadeGold and Timekeeper. I've learned some things about DoD structure in the course of this debate.

posted by AMac on February 10, 2004 09:22 AM

TK is also a bit dishonest by saying DPB doesn't show up on an abbreviated DoD org chart. DPB falls under the Office of the Secretary of Defense ( and is, organizationally, at the same level as a Deputy Asst. Secretary of Defense.

posted by JadeGold on February 10, 2004 09:28 AM

Jade Gold,

The link you provide is essentially the same as the one I provided. The person at the top of that chart, Douglas Feith, is the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. Underneath him is the Deputy Under Secretary for Defense (Policy Support). Underneath are three more levels, International Security Program, Special Advisory Staff, and Organizational Management and Support, then we get to the DPB. By trying to obscure this, you are the one who is being dishonest, as the DPB is not anywhere near the same level as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, but rather four levels below the Deputy, and five levels below the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.

posted by timekeeper on February 10, 2004 11:06 PM

JadeGold and Timekeeper,

Your links worked today; no 404s. The question is whether Richard Perle as (ex-) Chairman of the DPB was a “Senior Administration Official” by virtue of his high standing within the Administration’s heirarchy. JadeGold’s and later Timekeeper’s hyperlinks to DoD high-level positions and organization charts (Plum Book and policy_org_chart.html, above) are thus on target.

If the Chair of the DPB is a senior official by virtue of the position, then those higher in the formal heirarchy are necessarily also Senior Officials. Alas, I’ve never heard of Ken de Graffenreid, Prin Dep, John Hartford, Peter Batten, John Kuntz, or William Lowry.

This neglects the apparently-abandoned argument that Perle must be considered to be an Administration spokesman by virtue of his many interviews, or a post hoc rationalization that a combination of the two must qualify Perle. “Qualify” not as to whether or not Perle is a “playa,” but as to whether he meets the criteria listed in Timekeeper’s original challenge.

posted by AMac on February 11, 2004 07:50 AM

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Where I've been

create your own visited country map
or write about it on the open travel guide

I've been to the red countries on the map at least once.

(Link courtesy of A Nickel's Worth of Free Advice.)

posted at 08:12 AM | permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

More "Pot, meet kettle"

Myria noted that John Kerry is slagging Bush while simultaneously ignoring his past. I'll let you read what she said, since it's pretty succinct.

posted at 06:49 AM | permalink | Comments (0)

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