Category Archives: Bush Jackassery

Nuclear Diplomacy: A Tutorial

Let us review some of the Bush administration’s efforts at nuclear diplomacy:

* Iran: Don’t talk to Iran in 2003 when you have the chance. Wait until its uranium enrichment program is further along and _then_ try and get it to stop.

* North Korea: Don’t take North Korea up on its offer to negotiate about U.S. concerns over its enrichment program in October 2002. Get serious about negotiating _after_ the Norks test a weapon.

* Iraq: Ignore both the UNSC and UN inspectors. Find out Iraq has no WMD _after_ you invade.

* India: “Give away the store”: and wreck the NPT.

To be fair, I’ll add

* Libya: Get a chance to do something right and don’t eff it up.

Here’s some live Carcass from 1992:


…in a sad, geeky way.

“Here is”: a DOS page called “Limiting Nuclear Weapons.”

The first item?

“U.S. Pledges Major Effort To Complete India Nuclear Agreement.”:

State Dept Briefing Humor


I didn’t know this, but yesterday’s State Department “briefing”: was apparently George Gedda’s (from _AP_) last. “Sean-Paul Kelley”: noticed Gedda’s gem of a comment from that brefing:

bq. I want you to know that it strains credulity for you folks to describe the last 175 diplomatic meetings as being fruitful and useful. They couldn’t possibly have all been fruitful and useful.

To be fair, Tom Casey’s comeback was pretty good:

MR. CASEY: You forgot productive. (Laughter.)

MR. GEDDA: Productive. What is your response to that?

MR. CASEY: Well, George, I think as a great former spokesman once said on his last day at the podium, all the relationships are special, all the meetings are unique and all our allies are valuable. And I think we’ll stick with that. (Laughter.)

Dead-Horse Flogging, Department of

US Special Representative for Nuclear Nonproliferation Chris Ford:

bq. There have been more PSI successes than one can discuss publicly, but we should remember that *it was a PSI interdiction, of a shipment of illicit centrifuge equipment bound for Libya in October 2003 that began the unraveling of the dangerous and infamous A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network and helped catalyze Libya’s decision two months later to renounce the pursuit of WMD* and dismantle its WMD programs.


John Wolf, who served as assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation from 2001 to 2004, told _Arms Control Today_ May 25 that the BBC China operation was “separate” from PSI. He said the incident stemmed from previous efforts to track and uncover the Khan network.

A foreign official familiar with the operation corroborated Wolf’s version of the event. “The BBC China operation was carried out in the spirit of PSI, but it was not a PSI operation,” the official informed _Arms Control Today_ May 31.

Previous dead-horse abuse “here.”:

Insert dolphin-flogging joke here.

NYT On Bob J

Jeffrey “notes”: that the _NYT_ did a “piece”: on Bob Joseph, who recently left the State Department.

I realize that this illustrates my penchant for lost causes, but I need to point out an error in the piece RE: the PSI.

Joseph helped to draft the PSI, which, according to the _Times_,

bq. *hit early pay dirt in the fall of 2003, intercepting a cargo ship bound for Libya with nuclear centrifuges built by Abdul Qadeer Khan’s nuclear smuggling network*…[the operation] led to Mr. Joseph’s biggest success: working with American and British intelligence officials to persuade Libya to give up its nuclear program, which helped break up Mr. Khan’s network.

Unfortunately, the BBC China operation was not a PSI operation. Wade “wrote”: in the summer of 2005 that

John Wolf, who served as assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation from 2001 to 2004, told Arms Control Today May 25 that the BBC China operation was “separate” from PSI. He said the incident stemmed from previous efforts to track and uncover the Khan network.

A foreign official familiar with the operation corroborated Wolf’s version of the event. “The BBC China operation was carried out in the spirit of PSI, but it was not a PSI operation,” the official informed _Arms Control Today_ May 31.

I’ve blogged about this “before.”: Incidentally, this isn’t the first time that the author of the _NYT_ piece, David Sanger, has “gotten this issue wrong.”: also “got it wrong”: a while back.

BTW, here’s “an article”: I wrote about the Libyan case a few years ago.

Happy Saturday.

Tony Snow Ain’t No Lawyer…

…even if he does play a “mean jazz flute.”:

About a week or so ago, Snow “falsely asserted”: that someone in the administration broke the law by leaking the shocking news that some in the administration (meaning Elliott Abrams) don’t like the “new deal”: with North Korea.

Snow argued that, despite the _WP_’s “report”: that Abrams sent some emails around expressing his displeasure with the agreement, Elliott A actually supports it.

A reporter then asked, “why do his emails — his inquiries, wind up in the newspaper, then?”

TSnow replied:”Because somebody broke the law.*”

Now, that asterisk is indeed found in the original transcript. If you scroll to the bottom, you find this clarification:

bq. The Press Secretary was in error. This instance was not a violation of the law.



Snow has too much in common with this guy, though I doubt he has as many leather-bound books.

[Snow, FYI, talked about the Abrams issue “the day before as well].”:

Also of note: Newsweek had “a piece”: which speaks to the question of hardliners’ influence on the North Korea:

bq. Administration hard-liners appear to have been unable to thwart diplomacy. Former officials close to Vice President Dick Cheney, who asked not to be identified characterizing his views, suggest he does not like the deal but believes there are enough get-out clauses to ensure either that Pyongyang complies or the whole bargain collapses. *Cheney had long influenced North Korea policy through powerful bureaucratic allies who battled what they viewed as State Department appeasers. But Bolton, a leading hawk on North Korea, left the administration when Congress refused to confirm him as permanent U.N. ambassador. Robert Joseph, another key hard-liner, is soon to leave his job as State Department under secretary for arms control.* Cheney himself may be the last hard-liner. But White House aides, along with the veep’s allies (anonymous when discussing the men’s relationship), acknowledge that Bush relies far less on Cheney’s judgment now than he did earlier in his presidency.

D Feith TwoFer

File this under “gossip,” but it’s entertaining.

From “Juan Cole:”:

State Dept. Official: “Doug, after the smoke clears, what is the plan?”

Feith: “Think of Iraq as being like a computer. And think of Saddam as like a processor. We just take out the old processor, and put in a new one–Chalabi.”

State Dept. Official: “Put in a new processor?”

Feith: “Yes! It will all be over in 6 weeks.”

State Dept. Official: “You mean six months.”

Feith: “No, six weeks. You’ll see.”

State Dept. Official: “Doug.”

Feith: “Yes?”

State Dept. Official: “You’re smoking crack, Doug.”

Feith: “Oh, so you’re disloyal to the President, are you?”

[Via “The Iron Mouth”:,guid,b2203970-0496-4e6d-b1c7-58abe35cdf1a.aspx ]

More importantly, Larisa Alexandrovna of Rawstory “reports”: that the Pentagon Inspector General might finally finish its report RE: the intel shop that Feith ran in OSD. That matters because the relevant portion of the SSCI’s investigation of the Iraq intel fiasco has been delayed by the IG’s investigation.

She writes:

bq. According to sources close to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the classified version of the Pentagon IG’s report will be released to committee members Friday. Two to three declassified pages may also be concurrently released to the public.


My apologies to any crack users offended by this post.

Rice: What Iran Proposal?

Glenn Kessler “this morning”: reported that, during a hearing yesterday, SecState Rice claimed to have never seen “this 2003 proposal”: from Iran.

According to the _Post_:

bq. “I have read about this so-called proposal from Iran,” Rice told the House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday, referring to reports in The Washington Post and other publications last year. “We had people who said, ‘The Iranians want to talk to you,’ lots of people who said, ‘The Iranians want to talk to you.’ But I think I would have noticed if the Iranians had said, ‘We’re ready to recognize Israel.’ . . . I just don’t remember ever seeing any such thing.”

If anyone at State wants to refresh her memory, they can check the proposal out “here”: Subsequent Iranian proposals related to their nuclear program and other issues can be found “here.”:

Anyway, the _Post_ article gives some details about the State/NSC sausage factory:

Rice dismissed yesterday the earlier comments of [former NSC official Flynt] Leverett.

“First of all, I don’t know what Flynt Leverett’s talking about, quite frankly,” she said. “Maybe I should ask him when he came to me and said, ‘We have a proposal from Iran and we really ought to take it.’ ”

Leverett said yesterday that he became aware of the two-page offer, which came over a fax machine at the State Department, in his waning days in the U.S. government as a senior director at the National Security Council, but that it was not his responsibility to put it on Rice’s desk because Rice had placed Elliott Abrams in charge of Middle East policy. “If he did not put it on her desk, that says volumes about how she handled the issue,” he said yesterday.

Abrams is currently the deputy national security adviser in charge of the Middle East and democracy promotion. An NSC spokeswoman, speaking on behalf of Abrams, said yesterday that Abrams “has no memory of any such fax and never saw or heard of any such thing.”

Former State Department officials have said that they saw the Iranian offer and used it as a key element in a 2003 memo to then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell proposing that the United States pursue a “grand bargain” with Iran. The Iranian offer was attached to the memo, but Powell did not forward the memo to the White House, officials said.

Kessler also did some more homework:

bq. Last June, Rice appeared to confirm, in an interview with National Public Radio, that the White House had received the memo. “What the Iranians wanted earlier was to be one-on-one with the United States so that this could be about the United States and Iran,” Rice said. State Department officials at that time did not dissuade reporters from interpreting her comments as referring to the 2003 fax.

Here is the “relevant portion”: of that interview:

QUESTION: Some officials who work with you at the White House and at the State Department said that the U.S. missed an opportunity in 2003, that Iran came to the U.S., wanted to talk, and the U.S. rejected that. And that was a period when the U.S. was stronger. It appears that the U.S. is coming to this in a much weaker position. Aren’t you?

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, I think coming to the table with the entire international community united around a particular course is a pretty strong position to be in. What people wanted, what the Iranians wanted earlier, was to be one-on-one with the United States so that this could be about the United States and Iran. Now it is Iran the international community, and Iran has to answer to the international community. I think that’s the strongest possible position to be in.

Not a denial.

More On J Rood

Jeffrey’s “take is way better”:, though I disagree with his policy suggestion, which is to make the administration comply fully with certain sections of the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act:

bq. That’s the deal. Either the country gets a North Korea Policy Coordinator and a report on the Administration’s strategery in Iran, or Rood stays as Assistant Secretary.

I’d like to hope that Biden would “hold out for a lot more”: Compliance with a law is hardly a concession.

And, as much as I hate correcting Jeffrey, I think he names the wrong sections of the NDAA. According to Thomas, “H.R.5122…became Public Law 109-364 on 10/17/2006.”

According to the text of HR 5122, the relevant sections are 1211 and 1213. Jeffrey named sections 1214 and 1216.

This doesn’t change the substance of his argument at all, but it’s important for understanding the relevant portion of Bush’s “signing statement”: from this past October:

A number of provisions in the Act call for the executive branch to furnish information to the Congress or other entities on various subjects. These provisions include sections 219, 313, 360, *1211,* 1212, *1213*, 1227, 1402, and 3116 of the Act, section 427 of title 10, United States Code, as amended by section 932 of the Act, and section 1093 of the Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 (Public Law 108-375) as amended by section 1061 of the Act. The executive branch shall construe such provisions in a manner consistent with the President’s constitutional authority to withhold information the disclosure of which could impair foreign relations, the national security, the deliberative processes of the Executive, or the performance of the Executive’s constitutional duties.


The executive branch shall construe section *1211*, which purports to require the executive branch to undertake certain consultations with foreign governments and follow certain steps in formulating and executing U.S. foreign policy, in a manner consistent with the President’s constitutional authorities to conduct the Nation’s foreign affairs and to supervise the unitary executive branch.

Adult supervision (of the administration, not Jeffrey) is truly needed…

J Rood To Replace B Joseph

The White House “announced it”: yesterday:

bq. The President intends to nominate John C. Rood, of Arizona, to be Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security at the Department of State. Mr. Rood currently serves as Assistant Secretary (International Security and Non-Proliferation) at the Department of State. Prior to this, he served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Counterproliferation Strategy at the National Security Council.

I cannot imagine why they would have released this information on a Friday.

Anyway, a source in Congress told me that Rood may be waiting a while for his promotion:

bq. Senator Biden took the unusual step of opposing Rood’s nomination last year when he was up for the ISN gig. Now that he is Chairman, it will be interesting to see if he decides to have some fun here. My sense is that Rood will be waiting for a long time for his
confirmation hearing, and that Biden will try to extract some type
of policy concession from the Administration.

Back to it…