Tuesday, July 12, 2005

A hypothesis about Rove and Plame

The following hypothesis just occurred to me. I'm not claiming it as a fact. I'm not even putting it forward as a conspiracy theory. As science uses the terminology, a theory is an explanation of known facts; a hypothesis is a guess that cannot be confirmed without more evidence. This is purely a hypothesis, but it does seem to fit rather well...

The facts we know:

  1. Rove is an evil bastard who stops at nothing. His motto is not "don't kick a man when he's down" but "don't kick a man when he's down - until you've put your steel-toecapped boots on, and then kick him fucking hard."

  2. Rove is devious . Very devious. Time and again people have "misunderestimated" him. Such as the stirring up of hatred against gay marriage before the 2004 elections, which people thought meant Rove had lost his mind. But that got gay marriage on the polls in some states, which slightly increased the turn-out of people disposed to vote for Bush because they wanted to vote against gay marriage, and the slightly-increased turn-out was then used to obscure what was actually a stolen election. What people thought was a dumb mistake was actually a very devious ploy used to cover up (as far as the tame press were concerned) a stolen election.

    If you think you know what Rove's plan is when you look at his actions, wait until the egg he laid hatches and see just how wrong you were.

  3. The Bush administration has used lie upon lie upon lie to justify its war in Iraq, just as Bush's father lied to justify his war in Iraq. The Bushies have no problem with the lies being exposed after the deed has been committed but live in fear of lies being exposed before those lies can be used to get what they want.

    Those who don't think Bush-the-slightly-smarter lied about Iraq can use google to verify the following:

    • The "Kuwaiti nurse" who testified to Congress about Iraqi soldiers ripping babies out of incubators, throwing the babies to the floor, and sending the incubators back to Iraq, had never been near the hospital where she stated this occurred. In fact she had never been a nurse either, she was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador.

    • The ultra-hyper-super-top-secret photos that showed Iraqi troops amassing on the Saudi border scared the crap out of Congress. Congress was willing to let Iraq take over Kuwait because its oil production is relatively small, but Iraq taking over Saudi Arabie would be a disaster. The Saudis were unwilling to have Bush invade Iraq until they were told of the Iraqi troops on their border. Without those photos the first Bush war in Iraq could not have happened.

      The only trouble is that a reporter for the St Petersburg Times convinced her paper to purchase commercial satellite images of the same area which showed there were no Iraqi troops on the Saudi border.

      Guess what? The ultra-hyper-super-top-secret photos are still ultra-hyper-super-top-secret long after the war is over and long after they could be of any military use whatsoever to either side even if they were for real. Why would that be? Because they never existed in the first place.

  4. As a specific example of the fear of Bush administration lies being exposed before they surved their purpose, prior to the Iraq war the Bush administration (working initially through John Bolton) had UN official Jose Bustani fired. Bustani was head of the unit responsible for chemical weapons inspection and was trying to bring Iraq into the treaty framework. Had Bustani succeeded then Iraq would have been proven to have no chemical weapons before the war (instead of it being proven after the "end of major combat operations") and the war might not have happened.

  5. The "Niger Uranium Documents" were not only forgeries, they were crude forgeries that wouldn't have fooled anybody for a moment. So crude that a few minutes of inspection and comparison against known facts made it obvious they were forgeries. So crude that there was no need to send Wilson to Niger to investigate if there were any truth to them, although Wilson did not know that because he was not allowed to see the documents before his trip to Niger.

So try this imaginary conversation on for size and see whether it rings true with you...

Cheney (I say Cheney but it could have been another individual, or group of individuals that may or may not have included Cheney, but this is Cheney's level of evil so I'll use his name to stand for whomever hypothetically discussed this with Rove.)
We finally busted Bustani. One less threat of premature exposure of our lies. Now we have to neutralize Valerie Plame.

What's the problem with Plame?

She's one of the CIA's top experts in WMD proliferation and trafficking, specializing in nukes. She works undercover and runs a very large team of informants and agents around the world. If anybody in our intelligence agencies is going to expose our "smoking cloud" lie, it will be her. If anybody in our intelligence agencies is going to expose our future lies when we invade Iran, it will be her. If anybody in our intelligence agencies is going to expose that our ally Pakistan smuggled nuclear technology to our enemy North Korea, it's likely to be her.

We have to take her out before she can do us any damage. Do we have any dirt on her?

Nothing. She's squeaky-clean. So's her husband.

Her husband? Are you sure we can't take her out through him?

Her husband is Joselph Wilson. Former ambassador to several African countries. Was acting ambassador in Iraq when Saddam took hostages. Was harboring 60 Americans at the ambassador's residence and other places when he got a diplomatic note from Saddam threatening to execute anyone harboring foreigners. Gave a press conference on TV with a noose around his neck defying Saddam. When he got back he said he wore the noose to signal to Saddam, as he put it, "If the choice is to allow Americans citizens to be taken hostage or to be executed, I will bring my own fucking rope". Bush-the-smarter commended him for it.

We can't fucking touch him. He's a patriot. He's a hero. If his wife has any doubts when it comes to exposing our lies, he's going to persuade her to speak out whatever the cost. And he'll probably have her do it on TV with a noose around her neck and later explain that "if the choice is to allow American citizens to be lied into war or for his wife to be punished for telling the truth, she'll bring her own fucking rope." Fucking grandstander.

You're just not devious enough Dick. The answer is obvious.

First, we knock up some crude forgeries about Iraq wanting to pay corrupt officials in Niger to divert some yellow-cake to Iraq.

But we know that Iraq has all the yellow-cake it needs right now, sat with UN inspection seals on it. They don't need any more. And if they did, they don't have the centrifuges to do anything with what they have, let alone more.

Dick, stop interrupting me. Sometimes you forget the difference between reality and what we tell the sheeple. And sometimes you forget which one of us is in control here. As I was saying...

Second, we use a cut-off to plant the forgeries with a semi-sympathetic foreign intelligence agency so that they then pass the forgeries to us. That way it looks like it came from another country rather than our own intelligence people. I think the Italians would be the best bet. I know somebody who knows somebody who knows an Italian reporter who would pass this stuff to Italian intelligence. Italian intelligence will pass it on to us, although they'll probably say it's dubious - we just ignore the stuff about it being dubious.

Third, we act as though those forgeries are the real McCoy. Start ranting about Saddam trying to buy yellow-cake. Say we have the documents to prove it. Maybe get the monkey to get his poodle to cobble up some corroborating evidence.

Fourth, we get Tenet to set up some sort of internal CIA panel to investigate the accusations. We make damned sure he knows not to question the validity of the documents themselves, but that the panel has to be tasked with sending somebody out to Niger to investigate. It's almost certain he'd put Plame on that panel even if we didn't ask him to, although we will. And it's almost certain that Plame will suggest her husband is an ideal candidate to do the investigation, although we'll get Tenet to prod her in that direction if he has to. And he is the ideal candidate: intimate knowledge of Africa, respected, hero, patriot, etc. Even if Plame didn't suggest him as a possibility, somebody else on the panel would and we can claim that Plame put the idea into that person's head.

Fifth, Wilson investigates. He'll find out that it's a load of crap. He'll know that in the first five minutes, but he'll spend weeks suffering in that hell-hole of a country making absolutely certain that every shred of evidence he can gather shows he's right.

Sixth, we get Dim Sun to talk about the yellow cake. Insert it into the State of the Union, too. He'll probably want to play dress-up, but we tell him that has to wait until after we've invaded Iraq or we'll give him another thorough "pretzelling" to teach him who's in control around here.

Seventh, Wilson will go ballistic, if not over the first mentions then over the SOTU, and talk to the press. That's when we have both of them.

We do? Sounds to me like we've shot ourselves in the foot. Wilson exposes us as liars.

That's why I'm running this show and you're only number two.

Eighth, we retaliate against Wilson by outing his wife. I suggest Novak as the leak-point - I've used him before and he's happy to play ball. Nobody will suspect our real motive. We've trashed Clarke, White, Shensiki and O'Neill for exposing our lies, so our friends in the press and our enemies will expect it of us. It will seem perfectly natural. We're outing Plame to punish Wilson, is what they'll all think - we can't get at him directly so we're attacking her. It's the Bush way: reward the loyal and punish the disloyal. They won't realize the deeper strategy of why we're doing it: we're not punishing Wilson; we're not teaching other potential leakers not to leak; we're getting rid of Plame.

As a bonus we can throw in the smear that Plame wangled the trip for her husband. Make it sound, because the documents were bogus, that there was no need to send anybody in the first place. Make it sound that she wanted him to have a nice boondoggle even though he'll be paying for the trip himself because he's such a patriot. Make it sound that it was a nice boondoggle at taxpayer expense, although the taxpayer didn't pay for it, even though having to go to Niger is more of a punishment than a pleasure. Muddying the water is always good, and those things will convince people we're really after Wilson when we're actually after Plame.

Ninth, and finally, Plame is blown. So are her agents and sources. So is the cover company the CIA used as a supposed employer. So there's nobody in the US to speak out when we claim Iraq has nukes, or Iran has nukes, or Syria has nukes, or...

That is truly fucking evil. I wish I'd thought of it.

That's why I'm in control and you're number two. That's why the horned one speaks to me all the time, speaks to you sometimes, and speaks only to Dim Sun when Dim Sun starts to lose the plot. If people understood that the supernatural entity who occasionally talks to the monkey is not the one living in the penthouse but the one living in the basement we'd all be lynched. Fortunately most of them are too stupid to figure it out and our tame press prevents the smart ones from letting it be known.

So does that ring true to you? At the very least, knowing other lies this administration has told and the personalities involved, can you say out of hand that it cannot possibly be true? Can you say that Rove wouldn't do that sort of thing if he thought of it? Can you say that Rove has not thought of similarly evil tricks?

Like I said, it's a hypothesis. But it explains some facts that the alternative hypotheses do not, such as why were the "Niger Documents" such crude forgeries. In this hypothesis the "Niger Documents" didn't have to be good forgeries because their purpose was not to bolster the war against Saddam but to provide a means for enticing Wilson into a situation that could be used to out Plame.

I admit it's a far-fetched hypothesis. The sort of thing that wanders into my mind when it's late at night and I've been drinking wine. But I think that when I look at it tomorrow, while I'm waiting for coffee to dissipate my hangover, it will still seem possible. Not probable (likely to have happened that way) but possible (could have happened that way).

Addendum Tuesday, July 12, 2005

After a night's sleep and several cups of coffee, the only defect I can see is that I did not make one of my assumptions explicit, although it can be inferred from what I wrote. It is clear from Clarke, Shinseki, O'Neill, etc. that the Bush administration responds reactively (punishing those who expose their lies), but it is also clear from the Jose Bustani incident that the Bush administration also responds proactively (trying to eliminate possible threats before they occur).

So the question is: did they out Plame in retaliation for Wilson exposing one of their lies or did they set up Wilson so that they could pre-emptively eliminate Plame as a threat? Perhaps they wanted to punish Wilson but realized they could also eliminate Plame as a possible future threat at the same time - two birds with one stone.

Are they evil enough that they would out Plame before she could expose their lies for war? You know they are. These people are evil personnified.

Is Rove devious and smart enough to come up with a scheme to lure Wilson into a situation that Rove could then exploit to out Plame? That's a matter of opinion. I think it's entirely possible. But unless Rove confesses all (fat chance of the fat bastard doing that) or we learn that Plame was actively investigating whether or not Iraq/Iran/Syria/North Korea had nukes when she was outed, we'll never know for sure.

Addendum Friday, July 22, 2005

A few more things in support of this hypothesis:

  1. As well as having UN Chemical Weapons Inspection Team head Jose Bustani fired because he was close to getting his team into Iraq, the Bush administration has waged a long campaign to get Dr Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency fired.

    The Bushies succeeding in getting Bustani fired before he could expose their lies about chemical weapons in Iraq. The Bushies tried to get ElBaradei fired but failed and so he did eventually expose their lies about nuclear weapons in Iraq. Plame and her team posed as big a risk as ElBaradei: even if they had gotten rid of ElBaradei, Plame might have xposed their lies.

  2. Having Tenet fire Plame would have been risky. Unless Tenet could find real evidence of wrongdoing, others at the CIA would have rightly felt she had been the victim of a frame-up. Plame's colleagues probably know of at least one skeleton in the closet of at least one Bushevik. Firing Plame could have resulted in some very damaging leaks.

  3. Firing Plame might not have been enough to stop Bushevik lies being exposed. Her network of agents and sources would still be in place. Whoever took over from Plame would continue to get information from that network. By outing Plame they exposed source she had ever been in contact with, and there are no doubt a few of those sources now in jails or even dead. By outing Plame they exposed her front company. Sometimes the CIA inserts NOCs with compliant "real" companies, but this one was a front company with just enough "ordinary" employees to keep up appearances. The chances are that some of the other employees were also CIA NOCs who have now been rendered useless and that one or more of those were also involved in tracking WMD proliferation. That's the CIA WMD-tracking program neutralized for years, possibly decades.

    John Bolton (the guy who worked hard to get Bustani fired) was in a position to see the secret state department memo mentioning Plame that was faxed to Colin Powell prior to Bush's trip to Africa.

  4. The one thing about this hypothesis that I found hard to justify was that it involved Rove playing a very complicated "trick shot" that could go badly wrong on him (well, actually, bad for Bush but not for Rove if Rove covered his tracks adequately). Was he clever enough to come up with something that complicated? Was he arrogant enough to believe his plan was sure to succeed or that he'd covered his tracks adequately if it failed?

    Today I was reminded of a past operation where Rove relied heavily upon predicting how people would behave and did something that could have rebounded badly upon him (actually, bad for Bush but not Rove) had it not worked exactly as planned. See this article. At a time when there were rumours of Resident Moron being a former (and maybe not so former) coke-head, Rove anonymously leaked to author James H Hatfield, who was at the time writing a hostile biography about Bush called Fortunate Son, that Bush had been arrested for coke use and the details subsequently covered up by the judge (who was a friend of Bush-the-slightly-smarter).

    Hatfield was no fool, he cross-checked with two other sources who had been reliable in the past. He also bluffed them by telling them that he had other sources willing to go public on it, he just wanted confirmation from them. Maybe Hatfield really did bluff them or maybe Rove had contacted anyone who knew of Bush's coke arrest telling them to give Hatfield the info he wanted after resisting enough to make it seem like he wormed it out of them.

    However, Hatfield had a previous felony conviction. His editor had heard rumours and questioned him, but Hatfield denied it. Shortly after Hatfield's book appeared, details of that conviction were leaked to the press and the publisher recalled all 100,000 copies. Hatfield's reputation was in shreds and the press focused instead upon Hatfield's former crime and the recall of the book; the press ignored Bush's cocaine arrest thereafter. The story of Hatfield's wrongdoings displaced the story of Bush's wrongdoings.

    That's a pretty complicated trick shot with some serious risks. Leak the cocaine arrest to Hatfield and gamble that even if he does get confirmation from other sources that none of them will ever go public to support him. Gamble that Hatfield's publisher, upon learning of Hatfield's prior felony, would recall all the copies of a very damning book. Gamble that the press would be diverted into covering Hatfield's felony and diverted away from Bush's cocaine use. If one part of it had not played out as planned the Bush cocaine arrest would have got a lot more coverage and Bush might have got so few votes that even with brother Jeb's help there would have been no chance of him stealing the election.

    Then again, if Bush had gone under Rove could always have found himself another pliant moron to latch on to for the 04 election, so the risk was to Bush's chance of ever becoming president, not to Rove's chance of ever becoming the power behind a president.

So it all fits the pattern. Rove is clever and arrogant enough to risk complicated ploys that could do serious damage (to his puppet, not himself) if they go wrong. The Bush administration had Bustani fired and tried to get ElBaradai fired because they were on the point of exposing Bush administration lies about WMD. Plame was a WMD trafficking expert who probably posed as much threat as ElBaradai to disrupting the Bushevik plans by exposing their lies.

Addendum Tuesday, July 26, 2005

There's one thing that's been nagging me about this hypothesis: the Bush Family Evil Empire were apparently incredibly lucky that Wilson was ideally suited to investigate claims of Saddam trying to purchase yellow-cake from Niger and that otherwise they would have been unable to out Plame. Today, while leaving a comment in another blog about this hypothesis, I realized that there were probably many suitable candidates they could use as an excuse to out Plame, that no luck was involved, and the fact that Wilson was Plame's husband was just a bonus to these psychopathic personalities: they destroy her network (the primary objective), they destroy her use as a NOC (a secondary objective) and as a bonus they get an extra twist of the knife because they use her husband to do so. Here's how it goes.

Plame's network consists of local sources and OCs or NOCs they report to. You don't have Hassan al Faziq in Iraq calling the CIA in Langley or some regional co-ordinator in another country because every country in the world monitors international calls made by its citizens. In every country being monitored, there will be some co-ordinator who has some way of getting reports back to Langley. It might be an OC in the embassy (a significant proportion of embassy staff are full-time or part-time spies and diplomatic bags are supposedly inviolable). It might be an ordinary person working for some real company (as opposed to the CIA front Plame worked for) who has valid reason to return to the US at frequent intervals.

So at least some of the co-ordinators in some of the countries which could potentially sell WMDs or components of WMDs or WMD production systems to rogue nations will be ordinary people working for real companies. Pick an item, be it a chemical precursor to nerve gas, be it fermenters for bioweapons, be it yellow-cake, be it aluminium tubes suitable for making centrifuges, be it whatever, and you will find many countries potentially capable of selling that item to rogue states. Inherent to the nature of her work, Plame would have had sources in each of those countries. Examine all the possibilities and you're sure to find at least one ordinary person whom Plame recruited directly by building up a personal relationship. That's how these things work.

You don't flash a card saying "CIA" and tell somebody he had better put his life at risk by spying for the CIA. What you do is build up a personal relationship to the point where you believe that the person is trustworthy and loyal to the US, that the person can be trusted with the knowledge that you are a CIA agent, and that you can at least ask if that person would be willing to spy for the CIA, and that the person will not think the whole point of your starting the friendship was simply to ask that person to be a spy. You have to trust that person a lot. And the only way you can do that is by really developing a strong friendship. Once you have developed a relationship with a source and the source has incriminated him or herself then you can use simple blackmail to ensure the source continues to provide information. But the first step has to be friendship and the second step has to be trust.

So there are a lot of people Valerie Plame is very close to who have spied for the CIA on matters relating to WMDs. Search through the list of contacts and you're bound to find somebody who is the obvious choice to ask about yellow-cake from Niger or biological fermenters from Kiribati (I don't know which countries have that expertise so said Kiribati as a joke) and you'll find some ordinary person who is the obvious choice to investigate claims that Saddam was trying to buy that item from that country. And most of the ordinary people you find that are the best choices to investigate technology X from country Y are going to be people who are, or were, part of Plame's network. It's guaranteed because the people with the contacts who could do that are the people Plame would have cultivated, and those are the people (precisely because Plame cultivated them) who are obviously the best choice for the job.

So there were probably many people who were the best choice to investigate if Saddam were trying to buy technology X from country Y. Some of them would be "ordinary people" who were close friends of Plame because she recruited them. Some of those ordinary people would be back in the US with no reason to return to country Y except because the CIA asked them to. Go through the list of contacts and you'll find at least one person who fits the bill.

So we're now out of the realms of incredible luck. It's very likely that the Bush Family Evil Empire could have found somebody who met all the requirements in order to out Plame. My guess is that there were several candidates, but Wilson was the favourite because he was married to Plame and so they could twist the knife even more (not because they needed to but because they enjoy hurting others).

A question for which I do not expect an answer from anyone. Did Plame marry Wilson because of a friendship developed when he was part of her network? It's not an unreasonable question. As ambassador to Niger Wilson would have been asked by the CIA to keep an eye on sales of yellow-cake and report to Plame. Because he was an ambassador he would have official cover and no way of refusing a CIA request (if you're an ambassador and you refuse to help the CIA you stop being an ambassador very quickly), so Plame would not need to develop a personal friendship with him. But they would have interacted, and a business interaction with another person can transition to friendship which can transition to love.

Friday, July 08, 2005

An imaginary conversation with a proponent of "intelligent design"

Although this is an imaginary conversation with a proponent of "intelligent design" (PID), consider it as a template for dealing with PIDs.

"Intelligent Design" is a way to try to sneak "Creationism" into schools. Creationism (which I just mis-spelled as "Cretinism" before spotting my Fraudian Slip) explicitly refers to God, and the current Supreme Court will not allow religious teaching in schools. The bible-thumpers want Creationism taught in schools both because Darwinian Evolution scares them (Darwinian Evolution doesn't just state that mankind was not a special creation of God, if you follow it to its logical conclusion then God is not only unnecessary, God is a logical contradiction) and because they want to sneak religion into the schoolroom. Since the Supremes won't allow religion in the schoolroom, and the attempt to sneak it in through Creationism also failed, they're now trying to sneak it in through Intelligent Design.

Let me get this straight. You believe that life on earth is so complex that it could only have come about if some entity, an "intelligent designer," created it.

That's correct. I believe that life is so complex that it could not come about through random chance.

I agree with you that life is incredibly complex, although I believe that Darwinian Evolution can account for it. However, you believe that it requires an intelligent designer. This "intelligent designer" wouldn't, by any chance, be God, would it?

My personal opinion is that the intelligent designer was God, but I may be wrong about that. The important fact is that there was an intelligent designer.

So it's possible that the intelligent designer was a little green man who dropped by in his flying saucer?

Yes. That is entirely possible.

OK. This alien drops by in his flying saucer and creates life on this planet. He may not be any more complex than we are but simply has more knowledge. However, you'd agree that this hypothetical alien, being a lifeform, is so complex as to himself require an explanation for his existence.

Ummmm. Well, I'd have to think about that.

What's to think about? If life on this planet requires the existence of an intelligent designer then life on the intelligent designer's planet requires a second intelligent designer. Perhaps this second intelligent designer is blue rather than green.

You may be right. I haven't really thought about it.

But this second alien intelligent designer is also a complex lifeform. So by your argument we need a third alien lifeform, who created the second alien beings, who created the first alien beings, who created life on this planet. Maybe this third race of aliens is red.


That third set of alien intelligent designers needs a fourth. And the fourth needs a fifth. And so on without end. The whole premise of Intelligent Design requires an infinite chain of alien lifeforms. It is a logical impossibility, because Intelligent Design cannot explain how this infinite chain starts. Who designed the Intelligent Designer?


There are only two ways of terminating the infinite chain of alien life that PID thrusts upon us: we accept that at the head of the chain is a race of aliens who sprang into being through evolution or we accept that at the head of the chain is a race of aliens who sprang into being because God created them. In either case we might as well shorten that chain and say that we sprang into being through evolution or because of God. Intelligent Design is a completely flawed theory.

Well, as I said earlier, my personal belief is that God is the intelligent designer who created us.

But God is far more complex than we are. He answers prayers. He is everywhere at once. He knows everything. He can create an entire universe simply by speaking. If we are so complex that an explanation is needed for our existence then an explanation is even more necessary for God's existence.

God just is.

So why can't life "just is"? And who is God's dad? Who created God? Did you realize that if you succeed in getting Intelligent Design taught in schools then some teachers are going to be asking who designed the Intelligent Designer? Did you realize that once kids understand the logical flaw in Intelligent Design that some of them are going to ask, just as they did when they were young and before their church brainwashed them, who God's dad is?

I've come around to your way of thinking. Intelligent Design shouldn't be taught in schools.

OK, it's wishful thinking that the conversation would go that cleanly. But the principle is there. Intelligent Design can be easily shown to be deeply flawed, and that the same flaw applies to Creationism and to religion in general. Once the PIDs know that rational people are going to expose the flaw in Intelligent Design and then explain how the same flaw appears to apply to Creationism, the PIDs are going to drop Intelligent Design like a hot brick. Evolution is a threat to religion, but it's hard to understand in the depth required to realize that it really is a threat; Intelligent Design is a much simpler threat to religion that can be easily understood. The question "who designed the intelligent designer?" automatically evokes the thought "who was God's dad?"