Scholars and Rogues

Experience Is to Hillary as 9/11 Is to Giuliani

Rudolph Giuliani's ritualistic incantations of 9/11 have become a national joke. In truth, his inspirational presence was overshadowed by his failure to prepare the city for a terrorist attack.

Also he failed to upgrade the infamous faulty radios used by first responders, many of whom he infuriated by calling off the search for bodies at Ground Zero just when the volunteers felt they were on the brink of finding more.

Hillary's got her own equivalent of Giuliani's 9/11: her "experience." It's gospel to much of the public but some in the media aren't buying it.

Like Timothy Noah at Slate: "Oh, please."

And Ari Emanuel on Huffington Post: "Give me a break,"

What's the problem? For starters, the amount of experience she claims. "Thirty-five years takes you back to 1973," Noah writes, "half of which Hillary spent in law school, for crying out loud."

Emanuel asks, "And what about [Obama's] time at Harvard Law (where he was the first black president in the history of the Harvard Law Review)? Doesn't count? But your time at Yale Law does?"
Second, how much of that time was spent in government? Hillary's electability derives in large part from what she calls her "firsthand knowledge of what goes on inside a White House."
But, Noah writes, her "chief role [was] that of kibitzer." She "did not hold a security clearance, did not attend meetings of the National Security Council, and was not given a copy of the president's daily intelligence briefing."

Emanuel makes the case that, with Biden, Dodd, and Richardson out of the race, and Kucinich, who practically teethed on politics, marginalized, neither of the leading Democratic candidates has significant government experience.

Is the Iran NIE a Trojan Horse?

This post, written by Russ Wellen, originally appeared on Scholars & Rogues

The Iran NIE has elicited a range of emotions in those opposed to the Bush administration's policies from gloating
to discreet celebration. In the minds of many, it's like V-Day: Let the church bells peal, kiss a girl in Times Square. Others, particularly Iranian commentators located in the US, are considerably less sanguine.
They fear, as Farideh Farhi writes at Juan Cole's spin-off, Informed Comment: Global Affairs, that the NIE can "easily become an instrument in support of the Bush Administration's current policy."

In fact, according to Kaveh Afrasiabi at Asia Times Online, "The temporary freeze on the military option [resulting from] the new intelligence report has nested within itits exact opposite." In other words, a Trojan horse.

Even though, he maintains, the nuclear programs that Iran halted in 2004-2005 were not weapons, the NIE and the administration painted them as such. If a follow-up report were to indicate that Iran planned to resurrect said weapons program, that would provide "ample justification for Washington's planned 'pre-emptive strikes' on Iran, not to mention added sanctions."

Thus leaving "the pendulum capable of swinging in wildly different directions almost at will."
Meanwhile, at CASMII (Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Action Against Iran), Daniel Pourkesali writes, "Forgive this writer for being a spoiler." But he too finds that the resurrection theme is like a ticking time bomb embedded in the NIE.
He mentions the "assertions on page 7 paragraph D [of the NIE] that 'Iranian entities are continuing to develop a range of technical capabilities that could be applied to produce nuclear weapons if a decision is made to do so.'"
They leave "the door wide open for administration hawks like Mr. Cheney to abruptly accuse Iran of resurrecting its 'nuclear weapons program much as he did back in 2002, claiming that Saddam Hussein had 'resumed his effort to acquire nuclear weapons.'" In other words, the hawks are fixated on another bird, the phoenix.

At NIAC (National Iranian-American Council), Trita Parsi explains how the administration further unrolls the rock before the resurrection justification. "Rather than adjusting policy on Iran in accordance to the reality-check provided by the NIE, the President moved the goal post on Iran."
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