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Sunday, May 16, 2004

George W. Bush, the Passive Voice President 

I've thought in the past how Bush isn't so much dumb, or out-of-the-loop (although he may be those things), but how he's simply a passive participant in his administration. As Woodward showed, he allowed Cheney to change Iraq policy in August, 2002, without even inquiring to what Cheney was going to say.

And now, with his administration possibly going down in flames over Iraq, Sy Hersch has this wonderful but frightening article in the New Yorker that everyone is talking about. It's worth reading, to be sure. But what struck me as I read it was this sentence, referring to the "Special Access Program" Rumsfeld set up in the Pentagon, which could authorize clandesting action against high-value targets with minimal legal scrutiny:
"Rumsfeld's goal was to get a capability in place to take on a high-value target--a standup group to hit quickly," a former high-level intelligence official told me. "He got all the agencies together--the C.I.A. and the N.S.A.--to get pre-approval in place. Just say the code word and go." The operation had across-the-board approval from Rumsfeld and from Condoleezza Rice, the national-security adviser. President Bush was informed of the existence of the program, the former intelligence official said.
Emphasis added. I think that sums up this President: he "was informed" about what was going on, as if it were a mere formality to tell the President. According the Baltimore Sun, the President was informed by Powell that the Red Cross had concerns about how prisoners were treated in Iraq and the President was advised that it was a serious situation (via TPM).

This seems to be how this terrible, terrible President operates. All policy options are debated (if that's the righoutside outsite the Oval Office, and then the president is told what's going to happen, and then he okay's it. And that's "strong leadership in times of change," apparently.

...also, Blogger spellchecker does not know the word "terrible."
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