Saturday, September 16, 2006

Of tools and professionals

In his radio address, Bush says of the Detainee Detention Act (as I shall henceforth call it), “I have one test for this legislation: The intelligence community must be able to tell me that the bill Congress sends to my desk will allow this vital program to continue.” This is a variant on his assertions that the decisions about the timing of troop withdrawals from Iraq and the number of troops deployed in the first place, are made entirely by the generals, the professional soldiers, and therefore Congress should just butt out. Since that line has been pretty successful in intimidating Congress, not wanting to be accused of playing, gasp, politics, into passivity, Bush is using it as a template, except that in this case the “professionals” he keeps talking about (professional what, he never says) are not generals but shadowy spooks whose names and track records we are not permitted to know (like bloggers, only with more people tied up in their basements), but who we are expected to trust to determine what tools they need.

Speaking of tools, today’s must-read is the Rajiv Chandrasekaran piece in the WaPo previewing his book, Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone (isn’t that a good title?), about how the Bush administration sent a bunch of inexperienced ideologues, party donors, and media to handle the reconstruction of Iraq and how, surprisingly, it did not work. We’ve seen much of this before in dribs and drabs, but put together in a single narrative, it’s rather more powerful.

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