It Was A Set-Up — They Were Getting Too Close

It turns out that the phony dispute over a leaked, never-circulated Senate Democrat committee memo that outlined ideas for what to do if the Republicans block the war intelligence probe was a complete set-up, providing cover for the Republicans to cancel the investigation.

The thought of the Republicans accusing Democrats of politicizing national security… Sheesh!

Here’s what I wrote on May 4, 2003:


I predict that the Republicans are going to start accusing the Democrats of exploiting 9/11 for political gain. The Wurlitzer is going to be talking about nothing else all through summer 04 until the election. If they do it right, it will be the major issue in the campaign: those horrible, despicable, un-American, treasonous Democrats using 9/11 to try to win the election.

I thought they’d wait until next summer. (Back then, Digby wrote this.)

And now, as the investigations and public opinion are closing in on The Party’s use of national security for political gain, we get this: Frist Freezes Senate Probe of Prewar Iraq Data:

Angry about a leaked Democratic memo, the Republican leadership of the Senate yesterday took the unusual step of canceling all business of the committee investigating prewar intelligence on Iraq.

Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) called on the author of the memo — which laid out a possible Democratic strategy to extend the investigation to include the White House and executive branch — to “identify himself or herself . . . disavow this partisan attack in its entirety” and deliver “a personal apology” to Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence.

Only if those steps are taken, Frist said, “will it be possible for the committee to resume its work in an effective and bipartisan manner — a manner deserving of the confidence of other members of the Senate and the executive branch.”

Roberts followed Frist on the floor and said that unless the Democratic members “properly” address the issue, “I am afraid that it will be impossible to return to ‘business as usual’ in the committee.”

Look at this Google search, with many examples of the Right-wing Wurlitzer manufacturing upset over the memo. Look at the way they orchestrate the pretend “outrage.” See who is speaking out, and who is covering it, and the sequence of coverage. Far-right Republican leaders speaking out (here, here, here, here), using the same words. The Washington Times covering it, pretending it’s a big story. Then far-right outlets like CNSNews issuing stories with the headline, “Memo Indicates Democrats Mulled Plan to Politicize War Planning,” being picked up and repeated by other far-right news outlets. Murdoch’s NYT Post prints, “TREASON’S FIRST COUSIN.” Heritage’s Town Hall with “Political terrorism” from, of all people, Ollie North. Manufactured outrage – all of it, obviously.

Look at this Google news search, and follow the timeline backwards. It’s obvious that the memo dispute was a set-up from the start, preparing to give them cover for blocking the investigation. Clearly they have been planning this for a while – since the Plame affair started showing the public what this crowd is really made of. How does The Party get out of being caught leaking the name of a CIA agent, and using national security to manipulate public opinion for political and financial gain? By accusing the Democrats of doing it, using the Wurlitzer to orchestrate the outrage.

It’s what they do best.

Oh yeah – one more thing. Yesterday was the deadline for the White House to turn over documents to the committee, but they refused. Incredible coincidence on the timing, no?

UpdatesThinking It Through:

Knowing W will come out looking like a dishonest snake if there’s any serious investigation into the lies he told about pre-war intelligence, Republicans are trying to shut down an investigation by pretending this memo indicates the investigation will somehow be a sort of political bag job.

This is pretty damn desperate, isn’t it?”

Talking Points Memo:

“Two guys walk into a ring for a fight. One knows he’s about to get creamed. But he can’t bear the shame and humiliation of walking away from a fight. So at the very last moment he whips out some phony claim that the other guy’s cheating.”

Body and Soul:

“Forget manufactured outrage. Can Democrats summon any of the genuine article? Sarcasm is a good beginning, but doesn’t the occasion demand something a bit stronger?”

The Left Coaster:

“First, Bill Frist just announced that because the Democrats are trying to politicize the issue of intelligence use and misuse by the Bush Administration, he is shutting down the Senate Intelligence Committee inquiry. Coming as this does from a party that used a war drive for political purposes leading up to the 2002 midterms, and then politicized intelligence to create a WMD threat that didn’t exist, this is the height of gall. But it can galvanize the Senate Democrats to unite and fight the GOP leadership and the White House on all issues, all the time. With this clumsy arrogant move by Frist and the White House, this is now a legitimate political issue for next year because it confirms that the GOP is hiding something.”

Oliver Willis:

“What’s also interesting is the machine in action. Data flows from the congress, probably through some Republican flunky and then it magically finds its way into Hannity’s hands. Then it fitters out to all the right-wing news services (Newsmax, Worldnetdaily, Washington Times) and becomes a “story”. I’m not whining about it, heck I’d like my side to get off their high horse and build up an infrastructure with that sort of resiliency and reach. That’s the only way you can win.”