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Deciphering Political Hacks By: Alan Nathan
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, March 06, 2007


After debating over 200 Congressional leaders, countless interest group advocates and their respective media enablers, I’m no longer mystified about how these cult-like zealots can so comfortably deny the undeniable when asked about their weaknesses or a rival’s strengths. Their formula should be called, The Argument of Mythical Comparisons, or if you’ll allow, AMC. To be one of them, follow these instructions:

When asked about any event of political consequence, simply juxtapose it to an artificially elevated or lowered standard depending upon whether you’re on offense or defense.

If your political opponent does something well, compare it to what should have been achieved, but wasn’t.

Conversely, if you do something wrong, compare it to worse things committed by others under similar circumstances.

Thanks to these easily adjustable standards, both your rival’s success and your own transgression become relatively insignificant by default.

These were the tactics in play every time you witnessed a politico or his surrogate being questioned and said to yourself, "Damn, he’s off the hook again!" It’s a fair observation. How do these characters so often manage to escape accountability, even when they’re seemingly caught either doing or being whatever it is that’s triggering the inquiry? It’s easy; we encourage them by tolerating these same kaleidoscopic parameters denoting right and wrong.

Please understand - this is not just another recipe in spin, which is an emphasis on whatever favors one side over the other regardless of substance. AMC actually allows the powerful and their surrogates to hide things in plain sight despite their culpability. Emblematic of this are the fantasy battles still surrounding pre-Iraq war intelligence and proof of Iranian attacks against us.

In July of 2004, the 9-11 Commission published their analysis of the events that culminated in the assault that would later define us. While there was legitimate criticism over its political neutrality and deductive competence, it nonetheless managed to crystallize the circumstances, activities and intelligence breakdowns better than had anything else at the time.

Then as now, there was bombastic debate concerning whether or not Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was linked to al-Qaeda. However, when the 9-11 Commission issued their report, a different standard was created. No longer were links the measure of illicit cooperation between the two; the new gauge had become operational links and the commission said there were none. But the commission never argued that there were no serious links whatsoever. Predictably, this fact ran contrary to the anticipatory journalism behind the Washington Post’s headline a month earlier reporting that the, "Al Qaeda-Hussein Link Is Dismissed."

As had been cited by the Clinton Justice Department in 1998, Iraq and al-Qaeda were again exposed as having the dangerous links of terrorist training, weapons development and safe-haven agreements according to that same 9-11 Commission. These links were acknowledged in separate statements by both of its top chairs, former New Jersey Governor Republican Thomas Kean and former Indiana Congressman Democrat Lee J. Hamilton. Also echoing their sentiments was then acting CIA Director John McLaughlin:

There was no question in our minds that there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. Gov. Thomas Kean, press conference, July 22, 2004.

I don't think there's any doubt but that there were some contacts between Saddam Hussein's government and al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden's people. Congressman Hamilton, PBS, June 16, 2004, in response to then US Attorney Pat Fitzgerald’s video statement that Hussein and Bin Laden had made some dangerous deals.

We could also say that there had been some training that had flown back and forth between the two sides. And we could say that there was some degree of safe haven that Al Qaida-related people had obtained in Iraq for a variety of reasons. Acting CIA Director John McLaughlin, Fox News Channel, July 18, 2004.

In 2002, with Bin Laden’s help they (Islamist-extremists) re-formed into an organization called Ansar al-Islam. There are indications that by then the Iraqi regime tolerated and may even have helped Ansar al-Islam against the common Kurdish enemy. 9-11 Commission Report, July 22, 2004.

War supporters continue mischaracterizing the past Iraqi/al-Qaeda cooperation as coordination while the opponents falsely portray it as no links.

To show Iranian complicity against us in the battlefield, we had to illustrate government involvement. That involvement has been materially proven by the discovered Iranian Quds Forces in Iraq who are supplying, transporting and detonating armor-piercing, explosively formed projectiles (EFP’s). They are tank killers. But because nobody can confirm that the Iranian President himself gave the order, by default the government link that was established somehow becomes less tenable. This is deranged!

No one can pass muster with perpetually changing standards. The Iranian government link to Iraqi and American deaths has been established and that’s all that was required. Just as Bush wouldn’t have plausible deniability if a US Marine regiment attacked Paris, so Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinijad can’t be shielded by equally silly press claims of severability.

It’s not incumbent upon us to figure out their inbox labeling methodology. Rather it’s incumbent upon them to manage their own affairs-of-state and when elements of that government attack the troops of other nations, those nations get to hold Iran accountable regardless of the internal chain-of-command that brought about those attacks.

It’s bad enough that they get to use Hizbollah as a war-proxy; they surely can’t use themselves – where then is the proxy? Iran is culpable because they’re either in control or because they failed to control.

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Alan Nathan, a combative centrist and "militant moderate," a columnist, and the nationally syndicated talk show host of "Battle Line With Alan Nathan" on the Radio America Network.


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