July 10, 2009

Keeping George W Bush in the Dark

TPMMuckraker asks Was Bush Kept In The Dark On DOJ Concerns About Surveillance?

One passage on the IGs report on surveillance suggests something that perhaps shouldn't come as a surprise -- that President Bush was kept in the dark by members of the White House staff about about serious objections to the surveillance program raised by others in the administration.

As an obsessed Bush watcher, I do not find this at all surprising as it was clear when you understood how Bush made decisions, he didn't really care about the quality of the information he had on hand to make his decision. He simply took whatever was passed to him and decided.

A good example of this was the type of "briefings" that Bush was given as Governor of Texas where it was clear that care was taken to only give him information that reinforced his advisor's position and Bush's prejudices (he believes only guilty people are on death row). In 2003, Albert Berlow obtained Alberto Gonzales' death penalty execution briefings provided for Governor Bush as he weighed whether there were some mitigating circumstances that would cause the Governor to overturn the execution. Here's how I summarized Berlow's findings then:

It appears that rather than "bothering" Bush with information that might raise troubling questions about whether the death-penalty was appropriate, Gonzales provided material that was prosecutorial in nature and so reinforced the notion that the penalty was justified.

And this was what I concluded then:

So, it appears that Bush made his decisions on these cases based on faulty and/or incomplete information. Bush's decision making has been a topic I'd explored before here and here. How often is the information being given to Bush faulty? What does this say about him that his advisers feel free to not provide him a complete picture? How much of it is because Bush really doesn't want to worry about the details? He prides himself on his decisiveness, but this can be a very bad trait when the decisions are made without insight and/or thoughtfulness. For Bush, it seems to be yet one more case where a basically lazy and unreflective man relies on his gut feelings and his supreme self-confidence in his own capabilities. That and the fact that God tells him what to do.

And BTW, when Bill Kristol asked why are people afraid of the possibility of Sarah Palin as President, Josh responded he wasn't afraid of Sarah, but actually thinks it is funny. Josh then asked if anyone disagreed.

Well, I disagree. Frankly, I find even the potential of her having power frightening, not because Sarah is a bad person, but because she has all the bad Bush flaws but doubled-down. The Conservative true-believers installed a incurious, arrogant and ignorant man as President and look at what he wrought. Sarah is worse than Bush, because she is even less connected to reality, less educated, less thoughtful, less willing to listen to others and even more susceptible to manipulation and more willing to find scapegoats for her ire. Her presidency would doom not just the US but the world.

I worry that people like Bill Kristol can't see that and haven't even started to question about what makes someone a suitable candidate for President.

Posted by Mary at July 10, 2009 09:16 PM | US Politics | Technorati links |

I think George W's days are up?

Obama is the man of the moment.

Posted by: Greg at July 11, 2009 02:15 AM

Purposefully going without essential pieces of information is exactly the pattern of governing and leadership in and out of the federal government, the military, and private corporations. The elite wear this mantle with an arrogant flair. And their obsequious followers leverage it to further ingratiate themselves with their narcissistic mentors.

Posted by: RICH at July 11, 2009 02:20 PM

NYT: Cheney linked to hiding CIA project
NYT: Cheney linked to hiding CIA project

Former vice president told agency to hide it from Congress, 2 sources say

The Central Intelligence Agency withheld information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, the agency’s director, Leon E. Panetta, has told the Senate and House intelligence committees, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday.

A congressionally-mandated report by Inspectors General of five separate intelligence agencies confirms that the Bush administration carried out “unprecedented,” massive surveillance activities beyond the warrantless wirteapping program that had previously been revealed. The Bush administration authorized the program without fully notifying Congress:

Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., told The Associated Press she was shocked to learn of the existence of other classified programs beyond the warrantless wiretapping.

Former Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales made a terse reference to other classified programs in an August 2007 letter to Congress. But Harman said that when she had asked Gonzales two years earlier if the government was conducting any other undisclosed intelligence activities, he denied it.

Posted by: ccokz at July 12, 2009 01:02 AM

Sorry - Sarah just doesn't have what it takes to be the president. I did vote for McCain but said a prayer that he would stay healthy. Not trying to diss her (I do like her personally) - but she just doesn't have it...

Posted by: Sam at July 13, 2009 05:13 PM