alien & sedition.
Monday, March 05, 2007
  Bolton: "Wolf! Wolf!"

When the true believer is confronted with evidence that his beliefs are wrong, he doesn't change his beliefs - he ups the ante. For instance: everyone's favorite "ambassador" has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, in which he's looking to counter the damage from last week's revelations about the Administration's catastrophic blunders in Korea.

As you'll recall, the US abandoned the Agreed Framework in 2002, over American contentions that North Korea was developing a highly enriched uranium (HEU) program. Once the US had ditched the Agreed Framework, the Koreans went ahead and made nukes - real nukes - from the plutonium program that the Framework had been keeping in check. Now the Bush Administration is admitting that it did not have solid evidence of an HEU program to begin with.

Bolton responds as neoconservatives typically do when presented with facts: by attacking the messenger and doubling down on the argument. Criticizing the Times article for being short on "attributable sources," Bolton argues that there was not
any reversal on actual facts, only an apparent shift in the "confidence level." My understanding is that the decrease in confidence stems from the absence of significant new or contemporary information about North Korea's activities. This lack of new information may be attributable to a loss of sensitive sources and methods, or it may be attributable to the effectiveness of President Bush's Proliferation Security Initiative, or its creative financial sanctions, in drying up North Korea's procurement activity.
Of course, Bolton is deliberately missing the point: to have sacrificed a successful agreement and allowed North Korea to develop real plutonium nuclear weapons, on the basis of debatable evidence about an HEU program that either did not exist, or was embryonic compared to the plutonium program, was a criminally stupid blunder.

As Jacob Weisberg has pointed out, there's a reason for this sudden Administration admission about the HEU intelligence:
Why are senior officials suddenly saying that North Korea might not have an enriched-uranium program? No new information has come to light on the issue. They are saying this for one reason: President Bush recently agreed to a nuclear deal with the North Koreans; the deal says nothing about enriched uranium (it requires them only to freeze their plutonium-bomb program); so, in order to stave off the flood of criticism from Bush's conservative base, senior officials are saying that the enriched uranium was never a big deal to begin with.
As Weisberg says, at this point the Administration's intelligence is so politicized as to be completely useless. Who knows if there was an HEU program or not? All we get is intelligence tailored to suit the daily political needs of the White House.

Meanwhile, Bolton's off with the dead enders. He cites Nick Eberstadt, the AEI analyst who has been denouncing the six-party agreement and demanding that the Bush administration repeat its mistakes of 2002. And he actually quotes Rumsfeld: "the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

Sure. But neither is it evidence of absence of the real frigging nukes that were the North Koreans' prize for your little neocon word games.

Let's rephrase that Rumsfeldism into something more accurately describing the neconservative mindset. Perhaps: "the absence of evidence is evidence for whatever the hell we want it to be."

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