Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Iraq: Senator Clinton's Fatal Defense

In retroactively explaining her vote to authorize the President to use force in Iraq, Senator Clinton raised the issue of Presidential deception over the Iraq WMD issue. Small problem: Clinton had an independent duty to review the information, explore the arguments, and see the obvious: The arguments were not adding up.

Clinton's error is to argue that she was assuming the President was telling the truth. It appears she's asking us to believe a myth: Despite her husbands misstatements on a martial affair, that President's tell the truth on all things. Perhaps she didn't throw the lamp quite hard enough at her husband, and her outrage at her husband did not shatter her core belief that President's can be trusted.

On issues of Power, the Senator failed to exercise her legal responsibility as an attorney; and failed to apply her experience as an attorney to the Iraq WMD issues. Until Clinton is challenged over the questions she, as a Senator, did or didn't ask, we can reasonably presume she would, as President, not ask the same kinds of questions, but delegating the oversight to someone else. That is not leadership by a Member of Congress, nor as a President, but recklessness.

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Iraq Use of Force Vote and Hillary As Commander in Chief

I have considered Senator Clinton's statement on responsibility for her vote authorizing the President to use force in Iraq.

There is a problem with her public statement on responsibility: She asserts that she didn't know certain things; and had she known the truth, she would not have voted to give the President power to do something.

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I am concerned that her statement on responsibility is incomplete. Let's suppose for the moment that Senator Clinton is elected President.

Implicit in the Senator's statement on responsibility is the argument that the President, not the Senator did or didn't do something. The distinction is subtle, but important.

Let's consider what Senator Clinton is saying: That because of the President's actions or inaction -- namely, telling or not telling the truth -- that the President's actions alone are the basis to accept the Senator's statement on responsibility.

This reasoning is flawed for several reasons.

First, the Senator is implicitly arguing that the President, not the Senator, was the primary source of information.

Second, the Senator is avoiding the issue of what the Senator, regardless what the President did or didn't do, as a leader should have done.

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Senator Clinton's implicit request for absolution with here statement on responsibility misses the point. As President, the Hillary Rodham-Clinton would have the responsibility to do what she did not do with the Iraq WMD issue: Asking questions, assessing the answers, and making an informed decision.

Clinton cannot credibly argue, for purposes of assigning responsibility for her vote, that the President mislead her. The President may have misled the country, but Bush's misstatements on the WMD issues in Iraq did not prevent Clinton and others from asking questions; then assessing whether the responses were or were not reasonable.

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Iraq WMD Questions on Scrapple Face

Consider the lines of questions at this link. These are very important to consider.

When we review Clinton's remarks on the Iraq WMD, these questions are ignored; and Clinton assigns responsibility for her vote on the AUMF to the President. This is not acceptable.

Clinton, like very other Member of Congress, had the power, responsibility, and information to ask these types of questions; whether the President was or was not lying is irrelevant, secondary, and an equally important issue, but outside Clinton's control.

Clinton, had she asked these types of questions, then considered the answers, responses, red herrings, and non-sense answers should have known things were not adding up. The discussion at this link clearly showed the basis for the arguments was non-sense, not facts; and that the basis to believe the President or anyone on the Iraq WMD assertions relied on faulty reasoning.

This disconnect is not something Senator Clinton noted, commented on, reviewed, or publicly stated. Rather her whole focus is exclusively on whether the President did or did not do something.

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Presidential Oversight, Questions

These types of questions are what Hillary CLinton as President will be expected to ask, digest, and review. As with the Iraq WMD issues, Senator Clinton as President would be the sole person to review, question, and oversee the issues.


Clinton might argue that as President she will have a staff to assist her. This may be true, but raises the question: What prevented the staff from asking these types of questions, then forwarding to her analysis showing that the basis for the President's arguments were flawed.

The same staff that failed to ask these questions will not be able to do better if Clinton is President.

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Let's give the Senator the benefit of the doubt. Suppose she has a list of questions that she, as President, would ask.

___ Where is that list of questions when challenging the President on his Iran -- not Iraq -- issues?

___ Does the Senator have a plan to apply the lessons of the President's deception over Iraq WMD, and create a list that will apply where it counts: On the same types of deceptions with Iran?

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Anything which got in the way of Senator Clinton's staff raising these types of questions and issues would be expected to continue under a Hillary Clinton Presidency.

Indeed, as long as Senator Clinton avoids facing the issue of what she did or did not do, analyze, or ask, Senator Clinton has no incentive, catalyst, or need to develop a new framework that she would apply as President. Rather, she is likely to do the same as Bush: Find something else to blame, rather than accept real responsibility for what she did or didn't do, ask, review, analyze, ask, inquire, or independently ask.

This discussion clearly showed there were flawed arguments behind the basis for the invasion. It didn't matter that that President was or was not lying; rather, the failure to provide a coherent argument, and the dubious assertions, showed the President was most likely lying; and the basis for the action was flawed.

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Senator Clinton's error is to implicitly start with the premise that the President's word was or was not true. This presumption is flawed: The role of checks and balances, debate, and Congressional oversight is to challenge the President, not defer to his assertion. The President's statements can never be presumed to be the starting point for the debate, but the provable point for the President.

Clinton failed to do what was done here: Inquire, ask questions, review the answers, and make an independent judgement about the premises for the discussion:

____ Which information is most likely true

____ What arguments have or have not been credibly defended, supported, or asserted

____ What questions, when answered, rely on non=sense statements

____ What sources of information are or are not credible?

____ Is there a reasonable basis for the timing, urgency, and need for action?

____ If the logical arguments presented to defend the reasons for force are or are not plausible, how does the weakness of these arguments shed light on the weakness of the associated planning?

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One does not presume the information is or is not true, but ask a fundamental question: Has the Senator fully asserted her oath to do what was done here: Review information, question the points, and debate the basis for the arguments.

The error is to start with an assertion that was flawed: That the President's position was valid, and all things would follow.

The correct approach, which the Senator should be prepared to engage as President, is for Hillary Clinton to assert a position, and expect the Congress to fully challenge her arguments.

Senator Clinton is pretending the she, as a Senator, is not responsible for not having considered the possibility that the argument may be flawed, shows that she has a double standard on arguments. Malpractice claims in the legal profession stem from attorneys having not done what they should have done: Considered the arguments and possibility that a claim or line of arguments may or may not be raised.

Arguably, if Senator Clinton were making the same kind of argument as a defense to malpractice -- that she relied on the opposing party's position as true, and didn't challenge it -- she could arguably be hit with a malpractice claim for having not done what she as an attorney is licensed and paid to do: Credibly assert an opposing position until the facts and arguments clearly support the opposing view.

Again, the obvious flaws with the arguments clearly surface; Clinton's error is not to use her legal expertise, and challenge the President's arguments was was done here.

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I appreciate the position the Senator is in: She would like to be President, and hopes to move on, suggesting that she has learned, and is accepting responsibility for the mess that's occurred.

The error is multiple:

1. She hasn't accepted responsibility for what she did or didn' do;

2. She hasn't accepted responsibility for failing to raise these issues;

3. She hasn't responsibility for not challenging the President;

4. She hasn't accepted responsibly for not applying her legal skills;

5. She hasn't accepted responsibly for not doing what she, as a Senator, had a duty to do: Credibly ask these types of questions, assess the answers, and come to her independent conclusions.

6. She didn't accept responsibility for having failed to question the flawed fundamental premise: That the President, as any adversarial party, might be lying.

Future Discussion

___ Where is Senator Clinton's' list of questions that she did not ask; and how is she applying this list of questions to new issues like Iran?

___ How does Senator Clinton explain the the issues she ignored; and how will the failure to raise these issues be resolved [a] either between now and when she becomes President; or [b] in a new staffing approach where staff are tasked to provide credible views?

___ If Clinton is no able to assign staff to raise these types of questions and issues when she's out of the spotlight, who is going to be there to raise these issues when her responsibilities as President increase?

___ If Clinton can't take the time to ask these questions and analyze the logic errors, what is going to change when she becomes President: Why should we expect her to ask the right questions on new issues?

___ Why should we believe, given the secret information Clinton would review as President, that she will independently do what she did not with the Iraq WMD issues: raises these types of issues questions?

___ Why is Senator Clinton supporting or not supporting a particular policy where there are reasonable doubts about the issues which were never addressed or resolved, as was the problem here?

___ What questions did she not ask over the Iraq WMD issues that she should have; and what is her plan to ask the right questions as President?

___ Given her assignment of responsibility for the ruse to the President, and no acceptance that she failed to independently review the reasonable lines of questions, why should anyone believe that she's going to do anything differently as President?

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Clinton's Smokescreen Insulates Her From Needed Catalyst

Without a catalyst for change, Clinton has no reason to change her approach to issues or questions. The evidence suggests, because she is assigning blame to the President, that she's shifting the focus, and the needed catalyst, from herself to the President. Without a catalyst for change, there is no reason to believe Clinton would, as President, do anyting else other than what she did not ask

____ What is going to magically change: Why is there any basis to believe that there will be a new catalyst for change in Clinton's approach if she's successfully avoided responsibility for her inaction on the Iraq WMD questions?

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The way forward is to consider the questions Senator Clinton did not ask; and review why, despite the answered and unresolved logic errors with the arguments, the Senator voted to support the AUMF.

As President, Clinton will have the responsibility to surround herself with advisers who ask the right questions; and verifies that she is asking the right questions of the intelligence community. As Senator, nothing stopped her from doing what an attorney does -- making adverse inferences.

Clinton has taken the first step in accepting that she did vote to authorize the President to do something. It is a separate matter whether the President did or didn't lie. The responsibility of a representative in a Republic is to do the people's bidding, not retroactively find a scapegoat.

If Clinton and others are willing to really assign blame to the President, the lack of a call for prosecution for that Congressional deception says more than the Iraq body count or crocodile tears for what the President is still doing: Bungling an operation going on four years after the 2003 invasion. WWII, in four years, would have been winding down by now. America's leaders are still winding up their excuses to explain away what they didn't do, and pretend the problem lies with someone else.

Where the Congress refuses to impeach, we can only conclude that Congress is not serious about assigning full responsibility for what did or didn't happen; and refuses to accept that it, as a body and Members individually, were reckless in not credibly challenging.

We've elected these people because of their expertise. Clinton may or may not have had a stellar legal profession. If she's going to pretend that her legal expertise is not relevant, and that she should not be held to accountable for not raising these types of questions and issues, then as an attorney, she's failed; and as a leader she's not credibly translated her advertised expertise into meaningful results.