The headline may be Bush Apologizes, Calls Abuse 'Stain' on Nation but we Kremlinologists know the real goodies are elsewhere.
First, the top folks in the State department are intensifying their campaign to redeem themselves, even if this means trashing Bush. Powell's interview with GQ came out last week, in which he tired to play loyal to the boss while roughing up his bureaucratic rivals. Then, this week, the increased budget request for Iraq went to Congress without any warning to State, leaving Powell humiliated when he'd just been telling Congress there wouldn't a request for months.
Purely coincidentally, today State lets it be known that only Bush's intransigence and unwillingness to apologize kept him from doing it in the day before yesterday's Arab TV interviews when it still might have done some good. You know that Bush, hates to admit he's wrong. But we, the guys at State who are now worried about our reputations when we have to look for new jobs in January, we want the world to know it's not our fault:
A wide variety of officials in the administration had advised Bush to apologize on Wednesday when he gave interviews to two Arab television channels and were puzzled when he did not, senior U.S. officials said. An apology had been recommended in the talking points Bush received from the State Department and elsewhere, the officials said. Senior administration aides then made a push overnight for him to say he was sorry during his news conference with Abdullah, the officials said.
Talk about burying the good stuff in a news article. But wait, there's more fun stuff in the depths of Mike Allen's article.
Also yesterday, the government's chief classifier decided to open an investigation into the appropriateness of classifying the Army's probe of prison abuses. J. William Leonard, director of the Information Security Oversight Office, agreed to a request in a letter from Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists.
In the letter, Aftergood cited the executive order on classification, No. 12958, as prohibiting the classification of documents solely to “conceal violations of law.” Government documents are supposed to be classified if revealing their contents would harm national security. Senior Pentagon officials have been unable to explain why the report, known as an Article 15-6, was classified. In response to a reporter's question on May 4, Pace said, “I do not know specifically why it was labeled secret.”
At the same news conference, Rumsfeld also was at a loss to explain why the report would be considered secret. “You'd have to ask the classifier,” he said.
Just what is the Information Security Oversight Office? It is adminstratively part of the National Archives — you know the same archives Bush is trying to politicize — although it gets its marching orders (“receive our policy and program guidance”) from the National Security Council (NSC).
Hmm. That would be Condi Rice? Which gives rise to a really evil thought. Suppose the author of the report was the classifier. (Generally, if you have a security clearance and produce a document which relies on secret docs, you have an obligation to make sure the new document is properly classified.) That would be United States Army Major General Antonio M. Taguba, probably not the White House and the NSC's favorite general this week. This wouldn't be an attempt to get him in trouble? Nah. Surely if Eisenhower had someone to hold his underwear when he stepped into it,1 then Major Generals have someone to do the job of classifying documents for them. Yes, stick with the simple explanation: Rats. Ship. Whole lotta water.
1 “To leave his mind and his time free, he had others to do the most basic of human chores for him. He did not dress himself – John Moaney, his valet, put on his underwear, socks, shoes, pants, shirt, jacket and tie.” — Stephen E. Ambrose, Eisenhower, p. 299.