diet coke for breakfast

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Posted by Jake
Reality Check

William Kristol has this take on the Plame affair suggesting that it is symptomatic of a larger rift within the administration.

The leak controversy has revealed an administration at war with itself, a war intensified by the difficult aftermath of the war in Iraq. The situation there seems to be better than you would think if you read only the New York Times and the Washington Post, but worrying nonetheless. On Thursday, the commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, acknowledged that the enemy had succeeded in organizing itself in recent weeks to become 'a little bit more lethal, a little bit more complex, a little bit more sophisticated, and, in some cases, a little bit more tenacious.' With its submission of the $87 billion package to Congress, the administration has begun to come to grips with the problem, and seems committed to doing what needs to be done. But reports suggest that the civilian efforts on the ground in Iraq remain spotty and that the military is stretched very thin. And even more striking, as debate has raged on its $87 billion request, the administration has been virtually invisible in making its case to Congress or to the American people.

One reason for this is that the civil war in the Bush administration has become crippling. The CIA is in open revolt against the White House. The State Department and the Defense Department aren't working together at all. We are way beyond 'fruitful tension' and all the other normal excuses for bureaucratic conflict. This is a situation that only the president can fix. Perhaps a serious talk with Messrs. Tenet, Powell, and Rumsfeld can do the trick, followed by strengthening the National Security Council's role in resolving intra-administration disputes. Perhaps a head or two has to roll. But the present condition is debilitating, and, given the challenges facing us in postwar Iraq, in Iran, and in North Korea, it is irresponsible to let it fester.

Perhaps it is time for a little restructuring. If I had to choose I think it would time for Powell and Tenet to leave. This should be followed by some clear statement about what WMD programs we found and why we are still in Iraq.

It is time for the Bush administration to take back control of the debate.


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