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2005-07-15

Sidney Blumenthal vs. Norman Solomon on Karl Rove, the Democrats and Iraq

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Sidney Blumenthal, a former assistant and senior advisor to President Clinton, takes on Norman Solomon of the Institute for Public Accuracy and author of "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" on Iraq, the Democrats, the invasion of Iraq and much more. [includes rush transcript]

  • Sidney Blumenthal, a former assistant and senior advisor to President Clinton and author of "The Clinton Wars." His latest article is "Rove’s War" on Salon.com.
  • Norman Solomon, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy in San Francisco and the co-founder of Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). He latest book, just published, is "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death."

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: As we talk about Karl Rove, as we talk about Joseph Wilson, and we talk about the media coverage of the context of all of this — the war in Iraq — our guests are Norman Solomon, Executive Director of the Institute for Public Accuracy in San Francisco, co-founder of Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting. His latest book, War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. We’re also joined in Washington by Sidney Blumenthal, former assistant and senior advisor to President Clinton. He also wrote a book. It’s called The Clinton Wars. And his latest article is about Karl Rove, called "Rove’s War" on Salon.com. Well, let’s begin with Sidney Blumenthal. Your response to what is happening right now in Washington around Karl Rove and what you think should happen.

SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL: Well, Karl Rove is waging a communications battle in the way he wages communications battles. He is trying to act — he’s acting as though this is — this matter is going to be decided by a court of Washington pundits. He is leaking stories now. There are stories in the New York Times and the Washington Post that are clearly leaked by his lawyer trying to depict him in a light in which he is innocent of the charges, but that’s not how this is going to be decided. It’s going to be decided by the prosecutor. And I think that Rove is in a panic mode. He’s acting in a very frenetic way, and he is undermining himself, and he is undermining his principal, the President.

AMY GOODMAN: How is he undermining himself?

SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL: He’s undermining himself by putting out all of these stories and keeping this at a — in the forefront of the news. He has regarded his defense as though it is the defense of the administration himself. He cannot separate himself. Furthermore, the President has not separated him. He walked to Marine One, his helicopter, accompanied by Karl Rove, a clear statement that he stands by Rove. So, Bush has embraced Rove, as well. This is — Bush — Rove’s damage control, in my view, has created more damage. This so-called master of communications is undermining himself in terms of communications, but in the end, none of that matters. It all comes down to Patrick Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, and what he decides to do.

AMY GOODMAN: Norman Solomon.

NORMAN SOLOMON: It would be a big mistake for social movements to pin their hopes and their futures on what a court or prosecutor does. I think it’s also important for us to remember that the news media themselves, as major institutions, are framing this. They are themselves participating in the spin, and a lot of what we are getting now is this notion that there’s nothing more crucial for U.S. national security than protecting the identity of a C.I.A. agent. And hat’s a perspective, I think, that’s rather warped. National security involves, among other things, making sure that the United States government does not create enemies around the world by dropping bombs on innocent people. It also involves as national security, broadly defined, making sure that we don’t continue with the decimation of communities around this country, where we have schools and clinics, and social services being damaged severely. So I think what we’re seeing here, while it’s very interesting palace intrigue and certainly has great historical and political importance, the kind of recasting of what is on the front burner, and ironically, public concern about Iraq itself and the implications of the U.S. war there, are to some degree being shunted aside by this controversy which, in fact, has its roots in the lies about this war.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain.

NORMAN SOLOMON: Well, this war comes from a series of deceptions that go way back, go back several years, unveiled on the front page of the New York Times and other major outlets, put out there by Donald Rumsfeld and his pet Iraqi exile, Ahmed Chalabi, through the good graces of the paper of record in Judith Miller and other rather sycophant stenographic-to-power journalists. So, when you follow the chain of events — and this actually has some precedent with Watergate — it’s a wartime context. The White House engages in some dirty tricks, and then engages in lies to cover up those, and then in turn has to lie about those. And now there’s a tangle of lies and, of course, especially because the President is involved as a major player, this is real fascinating for the press. It should be to some degree, but let’s not lose perspective of what’s at stake here.

AMY GOODMAN: Sidney Blumenthal, of course, this is all happening, too, as a reporter sits in jail related to this case, the national security correspondent for the New York Times, Judith Miller. Your take on that?

SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL: Well, before I say that, I want to just say that on one of Norman’s points, I couldn’t agree — disagree more strongly that revealing the identity of a covert C.I.A. operative is somehow meaningless. It’s a serious felony against national security. Valerie Plame Wilson was working on weapons of mass destruction, including Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. She had worked for about 20 years serving our country. This is a serious crime. It is being investigated because the C.I.A. has referred it to the Justice Department in a criminal referral, and nobody should downgrade the significance of that. Now, in the matter of Judith Miller.

AMY GOODMAN: Let me get Norman Solomon’s response.

NORMAN SOLOMON: Sid, I don’t know understand how you got the idea that this is either profoundly the most important issue of national security or meaningless. Of course, I never —

SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL: I never said that, Norman, did I?

NORMAN SOLOMON: Excuse me, just let me finish the sentence. I never, as you know, I never said it was meaningless. I said that to posit as the most crucial issue of national security of this country, what happens to her and her name being made public, I think, is a very warped perspective.

SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL: I think that anyone who says what you just said ill-serves their own cause. Let me speak to the question of Judy Miller. I think that there are many unanswered questions about Judy Miller. Judy is in jail because she won’t reveal her sources as the prosecutor wants them revealed. But the problem with Judy is: Is it that there are sources or was Judy a disseminator of information and a source herself? We don’t know that, and we don’t know what the prosecutor seeks from Judy.

What we do know is that the prosecutor filed eight pages to the court of sealed affidavit of his evidence. It was apparently so convincing that the three-judge panel, including Judge Tatel, who is a Clinton appointee, ruled that Judy and Matt Cooper had to testify given the great significance of the material that they saw, but to which their lawyers were not privy. Judge Hogan, Thomas Hogan, the U.S. District Court Judge in the case, ruled that there is new evidence in the case based on the sealed affidavit, an ex parte filing by the prosecutor, and that the prosecutor has gone in new directions, which we don’t know about, and that Judy had to testify.

Now, the Times has — the New York Times has stood on the First Amendment grounds here, but I think other media institutions, including the Washington Post and Time magazine, have made other decisions and have worked out arrangements with the prosecutor. The Times, I believe, has made a miscalculation by taking a rigid stand and creating new case law against journalistic privilege. Furthermore, is there a journalistic privilege here if your source was misleading? And that’s a very interesting question, because I believe that journalists should not protect bad sources. In fact, there’s an internal New York Times policy about that. Is it being adhered to? These are questions that the Times really must answer internally right now, as their own reporter languishes in jail, now in her ninth day.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain that policy for one minute?

SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL: The policy is that if a — journalists make arrangements, contracts, if you will, with sources about information, and they agree to protect their anonymity, but not to an ultimate degree. If a source is not acting in good faith, has provided you with false information, damaging information, damages the credibility of your news organization, then your obligation to that source is invalidated. That’s an internal New York Times policy. It’s the policy of many newspapers and news organizations.

But the Times is not upholding its own policy, as I understand it. Here’s why. To begin with, what — I mean, who did — when you say that you’re protecting your sources — we know that Matt Cooper’s source, for example, was Karl Rove, and what was Karl saying? He was saying that Joe Wilson was sent on this mission by his wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, who was a covert C.I.A. operative. Now, you know, I’m getting in the weeds a little bit about this, but it’s very interesting, I think, because it’s — to begin with, this has no relevance to the law and how it plays out. It has no relevance to the case. It’s used to distract and to discredit Wilson, even though it doesn’t do so. It’s what is called in propaganda "chaff."

But the other problem is that it’s factually untrue. Wilson has had — when I mean Wilson, I mean Valerie Plame — had no authority to send her husband out on the mission. She was, if you will, in this operation a Major, and not a General. She worked in the Directorate of Operations on the task force of counter-proliferation at C.I.A. out of Langley. She had worked abroad before. She has been sent on missions abroad. She was certainly a covert C.I.A. operative. She had been trained that way and operated as a N.O.C., a non-official cover. It’s the most dangerous and valuable kind of agent the C.I.A. has. It means you don’t travel under a diplomatic passport. When I was in the White House, I traveled under a diplomatic passport. That meant if I got in trouble, I was saved. But, if you travel without it, and you are a spy, you can even be executed. So, for the C.I.A., this is a very valuable asset.

AMY GOODMAN: Sidney Blumenthal. You have made a lot of points, former advisor to President Clinton. I’d like to get Norman Solomon’s response, well-known media critic, author of War Made Easy.

NORMAN SOLOMON: Yeah, well, there’s a lot of lives at stake. Perhaps some of those agents’ lives are at stake. Certainly, many thousands of people’s lives are at stake in Iraq, both Americans and Iraqis. I think there’s a real irony in the statement that Sid made a minute ago that newspapers need not protect bad sources, because if you look at the run-up to this war on Iraq, which, of course, continues, you see that exactly that took place, and most egregiously in the case of the New York Times. The New York Times protected very bad sources in the case of Ahmed Chalabi. We found out by accident because of a leaked email that, in fact, this ballyhooed source that was utilized to put lies on the front page before the war about supposed weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was Mr. Chalabi in many cases, somebody who was nurtured by the very officials who then pointed to the New York Times front page coverage on the Sunday chat shows and so forth to cite supposed evidence for their claim that war would be necessary.

This goes, I think, to a deeper question, which is, can we have a sense of proportion and perspective where we don’t just have two choices? Either we say it’s meaningless to protect a C.I.A. agent’s identities or there is nothing more important. Certainly, it’s a valid issue to protect some government workers in this situation, but do we put it at the very top notch in terms of not only media coverage but also political emphasis and say that that is equivalent to the slaughter of thousands of people in Iraq, which continues because of the U.S. presence?

And I think this raises also the question of the role of the Democratic Party here. Under Howard Dean, the Democratic Party in the United States now has a pro-war position. Let me repeat that. The Democratic Party has a pro-war position as the war in Iraq continues. And so, how well-positioned is the Democratic Party and its leadership, such as it is, to raise these issues about lies on behalf of war and also raise these issues about the meaningfulness of this war. When — during the Vietnam War, and I know Sid Blumenthal, as well as myself, were active in writing about that war at the time, we had a situation where there were many people in the Congress who had a similar position to Howard Dean and most in the Democratic Party leadership today on this war. During the Vietnam War, they said, "Well, we can’t cut and run. We can’t pull out." That was a pro-war position. And so what kind of political discourse can we have about lies about a war that continues right now?

One other thing I’d like to mention. In 1968, as previously, and I was able to hear this in person at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in 1968, Senator Wayne Morris, the senior Senator from Oregon, a Democrat said, and I’m quoting here from transcript, "I do not intend to put the blood of this war on my hands." Here we are in the midst of the Iraq war, and I am looking for one United States senator willing to say that he or she is unwilling to put the blood of this war on his or her hands. We don’t have a single senator today willing to say that.

AMY GOODMAN: Sidney Blumenthal?

SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL: Well, Norman has views on this, and I think this is a very serious case in many, many ways. There was a serious law broken, which is why there’s a special counsel appointed, and it’s a very serious investigation. No one knows exactly what Fitzgerald is doing right now. He has acted in a very professional way, unlike Ken Starr. He does not leak illegally to the press. He does not play this game politically. Even though he’s a Republican, nominally, he has not favored Republicans in his past work as U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Illinois. And his record there shows that he puts Republicans and Democrats under the same level of scrutiny. I think that’s very important when what he does is finally played out and he is judged on the basis of his own professionalism, because I think it will come down to that.

How this plays out, I don’t know. Certainly, I think that Karl Rove has lied publicly about his role. The President said anyone who was involved in this should be fired. Rove clearly falls under that. He is not being fired. The President’s word is not his bond. What were called the highest standards are not being met, and the reason is that Rove is indispensable to the operation, politically, of this administration and of Bush’s political career. He has been involved right now in the selection of Supreme Court Justices. So, Rove is still very centrally involved, and we can see his style being played out in the smears against Wilson, as Richard Clarke, Counterterrorism Chief, was smeared, as Paul O’Neill, the former Secretary of the Treasury was smeared. It’s a very consistent pattern, and it’s Rove’s style.

AMY GOODMAN: Sidney Blumenthal, Norman Solomon, we have to break, but we’d like to come back with this discussion in just 60 seconds. This is Democracy Now! We’re talking about Karl Rove, about Joseph Wilson, the outing of his wife, Valerie Plame, as an undercover C.I.A. operative and we’re talking about the context in which all of this is taking place: the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Sidney Blumenthal, former senior advisor to President Clinton. Norman Solomon, author of the book War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking about the latest controversy in Washington, the outing of the undercover operative, C.I.A. operative, Valerie Plame, and all that entails, particularly focusing on Karl Rove, top adviser to President Bush, whom many have called "Bush’s brain." Our guests are Norman Solomon, founder — one of the founders of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Institute for Public Accuracy and author of the book War Made Easy. Sidney Blumenthal is on the line with us from Washington, former assistant — senior adviser to President Clinton, wrote the book, The Clinton Wars, and his latest article is called "Rove’s War" at Salon.com. Let me get your response, Sidney Blumenthal, to Norman Solomon’s charge, that right now, Howard Dean, the Chair of the Democratic National Committee going to whether the Democrats deal differently than the Republicans when it comes to bombing and going to war, that Howard Dean, in fact, is pro-war and leading the Democratic Party in that direction.

SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL: Well, I’m not interested in, you know, applying rhetorical labels like Norman is. I think that there are a number of Democrats who have a different —

AMY GOODMAN: Norman?

NORMAN SOLOMON: Could I say something? Sid, excuse me.

SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL: No, I haven’t finished speaking.

NORMAN SOLOMON: Could I just — well, you referred to me, and I’d just like to say something. During the Vietnam War, would you think it would have been rhetorical to ask whether leaders of the Democratic or Republican Parties were pro-war? Would that be simply rhetorical, do you think?

SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL: Well, I’m glad you allow me to speak now. Here’s what I think. I think that if you look at the statements — I can’t speak for Howard Dean. I’m not his spokesman. I don’t pretend to be his spokesman, nor I do want to be his spokesman, nor am I speaking for any Democratic elected official or appointed official, like Dean. What I would say is that, as I understand it, and as I was saying, Democratic figures have a variety of positions across the board, from Joe Biden, who has offered various remedies — whether they would be effective or not I can’t say; they certainly haven’t been applied by this administration — all the way to people who urge immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops.

I think that all of them believe, including Dean, that — as I think I’m fairly representing their positions — that Bush has committed blunders in the war, whether or not Democrats supported the war in voting for a resolution in the fall of 2002, and — in the Senate, and I think they all generally agree that Bush committed blunders in the immediate aftermath of the war and that we are left with a mess that presents the country and our national security with all sorts of problems. People don’t have answers, because I don’t think there are simple answers here. And there’s no simple party position. I think calling it pro-war really removes the kind of nuance that Bush has contempt for. So, I don’t know where that gets you in a discussion. It’s the kind of rhetoric that prevents discussion rather than opens it.

AMY GOODMAN: Norman Solomon, your response.

NORMAN SOLOMON: Sid, I think it’s about clarity. I mean, we should call things what they are. If it’s a pro-war position, and presumably it maybe can be defended, let’s call it for what it is, otherwise it seems we are kind of tap-dancing while the blood continues to run. We remember that Martin Luther King, Jr. denounced what he called the "madness of militarism." And I wonder if you feel today that we have madness of militarism in this country that both political parties on Capitol Hill are part of.

SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL: Well, I appreciate your position, Norman. You know, I think that one of the problems that the Democrats face is that they have no responsibility or authority in this matter. And they’re not listened to. One of the political realities that I think everyone needs to be very mindful of is that the Republicans are in charge. This is very hard for people to recognize, very different from the situation you described during the Vietnam War, when you had, at least under Nixon, a Democratic Congress, Democratically-controlled Congress. It’s not the case now. We have one-party government. And the leadership, Republican leadership of the Congress, takes the lead of the Bush administration on national security and on Iraq policy.

And what the democrats say, even if it might be effective, is not listened to. The ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden, has many specific policy recommendations. He is not heeded by the Bush administration. So whatever you might say rhetorically is whistling in the wind when the Bush administration has complete, total, thorough and ultimate responsibility for every sparrow on the ground in Iraq, and the Democrats have none.

NORMAN SOLOMON: Excuse me, it’s remarkable for you to say that the Democrats in Congress have no responsibility. That was your terminology. I think it is amazing to say that to kind of obfuscate and talk about how complex this is, and besides the Democrats aren’t in power, somehow we are to believe that isn’t rhetoric in itself, and then we’re supposed to let the hundreds of Democrats on Capitol Hill off the hook. I don’t think that flies any more than it would have flown during L.B.J.'s escalation of the Vietnam War for Republicans to be told, ’Well, gee, you have no responsibility to raise issues, to probe, you're in the minority.’ That is, in the light of history, allowing blood to drip from the hands of those people. And you may call that rhetoric to people in Iraq. It is reality.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go —

SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL: Well, Norman, I just want to say that by responsibility, I mean responsibility in controlling the government, and that means not only the Executive, but the Congress. The Democrats cannot call hearings. They do not control committees. They have no majority. They cannot set the agenda. They cannot call witnesses. You saw what happened with Congressman Conyers on the Downing Street memo, and how he was even forced off the Capitol grounds, because the Republicans would not even grant him a hearing room to hold an unofficial hearing.

NORMAN SOLOMON: And yet, Sid, you have been around the block a lot, and you can remember when Clinton was in the White House, and the Republicans did not have a majority of both houses, and Republicans yelled and screamed bloody murder and got the White House to start moving in their direction because they raised hell. Why are Democrats — now admittedly, there’s more unfortunate backbone in the White House now than during the Clinton years, but why are you unwilling to call upon Democrats in Congress to start raising hell against this war and hopefully begin to change the political climate of the country?

SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL: I think that — I think that there are a lot of questions that are being raised by Democrats, as I said, and I also say the Democrats don’t have a unified position here. There’s no one voice in the Democratic Party that speaks for every Democrat across the board on this matter. And that’s what happens when you’re completely out of power. That’s just a function of being out of power. That’s what’s going on.

AMY GOODMAN: Sid Blumenthal, Norman Solomon, I wanted to go back to a time when the Democrats were in power. Sid Blumenthal, you were, too, as a top adviser to President Clinton. During the Democratic primary in New Hampshire in late January 2004, Democracy Now! correspondent, Jeremy Scahill, questioned General Wesley Clark, who was the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, oversaw the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia. Of course, President Clinton was in power then. Jeremy covered the bombing from the ground in Yugoslavia. Among the issues he raised with Wesley Clark was the bombing of R.T.S., Radio Television Serbia, that killed 16 media workers. This is a part of the questioning. I’d like to get both of your responses.

JEREMY SCAHILL: General Clark, just on that issue of the bombing of Radio Television Serbia, Amnesty International called it a war crime.

WESLEY CLARK: Excuse me, I’m not —

JEREMY SCAHILL: Amnesty called it a war crime, and it was condemned by all journalist organizations in the world, and it killed makeup artists and engineers.

WESLEY CLARK: Alright, I want to answer this fellow. I want to answer this fellow, because the truth was that that — first of all, we gave warnings to Milosevic that was going to be struck. I personally called the CNN reporter and had it set up so that it would be leaked, and Milosevic knew he had the warning because after he got the warning, he actually ordered western journalists to report there as a way of, you know, showing us his power, and we had done it deliberately to sort of get him accustomed to the fact that he better start evacuating. There were actually six people who were killed, as I recall.

JEREMY SCAHILL: There were 16.

WESLEY CLARK: I recall six.

JEREMY SCAHILL: I was there at the time, and I know the families. And they do hold Milosevic accountable, and they also hold you accountable.

WESLEY CLARK: They were ordered to stay there, sir.

JEREMY SCAHILL: And they were makeup artists, and they were engineers, and they were technicians.

WESLEY CLARK: Yes, they were. I remember reading the story. But I want to tell you about it. That was part of —

JEREMY SCAHILL: And Amnesty International said you committed a war crime by doing that.

WESLEY CLARK: Well, it was all looked at by the International Criminal Tribunal on Yugoslavia. All of my actions were examined. They were all upheld by the highest law in the United States and by the United Nations.

JEREMY SCAHILL: And you think a media outlet is a legitimate target, when it has innocent civilians inside of it.

WESLEY CLARK: No, but when it’s used as command and control, it is.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Even if it kills make-up artists.

WESLEY CLARK: Well, now, wait a minute. You have to let me finish, and then —

JEREMY SCAHILL: Go ahead, you can finish.

WESLEY CLARK: What I said was we would give them the warnings, it was part of their command and control system. It was approved as a legitimate target under the laws of land warfare. And it went through the U.S. government. And so that’s the basis on which we struck. We actually called the bombers back one time, because there was still —- it was still unclear to us that we weren’t absolutely certain. What we know is that Milosevic ordered them to stay there. And it was wrong, but -—

AMY GOODMAN: That was NATO leader and Democratic candidate for President, General Wesley Clark. The bombing, of course, ordered by President Clinton. Sidney Blumenthal, your response, and then we’ll take it forward to Iraq and possibly future attacks like Iran. Go ahead.

SID BLUMENTHAL: Well, Wes Clark appears to have the most knowledge about the details. He was the commander responsible, and his account, undoubtedly, is accurate there.

AMY GOODMAN: Norman Solomon.

NORMAN SOLOMON: In my book, War Made Easy, I quote some dispatches from Serbia as a result of the U.S.-led NATO bombing that took place, and I think a couple of brief ones are germane. The San Francisco Chronicle reporting: "In a street leading from the market, dismembered bodies were strewn among carrots and other vegetables in pools of blood, a dead woman, her body covered with a sheet, was still clutching a shopping bag filled with carrots." And then reporting from Belgrade, the BBC correspondent John Simpson said, quote, "Used against human beings, cluster bombs are some of the most savage weapons of the modern warfare." Just again raises the perennial question: Are we going to have a single standard of decency coming out of the White House, no matter what the party of the President?

AMY GOODMAN: Norman Solomon, you just came back from Iran.

NORMAN SOLOMON: Yeah, I fear, based on the evidence, that there’s agenda building underway for ratcheting up pressure on Iran. I believe while the U.S. military is stretched in terms of personnel, it’s quite plausible to believe that a missile attack could be forthcoming in the next 12 or 18 months. And I’m really concerned that there’s a kind of an exceptionalism that’s been carved out by many leading Democrats that what happened in the attack in Iraq was unusual and extraordinary and that the baseline of justifying missile strikes and other military attacks could come into play, and so I guess it all boils down to again: Will members of Congress and the Democratic Party and others at the grassroots — how will they respond to an attack on Iran? Are they willing now, and I wonder if my co-guest here, Sid Blumenthal, would be willing to say straight out, clearly now, we are opposed to a U.S. missile strike on Iran?

AMY GOODMAN: Sidney Blumenthal?

SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL: I think that would, obviously, it would be very counter productive, and furthermore, I don’t think that it could ever really get to — if — if Iran is developing nuclear weapons and using its nuclear capacity to do so, it would have — the justification for bombing is in itself self-undermining, because we don’t know where everything is.

AMY GOODMAN: What about —

SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL: So you could bomb, and you wouldn’t necessarily find anything. I think that there are other problems — and I think this is all very, very, very speculative.

AMY GOODMAN: Let me —

SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL: Nor do I think these are the principle issues facing us on Iran right now. I think principle issues are our continued involvement with the European Union negotiators with Iran in keeping Iran within the confines of the N.P.T., the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

AMY GOODMAN: Sid Blumenthal, let me end the show with now. Are you for an immediate pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq?

SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL: Am I for it? My views on this are utterly irrelevant. No one would ever take them seriously. I think that there’s — I think that U.S. policymakers on this matter need to consider whether or not the U.S. occupation itself is a source of much of the problem in Iraq right now.

AMY GOODMAN: And finally, just this point, which is what the whole conversation has revolved around: Did the Democrats enable the Republicans to do this in Iraq? The issue of weapons of mass destruction; the Presidential election of 2004, where the leading Democratic candidate, the Presidential Democratic candidate, John Kerry, even after it was exposed there were no WMDs, said if he knew then what he knew now, he would still vote to authorize the invasion.

NORMAN SOLOMON: Well, it goes to the point of that you can’t be against militarism effectively on Tuesdays, Thursday and alternate Saturdays or depending on the way the polls run. And I want to note that a few years ago it was considered and proclaimed to be speculative — we were told that it was speculative that there might be an attack on Iraq, and we see what happened.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there. I thank you both for spending the hour. Norman Solomon, author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, and Sidney Blumenthal, former senior advisor to President Clinton, his book called The Clinton Wars.

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