Dover Bitch

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Another Cheney boondoggle

When DB heard speculation around the blog-o-sphere that Elliott Abrams was behind the recent Pelosi smears, that came as no surprise, for many reasons. The biggest reason was that I heard this exchange at a State Department press briefing:

MR. MCCORMACK: I can't tell you exactly how this -- how it works. There were some staff- level contacts. Typically when congressional delegations do make plans for a visit, they do have to work with the Administration in terms of arranging the logistics and, you know, mundane things like getting country clearance from the embassy. So there is a necessary level of work that needs to be done before any foreign travel by official visitors from the government, whether that's in the Executive Branch or the Legislative Branch. I can't tell you exactly when those contacts were initiated. But of course, when we learned of the intentions of a visit, we huddled, thought about whether or not that it was in fact a good idea, whether or not this -- our position had changed from previous such proposed visits, and at that point we initiated staff-level contacts.

And when it became clear that Speaker Pelosi intended to move forward with her visit, then we offered up the briefing about where we stand in our policy vis-à-vis Syria and how we saw events in the region. Jim Jeffrey, our number two guy in the Near East Bureau, Middle East bureau, went up to Capitol Hill and I think he was actually briefing Speaker Pelosi herself as well as other members of the delegation and their staffs.

QUESTION: You said that --

QUESTION: Jim Jeffrey was going to ask Pelosi to deliver a tough message to --

MR. MCCORMACK: That's our advice. That was our advice.

Jim Jeffrey is more than a diplomat in the Near East Bureau. He's got an important job in the Iran Syria Operations Group, whose very existence was at one point denied by the White House. Here's how Laura Rozen described his position in January:

Formally overseen by a steering committee headed by National Security Council Middle East adviser Elliott Abrams and James Jeffrey, the State Department's principal deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs, the so-called ISOG is managed day to day by David Denehy, a senior adviser at State's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and a former official with the International Republican Institute. Denehy has recently told some associates that he plans to move sometime early this year to the Office of the Vice President, where he would continue to coordinate the Iran-Syria group.

I wrote about the ISOG and the cast of characters (war-mongers) and former Office of Special Plans (con artists who now work there) back in January, when a ridiculous op-ed by Liz Cheney hit the pages of the Washington Post.

What do you know? She's at it again! Dick sent his daughter on another journalistic boondoggle today to keep the pressure on Pelosi and to hide the fact that the only policy the State Department has for Syria is to hold their breath and hope it will be our sailors who wind up in an Iranian or Syrian prison instead of the wimpy British, who no longer remember how to start a glorious war.

How do you know you are dealing with people who love war? Ask if we should consider using nuclear weapons. If they say "We should keep all our options on the table," ask them if we should negotiate. When they say you cannot, you'll know for sure. No matter how much you increase the threat of violence, all options are on the table. No matter how much you reduce the potential impact of dialog, that option is off the table.

"All our options" doesn't include talking. Talking is not an option. There's no reason in the world to expect any cooperation from Syria. Period.

During the past five years, there have been no acts of terrorism against US citizens in Syria. The Government of Syria has cooperated significantly with the United States and other foreign governments against al-Qaida, the Taliban, and other terrorist organizations and individuals. It also has discouraged any signs of public support for al-Qaida, including in the media and at mosques. -- U.S. State Dept. (PDF)

Uh... Er... Well, we can only ask for cooperation if they'll going to torture a Canadian for us. That's an offer the Cheneys can't refuse. Otherwise, expect more op-eds about what rotten people they are.

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