Here we are again in this alternative universe in which it's front page news that Colin Powell has conceded that some of his testimony before the UN Security Council early last year was based on intelligence that was not "that solid."
I also hear that Pope has conceded that the Earth revolves around the Sun, and not vice versa. But I'm not sure that development garnered equal press coverage.
Since it has been a given for months that none of the speech's intelligence assessments about current programs were correct, this would seem to be a rather limited concession.
Powell is an ambiguous figure in all this. In an effort which he and his handlers went to great lengths to make known to the press at the time, he sat down at CIA headquarters for I think a couple days shortly before this appearance, and tossed out much of the more ridiculous material from Chalabi's defectors which OSD and OVP were pressing upon him. What he went with was the stuff that seemed at least more credible at the time.
Yet in the key months leading up to the war Powell also repeated particularly incendiary bits of intelligence information which we now know were already widely discredited within the Intelligence Community.
In one of the more comic and farcical strands of this story, many of the more ardent Iraq hawks and bogus intelligence schemers and dupes in and out of the administration now point to Powell as the biggest culprit in the whole manipulated intelligence fiasco. Their argument is that when it came time for the US government to make what was the closest thing to its official case -- that is, before the world at the UN -- it was Powell speaking the words, not Doug Feith or Paul Wolfowitz or Scooter Libby or anyone else.
So Powell takes the fall in their eyes because he gave that presentation and that apparently is vastly worse than a year of muscling the intelligence agencies, getting this goofiness before congress, salting it into the president's speeches and being the sources for myriad newspaper articles.
Let's touch on another matter that should have our attention: control of the electronic media on the ground in Iraq. It's become a given in some circles that whatever actually happens in Iraq over the coming months -- particularly during the handover ceremonies this summer -- will prove secondary to the fact that a highly politicized and Republican CPA will control the images on TV. The control of the electronic media -- particularly television -- will be that tight.
Print journalists are another matter. They can have the run of the place and are not so easily controlled. But images are key.
Again, it's a subject we'll return to, because a lot of work has gone into establishing the basis for such control, which is only one part of the heavy politicization of the whole operation.
One final point -- one to do with TPM and computer technology, not politics -- so skip down now if you're not interested. Thanks to everyone who's sent in advice about Tablet PCs so far. The consensus among TPM readers at least seems to be that Toshiba makes the best line of Tablets -- though some of the other brands have their admirers. A number of readers have suggested using one of these Wacom tablets for the sort of document mark-up we discussed earlier. Basically this is a little tablet you lay on your desk. And when you write on it with the pen the writing shows up on your screen. I've tried this. But I find it doesn't work for the sort of marking up of documents described earlier, or at least I can't get it to work well. We need something where you are actually writing directly on a screen. In any case, please keep the suggestions coming. They're very helpful. And they'll help us bring you more interesting and hopefully informative documents and materials that will provide context for what we discuss on the site.