I believe them, but….

Here’s the story:

Saddam Hussein’s intelligence agency secretly financed a trip to Iraq for three U.S. lawmakers during the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

The three anti-war Democrats made the trip in October 2002, while the Bush administration was trying to persuade Congress to authorize military action against Iraq. While traveling, they called for a diplomatic solution.

Prosecutors say that trip was arranged by Muthanna Al-Hanooti, a Michigan charity official, who was charged Wednesday with setting up the junket at the behest of Saddam’s regime. Iraqi intelligence officials allegedly paid for the trip through an intermediary and rewarded Al-Hanooti with 2 million barrels of Iraqi oil.

The lawmakers are not named in the indictment but the dates correspond to a trip by Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, David Bonior of Michigan and Mike Thompson of California. None was charged and Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said investigators “have no information whatsoever” any of them knew the trip was underwritten by Saddam.

“Obviously, we didn’t know it at the time,” McDermott spokesman Michael DeCesare said Wednesday. “The trip was to see the plight of the Iraqi children. That’s the only reason we went.”

Both McDermott and Thompson are popular among liberal voters in their reliably Democratic districts for their anti-war views. Bonior is no longer in Congress.

Thompson released a statement Wednesday saying the trip was approved by the State Department.

“Obviously, had there been any question at all regarding the sponsor of the trip or the funding, I would not have participated,” he said.

During the trip, the lawmakers expressed skepticism about the Bush administration’s claims that Saddam was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. Though such weapons ultimately were never found, the lawmakers drew criticism for their trip at the time.

I actually believe Thompson and McDermott when they say that they didn’t know that Saddam was the direct backer of their trip.  Given the run-up to the war, I don’t think even anti-War Dems would have been foolish enough to take money from Saddam and go on an official Iraqi sponsored trip.  At the very least, they’d have known that to have done so would have cast doubts on any findings they made, just as no one believes reports that come back from official visitors to North Korea.

What makes the story interesting isn’t that three Congressmen got snookered.  What makes it interesting is that Saddam Hussein was using local affiliates to affect the American political process.  Only the most naive would believe that this was a unique incident, or that Saddam Hussein was/is the only one doing it.  The covert aspects of this story are disturbing, and have a distinct Cold War odor in the middle of the hot war that’s currently preoccupying us.  As those of us who lived through the Cold War know, disinformation is as potent a weapon as a bomb, and the ease with which Hussein manipulated American politicians is disturbing.

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  • oceanguy

    Of course I believe them. But I’m not sure it changes anything. They were useful idiots when they made the trip no matter who was footing the bill. The only possible difference the revelation can make is forcing them to see how they were used against American interests. Sadly the chances of that happening are almost zero

  • Danny Lemieux

    Frankly, I think that these useful idiots simply didn’t care. They were answering a higher calling, after all.

  • Lissa

    Damn, Danny beat me to it. I was thinking the exact same thing — they didn’t know, because it didn’t bother them one way or another.

  • jj

    They didn’t get snookered – they just assume you’re stupid enough to let them get away with pretending – at this late date – that they didn’t say what they said at the time. They assume you’re stupid enough to assume they’re stupid, rather than sleazy.

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/weblogs/TWSFP/2008/03/jim_mcdermott_we_dont_mind_bei.asp

    McDermott should be sealed in a bottle and sent out with the Japanese Current.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    No matter how one slices it, they look either bad or stupid. I’m still more concerned with the ease with which Hussein — and, no doubt others — infiltrated our system. After all, it took five years for this info to hit the public radar and it’s clearly just the tip of the useful idiot or actual traitor iceberg.

  • jj

    Well – that’s the thing: it didn’t take five years. It didn’t take five minutes: the “Standard” was on it in October of 2002, while it was happening.

    The MSM? Ah, well: that’s a different story.

  • Danny Lemieux

    You said it! It’s just the tip. Let’s not forget CNN’s Eason Jordan admission that CNN covered-up for Saddam Hussein in order to get access. Something tells me that we about to get a whole string of additional revelations. Treason is treason. There should be a price to pay.

  • Ymarsakar

    Reporters are amenable to extortion, blackmail, and threats.

    Their talk of speaking truth to power is just that, talk.

    The reason why our enemies, like Hussein, had and still has one up on us in the media world is because he is willing to treat the media as they are compared to us, who treat them as if they are something special or more noble and deserving than anyone else.

    Look at CAIR and Cartoon Jihad. The media are just begging to be enslaved. And if we don’t do it, they’ll find somebody else to do it.

  • Ymarsakar

    When you are merciful towards domestic and foreign enemies in war, and refuse to adopt policies like the ones I have advocated, don’t expect people to actually help you win your war.

  • Ymarsakar

    “Obviously, we didn’t know it at the time,” McDermott spokesman Michael DeCesare said Wednesday. “The trip was to see the plight of the Iraqi children. That’s the only reason we went.”

    Useful idiots such as these are a boon to enemies of humanity.

    I wrote a post a long time ago concerning how the Soviets did the same thing as Saddam

    Heck, Saddam probably learned it from the Soviets who trained his police force on interrogation and torture methods.

    The Soviets used to screen Western reporters to come into Russia to see how great things were. Any reporter had been classified as “resistant” to Soviet propaganda were denied VISAs to the USSR. This ensured that any coverage of the Soviets would be positive.

    And the Western media and population just lapped it up like the sheep that they were. Not even productive sheep either.

  • Ymarsakar

    Politicians are worse than reporters, since they have actual policy making power. Although both are amenable to slavery if they think they are doing a “good cause”.

  • Gringo

    I remember that trip, and here is an excerpt from a George Will column on it. (Washington Post, October 1, 2002, “Innocents Abroad.” Page A21.)
    McDermott said: “I think you have to take the Iraqis on their value — at their face value.” And: “I think the president would mislead the American people.”

    Believe Saddam, but not Bush. Why should we be surprised that Saddam paid for their trip? What infuriates me is that I have detected no sense whatsoever of remorse from any of the three for having been unwitting dupes for Saddam, and for having played the roles of unwitting dupes so well.

  • Mike Devx

    In this morning’s news, we find out that McDermott called his Iraqi underwriter and said “I need to be there in three days.” This after much back and forth on the best date for the trip. At that point it was clear the three Congressmen would be on the trip.

    Iraq agreed to roll out the welcoming carpet in three days. After all interested parties agreed, the trip came off in exactly the three days requested.

    And the purpose of the trip was to highlight Democrat resistance to Bush policies. So let’s get this straight: The USA’s opposition party works hand in hand – in collusion – with a foreign government to undermine our own national policies. Since McDermott said during the trip that he didn’t mind being used by Saddam, it’s clear he knew exactly what was happening and who was controlling it.

    These are not just useful idiots to our foreign enemies. This is deliberate collusion with foreknowledge.

    From the perspective of a foreign enemy, one major strategy of disinformation is to PARALYZE you. If you can sow dissension and enforce divisions, paralysis in the result. If you can’t achieve by treachery out and out victory, paralysis is the next-best very desirable outcome.

  • Ymarsakar

    Given that the US can’t be defeated by conventional means given the imbalance in military power, psychological warfare is the only feasible option for those that wish to bring the US down a notch or 10.

  • Ymarsakar

    The reverse coin side slope is that you can also use psychological warfare against people using information warfare methods against you. They want to put limits on your ability to kill and blow stuff up. You want to create pretexts and justifications to kill and blow stuff up. Somewhere between those two goals, there will be a winner and a loser.

    For example, if Bush had acted the same way he did at the UN, except in 2002 launching ahead of schedule the invasion of Iraq, even disregarding military advice, this would have broken through some or all of the limitations Saddam was planning to put on US actions. It would also have included the anti-war protests, because no time would have been feasible to organize any such protest. And it would prevent having Colin Powell up at the UN talking about yellowcake and all the stuff nobody but the US and her allies cared about. The less you spend opening your mouth and the more time you spend killing, the less chance for an enemy to come up with a way to constrain your actions. The same with Fallujah, it was the time leading up to it that allowed people to prepare the psychological warfare operation that portrayed the Marines as killing loads of civilians. Thus creating a backlash amongst Iraqi tribes.

    No time equals no operation. The US has conventional firepower, so what that means is that for every second we wait, we give the enemy another chance to come up with a way to remove our striking capability. Eventually, it will be like with Israel and Palestine. Palestine calls for a “cease fire” and the Israelis actually look like they are considering it instead of opening disregarding it with protracted battles and attention seeking military strikes.

    The media would find it much harder to portray Israel and Palestine as a “broken peace” when ever time the Palestinians call for a cease fire, Israel uses more bombs and nukes. After awhile, there won’t even be the expectation that Israel will “cease fire” when the Palestinians claim they have called for a cease fire. It is basic Pavlovian training, and the media are very susceptible to that kind of programming.

    The media, of course, are only one means by which operations can be carried out that can limit your conventional firepower.

    The answer to people putting limitations on American power is not to use less of it; the solution is to use more of it. That way you train your enemies into not even trying to restrain you, because they know that it won’t work. Every time they talk about “Americans are creating civilian casualties”, we get 10% of the civilians they claim we have killed or imprisoned and execute that number of terrorists we have in captivity.

    Eventually people will learn because nobody, not even terrorists, will keep on doing things they know are hurting themselves more than it is hurting us.

    The Islamic muj torture, kill civilians, and what not because it works for them. It’s a positive feedback. You reward someone for killing and eventually that person will do more killing.