I don’t know how much a Bush speechwriter gets paid these days – but it can’t be much because they seem to be moonlighting for Allawi. One should compliment them for their invaluable assistance to George’s political career. During four years in the White House and two presidential campaigns, they have admirably kept the President ‘on message’. It’s a shame that they have to supplement their meager income by exporting their talents to Iraq.
Not a few commentators noticed that Allawi’s speech to Congress was a neocon masterpiece. The administration immediately denied they had a hand in putting words in Allawi’s mouth. They insisted that no one in the White House was involved. OK. But what about all those neocons that linger outside the gates of the President’s sleeping quarters?
At first, I suspected that David Frum was the author of the Iraqi Prime Minister’s speech. Or maybe Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary. As it turned out, it was Dan Senor.
If you care to recall, Dan Senor was the spokesman for Paul Bremer’s Coalition Provisional Authority. He was the handler who lurked over the generals in Baghdad to make sure that they didn’t give accurate accounts of what was going on outside the Green Zone.
The standard neocon fingerprints are all over the speech. Judge for yourself. This is a partial text of Allawi’s speech before Congress on September 23, 2004. “First, we are succeeding in Iraq. The overwhelming majority of Iraqis are grateful. My friends, today we are better off, you are better off and the world is better off without Saddam Hussein. Your decision to go to war in Iraq was not an easy one but it was the right one.” (Note that this segment of the speech was lifted from a Cheney speech.)
“Creating a democratic, prosperous and stable nation, where differences are respected, human rights protected, and which lives in peace with itself and its neighbor, is our highest priority, our sternest challenge and our greatest goal. But there are the tiny minority who despise the very ideas of liberty, of peace, of tolerance, and who will kill anyone, destroy anything, to prevent Iraq and its people from achieving this goal. Among them are those who nurse fantasies of the former regime returning to power.” (This segment of Allawi’s speech is a standard part of most Bush gigs).
”There are fanatics who seek to impose a perverted vision of Islam in which the face of Allah cannot be seen. And there are terrorists, including many from outside Iraq, who seek to make our country the main battleground against freedom, democracy and civilization. I can tell you today, they will not succeed.” (Dan Senor should consider taking an introductory course in Islam before writing about the ‘face of Allah’. To many Muslim listeners, it made his Iraqi client sound sacrilegious.)
“The transition in Iraq from brutal dictatorship to freedom and democracy is not only an Iraqi endeavor, it is an international one. More than 30 countries are represented in Iraq with troops on the ground in harm’s way. Working together, we will defeat the killers, and we will do this by refusing to bargain about our most fundamental principles.” (Here again, Senor resorted to propagating Bushy fiction.)
“Do not allow them to say to Iraqis, to Arabs, to Muslims, that we have only two models of governments, brutal dictatorship and religious extremism. This is wrong. Like Americans, we Iraqis want to enjoy the fruits of liberty. Half of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims already enjoy democratically elected governments.” (This patronizing language has become a regular part of Bush’s campaign pitch. If I am not mistaken, the President took it from a speech by Paul Wolfowitz, the dean of the neocons).
All in all, Dan Senor is a fine speechwriter in the great neo-con tradition. There is nothing illegal in manufacturing sound bites for foreign leaders. William Safire of the New York Times publicly boasts about ghost writing for Ariel Sharon. There were, however, a few snags in the speech – such as when Allawi promised to focus on “improving the quality of ordinary Iraqis.” I am certain that many ordinary Iraqis won’t appreciate Senor’s quality control plans.
In any case, the words came out of Allawi’s mouth and he should be held responsible for every one of Senor’s sound bites.
Which brings me to the most troubling sentence of Allawi’s speech. Speaking before Congress and the American public, Allawi said that “When political leaders sound the siren of defeatism in the face of terrorism, it only encourage more violence.” Now, which political leaders was he talking about? It sounds like this particular comment was directed at Kerry and some of the Senators and public figures that have publicly criticized the war.
Maybe Dan Senor and Allawi didn’t notice that we are in the midst of a presidential election. Going before Congress to endorse Bush’s policies and denigrate his opponents as defeatists constitutes gross interference in the internal affairs of the United States of America. That just happens to be a no go zone.
And Allawi is no ordinary foreign leader. He is a Prime Minister of a foreign country that just happens to be under American occupation. Which makes him a vassal - who incidentally admits to having been a CIA asset. So, we have a puppet endorsing his puppeteer – using the words planted in his mouth by a man intimately associated with the policies that led to the current Mess on Potamia. Senor is also apparently involved with the Bush campaign.
This is not just a question of bad form on the part of Allawi. It might be illegal for American intelligence operatives to involve themselves in domestic campaigns. The law is very clear in prohibiting the CIA from dabbling in domestic affairs. So, it follows that catching a CIA asset with his hands in the presidential ballot box is more than just an ethical breach or a diplomatic faux pas.
It’s one thing for the CIA or the Pentagon to interfere in foreign elections – but it is quite another when they extend their considerable talents to a blatant effort to sway the results of an American election. Allawi and Senor might be in violation of Title 50, Chapter 15, Section 413b (f) of the US CODE, which prohibits covert actions intended to influence United States political processes. One doesn’t have to be a lawyer to understand this law which reads “No covert action may be conducted which is intended to influence United States political processes, public opinion, policies, or media”.
Did Dan Senor ghostwrite a CIA operative’s speech with the intent of denigrating one presidential candidate and endorsing another? Does that constitute an illegal attempt to influence the outcome of November’s election? If so, this is more than a scandal or another Karl Rove campaign prank. It’s a crime.