Salon (watch an ad for day pass)
Every movement, gesture and tic of the Bush administration is shadowed by its past. When National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell was deployed politically to overawe timorous legislators into approving unlimited and warrantless domestic surveillance, he was acting in the shadow of former CIA Director George Tenet, whose presence was used to lend credibility to intelligence being fixed to suit arguments for the invasion of Iraq. As Gen. David Petraeus prepares to deliver his report in September on the "surge" in Iraq, he is elevated into the ultimate reliable source, just as former Secretary of State Colin Powell's sterling reputation was exploited for his delivery of the case for invasion before the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 5, 2003, a date that will live in mendacity, for every statement he made was later revealed to be false; Powell regretted publicly that it was an everlasting "blot" on his good name. Meanwhile, during the dog days of August, the president's aides are preparing the fall public relations campaign to envelop Petraeus' report. On cue, neoconservative organs spew out good news of "progress on the ground" and thrash critics as "defeatist." "Defeatists in Retreat" trumpets William Kristol's latest screed in the Weekly Standard, repackaging old themes once again.
Behind the display of bravado, the West Wing is seized with anxiety. Any rustle in the brush, any sudden noise, upsets the president's aides. As they try to regain their composure and confidence, recalling the glory days when they constituted themselves as the White House Iraq Group, or WHIG, a P.R. juggernaut before the invasion, they know who and what they have buried along the way and fear their return.
The release of a documentary on the administration's failures in Iraq, "No End in Sight," directed by Charles Ferguson, has the White House spooked. Bush's aides are not worried because the film is brilliantly shot and edited, or because it is compelling, but because of what -- or whose appearance -- it might augur to upset their September rollout.
Prepare for the media onslaught to keep us right where we are....