I would be astonished if there weren’t some substance to the latest from Seymour Hersh:
In the months before the Iraqi elections in January, President Bush approved a plan to provide covert support to certain Iraqi candidates and political parties, but rescinded the proposal because of Congressional opposition, current and former government officials said Saturday.
In a statement issued in response to questions about a report in the next issue of The New Yorker, Frederick Jones, the spokesman for the National Security Council, said that “in the final analysis, the president determined and the United States government adopted a policy that we would not try – and did not try – to influence the outcome of the Iraqi election by covertly helping individual candidates for office.”
The statement appeared to leave open the question of whether any covert help was provided to parties favored by Washington, an issue about which the White House declined to elaborate.
The article, by Seymour M. Hersh, reports that the administration proceeded with the covert plan over the Congressional objections. Several senior Bush administration officials disputed that, although they recalled renewed discussions within the administration last fall about how the United States might counter what was seen as extensive Iranian support to pro-Iranian Shiite parties.
Any clandestine American effort to influence the Iraqi elections, or to provide particular support to candidates or parties seen as amenable to working with the United States, would have run counter to the Bush administration’s assertions that the vote would be free and unfettered.
Americans who are in a tizzy about the possibility that a Chinese company might buy the American petroleum company Unocal should stop and think how they would feel if China were actively throwing covert support to one or another American political party and buying up US congressional representatives, causing them to make policy helpful to China but harmful to, say, US workers. That is the kind of world in which Middle Easterners have been living for two centuries.
Indeed. These days my mind keeps drifting back to this.