As former Navy intelligence officer Malcolm Nance continuously reminds us, “Coincidence takes a lot a planning.” And when that coincidence involves a security threat to the United States, foreign or domestic, planning often includes a dress rehearsal, i.e. a run-through which helps the perpetrators determine what it will take to succeed.
On the international front, the best example was the February 26, 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Al Qaeda’s mission that day was simple. Was a van filled with high-powered explosives sufficient to bring down one of the twin towers? The resulting negative answer triggered a more complex, eight-year effort to achieve an even greater goal, destroying symbols of America’s financial, military and political dominance.
In much the same way, the run up to the 2003 Iraq invasion was the dress rehearsal for the all-out GOP assault on democracy that will play out tomorrow in the nation’s capital. Justification for the U.S. invasion was built in part on Republican manipulation of the news about the immediate threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destructions (WMD). The most obvious example was Vice President Dick Cheney’s March 16, 2003 appearance on Meet the Press during which he pointed to reports by New York Times correspondent Judith Miller the Iraqis were importing materials for the purpose of constructing nuclear weapons.
There was just one problem. Miller’s report was not based on eyewitness accounts, but on information leaked by White House foreign policy staffers including Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and Scooter Libby. In other words, Cheney claimed the New York Times had validated everything the White House was saying when the paper merely echoed what administration officials fed to the Times. A classic case of “don’t take our word for it; we are only acting on what the Times, you know the paper of record, is reporting.”
60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon, explained this pubic relations equivalent of an Escher print as follows:
You leak a story to the New York Times and the New York Times prints it, and then you go on the Sunday shows quoting the New York Times and corroborating your own information. You’ve got to hand it to them. That takes, as we say here in New York, chutzpah.
The result? Destabilization of a volatile geopolitical region, loss of 5,000 members of the American armed forces and the death of over 200,000 Iraqi civilians.
So why do I think the above story represents a dress rehearsal for tomorrow’s GOP challenge of the 2020 presidential election. Because Donald Trump and the psychophants (great name for a heavy metal band) are once again dancing the Cheney/Miller tango. Take Texas Senator Ted Cruz’ appearance on Sunday morning with Maria Bartiroma. His explanation of why he and others HAVE to challenge the certified state electoral college results was:
We went into this election with the country deeply divided, deeply polarized, and we’ve seen in the last two months unprecedented allegations of voter fraud, and that’s produced a deep, deep distrust of our democratic process across the country. I think we in Congress have an obligation to do something about that. We have an obligation to protect the integrity of the democratic system.
And who is among those most responsible for these “unprecedented allegations of voter fraud?” You guessed it, Maria Bartiroma and her colleagues such as Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Lou Dobbs and Jeanine Pirro. The same circus act was featured on several other Fox News, NewsMax and OANN programs over the weekend. And each time, the Trump surrogates justified their actions to interviewers who have been at the forefront of spreading lies and conspiracy theories which have been discredited by election officials, legislators and judges with ties to both political parties. Escher would need a canvas the size of the Western Wall in Jerusalem to capture this endless loop of deceit.
But here is the tell. Having been awake for at least some sessions of his Harvard law class on ethics, Cruz gave himself an out. He did not say there was “unprecedented voter fraud” which he knows is untrue. Instead he centered on the “allegations of fraud,” knowing he has hours and hours of video showing Republican members of Congress and “conservative” media personalities making such allegations. Hopefully he will include footage of himself.
One can only imagine what the next GOP epic production may be for which the past two months have only been a dress rehearsal. Does anyone honestly believe they will stop this assault on democracy just because it did not work this time?
For what it’s worth.