FACTS ON THE GROUND….Remember “push back,” the PR campaign designed to bypass the big time media and tell the American public the truth about how well things are going in Iraq? Jack O’Toole already made the right call on the basic foolishness of this strategy a month ago, so I want to raise a different question about it.

It’s this: the push back campaign started on October 8. A Chinook helicopter was shot down three weeks later, and two weeks after that the CIA station chief in Baghdad reported that there were an estimated 50,000 insurgents in Iraq and that their numbers were threatening to spiral out of control.

Now, follow my thinking here:

  • If the CIA report was circulated early this month, it was surely being written early last month. Reports like this take at least a few weeks to prepare.

  • The report is incredibly bleak, and since facts on the ground don’t change on a dime that means the situation in Iraq must have already seemed pretty dicey in early October.

  • Even so, the White House went ahead with push back.

  • No one is stupid enough to mount a PR campaign like this if they know that the facts on the ground are likely to make them look like idiots within a few short weeks. So the White House didn’t know.

This brings us back to the same question we’ve had for several months about prewar intelligence: what happened? Did the CIA (and the Pentagon) drop the ball and not properly warn the White House about the true seriousness of the situation? Or did they do their job, but the White House simply refused to believe intelligence information that they didn’t want to believe?

The problem is that trying to blame this kind of stuff on the CIA is getting less and less credible with every passing day: after all, if it really is the CIA’s fault, their incompetence has now endangered the interests of the United States and badly embarrassed the president so many times that it’s simply beyond belief that there haven’t been wholesale firings in Langley.

And that leaves only one conclusion, which even administration supporters need to face up to: the president and his staff are willfully and consistently ignoring facts that are inconvenient to them, and endangering the security of the United States by doing so. These guys have got to go.