The most shocking aspect of Samantha Powers' forced resignation earlier this year was not that she called Hillary Clinton a "monster" off-camera, but that she flatly stated that Obama would review his whole position on Iraq once becoming president. Again, no one in the media or rival campaigns questioned whether this assertion by Powers was true. Since Obama credited Powers with helping for months in writing his book, The Audacity of Hope, her comments on his inner thinking should have been pounced upon by the pundits.
No one reported on it, no campaign called it out? The story broke on March 7, 2008. Tom Hayden only got around to writing about it four months later. FOUR MONTHS. Let's, by contrast, check out the March 7, 2008 "Iraq Snapshot" C.I. did, shall we?
Power -- who also went to work for Obama in 2005 when he was first elected to the US Senate (November 2004) -- also had to deal with the BBC interview she'd given. Barack Obama has not promised to pull ALL troops out of Iraq in 16 months. He has promised the American people that "combat" troops would be removed. But promises, promises (as Dionne Warwick once sang) . . .
Stephen Sackur: You said that he'll revisit it [the decision to pull troops] when he goes to the White House. So what the American public thinks is a commitment to get combat forces out within sixteen months, isn't a commitment is it?
Samantha Power: You can't make a commitment in whatever month we're in now, in March of 2008 about what circumstances are going to be like in January 2009. We can't even tell what Bush is up to in terms of troops pauses and so forth. He will of course not rely upon some plan that he's crafted as a presidential candidate or as a US Senator.
Which would mean Mr. Pretty Speeches has been lying to the American people. (Add the "AGAIN!")
Her rise was swift, her fall even faster. Our Modern Day Carrie Nations took part in the "Bring the troops home and send them to Darfur" nonsense. [For more on that nutso crowd, see Julie Hollar's "The Humanitarian Tempatation" (Extra!).] Despite presenting herself recently as against the Iraq War from the start, the public record has never backed that up. But it is true that she wanted wars in Africa and was selling them under "humanitarian" guise. "Stop the killing!" she cried but if she really wanted to stop the killing, she might have tried to speak out against the ongoing genocide in Iraq (which has also produced the largest refugee crisis in the world). She didn't care about that. Probably because it demonstrates that sending armed forces in is not an answer. Again, if Barack Obama had any leadership abilities, he would have announced today that he fired his longterm advisor. He did not, she resigned. (She foolishly doesn't grasp that this is her Alexander Haig moment and there is no comeback.) Power was not a campaigner, she was a high level, longterm foreign policy advisor being groomed to be the next Secretary of State. As Krissah Williams (Washington Post) notes, Senator Clinton's response to Power's BBC interview was to note Power's agreement that Obama's pledge to have "combat" troops out in 16 months was never more than a "best-case scenario". Hillary Clinton: "Senator Obama has made his speech opposing Iraq in 2002 and the war in Iraq the core of his campaign, which makes these comments especially troubling. While Senator Obama campaigns on his [pledge] to end the war, his top advisers tell people abroad that he will not rely on his own plan should he become president. This is the latest example of promising the American people one thing on the campaign trail and telling people in other countries another. You saw this with NAFTA as well."
Gee, Tom Hayden, the record doesn't show what you assert. How very shocking and how very novel. (That was sarcasm.)
Time and again, Tom Hayden has been wrong on Iraq while C.I. has been right. Sometimes, Tom-Tom is wrong because he doesn't have the guts-guts. (I find it hard to believe that he's unaware the militarization of diplomacy is the plan Samantha Power put forward to Barack back in 2007.) While Tom-Tom was ignoring the BBC interview -- he never mentioned it until July of 2008 -- C.I. was covering it in real time. Did so the following Monday as well. Never let go of the BBC interview, in fact.
C.I. never let go of the reality of the SOFA. C.I. tells the truth. Her problem has always been that she has little use (or stomach) for lies. She told you over a month ago that the national security types were being put in charge of the militarization of diplomacy. If you didn't pay attention, that's not only Power, that's also the new ambassador to Iraq (she told you to check his background) and many others including Michele Flournoy (that's the woman C.I. says thinks she'll be the next Secretary of Defense if Gates steps down -- and C.I.'s been covering Flournoy for several years now).
C.I. told you Chris Hill was out as ambassador weeks before the announcement was made.
She is very well connected, very wired to the Obama administration and there's very little she can't get out of someone if she wants it. She's like The Mentalist, so don't even try to lie to her. You'll tell so much more than you'll ever know. Add to that her purchase of the D.C.-based house and her showing D.C. (the good parts) how to party leading to some very useful occasions and she knows everything. She knows everyone.
So in mid-February, she tells you about Ahmed Chalibi's courting of Iranian leaders in an attempt to secure the post of prime minister of Iraq. Then at the middle of March, David Ignatius writes about it for the Washington Post.
Time and again, she's telling you what's going on before you hearing it elsewhere. Yes, she is well connected, she's always a collector of people which is why she has such a huge list of friends and from such divergent fields. But it's also true that a lot of things she tells you at TCI are things other people are afraid to write about. (Some journalists for MSM will ask her to write about something from time to time so that they can then reference it to their bosses to argue that they should be covering it too. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't.)
It is August of 2010. Tom Hayden, for the first time ever, wants to finally tell you that the SOFA doesn't mean the end of the war. Where the hell has he been?
C.I. told you that Thanksgiving Day in 2008. Nearly two years ago. She has repeatedly informed you of that even though she's been repeatedly attacked in e-mails for addressing realities. Even though the likes of Jar-Jar Jarrar have had snit fits and hissy fits. She's told the truth and she's done so when it wasn't easy.
Was there any government official that didn't speak about the SOFA, any pundit that didn't note it could be extended?
So after hundreds of people in government and in the Beltway tell you that the SOFA does not have to mean the end of the Iraq War, Tom Hayden then feels it's safe enough for him to surface. The original groundhog. So scared of his shadow.
Do you remember UPFJ? How embarrassing its final days were? (Tom was and is on the board.) It announced it was a great day because Barack had won the election the day before and the Iraq War was ending because of the SOFA and blah blah blah.
Do you not remember all the liars?
Do you not remember Amy Goodman and Jeremy Scahill lying about what the SOFA supposedly meant?
Reality check. There were two mainstream reporters who covered the reality of the SOFA. C.I. had already done that at TCI but there were two others that did. There were a huge number that didn't.
In fact, Leila Fadel's article on the SOFA this week? I laughed so hard. This is the same Leila that C.I. had to loudly call out because of her SOFA 'reporting.' (Also the same Leila who interviewed for other jobs and C.I. dropped you that as a blind item, remember?) Leila still can't grasp what the SOFA actually means but it is so funny to read her today and contrast it with back in November and December and, especially, January 2009.
One of the great things about TCI being around this long is that you get to repeatedly see who tells the truth (C.I.) and who lies. There are a lot of liars out there. There are a lot of people who self-deceive. There are a lot of cowards who stay silent until everyone else is speaking and then rush to join them (Tom Hayden being only one example).
Then there are the brave ones like C.I. She responded to an idiot e-mail a few weeks back. Some whiner wanted the Iraqi exchange students covered and thought it was news that they said Iraq was independent and improved and farted rainbows. C.I. explained the reality on those people and dropped back to our college days to share the South African thing.
There was a South African student (exchange) (White, of course) insisting that African-Americans had a great life in South Africa (which was an apartheid state at the time). The student was talking about how lucky Nelson Mandela was too because he was in jail and that gave him a better life than any African-American in the country. C.I. saw the inconsistency immediately (if things were so great for African-Americans in South Africa, why would an imprisoned one have a better life?). She called the liar out. She called him out and did so publicly. She was asked by a coach (I forget which sport the racist played) and by a dean to please not say anything. She responded that she'd speak every time she heard him lie. Back then people really weren't aware (in this country) of South Africa. It was a very controversial stance. It was also the correct stance. There is not a reunion we've had where someone doesn't bring up how at one point it seemed like over half the student body was against C.I. and she wouldn't let it go. She didn't care. It was important to tell the truth about South Africa. They then point out how right she was. (This was not a one day or even one month incident. There was a large number of students against C.I. But this was an issue she spoke about and this was an issue people were hearing about for the first time. The more she spoke, the more people came over to her side. By the end of that semester, the South African male was switching schools and at least 52% of the student body shared C.I.'s opinion.)
The point of the story (for me in sharing it) is that you can't make her back down. If she feels the right thing has to be done, she'll do it no matter how unpopular someone thinks it is or how unpopular it actually is. She stands firm.
Apartheid was a system in South Africa, for those who don't know. Some of you won't and that's actually a good thing. It's amazing that we've moved so far that it is old news. Apartheid was a racist system which basically boiled down to: The European White community/settlers will have all the rights (it was colonialism) even though they are a minority while the Africans who are native to this country will become fourth-class citizens with no real rights. Nelson Mandela was among the freedom fighters. He was arrested many times. He was sentenced many times. He escaped more than once. In 1964, he was sentenced to life in prison. If you do not know this back story, you may know the name "Nelson Mandela." You may think, "Wasn't he the president of South Africa not all that long ago?"
Yes, thanks to his actions and the actions of so many other freedom fighters, apartheid finally fell. He was released from prison in 1990. He became president the following year, he went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize. He remains a living legend and a heroic figure. For many of us who went to college with C.I., our introduction to Mandela was via her when she took the brave stand against the jock from South Africa who wanted to insist that apartheid was a wonderful system for all.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):