In the last hour of his show today, Al Franken interviewed Richard Perle. Al tried valiantly to gob-smack the guy, but Perle is a very bright, evasive, artful, dodger. A couple of interesting points which came into view however were:
- Perle characterized Cheney as being a really honest guy. (Except for instances of Political Rhetoric, of course) He explained Cheney's, and his own, totally false statements about WMD and conditions in Iraq, by blaming the faulty intelligence they had received. Even though there were disputes within the administration as to the accuracy of some of the "facts" that Cheney and Perle "knew," who could expect the Vice President to read little footnotes in the voluminous reports that he has to wade through? If evidence that contradicts reasons for going to war, such as the possible end use for the aluminum tubes, were only presented as "footnotes," the administration is even more deeply corrupted than I thought. If no one can be expected to read a footnote, why are they there? But it is Perle's arrogance that forces him to make statements that completely undermine his defense. Perle is so smart that he concluded that the intelligence agencies in our government were incompetent long before Iraq. To a man of Perle's brilliance, the failings of the intelligence community were glaring. So what Perle is saying here is that they sent American soldiers to die in Iraq based on information that came from failed, incompetent sources.
- He said that we had sent just the right number of troops into Iraq to win the war there. He conceded that the number may have been too small to occupy Iraq, but that was not his decision. Additionally, he bragged, the smaller number of troops gave us a tactical advantage - he refers here to speed, to surprise. But there was no surprise in this war. We announced the war in advance, with all the secrecy of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. What need for speed? Were we worried about the Iraqi army regrouping? As I remember, they were running away and we stood there and wished them a safe trip home.
Perle has got be one of the trickiest, sleaziest operators still active today, and we should not forget his role in the collapse of Conrad Black's media empire.
Earlier in his show Franken had repeated one of his favorite descriptions of this administration's guiding principles as corruption and cronyism. Perle proved him right again. He doesn't even approach the Colbert "truthiness" standard.