Will President Obama’s New Leadership Model Cripple U.S. Management Competence For Decades?

America in ruins

 It seems to be a distinct possibility.

The President of the United States is the culture’s most powerful, visible and influential leader. Like it of not, he is also a role model for leadership and management across society. He has the most responsibility, the largest organization to oversee, and the most vital interests at stake. The management and leadership techniques he uses necessarily set a standard others, especially young, inexperienced, aspiring leaders and management, will be encouraged to emulate.

What are they learning? To begin with, they are learning to accept a startlingly low standard for “confidence.”

The President has now issued two statements that he has “confidence” in the Secret Service. The assessment has special significance because the health and safety, the very lives, of the President, his wife, his young children and his staff is in the Secret Service’s hands, and the agency would seem to have demonstrated beyond all doubt that it is incapable of meeting any reasonable expectations or trust. We know that the agents are barely trained, and that they lack professionalism and self discipline. We know that agents availed themselves of prostitutes in South America, and got drunk on duty in Amsterdam. We know that  a gunman fired at least seven bullets that struck the upstairs residence of the White House in 2011, aided by a botched Secret Service response, and that just this month a deranged fence-jumper got into the residence and was running amuck before he was stopped.

The Service’s statement on that incident was jaw-dropping, saying agents “showed tremendous restraint and discipline in dealing with” an intruder who could have had a bomb or deadly intent. How could this President, any President, any leader, any manager, have “confidence” in a security force under these circumstances, with its own management displaying such a bizarre attitude?

Well, I don’t know. It’s a brand new paradigm, the most lassez faire, gentle, kind,empathetic and understanding, hands-off, no-fault, no standards, no accountability leadership style I have ever seen at any management level higher than a lemonade stand. I’m sure many members of the public, especially those who goof off at their jobs, steal supplies, file fake reports, arrive to work stoned, never finish assigned tasks and think they have a right to keep their jobs and paychecks no matter how useless they are, would love to have Obama as a boss. Such a boss would express confidence in the most obviously inept and untrustworthy employee imaginable, and apparently mean it. And never, never fire him.

On March 26, 2013, the President appointed Julia Pierson to be the twenty-third Director of the Secret Service. She became the first female director of the agency, and should have become the first female director of the agency fired, if not immediately after a fence-jumper got to take an unscheduled tour of the White House, then two seconds after she praised agents for not shooting him dead before he got inside. At least, that’s what would happen under the competent leadership standards and effective management standards established by millions of successful leaders over many centuries. But Obama knows better.

It isn’t just the Secret Service, of course. Nobody was fired for the astounding ACA website disaster. Nobody at the State Department was fired after the Benghazi tragedy. Nobody at the IRS has been held accountable for that agency’s political machinations and breaches of the public trust. Nobody was fired following the “Fast & Furious” debacle.  On the latest “60 Minutes,” we heard the President state that U.S. intelligence, particularly the NSA, had dangerously misestimated both the strength of ISIS and the ability of Iraqi forces to contain them. The NSA is headed by the same James Clapper who was at the top of the chain of command responsible for allowing a low-level tech employee named Edward Snowden to abscond with classified documents and data, who authorized illegal wiretaps domestically and abroad, and who lied to Congress. He still has his job, because the President undoubtedly has “full confidence” in him, too. Then we have John Brennan, the CIA chief. He lied to the Senate and violated the law. Guess what the President said in after all of this came to light. Yup: Brennan still has his “full confidence.”

The old leadership model for any organization with a serious mission, be it nation, agency, corporation, or army, has been “Do the job right, do it well, do it ethically; take responsibility for your failures, learn from your mistakes, don’t undermine your boss or weaken the trust of your subordinates, and expect to be relieved of your position if you don’t.” President Obama, an amateur leader who feels that he knows better than all the leaders who have gone before him, has provided the United States a new model based on loyalty, forgiveness, endless second chances, unbreakable trust regardless of performance and facts, and the rejection of the once-critical ethical value of accountability.

What will the future hold for our society if Obama’s new management model takes hold in the United States? Experience and common sense suggests that the consequences will make the tragic fiasco of the Obama Administration look like a mild case of the sniffles.


Facts: Washington Post, Independent1,2, 3, CBS, WHNT

Graphic: Dark Moon

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts, and seek written permission when appropriate. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work or property was used in any way without proper attribution, credit or permission, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at jamproethics@verizon.net.

89 thoughts on “Will President Obama’s New Leadership Model Cripple U.S. Management Competence For Decades?

  1. You’re kidding, Right? Irony? Is that it?

    Failing upwards and, to a lesser degree, not being caught on Film has been in firm practice for 40+ years – since Reagan. Or really since Ford pardoned Nixon, or really since ‘they’ killed Kennedy. You can trace the fall of the Empire to that particular moment in time.

    • “Or really since Ford pardoned Nixon, or really since ‘they’ killed Kennedy.” I was pretty unhappy with Ford back in ’75, but have come to see he made the right, albeit difficult, call. A call that may well have cost him the election, though other blunders (WIN buttons, anyone?) certainly didn’t help.

      • I thought it was a disaster, because it established a noxious precedent. I would have loved to have seen Bill Clinton prosecuted for perjury, but it just isn’t done.

  2. As you pointed out and have pointed out in other posts, Jack, this administration regards personal loyalty most highly of all, and there is not a single person involved in all of those many and weighty scandals listed above who isn’t extremely loyal to the president personally. That’s why Eric Holder is leaving on his own terms, in his own time, with the praise of the president, instead of being pushed out like Paul O’Neill, although arguably O’Neill also failed the loyalty test.

    I might add that at least on the corporate level this would never be tolerated for the simple reason that no corporation would remain profitable if half this crap were allowed to happen. National government is, however, a finite assignment, not dependent on profitability, and all any of the individuals you named above have to do is hang on for two more years or until they can leave in their own time, and they have won the game. All of them will be extremely well pensioned, just for starters. Obama and Holder will always be revered figures by some and making $250K a pop on the speaking circuit while Pierson and Clapper and Brennan will be well-positioned to become extremely well-paid “consultants.” Obama doesn’t have to face the voters again and it is too late in the game for Congressional hearings (assuming the Senate flips) to do anything before his term is up and all these people have to leave anyway.

    Frankly, I think Obama thinks he’d do more damage to his own position if he took action against any of the above named people. The same president who campaigned alleging the other side was waging a “war on women” is going to fire the first female director of a major law enforcement agency? Think about how that would look. The same president who is now trying to whip up support for some kind of campaign against ISIS, who he previously personally derided as the “JV team” is going to gut his intelligence team and raise questions of why did he agree with them if they were dead wrong? How would that look?

    At this point I think all the current administration wants to do is hunker down, stonewall if a fully Republican congress starts to bust shoes, and wait for this term to end, hopefully with no major crises that can’t be dismissed as the right-wing media being racist. Maybe it means Obama will have to keep quieter in 2016 and not campaign for Hilary as much as he would have liked to, but, win, lose, or draw, once he boards that helicopter to fly home to Chicago on a chilly afternoon in January, 2017, none of this is his problem anymore.

  3. Though being completely realistic, are we really expecting the president to say, out loud, and in public, that he has no confidence in the agents who hold his life, and his family’s life in their hands? What could possibly be gained from that? It isn’t like there is another agency that can replace them at the moment. He’s in a tough position. He pretty much has to trust them.

    • I expect him to fire the individual in charge, say that this performance was not acceptable, and as a father, a husband and the head of state, he cannot tolerate that kind of poor execution.

      NOBODY would question that, including the agents involved. And if he cleaned house entirely, it might make an impact down the line. There is a time when heads have to toll, and this was it.

        • Whoever. The National Guard. A private security agency after an FBI check. Make all agents resubmit their credentials. Desperate times call for desperate measures. That’s what I would do. The current batch is proven incompetent and unreliable. Gone.

          • I believe there are gaps right now in the SS because of Congress, correct? I thought I heard (and please correct me if I’m wrong because I haven’t followed this closely) that over 70 positions need to be filled but approval for funding has to come from Congress. Morale is in the toilet because current employees are trying to fill those gaps. An unhappy employee is a shitty employee but unfortunately their jobs are a bit more challenging to fill than the average ones, so we are stuck with them unless money/training comes from somewhere.

            That doesn’t explain why doors weren’t locked and dogs weren’t released, but it is pretty shocking to know that there are that many positions to be filled.

            I agree she should have been fired. She wasn’t in charge though when the potshots were fired in 2011. In some ways, that incident is even more frightening because the SS didn’t investigate for 4 days.

            • They talked about the funding issues in today’s hearings. The money the SS had for trainings weren’t used. The incompetence of an agency and its funding deficiencies are chicken and egg debates—should an inept agency get more money to waste? Or does it need more money to work better? When elite members of a security agency go on a bender on the road, I can’t really blame the impulse to cut the budget.

              Besides, if the President has “full confidence” with the current level of funding and performance, why spend more, right?

              • I’m talking about open positions. If your work force is tired and overworked because numbers are down, they are going to be shitty at their jobs.

                  • Beth, I always agree with you but c’mon, the White House? if the Secret Service budget was cut 50% they still ought to protect the White House. This is agency-wide incompetence, and the director should be fired. Perhaps others as well. Maybe they can get their act together in time to protect the next president.

                    • Look — I agree that she should be fired. I said that in my first comment. The White House MUST be protected. So, that’s Step 1 — she needs to go. Step 2 needs to be an examination of “Why did this happen?” It could be lack of funding, lack of leadership, lack of oversight, lack of training — or a combination of all of these things. Simple exclamations of “Let the National Guard Do It” or “Bring in the Marshals!” are ridiculous. It is a far more complicated job, involves different training, and different security clearances.

                  • We are told — and well before the screwups — that the threats against Obama far exceed any other President ever. So, even if overall numbers are not down — and I believe we are — then the answer is yes, it is inadequate.

                  • I have to wonder if the Obama administration is putting more strain on the secret service than previous ones, based on the type of vacations taken by him and his family. It takes a lot more vetting to visit a hotel than to visit a permanently secured location like Camp David or Bush’s Crawford ranch.

                    • Sure it is. But that strain doesn’t explain letting a fence jumper get through 5 lines of defense, or the most recent story, not checking someone riding in an elevator with POTUS for a weapon.

        • Yes. That’s how it works. You fire people and fire people and fire people until people capable of getting their heads in the game wake up and get their heads in the game or until natural talent is found. That IS how it works.

    • No, when they have proven he can’t trust them, he needs to fire them. That is the point The last incident resulted from every single Secret Service agent on duty failing to do their job (every single one). Their supervisor needs to be fired. That supervisor’s supervisor needs to be fired. You can’t tell me there isn’t a single Secret Service agent that is competent that could be assigned to guard the President. If that is true, when did this suddenly happen (is this the result of 6 years of Obama as chief executive)? If the Secret Service isn’t competent, then use the Marshals. If they aren’t competent, then hire a private service that is or find a military branch that can take up the slack until new management and new people can be trained.

      This isn’t a job that can be left undone. If the Secret Service isn’t up to the job, they need to step aside and let someone else do it.

      What could be gained from such an action? It would send a clear and strong message that incompetence will not be tolerated. It would send a message that no agency, no person in the executive branch, is so important that they are above the President. By not taking such an action, President Obama is admitting that he is held prisoner by his subordinates.

          • Probably because the alternative would have to be Blackwater, or some outfit like that. (no way of knowing how good their successor is – Academi, or something?) Heck, the New Black Panthers could do a better job, at this point – might even be a reliable source for Obama’s future sons-in-law.

          • The alternative? To put even more inexperienced people in that position? That’s the solution people are offering up. Guarding the president isn’t like a housekeeping job, it isn’t very fungible. These people are privy to state secrets, protocols, and maintaining relationships that you and I can never dream of. In some ways, as loathe as we are to admit it, the president is their prisoner. His trust must be complete, they have the guns, and he does not. Many a leader has been killed by his own bodyguards.

            While I do think that those agents on duty that day need to be rotated out, I’m not sure what firing everyone or having people even more inexperienced with personal security like the National Guard would serve except to put the president in more danger. The reflexive emotional reaction is often not the correct course of action.

            • “Even more inexperienced people”?

              I’m a rank amateur, but I’m pretty sure I could handle “Step one: Lock the door.”

              Bam – I’ve just increased their effectiveness by 1000%, and I’ll bet I could do it for a fraction of the cost, too. It does tend to be the newest recruits who play things most by the book – particularly if they were hired because the fellow who last held the position was fired for deviating from said book.

              • So simplistic. If only real life was like that. Keep in mind the White House is not just a residence, it’s also an office building, as well as a public building. People are coming in and out of there all the time. It is a place with a lot of moving parts. It isn’t as simple as just locking the front door to your house. Sigh.

                • Uh, it really isn’t that hard to stop someone from jumping a fence, dashing across a lawn, breaking in the through the door, and running through the house. You shoot him. Then you accept flack for killing an unarmed black man. This isn’t hard. Why are you rationalizating such unequivocal incompetence?

                  • “Just shoot him”? As if the guy was in an empty house that isn’t full of other people? Even the “yard” often has many other people on it (the president had just left). So then it’s a matter of distinguishing him from other people and assessing the risk/benefit of shooting him with other people around who could possibly get hit. Imagine the outcry if they killed him, and several other people, all to stop a crazy guy who was just holding a knife, and the president not even there. I’m not surprised they didn’t immediately fire in this instance.

                    • Protocol is that they ARE supposed to fire. “in this instance”??????..letting him get into the White House to throw a hand grenade? I think you should apply to run the SS—you clearly think like they are. Wowsers.

                    • I’m not sure that the protocol is to shoot every person that jumps the fence Jack. If so, there would be about a dozen deaths a year. I think there are numerous security failures here — no alarm, no locks, no dog released, etc., but I think officers are given discretion about when to shoot.

                    • Not everyone who jumps the fence. But everyone who breaks past the first line of agents and eludes the dog. Then it’s shooting time.

                      There was no dog released. But “shooting time”? Shooting time in the White House almost certainly mean that there will be other casualties besides the main target. It should be done only under signs of extreme danger. A sheathed pen knife ain’t it.

                    • Nonsense.

                      “There was no dog released.”

                      Ok. If no dog was released, but the infiltrator is past the “dog release trigger line”, that still counts as “getting past the dog”.

                      “But “shooting time”? Shooting time in the White House almost certainly mean that there will be other casualties besides the main target.”

                      By what math? Perhaps an increased likelihood. Utter straw-grasping speculation to say there will “certainly…be other casualties”.

                      “It should be done only under signs of extreme danger. A sheathed pen knife ain’t it.”

                      The calculus is dramatically different considering the potential target. No one in their right minds would expect a guard to wait and see if the infiltrator has a pen knife or a suicide vest explosive under their shirt. No one. Just like at night time in my home, I don’t have to wait and see what malice an intruder intends, I can assume he means the worst possible malice and I can end it with no questions asked, the guards of the White House get that same discretion once the trigger lines are crossed.

                    • If the president is there, then yes, he takes precedence over almost anything else. If the president is not there, and you have an intruder, then I think it is a closer call. Especially if there are other people around, as there seemed to be. Do you want to open fire in the absence of a clear threat? I think you would try to avoid it, if you can. Both courses of action carry risks, and it isn’t nearly as clear-cut as you guys advocate.

                    • Yet it is clear cut. You are the one making a series of complicated considerations and exceptions expecting individuals to determine those before taking action.

                      A dude hopping the White House fence, bum rushing the White House, gaining entry, CANNOT BE GIVEN THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT. This is elementary risk management. The probability may be low, but the consequence of a successful threat is catastrophic – meaning high level of risk, meaning CLEAR CUT, no equivocating, actions to be taken.

                      Individuals who clearly are not threats tend to enter the White House after scheduling a tour and going in to the GATE. Dude could have been desperately trying to return $5 he borrowed from Barack back in middle school. Too bad.

                      You are really letting emotion cloud this too much and allowing your sad feelings for an otherwise innocent person being cut down in this instance.

                    • If I don’t want my 20 month old getting run over by a car in the middle of our street, I establish a line he is NOT ALLOWED to cross under ANY circumstances without his mommy or daddy. That line IS NOT the curb, because if he chooses to break our rule, it is too late for me to mitigate it and he’s in the street. The boundary established is the house side of the sidewalk-yard line. That allows me time to mitigate the situation if he breaks the rules before actually entering a danger zone.

                      Simple rule, he understands it, we don’t have to dither about it – the likelihood of him getting hit by a car on our street is literally .00000001% as we live at the end of a dead end street, but the result of that one in a zillion chance is utterly catastrophic – hence the clear cut, no exceptions allowed (even innocent mistakes), semi-draconian rule.

                      But… but what if there’s something fun in the street? Make an exception!

                      But… but what if the toddler accidentally forgets the rule and walks into the street? Make an exception!

                      But… but what if the parent’s aren’t paying attention? Make an exception!

                      But… but what if the parent’s are feeling lazy today? Make an exception!

                      But… but what if there are absolutely no cars nearby for the time being? Make an exception!


                • The White House is NOT a public building.

                  At most it is a high-security government building that occasionally allows vetted members of the public inside under tightly-controlled conditions.


      • The White House has a ready made security force in it’s back field already. The USMC. There’s a posting (8th and I) there that requires Yankee White clearance (the clearance you need to be in contact with the President) and an MOS of 8152 – Marine Corp Security Forces Guard. Thats the same MOS that runs the Fleet Anti-terrorist Security Team (FAST) and pulls special asset protection out in Kings Bay, GA and Bangor, WA. The Marines there do more symbolic guard posts (like HM-1 and the Drill Team) but I’m sure the Commandant would love a more active role.

        • To be clear: Im a critic of the Marine Corp’s organizational culture, but no one can doubt the aggressiveness of Marines dealing with a threat. We’re talking orders of magnitude above the SS’s botched response.

  4. It seems that his management style is ‘Screw up and move up’ or at least, ‘Screw up and keep your job’. I have noticed that successes of his administration are characterized in the first person singular or plural (‘we killed Bin Laden’) and mistakes are characterized in the third person singular or plural (‘the intelligence community got it wrong’) and criticism is deflected as partisan politics (‘they don’t like me because I am black’ or ‘those mean Republicans won’t give me the immigration bill I am dying to sign to solve the immigration crisis’). An effective leader should accept responsibility of mistakes and share the successes. Obama has it directly backwards.

    • I’ve said it before – the language this administration uses is chillingly similar to that of a narcissistic predator. From blameshifting to changing the subject, to blaming the victim; subtle sleights intended to undermine the confidence of the listener; even the full abuse cycle from (ever shortening) honeymoon periods to bigger explosions. And the solution to Every. Single. Problem. is more control to them. Especially the problem of them having too much control.

  5. While I may agree with most of the items on your list of grievances, especially regarding Holder and Lerner, I’m curious where you place the issues of defrauding a country into war and commuting the sentence of someone who obstructed the investigation into the outing of a CIA agent.

    • If you were a prosecutor could you prove your charge that we were defrauded into going to war – I assume in Iraq? I don’t thinks so because if it were true and provable it would be grounds for impeachment. Simply because the evidence was not found does not mean that our intelligence failed in discovering it. It only proves that our intelligence failed at tracking it and later finding the needle in the haystack after many months of Hussein playing the UN like a fiddle .

      You bring up the Valerie Plame incident, who was not an clandestine operative but forget about Mark Rich the tax looter and the Pakistani doctor who gave us the intelligence to find bin Laden. The doctored was sacrificed to permit the administration to bask in the glow of the Seal team’s achievement. More importantly, what ever happened to the guy that took the fall for creating a video that was used by the administration to cover their ineptitude in Benghazi. I guess he too was expendable like our ambassador and his staff. You know, for the greater good. Which is of course is appeasement to avoid any potential conflict. Obama wants to be loved – not respected. He and many others believes that respect is a guaranteed right of all human beings. It is not. Respect is earned.

      From a management perspective, conflict avoidance by management is a recipe for dysfunctional teams, inefficiency, and higher long term costs.

      Scooter Libby went to jail under Bush, and Mark Rich was pardoned under Clinton never serving a day in prison. Our operative in Pakistan still languishes in prison because he aided us yet we still funnel billions to the government that holds him. Go figure.

      I am not using comparative virtue to justify one over another. I do so just to point out that you did just that.

      If I were the president I would have fired or reassigned the entire team on duty that day because they failed at protecting my family for which they are paid well to do.

      • “If you were a prosecutor could you prove your charge that we were defrauded into going to war – I assume in Iraq? I don’t thinks so because if it were true and provable it would be grounds for impeachment.”

        I’d begin with the administration’s “specially prepared and edited” declassified NIE whitepaper for congress and work my way from there. The administration proved itself especially “incapable” of telling the truth to the congress and the American people with that one.

        “You bring up the Valerie Plame incident,”

        I brought up Bush commuting the 30 month sentence of Scooter Libby for obstructing a criminal investigation. You, on the other hand, chose to defend your party line in lieu of analyzing the ethical issue I raised.

        “I am not using comparative virtue to justify one over another.”

        That’s encouraging.

        • All classified documents are carefully scrubbed and edited for public consumption. That is what is done to make otherwise classified documents available for public scrutiny. The assumption that the “specially prepared and edited” NIE whitepaper proves fraud would suggest that all edited documents prepared for public consumption is suspect.

          Given that most people that voted against Bush ridiculed him for being ignorant and an unwashed cowboy. Now you want to paint him as the brains behind an international conspiracy of intelligence agencies to bring about war. For what purpose would that be beneficial to him politically? You make it appear that none of the members of Congress have access to the complete classified documents. Apparently there was something in the classified documents that led some members of Congress to believe that WMD’s existed and could pose a threat. Other nations came to similar conclusions independently using their own intelligence gathering capabilities.

          There is a huge chasm between being wrong and an intention to defraud.

          No I am not espousing any party line with respect to Valerie Plame. You brought her into the discussion. Nor am I condoning anything that was done by any administration.

          I called out the ethical fallacy which I believed was used by you. I thought I made that abundantly clear. You initially brought up other irrelevant issues to obfuscate the issue at hand which has been the typical tactic used by those that wish to mitigate poor performance by the current administration. Why did you not simply use my examples which were just as easy to select from the litany of abuses in the executive branch rather coyly allude to examples in the Bush administration if not to advance your own political narrative.

          • “All classified documents are carefully scrubbed and edited for public consumption. That is what is done to make otherwise classified documents available for public scrutiny. The assumption that the “specially prepared and edited” NIE whitepaper proves fraud would suggest that all edited documents prepared for public consumption is suspect.”

            A Monumental Lie

            In his first nationally televised address on the Iraqi crisis on October 7, 2002, six days after receiving the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), a classified CIA report, President Bush told millions of Americans the exact opposite of what the CIA was telling him -a monumental lie to the nation and the world.

            On the evening of October 7, 2002, the very latest CIA intelligence was that Hussein was not an imminent threat to the U.S. This same information was delivered to the Bush administration as early as October 1, 2002, in the NIE, including input from the CIA and 15 other U.S. intelligence agencies. In addition, CIA director George Tenet briefed Bush in the Oval Office on the morning of October 7th.

            According to the October 1, 2002 NIE, “Baghdad for now appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks with conventional or CBW [chemical and biological warfare] against the United States, fearing that exposure of Iraqi involvement would provide Washington a stronger case for making war.” The report concluded that Hussein was not planning to use any weapons of mass destruction; further, Hussein would only use weapons of mass destruction he was believed to have if he were first attacked, that is, he would only use them in self-defense.

            Preparing its declassified version of the NIE for Congress, which became known as the White Paper, the Bush administration edited the classified NIE document in ways that significantly changed its inference and meaning, making the threat seem imminent and ominous.

            In the original NIE report, members of the U.S. intelligence community vigorously disagreed with the CIA’s bloated and inaccurate conclusions. All such opposing commentary was eliminated from the declassified White Paper prepared for Congress and the American people.

            — Vincent Bugliosi

            • First: It is not a monumental lie to say that classified documents are scrubbed and edited before being made public. Classified documents delivered verbatim are not classified nor should have been. Second, ample opportunity existed for the opposition party who were members of the House Armed Services Committee would have had access to the classified documents.

              You quoted famed prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi. This is the same Vincent Bugliosi that wrote the book The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder (Perseus Books, 2008). Do ya think he has an agenda?
              For such an impressive career he was unable to persuade any of the 50 states Attorneys General to indict George Bush for the murder of 4000 soldiers and 100,000 civilians. That should tell you something.

              According to you own quotation the classified report made the claim the Hussein had WMDs and would use them if attacked or defensively. This was, I assume, the DIA’s assessment. After the initial attack, the public grew weary and his detractors hammered him on not finding WMD’s. That was the supposed big lie; not because he claimed an imminent threat. We all know that Al Qaeda was not an imminent threat on September 10, 2001.

              The choice any president must make is to accept the assessment at face value or extend the possibilities of what would be the implications if the weapons were used offensively by him or his surrogates. Bush could choose to do nothing or he could choose to act proactively. That is what we pay him to do – make decisions and accept the consequences of those decisions.

              Bugliosi may have gotten 21 convictions out 21 capital murder case trials but his analysis is predicated on his belief that Bush was a murderer and such a claim would sell a lot of books to those unskilled in foreign policy, the law, history or basic civics. I think Bugliosi’s financial motivation to condemn was quite strong.

              In response to your other post:
              I should have referred to it as a rationalization not a ethical fallacy. It is however a fallacy in debate which is designed to obscure the initial issue by claiming others have gotten away with it so why not me. It’s blame shifting. That is what I was calling out.

              44. The Unethical Precedent, or “It’s Not The First Time”

              This rationalization can be another variation on the Golden Rationalization, “Everybody does it,” like “It’s done all the time” and” “We’ve always done this,” but its intent is often different. The suggestion is that because an unethical act has been done before and presumably permitted, ignored, or endorsed, that presumptively ratifies the same or similar conduct as acceptable from now on. In fact, it does not. In fact, the argument is nonsensical.

              • “The nominal definition of truth, that it is the agreement of knowledge with its object, is assumed as granted; the question asked is as to what is the general and sure criterion of the truth of any and every knowledge.” I. Kant

                Unless you have a new definition of “truth” for the world, I fail to see how the “white paper” constituted anything less than a monumental lie. Attacking Bugliosi rather than his arguments is tiresome.

                Furthermore, my reference to Bush was simply in light of the title of this post: “Will President Obama’s New Leadership Model Cripple U.S. Management Competence For Decades?”

                I have zero love for either president. I consider Eisenhower the last great president of the 20th century; unfortunately he was before my time.

                And finally, regarding that term we call “truth”

                935 False Statements

                In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003. Not surprisingly, the officials with the most opportunities to make speeches, grant media interviews, and otherwise frame the public debate also made the most false statements, according to this first-ever analysis of the entire body of prewar rhetoric.

                President Bush, for example, made 232 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and another 28 false statements about Iraq’s links to Al Qaeda. Secretary of State Powell had the second-highest total in the two-year period, with 244 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 10 about Iraq’s links to Al Qaeda. Rumsfeld and Fleischer each made 109 false statements, followed by Wolfowitz (with 85), Rice (with 56), Cheney (with 48), and McClellan (with 14).


                Fraudulently inducing the country into war is a felony; whether Bugliosi makes the argument or not.

                • “In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003. Not surprisingly, the officials with the most opportunities to make speeches, grant media interviews, and otherwise frame the public debate also made the most false statements, according to this first-ever analysis of the entire body of prewar rhetoric.”

                  Do you really not comprehend the difference between “erroneous” and “false”? It would seem so. If the various dubious models of climate change that we are being told by scientifically ignorant pundits and officials are “slam dunks”prove to be wrong, as they certainly might, will you say that the scientists were LYING? They aren’t lying. They may be hyping, but they believe what they say they believe, and so did Bush, Cheney, Powell, and the rest. Kerry, the Senate and most of the world believed it too. It is what Saddam wanted them all to believe, as he admitted himself.

                  Were the Democrats lying? I know quite a few people who worked with and know the main players. None of them think they didn’t believe there were WMDs. and none believe that they would have been insane enough to invade if they didn’t think the claims would be proven true. Colin Powell isn’t a liar, and he isn’t a traitor. Neither is Rumsfeld, and neither is Bush.

                  This claim has always been pure slander, and deceitful–even you fudge your terms. A leader making a mistaken and untrue assertion that he believs is true, however recklessly, is not a lie. He is accountable for the error, but the lie accusation is either ignorant (“What’s a lie?”) or dishonest.

                  • This claim has always been pure slander, and deceitful–even you fudge your terms. A leader making a mistaken and untrue assertion that he believs is true, however recklessly, is not a lie. He is accountable for the error, but the lie accusation is either ignorant (“What’s a lie?”) or dishonest.

                    I suspect that it is dishonest.

                  • You’re comparing climatology and meteorology, i.e. the only job where you can be wrong most of the time and still not get fired, to deliberately misleading the American public about pre-war intelligence?


                    “A leader making a mistaken and untrue assertion that he believs is true, however recklessly, is not a lie.”

                    According to Phase II of the bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence:

                    The Administration “repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent. As a result, the American people were led to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed.”


                    Were they ignorant and dishonest as well?

                    • That is not an assertion that the evidence was false. It is a description of flawed intelligence. You do realize, right, that had the WMDs been found in Iraq as the Bush team fully expected would be the case, the intelligence would have been exactly as flawed, but would have just happened to be correct? this was moral luck, that’s all. No one lied. No one intentionally misled anyone to believe what they themselves did not believe was true.

                      You are a piece of work. Your link itself is deceitful: that quote relates NOT to the WMD claims, but the various expanded claims of Cheney and others about an Al Qaeda-Iraq connection, which were debunked well before the invasion. Regarding what we were discussing, the WMD threat, Phase II, according to your link, concluded that “While the report highlights many of the problems with the intelligence and criticizes the Bush Administration for its handling of the lead up to the war and its reasons for doing so, the report also supports in many cases that claims made by the Bush Administration about Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction programs were “generally substantiated by the intelligence”.

                      Which was my point.
                      Don’t pull crap like that here. Last warning.

            • Bugliosi’s argument for prosecuting Bush and Cheney was an intellectual and legal tour de force. Having read his book, I understand why he was a legend.

          • “I called out the ethical fallacy which I believed was used by you.”

            I said:

            While I may agree with most of the items on your list of grievances, especially regarding Holder and Lerner, I’m curious where you place the issues of defrauding a country into war and commuting the sentence of someone who obstructed the investigation into the outing of a CIA agent.

            Show me the “ethical fallacy.”

    • If you are curious, get googling. My analysis of both have been well explored here and elsewhere. They are 100% irrelevant to the current post, however.

      I do not accept either of your characterizations, however. Both are demonstrably false.

      Thanks for the new name, however. Original Bob just posted a comment, and it helps.

  6. Obama’s administration is like a parody parade of the Peter Principle. Everyone is promoted to their level of incompetence, no one is fired, gong shows all around.

  7. Obama, like all Presidents I’ve worked for except Clinton, doesn’t think it’s his job to actually manage the government. I don’t ever remember this level of unaccountability. It’s especially disappointing to someone who favors most of his agenda (like me).

    • Honestly curious. Are you surprised by this lack of accountability? You indicate disappointment; how is this different from what you expected? What would you like to see that is different? At what point did you become disappointed?

  8. Well, now we see more of this leadership at work. For weeks, it has looked like the administration has been trying to intentionally start an Ebola outbreak in the US. They keep flying Ebola victims into the US and instead of sending them to one highly specialized hospital unit (with specially trained experts and one one waste stream to manage), they send each one to a different hospital in a different part of the US looking for the one slip-up that will cause this to spread. They have insisted on allowing people from Ebola-stricken regions to fly into the US freely with no quarantine period and only a cursory check of their temperature before allowing them to roam through the country. Now they have an actual Ebola case, someone who says they didn’t develop symptoms until 4 days after entering the US (unless they are mistaken) and who didn’t go to the hospital for days after developing symptoms. The hospital, unaware that they had Ebola, sent them home until they came back two days later. What leadership is our government showing in this crisis? They are refusing to release the flight the man was on, and not notifying the people on the flight so they won’t be able to monitor themselves for symptoms. They don’t appear to be quarantining the family members who were in contact with him for the 4+ days he had symptoms. They don’t appear to be quarantining (or notifying) the healthcare workers or ER visitors who came into contact with him on either of his two visits. When are we going to get some competent leadership somewhere in this administration? So a lot of people may die, but it’s not worth firing anyone over.

    Don’t worry, be happy?

  9. “Regarding what we were discussing, the WMD threat, Phase II, according to your link, concluded that “While the report highlights many of the problems with the intelligence and criticizes the Bush Administration for its handling of the lead up to the war and its reasons for doing so, the report also supports in many cases that claims made by the Bush Administration about Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction programs were “generally substantiated by the intelligence”.

    “Which was my point.
    Don’t pull crap like that here. Last warning.”

    You did not quote Phase II, you quoted Sen.Jay Rockefeller in a press release.

    And the quote you cited ends with the point I was making:

    “There is no question we all relied on flawed intelligence. But, there is a fundamental difference between relying on incorrect intelligence and deliberately painting a picture to the American people that you know is not fully accurate.”

    (emphasis added)

    The press release continues…

    The Committee’s report cites several conclusions in which the Administration’s public statements were NOT supported by the intelligence. They include:

    Ø Statements and implications by the President and Secretary of State suggesting that Iraq and al-Qa’ida had a partnership, or that Iraq had provided al-Qa’ida with weapons training, were not substantiated by the intelligence.

    Ø Statements by the President and the Vice President indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information.

    Ø Statements by President Bush and Vice President Cheney regarding the postwar situation in Iraq, in terms of the political, security, and economic, did not reflect the concerns and uncertainties expressed in the intelligence products.

    Ø Statements by the President and Vice President prior to the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq’s chemical weapons production capability and activities did not reflect the intelligence community’s uncertainties as to whether such production was ongoing.

    Ø The Secretary of Defense’s statement that the Iraqi government operated underground WMD facilities that were not vulnerable to conventional airstrikes because they were underground and deeply buried was not substantiated by available intelligence information.

    Ø The Intelligence Community did not confirm that Muhammad Atta met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in 2001 as the Vice President repeatedly claimed.

    (stronger emphasis made in press release)


    • So what? The issue was whether or not Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. He didn’t. He tried to make the US and the World, especially Iran, think we did. We fell for it. That wasn’t a lie. The report supported that, and this was the basis of our discussion. You are changing the subject to the full range of rationales given for the invasion. I do not consent. The fact is that Iraq was invaded because the leadership of the US believed it was in the best interests of the nation. Everything else involved the political task of building sufficient public and political support, or in other words, advocacy. Advocacy is by definition slanted to reach a particular conclusion desired by the advocate. Advocacy is not unethical.

      • This endless effort to re-write history is shockingly dishonest. There was a war. Iraq lost. There was no peace and no surrender. There was ceasefire. Iraq refused to obey the terms. When the terms of ceasefires are ignored, firing should commence. The UN had an obligation to enforce the ceasefire, but instead passed toothless resolutions, as usual, and allowed corrupt embers like Russia and France to make money doing business under the table with Saddam. The resolutions gave member nations leave to enforce the cease fire on its own. The US leadership believed that getting rid of Saddam was a good thing, and would help stabilize the Middle East. The ceasefire breaches gave them a justification opportunity, 9-11 provided impetus. The opposition to the war, from groups that oppose any war, engaged in public misrepresentation and outright lies. This forced the Bush Administration to make additional arguments to invade, of which Saddam’s ability to unleash WMD’s against US allies, neighbors and even the US became the primary one. Most international intelligence believed that Saddam had WMDs…he had used them before, and he was interfering with mandated inspections. The CIA blew it, and via confirmation bias, the Bush Administration was not sufficiently critical, since it was convinced that invading was the right thing to do anyway. It would not have relied so heavily on WMD’s as a justification for war if 1) it was not certain they would be found, 2) if they could have overcome the anti-war propaganda with the bare facts and 3) if the UN had done its duty and endorsed the enforcement of the ceasefire, and 3) Saddam wasn’t being assured by Russia and others that the Us would never invade without UN approval and participation.

        None of which describes a sinister effort to deceive that American people about WMD’s.

        Meanwhile, the subsequent “non-partisan” reports were still political in nature rather than objective. The war was unpopular at that point, and Congress was trying to shift the blame. When a policy decision goes wrong, it is usually impossible to have a fair discussion of what should have happened before the decision, because the decision is already known not to work. Would the “non-partisan” report have reached the same conclusions, stated the same way if this slovenly process had resulted in the US army’s discovery and elimination of WPD stockpiles, and a popular war? Come on. You know the answer.

        • Bullseye, Jack, but I think you dignify opposition groups like A.N.S.W.E.R. too much by saying they oppose all war. They and groups like them didn’t say a word when Clinton unleashed an air blitz against the Balkans, or when Obama joined the assault on Libya that left it in worse shape than when Gaddafi was in charge, or say much (though a few Code Pink types did show up to give John Kerry grief in front of Congress)when Obama started the (perhaps intentionally) nameless operation that’s now spreading into Syria. Only when the GOP is in charge do you see demonstrations in the tens of thousands.

          Principled peaceful people, who always oppose war no matter who is leading or what the cause is, are few and far between. Leftist people who use peace as a moral gloss for attacks on those they oppose are fairly common, and their followers are all too eager to turn out and not do a day’s work when the party they hate is in power.

          Even the few principled peaceful people are not all that attractive if you look too closely at them. Dennis Kucinich, who wasted who knows how much money and time on presidential aspirations that were going nowhere? The frankly insane Cindy Sheehan? John Dear, who tried to build a cult of personality around himself? Just opposing conflict no matter what doesn’t automatically transform one into a Sophie Scholl or a St. Francis of Assisi, and arguably the world would be in a worse state now IF there were too many such people.

          • I don’t oppose all war per se. As von Clausewitz(iirc) put it, it is diplomacy by other means. I agree in principle with the Catholic doctrine of just war, as espoused in the modern Catechism (and no, I am not Catholic). There is a time for war, and a time for peace; it is the pinnacle of wisdom to know the difference.

            That having been said, if you want to understand a deal, you follow the money. Virtually every war is a resource grab, and a transfer of wealth from the many to the few. When someone pounds the drumbeat for war, I always ask, “Cui bono?”

            The older I get, the more cynical I seem to become. 🙂

        • I guess that I see history a little differently. Poppy Bush would have made Machiavelli proud. The Iran-Iraq war was bankrupting Saddam, who was our bestest buddy (we installed the Ba’athists). His nuclear ambitions were worrying Israel — as you may recall, they bombed his Osirak reactor back in 1981 (“Operation Opera”). In 1990, Saddam was about two years from getting the Bomb, and that would have created an arms race in the Persian Gulf.

          Saddam needed cash, and the price of oil had tanked. He was having a dispute with Bahrain, and asked his bosses in Washington whether they minded if he invaded. Through Ambassador April Glaspie, we sent him the diplomatic equivalent of an engraved invitation, and he accepted.

          Bush was Lucy. Saddam was Charlie Brown. If you understand that as Bush 41’s objective — keeping the nuclear genie in the bottle — it is but a stroke short of genius. But you all know what happened next.

          If the goal of GWI was to defang Saddam — who had the world’s fourth-strongest army before it — then it was a success. Both Condi and Gen. Powell said that Saddam had been contained. And the suggestion that Saddam would use WMD was beyond silly, as he had not even tried in GWI. Sure, he was committing a few low-level violations of the peace accord, but Saddam was still serving the function he did when we were bestest buds: containing Islamic extremism.

          BushCo wanted war. They were even thinking about running a false flag operation. And war is invariably a transfer of wealth from the populace to the plutocrats. This has always been true, since the rise of the Rothschild banking dynasty.

          So, why did we invade? Why most wars are fought. They are resource grabs (this one failed because insurgents fought back), and if we had been in the room with Dick Cheney, we would know that he and his patrons had carved up Iraq’s untapped oil reserves. And yes, the Israelis wanted him gone for financial support for the Intifada (which he could give a rodent’s tail about, but it played well at home). 9/11 provided the pretext, and the cluster**** we see over there today is a predictable result. As General Powell warned: “Pottery-barn rules.”

          When it comes to international relations, I am a realist. As with Reagan during the Solidarity uprising, there’s only so much we can do. Sometimes it is better leaving well enough alone. Milosevic may have been a brute, but he kept a lid on the cauldron that was Yugoslavia. All we can do is to contain the Putins and Xi Jinpings. If we can work with a Noriega, we can work with just about anyone.

          I know how much you despise the UN, Jack, but they had it right on this one. The only allies we had on that fool’s errand were Australia (our 51st state), Britain, and anyone else we could bribe. Even our nice neighbours to the North had the good sense to beg off.

          The sad fact is that If Bush 43 had played his cards intelligently, he would have been hailed as the greatest statesman of our age. All he would have had to have done is not fight. As Sun-Tzu put it, the acme of skill is to win without fighting. If he had declared that he got what he wanted — Saddam’s compliance with UN weapons inspections — and called everyone home, Pax Americana would still be in force and America’s standing in the world as a force for good would have been exalted, and for a lot less cost.

          But we all know what the Iraq war was about: Oil, Israel, and the domestic elections.

  10. Of course in a typical nefarious play, Democrats have subtly politicized the Secret Service debacle by accusing the Republicans of politicizing it (which they didn’t). Even better and more individualize of the left is the New York Times article in which they quietly imply that the Republicans are less concerned about the President’s safety and more concerned about finding another mess to blame on him.

  11. To answer the direct question:

    “Will President Obama’s New Leadership Model Cripple U.S. Management Competence For Decades?”

    Perhaps we should actually ask:

    Is President Obama’s Leadership Model Indicative of Current U.S. Management Competence?

  12. And to respond to the issue Beth raised: The Wall Street Journal notes in an editorial today that the Secret Service budget of $1.7 billion for 2014 has doubled in real terms since 1998.”

    This wasn’t a budget problem. But that is the first line of defense when this stuff happens: see the IRS, Benghazi. Anything to avoid admitting that they screwed up…again.

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