Monday, May 18, 2020

For the Record: Now With More Pompeo

Photo by Money Sharma/AFP/Getty Images via Intercept (I think originally used in The New Yorker).

Trump has only two ideas about China, both of which are not actually about China but about his election campaign—wanting to get his name on a "deal" to the content of which he is basically indifferent, which will enhance his view of himself as a master negotiator, and wanting to blame China for all the problems of the universe, which the rally crowds adore—and doesn't understand that they contradict each other and that the more abuse he heaps on the country the more difficult it will be for the dictator Xi Jinping to have another playdate with him. But the way he's working the coronavirus into the latter goal, pushing his people to fabricate the case that Chinese scientists created the virus in a Wuhan laboratory, is getting dangerously reminiscent of the kind of fabrication used to set up the Iraq War in 2002-03, and there's something scary about the role Secretary of State Pompeo is playing in the business:

Shades of Cheney, from the Times article:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a former C.I.A. director and the administration’s most vocal hard-liner on China, has taken the lead in pushing American intelligence agencies for more information, according to current and former officials.
Matthew Pottinger, the deputy national security adviser who reported on SARS outbreaks as a journalist in China, pressed intelligence agencies in January to gather information that might support any origin theory linked to a lab.
And Anthony Ruggiero, the head of the National Security Council’s bureau tracking weapons of mass destruction, expressed frustration during one videoconference in January that the C.I.A. was unable to get behind any theory of the outbreak’s origin. C.I.A. analysts responded that they simply did not have the evidence to support any one theory with high confidence at the time, according to people familiar with the conversation.
And from the glorious Daily Beast account of the MACE fabrication, which you really need to read all the way through, farce:
MACE’s analysts tried to establish a “pattern of life” at the Wuhan lab in order to reveal what they claim is an anomaly, one purportedly caused by a leak. The MACE document charts the movement of apparent Wuhan lab personnel into and out of the facility leading up to October, when the alleged leak took place. In one slide, analysts wrote that there is an “18 day gap” in which “there were no observable events” from devices at the lab between Oct. 6 and 24, supposedly suggesting an accidental leak. 
In doing so, they appear to have been unaware of a key cultural factor complicating the normal course of events: a holiday. “The first week of October is a golden week in China, which is going to disrupt that pattern,” Lewis said.
Imagine Chinese spies in the US getting hyper over a change in traffic patterns on 4 July, and you'll get an idea of how professional these guys are.

Meanwhile signs that Pompeo is in bigger trouble: the fired inspector general wasn't just looking at his abuses of staff but at his end-running around Congress to help MBS in his project of destroying the suffering people of Yemen:
Meanwhile, lots of people getting seriously disturbed about the possibility of Trump canceling the election if it looks like he's going to lose. I'm sure he'd want to, but I'm having some trouble envisaging the logistics of it:

At least for a few months. No, that wouldn't happen either.

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