The Rochester Post-Bulletin carried a news brief about a fundraiser tomorrow:
Former GOP Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich will appear Sunday at a fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Gil Gutknecht.
The event starts at 6 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel in Rochester, 150 S.Broadway, with a dinner and a photo opportunity with Gutknecht and Gingrich costing $1,000 per person.
Speeches are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.; the cost is $50 per person.
Gingrich and Gutknecht go way back, ace-boonies from 1994, when Gutknecht was first elected in the GOP wave that took control of Congress that year. Gingrich is now nurturing Presidential ambitions after leaving Congress in disgrace; Gutknecht is trying to hold on to his seat.
For instance: Wikipedia. Gutknecht earned bad press when staff tried to remove his Contract-For-American related term limit pledge, then scorned the online source as unreliable. Gingrich differs:
During a 2006 CSPAN interview with Alvin Toffler, Gingrich referred to Wikipedia as a model of how people spontaneously organize information en masse and praised it for its accuracy and its being a "people's encyclopedia." Gingrich referred to it as being a model of future organization.
On a more serious note, Gingrich has also been an outspoken critic of Pennsylvania Democrat John Murtha, who will be in Rochester on Sunday as well, at a Veterans for Walz fundraiser at 4 p.m. Detailed information here.
Nor was Gingrich alone in attacking Murtha, as Taylor Marsh demonstrates at the Patriots Project in "The Swiftboating of John Murtha." More here at SourceWatch. Murtha's crime? Calling for redeployment of American troops in Iraq.
Yet Gingrich's own position on Iraq has also evolved. See Even Gingrich wants to cut and run in the Carpetbagger Report from April, which references this ThinkProgress article "September 2004: Gingrich Blasts Critics of Iraq War Who ‘Complain We’re Not Winning Fast Enough’" Digby analyzed Newt's war planning in "Future Shock and Awe" back in 2003.
Perhaps Gutknecht had Gingrich in mind in when he warned that it wasn't time to go wobbly on Iraq in June; maybe Gingrich's wobbling was on his mind later in the summer when Gil changed his own position on the Iraqi war.
But now Iran is the new Iraqi, as one U.S. counterterrorism official recently told the press. And by bringing in Hoekstra and Gingrich, Gutknecht does appear to be allying himself with American neo-cons beating the war drums against Iran.
It's instructive to look at Gingrich's own web site, where he currently posts "The American Eleven" a neo-Contract for America through which Republicans can hold on to the House of Representatives. The final point (italics ours)
Focus on Iran and North Korea. The American people are very prepared to believe we face extraordinary threats from a nuclear North Korea and an Iranian regime actively seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Any actions in Iraq need to be recast in terms of their impact on Iran. A weak America in Iraq will be unable to stop Iran. Stopping Iran is potentially literally a matter of life and death. Congress should hold hearings on the scale of the Iranian and North Korean threat, the statements of their key leaders and the requirements for action to replace these dictatorships before they succeed in killing millions of Americans. The Santorum Iranian democracy bill should be forced out of the Senate in the context of these threats. Everything about Iraq should be debated within this larger and much more dangerous context.
Given his recent fundraising visitors is Gil Gutknecht going down this tough-on-Iran road?
It's a road in which the rhetoric sound very much like the ramp-up to the war in Iraq, perhaps because some of the same characters are writing the scripts.
The London Guardian reports:
While the IAEA noted five major errors in the report, intelligence officials told the Washington Post that it contained a dozen assertions that were either wrong or impossible to substantiate.
The House report, under the chairmanship of the Michigan Republican Peter Hoekstra, was released on August 23. It was not voted on or discussed by the full bipartisan committee but it was reviewed by the office of John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, before being released by Republican members of the committee.
Jane Harman, the Democrat vice-chairwoman of the committee, told colleagues in an email that the report "took a number of analytical shortcuts that present the Iran threat as more dire - and the intelligence community's assessments as more certain - than they are."
The report, titled Recognising Iran as a Strategic Threat, was written by Fredrick Fleitz, a CIA operative on secondment to the US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton. Mr Fleitz and Mr Bolton were involved in constructing the arguments in favour of the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. Mr Fleitz is writing a report about North Korea for Mr Hoekstra's committee.
The row over the Iran report is reminiscent of the disputes between the IAEA, its chief Mohamed ElBaradei and the Bush administration in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. "This is like pre-war Iraq all over again," David Albright, a former nuclear inspector who is president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, told the Post.
The Mercury News echoes this information in "In a replay of Iraq, a battle is brewing over intelligence on Iran." The lead:
In an echo of the intelligence wars that preceded the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a high-stakes struggle is brewing within the Bush administration and in Congress over Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program and involvement in terrorism.
U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials say Bush political appointees and hard-liners on Capitol Hill have tried recently to portray Iran's nuclear program as more advanced than it is and to exaggerate Tehran's role in Hezbollah's attack on Israel in mid-July.
The struggle's outcome could have profound implications for U.S. policy.
President Bush, who addresses the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, has said he prefers diplomacy to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, but he hasn't ruled out using military force.
Several former U.S. defense officials who maintain close ties to the Pentagon say they've been told that plans for airstrikes - if Bush deems them necessary - are being updated.
The leader of a Persian Gulf country who visited Washington recently came away without receiving assurances he sought that the military option was off the table, said a person with direct knowledge of the meetings.
"It seems like Iran is becoming the new Iraq," said one U.S. counterterrorism official.
Jeff Huber at ePluribus Media Community has more. Money quote:
It's obvious by now to anyone who isn't a card-carrying member of the autistic political right that Cheney and his chamberlains are trying to pull the same kind of intelligence bake sale on Iran that they pulled on Iraq.
And why the sudden linking of Iraq and Iran policy by conservatives like Gingrich--when, in the ramp-up to the Iraq War, in its execution, and the beginning of occupation, they had no problem backing Ahmad Chalabi, whose connections with Tehran increasingly came to light in 2004.
The choice for voters in MN-01 is clear. They can stick with Gutknecht and those whose ideological ambitions got American foreign policy into the current muddle, or opt for Tim Walz's common sense leadership.
OLLIE OX UPDATE:
Speaking of following scripts, Vox Verax notes how Gil Gutknecht learned a new vocabulary word, and he's backtracking on his trip to Baghdad insights.