Greenspan Backtracks On Iraq War Oil Claim

The Skinny is Keach Hagey's take on the top news of the day and the best of the Internet.


There's not much in government to cheer Alan Greenspan these days.

The former Fed chief may think Hillary Clinton is "very smart" and that President Bush went to war for oil, as he told CBS News' 60 Minutes last night, but he's not any more thrilled with the Democratic Party than the Republicans, he told the Wall Street Journal.

The Goldwater-loving libertarian had nice things to say about the centrist Clinton administration's fiscal politices, but said "the next administration may have the Clinton administration name but the Democratic party ... has moved ... very significantly in the wrong direction," referring to the Democratic party's populist bent, particularly its skepticism of free trade, the Journal reported.

He also (cheerily) put the current odds of the U.S. economy slipping into a recession at better than one in three.

The two other newspapers benefiting from Greenspan's memoir-hawking rounds took away a slightly different messages from their interviews.

The Washington Post focused on the charge in Greenspan's book that "the Iraq war is largely about oil."

The fiscal guru backed off that assertion by suggesting that while securing global oil supplies "was not the administration's motive," it should have been.

He said than when he made the argument that ousting Saddam Hussein was "essential" because of the threat he posed to U.S. oil interests in the region, White House officials told him "Well, unfortunately, we can't talk about oil."

The New York Times zeroed in on the lifelong Republican's unhappiness with the Bush administration's lack of fiscal discipline.

"I'm just very disappointed," he told the Times "glumly" from his living room. "Smaller government, lower spending, lower taxes, less regulation - they had all the resources to do it, they had the knowledge to do it, they had the majorities to do it. And they didn't."

U.S. Ambassador To Iraq Warns Of Refugee Crisis

For a long time, the Bush administration hasn't wanted to talk about the growing Iraqi refugee crisis, either, but today the Washington Post reports that the U.S. ambassador to Iraq has made bleak predictions that are forcing debate.

In a bluntly worded State Department cable titled "Iraqi Refugee Processing: Can We Speed It Up?" Ambassador Ryan Crocker warned that it may take the U.S. government as long as two years to process and admit the nearly 10,000 Iraqi refugees referred by the United Nations for resettlement in the United States, because of bureaucratic bottlenecks.

He claimed the Department of Homeland Security had only a handful of officers in Jordan to vet the refugees. The Bush administration disputed several of his claims.

About 2 million Iraqis are displaced inside Iraq, and an estimated 2.2 million more have fled to Syria, Jordan and other neighboring countries, according to the U.N. But with 60,000 Iraqis fleeing their homes each month, Jordan has closed its borders to Iraqis earlier this year, and Syria announced yesterday that it will begin requiring visas for Iraqis at the end of Ramadan next month.

The U.S. is blaming the U.N. for the delays, and vice versa. Senator Ted Kennedy is expected to proposed legislation next week to expand visas and resettlement programs for Iraqis. "While we can't solve the problem alone," he said, "the least we can do is our part to allow those at risk to resettle here." Which sounded a little like: since that whole bringing-our-democracy-to-Iraqis thing didn't really work out, let's try bringing Iraqis to our democracy.

Good Fences Make Empty Coffers

The immigration debate is revving up again in Congress, and with it cries for more money to build walls along the Mexican border. Anyone in favor of solving to immigration problem with a border wall ought to read A NOTE TO READERS: The Skinny is available via e-mail. Click here and follow the directions to register to receive it in your inbox each weekday morning.
  • Keach Hagey

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