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The Motives of Intimigate

David Sirota

The leak of classified information was a coded threat . . . they better keep their mouths shut and stay silent about what they know is true.

In all the pandemonium surrounding the White House's leak of classified information, very few are talking about motive. Everyone is fixated on the whodunit, but the "whydidtheydoit" is just as important. Why would the Bush Administration choose to expose an undercover CIA officer? And why, if they are so intent on finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, would they out a person who was helping the hunt for those very weapons? The most prominent theory says the White House leaked the information to make it seem that the officer's husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, got a job purely through nepotism.

Some background: After President Bush and Vice President Cheney repeatedly said the threat of Saddam Hussein's supposed nuclear arsenal was basis for war, Wilson was dispatched by the US government to verify the claims. The fear within the intelligence community was that the Bush Administration was employing a dangerous "claim-first, ask-questions-later" strategy in hyping the "Iraqi threat" and misleading the American public. And Wilson's report confirmed the suspicion: he found Bush's claim that Iraq was trying to "purchase uranium from Africa" was 100% false. The theory goes that exposing Wilson's wife as a CIA officer who worked on weapons of mass destruction would tarnish his report because it would appear he was unqualified for the job, only having received the position because of nepotism.

The problem with this theory is that Wilson was uniquely qualified for the job. He was one of the few diplomats who had firsthand experience with Saddam Hussein's government. As the Washington Times reported (2 October 2003), Wilson served as US ambassador in Bahgdad and "acted heroically to protect American citizens and keep Saddam's thugs at bay." Wilson also had Africa experience as ambassador to Gabon (he was appointed by President George H.W. Bush). This is essential because his investigation took place in Niger. Not surprisingly, his report was considered accurate and the White House was forced to acknowledge its deception.

The Bush Administration is not stupid. They knew Wilson was a serious guy well before he ever reported back from Niger, and they knew a nepotism charge would do nothing to damage his credibility. So, if the nepotism theory is out, what's left? Intimidation.

The leak of classified information was a coded threat to former CIA officials and others that they better keep their mouths shut and stay silent about what they know is true: much of the evidence Bush presented as basis for war was false. The scandal has been aptly named "Intimigate" because, as former CIA officer Larry Johnson told Nightline, "The message that's being sent is, if you take a policy position that's in opposition to this White House, they'll out you."

Some may say that this is conspiracy theory, but let's remember the axiom of Ockham's Razor the simplest explanation is usually correct. And when one considers the historical record, it is hard to conclude anything different.

In the last two years, those who were honest about Iraq have been fired, disparaged and defamed by the Bush Administration's attack machine. While Bush's spokesman Scott McClellan claims in a 7 October Whitehouse press briefing, "It is absurd to suggest that this White House would seek to punish someone for speaking out with a different view", the facts show that truth-tellers face "slime and defend" treatment, as one Republican aide told the New York Times. When White House economist Lawrence Lindsey said the war would cost at least $100-200 billion (which has proven to be accurate), he was fired because the White House was trying to blur the cost estimates. When Mideast envoy Gen. Anthony Zinni said that the Administration had more important national security concerns than Iraq, he too was fired. When Gen. Eric Shinseki (accurately) refuted the Administration by admitting an Iraq occupation would require "several hundred thousand troops." Shinseki was publicly disparaged by the Pentagon. When US soldiers told ABC News they were misled about the length of their tours in Iraq, they were threatened with court martials, and the Administration told other reporters the ABC correspondent was a gay Canadian (as if that mattered).

While these purges/smears were going on, the White House was promoting the most dishonest in its ranks. Vice President Dick Cheney repeatedly ignored intelligence by telling the American people that Iraq had nuclear weapons. For his efforts, he was rewarded with huge influence over Iraq policymaking — so much so that US News and World Report now calls him the "the most powerful vice president in history" (13 October 2003). Similarly, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said the decision to go to war was based on "new evidence" of an Iraqi threat that came to light after 2001. She said this knowing that most pre-war intelligence came from before 1998 Washington Post 27 September 2003), knowing that Colin Powell admitted in 2001 that Saddam was not a threat and knowing that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged that the war decision was not made "because we had discovered dramatic new evidence." For her dishonesty, she was recently named head of a new panel that will oversee rebuilding in Iraq.

So now we have a government that places value on lies and treats honesty like a crime. It doesn't matter that outing a CIA agent endangers agents in the field and weakens American security. It doesn't matter that intelligence was distorted to mislead the American people into a war. What matters above everything is loyalty to the White House. Anything else — national security, integrity — is secondary.

There is a term for this kind of thing in the dictionary, and it is not "democracy". An administration that "forcibly suppresses opposition" and shows a "tendency toward strong autocratic control" like the one in power is called facism. And, as former White House counsel and Watergate figure John Dean notes, we are only glimpsing the abyss. "I thought I had seen political dirty tricks as foul as they could get, but I was wrong," he recently wrote. "Bush's people have out-Nixoned Nixon's people. And my former colleagues were not amateurs by any means." ( 3 October 2003). The only thing surprising about Dean's comments is that they were not made far earlier by more people when America had the chance to change course.

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

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