Here are two data points (one via the No War Blog and the other via Electrolite) that you may find instructive when thinking about the nature of the current administration. First, from a press briefing given by Ari Fleischer, whose job seems to be lying without shame:

No, it’s exactly as I indicated, that we have, on this issue, a matter of diplomacy and a matter of the merits. We ask each nation on the Security Council to weigh the merits and make a decision about war and peace.

The issue of course is the resolution to let the US invade Iraq. It was shortly after this that Fleischer was literally laughed out of the room when he pretended to be outraged at the idea that leaders of other countries could be induced to support us with cash or concessions.

Anyway, apparently the merits aren’t quite enough to get us the votes we need, because The Observer (UK, British media disclaimer applies) reports that the NSA has set up a little spying operation to monitor the swing countries on the Security Council. Here’s the beef:

The memo is directed at senior NSA officials and advises them that the agency is ‘mounting a surge’ aimed at gleaning information not only on how delegations on the Security Council will vote on any second resolution on Iraq, but also ‘policies’, ‘negotiating positions’, ‘alliances’ and ‘dependencies’ – the ‘whole gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favourable to US goals or to head off surprises’.

The current big picture indicates that the second resolution is really a farce anyway because disarmament was never the President’s goal, but this still sheds some light on exactly how this administration works.