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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, March 30, 2004

 
The Worst Of All Possible Worlds

I sure wish those naysaying lefties would just shut up about our so-called failure in Iraq. They are just wrong.

Like, for instance, that commie bastard Bruce Fein who wrote in the Washington Times today that the new Iraqi government is fucked up five ways to Friday and there is almost no hope that it won't fly apart like the Big Bang the minute the US turns over sovereignty:

Volcanic. That characterizes a heated symposium I attended in Ankara, Turkey, last week sponsored by the Foreign Policy Institute and Bilkent University to appraise "Iraq on the way to its new Constitution." The attendees included Iraqi participants in the March 8, 2004, interim constitution promulgated by the 25 member Iraqi Governing Council (IGC). Other attendees hailed from Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The symposium exposed numerous fault lines destined to fracture Iraq soon after the Coalition Provisional Authority and United States sovereignty dissolve on June 30, 2004:

• An interim constitution and Iraqi Transitional Government devoid of legitimacy.
• A legal system denuded of legal principles.
• An irreconcilable conflict between the universal tenets of Islam and fundamental democratic freedoms.
• Implacable embitterment of Kurds toward Arabs born of their wretched oppression and genocide under Saddam Hussein.
• A demand by Turkmen to the same language and autonomy privileges enjoyed by Kurds.
• And exchanges and monologues that smacked more of belligerence than of fraternity.

[...]

The staggering blunders of the Bush administration in governing post-Saddam Iraq have left no satisfactory post-June 30 denouements. The least bad option is a managed partition into statelets for Kurds, Turkmen, Sunnis and Shi'ites to escape a reprise of Yugoslavia's blood-stained disintegration.

Symposium participants challenged Iraqi representatives to defend the legitimacy of their constitutional handiwork, soporifically styled the "Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period." No member of the IGC was elected. All were appointed by the United States. None enjoy more than a crumb of popular support.

A favorite of the Defense Department, Ahmed Chalabi, is more reviled than Saddam Hussein. The interim constitution was neither drafted nor debated in a public forum before its promulgation. The document turned precepts of self-government on their heads.

The defenders fatuously retorted that the interim constitution and the IGC deserved legitimacy because both were superior to Saddam Hussein and Ba'athist tyranny. By that yardstick, a restoration of the King Feisel dynasty would be defensible.

[...]

The seminar changed no minds. Differences were more aggravated than softened. Contemplating Iraq's future evoked visions of civil war featuring rocket propelled grenades and AK-47s, not free and fair national assembly elections monitored by United Nations observers.

The United States should declare its post-Saddam nation-building enterprise a failure. It should begin immediately to arrange the partition of Iraq by regional self-determination plebiscites. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, it would be the worst imaginable last chapter of Operation Enduring Freedom, except for all the plausible alternative scripts.


Another fifth columnist for Kerry, no doubt. Must have a book coming out.


 
Dana's Little Secret

Gosh, listening to Dana Rohrabacher tonight on Hardball castigating Clarke and the Clinton administration for letting al Qaeda get away with murder for eight years, you'd almost think he hadn't been up to his ears in the Taliban for years:



Rohrabacher’s post-Sept. 11 finger-pointing was a fraud designed to distract attention from his own ongoing meddling in the foreign-policy nightmare. Federal documents reviewed by the Weekly show that Rohrabacher maintained a cordial, behind-the-scenes relationship with Osama bin Laden’s associates in the Middle East—even while he mouthed his most severe anti-Taliban comments at public forums across the U.S. There’s worse: despite the federal Logan Act ban on unauthorized individual attempts to conduct American foreign policy, the congressman dangerously acted as a self-appointed secretary of state, constructing what foreign-affairs experts call a "dual tract" policy with the Taliban.

A veteran U.S. foreign-policy expert told the Weekly, "If Dana’s right-wing fans knew the truth about his actual, working relationship with the Taliban and its representatives in the Middle East and in the United States, they wouldn’t be so happy."

Nowadays, Rohrabacher and his numerous aides are quick to provide copies of the congressman’s pre-Sept. 11 rants against the Taliban. They will tell you that he labeled them "a pack of dogs killing anyone" and "the most anti-Western, anti-female, anti-human rights regime in the world." They will also show you records of the congressman berating Clinton administration foreign-policy advisors for misreading Taliban intentions and for trying to negotiate peace in Afghanistan with the militant Islamic group’s Mullah Mohammed Omar, a bin Laden associate.

What they won’t mention is that Rohrabacher also once lobbied shamelessly for the Taliban. A November/December 1996 article in Washington Report on Middle East Affairs reported, "The potential rise of power of the Taliban does not alarm Rohrabacher" because the congressman believes the "Taliban could provide stability in an area where chaos was creating a real threat to the U.S." Later in the article, Rohrabacher claimed that:

•Taliban leaders are "not terrorists or revolutionaries."

•Media reports documenting the Taliban’s harsh, radical beliefs were "nonsense."

•The Taliban would develop a "disciplined, moral society" that did not harbor terrorists.

•The Taliban posed no threat to the U.S.

Although he continues to describe himself as an expert on Afghan history and politics, Rohrabacher was obviously dead wrong on all counts.

Evidence of Rohrabacher’s attempts to conduct his own foreign policy became public on April 10, 2001, not in the U.S., but in the Middle East. On that day, ignoring his own lack of official authority, Rohrabacher opened negotiations with the Taliban at the Sheraton Hotel in Doha, Qatar, ostensibly for a "Free Markets and Democracy" conference. There, Rohrabacher secretly met with Taliban Foreign Minister Mullah Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, an advisor to Mullah Omar. Diplomatic sources claim Muttawakil sought the congressman’s assistance in increasing U.S. aid—already more than $100 million annually—to Afghanistan and indicated that the Taliban would not hand over bin Laden, wanted by the Clinton administration for the fatal bombings of two American embassies in Africa and the USS Cole. For his part, Rohrabacher handed Muttawakil his unsolicited plans for war-torn Afghanistan. "We examined a peace plan," he laconically told reporters in Qatar.

To this day, the congressman has refused to divulge the contents of his plan. However, several diplomatic sources say it’s likely he asked the extremists to let former Afghan King Zahir Shah return as the figurehead of a new coalition government. In numerous speeches before and after Sept. 11, Rohrabacher has claimed the move would help stabilize Afghanistan for an important purpose: the construction of an oil pipeline there. In return, the plan would reportedly have allowed the Taliban to maintain power until "free" elections could be called.

[...]

After Taliban-related terrorists attacked the U.S. last September, Rohrabacher associates worked hard to downplay the Qatar meeting. Republican strategist Grover Norquist told a reporter that the congressman had accidentally encountered the Taliban official in a hotel hallway.


Read The Rest

I think it might also be a good idea to drop old Tweety a line and let him know that people are aware of Rohrabacher's little sideline and that it might not be a good idea to present him as a Richard Clarke character assassin without also revealing his own sordid invlovement with the Taliban.


 
Pass It On

From future radio star Julia on The American Street

You folks may have heard that there is a new Liberal radio network going on the air tomorrow at noon with (I love this) The O'Franken Factor.

Here's how you listen.


New York WLIB - 1190 AM

Los Angeles KBLA - 1580 AM

Chicago WNTD - 950 AM

Portland, OR KPOJ - 620 AM

Inland Empire, CA KCAA - 1050 AM

XM Satellite - Radio Channel 167

San Francisco Coming Soon

You can also get the feed at their website.

FYI: I spent some time yesterday talking to Janeane Garofalo and her cohost, Sam Seder during a runthrough of their show, the Majority Report, and I hear (to my utter amazement) that I'm going to be back at some point when they go on the air.

Bloggers you will definitely be hearing from on the Majority Report: Atrios, Kos and the editor of Liberal Oasis.

Word is that all three of them give really good radio.

Click through for the schedule.

Monday-Friday

Morning Sedition: 6:00-9:00am

This is a fast paced morning show that will entertain and engage audiences with wit and political satire. It will feature the latest news, offering up to-the-minute interviews with newsmakers, analysis and strong opinions.

Co-Host: Marc Maron

Co-host: Sue Ellicott

Co-host: Mark Riley


Unfiltered: 9:00am- 12:00pm

Air America’s midmorning program is a showcase for conversation about the political and culture state of the union. Unfiltered introduces listeners to fresh new voices not available in mainstream media.

Co-host: Lizz Winstead

Co-host: Chuck D

Co-host: Rachel Maddow


The O’ Franken Factor: 12:00-3:00pm

After debunking right-wing propaganda in his bestselling books Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them and Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot, Al Franken is taking the fight to America's airwaves--and he's doing it drug-free. With his co-host, veteran radio personality Katherine Lanpher, Franken will deliver three hours a day of fearlessly irreverent commentary, comedy, and interviews. Franken and Lanpher have a mean streak a smile wide. The O'Franken Factor will energize fans, infuriate liars, and deliver the truth--in what Al Franken likes to call the Zero Spin Zone.

Host: Al Franken

Co-host: Katherine Lanpher

Producer: Billy Kimball


The Randi Rhodes Show: 3:00-7:00pm

Randi Rhodes has spent the last 20 years burning up the airwaves in southern Florida with her pointed and provocative brand of talk radio. Combining live interview, call-in and commentary, Randi engages her audience with a passionate presentation.

Host: Randi Rhodes


So What Else is News?: 7:00-8:00pm

Based in Los Angeles, this is a one-hour program showcasing the intersection of politics, media and popular culture. This program will feature analysis and reports from the presidential campaign, as well as a daily reporters’ roundtable on how the news of the day is affected and reflected by the media. Marty will also cover the spinning of the news with a regular segment called “The Corrections.” This is also the place to hear the political voice of Hollywood, with celebrity guest interviews from the entertainment industries.

Host: Marty Kaplan


The Majority Report: 8:00pm-11:00pm

This program will introduce new, younger voices and opinions, with live guests from the world of politics, the arts and entertainment.

Host: Janeane Garofalo

Co-host: Sam Seder

Saturday and Sunday

Air America Radio’s weekend line-up will offer more original programming, like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Mike Papatanio’s “Champions of Justice,” a program that brings a fresh and entertaining perspective to talk radio from the top legal and social issues focused minds in the country. Additional programming will include Best-of Air America Radio and Best-of-O’Franken Factor as well as other original programming to be announced soon.





 
Nice Try

So Wolfie said just now that Krugman was wrong when he called him "willing to be used" in his column today in which he quoted Wolf as saying on the air:

"...wants to make a few bucks, and that [in] his own personal life, they're also suggesting that there are some weird aspects in his life as well."


I warned you

Wolfie claims that he was talking about these comments by Jim Wilkinson a few days before and showed footage of him saying:

...Let me also point something. If you look in this book you find interesting things such as reported in the "Washington Post" this morning. He's talking about how he sits back and visualizes chanting by bin Laden and bin Laden has a mystical mind control over U.S. officials. This is sort of "X-Files" stuff, and this is a man in charge of terrorism, Wolf, who is supposed to be focused on it and he was focused on meetings.


C'mon, Wolf. You can do better than this. Wilkinson was talking shit allright (not that you mentioned it at the time, of course) but he didn't say a thing about his "personal life" or any "weird aspects in his life."

We all know what trash you were peddling, you cheap trollop. You are just lucky that you were talking to John King instead of one of the Botox Barbies or we would have undoubtedly been treated to a gossipy GOP spoon fed bitch fest, which was obviously premature. You're supposed to wait until Drudge or The Sun runs it so you can call it "out there" and claim you had no choice. You know that.


 
Less Than Lies, More Than Truth

Matthew Yglesias has a very interesting new article over on American Prospect regarding the Bush administration's sophisticated dissembling techniques. I am struck by this particular passage, however, and I have to say that it kind of freaks me out:

A new paper by Steven Kull, Clay Ramsey, and Evan Lewis shows a similar dynamic at work in foreign policy. The authors examined the pervasiveness of three pieces of misinformation in the American public: that the United States has discovered WMD in Iraq, that evidence has been found showing that the Iraqi regime worked closely with al-Qaeda, and that world opinion favored America's decision to go to war. Support for the war was found to be highly correlated with the possession of false beliefs on these three matters -- 86 percent of those who believed all three supported the war, as did 78 percent of those who believed two, and 53 percent of those who believed just one. Among people who knew the truth on all three scores, just 23 percent supported the war. One key finding was that misinformation about the state of world opinion was the single strongest predictor of support for the war. In light of the fact that as late as February 2003 polls showed strong support for the proposition that war should be undertaken only with U.N. approval, it is tempting to speculate that the administration's campaign to portray U.N. opposition as solely a matter of French intransigence rather than as reflecting almost universal hostility to the undertaking was a crucial factor in building public support for the invasion.


I'm not sure the country can survive if this persists. This is post-modernism in the most obvious sense and the great irony is that it's being perpetrated by people who call themselves "conservatives."





 
Joint Chiefs

Alberto Gonzales has made the grand accomodation of allowing all ten members of the 9/11 commission interview President bush and Vice-President Cheney --- jointly.

I think that's probably a good idea. It's pretty obvious that the president is clueless so he needs to have Unka Dick there to translate when he makes statements that sound like the babbling of a 6th grader. ("You can't see what you think is a threat and hope it goes away. You used to could when the oceans protected us.")

Even the Republicans on the commission might get scared if he "visited" with them all by himself.



 
I Won't Be Ignoooored, Condi

Oh, I see.

Richard Clarke was a crazed martinet who made the Bush administration hate him because of his obsessive monomania so they just did everything they could to get away from the freak. (Clinton was such a slippery phony that he was able to fool Clarke into thinking he gave a shit. The minx.)

I don't like obsessive people either. They really get on your nerves what with pushing their agenda all the time and acting like their shit is more important than your shit. Then they get all pissed off when they get ignored and they go out a write books making themselves look better. If I were George W. Bush I would especially hate it if some wierdo did it

after 30 years of service in 4 different administrations...

and the worst terrorist attack in history...

which he predicted ...

and I blew him off...

and continued to blow him off...

to further pursue an agenda he knew was even more destructive...

Get off my back, dude.

This psycho-bureaucrat theory seems to be that Clarke rubbed people the wrong way and was therefore responsible for the fact that nobody listened to him. Perhaps he should have donned a cowboy hat and called Stephen Hadley "four eyes" in NSC meetings so that the Bush people would have been more comfortable with him.

Seriously, this is really more character assassination and it's disturbing to see wise and intelligent people discussing this in these terms. Nobody really knows what makes Richard Clarke tick and nobody knows whether he was so obsessive that he reached some sort of emotional breaking point in which he couldn't take it any longer and so he decided to go public. Maybe he's a real prick and nobody could stand him. So what? The "bureaucratic turf" he was so unpleasantly pushing was counter-terrorism and he wasn't alone in pushing it. Surely the "grown-ups" like Cheney and Rummy have encountered unpleasant personalities during their vaunted careers. In this day and age, if you think your point man in charge of counter-terrorism is a nutty Ahab you fire him, you don't ignore him.

And this guy had survived bureaucratic turf wars for 30 years, reportedly always being something less than Miss Manners and nothing before had made him so repulsive that he had to take the most serious step of resignation and going public. Something happened, here. The Bush people want to say it was greed or partisanship and now others are saying that he was too emotional to be believable and basically he took this step out of a fit of pique.

But, that means there must be an epidemic of bureaucratic mental illness in the government because that's the only way to explain these other wacked out personalities like Rand Beers and Donald Kerrick and Roger Cressey and Paul O'Neill and John Brady Kiesling and Joseph Wilson and John H. Brown and Don North and Anthony Zinni and Karen Kwiatkowski and and Ray McGovern and Ray Mcmichael all of whom who have spoken out and/or resigned because of the administration's handling of the war on terrorism and the invasion of Iraq. Apparently, the place is just crawling with assholes who don't know that you can get more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.

I don't doubt that he was extremely unpleasant at times when he was trying to get people to pay attention to him and they ignored him. And I hope that I, too, would have gotten a little testy about that if I KNEW THAT TERRORISTS WERE GOING TO KILL AMERICANS AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND HIS STAFF REFUSED TO EVEN CALL A FUCKING CABINET MEETING ABOUT IT!

I realize that George W. Bush operates in a very formal way and his staff may not have appreciated being badgered. But, it was terrorism we are talking about here, not faith based initiatives or steel tarrifs. Lives were at stake and I think it is expected that the president of the United States' staff can rise above such parochial concerns to evaluate the facts at hand.

But, that would require that they be open to facts that don't fit their circa 1992 fossilized PNAC assessment of threats. They were not. And even worse, the facts clearly show that even after 9/11 they refused to adjust their thinking. This was about the national security of the United States and it really doesn't merit consideration that his "likeability" was relevant in light of the terrible consequences we suffered on September 11th.



And I think that the reason they "refuse to just tell the truth" as in :

In retrospect, of course we wish we had paid more attention to terrorism. Everybody in the U.S. government does. After all, 3000 people died. It was a terrible misjudgment and a wakeup call for all of us. (I'm sure they could figure out a better way to say it, but you get the idea.)

Yes, we did focus on Iraq, and for good reasons. (Proceed to give reasons, which hopefully they can do by now without a second thought.)


is because there is no reason to believe that those statements are any more true than the lies they did choose to tell. Saying those particular things isn't about "the truth" it's about damage control. You could make a case that it might be a better strategy, but it certainly wouldn't be more honest.






Monday, March 29, 2004

 
Tide Fool

Maureen Dowd quotes Junior saying:

I made the choice to defend the security of the country. You can't see what you think is a threat and hope it goes away. You used to could when the oceans protected us. But the lesson of September 11th is, is when the president sees a threat we must deal with it before it comes to fruition, through death, on our own soils, for example.


Setting aside the supreme irony of his comments about hoping the threat goes away and dealing with it before it comes to fruition (not to mention the atrocious grammar) what is this thing about the oceans protecting us?

My entire childhood, indeed my entire life, was spent under the cloud of a possible nuclear attack. I lived in Kansas for a time as a child during the 60's where my father worked on the missile silos. We did duck and cover drills twice a day. I had nightmares for years about being incinerated like the Japanese at Hiroshima from the instructional movies they showed in my elementary school.

We lived for more than 40 years in this country under the threat of TOTAL ANNIHILATION. It was a real possibility that the entire world would end in a nuclear holocaust. We even came damned close to finding out in October of 1962.

So spare me this melodrama about our shores being penetrated for the very first time as if we were a bunch of naive virgins until terrorists slammed into the WTC. We've lived with far worse threats than this to our "homeland." 9/11 did not change anything in that regard.



 
First Impressions

I was going to write a sort of impressionistic review of Clarke's book today while I stew a bit in the information contained therein.

I find that Tristero already did it and did it much more clearly and evocatively than I could.



 
In His Own Words


Tim: We'll get to that particular debate, but let me go back to September 11 and what led up to it. The Washington Post captured this way: "On July 5 of 2001, the White House summoned officials of a dozen federal agencies to the Situation Room. 'Something really spectacular is going to happen here, and it's going to happen soon,' the government's top counterterrorism official, Richard Clarke, told the assembled group, including the Federal Aviation Administration, Coast Guard, FBI, Secret Service, Immigration and Naturalization Service. Clarke directed every counterterrorist office to cancel vacations, defer non-vital travel, put off scheduled exercises, place domestic rapid-response teams on much shorter alert. For six weeks in the summer of 2001, at home and overseas, the U.S. government was at its highest possible state of readiness -- and anxiety -- against imminent terrorist attack."

Did Dr. Rice instruct you to organize that meeting?

Clarke: No. I told her I was going to do it. And I had already been doing it two weeks before, because on June 21, I believe it
was, George Tenet called me and said, "I don't think we're getting the message through. These people aren't acting the way the Clinton people did under similar circumstances." And I suggested to Tenet that he come down and personally brief Condi Rice, that he bring his terrorism team with him. And we sat in the national security adviser's office. And I've used the phrase in the book to describe George Tenet's warnings as "He had his hair on fire." He was about as excited as I'd ever seen him. And he said, "Something is going to happen."

Now, when he said that in December 1999 to the national security adviser, at the time Sandy Berger, Sandy Berger then held daily meetings throughout December 1999 in the White House Situation Room, with the FBI director, the attorney general, the head of the CIA, the head of the Defense Department, and they shook out of their bureaucracies every last piece of information to prevent the attacks. And we did prevent the attacks in December 1999. Dr. Rice chose not to do that.





 
Shameless

Frankly, a lot of us didn't take terrorism seriously enough before 9/11, so I'm not sure there's any great shame in all this. Still, the Bush White House should quit smearing Clarke and own up to the truth: terrorism wasn't a top priority during their first few months in office. 9/11 was a wakeup call for them, just as it was for the rest of the country.



Kevin Drum keeps taking that position and I don't understand it. According to all the people who Kevin cites in his post as backing up Clarke, the Clinton administration took terrorism much more seriously. And you don't have to rely on the "impressions" of civil servants because actual real world results show even to those of us not privy to the classified documents that the Clinton team had terrorism as a top priority. They did, after all, thwart the millenium plots.

Even according to Kevin himself in a previous post:

Clarke surely knows that it would have helped his credibility if he had treated the Clinton and Bush administrations more evenhandedly, but he obviously thought the differences between them ran too deep to do that. During the Clinton years the problem was one of turning a battleship, but he felt that at least everyone took it seriously and helped to push.


The way he phrases that leads me to believe that he may not completely share Clarke's view. Or perhaps he's internalized the old political saw that says there's not a dimes worth of difference between the parties or something. In any case, credibility is not determined by some phony "even handedness." This man's credibility rests on his history as a nonpartisan career civil servant and the facts and witnesses that back up his claims.

As kevin notes he does not say that Clinton was a one man terrorist wrecking crew. He and everybody else were slow off the mark as the terrorist threat emerged in the mid 90's. But, it is indisputable that by January of 2001 the professional national security establishment KNEW that al Qaeda was a huge threat and within months they were warning of a major attack. Unlike Clinton two years before (and from whom they could have learned a thing or two) the Bush team chose to keep their fingers crossed rather than raise the issue to the top of their list of priorities.

Our bi-partisan tradition of foreign policy has meant that a new administration depends upon career civil servants like Clarke to keep national security running smoothly over changes of parties in the White House. They are non-partisan for that reason. He and others had made forward progress in getting the Clinton administration to make terrorism a priority and it was naturally expected that once it had hit the top of the threat food chain it would stay there until it was either defeated or proved to be mistaken. You just don't drop national security threat assessments for partisan ideological reasons.

That is what happened. The Bush team ignored the warnings of the Clinton appointees and they also ignored the warnings of the permanent national security establishment, all of whom had experienced the rise of the terrorist threat during the preceding eight years and who were not kidding when they warned them about it.

Clarke admits that we will never know if we could have prevented 9/11, but it is clear that if the Clinton administration (and probably the Gore administration) had been in office during the summer of 2001, they would have treated the intelligence they received more seriously. It is shameful that the Bush administration failed to take the threat of terrorism at least as seriously as the previous administration did and it is even more shameful that they have resisted any attempts to change the way they do business, as amply illustrated by their misguided adventure in Iraq.

They are not responsible for 9/11, but they most certainly are responsible for the mistakes they made leading up to it. They should feel some shame for not having having taken the advice of those who warned them. That's what that whole "grown-up" thing was supposed to be about.


Liberal Oasis has more on this topic

And for some serious "evenhanded" pooh-poohing about "futile recriminations" and 9/11's inevitability, Gregg Easterbrook takes the cake:

It has taken two and a half years to get to the carnival of futile recriminations about September 11, 2001, but we're now at that point, and it's time for the futile recriminations to stop. No one, Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, knew September 11 was coming. Looking back, all that matters is what was said before September 11, not afterward, and, while many before that day offered generalized cautions about terrorism, no one made a firm warning about what actually happened. That's because no one knew what was coming.



Easterbrooks' straw man is very smug, but he's wrong. Nobody says that there was perfect information that was ignored. But we know that there were dots that could have been connected as Colleen Rowley and other in the FBI prove. Clarke, the consummate bureaucrat, says that the way to get the behemoth federal government to move on an urgent issue is to shake the trees from the top down and flush the information to the top. The Bush team refused to do that. He believes that it may have been possible to put together some of the clues that we know existed and take some action. It is simply not true that nothing could have been done.

Perhaps this is one of those cases where believing that something could have been done and wasn't is rejected because it's too bad to be true.



 
I Love These Guys

There was a fraction of a moment when no one knew how to react. Outside the Park Plaza Hotel -- where a boisterous crowd of protesters was chanting, beating drums, and bristling with antiwar signs meant for President Bush -- a group of about a dozen approached. They were in ball gowns and suits and drinking champagne. "Bush and Cheney are good for us," they chanted.

"Look at all these liberal hippies coming around with their boo-hoo signs," said one of them, a woman in a silver lame wrap and designer sunglasses.

Some of the protesters turned, stunned. But then someone pointed to the signs the fancy-dresssed group was carrying -- "Free the Enron Seven" and "Corporations are People Too!" -- and the crowd erupted with shouts of approval. "We should let them get up front," somebody shouted, telling the crowd to part and let them pass toward the hotel.

The group is, in fact, part of a well-organized, liberal-leaning protest machine calling itself Billionaires for Bush. With founding members in Massachusetts and New York, it plans to dog the Bush campaign through November, using satire as its gimmick. Staging swanky protests in which they enthusiastically defend tax loopholes for the rich and war contracts for friends of the president, they claim to be winning a loyal following -- donors and members at 25 chapters in several states. And they say they're making a more lasting impression with their anti-Bush message.

[...]

The Billionaires for Bush group is among several activist organizations sprouting up in recent years whose main tactics include humor and irony. "Reverend Billy" and his "Church of Stop Shopping," an anticonsumerism organization, stages church-revival-type rallies with a preacher. Then there is a group that purports to be made up of "housewives" from Bush's hometown of Crawford, Texas, with proverbs such as "A bomb, in time, saves 9" and "A country bribed is an ally earned." The "housewives" have made appearances at Times Square in New York, where they dressed up in red, white, and blue, and straddled plastic missiles.

Proponents say such humor is helping political groups attract younger participants. "This makes it fun, it makes it hip," said Andrew Boyd, "director of high-level schmoozing" for the Billionaires. "It gives it that ironic sensibility, which is a deep current in youth culture. Witness `The Daily Show' and Michael Moore."


It's more than youth culture:

Fake and scathing 1, fair and balanced 0. CNN and MSNBC have gotten used to losing to Fox News. But during the Democratic primaries, an unexpected foe stole the ratings crown from all three. The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, a mock news program airing on Viacom's (VIA) Comedy Central, attracted more viewers at 11 p.m. than any of the cable news channels in the last two weeks of January, outdoing Fox by 20 percent even as the news network was running live campaign coverage. Stewart's fake news show has won ever-growing audiences with help from real politico guests like John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards.


Which news is the fake news again?

Thanks to Julia for the link.




Sunday, March 28, 2004

 
Woodward and Pincus

Thanks to commenter Pontificator, here's an interesting little follow up to the Bob Woodward item from the great piece by Michael Massing in the NY Review of Books called Now They Tell Us:

In the weeks following the [UN] speech, one journalist—Walter Pincus of The Washington Post—developed strong reservations about it. A longtime investigative reporter, Pincus went back and read the UN inspectors' reports of 1998 and 1999, and he was struck to learn from them how much weaponry had been destroyed in Iraq before 1998. He also tracked down General Anthony Zinni, the former head of the US Central Command, who described the hundreds of weapons sites the United States had destroyed in its 1998 bombing. All of this, Pincus recalled, "made me go back and read Powell's speech closely. And you could see that it was all inferential. If you analyzed all the intercepted conversations he discussed, you could see that they really didn't prove anything."

By mid-March, Pincus felt he had enough material for an article questioning the administration's claims on Iraq. His editors weren't interested. It was only after the intervention of his colleague Bob Woodward, who was researching a book on the war and who had developed similar doubts, that the editors agreed to run the piece—on page A17.


The White House is right to be worried.

reading this reminded me of a post I wrote last July:

Is it possible that there are no WMD in Iraq today because Bill Clinton led a coalition of the willing and disarmed Saddam Hussein 5 years ago?


We wouldn't want to let an idea like that take hold, now would we?




 
Total Incoherence

White House officials strongly dispute Clarke's conclusion, saying it reflects an old-fashioned approach to dealing with terrorism. "Those who question Iraq have an outdated and one-dimensional view of what is really a multi-dimensional threat to our nation," said Jim Wilkinson deputy national security adviser for communications. "Some think the solution is to kill Osama bin Laden, finish Afghanistan and then go back to a defensive posture and hope we're not attacked again. This approach represents the old way of thinking because it ignores the fact that the modern terrorist threat is a global threat."


Clarke's Critique Reopens Debate on Iraq War (washingtonpost.com)

Fixed link

Saturday, March 27, 2004

 
Another Shoe?

Tucker Carlson said on Matthews' weekly show tonight that the White House is worried about Bob Woodward's new book, Plan of Attack which chronicles the lead up to the Iraq War. Carlson said they were worried about Powell using this book to distance himself from the neocon crazies.

Now, this is Tucker talking and this is Woodward and Powell we are talking about, so there's no point in expecting anything earthshattering. However, it will not help them if this book has Powell arguing with Rummy, Wolfie and Cheney on Iraq or shows Condi clueless or has the president being led around by the nose on the WMD threat. (Powell wasn't exactly toeing the Party line with enthusiasm yesterday.)

I doubt Woodward is going to be the same drooling sycophant he was with Bush At War because he took a lot of shit for it and risked ruining his journalistic reputation forever. Besides,Woodward's always been a trendie. When it was in to worship Bush, he was there to lead the prayer but he may find it more profitable to be skeptical this time. He must have known that Clarke and O'Neill were writing books, too. It would be embarrassing to be too gushing this time.

Whether it breaks any new ground or not, I don't think it can possibly be good for them to have people discussing this in May. The book is due out on April 30th.





 
The Violent Dems

Ezra comments on Insty's post about the shocking political hate speech emanating from the left and the horrible, horrible violence and impending totalitarianism running rampant in the Democratic party. Excuse me, I have to loosen my corset. I can hardly breathe I'm so upset about it.

Insty says:

Something I never wanted to believe seems to be playing out daily: the Democratic party has been overrun by totalitarians. The party is marginalizing old-guard Dems who might (might!) hold differing opinions but who also could be counted on for civility and a rational basis for their arguments. . . .There is no room for dissent, discourse, debate. My experience is that people behave this way when they hold indefensible beliefs, and they know just how weak their position is. A dog with this behavior is called a "fear-biter" and I can think of no better description for these people.


Somebody bring me a shot of laudenum and a mint julep. I'm feeling one of my fevahs comin' on!

Ezra intelligently rebuts Insty's hysteria in his inimitable fashion:

There are debates going on here everday. This whole exchange is taking place in a medium that consists almost entirely of debates between the Left and the Right! The context of this is a presidential election in which the Democrat is running slightly ahead of Bush and has been proving day in and day out that our ideas are more than defensible, they are quite suited to offense as well. And through all this, the Right has remained dependent on character attacks rather than the invocation of a less-than-stellar record.

[...]

The idea that our arguments and ideas are indefensible is patently ridiculous. Yet Glenn repeats it anyway, highlighting an argument accusing Democrats of being totalitarians unable to rationally support their arguments. And somewhere the truth sits, crying in the corner, wondering why Glenn insists upon abusing it so.


Just so. But, aren't Republicans (and their useful idiot libertarian supporters) getting more and more, you know, weak these days? As in flabby, flaccid, whiny, ineffectual, weepy and emasculated? They can't seem to handle any kind of adversity without resorting to shrieks of maidenly finger pointing saying "you sirrah, are no gentleman!" They strut around, their codpieces stuffed with sock-puppets, name calling, hurling insults, verbally assaulting anybody who disagrees with them and when somebody gets fed up and turns it back on them they quiver like a herd of frightened deer and claim that their adversaries are mean and greedy and just plain icky.

Now, I expect pacifists like nuns and priests and vegans to decry physical violence under all circumstances. Indeed, I myself think that violence at political events is never a good thing and I don't condone it. But, I probably wouldn't expect to avoid it if I baited and insulted a bunch of great big thugs who hold a different political point of view. That's just the way the world works. I thought the Republican-kill-the-bastards-quick-hand-me-your-AK47 freepers knew all that, but apparently not.

Our self-proclaimed steely eyed tough guys may spend a lot of time playing one handed Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance but they don't seem to have much real life follow through. They certainly don't follow a stupid macho edict like "never complain, never explain" these days, what with all their weeping and wailing. Why, there used to be a time when they would have been embarrassed to admit to something like this ...

Can we really trust American security to these little t-ball players playing dress up in Daddy's uniform? I don't think so. They aren't tough and they aren't smart. Big problem.





If you'd like to see the way in which this poor 'lil fella sees the people who took a shot at him, check his picture page which features the description of people at the rally as mindless thugs, dykes, pillow biters and bench rats. I don't know if he called one of those teamster fellas one of those names to his face, but if he did it may fall into the category of fighting words.



Friday, March 26, 2004

 
Scumsucking Pig


Avedon Carol led me to this comment on Electrolite about Richard Clarke's apology:

Anybody who has been paying attention to these hearings will know that all of the witnesses have started their testimony with a lengthy statement explaining this or that about their role in the lead up to 9/ll, much of it self-justifying, much of it saying, well, you know, we were busy with other stuff. So on and so forth.

Mr. Clarke did otherwise. His statement was brief and to the point.

He made a heart-felt apology to the American people for failing to stop 9/ll. He said he did his best. He said a lot of people did their best. But in the end, it didn't matter because they had failed the American people, most especially the victims, and the families of the victims who died on 9/11.

The members victim's families who were in the room broke into applause.

I stared at the screen shocked.

And then I, yep, I will admit it here: I started crying.


Well, that's nice and all, but I think Senator Frist has something to say about that:

In his appearance before the 9-11 Commission, Mr. Clarke's theatrical apology on behalf of the nation was not his right, his privilege or his responsibility. In my view it was not an act of humility, but an act of supreme arrogance and manipulation. Mr Clarke can and will answer for his own conduct but that is all.


And to all of the 9/11 families, Dr. Frist added, "Fuck you."

This is one of those moments where I want to put my foot through the TV. The chutzpah, the nerve, the unalloyed balls of these cowardly little fucks makes me very, very angry. I need to take a little walk.



 
Boiling It Down To One Simple Image

Via TAPPED

Richard Clarke: "...we were readying for a principals' meeting in July, but the principals' calendar was full, and then they went on vacation, many of them, in August, so we couldn't meet in August, and therefore the principals met in September."


According to a CBS piece on presidential vacations:


Prior to Sept. 11, 2001, The Manchester Guardian calculated that Mr. Bush, in his first seven months of office spent 42 percent of his time on holiday, "a whopping 54 days at his Texas ranch, 38 days at the presidential retreat at Camp David and four more at his parents' place in Kennebunkport, Maine."


Hardworking Americans understand why this might have been a problem. The guy was a lazy bastard from the get-go.




 
Official Minutes Of The MSNBC Junior Varsity Girls Cheerleading Try-outs


Oh my Gawd, like Democrats are like such total geeks, dude. It's like totally funny to watch them all get together and like act like they're sooo kewl --- NOT! I'm soo shurr. We are sooo much kewler. And cuter, too.


MATTHEWS: ... There are the presidents all walking out on the stage, Jimmy Carter, behind him, Bill Clinton. Boy, it‘s an unusual picture here. I guess it is not exactly Mount Rushmore, but it‘s all the Democrats have this time.

Here they come. There‘s John Kerry looking great, dark hair. I love it when they point at people.

We‘re sitting here with Howard Fineman and Karen Tumulty of TIME magazine. Howard is of course with Newsweek and with us.

You know, it‘s amazing. What is this where they all do this? They walk out. Karen, they do this all the time. They go and they go like this. And golike, what is that about? They see like they see some old buddy in the audience? What is that?

HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is a way to establish intimacy. Hey, I see you. We‘ve known each other forever. You‘re not just here as a contributor. You did not just give $1,000 to get here. We grew up together. We went to school together.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I‘m stunned by the three the three pictured.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Jimmy Carter can‘t stand Bill Clinton. They‘re doing a little oh, talk about disliking each other.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Anybody Karen, you‘ve got a moment here. Does anybody on that stage like anybody else?

(LAUGHTER)

KAREN TUMULTY, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, TIME: That‘s a very good question.

MATTHEWS: Like anyone else? Try to do a permutation here. Howard, you‘re good at this.

FINEMAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Permutations. Oh, Terry McAuliffe. Well, he likes Bill Clinton. Those two like each other. Any president like any other president or vice president?

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: Clinton and Carter don‘t particularly like each other.

MATTHEWS: Howard Dean and John Kerry are not too close.

FINEMAN: Yes.

TUMULTY: I wonder how things are between Gore and Dean these days.

FINEMAN: Now Gore now, Al Gore was not originally supposed to be in the original shot.

MATTHEWS: Right.

FINEMAN: But he managed to do a pretty good job of getting in there as the almost president.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Almost.

(LAUGHTER)

FINEMAN: As the guy who got more...

MATTHEWS: There‘s Dick Gephardt.

FINEMAN: ... popular votes. So he was pretty instantly in the instant Mount Rushmore up there. This is a symbol...

MATTHEWS: Is that Al Sharpton there? Yes, it is Al Sharpton.

FINEMAN: There you go.

(CROSSTALK)

TUMULTY: I don‘t know. They all look like flight attendants for the same airline.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: Now, there is Bill Clinton with John Edwards, which is significant only because Edwards keeps claiming that Clinton is his big supporter in the vice presidential hunt.

MATTHEWS: Is that Charlie Rangel? Who is the guy on the left? I just thought it was an odd picture.

TUMULTY: That was Sharpton, wasn‘t it?

MATTHEWS: Was that Sharpton?

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: I think that was Al Sharpton.

MATTHEWS: Was it really?

TUMULTY: And somebody didn‘t give them memo that this was not black tie. So...

MATTHEWS: Maybe that‘s the suit he has got clean this week.

(LAUGHTER)

[...]

TUMULTY: Yes, not Kerry. He is having more fun now.

MATTHEWS: What about Gore and Clinton? That‘s a recent injury to

both. I mean, Gore jumps into the campaign forthere we go. Watch

this. We‘re watching this right now. There‘s Gore

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: See, now, that was very carefully choreographed.

MATTHEWS: That was the quickest one.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: How fast did Gore get past Clinton there?

TUMULTY: I didn‘t see any eye contact there.

MATTHEWS: How fast?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: He is about to give him a high-five.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: No response to that high-five.

FINEMAN: You know, what the thought balloons are there is, Gore is thinking, if it hadn‘t been for that guy, I would have won this election. And Clinton with a thought balloon is thinking, you dummy. How could you have blown that election that I set up for you?

MATTHEWS: Oh, God, and this sort of practiced hand clapping. Most people don‘t clap like that. They clap like this.

FINEMAN: That‘s the Democratic clap. Don‘t you agree, Karen?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... an official clap.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: Democrats stand up on the stage and clap.

MATTHEWS: It is official clapping.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: And then they really want to go like this up on top of their heads when they‘re really enthusiastic.

TUMULTY: Well, you remember, though, when Al Gore was running, somebody actually had to coach him on clapping.

MATTHEWS: Really?

TUMULTY: That is a true story. Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: How was he doing it wrong?

FINEMAN: Like Herman Munster. It was...

MATTHEWS: I don‘t think he was doing the back beat handshake, do you?

I think he was probably doing the front beat.


Gag me with a weapon of mass destruction.





 
Lowering The Veil

Via Reuters:

Political consultants and analysts said Clarke's allegation that Bush ignored the al Qaeda threat before the Sept. 11 attacks and was obsessed by a desire to invade Iraq were especially damaging because they confirmed other previous revelations from policy insiders.

"Each of these revelations adds to the others so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and the message gets reinforced with voters," said Richard Rosecrance, a political scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

[...]

"The administration can huff and puff but if there are enough bricks in the structure, they can't blow the house down any more," said American University historian Allan Lichtman.

"Right now, you have quite a number of bricks. It's not just scaffolding any more," he said.

[...]

"Bush has chosen national security and his response to the terrorist attack as a cornerstone of his campaign and now comes this guy Clarke, their guy, who says that the administration was intentionally or unintentionally not paying enough attention to the terrorist threat," said Rick Davis, a Republican political consultant.

[...]

"If people start to doubt that claim and if the message from Clarke and O'Neill and others begins to stick, it would seriously weaken Bush on his strongest point," said Fordham University political scientist Tom DeLuca.

The administration response has usually been to try to destroy the reputations of its critics. It suggested O'Neill had illegally used classified documents and said he was motivated by sour grapes after having been forced to resign from the Cabinet. A Treasury probe has cleared him of misusing documents.

Similarly, White House aides said Clarke was bitter about having been denied a promotion and "out of the loop" in the administration. They also said he was a closet Democrat working as a proxy for Bush's presidential opponent, John Kerry.

"This administration has shown a tremendous ability to demonize its opponents. But at some point, people start to ask themselves, could all these people be pathological liars? At some point, they can't all be liars," said Democratic consultant Michael Goldman.


Billmon thinks:

Now that Against All Enemies has gone into its fifth printing, and the 9/11 commission hearings have generated a huge amount of press coverage -- and, judging from the anecdotal evidence, a fair amount of kitchen table and coffee break conversation as well -- it looks like the events of the past week may be evolving into something much more significant than just another political mud fight.


I agree that with Clarke's charges, aside from the fact that they were very effectively delivered by a very credible source, the central complaint about the Bush administration is finally reaching critical mass. There was the outing of Valerie Plame, the phony Jessica Lynch story, the AWOL charges, Paul O'Neill's book, Halliburton corruption, the strong arming of the Richard Foster and much more, all layering upon the other until it's impossible to ignore the idea that there might be something to all this. And, of course, there is the humongous elephant in the middle of the room --- the failure to find weapons of mass destruction. That alone is such an enormous, jarring failure, especially in light of the unspeakably arrogant way in which they told the rest of the world to shove it, that all these other things can no longer be shoved aside.

The air of desperation in the furious character assassination of Clarke actually plays into that concept. They are rattled and it shows.

In the piece linked above, Billmon comments on the rather strange (and unprecedented) national sense of denial after 9/11, which I think is an important element of the George W. Bush mystique:

One of the things I found most remarkable about 9/11 -- at least when compared to past national traumas like the Kennedy assassination or Pearl Harbor -- was how willing the American public was to put questions of responsibility and accountability out of mind, seemingly indefinitely.


I think the reason for this is that subconsciously most people did not really believe that George W. Bush was capable of leading the country through a serious national security crisis. In order to keep from panicking, they simply went into denial. It's a natural reaction in a situation over which you have very little control.

There was nothing particularly inspiring about Bush standing on the rubble saying "The people who knocked down these buildings are going to hear all of us soon." (It was hardly "we have nothing to fear but fear itself.") People just knew that they had no choice but to put their faith in this shallow fellow and so they did.

Deep down, everyone has always feared that this inarticulate son of a failed president was not up to the job. It's been the undercurrent of his entire life. One of his strongest selling points was that he would bring "the grown-ups" back into government. Nobody ever thought he was one of them. He himself said on Oprah in the 2000 campaign that "the public's biggest misconception of him is that 'I'm running on my daddy's name.'"

But a politician can't be tarred with something that isn't believable. One of the reasons that most of the public didn't give a damn about corruption charges against Clinton was that he had no money. It never made sense that a smart guy like him would have been corrupt without getting rich. Yet, most believed immediately that he'd strayed with Monica. They simply didn't find such a personal matter relevant to his job as president.

Bush's appearance on Meet The Press a few weeks ago was a disaster. His public statements are increasingly annoying in their stale and repetitive rhetoric. Loyal civil servants are coming forward and complaining about the errors, lies and thuggish tactics that the Bush administrtation is perpetrating. Nothing seems to be working.

And, deep down, the American people are not surprised. With more than three years to go and a national security crisis on their hands they closed their eyes and held on for dear life, hoping against hope that he would rise to the occasion. He didn't, despite all the phony media hooplah that insisted he was Churchill in ermine and epaulets. We are now only eight months away from our first chance to replace him with someone more capable. People are starting to let go of their desperate need to believe.

The veil is being lowered because it finally feels safe to do so.



Thursday, March 25, 2004

 
He Was Right

Mark Kleiman says:

In a world dominated by uncertainty, having made a correct prediction is no proof of having had the right underlying model. Maybe the guy who was right when almost everyone else was wrong just drew to an inside straight. And of course every bureaucrat thinks his political masters would have been well-advised to take his expertise more seriously than they did.

Still, the past performance sheet has to count for something. Someone who got something important right when most other people didn't deserves to be listened to. And those who didn't listen to him before he was proven right by events can legitimately be asked whether their refusal to do so was a mistake.


Every single person who is called upon to defend Richard Clarke should just say, "He was right, wasn't he?"

It's really that simple. He said it was going to happen, nobody believed him and it happened. He's not the one with a credibility problem.




 
Random Observations

Bill Clinton was great at the Democratic Unity dinner. He was smart, funny, self-deprecating and even a bit inspiring.

His words about Kerry, in which he wove the story of Kerry's life as a series of missions for which he volunteered was just excellent. When the going gets tough, John Kerry says, "send me." From Kerry's Vietnam heroism (which Clinton deftly framed in contrast to the current president, the current vice president and himself) to his fight for kids on the streets, he praised him for volunteering for the tough assignment. And then he asked that the members of the Party go to John Kerry and say, "send me." It was perfect for the zeitgeist of the moment.

I was struck by the music that was used for these guys, too. Clinton's upbeat, optimistic "Don't Stop Thinkin' About Tomorrow" has been replaced by Kerry's "I Won't Back Down" by Tom Petty. This election is all about balls.

Also...

I am really kind of stunned that Bush is making jokes about not being able to find the WMD. That the entire press corps laughed like a bunch of would be sorority girls during pledge week doesn't surprise me.

On the other hand, if the patriotic correctness police have been dismissed then fine with me. Up until recently you couldn't ask for a glass of water in a restaurant without prefacing it with "I support the troops." "The War" was sacred. Even here in Soviet Monica people were flying flags right along side their "War Is Not The Answer" bumper sticker. If the Republicans are abandoning their position as the steely eyed and serious national security grown-ups, I'm all for it.

We've got a few guys who are more than ready to step in and fix this goddamned mess.




 
And Don't Forget T-Ball

Politus has a great post up about Bush's urgent priorities before September 11th.

Yeah, he was focused on terrorism all right.


Before the events of September 11, 2001, Bush had signed 24 executive orders. How many of them dealt with counterterrorism?

In his first month in office Bush threw a bone to the Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons by setting up the vehicle to give them boatloads of taxpayer money. No time for counterterrorism in January:


Jan 29. Establish Office of Faith Based Initiatives (Remember that?)

Jan 29. Require federal agencies to establish their own Centers for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives

February was whack-a-union month. No time for counterterrism in February either, unless you consider union members to be terrorists. Bush and the Low-Wage Republicans may think union members are terrorists, but the focus was on bin Laden, right?

Feb 12. Extend life of President’s Information Technology Committee

Feb 21. Dissolves Labor-Management Partnerships

Feb 21. Dissolves a labor-friendly executive order, allowing new contractors to fire everybody and hire scabs

Feb 21. Requires contractors to display anti-union messages

Feb 21. Encourage the use of non-union contractors

Bush couldn’t be bothered with any stinkin’ counterterrorism executive orders in March, either. The unions were causing trouble for his boys at American Airlines and something had to be done:


Mar 9. Establish an “Emergency Board” to interfere in the Mechanics Union strike against American Airlines

Likewise for April. The pesky bin Laden guy could wait ‘til next month. There was more union busting to do, and Hispanic voters needed to know that Bush was really worried about the Status of Puerto Rico:


Apr 4. Perfunctory termination of export controls

Apr 5. Slight change in pay for government employees working abroad

Apr 6. Exempt certain contractors from some requirements to hire union workers

Apr 30. Extend the President’s Task Force on the Status of Puerto Rico

Now we are up to May, when the terrorist chatter picked up by intelligence was spiking. Clarke and Tenet knew something was coming, and Clark was nearly apoplectic in his warnings. So, did Bush finally focus his administration on bin Laden, signing an executive order to that effect? No… May is the month for Social Security Privatization and phat payback to his oily buddies:


May 2. Create President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security, the first step toward privatization

May 18. Actions to Expedite Energy-Related Projects, fast track for environmental rapers and scrapers

May 18. Ditto, for Big Energy supply and distribution

May 23. Prohibit import of rough diamonds from Liberia

May 28. President's Task Force to Improve Health Care Delivery for Our Nation's Veterans, a sham committee to look for ways to improve the VA

Terrorist chatter from intelligence intercepts was at a crescendo in June of 2001, yet Bush was focused on the “compassionate” part of his resume, after spending the last few months working on the “conservative” part. But not a peep about UBL or terrorism:


Jun 1. Very slight changes to the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee

Jun 6. Extend by 2 years initiatives to Increase Participation of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Federal Programs

Jun 19. Community-based Alternatives for Individuals with Disabilities

Jun 20. 21st Century Workforce Initiative; as if the Clinton boom was going to last forever

In July Bush was getting ready for his month-long vacation in Crawfish, and mumbling about “vampire” cellular phone power supplies. Wasn’t Usama bin Laden at least as important to his administration as trade with Belarus?


Jul 2. Waiving anti-communist trade restrictions against Belarus

Jul 31. Requiring government agencies to purchase energy efficient power supplies for things like cellular phones

August in Crawfish is too frikkin’ hot to think about terrorists:

Aug 17. Perfunctory extension of the cold war-era Export Control Act

This was the last executive order Bush signed before 9/11. Even though he and his lackeys now claim they were consumed with UBL and counterterrorism was a top priority to them, there is not a peep of any of that in any of the documents Bush signed to set the direction and functioning of his government. And then?

September 11.


At which point he decided to invade a country that had nothing to do with terrorism, destroy half a century of alliances and alienate the entire world.


 
Shaking The Trees

Fred Kaplan writes another fine article in Slate today about Richard Clarke. He again notes Clarke's legendary reputation as a brilliant bureaucratic infighter as he did in his first piece on the subject a couple of days ago. This skill is mentioned frequently by those in Washington who know Clarke.

Clarke demonstrated his insight into the process with this statement on Larry King Live last night:

CLARKE: Well, we'll never know. But let me compare 9/11 and the period immediately before it to the millennium rollover and the period immediately before that. In December, 1999, we received intelligence reports that there were going to be major al Qaeda attacks. President Clinton asked his national security adviser Sandy Berger to hold daily meetings with the attorney general, the FBI director, the CIA director and stop the attacks. And every day they went back from the White House to the FBI, to the Justice Department, to the CIA and they shook the trees to find out if there was any information. You know, when you know the United States is going to be attacked, the top people in the United States government ought to be working hands-on to prevent it and working together.

Now, contrast that with what happened in the summer of 2001, when we even had more clear indications that there was going to be an attack. Did the president ask for daily meetings of his team to try to stop the attack? Did Condi Rice hold meetings of her counterparts to try to stop the attack? No.

And if she had, if the FBI director and the attorney general had gone back day after day to their department to the White House, what would they have shaken loose? We now know from testimony before the Commission that buried in the FBI was the fact that two of the hijackers had entered the United States. Now, if that information had been able to be shaken loose by the FBI director and the attorney general in response to daily meetings with the White House, if we had known that those two -- if the attorney general had known, if the FBI director had known, that those two were in the United States, Larry, I believe we could have caught those two. Would that have stopped...


Michael Isikoff added this on the subject later in the show:

I do want to say, though, on the question of -- I was struck -- the most fascinating thing that Clarke said, to me, during the hearings today was he laid out a scenario by which -- actually, a plausible one, by which September 11 could have been prevented if there had been the kind of urgency to the issue that he thought it could be. And that was, we did know. The government did know. The CIA knew and the FBI late in August knew that two of the hijackers -- Nawaf al Hazmi (ph), Khalid al Midar (ph) -- were inside the United States. Two suspected al Qaeda operatives were inside the country. Yet there was no concerted government attempt to find these guys. There was a late bulletin from the FBI.

What Clarke suggested he would have done -- he says he would like to think he would have done, had he known about this, was an all-out public manhunt. Put these guys' pictures all over the place, "America's Most Wanted," have their pictures in the paper. And had that been done, which does sound like a plausible thing that could have been done, it might at least have deterred those two guys...

KING: Yes.

ISIKOFF: ... from getting on the planes, and it might well have disrupted the plot. It's the first time I've heard a plausible scenario by which the government could have taken the little information it did have and actually stopped the plot.

KING: Putting their pictures where everybody gets on board an airplane.


I think that this is a very interesting insight. Clarke, a 30 year veteran of the government and one who has a fierce reputation for cutting through the bureaucracy to get things done, says that the way to deal with an urgent national security threat is to force the issue to the top of the agenda by having the president personally lean on the cabinet heads to "shake the trees" in their own bureaucracies. That makes sense to me. When people are called to account by the boss on a certain issue they turn up the heat on their underlings. It's human nature and its certainly been my experience in the workplace.

And, he says that if that had been done in the spring and summer of 2001, when by all accounts there was a lot of intelligence that something "big" was about to happen, it's entirely possible that some of the "dots" would have been connected before they blew up the world trade center and the pentagon.

Clarke himself says that we will never know if we could have uncovered or disrupted the plot, but certainly it is clear that the system he describes in the Clinton administration was successful previously in disrupting the millenium bombing plot. That should count for something.

But, the bigger issue, I think, is that this illustrates once again what a grave mistake it is to have a president who is arrogant yet intellectually incurious and whose inexperience in life and government makes him manipulable by others. Clarke had previously worked for Reagan who was surrounded by highly professional foreign policy realists and Bush Sr who was a highly professional foreign policy realist himself. With Clinton he found a nimble, intelligent thinker who was open to new ideas and methods for dealing with post cold war threats and who was accessible and personally engaged in the decision making process.

But, George W. Bush was an inexperienced and overly protected executive with little personal depth and too much faith in a cabal of neocon radicals. He relied on an intellectually weak staff whose main job was to create unnecessary layers of bureaucracy to protect their boss from difficult problems. These layers of bureaucracy insulated him from the important issues of the day and made it impossible even for a brilliant bureaucrat like Clarke to cut through the maze and convince the ossified Iraq obsessives to look up from their dusty PNAC wish-lists and deal with the terrible threat we faced right that very minute.

The failure stemmed directly from the president because he is not in charge. No organization works under that kind of leadership much less a sophisticated bureaucracy. The system completely broke down under the effect of no real leadership, competing agendas and focus in the wrong direction.

The Bush administration's image of competence and cool collected professionalism is completely phony. From DiUllio to O'Neill to Clarke we see first hand that this is a highly dysfunctional White House, one that spends much more time on politics than policy and that is philosophically incoherent and at constant war with itself. It has been reduced to issuing thuggish threats of reprisal to any civil servant who insists upon doing his job. The president is hardly more than a public relations flack, his national security advisor is a cipher, his various cabinet departments are wholly owned subsidiaries of special interests, he's been completely manipulated by a radical Vice President and a slightly insane Secretary of Defense and his economic policy has been entirely directed toward short term political ends. And yet, amazingly, in virtually every single action it has taken, his administration has failed spectacularly.

In light of this we really need to let go of this "well, these things happen," attitude and recognize that we have been duped into thinking that 9/11 could not have been prevented. Clearly, it could have. Other plots were thwarted and they were thwarted because the government focused attention on it and directed its resources toward that end.

It is true that the bigger question of how badly Bush dealt with the issue of terrorism AFTER 9/11 is probably a more potent campaign issue, because the results of going into Iraq are still fresh and easily observable. But, after listening to Dick Clarke for the last few days and beginning to read through is book, I am convinced that Bush dropped the ball.

But then, it was entirely predictable that he would drop the ball because he was never qualified to be president and that lack of qualification led him to make very poor choices in advisors and very poor judgements about the nation's priorities.

The bigger lesson in all of this, and one which I'm sure will go inheeded by many, is that you should not elect stupid people to the presidency. Smart ones can screw up, but it's not guaranteed that they will. But, a stupid yet arrogant president is bound to fail. The job is just too complicated for someone like that.


Update: Brad DeLong and Matt Yglesias discuss the related topic of Condi Rice's obvious lack of proper qualifications for the job of NSA under the current circumstances.




Wednesday, March 24, 2004

 
Potent



Former U.S. counter-terrorism coordinator Richard Clarke hugs and greets family members of victims of the September 11 attacks following testimony before a national commission investigating the attacks on Capitol Hill March 24, 2004. Clarke, a senior adviser to Bush and the three previous administrations, has accused Bush of paying insufficient attention to the al-Qaeda threat before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and afterward focusing on Iraq (news - web sites) at the expense of efforts to crush the network. REUTERS/Win McNamee. Via Catch.com



From Billmon:

If you watched Clarke today, you now have a pretty good idea of why the administration and the VRWC wind machine are so terrified of him. If anything, he was even more effective than he was on 60 Minutes. From his opening statement (a simple, but eloquent, apology for failing to stop the 9/11 attacks) to his final answer to the final question, he was absolutely calm, completely lucid and utterly authoritative.

Clarke simply rolled over his only aggressive challenger -- former Illinois Governor Jim Thompson -- reducing him to not much more than a greasy spot on the pavement. Thompson (who should have known better) made the strategic blunder of nailing his inquisitorial flag to a transcript ofa background briefing that Clarke gave in the summer of 2002, which was leaked to Fox News by the White House and released just hours before he testified.

In that briefing, Clarke supposedly lauded the administration's conduct of the war against terrorism in words which were not exactly consistent with the picture painted in his new book.

But the ploy backfired on Big Jim after Clarke refused to play the role of evasive double talker (Kerry could learn a lot from him.) He didn't back down an inch. The briefing, Clarke replied, was simply an exercise in spin doctoring -- "maximizing the positives and minimizing the negatives" -- as he had been instructed to do by his political superiors. It was also no different, he said, from simliar background briefings he had conducted for previous presidents. Clarke managed to make it very clear he didn't just mean Clinton. And every member of the commission, and every reporter in the room, knew exactly what he meant.

Thompson decided he didn't want to go there.

[...]

John Lehman, Reagan's former Tailhook, I mean, Navy Secretary, was a much more subtle. If Big Jiim went after Clarke with a sledge hammer, Lehman tried a straight razor -- first him lathering up with praise (he called Clarke the "Rosetta Stone" of understanding 9/11) and then trying to slice open his jugular by implying that Clarke's book was at odds with his private testimony before the commission.

But Clarke ducked the blade with ease, simply noting that much of his criticism of the Bush administration's counter-terrorism record related to its obsession with Iraq -- something the commission had not even asked him about in private session.

Fred Fielding took a crack next, and tried impeaching Clarke for his testimony before the sham congressional 9/11 investigation. But Clarke again fell back on the Bush administration's usual standard of official conduct in such situations: He didn't lie to the congressional panel, he said, he just used his supply of candor judiciously. Fielding was left muttering about the "integrity" that public officials should show in their jobs -- this from Richard Nixon's Watergate lawyer!

[...]

But I don't think the base is their big problem now -- it's the middle, the mainstream, even (or especially) the mainstream media, which has been forced by today's testimony to award Clarke the legitimacy it has denied to other administration critics, even Paul O'Neill. Now they'll expect the White House to give them the steak, not just the sizzle. They're going to demand more serious answers. So far, though the administration has shown no sign it thinks it can hold its own in that kind of debate.



 
Attack Dogs Go Rabid

"By invading Iraq the President has greatly undermined the war on terrorism."


Well, it doesn't get any more stark than that. When he said it, you could hear a pin drop in the hearing room. Reminded me of when I was just a pup listening to the Watergate hearings and John Dean uttered his famous "cancer on the presidency" line. (Fred Fielding and Richard Ben-Veniste were even there.)

Wolf Blitzer thinks, however, that the FOXNEWS "backrounder" released by the White House totally undermines Clarke's case and Peter Bergen agrees. He says that some of the stuff about Iraq might still be worth thinking about, but well...Clarke's pretty much a lying piece of shit.

When asked in the hearings about whether it was moral to put the best face on an administration you work for when briefing the press, Clark said:

"I don't think it's a question of morality at all. I think it's a question of politics." [big applause]


That, as we know, is total crap. The Bush administration has always been scrupulously honest with the press in every conceivable way and never, ever would have required that any of its members not tell the press every single problem they had within the administration. Politics is a dirty word to republicans. It's all about honor and integrity.

Now, Wolf reports that the administration is claiming Clarke has "problems" in his personal life, although they don't say what those things might be. Check Drudge frequently. The real shit is about to start flying.




 
Tough Guys

I don't know the real reason they refuse to let Condi testify (although their "separation of powers" rationale is patent bullshit and unpatriotic, to boot.) I can certainly see a public relations reason why they might have done it, though.

Richard Clarke comes across as a no nonsense, take no prisoners tough guy. Just the kind of guy you'd expect to be in charge of counter terrorism. Condi, however intelligent and articulate she may be, exudes timidity and nervousness in public. The contrast wouldn't be very positive for the Bush administration.

Dick Armitage, on the other hand, is from tough guy central casting. For those people who will just catch a glimpse of this hearing in passing, Armitage looks just as tough as Clarke. As Uncle Karl likes to say, "politics is TV with the sound turned off."




 
More on Mylroie and Wolfowitz's Grand Delusions


From the Washington Post - June 5, 2003

Vice President Cheney and his most senior aide made multiple trips to the CIA over the past year to question analysts studying Iraq's weapons programs and alleged links to al Qaeda, creating an environment in which some analysts felt they were being pressured to make their assessments fit with the Bush administration's policy objectives, according to senior intelligence officials.

With Cheney taking the lead in the administration last August in advocating military action against Iraq by claiming it had weapons of mass destruction, the visits by the vice president and his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, "sent signals, intended or otherwise, that a certain output was desired from here," one senior agency official said yesterday.

[...]

In a signal of administration concern over the controversy, two senior Pentagon officials yesterday held a news conference to challenge allegations that they pressured the CIA or other agencies to slant intelligence for political reasons. "I know of no pressure," said Douglas J. Feith, undersecretary for policy. "I know of nobody who pressured anybody."

Feith said a special Pentagon office to analyze intelligence in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks did not necessarily focus on Iraq but came up with "some interesting observations about the linkages between Iraq and al Qaeda."

Officials in the intelligence community and on Capitol Hill, however, have described the office as an alternative source of intelligence analysis that helped the administration make its case that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat.

[...]

Former and current intelligence officials said they felt a continual drumbeat, not only from Cheney and Libby, but also from Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, Feith, and less so from CIA Director George J. Tenet, to find information or write reports in a way that would help the administration make the case that going into Iraq was urgent.

"They were the browbeaters," said a former defense intelligence official who attended some of the meetings in which Wolfowitz and others pressed for a different approach to the assessments they were receiving. "In interagency meetings," he said, "Wolfowitz treated the analysts' work with contempt."

[...]

A senior defense official also defended Wolfowitz's questioning: "Does he ask hard questions? Absolutely. I don't think he was trying to get people to come up with answers that weren't true. He's looking for data and answers and he gets frustrated with a lack of answers and diligence and with things that can't be defended."

A major focus for Wolfowitz and others in the Pentagon was finding intelligence to prove a connection between Hussein and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network.

On the day of the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center,Wolfowitz told senior officials at the Pentagon that he believed Iraq might have been responsible. "I was scratching my head because everyone else thought of al Qaeda," said a former senior defense official who was in one such meeting. Over the following year, "we got taskers to review the link between al Qaeda and Iraq. There was a very aggressive search."

In the winter of 2001-02, officials who worked with Wolfowitz sent the Defense Intelligence Agency a message: Get hold of Laurie Mylroie's book, which claimed Hussein was behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and see if you can prove it, one former defense official said.

The DIA's Middle East analysts were familiar with the book, "Study of Revenge: The First World Trade Center Attack and Saddam Hussein's War Against America." But they and others in the U.S. intelligence community were convinced that radical Islamic fundamentalists, not Iraq, were involved. "The message was, why can't we prove this is right?" said the official.


I hope that members of the newly formed Iraq intelligence failure committee are informed of this Wolfowitz/Mylroie information. The 9/11 committee is charged with only dealing with events leading up to 9/11, so they won't address this particular case of intellectual dysfunction. I would hope that the other would, however. This delusional thinking wasted huge amounts of time because one of the nation's top foreign policy intellectuals turns out to be in thrall of a tin foil hat conspiracy theory. And, that thinking helped lead this country into an unnecessary war that has made this country more vulnerable to its enemies.


Thanks to Antiwar.com for the link.


On TAPPED, Matt Yglesias notes Wolfowitz dancing on the head of a pin as he avoids answering questions about this very thing in the hearings yesterday.


Update: In an amazing moment of Hullabaloo synergy none other than Bob Kerrey seemed to be giving credence to Mylroie and Wolfowitz's apparent beliefs that the '93 WTC attacks were perpetrated by Iraq during Clarke's testimony earlier. Clarke knocked it down very effectively, but I have to wonder just how many people in high places have drunk this noxious kool-aid, anyway?


 
Bi-Partisan Putz

I notice that Bob Kerrey is back on his hobby horse today insisting to Sandy Berger that Clinton was a sissy because he didn't declare war on Afghanistan. It must be nice to live in bizarro-utopia where it was possible to persuade the American people and the entire world that the US should unilaterally invade countries based upon the bombing of embassies in africa or a rowboat attack on a warship. And he should have done these things during times of extreme domestic political crisis.

Perhaps Bob doesn't realize that even the honorable and integrity-filled George W. Bush had had a little bit of difficulty persuading large chunks of the planet, including here at home, that it's a good idea to unilaterally invade countries even after 9/11.

Let's review what was really going on during the periods in question:

Read the rest over on The American Street




Tuesday, March 23, 2004

 
Fruitcake soaked in Anthrax

Here's Laurie Mylroie on a CNN online chat in October of 2001:

CNN: You believe that Saddam Hussein was involved in both attacks the 1993 and September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Why?

MYLROIE: You can demonstrate to the high legal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt, which is used for criminal conviction, that Iraq was behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, by showing that Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of that bomb, was an Iraqi intelligence agent. I do that in "Study of Revenge." That bomb, in 1993, aimed to topple the north tower onto the south tower. Eight years later, someone came back and finished the job. Since Iraq was behind the first attack, it is suggestive of the point that Iraq was behind the second attack.

CHAT PARTICIPANT: Is there any proof at all that Hussein is involved in the anthrax scares?

MYLROIE: There is no proof that Saddam is involved in the anthrax scares, but proof is different from evidence. Proof, according to the dictionary, is conclusive demonstration. Evidence is something that indicates, like your smile is evident of your affection for me. There is evidence that Iraq is behind the anthrax scares. First, it takes a highly sophisticated agency to produce anthrax in the lethal form that was in the letter sent to Senator Daschle. Not many parties can do that. Second, there is an additive in that anthrax, bentonite, which is used to cause the anthrax to not stick together, and float in the air. Iraq is the only party known to have produced anthrax with bentonite.

CHAT PARTICIPANT: Should the U.S.take action against Iraq?

MYLROIE: Yes. It is necessary for the United States to take action against Iraq. The 1991 Gulf War never ended. We continue it in the form of an economic siege whose origins lie in the Gulf War. And also, we bomb Iraq on a regular basis, and Saddam continues his part of the war in the form of terrorism. It is unlikely that that anthrax will remain in letters. It is likely that it will be used at some point, for example, in the subway of a city, or in the ventilation system of a U.S. building. Saddam wants revenge against us. He wants to do to the U.S. what we've done to Iraq. One way he can do that is terrorism, particularly biological terrorism.

CHAT PARTICPANT: What is the connection between bin Ladden and Saddam?

MYLROIE: Bin Laden and Hussein work together. The contact between the two was made in the 1990s when bin Laden was based in Sudan. Iraq intelligence also had a major presence in Sudan then. There were other widely reported contacts between bin Laden and Iraq intelligence, such as in December, 1998 when Farook Hajazi traveled to Afghanistan to meet with bin Laden. Hajazi is a senior intelligence officer. Bin Laden provides the ideology, he recruits the foot soldiers, and he provides a smokescreen. Iraqi intelligence provides the direction and training for the terrorism.

CNN: You hold the Clinton administration responsible for Hussein's involvement in all of these attacks. Why?

MYLROIE: Iraq is a difficult problem, and has been since the Gulf War. Many mistakes have been made, because it's inevitable that in human endeavor there are mistakes. Under the Clinton administration, specifically in February 1993 with the first attack on the Trade Center, Clinton dealt with the issue dishonestly. New York FBI believed in 1993 that Iraq was behind the Trade Center bombing. That was accepted by the White House, that New York FBI might well be right. In June, 1993, Clinton attacked Iraqi intelligence headquarters. He said that that was punishment for Saddam's attempt to kill George Bush when Bush visited Kuwait in April, but Clinton also believed that it would deter Saddam from all future attacks of terrorism, and that it would address the WTC bombing, too, so that Saddam would not think to carry out further attacks against the U.S.

And then the Clinton administration put out a false and fraudulent explanation for terrorism, saying that terrorism was no longer state-sponsored, but carried out by individuals. That false and fraudulent explanation was accepted and allowed Saddam to continue to attack the U.S. The reason Clinton dealt with terrorism in that fashion was because he did not understand the kind of threat that Saddam could pose, and by taking care of the terrorism in New York in that fashion, he avoided riling American public opinion, which might have demanded then, back in 1993, that he do a great deal more.

CHAT PARTICIPANT: Do you believe this will eventually escalate into a much broader conflict as other states are identified as helping terrorist organizations?

MYLROIE: I believe that it is necessary to shift the war to Iraq and to do so as soon as possible, because Iraq is a primary threat, the primary terrorist threat to the United States, and as the anthrax shows, that threat can become very, very great. It's necessary to get rid of Saddam.

CNN: The George W. Bush administration publicly focuses on Osama bin Laden and remains internally at odds over whether to implicate Hussein and Iraq in the current war. Is that a mistake?

MYLROIE: Yes, it is a mistake to avoid implicating Iraq, or to be unable to reach a decision about that. If we do not say that we suspect Iraq in the anthrax attacks, then Saddam will have no reason not to escalate to the next step. The next step could be that anthrax used in another fashion which is more deadly, or it could be anthrax that is resistant to antibiotics. We won't be able to treat it, as we can now.

CHAT PARTICIPANT: Have you spoken with officials about this information?

MYLROIE: Yes I have spoken with officials, in particular in the Pentagon. The Pentagon shares this view.

CHAT PARTICIPANT: You mentioned the bentonite in the anthrax, and yet we hear that the CIA and FBI are looking at home sources of that anthrax? Why are they not also viewing that as from Iraq rather than a U.S. source?

MYLROIE: That is a good question. Bob Bartley in the Wall Street Journal takes on that question. While one might say it is not impossible that an individual who is very knowledgeable, with access to a good lab, could have produced that in the U.S., it is also extremely unlikely. Iraq is a much more likely candidate. Bartley compares it to the situation of the elephant in the room that some people just don't want to see, including, apparently, the FBI and the CIA. But the American people can see the elephant in the room, and Iraq is a much more likely suspect than an individual in the U.S.

CHAT PARTICIPANT: Is it possible that perhaps Iraq is waiting for us to accuse them and then take anthrax to the next level?

MYLROIE: We are in a very, very difficult situation. If we say clearly that it is Iraq, and we're going to get Saddam, then it is likely that he will do his best to bring his enemies down with him. It is true that we face the danger then of more deadly attacks, including anthrax attacks. If we do not say it is Saddam, we will also face the danger of more deadly attacks. This is a terrible situation. Yet I prefer to deal with the losses that will come by taking on Saddam than to be subject to the losses that will occur if we remain sitting ducks. It would seem that some ambiguity in the beginning is the best thing. If we shift the focus from Afghanistan to Iraq, we are indeed at war, and during war, extreme measures may have to be taken. For example, we might think to get children and all non-essential personnel out of U.S. cities while this war goes on, which we will carry out very quickly, or to have people remaining in U.S. cities where they are a target, wearing masks pretty much all the time, in order to deal with this problem which we should address quickly rather than slowly.

CHAT PARTICIPANT: Is the reason behind the government not admitting to Iraq's involvement over the oil situation?

MYLROIE: I don't think that the oil situation is a factor. I think that at least two things are at work. First, there is a great confusion because for eight years Clinton treated terrorism as a law enforcement issue, with the emphasis on arresting individuals and bringing them to justice, trying and convicting them. That had the effect of obscuring the role of states in terrorism, particularly Iraq. But in addition, those who went along with his view of terrorism are now personally invested in it, and they are reluctant to give up that view. That would include George Tenet, a Clinton appointee who still heads the CIA, and I believe, the intelligence coming from the CIA is skewed. It may also be that there is an influence of former President Bush and Bush's top advisors from the 1991 Gulf War on President Bush. Some of those people, including former President Bush, Brent Scocroft, his national security advisor, Colin Powell, have not acknowledged that it was an error to end the war in 1991 with Saddam in power, and that may color their judgment now.


This is what Clarke is talking about when he relates Wolfowitz's seemingly bizarre contention that the terrorism priority was "Iraqi terrorism against the United States." And it explains why these fruitcakes were able to convince lil' Junior that Iraq was responsible for 9/11. We should all feel much safer knowing that this total nutcase is one of the Right's leading intellectuals, influencing the highest reaches of the Bush administration.

Say, has anybody talked to Laurie lately about Saddam's anthrax stocks that were all set to be released in balsa wood drone planes over Baltimore and Cleveland? What ever happened with that?

Update:Josh says that the usual suspects are parroting the same lies even today...




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