December 24, 2003

Atrios Translates Walter Pincus

Atrios translates a paragraph from the Washington Post's Walter Pincus into plain English:

Eschaton: Can anyone even begin to comprehend this paragraph:

The source said that at the time of the State of the Union speech, there was no organized system at the White House to vet intelligence, and the informal system that was followed did not work in the case of that speech. The White House has since established procedures for handling intelligence in presidential speeches by including a CIA officer in the speechwriting process.

Look, media, everybody - it's time to just come right out and say it. CONDI RICE IS AN INCOMPETENT CORRUPT LIAR.

That's very true. There is a whole National Security Council that is already tasked with, among other things, making sure that the president's speeches do not contain lies about foreign policy.

Posted by DeLong at December 24, 2003 11:40 AM | TrackBack


It should be interesting to see who's going to agree to fall on his or her sword for all this mayhem, since that person will go down in history as one of the worst Americans ever. Consider 9/11:

"There were lots of warnings." -- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (Parade Magazine interview, Defense Department Website, Oct 12, 2001)

"They don't have any excuse because the information was in their lap, and they didn't do anything to prevent it." -- Senator Richard Shelby, member of the joint intelligence committee investigating 9/11 ("Another Dot That Didn't Get Connected," San Francisco Chronicle , June 3, 2002).

"I don't believe any longer that it's a matter of connecting the dots. I think they had a veritable blueprint, and we want to know why they didn't act on it." -- Senator Arlen Specter, emerging from the same Senate intelligence hearings ("FBI, CIA Brass in a Sling," New York Daily News , June 6, 2002).

"[T]he least understandable argument of all is the line first used by Rice in May of 2002, that no one could have foreseen that terrorists would hijack airplanes and crash-fly them into buildings. It is especially odd coming from the coordination person in the White House. . . It is also odd coming from the official who had an administration plan for actions against Al Qaeda on her desk on the day of the attacks." -- Thomas Oliphant ("Prejudging the 9/11 report," the Boston Globe , Dec. 21, 2002)

"US authorities did little or nothing to pre-empt the events of 9/11. It is known that at least 11 countries provided advance warning to the US of the 9/11 attacks. . . . It had been known as early as 1996 that there were plans to hit Washington targets with airplanes. Then in 1999 a US national intelligence council report noted that "al-Qaida suicide bombers could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the CIA, or the White House." -- former British environment minister Michael Meacher, ("This War on Terrorism is Bogus," The Guardian , Sept. 6, 2003)

"As each day goes by we learn that this government knew a whole lot more about these terrorists before September 11th than it has ever admitted." -- Former Senator and 911 commissioner Max Cleland ("9/11 Commission Could Subpoena Oval Office Files," The New York Times , Oct. 26, 2003)

"As you read the report, you're going to have a pretty clear idea what wasn't done and what should have been done. This was not something that had to happen." -- 911 head Thomas Kean, ("9/11 Chair: Attack Was Preventable," CBS News, Dec. 18, 2003)

Posted by: Lee A. on December 24, 2003 12:07 PM


I think none of this will matter in the long run. Bush delivers what his constituents want and what they want(ed) is ABC: Anything But Clinton.

So that's what Bush, Condi, Cheney and all the rest did. Anything that Clinton (or Gore) would have done, they did the exact opposite. I have a hard time finding a policy decision they ever made that does not follow this rule. And 9/11 is what we got. Condi tossed Berger's briefing in the trash, while Cheney did the same to the Hart/Rudman study. OBL was a high priority with the Clintons, a low priority with the Bushes.

As far as I can tell, this is all JUST FINE with the Bush supporters. It is what they wanted. You will never get any one of them to admit the that 9/11 was a Bush failure. Instead they will sell you a t-shirt emblazoned with the burning WTC and "Clinton's Legacy" printed over it.

Merry Christmas.

Posted by: Alan on December 24, 2003 01:12 PM


I should ascribe the above quotes to a nice little read at Buzzflash.

Posted by: Lee A. on December 24, 2003 02:56 PM


"A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that works."
And complex systems fail faster than simple systems.

Sytemantics by John Gall

Posted by: pt martin on December 24, 2003 03:58 PM


My bet is that Wolfowitz and Rice will be the scapegoats, and that Powell wil quit voluntarily, leaving Cheney in charge.

Posted by: Zizka on December 25, 2003 09:32 AM


This is what I wrote a few days after 9/11 (it took an inordinate amount of time to go from submission to print):

"A reasonable assessment of the terrorist episode would begin by saying that there was a failure by intelligence agencies to communicate to law enforcement agencies the arrival of terrorists and a failure by law enforcement agencies to communicate the information within themselves."

I closed the article as follows: "The defeat that the terrorists cannot endure is a defeat in the court of Muslim public opinion. Terrorists should be treated as criminals, albeit criminals with massive firepower. If possible, they should be captured and tried for crimes against humanity. The United States should take steps to redress massive injustices in Muslim lands, including the slaughter in Indonesia, which we facilitated [27]. To reprise Raymond Close's penetrating words: '[T]he most effective defenses we will have against the terrorist threat [are] a commitment to the rule of law, dedication to fairness and evenhandedness in settling international disputes and a reputation as the most humanitarian nation in the world.'"

Peace on earth. Good will toward Men.

Posted by: Charles on December 25, 2003 10:21 AM


Look for continued attempts to blame intellgence and law enforcement in fuzzy and nonspecific prose, but most of those people are good loyal nine-to-fivers who send the info up the chain of command just as they're supposed to, and if any were guilty or negligent you can bet they would've been cashiered by now.

Posted by: Lee A. on December 25, 2003 10:03 PM


Or: "fact-checkers":


Can't wait for those guys to be identified, reprimanded, dismissed!

Posted by: Lee A. on December 26, 2003 08:57 AM


Lee, in fact we now know some names. John Ashcroft himself denied the request by Coleen Rowley of the Minneapolis FBI to search the computer of Moussaoui (see for Rowley's complaint)

I very much do not want to use vague prose to tar the intelligence agencies. If you read my article, you'll note I quote at least two intelligence agents favorably. But intelligence agencies are not simply collections of intelligence agents. In this case, the failures occurred at high levels.

By the way, the "link" you provided is to your computer. No one except you would be able to read it.

Posted by: Charles on December 26, 2003 01:33 PM


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