November 16, 2004

The Senate Should Not Advise and Consent to the Nomination of Condi Rice to Be Secretary of State

Bob Somerby quotes from the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing on intelligence:

Bush had been warned about possible hijacks: "We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a [REDACTED] service in 1998 saying that bin Laden wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft to gain the release of “Blind Sheik” Omar Abdel Rahman and other U.S.-held extremists. (10) Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York..."

What Condi Rice told the 911 Commission about this PDB:

RICE: The fact is that this August 6th PDB was in response to the president’s questions about whether or not something might happen or something might be planned by al Qaeda inside the United States. He asked because all of the threat reporting, or the threat reporting that was actionable, was about the threats abroad, not about the United States.

This particular PDB had a long section on what bin Laden had wanted to do—speculative, much of it—in ’97, ’98, that he had in fact liked the results of the 1993 bombing. It had a number of discussions of-—it had a discussion of whether or not they might use hijacking to try and free a prisoner who was being held in the United States, Ressam. It reported that the FBI had full field investigations underway. And we checked on the issue of whether or not there was something going on with surveillance of buildings, and we were told, I believe, that the issue was the courthouse in which this might take place.

Commissioner, this was not a warning. This was a historic memo—-historical memo prepared by the agency because the president was asking questions about what we knew about the inside.

Is there anybody who believes that the Senate should advice and consent to the nomination of Condi Rice to be Secretary of State?

Posted by DeLong at November 16, 2004 01:44 PM | TrackBack
Comments

Of course the Senate should confirm Rice to State! Can we survive much longer with her as National Security Advisor?? ;)

Posted by: Grumpy at November 16, 2004 01:50 PM

Reading this again is chilling. If only. If only the government had beefed up security in airports and on airplanes. They KNEW hijackings were in preparation. Hell even if they just ANNOUNCED that they had stepped up security without actually DOING it, the hijackers might have had second thoughts - no use going through with a plot that's going to be foiled. But no, like North Korea and the Israel-Palestinian conflict, terrorism was a concern of the Clinton crowd and therefore could not belong on the new Administration's agenda.

Posted by: Lisa at November 16, 2004 02:04 PM

I was clinging to the hope that Bush would do at least one sensible thing and choose Danforth for Secstate. Nope.

I think the man is truly becoming unhinged. He has fallen for every right-wing whacko conspiracy story (like that the State Department is undermining him). He retreating further into his cocoon, surrounding himself with people who will never bother him with unpleasant truths.

I've never been so pessimistic about our future.

Posted by: wvmcl at November 16, 2004 02:07 PM

We are going to have some very interesting adventures, people.

Posted by: bigfoot at November 16, 2004 02:15 PM

Rice will be one of the last people pulled from the bunker when this is all over.

Posted by: Hacik at November 16, 2004 02:19 PM

Well, I can say one positive thing about Dr. Rice: our knowledge seems to indicate that she is not clinically insane. Therefore, we can conclude that she is functioning at a significantly higher level than those from whom she is taking orders.

In other words, it could be worse, in the same sense that someone tortured by the Bush administration's secret police could be in worse shape - that is, that person could be dead.

(Or would dead be better? Ah, decisions, decisions)

Posted by: Ralph at November 16, 2004 02:23 PM

Oops! Guess I have to re-examine my theory. Max Sawicky just wrote (at http://maxspeak.org/mt/archives/000933.html):

"Powell was no ball of fire, but at least he wasn't nuts. This lady is nuts, 'cause she takes direction from G. Bush."

I wish Sawicky would stop contradicting me like this. So humiliating.

Posted by: Ralph at November 16, 2004 02:36 PM

Is there any institution that rewards failure, ignorance and obsequious sycophancy as much as American politics has recently? Are there any historical parallels? Caligula? The French court under Louis XV? Atlantis?

Posted by: fred c. dobbs at November 16, 2004 02:54 PM

fred, the closest parallel i can think of is american business in the '70s; whenever we hear about the ceo administration, i think about what a lame collection of CEOs helped run down american business during that time.

Posted by: howard at November 16, 2004 03:07 PM

The 9/11 report was completely damning for everyone in the Bush administration, but the report basically left off all the conclusions. It was like a big shaggy dog story without any punch lines. There were no zingers to turn into sound bites.

Posted by: John Emerson at November 16, 2004 03:13 PM

Everybody's making too big a deal of this. State isn't all that important any way. At least not in the making of foreign policy. (Director of /protocol/--now there is a job worth having).

Posted by: Buce at November 16, 2004 03:46 PM

Ohio's votes are going to be recounted. One of two outcomes is that Bush "wins" again; the other outcome is that Kerry wins a) before the Electoral College meets or b) after it meets. Would anyone care to speculate on how this administration will react if it learns in the first week of December that all of its plans for the second term are moot? And what will happen if Ohio casts its electoral votes for Bush and then finds out a week later that Kerry actually won?

Posted by: Brian Boru at November 16, 2004 04:18 PM


Brian B.
Nah! Won't happen! There will be mass murder before that kind of result will be allowed to happen.

Posted by: dilbert dogbert at November 16, 2004 04:25 PM

Now hold on here a minute...

I do not see how anyone can be so upset about the Rice nomination. I mean, she can speak a foreign language. She plays piano really well. She was a competitive ice skater. She has lots and lots of melanin. She has been working with the president a long time (She even sometimes imagines they are a married couple*!) And she is a woman, if a bit of a tough cookie.

What else is necessary?

Posted by: MTC at November 16, 2004 04:44 PM

I doubt Ohio's votes will be switched. The fix is in too deeply.

Complaining about anything Bush does now is pointless. Write it down, tally it up, it doesn't matter because 52% of the US population wants to live in a feudal theocracy.

What are you after you're beyond shrill?

Ultrasonic sounds are inaudible.

Posted by: Fred at November 16, 2004 04:44 PM

Dr. Rice will be confirmed, because the Senate Democrats are cowards.

The Senate Democrats are cowards because two of their leaders, Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy, underwent attempted assassination in November of 2001.

No serious effort has been made to identify and prosecute the assassin(s), let alone whoever hired them.

Posted by: Frank Wilhoit at November 16, 2004 04:47 PM

You're crazy, Frank!

Daschle got his anthrax letter in October 2001, not November. Sheesh.

Plus, whaddya mean "no serious effort"? They drained that pond and everything!

Posted by: Grumpy at November 16, 2004 05:28 PM

It's Bush's prerogative to have whomever he wants at that post. Since he didn't pay any attention to someone sensible at it, why should you want to compel him to appoint someone equally sensible for the mere privilege of being a eunuch for the next four years? This is an area where the President should get whatever he wants. If what he wants is Rice, so be it. Too bad for our ability to operate anything resembling a foreign policy, but this Administration appears determined to sabotage that anyway.

Posted by: Timothy Burke at November 16, 2004 06:01 PM

Yes, they should confirm Condi Rice to be Sec State. I think C. Rice was largely responsible for letting Sept 11 happen and she should have been fired a long time ago. But know Bush should be given all the rope he wants to hang himself with. Under Bush, Sec State is a worthless position.

The really important long term harms will be done by the persons that get Atty General and Supreme Court. The Demecrats should save their votes and efforts to block bad candidates to those positions (like Gonzales)

Posted by: george at November 16, 2004 06:10 PM

While most liberals are crying in their beer, the good doctor continues to fight the good fight, motivated by a conviction that asserting simple empirical truths over a prolonged period may eventually have some effect, even in a country whose recent election turned mainly on the pressing question of homosexual marriage. Bless you Brad Delong. You are the best argument I have seen for cloning.

But I am weaker and more prone to cynicism than the good doctor. Condi seems quite good enough for the pious mediocricy that this nation has become -- or is ruled by. Not that I will miss the late incumbent. Talk about a pussy and a bureaucrat! Every single element of the Powell Docrtine was inverted and still he solidered on. Maybe he has debts or something? What a wimp! A zero, not enough balls to be a negative. But why should I be surprised. That period where he stepped out, developed is own biography, and showed some independence as a free-thinking person was ... ... ummmm. Hell-lOOOO. What were we thinking?

Best he be replaced by someone whose incompetence is at least obvious. Until the infection takes hold, your body doesn't really know to run the fever. As the homeopath might say, Condi is good for America.

Posted by: Gerard MacDonell at November 16, 2004 06:33 PM

If Condi failed so miserably to prevent 9/11, why haven't Bush's political opponents been able to do a better job at the blame game?

When everything is a vast right-wing conspiracy theory, it's hard for most Americans to take seriously the idea that Condi actually screwed up.

Richard Clarke's sulking was not successful in keeping the spotlight on Condi -- why not?

Democrats had better be ready to make a real case to the American people about what she did wrong. Conspiracy theories don't win elections and they don't block appointments.

Posted by: Beltway Sumo at November 16, 2004 06:35 PM

The Democrats, who are going to lose anyhow in these cases, should show some gumption and backbone and refuse to back the nominees. They should make explicit why thet do so: Rice is a perjured liar who allowed 9/11 to happen on her watch becaues she was too stupid to do anything without having someone else tell her how to do it, Gonzales is a former Enron thug who gave the legal reasoning allowing Abu Ghraib to go forth with impunity, and so frth and so on.

Principled oppositin all the time, 365/24/7. It is imperative.

Will it happen?

Posted by: Carol at November 16, 2004 06:36 PM

If Condi failed so miserably to prevent 9/11, why haven't Bush's political opponents been able to do a better job at the blame game?

When everything is a vast right-wing conspiracy theory, it's hard for most Americans to take seriously the idea that Condi actually screwed up.

Richard Clarke's sulking was not successful in keeping the spotlight on Condi -- why not?

Democrats had better be ready to make a real case to the American people about what she did wrong. Conspiracy theories don't win elections and they don't block appointments.

Posted by: Beltway Sumo at November 16, 2004 06:38 PM

If Condi failed so miserably to prevent 9/11, why haven't Bush's political opponents been able to do a better job at the blame game?

When everything is a vast right-wing conspiracy theory, it's hard for most Americans to take seriously the idea that Condi actually screwed up.

Richard Clarke's sulking was not successful in keeping the spotlight on Condi -- why not?

Democrats had better be ready to make a real case to the American people about what she did wrong. Conspiracy theories don't win elections and they don't block appointments.

Posted by: Beltway Sumo at November 16, 2004 06:38 PM

I hate typos

Posted by: Carol at November 16, 2004 06:45 PM

I agree the Senate Democrats should all vote no on the nominees, but not filibuster except in extremis. We make our case and vote. This is how we learn to be a real opposition. This is how our positions become clear to people. Maybe we can even become clear about our own positions in the process.

Posted by: masaccio at November 16, 2004 06:55 PM

And what will happen if Ohio casts its electoral votes for Bush and then finds out a week later that Kerry actually won?

Posted by Brian Boru at November 16, 2004 04:18 PM

Brian B.
Nah! Won't happen! There will be mass murder before that kind of result will be allowed to happen

Or another burning of the Reichstag, er, conveniently-timed terrorist attack.


Posted by: California at November 16, 2004 07:55 PM

It's kind of awe-inspiring, really.

The entire State Department relegated to the kid's table at Thanksgiving Dinner. (Hey! If Rice and the chickenhawk neo-cons run State, can we call it the Department of Arroz con Pollo?)

Replacement of an Attorney General who channeled Torquemada by an Attorney General who channels Beria. (Hey! If Gonzales purges the Justice Department, can we call that a Berian Enema?)

And the CIA turned into a Micky Mouse fan club, with George Bush as Mickey Mouse, Porter Goss as Frankie Avalon, and a player to be named later as Annette Funicello. M-I-C (See you in security detention!), K-E-Y (Why? Because you don't like Mickey, you must be some kind of traitor!)...M-O-U-S-E...

Good times ahead, that's for sure.

Posted by: Ciel at November 16, 2004 08:13 PM

if "should" meant anything bush would be a lame duck and this thread wouldn't be discussing rice. I'll bet a nice dinner that rice is confirmed and that the steamroller barely pauses in getting her there.

Posted by: supersaurus at November 16, 2004 08:14 PM

This one is mildly humerous.

Kevin Hassett to replace Mankiw LOL

Republican sources said February might be an opportune time for Mankiw to depart because by then the scramble to publish the annual Economic Report of the President will be over and Mankiw will be approaching the two-year mark in his job.

"Greg Mankiw has done his Washington time," said Beach, adding that he is likely to depart soon after he "signs off on the galleys" of the economic report.

One potential successor for Mankiw is Kevin Hassett, an economist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, sources said.

http://money.excite.com/ht/nw/bus/20041116/hle_bus-n15276451.html

LOL

Posted by: bakho at November 16, 2004 08:14 PM

If 59 million people wanted Bush to be president again, surely there must be at least 40 million who think Condi would make a good SoS, and another 20 million who think Hulk Hogan should be on the joint chiefs of staff.

Posted by: rps at November 16, 2004 09:05 PM

I'd feel better about the "Give the Administration enough rope and it'll hang itself" argument if it weren't abundantly clear that (1) it *has* more than enough rope *already*, and (2) it is intent on hanging plenty of other people with it.

Posted by: Chris at November 16, 2004 09:18 PM

Quick Vote on CNN website:

QUICKVOTE
Is Condoleezza Rice a good choice for secretary of state?

http://www.cnn.com/HLN/

Posted by: Kosh at November 16, 2004 09:19 PM

The best that can be hoped for is Condoleezza Rice doesn't have the same catastrophic success she had as National Security Adviser.

Posted by: Susie Dow at November 17, 2004 12:38 AM

I agree that Rice is not a good choice for Secretary of State. First I donít like the idea of appointing a member of the Presidentís staff to a cabinet post since staff people tend to be yes men. Secondly I have a natural aversion to university administrators being appointed to anything. Finally her area of specialization (The Soviet Union) is not well suited for todayís problems. Nevertheless if she manages to get rid of the coterie Arabists in the State Department, I might change my mind. As far as deception goes, thatís a natural part of statecraft. McNamara lied to Congress about Kennedyís deal with Khrushchev to remove our missiles in Turkey if he would remove his missiles in Cuba. However we can fault Rice for being so inept at the art of deception.

Having seen the clash between the state department guys who want an agreement at any price, and the security apparatchiks who are overly suspicious of everything, Iíd like to see a good housecleaning in both places.

Posted by: A. Zarkov at November 17, 2004 01:25 AM

So lying to Congress about 9/11 was just statecraft, Zarkov? Why do you hate America? (and I don't mean that in the joking sense)

Posted by: Barry at November 17, 2004 02:59 AM

A. Zarkov wrote, "Nevertheless if she manages to get rid of the coterie Arabists in the State Department, I might change my mind."

Right---increasing the degree to which Likud controls US foreign policy would be a good thing. LOL!

Posted by: liberal at November 17, 2004 03:46 AM

The scary thing about this whole testimony is that kids in college actually think that this sort of dissembling is acceptable behavior on the part of a public servant.

Lying has become a required job skill as far as they are concerned so long as it advances the agenda. The roots of cynicism are already planted in these kids, many of whom just spout what they are hearing at home or on talk radio.

I don't think any of them has yet to understand tht the eternal war envisioned by this crew will have very drastic effects on their life expectancy, but, then again, this is the group that is defending the war while refusing to enlist to defend the ideal and the nation.

Matt

Posted by: Matt at November 17, 2004 03:58 AM

wvmcl has it right. CIA is a hotbed of liberalism. The State Department is undermining the president. How do we know that? Because the pros there tried to do their jobs. CIA and State were the two places inside government that gave Bush and Cheney the biggest headaches in their effort to make the facts fit their policy intentions. They need closer supervision in the 2nd term.

By driving out analysts who were willing to stand up and do their jobs, we will lower the average quality at both places. CIA and FS officers who are left will be more likely to be those who bend to political winds, those who agreed with the White House does (neither here nor there, over the long haul) and those with incredibly thick skins. Thick skin is a fine quality, but it is not coincident with the ability to do good analysis or develop good advice - though it helps in being willing to present good analysis and advice. This will be the Bush administration's legacy to the US intelligence community, at a time when we are told that the intelligence services need to do a better job - better in reality, not in terms of realigning their group-think to that of their masters.

Beltway Sumo,

Pointing out that Rice made claims about an intelligence assessment there were objectively false is not a conspiracy theory. The document is standard, courtroom-type evidence that Rice's testimony to Congress was contrary to the facts. Anybody know whether Rice was under oath at the time?

And yes, Democrats certainly need to develop some discipline in voting. The GOP has been able to crow that large numbers of Democrats voted for tax cuts, for going to war with Iraq (sic), for a bogus Medicare drug benefit. If a bill is bad, at least let's make that clear in the voting record. Democrats need to go to the floor and make clear their objections, in better terms than they often have in the past (no watered down poetry, please - just say "the following three points make this a bad bill"). It's not like the GOP is offering up a lot of moderate bills on major issues.

Posted by: kharris at November 17, 2004 05:08 AM

The only bright side I can think of is that the State bureaucracy and FSO corps will really limit some of Condi's weirder/neocon initiatives. I even wonder if we will see heads roll and people resign at State the way they are rolling and resigning at CIA these days. She's going to be very frustrated when all of these pros underneath her have their own ideas and actual facts to back them up. This is a very different job from NSC Director, where there was little or anything to actually manage...

Man, are we going to miss Colin Powell, or what?

Posted by: Jim Harris at November 17, 2004 05:38 AM

A few comments:

It is obvious that the timing of Powell's resignation and fact it was shortly after Arafat's drawn-out death, translates the following.

It is obvious that Powell's moderate level-headed nature and aims of diplomacy at fixing the Mid-east's root problem by getting Palastinians and Israelis back the round table - is mute.

The inner-meetings after Arafat's death by Bush was probably to effect: 'let them eat cake'.
Thus taking the whole mid-east war-hawk philosophy to macro-look...one can easily see that Powel resigned because Bush really does not want to fix the imbedded Palastinian question. Arafat or no Arafat...nothing will be ventured by this 2nd term administration to fix things. Note: Powell's resignation was his way frustrated way of saying..." see ya'. His resignation also ruminated on the same day the shit hit fan in rest of Iraq after enemy slipped out of Falluja. (It was a bouble statement) Everyone knew he was jumping ship for clashing with Neoconvicts, it was Powell's freedom to pick and choose his exit for 'demonstration' purposes.

it is so crystal clear

Posted by: Dave S. at November 17, 2004 09:04 AM

I remember post-2002 advice offered to Nancy Pelosi regarding how the House should treat the Boy Scouts ... attack even more! Never let up!

In that spirit it seems one should definitely encourage Minority Leader Reid to attack, persistantly and loudly, the attractive black lady's morals, intelligence, judgement, patriotism, and management skills. Additionally he should make sure everyone knows she only got her former offices, as she has been nominated for this current over, via affirmative action; hving been jumped over the heads of many more qualified white males.

That'll do it.

Posted by: pouncer at November 17, 2004 11:00 AM

Absolutely.

Given that I hate America and am earnestly hoping for a massive reduction in American power and well-being, Condi Rice as Secretary of State is just the thing.

Posted by: America Hater at November 17, 2004 01:16 PM

kharris wrote, "Pointing out that Rice made claims about an intelligence assessment there were objectively false is not a conspiracy theory. The document is standard, courtroom-type evidence that Rice's testimony to Congress was contrary to the facts. Anybody know whether Rice was under oath at the time?"

I don't know for sure, but the Daily Howler---which is very cautious and precise in its claims---says a case can be made she lied under oath. (Click my name for a link to the article.)

Posted by: liberal at November 17, 2004 02:07 PM

kharris above is dead-on about the long-term impact that such political appointments will have. All of the mid-level civil servants, the people we're relying on to be sane and objective not only today but also in the future, will be pushed out. We're already seeing the resignations in the CIA. It'll be worse at State.

This whole thing reminds me of what Halberstam described in his Best and the Brightest as the crucial first step to the diasaster in Vietnam: all of the experienced, objective Asian hands in State and the CIA were marginalized or forced out by political purges. Well, we're doing nicely now, aren't we. 2003 was the year of the Civil Servant's Revenge. 2004-5 will be the years of the purge.

It doesn't look as though there's much we can do about it, not without somebody's waging full bureaucratic civil war on the left's behalf. Looks bad.

Posted by: Jackmormon at November 17, 2004 06:28 PM