March 25, 2004

What Would Condi Rice's 911 Testimony Have Been?

As we all know, Condi Rice has refused to appear before the September 11 Commission. But what if she had decided to appear? What would her opening statement have looked like? Let's write some testimony for her!

How about:

OPENING STATEMENT OF CONDOLEEZZA RICE, ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR NATIONAL SECURITY

On January 21, the newly-inaugurated George W. Bush named me his assistant for national security, and chair of his national security council. It thus became my job to manage the making of policy on the huge range of issues that affect America's national security: relations with Russia, China, Europe, Israel. The rogue states of Iran, North Korea, and Iraq. The problems of asymmetric threats generated by present and future adversaries that know they cannot match our military power, and seek to change the rules of engagement. Terrorism. Of these, terrorism is an important issue but not the only important issue.

When I took office on January 21, I was immediately confronted by a profound bureaucratic anomaly: Richard Clarke. Typically, NSC senior directors take their instructions in day-to-day matters from my deputy, Steven Hadley. When they have policy proposals, they first seek consensus on what the policy options should be from a staff-level interdepartmental working group that they chair, and then take that consensus (and whatever limited points of disagreement on what the live options are remain) to the NSC deputies committee. After the NSC deputies committee has properly framed the issues, the matter is then discussed by the NSC principals committee--made up of cabinet members--that I chair, which decides what decisions the president needs to make and how the options on those decisions are to be presented to him.

But the Clinton administration was not a normal administration. And Richard Clarke did not have a normal place in it. Rather than reporting to the NSC deputies committee, Richard Clarke chaired the NSC principals committee when it met on terrorism issues. Rather than have the policy options discussed and framed by the deputies, the policy options were framed by Clarke himself, with the departmental staffs of the cabinet members then having to play catch-up. And because Clarke held this special position--deputy president for terrorism affairs, more or less--he could command the appearance of people like the head of the FBI or the CIA at the White House in short notice more-or-less on his own whim.

I took a look at this situation, and I thought about the great foreign-policy disasters of the past. I thought about the Bay of Pigs, where Eisenhower administration holdovers had bullied President Kennedy into approving a hair-brained invasion plan that had not been properly reviewed by Kenney's own people. I thought about Oliver North, where a hairbrained NSC staffer had warped U.S. foreign policy in destructive ways for years. I thought: "Nothing like this is going to happen on my watch. Whatever ideas Richard Clarke has are going to be properly assessed and reviewed."

So I decided, when Richard Clarke asked me for an "urgent" NSC principals meeting to approve his ideas on what to do about Al Qaeda and the Taliban, that he was not going to get one. Had he thought about the broader picture of South Asian and Middle Eastern diplomacy? What effect would his initiatives have on our ability to manage and contain the India-Pakistan conflict? The Taliban were clients of Pakistan's ISI: if we armed the Northern Alliance against the Taliban, would the ISI react by giving nuclear technology to Iran? It seemed to me that Clarke's plans needed to be tested: he needed to convince the security department staffs and the members of the NSC deputies committee that he had thought these issues through, and if he hadn't then his plans needed to be improved by their input.

So I directed my deputy Steven Hadley to treat the problem of Al Qaeda and its Taliban-granted sanctuary in its proper context as part of South Asian/Middle Eastern policy, and to put the comprehensive review of South Asian/Middle Eastern policy in its proper place in the queue of issues: high, but not the highest.

In May, however, I discovered that my subordinate Richard Clarke was undermining my assessment of policy priorities. He and George Tenet had agreed to stuff George W. Bush's daily intelligence briefing--the PDB--with lots of material on Al Qaeda. And so in May George W. Bush asked for a plan to destroy Al Qaeda, and I assured him that such a plan was being worked on--and it was, at the deputies level, as part of the overall South Asian/Middle Eastern policy review.

But I was damned if any NSC senior director who worked for me was going to overturn my judgment on policy priorities by end-running. Richard Clarke was going to wait his turn while the NSC principals dealt with other more important and more urgent issue areas. Richard Clarke stayed in his place in the policy-development queue.

While the NSC deputies were debating what the changes in our counterterrorism strategy should be, the government was not on hold and inactive. In late June the interagency counterterrorism security group--which Clarke chaired--warned the rest of the government of an upcoming "spectacular" al Qaeda attack. In early July federal law enforcement agencies were warned "that we thought a spectacular al Qaeda terrorist attack was coming in the near future," and asked to take special measures to increase security and surveillance. The FBI, the FAA, and the Coast Guard were warned to be on special watch.

On September 4, 2001, we held our first NSC principals meeting on Clarke's proposals. And on September 10, 2001, we held our fifth NSC deputies meeting on his issues. The policy-development process was far along, although not yet complete.

Then came September 11, 2001, and the world changed.

Thank you.

Posted by DeLong at March 25, 2004 12:44 PM | TrackBack | | Other weblogs commenting on this post
Comments

If only. Then I could live with it.

Posted by: Daryl on March 25, 2004 01:05 PM

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(Eyes lowered, voice barely a whisper) "I am really sorry I have to be here today. It was the last thing I wanted to do. You see, I'm scared to death, oops bad choice of wording, about being accountable for anything and really don't want to have to say anything under oath...

Posted by: Dubblblind on March 25, 2004 01:08 PM

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Silly Brad. You've stumbled upon the greatest phobia of the Bush administration: telling the truth.

The *true* difference between Bush and Clinton:

If Bush were caught between a blue stained dress and a disgruntled intern: he *never* would have admitted it like Clinton eventually did.

"It wasn't me."

Posted by: manyoso on March 25, 2004 01:21 PM

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Absolutely dead-on. This is the outline of the perfectly sober, respectable case that might be made by an honest policy broker—if only Condi were one!—for having kept Richard Clarke on a short leash before 9/11 while a new administration sorted out its strategic approach to South Asian and Middle Eastern affairs. (Very nice touch, by the way, noting the Bay of Pigs as an anti-precedent.) Not by any means a full case, and what's left out (wrt the neo-con takeover of the policy apparatus) is where the damning stuff lies, but entirely reasonable. An actually meaningful debate might result from testimony such as this.

Alternate realities, huh? Imagine an administration that thought that its job was to make, articulate, and (if necessary) accept the consequences of policies ...

Reading A1 ( http://blogs.salon.com/0003364/ ), the NY Times front page project

Posted by: Michael on March 25, 2004 01:29 PM

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This is a great case for the Bushies.

However, the problem with making it is that it would undermine their basis for seeking the White House this time around. The claim that Bush is a great war president who's strong on terrorism. This is why they can't do what Clarke did; apologize.

Posted by: Nick Kaufman on March 25, 2004 01:34 PM

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Far be it from me to call you a liar, Brad, but didn't Rice meet with the Commission _privately_?

Posted by: Cap'n Arbyte on March 25, 2004 02:12 PM

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I believe the proper term is "harebrained", not "hairbrained". Otherwise, this piece is precious.

Posted by: MurryMom on March 25, 2004 02:40 PM

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What's the term for the inverse of a Straw Man argument? "Iron Man"? This is a classic example. :)

Posted by: Grumpy on March 25, 2004 02:45 PM

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Oh, assuming there is no agreed-upon name for the reverse Straw Man, I just thought of another: "Cyrano's List," after Rostand. The list of suggested insults concludes: "These are things you might have said, had you some tinge of letters or of wit to color your discourse."

Posted by: Grumpy on March 25, 2004 02:49 PM

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Rice I believe did meet in private with the Commission. But, WHY, WHY, WHY? I know National
Security reasons. Which is translated as the Peoples Right Not to Know.

Posted by: Hal on March 25, 2004 03:42 PM

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This post seems to have been put up just for me to say, "I told you so".

And, of course, it also means Dick Cheney was correct when he said:

----------quote------------
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, he wasn't -- he wasn't in the loop, frankly, on a lot of this stuff. And I saw part of his interview last night, and he wasn't --

Q He was demoted.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: It was as though he clearly missed a lot of what was going on. For example, just three weeks after the -- after we got here, there was communication, for example, with the President of Pakistan, laying out our concerns about Afghanistan and al Qaeda, and the importance of going after the Taliban and getting them to end their support for the al Qaeda. This was, say, within three weeks of our arrival here.
-----------endquote-------------

Note the final clause in:

"he wasn't in the loop, frankly, on a lot of this stuff"

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 25, 2004 04:03 PM

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"Far be it from me to call you a liar, Brad, but didn't Rice meet with the Commission _privately_?" --Capn Arbyte--


Yes she did, but she did not testify, as in sworn testimony under oath, an important distinction.

WASHINGTON, March 25 (UPI) -- Wednesday's Sept. 11 commission hearing focused on former counter-terrorism coordinator Richard Clarke, who testified, and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, who didn't.

Posted by: Dubblblind on March 25, 2004 04:12 PM

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Does anyone still remember the report that, as of August, 2001, the Administration was talking to the Taliban about building an oil pipeline across Afghanistan? Was the Administration talking about blowing them up, on the one hand, and paying them lots of money on the other?

Posted by: Dave on March 25, 2004 04:26 PM

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Was anyone else reminded of Roger Boisjoly, the engineer who predicted the o-ring failure in the Challenger accident and tried to stop the launch, when watching Clarke's testimonial?

Posted by: ogmb on March 25, 2004 04:33 PM

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Very good explanation of Rice's actions. I think it is basically the truth. As mentioned above James B Rice slides over the Saddam obsession, missile defence obsession and general fossilized in amberness.

One thing is that the Pakistan might give the bomb to Iran concern makes very little sense. It is not even a good red herring. I discuss at length at the link begging http://rjwaldmann.blogspot.com.

Patrick why are you attacking Condoleezza Rice and most of the Bush administration with her ? Note that she flatly contradicted Richard Cheney's claim that Clarke was out of the loop.

More seriously, anyone who wants to save Bush is going to have to start deciding who to toss to the wolves. It seems clear that Cheney would be an excellent choice (look at the polls with and without running mates). His "outside the loop" line, which managed to be even worse than all the other Bushies responses to Clarke, would be the final straw in a sane world.

I suppose Bush might be afraid of what Cheney might say if he was really angry. The thought of Cheney angry scares me too.

By the way, Brad's version is not a defence of C Rice except for those who think that showing Clarke who is boss is more important than fighting terrorism.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on March 25, 2004 05:02 PM

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Rice must read this blog! Now she wants to "appear," privately, before the commission. I hope she gives Brad credit for writing her opening statement.

Posted by: joe on March 25, 2004 05:44 PM

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Robert Waldmann, your comment is unclear to me. How could this be basically the truth when she has left out half of it?

Indeed, Rice has two problems with her fantasy statement: (1) she has to produce in evidence the worksheets for the policy she says was being developed, and (2) we can infer from various newsarticles that another policy, the actual one that was in effect, was a carrot-and-sticks approach to the Taliban in which negotiations for Osama's release and a gas pipeline led to $43 million (!) being sent over in May 2001 "so they could stop growing heroin", which was clearly fungibilified into frequent-flyer miles (sound FX: much belly-laughter from Kabul, as they schtup Bush near his oysters) and after that failed, threatening them later that summer with carpet-bombing...

Rice had to know about all this. Clarke’s testimony removes any possibility that she can claim otherwise by throwing it back to, say, somebody like him. First question from the committee, after her opening statement: okay, lady, just what WAS the real policy?

Posted by: Lee A. on March 25, 2004 05:53 PM

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This analysis reflects the fundamental divide between the Bush administration and the Clinton administration. Clinton established the job and the duties of Clarke. the basis for that was the perception that they thought that Al-Quaeda was a cancer, deadly and dificult to uproot. The idea that we had to deal with a cancerous non-state actor, as opposed to a nation-state, is, in this analysis unintelligible to the Bush group. Valuing heirarchical thinking over the ad hoc approach chosen by Clinton results in this possible Rice explanation.

The problem of the Taliban is to most of us separate from the issue of harboring non-state actors. It was President Bush who conflated the two, saying that those who harbor terrorists will be treated as terrorists. The Clinton people were willing to try to kill Bin Laden under the right circumstances, regardless of the status of the Taliban as the de facto government of a nation-state.

This possible Rice defense is internally consistent, and is consistent with the formal structures sought by the allegedly CEO mentality of the administration. But, it reflects a deep lack of sensitivity to the problem of terrorism, and the mentality necessary to deal with it effectively.

The Bush people could not even begin to understand the problem because it did not fit into their bureaucratic structures.

Posted by: masaccio on March 25, 2004 05:55 PM

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Thank you. It helps to see a logic, albeit hypothetical, for Rice's actions. Accepting for the moment that it really went down that way, rather than something closer to total incompetence, your scenario causes me to wonder why a Deputy President for Terrorism Affairs under Clinton worked reasonably well when there was a logical reason to avoid it in the Bush administration. An answer seems obvious; Berger didn't have to fear that Clinton would be overwhelmed with data or by a personality. He could hold his own. But, there is another factor. Clarke is not Oliver North. Apparently Clarke owns a few misteps but he's still a couple orders of magnitude smarter and more ethical than North.

Posted by: dennisS on March 25, 2004 06:05 PM

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A wonderful work of fiction…

For the reality, read "Campaign 2000: Promoting the National Interest," the article Rice wrote for Foreign Affairs outlining the strategic vision of the Bush team. A reproduction of the complete text is available at:

http://www.foreignpolicy2000.org/library/issuebriefs/readingnotes/fa_rice.html

For those too busy to read historical curiosities, search the text for “terrorism.”


Posted by: Michael Cucek on March 25, 2004 07:02 PM

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If this were indeed Rice's testimony, I see one big problem for her: She is a functionary wedded to rigidly specified information filtering and decision processes to such an extent, that she is totally paralyzed and incapable of action when singular events occur. She's like a computer program with no exception handling capabilities.

Posted by: CSTAR on March 25, 2004 07:13 PM

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Condi Rice is an expert on the FSU. PERIOD. She is in over her head. Condi is ahead of her boss WBush who is way in over his head. If one looks back to the Clinton admin., then Clinton actions against AlQ are often dismissed in the press as wag the dog and even more dismissed by the rabid GOP. Bush entered the WH wearing ideological blinders. He has not removed those blinders.

The failure of Rice and the Bush administration is to assume that the world did not change between 1992 and 2001. This is a stupid idea, but apparently the thesis of the Bush administration. They are so caught in partisan ideology that they impaired their ability to learn from the previous administratiion. Ultimately, all administrations act in what they perceive to be the interests of the country. The inability of the Bush administration to acknowledge that Bill Clinton had in his 8 years in office acted to advance the interests of the US in the world is just plain STUPID. Bush is STUPID. BUSH is AN IDIOT. Bush is stupid. Bush is too stupid to be our president. WE DESERVE BETTER.

Posted by: bakho on March 25, 2004 08:03 PM

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Michael-

Rice's paper shows the same blind spots as Rumsfeld's opening statement at his 2001 confirmation hearing -- http://armed-services.senate.gov/statemnt/2001/010111dr.pdf

'Terrorism', in both cases, means 'a threat packed into a missile and something we need Star Wars to protect us from.' Which is decidedly not our immediate problem.

Posted by: Erik on March 26, 2004 12:38 AM

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The problem for Rice if she offered that testimony is that it is based on the substitution of bureaucratic judgement for her own. That is not a bad thing, in general, if one is not ready to make judgements on an issue, particulaly if one is worried about a "Bay of Pigs" problem. The weakness of such an argument in this case is that it ignores Sandy Berger. He went to Rice during the transition and tried to get her to pay attention to the risk of a domestic attack. If Berger wants you to pay attention and Clarke wants you to act quickly, tempering bureaucratic instinct and looking into their worries seems a pretty good idea. They were telling Rice the nation was at risk of attack. Surely, there was some middle ground between plodding through the committees and giving Clarke the run of the place.

Let's not forget, Rice's line in the aftermath of the attacks was that there was no way of knowing they would happen. "Knowing" covers one's backside pretty well, in a lawyer way of thinking, but we didn't hire Rice do defend us in court. We hired her to defend us in the real world. There was reason to suspect the attacks would happen. Berger and Clarke were the reasons.

Posted by: K Harris on March 26, 2004 04:34 AM

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Great post. As an aside, "harebrained" is correct; "hairbrained" is an old variant.

http://www.bartleby.com/61/43/H0064300.html

Now, I am thinking of Clarke's comment that there was no higher priority than terror in the Clinton Admin, and the Prof's comment that the Clinton Admin had an unusual bureaucratic structure. From the Rice paper linked earlier, I extract this:

"The Clinton administration has assiduously avoided implementing such an agenda. Instead, every issue has been taken on its own terms -- crisis by crisis, day by day. It takes courage to set priorities because doing so is an admission that American foreign policy cannot be all things to all people -- or rather, to all interest groups. The Clinton administration's approach has its advantages: If priorities and intent are not clear, they cannot be criticized."

When you look at Clinton Dec 2000 National Security strategy, there are many top priorities (AIDS was added as a national security issue in April 2000). It is far from obvious that terror is a top priority.

EXCERPT: CLINTON REPORT TO CONGRESS ON NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGY
(Outlines U.S. policy for the Middle East, No. Africa, South Asia) / January 11, 2000

http://www.usembassy-israel.org.il/publish/peace/archives/2000/january/me0111a.html

National Security Strategy, Dec 2000 (.pdf file)
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/national/nss-0012.pdf

Posted by: TM on March 26, 2004 05:06 AM

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That is just brilliantly written. And scary too.

Posted by: Jim Harris on March 26, 2004 05:29 AM

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Oh, huge props to Michael Cucek - the Council on Foreign Relations website (from whence he gave us Condi Rice's world view) has summaries and links to the whole Campaign 2000 for Bush and Gore.

http://www.foreignpolicy2000.org/library/index.html


Re-reading a Tim Russert interview with Bush from spring 2000 makes one want to commence head/wall-banging. It looks like half an hour on negative ads (re McCain), and a quick scan of the world. Terror comes up in the context of gays in the miltary (no, seriously). And Bush seems oddly prescient, in a bit about globalization:

"It also means, though, that there's going to be cultural clashes. There are cultures that are going to be spread mightily. And there are people in this world who cannot stand what America stands for. There are people who are going to resist our culture, its good and bad elements. And it's going to cause, in my judgment, sparks of conflict, which leads back to how do we defend our homeland against terrorist attacks? It's going to create incredible friction. Great opportunity, but moments of high friction."

Lots of Gore stuff, too. I haven't found anything to make me think he was totally on this, but that may just be me.

Posted by: TM on March 26, 2004 05:39 AM

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"Patrick why are you attacking Condoleezza Rice and most of the Bush administration with her ? Note that she flatly contradicted Richard Cheney's claim that Clarke was out of the loop."

No, you are wrong. Take another look at what I said:

" Note the final clause in:

" 'he wasn't in the loop, frankly, on a lot of this stuff'"

Rice was asked only about the first clause, that's why she quibbled with Cheney's wording. Not because Clarke was as fully in the loop as he had been in the Clinton Admin.

Btw, I suspect that Rice didn't really know what the structure was in the Clinton Admin when she asked Clarke and Cressey to stay on (before Inauguration Day). If she had realized that they had been acting above their pay grade for years, she might have realized her putting them in their places would be bad for their morale, and their knowledge wouldn't be worth the problems they could cause.

And, at least Clarke, did pout and refuse to come to meetings she chaired. Further, see the letters from Christopher Shays (prior to 9-11-01)complaining about Clarke's childish behavior:

http://www.house.gov/shays/news/2004/march/clarke.pdf

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 26, 2004 05:58 AM

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"I wanted Richard Clarke to understand "We have a process in this administration." "

Process over product. The bane of bureaucracies everywhere.

Posted by: carsick on March 26, 2004 07:45 AM

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The Department of Defense and State Department apparently did go to battle stations in facilities abroad. But the FAA certainly did not. Why were there no defensive measures in place at home?

Posted by: Bob H on March 26, 2004 08:05 AM

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Process? But, but, but I thought GWB was all about being "results-oriented," not process oriented?

Posted by: Batavicus on March 26, 2004 08:20 AM

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"And, at least Clarke, did pout and refuse to come to meetings she chaired."

But Patrick, if you've been following the discussion, you will have noted that the meetings Rice chaired were not about terrorism. In fact, that was a big part of his gripe with her--she wouldn't hold meetings on terrorism.

Is it really childish for Clarke to decline to sit through a bunch of meetings about topics not relevant to his portfolio?

Isn't this a well-known bureaucratic obstructionist tactic--make people go to a bunch of meaningless meetings?

Posted by: rea on March 26, 2004 08:22 AM

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The real problem Condi confronted was not related to policy, but to diplomacy. It's so hard to declare war on a governing faction when you are wining and dining its leaders in Houston, to get them to sign off on a pipeline that you need to present to political contributors. And how can you hand someone a check for $45 million for reducing poppy production on one day, then threaten to bomb their captial to rubble the next? It's almost inconsistent, although that would not bother Bush much, I suspect. But then if one believes that Kennedy could be bullied, or that Ollie North operated like a lone rogue element, and not directly to implement Reagan policy to help the brave little freedom fighters in middle america, (another set of thugs and drug runners) then I suppose one can believe Condi could present these arguments and get off scott free too.

Posted by: larry Miller on March 26, 2004 08:52 AM

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Refused to appear?

Gee, this New York Times article says she has agreed to return to answer more questions.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/26/politics/26PANE.html?hp=&pagewanted=all&position=

Posted by: Steve on March 26, 2004 10:40 AM

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Steve: Read the article you cite.
"The White House announced late Thursday that Ms. Rice was willing to appear before the panel again, but only in private and not under oath."

Not under oath, not under oath, not under oath...

Posted by: bob on March 26, 2004 11:27 AM

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Patrick says:
"Btw, I suspect that Rice didn't really know what the structure was in the Clinton Admin when she asked Clarke and Cressey to stay on (before Inauguration Day). If she had realized that they had been acting above their pay grade for years, she might have realized her putting them in their places would be bad for their morale, and their knowledge wouldn't be worth the problems they could cause. "
If this really were true it is even more damning than simply shutting down what effort s existed to defend the US against terrorism, Her position is after all, to manage the national security apparatus of the U.S and to coordinate its activities. To have not known anything about the structure itself, and how it functioned, before you shut it down, makes her look, well stupid, as well as incompetent,
Refused to appear?

Steve writes:
"Refused to appear?
Gee, this New York Times article says she has agreed to return to answer more questions."
She has refused to appear in "public," meaning her statements are available for a large body of people. The families of 9-11 victems, members of the commission, and even those mildly curious, who are not on the commission, would like te hear what she says. Given Calrke's testimony, and her frenetic efforts to discredit it, appearing privately , means she is lobbying the commission to reject Clarkes testimony, it also means she cannot say the same things to the publically to the commission that she has said to the press. After all she has unuilaterally, declassified documents to discredit Clarke, so there is no real security question. Her action is thus a two-fold admission:

a) Clarke's testimony was incredibly damaging
b) That she can't, uder oath and in public, refute it.

Oddly enough, her best hope, is to make Brad's statement. What she is hoping now is that she can tell the Commission privately one thing so that it produces a divided report, and the punlic quite another thing.

BYW t Steven, your sort of obtuseness is a characteristic of Fox News, who chops off key words and then says "what do you mean?" It is a tactic suited to the ideologically lame, the politically blind and the willfully ignorant.

Posted by: Lawrence Boyd on March 26, 2004 11:34 AM

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This might be a nice line of argument for Condi to make if we were talking about, oh say, a failure to predict a shakeup in the old Soviet Politburo. But no one in the administration can claim on the one hand that they saw the problem of al-Qaida as "urgent" and then on the other hand take seven leisurely months to hold the first NSC principals' meeting on the subject.

This is especially damning when we consider that all during the summer of 2001 the chatter and warnings were such that Tenet is described as "having his hair on fire." Add to this that Ashcroft started to avoid commercial flights because, as the justice dept explained, of a "threat assessment," and you have the picture of a schizoid administration in which the left hand literally doesn't know what the right hand is doing.

So maybe we just rewrite Condiliar's statement to read:

"Frankly, we're utterly incompetent, and we've had to lie, dissemble and distort to cover up our sins of omission and commission. Personally, I was so insecure in my grasp of the job that I fell back on heirarchies and pecking orders to hide the fact that Richard Clarke knew more than I did."

Posted by: SG on March 26, 2004 12:05 PM

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that 'under oath' issue is now starting to come up as perchance being a bit 'more important' - since Senator Frist, as reported out of NewsMax.com, and on the TV channels, is raising the concerns about how to 'declassify' previous Richard Clarke statements to Congress, that could conflict with the 911 Commission Testimony.
cf
NewsMax

So the concerns about getting the President NSA on the record, and/or dropping the VP from the ticket will only get, more interesting if they are pursued.

Posted by: drieux just drieux on March 26, 2004 12:25 PM

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Poor Patrick R. Sullivan is having to carry much water these days. Does it ever get heavy, Paddy?

Posted by: SavageView on March 26, 2004 03:51 PM

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Actually, I was listening to an interview last night by Terry Gross of Richard Clark and he sounded like a very impressive fellow, though it was a bit disturbing to find out one's surmises are known fact within the government. At any rate, I was reminded of what a wag once said about the U.K. having amateur politicians and professional civil servants, whereas, in the U.S.A., it's the other way around. Clearly, if we're to pretend to global power, we could use a more professional and rigorous civil service all round.

What's that, you say? The Bush administration has already gone about reforming the civil service?

Posted by: john c. halasz on March 26, 2004 04:06 PM

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This is priceless. Clarke on his initial meeting with Condi. p. 229

Now Condi Rice was in charge...As I briefed rice on al Qaeda, her facial expression gave me the impression that she had never heard the term before, so I added,'Most people think of it as U&sama bin Laden's group...It's a network of affiliated terrorist organizations with cells in over fifty countries, including the U.S."

Rice looked skeptical...She said'The NSC looks just as it did whyen I worked here a few years ago, excedpt for your operation. It's all new. It does domestic things and it is not just doing policy, it seems to be worrying about operational issues. I'm not sure we will want to keep all of this in the NSC."

And what was the main operational issues they were dealing with at the time. Getting bin Laden and preventing a terrorist attack in the U. S. The first part is exactly what one would expect of all in the Bush administration "Osam who?"

Posted by: Lawrence Boyd on March 26, 2004 06:30 PM

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Lawrence is, as usual, behind the curve. Condi Rice on WJR radio (Detroit), Oct 2000:

http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2004/3/24/120740.shtml

"You really have to get the intelligence agencies better organized to deal with the terrorist threat to the United States itself. One of the problems that we have is a kind of split responsibility, of course, between the CIA and foreign intelligence and the FBI and domestic intelligence."

and

"There needs to be better cooperation because we don't want to wake up one day and find out that Osama bin Laden has been successful on our own territory."

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 27, 2004 08:52 AM

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" If this really were true it is even more damning than simply shutting down what effort s existed to defend the US against terrorism, Her position is after all, to manage the national security apparatus of the U.S and to coordinate its activities. To have not known anything about the structure itself, and how it functioned, before you shut it down, makes her look, well stupid, as well as incompetent,"

To have expected the Clinton Admin. to have been grown up, makes her stupid and incompetent? Well, I suppose that case can be made.

However, our host raised the spectre of Clarke and Cressey as another Oliver North waiting to happen. Is it Lawrence's position that Rice should have ignored that possibility?

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 27, 2004 08:58 AM

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That would be *hare* brained.

One prune.

Posted by: Granny Grammar, Prune-Faced Grammarian on March 27, 2004 09:09 AM

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You know, Brad, I think you've achieved an entirely new form of writing style. Not sarcasm, because sarcasm usually is shrouded in bellicose threats, its dark, and balloons up its target with red herring or straw man rhetoric. No, this is something far more subtle you've captured.

The truth. That is exactly what Condi would say.

Clarke **was** Rice's subordinate, and Clarke **was** acting insubordinate, when here, he's a red-headed stepchild leftover from the Clinton administration, where he didn't have much credibility there either. The whole Clarke schtick this last week is Orwellian doublespeak,
20:20 hindsight, and if Clarke:Tenet had stuffed Bush enough so that we'd gone to Patriotic Act alert levels and lockdown BEFORE the WTC 911, The Nation would have risen up in indignent rage that, here, at the height of the greatest stock market crash in history, Mom and Pop losing $10T of their life savings, some ditwad in the White House was making terrorism their top priority, and putting huge roadblocks in the way of free exchange of goods, services and international currency flows by making everything accountable.

It wouldn't have stood. Cheney's cronies would have called for heads. Bush would have been hammered down. Face it, Clarke was DOA, and he was put in his proper place by Rice. He's Monday morning quarterbacking now, with a personal agenda to hype his new counterterrorism lobby.

This is all a grand circus, all right, but its got more players than just BushCo. If the entire House of Representatives can waste 4 hours of its 1500 yearly allotment debating a Official Declaration that the US and World have been made safer for democracy by the ousting of Saddam, then this government of our goes beyond circus, and you can throw in the Supremes if you ask me.

Like arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. F&*k!

Posted by: Tito Anic on March 27, 2004 08:02 PM

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If president Bush knew ahead of time about the 9?11 attacks, then why didn't he do anything about it? If he didn't know ahead of time then why did he stay on a destroyer when he made the trip to Italy? If you ask me, it doesn't make any sense.

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