March 27, 2004

Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Liars? (Spiffy Antiterrorism Policy Edition)

In this morning's Washington Post, Dana Milbank and Dan Eggen call Condi Rice a Liar:

Bush, Clinton Varied Little on Terrorism (washingtonpost.com): Bush officials have claimed that their al Qaeda strategy took eight months to develop because it was significantly more aggressive and sweeping than the tactics employed by the previous administration. "Our strategy marshaled all elements of national power to take down the network, not just respond to individual attacks with law enforcement measures," national security adviser Condoleezza Rice wrote in an op-ed article published in The Post earlier this week.

In fact... the strategies approved by high-level Bush officials on Sept. 4 and Sept. 10, 2001, were nearly identical in thrust to the policies pursued by the Clinton team... long-standing proposals made by Clarke in 1998 and 2000 -- ideas derided this week by Rice as a "laundry list" of ideas that were previously "tried or rejected."... Clarke submitted both proposals, along with a request for short-term actions, to the Bush team on Jan. 25, 2001. The suggestions formed the basis for the Bush strategy that was adopted nearly eight months later. The Bush plan called for further diplomatic pressure on the ruling Taliban in Afghanistan, which had refused entreaties to expel bin Laden, along with the continuation of sanctions and a resumption of the use of unmanned reconnaissance drones to spy on terror camps and locate the al Qaeda leader, according to descriptions of the policies by commission investigators, panel members and Bush officials. The Predator drones also would have been armed, as Clinton officials had begun debating in 2000.... Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage, testifying this week in place of Rice, who declined to give public testimony to the commission, said there was "stunning continuity" in the transition from Clinton to Bush....

The Bush administration's approach... in draft form by Sept. 4, 2001, did not differ substantially from Clinton's policy. The commission staff, in the "key findings" it released this week, said: "The new administration began to develop new policies toward al Qaeda in 2001, but there is no evidence of new work on military capabilities or plans against this enemy before September 11" -- a point on which Armitage concurred.... [A]dministration officials told the panel's investigators that the plan's overall timeline was at least three years, and it did not include firm deadlines, military plans or significant funding at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks...

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Comments

One can only hope that even the more doltish among the electorate is beginning to wonder just what the fuck went on and is going on inside Bush's White House. As soon as Joe Average begins to ask questions, the entire house of cards comes crumbling down.

Posted by: Derelict on March 27, 2004 08:35 AM

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We have to get a clue and stop demanding that Rice testify in public.

The only way to end this thing is for Bush himself to testify in public, under oath and at length.

Short of that there is no way the credibility of this administration can be restored.

Posted by: Phill on March 27, 2004 08:40 AM

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Well, I'm afraid that George Bush testifying under oath wouldn 't be too good for restoring credibility. He has three choices. Testify and lie. Testify and disgrace himself. Don't testify. Which do you think he'll choose?

Posted by: SW on March 27, 2004 09:03 AM

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The Center for American Progress has compiled an excellent list of Rice's contradicted claims. Here are some excerpts:

* RICE CLAIM: "I don't think anybody could have predicted that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile." National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, 5/16/02
* FACT: On August 6, 2001, the President personally "received a one-and-a-half page briefing advising him that Osama bin Laden was capable of a major strike against the US, and that the plot could include the hijacking of an American airplane." In July 2001, the Administration was also told that terrorists had explored using airplanes as missiles. [Source: NBC, 9/10/02; LA Times, 9/27/01]

* RICE CLAIM: In May 2002, Rice held a press conference to defend the Administration from new revelations that the President had been explicitly warned about an al Qaeda threat to airlines in August 2001. She "suggested that Bush had requested the briefing because of his keen concern about elevated terrorist threat levels that summer." [Source: Washington Post, 3/25/04]
* FACT: According to the CIA, the briefing "was not requested by President Bush." As commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste disclosed, "the CIA informed the panel that the author of the briefing does not recall such a request from Bush and that the idea to compile the briefing came from within the CIA." [Source: Washington Post, 3/25/04]

* RICE CLAIM: "In June and July when the threat spikes were so high…we were at battle stations." National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, 3/22/04
* FACT: "Documents indicate that before Sept. 11, Ashcroft did not give terrorism top billing in his strategic plans for the Justice Department, which includes the FBI. A draft of Ashcroft's 'Strategic Plan' from Aug. 9, 2001, does not put fighting terrorism as one of the department's seven goals, ranking it as a sub-goal beneath gun violence and drugs. By contrast, in April 2000, Ashcroft's predecessor, Janet Reno, called terrorism 'the most challenging threat in the criminal justice area.'" Meanwhile, the Bush Administration decided to terminate "a highly classified program to monitor Al Qaeda suspects in the United States." [Source: Washington Post, 3/22/04; Newsweek, 3/21/04]

* RICE CLAIM: "The fact of the matter is [that] the administration focused on this before 9/11." National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, 3/22/04
* FACT: President Bush and Vice President Cheney's counterterrorism task force, which was created in May, never convened one single meeting. The President himself admitted that "I didn't feel the sense of urgency" about terrorism before 9/11. [Source: Washington Post, 1/20/02; Bob Woodward's "Bush at War"]

* RICE CLAIM: "Our [pre-9/11 NSPD] plan called for military options to attack al Qaeda and Taliban leadership, ground forces and other targets -- taking the fight to the enemy where he lived." National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, 3/22/04
* FACT: 9/11 Commissioner Gorelick: "There is nothing in the NSPD that came out that we could find that had an invasion plan, a military plan." Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage: "Right." Gorelick: "Is it true, as Dr. Rice said, 'Our plan called for military options to attack Al Qaida and Taliban leadership'?" Armitage: "No, I think that was amended after the horror of 9/11." [Source: 9/11 Commission testimony, 3/24/04]

Posted by: MattB on March 27, 2004 09:47 AM

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The real difference? The Bush antiterror volume control went up to 11.

Posted by: Jim Shirk on March 27, 2004 09:58 AM

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"Testify and lie. Testify and disgrace himself. Don't testify. Which do you think he'll choose?"

Especially when he'll be asked about the Seven Minutes. "Mr. President, can you please explain to this commission which part of 'America is Under Attack' you didn't understand?"

Posted by: ogmb on March 27, 2004 11:45 AM

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All this is true, but she did write a book on the Czech military. Surely that makes up for any lies she has told.

Posted by: scally on March 27, 2004 12:25 PM

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Note that in this article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A25177-2004Mar25.html
Walter Pincus joins Milbank in calling Rice a liar:

"At the same time, some of Rice's rebuttals of Clarke's broadside against Bush, which she delivered in a flurry of media interviews and statements rather than in testimony, contradicted other administration officials and her own previous statements. "

And the White House set its own bar:

"National Security Council spokesman Sean McCormack defended many of Rice's assertions, saying that she has been more consistent than Clarke. "

They point out that she has refused to clarify this mess in sworn testimony.

Apparently, calling Rice a liar takes two days.

Posted by: masaccio on March 27, 2004 12:29 PM

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With all this lying going on in government, what will we tell the children?

Posted by: Roxanne on March 27, 2004 12:51 PM

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Here is a way to deal with liars.

Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush by John W. Dean

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/031600023X/qid=1076543201/sr=1-4/ref=sr_1_4/104-0179398-3131965?v=glance&s=books

Posted by: Mike on March 27, 2004 01:10 PM

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Gee is it possible that there is some connection between the fact that she is lying about this and that she doesn't want to testify under oath? Mere coincidence I guess. Its really about the constitution!

Posted by: SW on March 27, 2004 01:12 PM

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So here is George Bush, hiding behind this woman who is hiding behind the constitution.

Posted by: SW on March 27, 2004 01:16 PM

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Brad is so much sexier in Czech.

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentaries/commentary_text.php4?id=1450&lang=6&m=series

Posted by: AC on March 27, 2004 01:40 PM

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Bo Bo (David Brooks) gets it about right on last nights PBS Newshour.

"----They (the Bush administration) should have said honestly we didn't understand the urgency of this process. In truth, they began a big review of anti-terror and al-Qaida policy but it was taking a long time. They didn't understand the urgency. They should have said pre-9/11, we didn't get it but everything since 9/11 shows we that we do get it.--"

Yeah, the Bush administration should just fess up and say that they "didn't understand the urgency" of terrorist concerns pre-9/11 in the way the Clinton administration had done, even after all the prior warnings of our CIA about terrorist, especially after the perious bombing of the WTC, the attempted bombing of LA airport and the USS Cole bombing.

But of course that would be tantamount to a charge of criminal negligence. Just how MANY people did tell Bush that he needed to focus on this problem of terrorism?

Rice (or Armitage) has claimed that the Administratin did have a strategy (if not a plan) for "stunning continuity" or whatever, but Clarke and many others that already testify before the 9/11 commission saying that Bush dropped the Clinton Administration's policies and that the Bush administration ONLY HAD TWO (2) MEETINGS about terrorism in the eight months prior to 9/11 - despite the fact that Clinton had meetings every day or every other day and even Clinton, himself had told Bush that terrorist would need to be a priortiy.

Sandy Berger talked about the "shaking of the trees" practiced in the Clinton Administration as each respective department that handled national security issues went to the respective departments in order to gather information that each department head would share with each other a the next meeting.

Because the Bush administratin did not hold these meetings, the following things went "undetected":

· FBI headquarters systematically dismissed and undermined requests from FBI agent, Coleen Rowley's Minneapolis field office for permission to obtain a warrant to wiretap and search the computer and belongings of Zacarias Moussaoui, the French-Moroccan operative arrested in Minnesota last August (2001) and facing trial in the fall.

· The 9/11 report from the joint intelligence committee investigation contains a reproduction of the FBI's infamous "Phoenix Memo". Excerpts from this unheeded warning about Islamic terrorists training at US flight schools had previously made their way to the public.

And in Maureen Dowd's latest column.

· Reprising the scene in the White House on 9/11, Mr. Clarke says Dale Watson, the F.B.I.'s counterterrorism chief, called him. "We got the passenger manifests from the airlines," Mr. Watson said. "We recognize some names, Dick. They're Al Qaeda."

Mr. Clarke recalled: "I was stunned, not that the attack was Al Qaeda but that there were Al Qaeda operatives on board aircraft using names that F.B.I. knew were Al Qaeda." Mr. Watson told Mr. Clarke that "C.I.A. forgot to tell us about them."

After all the people that have watched the 9/11 commission hearings - a reasonible person would conclude that Bush was negligent and certainly remiss in his oath to preserve, protect and defend the US by disregarding the several high ranking officials telling him to take or make terrorist issue a priority.

The verdict would be CLEAR that Bush is criminaly negligent for having repeatedly failed to act on several warnings that he was most certainly given by some many individuals including Bill Clinton.

Bush said he was tired of swatting flys (meaning terrorist) so which terrorist, if any did Bush actually swat prior to 9/11?

No one should be above the a law and what did was negligent. Bush should be prosecuted or asked to resign.

Posted by: Cheryl on March 27, 2004 02:04 PM

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Where in this thread is our favorite troll, Patrick Sullivan? If W has lost him, W is REALLY in trouble.

Posted by: Cynic on March 27, 2004 03:38 PM

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What Cynic asked. Clarke is really destroying a lot of troll morale, I think.

One of the salient features of the Bush regime is that it may not work either on its own terms or any other way. Drawing a curve throught the set of points Bush has given us produces quite a strange equation. All he really has left is tax cuts and opposition to gay marriage and abortion.

Oh yeah, and a few hundred million dollars. And his well-oiled machine -- the electoral strategery hasn't been so hot the last few weeks, but the network of surrogates and operatives is still in place.

Posted by: Zizka on March 27, 2004 04:12 PM

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Any complaints about Clarke distorting the truth still leave all those intriguing questions:

Why is Rice refusing to testify under oath before the Commission -- even privately? What the hell "vital Constitutional principle" is she protecting by this? (All those contradictions dug up by the C.A.P. -- on the basis of earlier quotes from the Administration itself -- provide a pretty good idea of her real motivation.)

Why has the White House quietly but completely changed its story about whether that meeting between Bush and Clarke occurred -- after, and only after, the press due up three eyewitnesses among former Bush aides? Why did Rice keep saying that she had "no recollection" of such a meeting, even though the same witnesses placed her there? And why is the White House now resorting to those classic weasel words that the meeting "probably took place"?

Regardless of whether Clarke is telling the whole truth, the White House is definitely covering SOMETHING up. The question is what.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 27, 2004 05:03 PM

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As for Patrick, I imagine he's currently digging frantically for loopholes. This usually takes him 12 to 24 hours -- except on those occasions when he can't find any conceivable ones at all, in which case we simply never hear from him again one way or the other.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 27, 2004 05:04 PM

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For whatever it's worth: Clarke's former deputy Roger Cressey -- one of the three separate witnesses to that meeting between Bush, Rice and Clarke that Bush and Rice say they have "no recollection of" -- now tells NBC that he too favors declassifying Clarke's July 2002 testimony to Congress, saying that "there's no space" between it and his testimony this week to the 9-11 Commission and that the whole thing is just a further attempt by the White House to throw up political radar chaff.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 27, 2004 05:52 PM

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Apparently Dubya has somewhat of a brain. He calls for steroid shooting athletes to take the role of being the role models for children because he sure as hell can't handle it.

I can imagine his daughters growing up and getting caught cheating in school or something and Georgie going balistic. "Damnit girl you're a Bush don't get caught, no go see if poppy can pull some strings and get you out of this."

Posted by: Randy on March 27, 2004 06:14 PM

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Neumann has an interesting perspective on the Bush approach to terror.

http://nytimes.com/2004/03/27/opinion/27NEUM.html

His contention is the long standing belief of the right wing that all terrorism is state supported and ad hoc groups are incapable of sustaining a terror campaign. This is living in the past.

"It comes as no surprise, therefore, that there was relatively little interest in Al Qaeda when the Bush team took over. For most of 2001, the national security agenda really consisted of only two items, neither of which had anything to do with the terrorist threat of radical Islam. First, the administration increased its efforts to bring about regime change in Iraq... The second goal was a more competitive stance toward China. ...

Sept. 11, 2001, brought about a quick re-orientation of foreign policy. What didn't change, however, was the state-centered mindset of the people who were in charge. According to Mr. Clarke, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld immediately suspected Saddam Hussein, and suggested military strikes against Iraq. While cooler heads prevailed at the time, and there was a real effort to track down and destroy the Qaeda network, there was also a reluctance to abandon the idea that terrorism had to be state-based. Hence the administration's insistence that there must be an "axis of evil" — a group of states critical in sustaining the terrorists. It was an attempt to reconcile the new, confusing reality with long-established paradigm of state sponsorship."

THEY STILL BELIEVE THEY ARE RIGHT. They still believe that Iraq was the state behind the attacks. Reality has yet to creep in. What has changed is the availability of technology and weapons that make such attacks possible. People still insist there was a greater conspiracy behind Tim McVeigh. There is denial that one ex-army guy and his buddy could take down a 6 story building by themselves. Believe it.

Posted by: bakho on March 27, 2004 06:49 PM

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We are arriving at the center of the horror. We (excuse me, the Supreme Court) elected an incredibly incompetent and shallow man to the presidency. A man who had no previous record in public affairs (governor of Texas, give me a break), a man who ran several enterprises almost into the ground, a lazy man. These are the kind of men who run some of our largest companies. I was surprised at this. As an economist, I thought there was a selection process that would weed out the totally incompetent. I never thought it would select in the best. But what we have is truly off the charts.

If one tries to explain it, the only reason I can think of is the success of the Clinton years. Clinton made it all seem so easy. The public didn't think it mattered (including my nephew who voted for Nader). The older of us knew different. Now many do. But the whole episode is so weird that a lot of people are in denial (viz. Mr. Sullivan). Nixon had a nice record coming into the presidency -- Alger Hiss and Helen Gallagher, to name just two. We knew alot about him. Nobody knew anything about Bush because he had never done anything. In a moment when it seemed not to matter, he was the perfect candidate.

Democracy is not a spectator sport.

Posted by: knut wicksell on March 27, 2004 07:08 PM

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To break from the (well-deserved) shots at Condi and co, the article glosses the truth. The Bush and Clinton strategies do seem to have been largely similar (which is really only to say that Bush didn't come in with a new strategy). Except they stopped flying the Predators (which wouldn't necessarily have accomplished much but grounding the unarmed predator is like unchambering a round) and, as noted above, lacked all sense of urgency. And that'a a meaningful difference. Milbank, Pincus, et al must say this.

Posted by: tegwar on March 27, 2004 07:22 PM

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re: WMD. Has anyone noticed the abundance and variety of weaponry and munitions being used by the terrorists? Does the ability to take down a 6 story building suggest that most terrorism is a disconnected, futile act? Surely terrorists need financial support to be effective. McVeigh had to rob to get minimum funds to buy his WMD. Surely Al Qaeda is tapped into funding sources of great magnitude. Corporate capital? I doubt it. Religious support? Probably. Governmental funds? Probably. And did all those mortars, explosives, rockets, grenades, automatic weapons and bullets spontaneously generate? Really! I'd bet most of them were positioned in national armories at some point.

Try not to be critical. Be analytical. Lest we forget, remember Pearl Harbor!

Success at warfare is best achieved by surprise.

Posted by: don majors on March 27, 2004 07:38 PM

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"...incredibly incompetent and shallow...lazy..."

Posted by knut wicksell at March 27, 2004 07:08 PM

For just a moment I thought you were describing the media that was grossly complicit in putting Bush into office. Bush got into office, in large part, because he was not seriously vetted by the press and the public. The press simply failed America and if they don't get off their shiftless lazy butts they'll do it again.

Posted by: JimmiRayBob on March 27, 2004 09:55 PM

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"The Bush and Clinton strategies do seem to have been largely similar (which is really only to say that Bush didn't come in with a new strategy)."

They may have had the same policy but they applied that policy completely differently. Clinton made it his top priority and Bush made it his lowest priority.

Posted by: Mito on March 28, 2004 02:47 AM

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" Why has the White House quietly but completely changed its story about whether that meeting between Bush and Clarke occurred..."

It hasn't. This is more "appallingly sloppy" reading from Bruce.

" Why did Rice keep saying that she had 'no recollection' of such a meeting, even though the same witnesses placed her there?"

The above is a non-sequitur. The syllogism would be:

Major premise: Rice has no recollection of the meeting.

Minor premise: Witnesses place her in the meeting.

Conclusion: Rice has recollection of the meeting.

Which is obviously invalid. Though probably not to Bruce.

" As for Patrick, I imagine he's currently digging frantically for loopholes. This usually takes him 12 to 24 hours -- except on those occasions when he can't find any conceivable ones at all, in which case we simply never hear from him again one way or the other."

I'm flattered to find that I'm so important to Bruce's well-being he can't stand for us to be apart. I had an Australian Shepherd that was like that too. However, what "usually" happens is that after the sixth or seventh time I've told Bruce something, he finally realizes I'm correct, admits to "appallingly sloppy" reading, changes the subject, and then HE disappears.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 28, 2004 02:56 PM

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Speaking of liars, today on Meet the Press:

--------------quote--------------
MR. CLARKE: ... Time magazine had come out with a cover story, after extensive research, and the cover story was devastating. The cover story of Time magazine was that the White House had been given a plan by me on January 25 ....

Now, the White House naturally wanted someone to say that things had been going on during that summer. I said, "Well, you know, it's true. Things had been going on. But the plan wasn't approved until September 4." And I was told, "But you can say that it was approved by the deputies. You can say that things were approved in principle." I was told to spin it in a positive way.
-------------endquote----------

Here's what Clarke told the press in the briefing:

" Um, the first point, I think the overall point is, there was no plan on Al Qaeda that was passed from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration."

and

" QUESTION: Were all of those issues part of alleged plan that was late December and the Clinton team decided not to pursue because it was too close to ...
CLARKE: There was never a plan, Andrea "

and

" QUESTION: So there was nothing that developed, no documents or no new plan of any sort?
CLARKE: There was no new plan.
QUESTION: No new strategy — I mean, I don't want to get into a semantics ...
CLARKE: Plan, strategy — there was no, nothing new."

Three flat out denials that there was "a plan".

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 28, 2004 04:34 PM

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Please, Patrick. Is it not interesting that neither Bush nor Rice said they could recollect that meeting, but three other White House aides besides Clarke said they could? This stretches coincidence a bit. Which, of course, was (obviously) the point I was making. As I've said before, you can't possibly be that stupid -- unintentionally.

As for the White House not changing its story on that meeting, see http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/03/21/terror/main607659.shtml (a reporint of the former story on their national website, which has now been replaced by a videotape of their national broadcast on the subject):

"Retracted White House statements do little to boost public trust. CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart reports, until today, the Bush administration denied a meeting had taken place between the president and Clarke, during which Bush allegedly instructed Clarke to investigate Saddam Hussein and Iraq after Sept. 11.

"The White House today reversed that comment, and staff members now tell reporters, 'We are not denying such a meeting took place. It probably did.' "

This after http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A13607-2004Mar21.html :

"On the same ['60 Minutes'] broadcast, deputy national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley said, 'We cannot find evidence that this conversation between Mr. Clarke and the president ever occurred.' In interviews for this story, two people who were present confirmed Clarke's account. They said national security adviser Condoleezza Rice witnessed the exchange."


and http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/23/politics/23CLAR.html?pagewanted=1 :

"Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, responded at a White House briefing on Monday that Mr. Bush did not remember having the conversation, and that there were no records that placed the president in the Situation Room at the time.

"Mr. Clarke countered in a telephone interview on Monday that he had four witnesses, including Mr. Cressey, who is a partner with Mr. Clarke in a consulting company that advises on cybersecurity issues. In an interview, Mr. Cressey said the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, also witnessed the exchange. Administration officials said Ms. Rice had no recollection of it...

"In addition to [Roger] Cressey, at least two other former officials with knowledge of what occurred in the Situation Room that day also backed up the thrust of Mr. Clarke's account, though one of the two challenged Mr. Clarke's assertion that Mr. Bush's demeanor and that of other senior White House officials was intimidating [as did Cressey]."

Meanwhile, not a peep (there's that word again) from Patrick on Rice's continuing refusal to testify under oath, even privately -- which, I see, is starting to annoy Kean and Hamilton. Particularly since Clarke, during his TV appearances today, has now agreed twice with Roger Cressey that he wants his July 2002 testimony before Congress declassified, and added that he also wants all his E-mail to the White House declassified. For someone who's bluffing, he bluffs awfully impressively -- and for someone who's NOT bluffing, Rice is turning in a very odd performance.

As for the shot about how I "can't stand for us to be apart": shucks, Pat, it was the OTHER members of this thread who were declaring their curiosity as to why you hadn't tried to reply to any of its points. Which, I see, you still haven't.



Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 28, 2004 04:35 PM

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"Three flat out denials that there was 'a plan'."

Three flat-out denials that there was a plan given to Bush by any member of the Clinton Administration EXCEPT Clarke himself, Patrick -- which was exactly what the Time story itself said. Since I've already carefully explained twice why Clarke not calling himself a "member of the Clinton Administration" rather than of "the Bush Administration" falls into that "shading the truth" technique that he's already said he was ordered (by Rice and Ari Fleischer) to use at that press briefing, I really don't see any point in explaining the obvious to you any more. None so blind...

To repeat once again: the evidence is that, if Clarke is distorting the truth, he's distorting it in the direction of overpraising Clinton's anti-Al Qaida actions, rather than of understating Bush's anti-Al Qaida actions.


Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 28, 2004 04:44 PM

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Patrick, just to pick up on bruce, if you pride yourself on reading carefully, then perhaps you should carefully read.

When Clarke says that no plan was passed from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration, he says that in the context (which you omit) of the transition team. So, literally, he speaks the truth: the transition team didn't pass a "plan" on.

In terms of the Andrea Mitchell comment, he is pursuing the same line: there was no Clinton administration plan. There was his - Clarke's - plan.

And the third comment, note, is very carefully hedged with the word "new."

In fact, as the 9/11 commission has concluded - with access to Rice's testimony, such as it was - was that on January 25, Clarke himself passed along his concerns in a memo and his plan (and yes, "his" was the precise word the commission used).

Using these comments as an argument against Clarke is ridiculous, and if you'd like further evidence, simply read Brad's link about how O'Neill was told to dress up the terrible cooperation we were getting from the Saudis with respect to the money trail; this is sop, and not just (as clarke, rightly, noted) for the bush adminisration. It's a silly game to pretend otherwise; it's certainly not careful reading.

Posted by: howard on March 28, 2004 04:52 PM

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By the way, the CBS News TV broadcast of the story about the White House's flip on whether the Sept. 12 Bush-Clarke meeting occurred adds one note: "The White House has known about Clarke's account of this meeting for four months [when he submitted his book to them for declassification], so it's not clear why it would so adamantly deny it only to change its story now."

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 28, 2004 04:59 PM

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By the way, note Fareed Zakaria's latest Newsweek column ( http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4615876/ ) on the real central issue: to what extent do terrorists need the support of governments to carry out terrorism? Answer (as should be obvious): such government support is crucial if the terrorists want to get their hands on nuclear weapons or good bioweapons -- but it's totally unnecessary if they just want to commit terrorist attacks using conventional weapons. Which can sometimes be devastating in themselves: the whole lesson of 9-11.

The dirty little secret of 9-11 was how incredibly easy it was -- any of our homegrown nut groups could have done it even more easily than Al Qaida. (It is, after all, "The Turner Diaries" which ends with the American Nazi hero flying his explosive-stuffed plane into the FBI Building.) And it will still be incredibly easy to repeat it -- while the passeners on airliners nowadays will probably tear any more would-be highjackers to shreds, there are still (as Aviation Week has indignantly pointed out) absolutely no precautions being taken against big cargo planes being hijacked, stolen or simply bought for that purpose (with or without McVeigh-type explosive stuffing). And any of the dozens -- or hundreds -- of small autonomous terrorist groups into which Al Qaida has shattered can carry out another such 9-11 attack with the greatest of ease, not only without the need for the support of a government, but without even the need to set up their heaedquarters inside the territory of a non-hostile state. As can any small non-Moslem terrorist group. (Aum Shinryko must be kicking themselves for not having done it, instead of their nerve gas fantasy.)

This -- the danger of conventional-weapon but still devastating stateless terrorism -- is what Clarke was always alert to. This is what Clinton ignored and what Bush ignored. And this is what Bush -- and Kerry -- are STILL ignoring. (Of course, Bush -- thanks to his obsession with Iraq -- has also seriously underplayed the danger from Iranian, North Korean, Pakistani, and loosely guarded Russian nukes and bioweapons.)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 28, 2004 05:31 PM

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http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20040405&s=notebook040504_1 features yet another nice summary of the VERY extreme peculiarities (or, as TNR calls them, "the comedy") of the Administration's attempts to discredit Clarke.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 28, 2004 05:59 PM

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We now have (over here on the West Coast) the transcript of Ed Bradley's "60 Minutes" interview with Condoleeza Rice ( http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20040405&s=notebook040504_1 ). Bradley, damn him, never asks her why she isn't willing to testify before the Commission, not just publicly, but even privately under oath. She does feed him a line of bull that "...There is an important principle -- it is a longstanding principle that sitting national security advisers do not testify before the Congress." Even privately under oath, apparently.

On that subject, see Josh Marshall ( http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2004_03_21.php#002762 ):

"Now, perhaps you'll say, following the White House line, that she'd love to testify but a constitutional principle is at stake and she has, as she puts it, a 'responsibility to maintain what is a longstanding separation -- constitutional separation between the executive and the legislative branch.'

"Now, there is a constitutional issue involved. But Rice is trying to get people to think that members of the White House staff never testify. And that's not even close to true. In my hand I have a 2002 Congressional Research Service study that lists a whole slew of presidential aides and advisors who've testified in the past.

"Indeed, it lists two of Rice's predecessors as National Security Advisor who've given PUBLIC [my emphasis -- Moomaw] testimony: Zbigniew Brzezinski in 1980 and Sandy Berger in 1997.

"Interestingly, the CRS study lists five examples of cases where presidential aides refused to testify. It's not clear whether this list is supposed to be exhaustive. And in most cases presidential aides are simply not even asked to testify at all, for reasons of comity between the branches if nothing else. But of the five listed, four are from the Nixon administration. And each of those were before the Watergate investigation really got under way. A whole slew of Nixon aides had to head up to the Hill in 1974 after things started to go south for them -- so perhaps we haven't heard the final word on this matter.

"In any case, there's a high bar for testimony from a National Security Advisor. But it's happened before. And more than once. If they wanted her to testify, she could testify. What they want is for her to be able to lacerate her critics, discuss whichever parts of her advice to the president would be helpful to her politically at the moment, and freely declassify documents which she or the White House believes will hurt her enemies."

In short, despite all that Glade that Pat Sullivan keeps frantically trying to spray around, there is still a powerful smell of manure in the room. A smell, as Marshall says, reminiscent of the smell in the room in 1973.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 28, 2004 06:29 PM

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From NBC:

"Commissioner John Lehman, another Republican, said Rice 'has nothing to hide, and yet this is creating the impression for honest Americans all over the country and people all over the world that the White House has something to hide, that Condi Rice has something to hide.'

" 'And if they do, we sure haven’t found it. There are no smoking guns. That’s what makes this so absurd. It’s a political blunder of the first order,' Lehman told ABC’s 'This Week.' "

Left unsaid by Lehman (though obvious): "...unless they DO have something to hide, and they're afraid sworn testimony by Rice might expose it. In which case it isn't a bizarre political blunder on their part at all." Which is more likely?

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 28, 2004 08:41 PM

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Again, I suggest Bruce try actually reading the things he links to. From TNR:

"He's a partisan Democrat: 'His best friend is Rand Beers, who is the principal adviser to the Kerry campaign,' asserted White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan. Leave aside the fact that Clarke was a registered Republican who served under three GOP presidents without betraying any signs of Democratic leanings."

From yesterday's Meet the Press:

MR. RUSSERT: And we're back. Did you vote for George Bush in 2000?

MR. CLARKE: No, I did not.

MR. RUSSERT: You voted for Al Gore.

MR. CLARKE: Yes, I did.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 29, 2004 06:30 AM

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"Please, Patrick. Is it not interesting that neither Bush nor Rice said they could recollect that meeting, but three other White House aides besides Clarke said they could?"

No, not at all. Clarke is self absorbed. Bush and Rice would have spoken to lots of people on 9-12, and this is an entirely unremarkable conversation. I.e., "Don't rush to judgment. Get all the facts first."

" When Clarke says that no plan was passed from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration, he says that in the context (which you omit) of the transition team. So, literally, he speaks the truth: the transition team didn't pass a "plan" on."

Which relies on Clarke lying about being part of the "Clinton team". And, in effect, Clarke was its Captain. Both you, Howard, and Bruce are making this up. Clarke was not asked to lie, or even to shade the truth. He was specifically asked to tell the truth. In his own words:

"Now, the White House naturally wanted someone to say that things had been going on during that summer. I said, 'Well, you know, it's true. Things had been going on. But the plan wasn't approved until September 4.' And I was told, 'But you can say that it was approved by the deputies. You can say that things were approved in principle.' I was told to spin it in a positive way."

Nothing in the above about Clarke being told to deny there was a plan.

" In terms of the Andrea Mitchell comment, he is pursuing the same line: there was no Clinton administration plan. There was his - Clarke's - plan."

Absolutely false. He said: "There was never a plan, Andrea "

"And the third comment, note, is very carefully hedged with the word 'new.'"

Wrong again, the questioner inserted the word, "new". Clarke is merely responding to it:


" QUESTION: So there was nothing that developed, no documents or no new plan of any sort?

"CLARKE: There was no new plan. "

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 29, 2004 07:38 AM

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Patrick, your arguments are getting worse and worse - do you honestly think you are scoring any points at all? Or have you so settled into the notion that the brilliant leadership of george bush is so essential to america that you are literally unable to deal with anything that challenges it?

In quick order: the notion that george bush would deny having discussed iraq and 9/11 on 9/12 because, unlike clarke, he isn't self-absorbed and can't be expected to remember all his meetings is absurd and a waste of perfectly good electrons to produce. The administration has been warned and warned and warned - including the 8/6/01 PDB - about a spectacular Al Qaeda terrorist attack, and now a spectacular terrorist attack, including people with known Al Qaeda connections, has occurred, and now they're slowly and carefully trying to examine all the possibilities? What a ridiculous claim.

The transition team argument is laughable and a further waste of electrons. The transition team did not pass a "plan" along; Clarke, on 1/25/01, passed a "plan" along. Your straw man about Clarke not being told to "lie" is simply that; a straw man. It's irrelevant to the discussion. The art of spinning consists almost entirely of not lying in a legalistic sense, but still providing an untrue answer. Once again, i urge you to read Brad's link to the Suskind memo about how O'Neill was instructed to spin the non-cooperation he was getting from the Saudis on terror funding into a splendid relationship. This is completely and totally typical, and completely and totally nonpartisan; acting like there is something unique here with Clarke doing what bureaucrats have done forever reveals that your ideological blinkering prevents you from seeing reality. It doesn't display your deep desire to see the facts (which appears to be your mindset about this foolishness).

The Andrea Mitchell quotation demonstrates your continued desire to misread what is right in front of you. Her question concerned the "alleged" plan in December, and he said "there was no plan." Clearly he is responding to Andrea's question.

The "new" plan says exactly what it says - he was asked and he answered there was no new plan. He didn't answer about documents; he didn't answer about '98 plans; he answered about "new" plans.

By the way, unless you're questioning the findings of the 9/11 commission, as i noted above, they say that Clarke passed along "his" plan on 1/25. Are you saying that they are lying too? Are you contending that they should have said he passed along the "Clinton" plan? Or are you saying that he didn't pass along a plan?

Presumably, they're all lying, in your mind, Patrick, because none of them is saying what you want to hear.

There's a name for this mentality.

Denial.

It's a very sad sight.

Posted by: howard on March 29, 2004 08:50 AM

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Speaking of denial:

" The administration has been warned and warned and warned - including the 8/6/01 PDB - about a spectacular Al Qaeda terrorist attack, and now a spectacular terrorist attack, including people with known Al Qaeda connections, has occurred, and now they're slowly and carefully trying to examine all the possibilities? What a ridiculous claim."

1. Pure Post Hoc, Propter Hoc fallacy. It is prudential not to jump to conclusions. As Richard Clarke and Sandy Berger themselves pointed out in their testimonies last week. Pan Am 103, TWA 800, Oklahoma City: all wrong in the the initial conclusions drawn.

Second, even when the Al Qaeda names are gotten off the flight manifests, that does NOT rule out links to Iraq (or any other state). Especially given the strong links to Iraq from the 1993 attack.

It is entirely unremarkable that Bush would instruct Clarke to not jump to conclusions.

Now, let's get back to the "plan":

http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh092302.shtml

----------quote-----------
BERGER: Now, the second question you asked—which comes off of the Time magazine story, I think—was there a plan that we turned over to the Bush administration during the transition? I could address that.

[snip]

Number one among those was terrorism and Al Qaida. And I told that to my successor. She has acknowledged that publicly, so I’m not violating any private conversation. We briefed them fully on what we were doing—on what else was under consideration and what the threat was. I personally attended part of that briefing to emphasize how important that was. But there was no war plan that we turned over to the Bush administration during the transition. And the reports of that are just incorrect.
-----------endquote-----------

So Sandy Berger is saying exactly what Richard Clarke told the press in his briefing in August 2002. Berger is under oath in the above, is he telling an untruth? Is he doing it because he was requested to do so by Condi Rice?

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 30, 2004 08:05 AM

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Reading comprehension seems to be a problem for you, Patrick, in that neither Sandy Berger's remarks nor Richard Clarke's August, 2002 remarks contradict the testimony to the 9/11 commission.

I find it interesting, by the way, that you completely ignore Howard's points in your weak response. Is this really the best you can do?

Posted by: PaulB on March 30, 2004 12:55 PM

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No, PaulB, it is you who isn't reading correctly. Clarke's testimony last week, as well as his remarks to Tim Russert, is definitely contradicted by Clarke and Berger in 2002.

And you're behind the curve, Howard and Bruce are trying to squirm out of the obvious contradictions by claiming some sort of distinction between Clarke the man and Clarke the member of the Clinton Administration. But it is hopeless for them, as Clarke and Berger in 2002 support Condi Rice's version in 2004.

" I find it interesting, by the way, that you completely ignore Howard's points in your weak response. Is this really the best you can do?"

I find it not at all interesting that you are factually incorrect. I QUOTED Howard:

" Speaking of denial:

" 'The administration has been warned and warned and warned - including the 8/6/01 PDB - about a spectacular Al Qaeda terrorist attack, and now a spectacular terrorist attack, including people with known Al Qaeda connections, has occurred, and now they're slowly and carefully trying to examine all the possibilities? What a ridiculous claim.'"

Then responded to him with:

" 1. Pure Post Hoc, Propter Hoc fallacy. It is prudential not to jump to conclusions. As Richard Clarke and Sandy Berger themselves pointed out in their testimonies last week. Pan Am 103, TWA 800, Oklahoma City: all wrong in the the initial conclusions drawn.

" Second, even when the Al Qaeda names are gotten off the flight manifests, that does NOT rule out links to Iraq (or any other state). Especially given the strong links to Iraq from the 1993 attack.

" It is entirely unremarkable that Bush would instruct Clarke to not jump to conclusions."

And Richard Clarke, version 2002, agrees with me:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/knew/interviews/clarke.html

[Q] "Because one of the things that surprises a lot of the public, I think, is that immediately after Sept. 11, the administration knew exactly who had done it. Was that why?"

[Clarke] "No. On the day of Sept. 11, then the day or two following, we had a very open mind. CIA and FBI were asked, 'See if it's Hezbollah. See if it's Hamas. Don't assume it's Al Qaeda. Don't just assume it's Al Qaeda.'"

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 30, 2004 01:49 PM

____

*sigh* I'm back from four computerless days, and Patrick's needle is STIll stuck. My dear Patrick, that August 2002 Time article said flatly that no member of the Clinton Administration EXCEPT Clarke presented a plan. They also quoted several Bush officials as saying Clarke DID have a detailed plan -- including that unnamed "senior Bush Administration official" who told them that Clarke's plan consisted of "essentially everything we've done since 9-11." They also said that he presented it only AFTER Berger had left the meeting. They also got hold of at least some of the Powerpoints for Clarke's plan. Now can we please move on to something else?

As for it being believable that Bush and Rice wouldn't remember Clarke's discussion with them while the "self-interested Clarke" did: do I actually need to point out to an adult that three other White House aides who were in the same room -- only one of whom was Clarke's deputy -- ALSO clearly remember that exchange? And the extremely low likelihood that they would remember that exchange in detail, while Bush and Rice supposedly forgot it occurred at all, was my (once again, obvious) point from the start?

Self-appointed defense attorneys can get awfully dull. Esecially when they try to pound the table and keep pounding their own heads instead.

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