Saturday, September 30, 2006


A Self-Defeating War

by George Soros

The war on terror is a false metaphor that has led to counterproductive and self-defeating policies. Five years after 9/11, a misleading figure of speech applied literally has unleashed a real war fought on several fronts -- Iraq, Gaza, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Somalia -- a war that has killed thousands of innocent civilians and enraged millions around the world.

Yet al Qaeda has not been subdued and, as our intelligence agencies have been telling President Bush, the terrorist threat has actually increased.

Unfortunately, the "war on terror" metaphor was uncritically accepted by the American public as the obvious response to 9/11. It is now widely admitted that the invasion of Iraq was a blunder. Yet the war on terror remains the frame into which American policy has to fit. Most Democratic politicians subscribe to it for fear of being tagged as weak on defense. The "alternative treatment" of terrorist support has just been codified by Congress.

What makes the war on terror self-defeating?

• First, war by its very nature creates innocent victims. A war waged against terrorists is even more likely to claim innocent victims because terrorists tend to keep their whereabouts hidden. The deaths, injuries and humiliation of civilians generate rage and resentment among their families and communities that in turn serves to build support for terrorists.

• Second, terrorism is an abstraction. It lumps together all political movements that use terrorist tactics. Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Sunni insurrection and the Mahdi army in Iraq are very different forces, but President Bush's global war on terror prevents us from differentiating between them and dealing with them accordingly.

• Third, the war on terror emphasizes military action while most territorial conflicts require political solutions. And, as the British have shown by foiling a plan to blow up to ten airplanes, terrorists are best dealt with by good intelligence. The war on terror increases the terrorist threat and makes the task of the intelligence agencies more difficult. Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri are still at large; we need to focus on finding them, and preventing attacks like the one foiled in England.

• Fourth, the war on terror drives a wedge between "us" and "them." We are innocent victims. They are perpetrators. But we fail to notice that we also become perpetrators in the process; the rest of the world, however, does notice. That is how such a wide gap has arisen between America and much of the world.

Taken together, these four factors ensure that the war on terror cannot be won. An endless war waged against an unseen enemy is doing great damage to our power and prestige abroad and to our open society at home. It has led to a dangerous extension of executive powers; it has tarnished our adherence to universal human rights; it has inhibited the critical process that is at the heart of an open society; and it has cost a lot of money. Most importantly, it has diverted attention from other urgent tasks that require American leadership, such as finishing the job we so correctly began in Afghanistan, addressing the looming global energy crisis, and dealing with nuclear proliferation.

With American influence at low ebb, the world is in danger of sliding into a vicious circle of escalating violence. We can escape it only if we Americans repudiate the war on terror as a false metaphor. If we persevere on the wrong course, the situation will continue to deteriorate. It is not our will that is being tested, but our understanding of reality. It is painful to admit that our current predicaments are brought about by our own misconceptions. However, not admitting it is bound to prove even more painful in the long run. The strength of an open society lies in its ability to recognize and correct its mistakes. That is the test that confronts us.

Friday, September 29, 2006



Iraqi Journalists Add Laws to List of Dangers

BAGHDAD — Ahmed al-Karbouli, a reporter for Baghdadiya TV in the violent city of Ramadi, did his best to ignore the death threats, right up until six armed men drilled him with bullets after midday prayers.

He was the fourth journalist killed in Iraq in September alone, out of a total of more than 130 since the 2003 invasion, the vast majority of them Iraqis. But these days, men with guns are not Iraqi reporters’ only threat. Men with gavels are, too.

Under a broad new set of laws criminalizing speech that ridicules the government or its officials, some resurrected verbatim from Saddam Hussein’s penal code, roughly a dozen Iraqi journalists have been charged with offending public officials in the past year.

Currently, three journalists for a small newspaper in southeastern Iraq are being tried here for articles last year that accused a provincial governor, local judges and police officials of corruption. The journalists are accused of violating Paragraph 226 of the penal code, which makes anyone who “publicly insults” the government or public officials subject to up to seven years in prison.

On Sept. 7, the police sealed the offices of Al Arabiya, a Dubai-based satellite news channel, for what the government said was inflammatory reporting. And the Committee to Protect Journalists says that at least three Iraqi journalists have served time in prison for writing articles deemed criminally offensive.

The office of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has lately refused to speak with news organizations that report on sectarian violence in ways that the government considers inflammatory; some outlets have been shut down.

In addition to coping with government pressures, dozens of Iraqi journalists have been kidnapped by criminal gangs or detained by the American military, on suspicion that they are helping Sunni insurgents or Shiite militias. One, Bilal Hussein, who photographed insurgents in Anbar Province for The Associated Press, has been in American custody without charges since April.

And all Iraqi journalists have to live with the fear of death, which often dictates extreme security measures. Abdel Karim Hamadie, the news manager for Al Iraqiya Television, said he sometimes went months without leaving the station’s compound.

“The last time I went home was three weeks ago,” he said, showing off a small room adjacent to his office where he sleeps each night. “Before that, I spent three months at work. I used to hit my chair because I was so angry. But then I got a new chair.”

American diplomats here say they admire the dedication of Iraqi reporters in covering the war and the government’s efforts to create a democracy.

“Journalists here work under very, very difficult conditions,” said a United States Embassy official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “They are taking fire from every direction. They’ve got the defamation law hanging over their heads. They’ve got their political opponents gunning for them. They are trying very hard, and we want to encourage them.”

Under Mr. Hussein, reporters and editors were licensed and carefully watched. Even typewriters had to be registered with the government. During that time, some reporters got by on the conviction that their articles, about the government’s glorious new water projects or certain victory in the war with Iran, were at least patriotic.

“I never praised Saddam himself, never,” said Shihab al-Tamimi, 73, who runs the Iraqi Journalists Union from a battered old mansion here. “But I praised the project, for the good of the country.”

Now, Iraqi journalists still operate with considerable freedoms, at least compared with those in Saudi Arabia and other neighboring countries, and many Iraqis have achieved a new level of professionalism by working closely with Western journalists. So despite the growing government pressure, the news media have become increasingly aggressive.

Ethical boundaries, though, often remain murky. It was disclosed last year that the Lincoln Group, an American public relations firm hired by the Pentagon, paid Iraqi news outlets to print positive articles on the American presence here and provided stipends to Iraqi journalists in exchange for favorable treatment.

Even though the Iraqi news media have made strides, the journalists themselves are being killed at an extraordinary rate.

Since the Iraq war began, more than 130 journalists — most of them Iraqi — have been fatally shot, beaten or tortured to death, according to the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, the most prominent domestic advocacy group for journalists to emerge since the invasion. (The Committee to Protect Journalists, which requires more evidence to verify reported killings, lists 79 journalists and 28 news workers.)

Most of the victims — reporters, photographers and editors — were working for local newspapers and television stations.

“Don’t be surprised if you wake up one day to find that I have also been killed,” said Habib al-Sadr, the chief executive of the government-financed Iraqi Media Network, the nation’s largest media organization. In the network’s office lobby, a display case holds the photographs of 13 reporters and editors killed on the job since 2003, including Amjad Hameed, the head of the network’s television channel, Al Iraqiya.

“The road to democracy is not smoothly paved,” Mr. Sadr said during a recent interview in his office, cigarette smoke curling around his face. “It is filled with bombs.”

Despite the danger, Falah al-Mishaal, the editor of Al Sabah, the government-run newspaper in Baghdad, said he enjoyed his job now because he felt like a real journalist.

“Now, we are free,” he said in an interview in late July. “We can write whatever we want.”

Three weeks after the interview, a man drove a minibus filled with explosives into Al Sabah’s rear parking lot and blew it up, killing two people and wounding 20 others.

September has been particularly deadly for journalists.

Safa Ismael Enad, a freelance news photographer, was buying film at his favorite print shop in eastern Baghdad on Sept. 13 when two men with guns walked in, fired two shots into his chest and dragged his bleeding body away.

Three days earlier, gunmen blocked Abdul-Kareem al-Rubaie, a designer for Al Sabah, as he traveled to work one sunny morning, and they shot him through the windshield. Last month, Mohammad Abbas Mohammad, a newspaper editor, was shot to death in western Baghdad, and Ismail Amin Ali, a blunt-spoken columnist, was killed on the street across town on the same day.

The disdain for truly free expression cuts across sectarian lines. The men who killed Mr. Karbouli after warning him to stop his critical reporting on the insurgency were almost certainly Sunni. The former governor of Wasit Province, and the judges and police officials who brought charges against the three journalists for questioning their ethics, were all Shiites.

In April, Mastura Mahmood, a young journalist for the women’s weekly paper Rewan, was charged with defamation for an article that quoted an anti-government demonstrator in Halabja comparing the Iraqi police there with the Baathists who once ran the country. She was arrested and then released on bail.

In May, a court in Sulaimaniya, in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, sentenced two journalists, Twana Osman and Asos Hardi, to six-month suspended jail terms for an article claiming that a Kurdish official had two telephone company employees fired after they cut his phone service for failing to pay his bill.

“These cases show that Iraqi officials are quick to use the same kinds of onerous legal tools as their neighbors to punish outspoken media,” said Joel Campagna, the Middle East program director for the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Last month, more than 70 news organizations signed a nine-point pledge supporting the national reconciliation plan of Prime Minister Maliki, promising not to use inflammatory statements or images of people killed in attacks, and vowing to “disseminate news in a way that harmonizes with Iraq’s interests.” Days later, the police barred journalists from photographing corpses at the scenes of bombings and mortar attacks. Since then, policemen have smashed several photographers’ cameras and digital memory cards.

At Al Arabiya, the Baghdad station shuttered by the Iraqi authorities earlier this month, the studio door handle is sealed in red wax and bound in police tape. (The door is adorned with a photo of Atwar Bahjat, who was kidnapped, tortured and killed in Samarra in February while reporting on the bombing of a Shiite shrine.)

Some news executives express support for Al Arabiya’s closing.

“It is the right of the Iraqi government, as it combats terrorism, to silence any voice that tries to harm the national unity,” said Mr. Sadr, of the Iraqi Media Network.

Sahar Nageeb and an Iraqi employee of The New York Times contributed reporting.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Senate OKs detainee interrogation (torture) bill

By ANNE PLUMMER FLAHERTY, Associated Press Writer

The Senate on Thursday endorsed President Bush's plans to prosecute and interrogate terror suspects, all but sealing congressional approval for legislation that Republicans intend to use on the campaign trail to assert their toughness on terrorism.

The 65-34 vote means the bill could reach the president's desk by week's end. The House passed nearly identical legislation on Wednesday and was expected to approve the Senate bill on Friday, sending it on to the White House.

The bill would create military commissions to prosecute terrorism suspects. It also would prohibit some of the worst abuses of detainees like mutilation and rape, but grant the president leeway to decide which other interrogation techniques are permissible.

The White House and its supporters have called the measure crucial in the anti-terror fight, but some Democrats said it left the door open to abuse, violating the U.S. Constitution in the name of protecting Americans.

Twelve Democrats sided with 53 Republicans in voting for the bill. Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., in a tough re-election fight, joined 32 Democrats and the chamber's lone independent in opposing the bill. Sen. Olympia Snowe (news, bio, voting record), R-Maine, was absent.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (news, bio, voting record), R-S.C., who helped draft the legislation during negotiations with the White House, said the measure would set up a system for treating detainees that the nation could be proud of. He said the goal "is to render justice to the terrorists, even though they will not render justice to us."

Democrats said the Republicans' rush to muscle the measure through Congress was aimed at giving them something to tout during the campaign, in which control of the House and Senate are at stake. Election Day is Nov. 7.

"There is no question that the rush to pass this bill — which is the product of secret negotiations with the White House — is about serving a political agenda," said Sen. Edward Kennedy (news, bio, voting record), D-Mass.

Senate approval was the latest step in the remarkable journey that Bush has taken in shaping how the United States treats the terrorism suspects it has been holding, some for almost five years.

The Supreme Court nullified Bush's initial system for trying detainees in June, and earlier this month a handful of maverick GOP senators embarrassed the president by forcing him to slightly tone down his next proposal. But they struck a deal last week, and the president and congressional Republicans are now claiming the episode as a victory.

While Democrats warned the bill could open the way for abuse, Republicans said defeating the bill would put the country at risk of another terrorist attack.

"We are not conducting a law enforcement operation against a check-writing scam or trying to foil a bank heist," said Sen. Mitch McConnell (news, bio, voting record), R-Ky. "We are at war against extremists who want to kill our citizens."

Approving the bill before lawmakers leave for the elections has been a top priority for Republicans. GOP leaders fought off attempts by Democrats and a lone Republican to change the bill, ensuring swift passage.

By mostly party-line votes, the Senate rejected Democratic efforts to limit the bill to five years, to require frequent reports from the administration on the CIA's interrogations and to add a list of forbidden interrogation techniques.

The legislation could let Bush begin prosecuting terrorists connected to the Sept. 11 attacks just as voters head to the polls, and let Republicans use opposition by Democrats as fodder for criticizing them during the campaign.

"Some want to tie the hands of our terror fighters," said Sen. Christopher Bond (news, bio, voting record), R-Mo., alluding to opponents of the bill. "They want to take away the tools we use to fight terror, to handcuff us, to hamper us in our fight to protect our families."

Democrats contended the legislation could set a dangerous precedent that might invite other countries to mistreat captured Americans. Their opposition focused on language barring detainees from going to federal court to protest their detention and treatment — a right referred to as "habeas corpus."

"The habeas corpus language in this bill is as legally abusive of rights guaranteed in the Constitution as the actions at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and secret prisons that were physically abusive of detainees," said Sen. Carl Levin (news, bio, voting record), the top Democrat on the Armed Services panel.

Bush went to Capitol Hill Thursday morning, urging senators to follow the House lead and approve the plan.

"The American people need to know we're working together to win the war on terror," he said.

That didn't stop Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record), R-Pa., from offering an amendment that would have restored suspects' habeas corpus rights. It was rejected, 51-48.

The overall bill would prohibit war crimes and define such atrocities as rape and torture, but otherwise would allow the president to interpret the Geneva Conventions, the treaty that sets standards for the treatment of war prisoners.

The legislation was in response to a Supreme Court ruling in June that Bush's plan to hold and prosecute terrorists was illegal.

Bush had determined prior to that ruling that his executive powers gave him the right to detain and prosecute enemy combatants. He declared these detainees, being held at Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba and in secret CIA prisons elsewhere in the world, should not be afforded Geneva Convention protections.

U.S. officials said the Supreme Court ruling threw cold water on the CIA's interrogation program, which they said had been helpful in obtaining valuable intelligence.

Bush was forced to negotiate a new trial system with Congress. For nearly two weeks the White House and rebellious Republican senators — Graham, John McCain of Arizona and John Warner of Virginia — fought publicly over whether Bush's proposed plan would give a president too much authority and curtail legal rights considered fundamental in other courts.

Under the bill, a terrorist being held at Guantanamo could be tried by military commission so long as he was afforded certain rights, such as the ability to confront evidence given to the jury and having access to defense counsel.

Those subject to commission trials would be any person "who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents." Proponents say this definition would not apply to U.S. citizens.

The bill would eliminate some rights common in military and civilian courts. For example, the commission would be allowed to consider hearsay evidence so long as a judge determined it was reliable. Hearsay is barred from civilian courts.

The legislation also says the president can "interpret the meaning and application" of international standards for prisoner treatment, a provision intended to allow him to authorize aggressive interrogation methods that might otherwise be seen as illegal by international courts.


The House resolution is HR 6166. The Senate bill is S 3930.


They Hate Our Freedom

The writ of habeas corpus is one of those basic foundations of modern Democracy. Without it, words like liberty and freedom have no meaning.

These are bad people running our government. Very bad.
-Atrios 11:02 AM


Our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts.

Rushing Off a Cliff

NYT Editorial

Here’s what happens when this irresponsible Congress railroads a profoundly important bill to serve the mindless politics of a midterm election: The Bush administration uses Republicans’ fear of losing their majority to push through ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and do lasting damage to our 217-year-old nation of laws — while actually doing nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser.

Republicans say Congress must act right now to create procedures for charging and trying terrorists — because the men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks are available for trial. That’s pure propaganda. Those men could have been tried and convicted long ago, but President Bush chose not to. He held them in illegal detention, had them questioned in ways that will make real trials very hard, and invented a transparently illegal system of kangaroo courts to convict them.

It was only after the Supreme Court issued the inevitable ruling striking down Mr. Bush’s shadow penal system that he adopted his tone of urgency. It serves a cynical goal: Republican strategists think they can win this fall, not by passing a good law but by forcing Democrats to vote against a bad one so they could be made to look soft on terrorism.

Last week, the White House and three Republican senators announced a terrible deal on this legislation that gave Mr. Bush most of what he wanted, including a blanket waiver for crimes Americans may have committed in the service of his antiterrorism policies. Then Vice President Dick Cheney and his willing lawmakers rewrote the rest of the measure so that it would give Mr. Bush the power to jail pretty much anyone he wants for as long as he wants without charging them, to unilaterally reinterpret the Geneva Conventions, to authorize what normal people consider torture, and to deny justice to hundreds of men captured in error.

These are some of the bill’s biggest flaws:

Enemy Combatants: A dangerously broad definition of “illegal enemy combatant” in the bill could subject legal residents of the United States, as well as foreign citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal. The president could give the power to apply this label to anyone he wanted.

The Geneva Conventions: The bill would repudiate a half-century of international precedent by allowing Mr. Bush to decide on his own what abusive interrogation methods he considered permissible. And his decision could stay secret — there’s no requirement that this list be published.

Habeas Corpus: Detainees in U.S. military prisons would lose the basic right to challenge their imprisonment. These cases do not clog the courts, nor coddle terrorists. They simply give wrongly imprisoned people a chance to prove their innocence.

Judicial Review: The courts would have no power to review any aspect of this new system, except verdicts by military tribunals. The bill would limit appeals and bar legal actions based on the Geneva Conventions, directly or indirectly. All Mr. Bush would have to do to lock anyone up forever is to declare him an illegal combatant and not have a trial.

Coerced Evidence: Coerced evidence would be permissible if a judge considered it reliable — already a contradiction in terms — and relevant. Coercion is defined in a way that exempts anything done before the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, and anything else Mr. Bush chooses.

Secret Evidence: American standards of justice prohibit evidence and testimony that is kept secret from the defendant, whether the accused is a corporate executive or a mass murderer. But the bill as redrafted by Mr. Cheney seems to weaken protections against such evidence.

Offenses: The definition of torture is unacceptably narrow, a virtual reprise of the deeply cynical memos the administration produced after 9/11. Rape and sexual assault are defined in a retrograde way that covers only forced or coerced activity, and not other forms of nonconsensual sex. The bill would effectively eliminate the idea of rape as torture.

•There is not enough time to fix these bills, especially since the few Republicans who call themselves moderates have been whipped into line, and the Democratic leadership in the Senate seems to have misplaced its spine. If there was ever a moment for a filibuster, this was it.

We don’t blame the Democrats for being frightened. The Republicans have made it clear that they’ll use any opportunity to brand anyone who votes against this bill as a terrorist enabler. But Americans of the future won’t remember the pragmatic arguments for caving in to the administration.

They’ll know that in 2006, Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts.


Mess'O'Potamia: Bush's Folly Increasing Threat of Terrorism. Not only doe the NIE say it, a new U.N. Report Confirms It.

Bush contends with 2 reports refuting Iraq gains

By Steve HollandWed Sep 27, 6:31 PM ET

An intelligence report showing an upsurge in Islamic militancy put the White House on the defensive on Wednesday in an election-year debate over whether President George W. Bush has made America safer.

In a second blow to the president, a new U.N. report said the Iraq war was providing al Qaeda with a training center and fresh recruits, and was inspiring a Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan hundreds of miles away.

Bush ordered the release of parts of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Tuesday to try to stamp out a political fire after a leaked portion said the Iraq war had increased Islamic extremism.

But a key judgment in the declassified version that could backfire on Bush said intelligence experts believed activists identifying themselves as jihadists "are increasing in both number and geographic dispersion."

The report, prepared in April, also said the Iraq war had become the "cause celebre" for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement."

The U.N. report released on Wednesday jibed with the NEI's conclusions.

"New explosive devices are now used in Afghanistan within a month of their first appearing in Iraq," it said. "And while the Taliban have not been found fighting outside Afghanistan/Pakistan, there have been reports of them training in both Iraq and Somalia."

The U.N. report was prepared by terrorism experts for the Security Council,


The White House has scrambled to try to explain the intelligence assessment, given Bush's September 7 claim that "America is winning the war on terror."

Spokesman Tony Snow insisted during a combative session with reporters that the United States and allies had made great gains against al Qaeda, including taking out key leaders, taking away a safe haven in Afghanistan and attacking its financial support.

He said even if the United States had not been fighting the Iraq war, the threat from Islamic extremists would still exist, given the attacks attributed to al Qaeda before September 11.

After a high-profile series of speeches by Bush marking the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, Republicans had felt better about their chances of holding on to both houses of the U.S. Congress in November 7 elections.

The question now is whether that momentum will be stalled by an intelligence report both sides are battling to use to their advantage.

Democrats tried to raise doubts about Bush's handling of the war on terrorism.

"The president likes to say 'we're winning the war on terror' but now the American people can read for themselves that the intelligence community believes something different: The war in Iraq is increasing the threat of terrorism at home and around the world," said Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.

Republican strategist Scott Reed said a debate over terrorism helps Republicans. "Any day Republicans can keep it on terrorism and taxes is a winner," he said.

Democrats also called on Bush to release the entire National Intelligence Estimate after the White House declassified only 3-1/2 pages.

The White House refused, saying to do so would reveal sources and methods of intelligence collection, put agents at risk and imperil relations with foreign governments.

At the same time, California Rep. Jane Harman (news, bio, voting record), senior Democrat on the House intelligence committee, accused the Bush administration of holding back until after the election a new NIE being prepared on Iraq.

Snow said Harman was "just flat wrong," that the report was not even in a draft form and would take time to complete.

(Additional reporting by Thomas Ferraro, Tabassum Zakaria, Matt Spetalnick, David Morgan, Vicki Allen and Irwin Arieff)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Tony Snow, Alberto Gonzales, George Allen, Anne Coulter, Sean Hannity attend VALUES voter summit where Gays are called FAGGOTS and Perverted.

‘Values Voter Summit’ Features Attack on ‘Faggots,’ Claim That Gay Rights Movement Inspired ‘From The Pit Of Hell Itself’

This weekend, some of the nation’s leading conservatives — from Tony Snow and Attorney General Gonzales to Sen. George Allen (R-VA) and Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AK) to Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity — appeared at the Family Research Council’s “Values Voter Summit.”

An hour and a half after Snow’s speech, Bishop Wellington Boone, founder of the Wellington Boone Ministries, took the stage and announced, “I want the gays mad at me.” Boone said that while “the gays” are “saying a few things” about him, “they’re not coming at me strong.” In an effort to change that, Boone declared:

Back in the days when I was a kid, and we see guys that don’t stand strong on principle, we call them “faggots.” … [People] that don’t stand up for what’s right, we say, “You’re sissified out!” “You’re a sissy!” That means you don’t stand up for principles. [Click HERE to listen to the audio.]

As Right Wing Watch notes, another speaker at the conference later claimed “the gay rights movement was inspired ‘from the pit of hell itself,’ and has a ’satanic anointment.’ … He suggested that the anti-Christ is himself gay, citing a verse from the book of Daniel saying the anti-Christ will have no desire for a woman.”

Digg it!

Full transcript:

BOONE: This matter of gay — I want the gays mad at me. I’m not on enough of their hit lists. [Applause] Bless God. I want to tell you something, and I’m gonna get [inaudible] here, and I hope I don’t embarass anybody about this here. But I want to say something to you, that I’m not afraid of these people. And they do play dirty tricks, and they do try to, you know, you know, do stuff with your mailing lists, and they’re really nasty about trying to stop us from, you know, taking away their perversion.

But I want to tell you something is, they don’t know, we’re driven by God to deal with this stuff, and I want to say to you that, in this regard, I’m not playing with you. That when it comes to the matter of this gay stuff, I know that a family is not a man and a man or a woman and a woman. It’s a man and a woman. That’s the creative order, and I’m not backing down. I’m standing flat-footed on that right there. [Applause]

Everywhere I get to speak, I am guarded by the grace of God, being strong on it. Now they’re fussing on it, they’re saying a few things, but they don’t have me, you know, in their, you know, on their web sites. They’re not coming at me strong, and I would say this. Back in the days when I was a kid, and we see guys that don’t stand strong on principle, we call them “faggots.” A punk is — and our people, I’m from the ghetto, so sometimes it does come out a little bit. I got another one I’m gonna say in a minute — [laughter] — that don’t stand up for what’s right, we say, “You’re sissified out!” “You’re a sissy!” That means you don’t stand up for principles. And I just believe that God hasn’t called us to be sissies on a principle level. We’re called to be, to stand up and be men. I’m not talking about as in gender. I’m talking about man of God, men in the marketplace, and when a U.S. senator or congressman says that he wants me to vote for them, and he’s not biblically based — if he doesn’t have God as his Lord, how can somebody that doesn’t feel the need for God lead me?


Condoleezza Rice is a Fucking Liar. Says she didn't "demote" counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, when in fact she did.

AP, CNN uncritically reported Rice's misleading response to Clinton interview

Summary: CNN and the Associated Press reported without challenge Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's misleading response to former President Bill Clinton's recent assertion that the Bush administration failed to adequately address the growing terrorism threat during the eight months prior to September 11, 2001.

In a September 25 discussion with the New York Post editorial board, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice purported to debunk former President Bill Clinton's recent assertion that the Bush administration failed to adequately address the growing terrorism threat during the eight months prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But Rice's counter-arguments -- that the Bush White House "was at least as aggressive as" the Clinton administration, that counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke was not demoted, and that the White House did not receive a comprehensive anti-terrorism strategy from the outgoing Clinton national security team -- do not stand up to scrutiny. Nonetheless, news outlets such as the Associated Press and CNN have reported her remarks without challenge.

On the September 24 edition of Fox News Sunday, Fox Broadcasting Co. aired a taped interview between host Chris Wallace and Clinton, which included a contentious exchange regarding his administration's record on terrorism. During this discussion, Clinton conceded that he "tried and failed" to stop Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, but noted that the Bush administration "had eight months to try; they did not try." Clinton further stated, "When I failed, I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke, who got demoted."

In a September 26 article, New York Post correspondent Ian Bishop recounted Rice's comments to the newspaper the previous day:

"The notion somehow for eight months the Bush administration sat there and didn't do that is just flatly false -- and I think the 9/11 commission understood that," Rice said during a wide-ranging meeting with Post editors and reporters.

"What we did in the eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton administration did in the preceding years," Rice added.

The secretary of state also sharply disputed Clinton's claim that he "left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy" for the incoming Bush team during the presidential transition in 2001.

"We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al Qaeda," Rice responded during the hourlong session.


"I would just suggest that you go back and read the 9/11 commission report on the efforts of the Bush administration in the eight months -- things like working to get an armed Predator [drone] that actually turned out to be extraordinarily important," Rice added.

She also said Clinton's claims that Richard Clarke -- the White House anti-terror guru hyped by Clinton as the country's "best guy" -- had been demoted by Bush were bogus.

"Richard Clarke was the counterterrorism czar when 9/11 happened. And he left when he did not become deputy director of homeland security, some several months later," she said.


Rice cited the final 9/11 commission report to substantiate her claims, while Clinton relied on Clarke's book as the basis for many of his rehashing the events leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks.

"I think this is not a very fruitful discussion. We've been through it. The 9/11 commission has turned over every rock and we know exactly what they said," she added.

But Rice's claim that the Bush administration's efforts "in the eight months was a least as aggressive as what the Clinton administration did in the preceding years" is rebutted by the 9-11 Commission report -- the document she cited as the basis for her rebuttal. Indeed, as the weblog Think Progress noted, the report details how the Bush White House failed to react forcefully upon receipt of the now-famous August 6, 2001, CIA memo titled "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in U.S." The memo stated that, although the FBI had "not been able to corroborate" a 1998 report that bin Laden was seeking to "hijack a U.S. aircraft," "FBI information since that time indicate[d] 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." The 9-11 Commission stated that it "found no indication of any further discussion before September 11 among the President and his top advisers of the possibility of a threat of an al Qaeda attack in the United States" -- this despite the fact that "[m]ost of the intelligence community recognized in the summer of 2001 that the number and severity of threat reports were unprecedented."

By contrast, the 9-11 Commission report recounted the Clinton administration's far more aggressive response to a similar CIA memo received in 1998, titled "Bin Ladin Preparing to Hijack US Aircraft and Other Attacks." From the report:

The same day, Clarke convened a meeting of his CSG [Counterterrorism Security Group] to discuss both the hijacking concern and the antiaircraft missile threat. To address the hijacking warning, the group agreed that New York airports should go to maximum security starting that weekend. They agreed to boost security at other East coast airports. The CIA agreed to distribute versions of the report to the FBI and FAA to pass to the New York Police Department and the airlines. The FAA issued a security directive on December 8, with specific requirements for more intensive air carrier screening of passengers and more oversight of the screening process, at all three New York area airports.

Rice's subsequent claim that, contrary to Clinton's assertion, Clarke was not demoted by the Bush administration is simply false. While her statement that Clarke retained his post as counterterrorism czar until after 9-11 is technically true, it ignores entirely the fact that Rice herself "downgraded" that position upon taking office, as Clarke explained in his book, Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror (Free Press, 2004), and as Media Matters for America noted. According to Clarke, in January 2001, Rice stripped him of principal status, a move that excluded him from the National Security Council Principals Committee. From the book:

Rice decided that the position of National Coordinator for Counterterrorism would also be downgraded. No longer would the Coordinator be a member of the Principals Committee. No longer would the CSG [Counterterrorism Security Group] report to the Principals, but instead to a committee of Deputy Secretaries. No longer would the National Coordinator be supported by two NSC Senior Directors or have the budget review mechanism with the Associate Director of OMB [Office of Management and Budget]. [Page 230]

Clarke's exclusion from the Principals Committee had significant consequences. No longer a "principal" himself, Clarke had to lobby Rice and others in order to organize a meeting of the committee on the Al Qaeda threat. While he first requested the meeting on January 25, 2001, nearly eight months passed before it finally occurred -- a week before 9-11.

In her remarks to the Post, Rice further claimed that the Clinton national security team did not pass on a "comprehensive anti-terror strategy," as Clinton had asserted in the Fox interview. But again, the 9-11 Commission report contradicts Rice's claim. According to the report, near the end of 2000, the CIA and the National Security Council drew up policy papers that laid out anti-terrorism strategies for the succeeding administration. While the report said that the CIA/NSC memo, known as the "Blue Sky memo" was not "discussed during the transition with incoming top Bush administration officials," its ideas were nonetheless presented as options by the CIA to the Bush administration. Clarke and his staff also drafted a counterterrorism strategy memo in the waning days of the Clinton administration, which the 9-11 Commission described as "the first such comprehensive effort since the Delenda plan" -- a paper written by Clarke in 1998 laying out a strategy to "immediately eliminate any significant threat to Americans" from the "Bin Ladin network." The commission wrote that the policy paper produced by Clarke in 2000 -- titled "Strategy for Eliminating the Threat from the Jihadist Networks of al Qida [sic]: Status and Prospects" -- "reviewed the threat and the record to date, incorporated the CIA's new ideas from the Blue Sky memo, and posed several near-term policy options."

Clarke, the report noted, presented his policy paper to Rice and other senior national security staffers when he requested the principals committee meeting on Al Qaeda:

Within the first few days after Bush's inauguration, Clarke approached Rice in an effort to get her -- and the new President -- to give terrorism very high priority and to act on the agenda that he had pushed during the last few months of the previous administration. After Rice requested that all senior staff identify desirable major policy reviews or initiatives, Clarke submitted an elaborate memorandum on January 25, 2001. He attached to it his 1998 Delenda Plan and the December 2000 strategy paper. "We urgently need ... a Principals level review on the al Qida network," Clarke wrote.

Despite these clear flaws undermining Rice's rebuttal, the Post reported her comments without challenge. In turn, the Associated Press reported her claims in a September 26 article headlined "Rice Challenges Clinton on Terror Fight":

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice challenged former President Clinton's claim that he did more than many of his conservative critics to pursue al-Qaida, saying in an interview published Tuesday that the Bush administration aggressively pursued the group even before the 9/11 attacks.

"What we did in the eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton administration did in the preceding years," Rice said during a meeting with editors and reporters at the New York Post.


"The notion somehow for eight months the Bush administration sat there and didn't do that is just flatly false and I think the 9/11 commission understood that," she said.

Rice also took exception to Clinton's statement that he "left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy" for incoming officials when he left office.

"We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al-Qaida," she told the newspaper, which is owned by News Corp., the same company that owns Fox News Channel.

In the interview, Clinton accused host Chris Wallace of a "conservative hit job" and asked: "I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked, 'Why didn't you do anything about the Cole?' I want to know how many people you asked, 'Why did you fire Dick Clarke?'"

Rice portrayed the departure of former White House anti-terrorism chief Richard A. Clarke differently, saying he "left when he did not become deputy director of homeland security."

Like the Post, the AP article failed entirely to check Rice's claims against the 9-11 Commission's actual findings. Furthermore, the article included no Democratic response beyond a quote from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) saying, "I just think that my husband did a great job in demonstrating that Democrats are not going to take this."

Similarly, CNN correspondent Carol Costello uncritically reported Rice's rebuttal on the September 26 edition of American Morning.

From the September 26 edition of CNN's American Morning:

COSTELLO: It is turning into quite a juicy battle of words. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice interviewed by The New York Post editorial board in New York, and boy, did she fire back at Bill Clinton, calling his interview on Fox "passionate." And while she didn't call Mr. Clinton a liar, she certainly intimated he wasn't telling it like it was.

For example, President Clinton told Fox his administration had left a detailed plan about what to do about Al Qaeda. Secretary Rice fires back. Quote, she says, "What the Bush administration did in the eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton administration did in the preceding years. We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight Al Qaeda. The notion that somehow for eight months the Bush administration sat there and didn't do that is just flatly false."

Question from the New York Post: "So you're saying Bill Clinton is a liar?"

Secretary Rice: "No, I'm just saying that, look, there was a lot of passion in that interview and I'm not going to -- I would just suggest that you go back and read the 9-11 Commission report on the efforts of the Bush administration in that eight months."

About former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, whom President Clinton cited a number of times, Secretary Rice says he was not fired, he left on his own accord when he was not promoted to deputy director of Homeland Security.

You can see the entire interview, of course, in the New York Post online.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Current Newsweek Covers by Region


Bush Has Now Lost Two Wars... And Created More Terrorists. Damn those Liberals... It's all their fault because they Hate America.

The Rise of Jihadistan
Five years after the Afghan invasion, the Taliban are fighting back hard, carving out a sanctuary where they—and Al Qaeda's leaders—can operate freely.
By Ron Moreau, Sami Yousafzai and Michael Hirsh

Oct. 2, 2006 issue - You don't have to drive very far from Kabul these days to find the Taliban. In Ghazni province's Andar district, just over a two-hour trip from the capital on the main southern highway, a thin young man, dressed in brown and wearing a white prayer cap, stands by the roadside waiting for two NEWSWEEK correspondents. It is midday on the central Afghan plains, far from the jihadist-infested mountains to the east and west. Without speaking, the sentinel guides his visitors along a sandy horse trail toward a mud-brick village within sight of the highway. As they get closer a young Taliban fighter carrying a walkie-talkie and an AK-47 rifle pops out from behind a tree. He is manning an improvised explosive device, he explains, in case Afghan or U.S. troops try to enter the village.

In a parched clearing a few hundred yards on, more than 100 Taliban fighters ranging in age from teenagers to a grandfatherly 55-year-old have assembled to meet their provincial commander, Muhammad Sabir. An imposing man with a long, bushy beard, wearing a brown and green turban and a beige shawl over his shoulders, Sabir inspects his troops, all of them armed with AKs and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. He claims to have some 900 fighters, and says the military and psychological tide is turning in their favor. "One year ago we couldn't have had such a meeting at midnight," says Sabir, who is in his mid-40s and looks forward to living out his life as an anti-American jihadist. "Now we gather in broad daylight. The people know we are returning to power."

Not long after NEWSWEEK's visit, U.S. and Afghan National Army forces launched a major attack to dislodge the Taliban from Ghazni and four neighboring provinces. But when NEWSWEEK returned in mid-September, Sabir's fighters were back, performing their afternoon prayers. It is an all too familiar story. Ridge by ridge and valley by valley, the religious zealots who harbored Osama bin Laden before 9/11—and who suffered devastating losses in the U.S. invasion that began five years ago next week—are surging back into the country's center. In the countryside over the past year Taliban guerrillas have filled a power vacuum that had been created by the relatively light NATO and U.S. military footprint of some 40,000 soldiers, and by the weakness of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's administration.

In Ghazni and in six provinces to the south, and in other hot spots to the east, Karzai's government barely exists outside district towns. Hard-core Taliban forces have filled the void by infiltrating from the relatively lawless tribal areas of Pakistan where they had fled at the end of 2001. Once back inside Afghanistan these committed jihadist commanders and fighters, aided by key sympathizers who had remained behind, have raised hundreds, if not thousands, of new, local recruits, many for pay. They feed on the people's disillusion with the lack of economic progress, equity and stability that Karzai's government, NATO, Washington and the international community had promised.

NATO officials say the Taliban seems to be flush with cash, thanks to the guerrillas' alliance with prosperous opium traffickers. The fighters are paid more than $5 a day—good money in Afghanistan, and at least twice what the new Afghan National Army's 30,000 soldiers receive. It's a bad sign, too, that a shortage of local police has led Karzai to approve a plan allowing local warlords—often traffickers themselves—to rebuild their private armies. U.N. officials have spent the past three years trying to disband Afghanistan's irregular militias, which are accused of widespread human-rights abuses. Now the warlords can rearm with the government's blessing. Afghanistan is "unfortunately well on its way" to becoming a "narco-state," NATO's supreme commander, Marine Gen. Jim Jones, said before Congress last week.

Jabar Shilghari, one of Ghazni's members of Parliament, is appalled by his province's rapid reversal of fortune. Only a year ago he was freely stumping for votes throughout the province. Today it's not safe for him to return to his own village. In a recent meeting he asked Karzai for more police and soldiers; he was rebuffed by the deputy director of intelligence, who told him the Taliban threat in Ghazni is minimal. "We have patiently waited five years for change, for an end to official corruption and abuse of power and for economic development," says Shilghari, who now lives in the increasingly sequestered capital of Kabul. "But we've received nothing."

Not long ago, the Bush administration was fond of pointing to Afghanistan as a model of transformation. That mountainous landlocked country, we were told, was being converted from a "failed state"—Al Qaeda's base for the worst ever attacks on U.S. continental soil—into a functioning, responsible member of the international community. In speech after speech, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other senior U.S. officials ticked off the happy stats: the Taliban and Al Qaeda had been routed, democratic presidential and parliamentary elections had been held, more than 3 million refugees had returned and 1.75 million girls were attending school.

But the harsh truth is that five years after the U.S. invasion on Oct. 7, 2001, most of the good news is confined to Kabul, with its choking rush-hour traffic jams, a construction boom and a handful of air-conditioned shopping malls. Much of the rest of Afghanistan appears to be failing again. Most worrisome, a new failed-state sanctuary is emerging across thousands of square miles along the Afghan-Pakistan border: "Jihadistan," it could be called. It's an autonomous quasi state of religious radicals, mostly belonging to Pashtun tribes who don't recognize the Afghan-Pakistan frontier—an arbitrary line drawn by the British colonialists in 1893. The enclave's fluid borders span a widening belt of territory from mountainous hideouts in the southernmost provinces of Afghanistan—Nimruz, Helmand and Farah—up through the agricultural middle of the country in Ghazni, Uruzgan and Zabul, and then north to Paktia and parts of Konar. It extends well across the Pakistan border where, despite close cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistani militaries, jihadist militants in Waziristan province have begun calling themselves "Pakistani Taliban." No longer worried about interference from Islamabad, they openly recruit young men to fight in Afghanistan, and they hold Islamic kangaroo courts that sometimes stage public executions.

There are not nearly enough U.S., Western or Afghan troops or resources in the field to counter them. At a time when the American president has resurrected Osama bin Laden as public enemy No. 1—comparing him recently to Lenin and Hitler—Bush's own top commander in the field, Army Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, says not enough money is being invested in creating a new Afghanistan. Improving Afghan lives is the only way to drive a stake through the Taliban or put the elusive Qaeda leader out of action, he says. "We need more in terms of investment in Afghan infrastructure. We need more resources, for road building, counternarcotics, good governance, a justice system," Eikenberry told NEWSWEEK last week. As the general is fond of saying: "Where the roads end, the Taliban begin."

Indeed, the aid numbers for the past five years are grim. In the first years of reconstruction, aid amounted to just $67 a year per Afghan, says Beth DeGrasse of the government-funded U.S. Institute of Peace. She compares that figure with other recent nation-building exercises such as Bosnia ($249) and East Timor ($256), citing figures from the International Monetary Fund. "You get what you pay for in these endeavors, and we tried to do Afghanistan on the cheap," she says. "And we are going to pay for it." International conferences since 2002 have pledged some $15 billion, but countries have ponied up less than half of that so far. And the Afghan government estimates it will need $27.5 billion through 2010 to rebuild the country and its institutions.

Some critics point to a jarring mismatch between Bush's rhetoric and the scant attention paid to Afghanistan. Jim Dobbins, Bush's former special envoy to Kabul—he also led the Clinton administration's rebuilding efforts in Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti and Somalia—calls Afghanistan the "most under-resourced nation-building effort in history." Former Bush reconstruction coordinator Carlos Pascual, who retired in December 2005, does not dispute this assessment. He says the State Department has "maybe 20 to 30 percent" of the people it needs. Even Republican Sen. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, fretted last week that for five years the administration and Congress have failed to create a powerful nation-building czar, despite their enthusiasm for regime change. "We have a long way to go," he said.

The dangers of allowing Afghanistan to become a jihadist haven again are too many to count. It's not merely that bin Laden and Zawahiri may now die peacefully in their beds, safe among Pashtun tribesmen, as a senior U.S. military official conceded to NEWSWEEK last week, speaking anonymously because he was discussing classified operations. (A French intelligence report leaked over the weekend suggested bin Laden had done just that in August, dying quietly of typhus, but like many such rumors in the past it could not be confirmed.) Nor is the problem simply that the increasingly confident Taliban is launching ever more brazen attacks—in recent weeks, bombing a convoy scarcely a block from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and assassinating a major provincial governor.

No: it's that Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups now have a place from which to hatch the next 9/11. "This standoff could go on for 40 or 50 years," says a retired U.S. general who served in Afghanistan, speaking only on condition of anonymity. "It's not going to be a takeover by the Taliban as long as NATO is there. Instead this is going to be like the triborder region of South America, or like Kashmir, a long, drawn-out stalemate where everyone carves out spheres of influence." Eikenberry disagrees, though he refused to put a time frame on Afghanistan's recovery. "It won't be decades," he says.

The Taliban doesn't always share Al Qaeda's goals or tactics, although some units have taken up suicide bombing. But a guerrilla calling himself Commander Hemat, a former anti-Soviet mujahedin fighter who now works closely with the Taliban and Al Qaeda, says foreign Arabs are being welcomed again. "Now the money is flowing again because the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan are producing results," he told NEWSWEEK. Zabibullah, a Taliban operative who has proved reliable in the past, says the Qaeda operatives "feel more secure and can concentrate on their own business other than just surviving."

Pakistan fostered the Taliban movement in the 1990s as a way of holding sway over Afghanistan and undercutting India's influence there. Those ties persist. Despite Bush's praise of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf—"We're on the hunt together," Bush said at a joint news conference on Friday—U.S. and British military officials say Musharraf has allowed the Taliban to set up headquarters near the southwestern city of Quetta. Musharraf has also cut a deal giving militants free rein in north Waziristan; since then cross-border attacks have increased. Senior U.S. officials say that Musharraf caved in to Qaeda sympathizers who fiercely resisted the Pakistani Army's incursion into the tribal region last year. Musharraf reassured Bush last week that the Waziristan tribal leaders had agreed not to permit Taliban or Qaeda cross-border activity, but the militants say no such commitment was made. "Instead of eliminating the militants, the Pakistani military operation only added to their strength," says Ayaz Amir, a respected political columnist for the daily Dawn newspaper. The Afghan Taliban's recent offensive has only raised the morale of their Pakistani brethren.

General Eikenberry says that Al Qaeda or its successors have nothing like the liberty that allowed them to plot 9/11 in the open. "They have no safe haven inside Afghanistan that if we find it, we will not strike against them," he said. But conclusive victory will depend on a "political solution" arising from a far more effective Afghan government, Eikenberry says. Asked whether terrorists will always have a place to root there, Eikenberry pauses for long seconds before answering. "You reach a tipping point" where military superiority no longer counts as much, he said. "There's always going to be another valley for terrorist forces or extremists to hide in."

No one knows this better than Eikenberry himself, a genial soldier-scholar with degrees from Harvard and Stanford. Two weeks after NEWSWEEK's visit to Ghazni province's Andar district, the American general passed through the same area and urged Afghan security forces to be more active in combating the increasingly aggressive, large and visible Taliban presence.

Days later, Eikenberry launched his major Afghan-U.S. operation in Ghazni, code-named Mountain Fury. Most of the Taliban had easily escaped to the east while a number of insurgents remained behind to engage the enemy, firing automatic weapons and RPGs. According to Afghan officials, about 38 Taliban were killed that day. Interviewed after the action, Momin Ahmad, the Taliban's deputy commander for a cluster of Andar villages, disputes that number. He says he lost only four men: a Pakistani, an Iraqi and two local insurgents who were killed by an Apache helicopter that shot up a local vineyard.

And while Ahmad's unit is now regrouping to the east, at least 35 Taliban have stashed their weapons and stayed in the village posing as farmers. They will lay ambushes and plant IEDs to harass Afghan and U.S. troops, Ahmad says, and the larger Taliban force will return when it's safe. He shrugs off the setback, saying it's only temporary. "We never expected the success we've had," says Ahmad. Nor, five years ago, did anyone else.

With Zahid Hussain in Islamabad and John Barry in Washington


Keith Olbermann: Newsman.

Olbermann’s Special Comment: Are YOURS the actions of a true American?


Keith pulled no punches and launched another smack down on Bush and FOX News…

Video - WMV Video - QT

And finally tonight, a Special Comment about President Clinton’s interview. The headlines about them are, of course, entirely wrong. It is not essential that a past President, bullied and sandbagged by a monkey posing as a newscaster, finally lashed back.

It is not important that the current President’s "portable public chorus" has described his predecessor’s tone as "crazed."

Our tone should be crazed. The nation’s freedoms are under assault by an administration whose policies can do us as much damage as Al-Qaeda; the nation’s "marketplace of ideas" is being poisoned, by a propaganda company so blatant that Tokyo Rose would’ve quit. Nonetheless.

The headline is this: Bill Clinton did what almost none of us have done, in five years. He has spoken the truth about 9/11, and the current presidential administration.

"At least I tried," he said of his own efforts to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden. "That’s the difference in me and some, including all of the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They had eight months to try; they did not try. I tried."

Thus in his supposed emeritus years, has Mr. Clinton taken forceful and triumphant action for honesty, and for us; action as vital and as courageous as any of his presidency; action as startling and as liberating, as any, by anyone, in these last five long years.

The Bush Administration did not try to get Osama Bin Laden before 9/11.

The Bush Administration ignored all the evidence gathered by its predecessors.

The Bush Administration did not understand the Daily Briefing entitled "Bin Laden Determined To Strike in U.S."

The Bush Administration… did… not… try.—

Moreover, for the last five years one month and two weeks, the current administration, and in particular the President, has been given the greatest "pass" for incompetence and malfeasance, in American history!

President Roosevelt was rightly blamed for ignoring the warning signs — some of them, 17 years old — before Pearl Harbor.

President Hoover was correctly blamed for — if not the Great Depression itself — then the disastrous economic steps he took in the immediate aftermath of the Stock Market Crash.

Even President Lincoln assumed some measure of responsibility for the Civil War — though talk of Southern secession had begun as early as 1832.

But not this President.

To hear him bleat and whine and bully at nearly every opportunity, one would think someone else had been President on September 11th, 2001 — or the nearly eight months that preceded it.

That hardly reflects the honesty nor manliness we expect of the Executive.


But if his own fitness to serve is of no true concern to him, perhaps we should simply sigh and keep our fingers crossed, until a grown-up takes the job three Januarys from now.

Except… for this:

After five years of skirting even the most inarguable of facts — that he was President on 9/11 and he must bear some responsibility for his, and our, unreadiness, Mr. Bush has now moved, unmistakably and without conscience or shame, towards re-writing history, and attempting to make the responsibility, entirely Mr. Clinton’s.

Of course he is not honest enough to do that directly.

As with all the other nefariousness and slime of this, our worst presidency since James Buchanan, he is having it done for him, by proxy.

Thus, the sandbag effort by Fox News, Friday afternoon.

Consider the timing: The very same weekend the National Intelligence Estimate would be released and show the Iraq war to be the fraudulent failure it is — not a check on terror, but fertilizer for it!

The kind of proof of incompetence, for which the administration and its hyenas at Fox need to find a diversion, in a scapegoat.

It was the kind of cheap trick which would get a journalist fired — but a propagandist, promoted:

Promise to talk of charity and generosity; but instead launch into the lies and distortions with which the Authoritarians among us attack the virtuous and reward the useless.

And don’t even be professional enough to assume the responsibility for the slanders yourself; blame your audience for "e-mailing" you the question.

Mr. Clinton responded as you have seen.

He told the great truth un-told… about this administration’s negligence, perhaps criminal negligence, about Bin Laden.

He was brave.

Then again, Chris Wallace might be braver still. Had I — in one moment surrendered all my credibility as a journalist — and been irredeemably humiliated, as was he, I would have gone home and started a new career selling seeds by mail.

The smearing by proxy, of course, did not begin Friday afternoon.

Disney was first to sell-out its corporate reputation, with "The Path to 9/11."

Of that company’s crimes against truth one needs to say little. Simply put: someone there enabled an Authoritarian zealot to belch out Mr. Bush’s new and improved history.

The basic plot-line was this: because he was distracted by the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Bill Clinton failed to prevent 9/11.

The most curious and in some ways the most infuriating aspect of this slapdash theory, is that the Right Wingers who have advocated it — who try to sneak it into our collective consciousness through entertainment, or who sandbag Mr. Clinton with it at news interviews — have simply skipped past its most glaring flaw.

Had it been true that Clinton had been distracted from the hunt for Bin Laden in 1998 because of the Lewinsky nonsense — why did these same people not applaud him for having bombed Bin Laden’s camps in Afghanistan and Sudan on August 20th of that year? For mentioning Bin Laden by name as he did so?

That day, Republican Senator Grams of Minnesota invoked the movie "Wag The Dog."

Republican Senator Coats of Indiana questioned Mr. Clinton’s judgment.

Republican Senator Ashcroft of Missouri — the future Attorney General — echoed Coats.

Even Republican Senator Arlen Specter questioned the timing.

And of course, were it true Clinton had been "distracted" by the Lewinsky witch-hunt — who on earth conducted the Lewinsky witch-hunt? Who turned the political discourse of this nation on its head for two years?

Who corrupted the political media?

Who made it impossible for us to even bring back on the air, the counter-terrorism analysts like Dr. Richard Haass, and James Dunegan, who had warned, at this very hour, on this very network, in early 1998, of cells from the Middle East who sought to attack us, here?

Who preempted them… in order to strangle us with the trivia that was… "All Monica All The Time"?

Who… distracted whom?

This is, of course, where — as is inevitable — Mr. Bush and his henchmen prove not quite as smart as they think they are.

The full responsibility for 9/11 is obviously shared by three administrations, possibly four.

But, Mr. Bush, if you are now trying to convince us by proxy that it’s all about the distractions of 1998 and 1999, then you will have to face a startling fact that your minions may have hidden from you.

The distractions of 1998 and 1999, Mr. Bush, were carefully manufactured, and lovingly executed, not by Bill Clinton… but by the same people who got you… elected President.

Thus instead of some commendable acknowledgment that you were even in office on 9/11 and the lost months before it… we have your sleazy and sloppy rewriting of history, designed by somebody who evidently redd the Orwell playbook too quickly.

Thus instead of some explanation for the inertia of your first eight months in office, we are told that you have kept us "safe" ever since — a statement that might range anywhere from Zero, to One Hundred Percent, true.

We have nothing but your word, and your word has long since ceased to mean anything.

And, of course, the one time you have ever given us specifics about what you have kept us safe from, Mr. Bush — you got the name of the supposedly targeted Tower in Los Angeles… wrong.

Thus was it left for the previous President to say what so many of us have felt; what so many of us have given you a pass for in the months and even the years after the attack:

You did not try.

You ignored the evidence gathered by your predecessor.

You ignored the evidence gathered by your own people.

Then, you blamed your predecessor.

That would be the textbook definition… Sir, of cowardice.

To enforce the lies of the present, it is necessary to erase the truths of the past.

That was one of the great mechanical realities Eric Blair — writing as George Orwell — gave us in the novel "1984."

The great philosophical reality he gave us, Mr. Bush, may sound as familiar to you, as it has lately begun to sound familiar to me.

"The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power…

"Power is not a means; it is an end.

"One does not establish a dictatorship to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.

"The object of persecution, is persecution. The object of torture, is torture. The object of power… is power."

Earlier last Friday afternoon, before the Fox ambush, speaking in the far different context of the closing session of his remarkable Global Initiative, Mr. Clinton quoted Abraham Lincoln’s State of the Union address from 1862.

"We must disenthrall ourselves."

Mr. Clinton did not quote the rest of Mr. Lincoln’s sentence. He might well have.

"We must disenthrall ourselves — and then… we shall save our country."

And so has Mr. Clinton helped us to disenthrall ourselves, and perhaps enabled us, even at this late and bleak date… to save… our… country.

The "free pass" has been withdrawn, Mr. Bush…

You did not act to prevent 9/11.

We do not know what you have done, to prevent another 9/11.

You have failed us — then leveraged that failure, to justify a purposeless war in Iraq which will have, all too soon, claimed more American lives than did 9/11.

You have failed us anew in Afghanistan.

And you have now tried to hide your failures, by blaming your predecessor.

And now you exploit your failure, to rationalize brazen torture — which doesn’t work anyway; which only condemns our soldiers to water-boarding; which only humiliates our country further in the world; and which no true American would ever condone, let alone advocate.And there it is, sir:

Are yours the actions of a true American?

I’m K.O., good night, and good luck.

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