Friday, October 06, 2006
Keith Olbermann: The Edward R. Murrow of our Day. Why is he the only voice on Mainstream Media Speaking Truth to Bush's Lies?
Keith Olbermann on the difference between terrorists and critics
By Keith Olbermann
Updated: 11:19 a.m. ET Oct 6, 2006
While the leadership in Congress has self-destructed over the revelations of an unmatched, and unrelieved, march through a cesspool ...
While the leadership inside the White House has self-destructed over the revelations of a book with a glowing red cover ...
The president of the United States — unbowed, undeterred and unconnected to reality — has continued his extraordinary trek through our country rooting out the enemies of freedom: the Democrats.
Yesterday at a fundraiser for an Arizona congressman, Mr. Bush claimed, quote, “177 of the opposition party said, ‘You know, we don’t think we ought to be listening to the conversations of terrorists.’”
The hell they did.
One hundred seventy-seven Democrats opposed the president’s seizure of another part of the Constitution.
Not even the White House press office could actually name a single Democrat who had ever said the government shouldn’t be listening to the conversations of terrorists.
President Bush hears what he wants.
Tuesday, at another fundraiser in California, he had said, “Democrats take a law enforcement approach to terrorism. That means America will wait until we’re attacked again before we respond.”
Mr. Bush fabricated that, too.
And evidently he has begun to fancy himself as a mind reader.
“If you listen closely to some of the leaders of the Democratic Party,” the president said at another fundraiser Monday in Nevada, “it sounds like they think the best way to protect the American people is — wait until we’re attacked again.”
The president doesn’t just hear what he wants.
He hears things that only he can hear.
It defies belief that this president and his administration could continue to find new unexplored political gutters into which they could wallow.
Yet they do.
It is startling enough that such things could be said out loud by any president of this nation.
Rhetorically, it is about an inch short of Mr. Bush accusing Democratic leaders, Democrats, the majority of Americans who disagree with his policies of treason.
But it is the context that truly makes the head spin.
Just 25 days ago, on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, this same man spoke to this nation and insisted, “We must put aside our differences and work together to meet the test that history has given us.”
Mr. Bush, this is a test you have already failed.
If your commitment to “put aside differences and work together” is replaced in the span of just three weeks by claiming your political opponents prefer to wait to see this country attacked again, and by spewing fabrications about what they’ve said, then the questions your critics need to be asking are no longer about your policies.
They are, instead, solemn and even terrible questions, about your fitness to fulfill the responsibilities of your office.
No Democrat, sir, has ever said anything approaching the suggestion that the best means of self-defense is to “wait until we’re attacked again.”
No critic, no commentator, no reluctant Republican in the Senate has ever said anything that any responsible person could even have exaggerated into the slander you spoke in Nevada on Monday night, nor the slander you spoke in California on Tuesday, nor the slander you spoke in Arizona on Wednesday ... nor whatever is next.
You have dishonored your party, sir; you have dishonored your supporters; you have dishonored yourself.
But tonight the stark question we must face is — why?
Why has the ferocity of your venom against the Democrats now exceeded the ferocity of your venom against the terrorists?
Why have you chosen to go down in history as the president who made things up?
In less than one month you have gone from a flawed call to unity to this clarion call to hatred of Americans, by Americans.
If this is not simply the most shameless example of the rhetoric of political hackery, then it would have to be the cry of a leader crumbling under the weight of his own lies.
We have, of course, survived all manner of political hackery, of every shape, size and party. We will have to suffer it, for as long as the Republic stands.
But the premise of a president who comes across as a compulsive liar is nothing less than terrifying.
A president who since 9/11 will not listen, is not listening — and thanks to Bob Woodward’s most recent account — evidently has never listened.
A president who since 9/11 so hates or fears other Americans that he accuses them of advocating deliberate inaction in the face of the enemy.
A president who since 9/11 has savaged the very freedoms he claims to be protecting from attack — attack by terrorists, or by Democrats, or by both — it is now impossible to find a consistent thread of logic as to who Mr. Bush believes the enemy is.
But if we know one thing for certain about Mr. Bush, it is this: This president — in his bullying of the Senate last month and in his slandering of the Democrats this month — has shown us that he believes whoever the enemies are, they are hiding themselves inside a dangerous cloak called the Constitution of the United States of America.
How often do we find priceless truth in the unlikeliest of places?
I tonight quote not Jefferson nor Voltaire, but Cigar Aficionado Magazine.
On Sept. 11th, 2003, the editor of that publication interviewed General Tommy Franks, at that point, just retired from his post as commander-in-chief of U.S. Central Command — of Cent-Com.
And amid his quaint defenses of the then-nagging absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, or the continuing freedom of Osama bin Laden, General Franks said some of the most profound words of this generation.
He spoke of “the worst thing that can happen” to this country:
First, quoting, a “massive casualty-producing event somewhere in the Western World — it may be in the United States of America.”
Then, the general continued, “the Western World, the free world, loses what it cherishes most, and that is freedom and liberty we’ve seen for a couple of hundred years, in this grand experiment that we call democracy.”
It was this super-patriotic warrior’s fear that we would lose that most cherished liberty, because of another attack, one — again quoting General Franks — “that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass-casualty-producing event. Which, in fact, then begins to potentially unravel the fabric of our Constitution.”
And here we are, the fabric of our Constitution being unraveled, anyway.
Habeus corpus neutered; the rights of self-defense now as malleable and impermanent as clay; a president stifling all critics by every means available and, when he runs out of those, by simply lying about what they said or felt.
And all this, even without the dreaded attack.
General Franks, like all of us, loves this country, and believes not just in its values, but in its continuity.
He has been trained to look for threats to that continuity from without.
He has, perhaps been as naïve as the rest of us, in failing to keep close enough vigil on the threats to that continuity from within.
Secretary of State Rice first cannot remember urgent cautionary meetings with counterterrorism officials before 9/11. Then within hours of this lie, her spokesman confirms the meetings in question. Then she dismisses those meetings as nothing new — yet insists she wanted the same cautions expressed to Secretaries Ashcroft and Rumsfeld.
Mr. Rumsfeld, meantime, has been unable to accept the most logical and simple influence of the most noble and neutral of advisers. He and his employer insist they rely on the “generals in the field.” But dozens of those generals have now come forward to say how their words, their experiences, have been ignored.
And, of course, inherent in the Pentagon’s war-making functions is the regulation of presidential war lust.
Enacting that regulation should include everything up to symbolically wrestling the Chief Executive to the floor.
Yet—and it is Pentagon transcripts that now tell us this—evidently Mr. Rumsfeld’s strongest check on Mr. Bush’s ambitions, was to get somebody to excise the phrase “Mission Accomplished” out of the infamous Air Force Carrier speech of May 1st, 2003, even while the same empty words hung on a banner over the President’s shoulder.
And the vice president is a chilling figure, still unable, it seems, to accept the conclusions of his own party’s leaders in the Senate, that the foundations of his public position, are made out of sand.
There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
But he still says so.
There was no link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaida.
But he still says so.
And thus, gripping firmly these figments of his own imagination, Mr. Cheney lives on, in defiance, and spreads—around him and before him—darkness, like some contagion of fear.
They are never wrong, and they never regret -- admirable in a French torch singer, cataclysmic in an American leader.
Thus, the sickening attempt to blame the Foley scandal on the negligence of others or “the Clinton era”—even though the Foley scandal began before the Lewinsky scandal.
Thus, last month’s enraged attacks on this administration’s predecessors, about Osama bin Laden—a projection of their own negligence in the immediate months before 9/11.
Thus, the terrifying attempt to hamstring the fundament of our freedom—the Constitution—a triumph for al Qaida, for which the terrorists could not hope to achieve with a hundred 9/11’s.
And thus, worst of all perhaps, these newest lies by President Bush about Democrats choosing to await another attack and not listen to the conversations of terrorists.
It is the terror and the guilt within your own heart, Mr. Bush, that you redirect at others who simply wish for you to temper your certainty with counsel.
It is the failure and the incompetence within your own memory, Mr. Bush, that leads you to demonize those who might merely quote to you the pleadings of Oliver Cromwell: “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.”
It is not the Democrats whose inaction in the face of the enemy you fear, Sir.
It is your own—before 9/11 - and (and you alone know this), perhaps afterwards.
Mr. President, these new lies go to the heart of what it is that you truly wish to preserve.
It is not our freedom, nor our country—your actions against the Constitution give irrefutable proof of that.
You want to preserve a political party’s power. And obviously you’ll sell this country out, to do it.
These are lies about the Democrats -- piled atop lies about Iraq -- which were piled atop lies about your preparations for al Qaida.
To you, perhaps, they feel like the weight of a million centuries -- as crushing, as immovable.
They are not.
If you add more lies to them, you cannot free yourself, and us, from them.
But if you stop -- if you stop fabricating quotes, and building straw-men, and inspiring those around you to do the same -- you may yet liberate yourself and this nation.
Please, sir, do not throw this country’s principles away because your lies have made it such that you can no longer differentiate between the terrorists and the critics.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
By LESLIE MILLER, Associated Press WriterThu Oct 5, 4:06 PM ET
President Bush, again defying Congress, says he has the power to edit the Homeland Security Department's reports about whether it obeys privacy rules while handling background checks, ID cards and watchlists.
In the law Bush signed Wednesday, Congress stated no one but the privacy officer could alter, delay or prohibit the mandatory annual report on Homeland Security department activities that affect privacy, including complaints.
But Bush, in a signing statement attached to the agency's 2007 spending bill, said he will interpret that section "in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch."
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said it's appropriate for the administration to know what reports go to Congress and to review them beforehand.
"There can be a discussion on whether to accept a change or a nuance," she said. "It could be any number of things."
The American Bar Association and members of Congress have said Bush uses signing statements excessively as a way to expand his power.
The Senate held hearings on the issue in June. At the time, 110 statements challenged about 750 statutes passed by Congress, according to numbers combined from the White House and the Senate committee. They include documents revising or disregarding parts of legislation to ban torture of detainees and to renew the Patriot Act.
Privacy advocate Marc Rotenberg said Bush is trying to subvert lawmakers' ability to accurately monitor activities of the executive branch of government.
"The Homeland Security Department has been setting up watch lists to determine who gets on planes, who gets government jobs, who gets employed," said Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
He said the Homeland Security Department has the most significant impact on citizens' privacy of any agency in the federal government.
Homeland Security agencies check airline passengers' names against terrorist watch lists and detain them if there's a match. They make sure transportation workers' backgrounds are investigated. They are working on several kinds of biometric ID cards that millions of people would have to carry.
The department's privacy office has put the brakes on some initiatives, such as using insecure radio-frequency identification technology, or RFID, in travel documents. It also developed privacy policies after an uproar over the disclosure that airlines turned over their passengers' personal information to the government.
The last privacy report was submitted in February 2005.
Bush's signing statement Wednesday challenges several other provisions in the Homeland Security spending bill.
Bush, for example, said he'd disregard a requirement that the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency must have at least five years experience and "demonstrated ability in and knowledge of emergency management and homeland security."
His rationale was that it "rules out a large portion of those persons best qualified by experience and knowledge to fill the office."
Report sees broad strategy
WASHINGTON -- President Bush's frequent use of signing statements to assert that he has the power to disobey newly enacted laws is ``an integral part" of his ``comprehensive strategy to strengthen and expand executive power" at the expense of the legislative branch, according to a report by the non partisan Congressional Research Service.
In a 27-page report written for lawmakers, the research service said the Bush administration is using signing statements as a means to slowly condition Congress into accepting the White House's broad conception of presidential power, which includes a presidential right to ignore laws he believes are unconstitutional.
The ``broad and persistent nature of the claims of executive authority forwarded by President Bush appear designed to inure Congress, as well as others, to the belief that the president in fact possesses expansive and exclusive powers upon which the other branches may not intrude," the report said.
Under most interpretations of the Constitution, the report said, some of the legal assertions in Bush's signing statements are dubious. For example, it said, the administration has suggested repeatedly that the president has exclusive authority over foreign affairs and has an absolute right to withhold information from Congress. Such assertions are ``generally unsupported by established legal principles," the report said.
Despite such criticism, the administration has continued to issue signing statements for new laws. Last week, for example, Bush signed the 2007 military budget bill, but then issued a statement challenging 16 of its provisions.
The bill bars the Pentagon from using any intelligence that was collected illegally, including information about Americans that was gathered in violation of the Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable government surveillance.
In Bush's signing statement, he suggested that he alone could decide whether the Pentagon could use such information. His signing statement instructed the military to view the law in light of ``the president's constitutional authority as commander in chief, including for the conduct of intelligence operations, and to supervise the unitary executive branch."
Bush also challenged three sections that require the Pentagon to notify Congress before diverting funds to new purposes, including top-secret activities or programs. Congress had already decided against funding. Bush said he was not bound to obey such statutes if he decided, as commander in chief, that withholding such information from Congress was necessary to protect security secrets.
Like all Congressional Research Service reports, the report, dated Sept. 20 and titled ``Presidential Signing Statements: Constitutional and Institutional Implications," was written for members of Congress and was not made available to the public. The Federation of American Scientists has posted a copy on its website.
The report marked the latest installment in a recent debate over the Bush administration's use of signing statements.
A signing statement is issued by the president as he signs a bill into law. It describes his interpretation of the bill, and it sometimes declares that one or more of the laws created by the bill are unconstitutional and thus need not be enforced or obeyed as written.
Signing statements date to the 19th century but were rare until the 1980s. The Bush-Cheney administration has taken the practice to unprecedented levels.
Bush has used signing statements to challenge more than 800 laws that place limits or requirements on the executive branch, saying they intrude on his constitutional powers. By contrast, all previous presidents challenged a combined total of about 600 laws.
This year, The Boston Globe published a detailed accounting of the laws Bush has claimed he has the power to disobey, including a torture ban and oversight provisions in the USA Patriot Act. The report prompted widespread concerns, but critics have not been able to agree on precisely the nature of the problem.
For example, the American Bar Association concluded that the issue was the mechanism itself.
The American Bar Association called signing statements ``contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional separation of powers." It said presidents cannot sign bills and then declare parts of them unconstitutional because a president has only two choices -- to sign a bill and enforce it as written, or to veto it and give Congress a chance to override the veto.
This year Arlen Specter , a Pennsylvania Republican who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, held a hearing on signing statements during which he accused the administration of unconstitutionally trying to ``cherry-pick" bills, keeping only the parts it likes.
At that hearing in June, Michelle Boardman , an administration lawyer, defended the legality of signing statements. She said statements are necessary because Congress often bundles many different laws into a single bill, making it impractical to veto the entire package because some parts are flawed.``Signing statements serve a legitimate and important function, and are not an abuse of power," Boardman testified
I would not send my college kid off for a semester abroad if I were you. Last week, we suspended human rights in America, and what goes around comes around. Ixnay habeas corpus.
The U.S. Senate, in all its splendor and majesty, has decided that an "enemy combatant" is any non-citizen whom the president says is an enemy combatant, including your Korean greengrocer or your Swedish grandmother or your Czech au pair, and can be arrested and held for as long as authorities wish without any right of appeal to a court of law to examine the matter. If your college kid were to be arrested in Bangkok or Cairo, suspected of "crimes against the state" and held in prison, you'd assume that an American foreign service officer would be able to speak to your kid and arrange for a lawyer, but this may not be true anymore. Be forewarned.
The Senate also decided it's up to the president to decide whether it's OK to make these enemies stand naked in cold rooms for a couple days in blinding light and be beaten by interrogators. This is now purely a bureaucratic matter: The plenipotentiary stamps the file "enemy combatants" and throws the poor schnooks into prison and at his leisure he tries them by any sort of kangaroo court he wishes to assemble and they have no right to see the evidence against them, and there is no appeal. This was passed by 65 senators and will now be signed by Mr. Bush, put into effect, and in due course be thrown out by the courts.
It's good that Barry Goldwater is dead because this would have killed him. Go back to the Senate of 1964 - Goldwater, Dirksen, Russell, McCarthy, Javits, Morse, Fulbright - and you won't find more than 10 votes for it.
None of the men and women who voted for this bill has any right to speak in public about the rule of law anymore, or to take a high moral view of the Third Reich, or to wax poetic about the American Idea. Mark their names. Any institution of higher learning that grants honorary degrees to these people forfeits its honor. Alexander, Allard, Allen, Bennett, Bond, Brownback, Bunning, Burns, Burr, Carper, Chambliss, Coburn, Cochran, Coleman, Collins, Cornyn, Craig, Crapo, DeMint, DeWine, Dole, Domenici, Ensign, Enzi, Frist, Graham, Grassley, Gregg, Hagel, Hatch, Hutchison, Inhofe, Isakson, Johnson, Kyl, Landrieu, Lautenberg, Lieberman, Lott, Lugar, Martinez, McCain, McConnell, Menendez, Murkowski, Nelson of Florida, Nelson of Nebraska, Pryor, Roberts, Rockefeller, Salazar, Santorum, Sessions, Shelby, Smith, Specter, Stabenow, Stevens, Sununu, Talent, Thomas, Thune, Vitter, Voinovich, Warner.
To paraphrase Sir Walter Scott: Mark their names and mark them well. For them, no minstrel raptures swell. High though their titles, proud their name, boundless their wealth as wish can claim, these wretched figures shall go down to the vile dust from whence they sprung, unwept, unhonored and unsung.
Three Republican senators made a show of opposing the bill and, after they'd collected all the praise they could get, they quickly folded. Why be a hero when you can be fairly sure that the Court will dispose of this piece of garbage.
If, however, the Court does not, then our country has taken a step toward totalitarianism. If the government can round up someone and never be required to explain why, then it's no longer the United States of America as you and I always understood it. Our enemies have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They have made us become like them.
I got some insight week before last into who supports torture when I went down to Dallas to speak at Highland Park Methodist Church. It was spooky. I walked in, was met by two burly security men with walkie-talkies, and within 10 minutes was told by three people that this was the Bushes' church and that it would be better if I didn't talk about politics. I was there on a book tour for Homegrown Democrat, but they thought it better if I didn't mention it. So I tried to make light of it: I told the audience, "I don't need to talk politics. I have no need even to be interested in politics - I'm a citizen, I have plenty of money and my grandsons are at least 12 years away from being eligible for military service." And the audience applauded! Those were their sentiments exactly. We've got ours, and who cares?
The Methodists of Dallas can be fairly sure that none of them will be snatched off the streets, flown to Guantanamo, stripped naked, forced to stand for 48 hours in a freezing room with deafening noise, so why should they worry? It's only the Jews who are in danger, and the homosexuals and gypsies. The Christians are doing just fine. If you can't trust a Methodist with absolute power to arrest people and not have to say why, then whom can you trust?
Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" can be heard Saturday nights on public radio stations across the country.
Clinton and Wallace: What Does Annenberg Political Fact Check Say? Clinton may have exagerrated some claims, Rice flat out Lied Twice.
Clinton interview on Fox News leads to spitting match over which President did most to bring Bin Laden down.
October 3, 2006
Modified:October 3, 2006
In an extraordinary interview with Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace on Sept. 24, former President Bill Clinton took on critics who have questioned why he didn't do more during his time in the White House to eliminate Osama bin Laden. Wallace raised the question because, he said, viewers had demanded that he do so, and Clinton let loose. His responses were a mix of assertions about what his Administration did to rid the world of bin Laden and blasts at conservatives who have criticized his efforts as insufficient. He took a few shots at his host in the process.
Since Wallace's interview, we've received a number of e-mails requesting that we look at Clinton's claims and those of some who have responded to him. We find Clinton's specific factual assertions to be mostly correct, though we neither endorse nor dispute his statements of opinion. It is true for example that Clinton tried to kill Osama bin Laden, and probably missed him only by hours with a cruise-missile barrage in 1998. But we can’t judge whether that means Clinton came “closer to killing him than anybody has gotten since,” given the Bush administration’s near-miss at Tora Bora, Afghanistan in 2001, and the possibility that there have been other, still-classified attempts.
We’ll leave it to our readers to judge the accuracy of Clinton’s statements that Wallace wore “a little smirk” during the interview, or whether the ABC movie “The Path to 9/11” was the product of a “right-wing conservative.”
Clinton appeared more than ready to take on his critics. (Transcript available here.) We'll take his statements in order, comparing what he said to the factual record laid out in the final report of The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (The 9/11 Commission), and other specified sources.
Docu or Drama?
Clinton: ABC just had a right-wing conservative run in their little 'Pathway to 9/11,' falsely claiming it was based on the 9/11 Commission report, with three things asserted against me directly contradicted by the 9/11 Commission Report.
Mostly true. Clinton is right that the 9/11 Report "directly contradicted" parts of an ABC mini-series that aired on Sept. 10 and 11, "The Path to 9/11" – at least on two of the three events he alludes to. On the third, the Report may not contradict the ABC version, but neither does it offer any support for it. The mini-series shoved red-hot spurs into what was obviously already a Democratic sore spot by portraying Clinton and his former aides as lackluster in going after the terrorist leader. Clinton lawyer Douglas J. Band and Clinton Foundation CEO Bruce R. Lindsey complained in a Sept. 1 letter to ABC about three specific scenes which are the ones to which Clinton presumably referred:
- Berger's Role: Lindsey and Band write that "The drama leads viewers to believe that National Security Advisor Sandy Berger told the CIA that he would not authorize them to take a shot at bin Laden in 1998." We find no evidence that this scene is based on reality. While a plan was drawn up for an operation to get bin Laden in early-to-mid 1998, it was never implemented. CIA Director George Tenet told the Commission that he alone took responsibility for pulling the plug, and he conveyed that decision to Berger (p. 114). It is true that members of the intelligence community were frustrated at times, such as in mid-1999, by not getting a green light to mount a strike when they believed they had bin Laden's location pinpointed. "The reporting [on bin Laden's whereabouts] was very detailed and came from several sources," according to the Report (p. 140). But CIA Director George Tenet apparently didn't consider the intelligence good enough to authorize a strike. Tenet told the Commission that he remembers the intelligence coming from a single uncorroborated source and that there was a risk of collateral damage.
- Albright's Role: The Lindsey/Band letter also highlights the miniseries' portrayal of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as refusing to sanction a missile strike on bin Laden without alerting the Pakistanis first, over the military's protests. The 9/11 Report provides no basis for believing this is true. The Commission generally depicts Albright as very supportive of actions against bin Laden. For example, she "strongly supported" the 1998 strikes against him in Khost, it says (p. 95), and she "increased the department's focus on counterterrorism" after the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa (p. 123).
- Lewinsky a distraction?Thirdly, the letter says the ABC program insinuates that Clinton was too wrapped up in the Monica Lewinsky scandal and impeachment to pay sufficient attention to bin Laden. On this, the 9/11 Report supports Clinton. "Everyone involved in the decision [to launch cruise missiles aimed at bin Laden in 1998] had, of course, been aware of President Clinton's problems," the Report says. "He told them to ignore them. Berger recalled the President saying to him 'that they were going to get crap either way, so they should do the right thing.' All his aides testified to us that they based their advice solely on national security considerations. We have found no reason to question their statements." (p. 118) Because of complaints from Clinton's camp, ABC removed most references to the Lewinsky scandal by the time the program aired.
When Clinton said the miniseries represents "a right-wing conservative run" by ABC, he may be referring to the fact that the writer/producer of the program, Cyrus Nowrasteh, is politically to the right of center. He has called liberal filmmaker Michael Moore "an out-of-control socialist weasel" and has referred to himself as " more of a libertarian than a conservative." But he also has said of himself that he is "neither an activist, politician or partisan, nor an ideologue of any stripe." ABC as a network is not known for ideological leanings one way or the other, although conservatives say that almost all mainstream media is liberal, and liberals criticize those same media outlets for having bought too readily into Bush's post-9/11 counterterrorism strategy and the Administration's rationale for invading Iraq.
Was ABC "falsely claiming" that the miniseries was based on the 9/11 Report? ABC's poster for the program did claim it was based on the Report. As controversy began to heat up, the network tempered its sourcing claims a bit, but not always. When it aired, the film contained the following disclaimer:
ABC: Due to subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. The Following movie is a dramatization that is drawn from a variety of sources including the 9/11 Commission Report and other Published materials, and from personal interviews. The movie is not a documentary. For dramatic and narrative purposes, the movie contains fictionalized scenes, composite representative characters and dialogue, as well as time compression.
Black Hawk Down
Clinton: They were all trying to get me to withdraw from Somalia in 1993 the next day after we were involved in 'Black Hawk down,' and I refused to do it and stayed six months and had an orderly transfer to the United Nations...There is not a living soul in the world who thought that Osama bin Laden had anything to do with Black Hawk down or was paying any attention to it or even knew Al Qaeda was a growing concern in October of '93.
True: Clinton is correct that there was a Republican effort to bring U.S. forces home immediately after a US helicopter was shot down in Mogadishu. His view prevailed, with the withdrawal date set for March 31, 1994.
According to the 9/11 Report, the intelligence community didn't learn that bin Laden's organization was linked to the Black Hawk shoot-down until 1996-97 (p. 341).
Clinton: [The Bush Administration] downgraded [Richard Clarke] and the terrorist operation. . . . He said we took vigorous action after the African embassies.
Mostly true. Clarke served every president beginning with Reagan and in Clinton's final years had the title of National Counterterrorism Coordinator. He had run the cabinet-level principals committee meetings on counterterrorism, briefing cabinet secretaries on the subject. When Condoleezza Rice became Bush's National Security Advisor, she kept him and his title but downgraded the position, taking away his right to run or even participate in principals meetings. Clarke saw it as a personal slight and also as an indication of where counterterrorism stood in the new Administration's list of priorities, although the latter is a judgment call and is strongly denied by the Bush team.
Clarke did give the Clinton Administration credit for being vigorous in responding to the embassy bombings, as well as overall in its anti-terror efforts, though it could have done more, he said in his testimony to the 9/11 Commission. "At the senior policy levels in the Clinton Administration, there was an acute understanding of the terrorist threat, particularly al Qaeda," Clarke told the Commission. "That understanding resulted in a vigorous program to counter al Qaeda including lethal covert action, but it did not include a willingness to resume bombing of Afghanistan. Events in the Balkans, Iraq, the Peace Process, and domestic politics occurring at the same time as the anti-terrorism effort played a role."
Capture or Kill?
Clinton: I authorized the CIA to get groups together to try to kill [bin Laden.]
Disputed: Indeed, the CIA worked with tribal groups and the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan to try to get bin Laden, dangling a monetary reward, all of which was approved by Clinton – but there were differing understandings as to whether they were authorized to kill him or had to capture him alive. A new Memorandum of Notification, a document spelling out what the agency was and wasn't allowed to do with respect to bin Laden, was drawn up in late 1998 that contained stronger language than earlier memorandums about when the tribal groups could use lethal force, according to the 9/11 Report. Previously, killing bin Laden was authorized only in self-defense during a capture operation. In the new document, it was permitted if capture wasn't considered feasible. However, subsequent memorandums reverted to earlier language, though the reasons for that are unclear. This helps explain why, according to the Report, "former White House officials and the CIA officials might disagree as to whether the CIA was ever authorized by the President to kill bin Laden." (pgs. 131-133)
Comprehensive anti-terror operation
Clinton: The country never had a comprehensive anti-terror operation until I came there.
True. It is also true that a broad-scale terrorist threat wasn't perceived until the mid-to-late1990s. Until then, the government wasn't set up to address it. (pps. 94-95)
After the Cole attack
Clinton: After the [attack on the USS] Cole, I had battle plans drawn to go into Afghanistan, overthrow the Taliban, and launch a full-scale attack search for bin Laden. But we needed basing rights in Uzbekistan, which we got after 9/11. The CIA and the FBI refused to certify that bin Laden was responsible. . . . So that meant I would've had to send a few hundred Special Forces in helicopters and refuel at night.
True: Clinton did draw up plans as he described, and was indeed frustrated by the reluctance of the CIA and FBI to pin blame for the attack squarely on bin Laden.
The USS Cole was attacked in Yemen by suicide bombers Oct. 12, 2000. The following month Berger asked Gen. Hugh Shelton to "reevaluate military plans to act quickly against bin Laden," the 9/11 Report says. The air strikes envisioned in the new strategy were wider ranging than had been described in earlier plans, including attacks against the Taliban. "For the first time, these strikes envisioned an air campaign against Afghanistan of indefinite duration." (p. 194)
In early 1999 plans were ordered for using fast, precision-targeting AC-130 "Spooky" gunships, designed for use by the special forces, to strike bin Laden's headquarters. One concern, though, was that the gunships would need access to bases nearby because their refueling range was just over 2,000 miles. " Thus an AC-130 deployment had to be embedded in a wider political and military concept involving Pakistan or other neighboring countries to address issues relating to basing and overflight," the 9/11 Report says (p. 135). The report doesn't mention needing basing rights in Uzbekistan, which Clinton said were needed. But that country didn't grant such basing rights until shortly after 9/11, according to the Report (p. 337), which of course was after Clinton left office. In 2005 those rights were revoked when the U.S. criticized the Uzbekistan government for human rights violations.
It's true that the intelligence agencies wouldn't certify that bin Laden was responsible for the suicide bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in 2000. Clinton told the 9/11 Commission, according to its report, that he was frustrated "he couldn't get a definitive enough answer to do something about the Cole attack" (p. 193). Former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger concurred, telling the panel that the intelligence agencies had strong suspicions, but reached "no conclusion" by the time Clinton left office that the ship bombing was definitively the work of bin Laden. In late December 2000, with only days left before Clinton had to vacate the White House, slides from a CIA briefing to a small group of key officials said it was the agency's "preliminary judgment" that al Qaeda "supported the attack" but had "no definitive answer" to the question of who directed it and how (p. 195). (Clarke told the panel that he thought the agencies were 'holding back,'" p. 195) Did that mean Clinton was limited to sending in "a few hundred Special Forces," if he did anything at all? In practice, probably so. Those who were interviewed by the panel thought it was impossible to justify a broader military offensive unless blame could clearly be laid (p. 195).
"They did not try"
Clinton: They did not try. I tried. . . . When I failed, I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke, who got demoted.
Exaggeration: It's not true that the Bush Administration "did not try" to address the al Qaeda threat before 9/11, though how hard is open to debate. It unquestionably got off to a sluggish start. The first principals' meeting on terrorism didn't take place until Sept. 4, 2001. That doesn't mean nothing was happening, though. In March, 2001, Rice asked the CIA to draw up a new set of authorities for covert action in Afghanistan. It drafted two documents, including one that permitted greater use of lethal force in a variety of circumstances. However, CIA Director George Tenet argued to the Deputy Director of the National Security Council that the Administration should make some larger decisions about policy before deciding on final language, and the draft was put on hold (p. 210). Also in March, Bush expressed frustration to Rice about not being able to get bin Laden. "I'm tired of swatting at flies," he told her, according to the 9/11 Report (p. 202). Bush told the Commission that he was frustrated with catching terrorists one-by-one or cell-by-cell, though he understood that it took time to mesh diplomatic, financial and military measures into a coherent policy (p. 202).There was also a great deal of discussion in the spring and summer of 2001 about the ongoing development of an armed Predator – a pilotless drone that could launch Hellfire missiles when it found its target (p. 211).
Still, the pace was slow, and extremely frustrating to Clarke (p. 203). Rice told the 9/11 Commission she had told Bush "that she and his other advisers thought it would take three years or so for their al Qaeda strategy to work." (p. 213).
Because of several questions by Bush in 2001 about whether the al Qaeda threat was aimed at the U.S., the CIA produced an article in the Aug. 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." But the Commission found no evidence that Bush discussed the article or the threat to the U.S. with any of his top advisers before Sept. 11, nor did the article prompt any meetings at the National Security Council. Tenet visited Bush in Crawford, Tex., on Aug. 17, and participated in daily intelligence briefings with Bush from Aug. 31-Sept. 10; he told the Commission that the subject wasn't raised (pp. 260-262).
In his new book "State of Denial," journalist Bob Woodward recounts an anecdote that shows the frustration of some officials that the new Administration wasn't acting quickly enough, particularly in view of a significant uptick in noise in the intelligence system. CIA Director George Tenet wanted an immediate bin Laden action plan, Woodward writes, but "Rumsfeld had questioned all the [National Security Agency] intercepts and other intelligence." On July 10, 2001, Tenet and his counterterrorism chief, Cofer Black, thought the likelihood of a terrorist attack in the near future was so great that the two of them hopped in a car to the State Department, calling Rice on the way to say they needed to see her immediately. Tenet had been pushing her to set a clear counterterrorism policy for months, according to the Woodward book. In this meeting, he and Black conveyed that immediate action was needed to thwart bin Laden, the book recounts. The book's conclusion that Tenet and Black "felt the brush-off" from Rice at the meeting has been contradicted. Tenet's testimony to the 9/11 Commission indicated that he felt Rice took them seriously at the meeting, and Rice's spokesman said both that there was "nothing new" in the briefing and that Rice asked Tenet to give the same briefing to Attorney General John Aschcroft and Rumsfeld (Ashcroft has said that he never got such a briefing). The bottom line, it appears, is that nothing immediate was done to deal with the urgency of the threat reporting. A National Security Presidential Directive authorizing a new covert war against bin Laden, prepared by Rice, was ready to go to Bush on Sept. 10.
Clinton did leave an anti-terror strategy, put together by Clarke and his staff in apaper entitled "Strategy for Eliminating the Threat from the Jihadist Networks of al Qida: Status and Prospects." It was completed just as Clinton's time as President was coming to a close. (p. 197) It was conveyed to the incoming Bush Administration in January 2001. (p. 201)
It's certainly plausible to say that Clarke was "the best guy in the country" on al Qaeda, although a word like "best" is almost always a matter of opinion. There's no denying that he was extremely well-versed on the subject, and many of his warnings proved prescient. And Clarke was demoted, in effect, by Rice (see above).
"No one knew al Qaeda existed"
Clinton: No one knew al Qaeda existed [when the 1993 Black Hawk disaster took place.]
Essentially True: While someone might have known al Qaeda existed, in 1993 Osama bin Laden was still seen in the West as a leader of successful anti-Soviet fighters in Afghanistan. A London newspaper article in December that year carried the headline, "Anti-Soviet warrior puts his army on the road to peace." It wasn't until the following year that a handful of news reports began to surface saying bin Laden was financing terrorist activities, which were said to be aimed at conservative Arab regimes.
A contract on bin Laden?
Clinton: I authorized a finding for the CIA to kill [bin Laden.]We contracted with people to kill him.
Debatable: As outlined earlier, Clinton did authorize the CIA to work with the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance but there was much confusion about whether those on the ground had a green light to assassinate bin Laden outright or merely to try to capture him using deadly force in self-defense.
Who got closer?
Clinton: I got closer to killing him than anybody has gotten since.
Debatable: Clinton probably came within hours of killing bin Laden on Aug. 20, 1998 when the US attacked training camps in Afghanistan near Khost, where the CIA believed terrorist leaders were gathering to plan further attacks in the wake of earlier bombings of US embassies. The cruise missile strikes, launched from Navy vessels in the Arabian Sea, mostly hit their targets but missed bin Laden, most likely by just a few hours (9/11 Report, p. 117).
That's the last time an attack was launched until after 9/11. Bush probably came close too, however. Newspaper accounts have quoted unnamed intelligence officials saying that bin Laden narrowly escaped capture in the battle of Tora Bora, Afghanistan, in late 2001, primarily because no U.S. ground troops were in the area at the critical time. The failure to capture bin Laden there became an issue in the 2004 presidential election. Last year, the CIA field commander at Tora Bora, Gary Bernsten, said he had definitive intelligence that bin Laden was hiding in the Tora Bora mountains, and could have been caught.
Who came closer? Clinton's claim is plausible, but the publicly available evidence isn't sufficient to prove the case either way.
I've never criticized
Clinton: I've never criticized President Bush. . . . But you know we do have a government that thinks Afghanistan is only one-seventh as important as Iraq.
Mostly false. Of course, Clinton's claim that he "never criticized" is negated by this very interview. True, Clinton may not have personally criticized Bush. But these weren't his first disparagements of the current Administration's actions. In interviews surrounding the June 2004 release of his book, My Life, Clinton said, for example, "I believe we made an error in not allowing the United Nations to complete the [weapons] inspection process" before making the decision to invade Iraq, Clinton said on CBS News's 60 Minutes . He also said he believed the Iraq war distracted from what should have remained the main mission of dismantling al Qaeda.
We have no idea how important the Bush Administration thinks Afghanistan is compared with Iraq. But if allocation of troops is a measure of priorities, Clinton is correct. There are currently 141,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and 21,000 in Afghanistan, according to the Pentagon.
That little smirk
Clinton: And you've got that little smirk on your face and you think you're so clever.
Your Call: We'll leave it to readers to decide if the expression on Wallace's face is a smirk – or stunned disbelief. Call it, maybe, shock and awe. And while we wish mindreading was among our talents, we have no idea if Wallace thought he was clever or was desperately trying to figure out how to regain control of his own interview.
Wallace soft on Republicans?
Earlier in the piece Clinton demanded that Wallace tell him whether or not he'd ever asked members of the Bush Administration questions like "Why didn't you do anything about the Cole?" Wallace didn't address that directly during the interview, but we called Fox and asked them to send us any interviews they'd like to in which Wallace posed tough questions about terrorism to Bush officials, inlcuding why they didn't retaliate for the Cole bombing. They sent two, a Sept. 10 2006 interview with Rice and a March 28 2004 interview with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Wallace's questioning of Rice is not particularly pointed. As for his chat with Rumsfeld, Wallace asks the following:
Wallace: But looking back, sir -- and I understand this is 20/20 hindsight -- it's more than an individual manhunt. I mean, what you ended up doing, in the end, was going after al Qaeda where it lived.
Rumsfeld: Which is the only way to do it, in my view. I think you simply have to go after...
Q: And the question is, pre-9/11, should you have been thinking more about that?
A: Well, we were thinking about what to do about al Qaeda. Any suggestion that the administration was not would just be incorrect. Now, as I think it was Rich Armitage said, were we able to stop that attack? The answer is no. Were we ahead of those particular terrorists and what they were doing? Obviously not.
"The entire military"
Clinton: The entire military was against sending special forces in to Afghanistan and refueling by helicopter. And no one thought we could do it otherwise, because we could not get the CIA and the FBI to certify that al Qaeda was responsible while I was President.
Exaggeration. After the Cole attack it is true that the bulk of the military's leadership, including Defense Secretary William Cohen, opposed the sort of attack Clinton describes. However, there were a few, among them Gen. Peter Schoomaker, head of the Special Operations Command, who thought a plan involving the special forces was feasible. Lt. Gen. William Boykin, a deputy secretary of defense for intelligence, told the Commission that "opportunities were missed because of an unwillingness to take risks and a lack of vision and understanding" (p. 136).
"A serious disinformation campaign"
Clinton: There's been a serious disinformation campaign . . . The people on my political right who say I didn't do enough spent the whole time I was President saying "Why is he so obsessed with bin Laden? That was 'Wag the Dog' when he tried to kill him."
At least partly true. Whether there has been a "disinformation campaign" is a matter of opinion. However, the conservative punditocracy – including sources like The Washington Times editorial page and Fox News host Bill O'Reilly – has certainly blamed Clinton for not getting bin Laden. Clinton is probably including the ABC miniseries when he refers to a "campaign" (see above).
"Wag the Dog" refers a popular 1997 film about a president who fakes a war to distract the public from paying attention to his personal scandal. When Clinton, who was embroiled in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, launched airstrikes on bin Laden camps in Afghanistan and a factory in Sudan in August, 1998, "[s]ome Republicans in Congress raised questions about the timing of the strikes," the 9/11 Report recalls (p. 118). "Much public commentary turned immediately to scalding criticism that the action was too aggressive."
"A vigorous attempt"
Clinton: My Republican Secretary of Defense [and] Richard Clarke and all the intelligence people said that I ordered a vigorous attempt to get bin Laden and came closer, apparently, than anybody has since.
Correct. Who came closer is, as we've said, a matter we can't resolve. But it is certainly true that Clinton's Republican Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, described Clinton as vigorously trying to get bin Laden. Cohen told the 9/11 Commission that "President Clinton and his entire national security team devoted an extraordinary amount of time and effort to coping with the threat."
Clarke also described Clinton's anti-terrorist actions as strong, as we've already noted.
The day after Clinton's interview on Fox, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in a meeting with writers and editors at The New York Post , said the idea that the Bush Administration took no action on terrorism pre-9/11 was "flatly false," calling the Bush efforts "at least as aggressive" as what Clinton had done, and denied Clinton's claim that the Bush team had been left a plan by the previous Administration.
Rice: We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al Qaeda.
False: Rice's statement is not supported by the 9/11 Report, which describes the plans Clarke drew up and says they were conveyed to Bush's aides, as we noted earlier. The 9/11 Report says that as the Clinton Administration drew to a close in December 2000, Clarke and his staff developed a policy paper on eliminating the al Qaeda threat, "the first such comprehensive effort" since a 1998 plan known as Delenda (p. 197). The Report also says (p. 201): "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."
Clarke is emphatic about the matter, telling interviewer Charlie Rose on Sept. 28, 2006:
Clarke: The Clinton Administration in the last month, in December of 2000, asked us to develop a comprehensive plan that we could hand off to the Bush Administration that had a military attack plan, that had an intelligence attack plan. It had diplomatic steps. It had economic steps. It was a comprehensive plan.
Rice also denied that Clarke had been demoted, saying "Richard Clarke was the counterterrorism czar when 9/11 happened." Technically true, in that Clarke's title didn't change, but effectively false, since she cut him out of key meetings and lessened his authority.
We can find no independent confirmation for the claim made by Michael Scheuer, the former head of the CIA's bin Laden unit who appears as "Mike" in the 9/11 Report, that the CIA knew exactly where bin Laden was at least 10 times yet no action was ordered, as he told the Boston Globe . As we've noted above, in mid-1999 intelligence operatives felt certain of bin Laden's location, but no strikes were ordered, much to the frustration of some involved. Similarly, in Dec. 1998, intelligence was received that bin Laden would be spending the night in the governor's residence in Kandahar. But officials charged with deciding whether to mount a cruise missile strike thought there was too great a likelihood of collateral damage, and that the intelligence was not sufficiently reliable. 'Mike' told a colleague he'd been unable to sleep after the decision. But the decision to hang back was vindicated when later reports indicated bin Laden had left his location by the time the missiles would have hit. And the Report adds a bit of context: "[F]aulty intelligence had just led the United States to mistakenly bomb the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during the NATO war against Serbia," bringing intense scutiny and criticism to the Administration and CIA.
The 9/11 Report says that problems pinpointing bin Laden's location continued. In 2000, military operations in Afghanistan were planned, but were "limited by the same operational and policy concerns encountered in 1998 and 1999. Although the intelligence community sometimes knew where bin Laden was, it had been unable to provide intelligence considered sufficiently reliable to launch a strike." (p. 188)
--by Viveca Novak with Justin Bank and Emi Kolawole
Kempster, Norman, " Christopher, U.N. Chief 'In Each Other's Face' Over Somalia Policy," Los Angeles Times, 10 November 1993.
Reynolds, Maura and Holley, David, "Uzbekistan Terminates U.S. Base Agreement; The eviction notice follows American calls for an inquiry into the shooting deaths of several hundred people during a May rally," Los Angeles Times . 31 July 2005.
Gellman, Barton and Ricks, Thomas E., "U.S. Concludes Bin Laden Escaped at Tora Bora Fight," Washington Post . 17 April 2002.
Bender, Bryan, "Parties Trading Blame on Bin Laden," Boston Globe . 26 Sept 2006.
Hirsh, Michael, "CIA Commander: U.S. Let Bin Laden Slip Away," Newsweek . 15 Aug 2005.
Kirby, Paul, "Florida Lawmakers call for Pull Out from Somalia," State News Services. 5 October 1993.
Williams, Daniel, "House Panel Rejects Early Somalia Withdrawal; Clinton's Promised March 31 Deadline Is Left Standing After Failed GOP Effort," Washington Post. 4 Nov 1993.
Clarke, Richard, "Against all Enemies: Inside America's War Against Terror," Free Press Publishing. March 2004.
"The 9/11 Commission Report : Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States," New York, W.W. Norton & Company Inc. July 2004.
Cohen, William S., "Testimony to the 9/11 Commission." 23 March 2004.
Robert Fisk, "Anti-Soviet warrior puts his army on the road to peace; The Saudi businessman who recruited mujahedin now uses them for large-scale building projects in Sudan. Robert Fisk met him in Almatig," The Independent (London), 6 Dec 1993: 10.
Waterman, Shaun. "Analysis: ABC puch on with 9-11 movie," United Press International. 11 Sept. 2006.
"The Charlie Rose Show," Transcript. 28 Sept. 2006.
Editorial. "Clinton's failed war on terror," The Washington Times. 19 Nov 2004.
"The O'Reilly Factor," Transcript. 17 Aug 2005.
Lakely, James G. "Berger rejected four plans to kill or capture bin Laden," The Washington Times. 24 July 2004.
Bishop, Ian. "Rice boils over at Bubba; rips 'flatly false' claim on Bush's bid to get Bin Laden," The New York Post. 26 Sept. 2006.
Eggen, Dan and Robin Wright. "Tenet Recalled Warning Rice; Former CIA Chief Told 9/11 Commission of Disputed Meeting," The Washington Post. 3 Oct 2006.
Who's Worse? Foley or Condi? I Vote Condi.
By Robert Scheer
Tuesday 03 October 2006
They are such liars. And no, I am not speaking only of the dissembling GOP House leaders led by Speaker Dennis Hastert who, out of naked political calculation, covered up for one of their own in the sordid teen stalking case of Rep. Mark Foley.
Call me old school, but I am still more concerned with the Republicans molesting Lady Liberty while pretending to be guarding the nation's security, an assignment which they have totally botched. The news about the Foley coverup, while important as yet another example of extreme hypocrisy on the part of the Republican virtues police, should not be allowed to obscure the latest evidence of administration deceit as to its egregious ineptness in protecting the nation.
On Monday, a State Department spokesman conceded that then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice had indeed been briefed in July 2001 by George Tenet, then-director of the CIA, about the alarming potential for an Al Qaeda attack, as Bob Woodward has reported in his aptly named new book, "State of Denial."
"I don't remember a so-called emergency meeting," Rice had said only hours earlier, apparently still suffering from some sort of post-9/11 amnesia that seemed to afflict her during her forced testimony to the 9/11 Commission. The omission of this meeting from the final commission report is another example of how the Bush administration undermined the bipartisan investigation that the president had tried to prevent. Surely lying under oath in what was arguably the most important official investigation in the nation's history should be treated more seriously than the evasiveness in the Paula Jones case that got President Bill Clinton impeached. Nor is it just Rice who should be challenged, for Tenet seems to have provided Woodward with details concerning the administration's indifference to the terrorist threat that he did not share with the 9/11 Commission.
In his book, Woodward described an encounter between Rice and Tenet, in a near panic about a rising flood of intelligence warnings just presented to him by top aide Cofer Black. Tenet forced an unscheduled meeting with Rice on July 10, 2001, because he wanted the Bush administration to take action immediately against Al Qaeda to disrupt a possible domestic attack.
"Tenet ... decided he and Black should go to the White House immediately. Tenet called Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser, from the car and said he needed to see her right away," Woodward reports. "He and Black hoped to convey the depth of their anxiety and get Rice to kick-start the government into immediate action." A mountain of evidence proves that the Bush administration did nothing of the sort.
Now, if Rice truly does not remember that now-confirmed meeting - which was apparently first reported in the Aug. 4, 2002, Time magazine in an article titled "Could 9/11 Have Been Prevented?" - wouldn't that indicate she didn't take it that seriously? Not remembering confirms her inattention to terror reports at a time the Bush administration was already fixated on "regime change" in Iraq.
Rice is famously sharp and has an awesome memory. Considering the trauma of 9/11 and its effects, it is inconceivable that Rice would not recall such an ominous and prescient briefing by Tenet and Black, especially after the 9/11 Commission forced her to document and review her actions in those crucial months.
It is, however, as she stated Monday, "incomprehensible" that she, then the national security advisor to the president and the person most clearly charged with sounding the alarm, would have ignored the threat. But ignore it the administration did, and then later tried to lay the blame on the Clinton administration, which, Rice claimed at the 9/11 Commission hearings, lied when it said it had given the incoming White House team an action plan for fighting Al Qaeda.
"We were not presented with a plan," Rice infamously argued under questioning from then-Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), but instead were given a memo with "a series of actionable items" describing how to tackle Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. (Editor's Note: Clinton did leave an anti-terror strategy, put together by Clarke and his staff in a paper entitled "Strategy for Eliminating the Threat from the Jihadist Networks of al Qida: Status and Prospects." It was completed just as Clinton's time as President was coming to a close. (p. 197) It was conveyed to the incoming Bush Administration in January 2001. (p. 201) 9/11 commission report. )
Such weaseling would be funny if the topic were not so serious. But there is no way Rice can squirm out of this one, despite her impressive track record of calculated distortion on everything from Iraq's nonexistent WMDs to the trumped-up ties between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Can there be any better case for turning over control of at least one branch of Congress to the opposition party so that we might finally have hearings to learn the truth of this matter, which is far more important, and sordid, than the Foley affair?
Republican Ray LaHood Admits Your Kids Are Not Safe As Pages with this Congress. Advocates Abolishing the Page Program to Protect Children.
From the A.P.:
The daily disclosures about Foley's salacious Internet exchanges with former pages has GOP lawmakers and conservative activists fearing the foibles of other politicians may be exposed. "People are very, very concerned," Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill., acknowledged Tuesday night.
LaHood said Wednesday he was standing by Hastert and predicted his fellow House Republicans would, too. It's not the speaker who should go, LaHood said, but the "antiquated" page system that brings 15- and 16-year-olds to the Capitol and has resulted in scandals in the past.
"Some members betray their trust by taking advantage of them. We should not subject young men and women to this kind of activity, this kind of vulnerability," LaHood said in a CNN interview. He said the program should be suspended, at least until its flaws can be corrected.
I've got a suggestion.... Why don't we just vote those untrustworthy pieces of shit out of office? Or maybe put them in Jail instead of covering up their "foibles"? Just a thought.
Hugs and Kisses,
Foley Scandal: With all the fingerpointing among the Republican Leadership, Tom D'Antoni at Huffpo has a solution: TORTURE THEM.
Only Way to the Truth---Torture Hastert
Is there anything worse, in the minds of most Americans than being a sexual predator to underage kids? Why it's right up there with rape and murder. Finding out who in Congress knew about Foley, when did they know it, and why didn't they do anything about it is as important to the nation as finding out who was behind 9/11.
Are our children worth less?
There's only one way to get this information. Send Foley, Hastert, Boehner, and the rest of them to Guantanamo and torture the information out of them.
I mean, that's this administration's policy, isn't it? Why restrict it to Muslims? Why not just expand it to all involved in anti-social activities, especially one as serious as this.
That we'd have to build a double-wide waterboard for Hastert is beside the point.
Habeas Corpus? Pfaff! If President Bush can waive it for Muslims, he can waive it for those who prey on our children, right?
It's the policy of the administration that Bush has the power to choose whom to torture. It's only logical thing to do, and the only way to get the truth out of these Republican Congressional leaders.
Living by the sword makes for tough payback.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 10:41:26 AM PDT
"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." -- Wendell Phillips, (1811-1884), abolitionist, orator and columnist for The Liberator, in a speech before the Massachusetts Antislavery Society in 1852, according to The Dictionary of Quotations edited by Bergen Evans.
Habeas corpus proceedings... do impose a cost, it's not free." John Yoo, torture lawyer, on NPR's Morning Edition today.
This is actually the argument John Yoo gave for limiting the habeas corpus rights of detainees. There are literally hundreds (HUNDREDS!) of petitions, they'd clog up the courts, and that costs an awful lot of money. This is thought of as a serious argument by so-called "Constitutional scholars" of the Federalist Society variety.
You need to go listen to this garbage. Steve Inskeep actually does a decent job of very calmly taking the long view of what Yoo is saying. First Yoo tries to make these Combatant Status Review Tribunals sound like very civilized events, where detainees can challenge their incaraceration, but Inskeep simply points out that detainees don't get a lawyer for them, they can't see "classified" evidence leading to their detention, and in fact the transcripts we have of these tribunals show them to be nothing more than perfunctory show trials. Think Kafka.
So after that goes nowhere, Yoo actually circles around to his final argument, admitting that the process for denying habeas does virtually guarantee that innocent people will be detained indefinitely, but that war is untidy and if we had to go through the messy process of actually granting all these habeas petitions to prisoners at Guantanamo, well... it would just be too costly.
There's no perfect system. I agree, Steve, that there's always the chance that there will be people who are detained who are not enemy combatants. The same is true of our criminal justice system... that's why we have all these processes, that's why we have all these appeal levels, is to try and correct any mistakes that were made and fix errors. (processes in the criminal justice system, not the military commission system. Nice bit of attempted conflation there -ed.)
Inskeep: You said "always a chance." Isn't it a certainty, especially given that some cases have already been found to be, almost indisputably, cases of people who were innocent, being held at Guantanamo for a long time and held elsewhere?
Yoo: I would say yes, in wartime, there's always people who are going to be picked up...
Inskeep: Do you, as a lawyer, who's worked for the Bush Administration and obviously thought about these issues, think that this law does everything possible to prevent error?
Yoo: I think we could probably do a lot more, but it'd be a lot more expensive. I think what we have here is something close to the civilian sytem.
Inskeep: (shaking his head until his eyes bugged out, I'm assuming) Are you saying it would be too expensive to give habeas corpus protection to non-citizens?
Yoo: Yeah, I think that's what Congress decided when they passed this law last week (see, it's CONGRESS arguing this, not me! -ed.) is that, you could have the possibility of hundreds and hundreds of habeas corpus proceedings, and they do impose a cost. They impose a cost on our judicial system, they impose a cost on our government and our military. Think about it, you'd have to pull witnesses in from abroad. You have the cost of potentially releasing classified information. All of this process does have a cost on our system, it's not free.
Yeah, freedom isn't free, you jerk.
So the only argument that the guy who pretty much invented the idea of inherent supreme executive power enshrined in the Constitution could come up with to strip unlawful combatants of habeas corpus protections, not just non-citizens Mr. Inskeep but ANYONE so named by the Department of Defense, is that it'd be just such a burden to get a plane ticket for a witness to come over from Afghanistan, and think about the special meals requirements for that witness if they're a vegetarian, and you probably have to put them up in a hotel, and who's going to set THAT up, who could get on hotels.com to get a decent rate, and... yes, it's just too much money to, you know, DO THE BUSINESS OF GOVERNMENT.
This from a lawyer for the Administration that wanted to spend $20 million on a party celebrating "victory" in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This is the most dishonest, craven, contentless, most insulting argument I've heard yet for removing Magna Carta-era protections for suspects. "It's just too much money."
Is this guy still allowed to teach at colleges?
by blue meme
Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 01:13:26 PM PDT
The White House is in full panic mode trying to find a way to spin the now-admitted fact that George Tenet did indeed brief Condi Rice on July 10, 2001 about the terror threat. The latest damage control approach has been to claim that the report was "nothing new".
So how come when then-Attorney General John Ashcroft heard the same warning a week later, he immediately stopped flying commercial aircraft?
Christy Hardin Smith at FDL runs down a bunch of the story of the July 10, 2001 terror briefing Condi somehow failed to remember. She also touches on the fact that George Tenet gave the same warning to John Ashcroft exactly a week later.
It seems to me that we ought to be asking whether that story has anything to do with this one, dated July 26, 2001:
Fishing rod in hand, Attorney General John Ashcroft left on a weekend trip to Missouri Thursday afternoon aboard a chartered government jet, reports CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart.Got that? July 17 -- Ashcroft briefed. July 28 -- Ashcroft flies in a charter, leased, according to the article, earlier that week.
In response to inquiries from CBS News over why Ashcroft was traveling exclusively by leased jet aircraft instead of commercial airlines, the Justice Department cited what it called a "threat assessment" by the FBI, and said Ashcroft has been advised to travel only by private jet for the remainder of his term.
"There was a threat assessment and there are guidelines. He is acting under the guidelines," an FBI spokesman said. Neither the FBI nor the Justice Department, however, would identify what the threat was, when it was detected or who made it.
Seems to me this could be another blockbuster. If Ashcroft decided that commercial flights were too dangerous based on the same warning as Rice (who presumably wasn't flying commercial flights either) ignored, we have ourselves some rather dramatic evidence of callous indifference and willingness on the part of the Bush Administration to put the preservation of their own hides before their duty. It will be tough for Rice to argue that the briefing was nothing new if it scared Ashcroft away from flying with commercial airlines.
Uh...I think That is Supposed to Read "Republican"...
not to be outdone, the AP has joined in....
[Dobson] touched on the uproar over former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, D-Florida, who resigned Friday in a scandal over electronic messages he sent to former teenage male congressional pages.
Denny Hastert is smack in the middle of one of the tawdriest and ugliest sex scandals in American political history. As a result, he has been the target of aggressive criticism, even from a few members of his own party, and, by all accounts, is desperately battling to keep his job.
In need of moral absolution and support from a respected and admired figure who possesses moral authority among Hastert's morally upstanding Republican base, to whom does Hastert turn? A priest or respected reverend? An older wise political statesman with a reputation for integrity and dignity? No, there is only one person with sufficient moral credibility among the increasingly uncomfortable moralistic Republican base who can give Hastert the blessing he needs:
Rush Limbaugh. And so that is where Hastert went yesterday in order to obtain the Decree that He Did Nothing Wrong.
As much as I tried -- and, trust me, I really tried -- I couldn't expunge this picture from my mind yesterday because, in all its visceral hideousness, it really illustrates what I think is the principal reason why this Foley scandal is resonating so strongly. This is the real face of the ruling Republican party, and it has been unmasked -- violently -- by the exposure of Mark Foley and his allies who protected and harbored him.
If the term "moral degenerate" has any validity and can be fairly applied to anyone, there are few people who merit that term more than Rush Limbaugh. He is the living and breathing embodiment of moral degeneracy, with his countless overlapping sexual affairs, his series of shattered, dissolved marriages, his hedonistic and illegal drug abuse, his jaunts, with fistfulls of Viagra (but no wife), to an impoverished Latin American island renowned for its easy access to underage female prostitutes.
Yet that is who Hastert chose as the High Priest of the Values Voters to whom he made his pilgrimage and from whom he received his benediction. The difference between Rush Limbaugh and Mark Foley, to the extent there is one, is one of hedonistic tastes, not moral level. Rush Limbaugh isn't just tolerated within the party that stands for religious piety and moral strength. He is a leader of it, arguably the leader of its most righteous wing. Is it really all that surprising that a political movement that has chosen a moral degenerate like Rush Limbaugh as one of its most revered and morally respected leaders is not all that bothered by -- and therefore actively harbors -- the Mark Foleys of the world?
The individuals who never tire of making public displays of how concerned they are with our moral fabric -- the Kathryn Jean Lopezs of the world who find Bill Clinton's sex life such a cause for condemnation and who publicly crusade to have John Kerry shunned by good Catholics because of how immoral he is and interrupt such crusades only in order to coo with giddy love and profound respect for Rush Limbaugh -- are well aware that their party is filled to the rim with sleazy, corrupt hedonists with as bloated and piggish a sense of entitlement as can be imagined. But as long as they help keep the party in power, they are not just tolerated but embraced. That dynamic is a core operating principle of the Bush-led Republican Party, and it is why Mark Foley was able to rise within it despite its being an "open secret" in Washington GOP power circles -- a very open secret -- exactly what he was.
When this scandal first broke, I spent a few hours researching federal law with regard to Internet sexual activities and "minors" and, while I knew that Foley was involved in enacting some of these bills, I was really amazed how far beyond that it went. Mark Foley was literally at the center of virtually every activity and law and program over the last 10 years ostensibly designed to battle the evils of Internet sex and minors. Mark Foley spent 12 years in Congress and it is not an exaggeration to say that he basically devoted his whole Congressional career to adding decades of imprisonment on to the mandatory punishments for those who use the Internet to talk about sex with children. He didn't just condemn that which he was doing. He made the crusade against it his life's work, in the most vocal and public way possible.
Mark Foley isn't some isolated case of shocking hypocrisy. Quite the contrary. People who have a publicly and vocally expressed obsession with other people's moral behavior and who want to use the power of the Government to enforce that obsession -- the Rick Santorums and Rush Limbaughs and Newt Gingrichs and Jim Bakkers and Ralph Reeds and Mark Foleys of the world -- are almost always fighting their own demons, not anyone else's. It is so important for them to parade around as moral protectors and moral warriors precisely because they have no other way to cleanse themselves, despite being in desperate need of a cleansing. That's why, all over the Internet, one easily finds things like this:
STATEMENT OF ATTORNEY GENERAL JOHN ASHCROFT ON THE PASSAGE OF THE SMITH-POMEROY-FOLEY CHILD OBSCENITY AND PORNOGRAPHY PREVENTION ACT
"I am pleased that the House of Representatives passed the Child Obscenity and Pornography Prevention Act, a bill that will strengthen the ability of law enforcement to protect children from abuse and exploitation. I urge the Senate to bring this important legislation to the floor as soon as possible.
"I want to thank Chairman Sensenbrenner for guiding this important legislation through the Judiciary Commitee (sic), and Congressmen Lamar Smith, Mark Foley, and Earl Pomeroy for their leadership on this bill. They have worked tirelessly to protect the health and safety of children.
"The Department of Justice remains solid in its commitment to identify, investigate, and prosecute those who sexually exploit children. I look forward to working with Congress to see to it that this legislation becomes law, so that we may continue in our efforts to eliminate child pornography and prosecute offenders."
This isn't some "great find"or specially revealing document. Documents like this are everywhere, because this is the twisted, warped, dysfunctional and rotted political rule to which we have been subjected for the last six years and even before that (though not with the unchallenged power it has now). Mark Foley is the GOP face of efforts to combat the use of the Internet to sexualize minors, and Rush Limbaugh is their High Moral Priest.
We have been barraged with laws, programs, sermons, demagoguery and all sorts of moral demonization from a political movement whose most powerful pundit is a multiple-times-divorced drug addict who flamboyantly cavorts around with a new girlfriend every few months in between Viagra-fueled jaunts to the Dominican Republic. It is a political movement whose legacy will be torture, waterboards, naked, sadomasochistic games in Iraqi dungeons (or, to Rush, "blowing off steam"), with all sorts of varied sleaze and corruption deeply engrained throughout its DNA -- all propped up by a facade of moralism and dependent upon the support of those who have been propagandized into believing that they are voting for the Party of Values and Morals.
It is not a coincidence that the GOP was harboring someone like Mark Foley within its highest ranks while their most powerful political officials purposely looked the other way and even actively helped to conceal what he was up to, thereby enabling him to continue. After all, even now that this conduct has been exposed, their instinct -- all the way to the highest levels -- is to excuse and defend those leaders and offer up the most disgusting defenses -- all because preservation of their political power depends on it. This is not some bizarre aberration. This is how they operate and it is what they are. And the Mark Foley scandal is making it virutally impossible for anyone to convincingly deny it any longer.
17 U.S. Soldiers Killed In Iraq Since Saturday. Iraq War Grinds On With No End in Sight.
'Tragic day' claims eight US soldiers in Baghdad
By Paul Schemm / AFP
BAGHDAD - At least 17 US soldiers have been killed around Iraq since Saturday, including eight in a single day in Baghdad, the US military announced, saying the toll had brought "a tragic day".
The toll represents a dramatic spike for US casualties in Iraq which generally average no more than a couple of wounded a day, especially for the Baghdad-based forces.
"I don't have any comparative figures," said Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson, who declined to say whether the toll was an increase. "We have tragic days and this was a tragic day."
Monday saw four soldiers killed when their vehicle was obliterated by a roadside bomb in northwest Baghdad, as well as four soldiers killed by small arms fire in various other spots throughout the city.
Since August, there have been many more US soldiers operating across Baghdad as part of the "phase two" of the Iraqi government's four-month-old Operation Together Forward to restore stability to the war-torn capital.
US soldiers, together with Iraqi security forces, are flooding some of the city's most troubled neighborhoods and engaging in house-to-house searches for unlicensed weapons and insurgents.
Seven of the other US casualties since Saturday have been in the western Al-Anbar province, the center of a fierce anti-US insurgency that generally claims the lion's share of fatalities.
Since the summer, there has been an increase in US deaths there as well, though US military sources in the province say this is because of increased efforts to quash rebel strongholds in the towns of Ramadi, Hit and Haditha.
The number of US servicemen that have died since the March 2003 invasion is 2,723 according to an AFP count based on Pentagon figures.
Violence targeting ordinary Iraqis has been higher than usual as well, with the US military reporting that suicide bombings over the past weeks have been at an all time high.
In the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Saidiyah, a man wearing a belt of explosives blew himself up in a fish market killing two people and wounding 19, according to officials in the defense ministry.
A bomb exploded near a well-known Shiite mosque in the middle class neighborhood of Karrada, killing one person and wounding nine, while another bomb claimed two lives in the northern neighborhood of Qahira.
In addition to bombs, Baghdad residents have to watch out for mortar shells as militants in rival neighborhoods fire indiscriminately at each other's residents.
One person was killed and another wounded in the Abu Chir neighborhood in southern Baghdad, while 10 people were wounded in a mortar attack in Mussayib, some 60 kilometers (40 miles) south of the capital.
In nearby Baquba, capital of Diyalah province, the same brutal sectarian-driven violence was manifest with nine people being killed in various incidents around the city.
Police also discovered on a highway north Baquba seven bodies of a father, his five children and a nephew, bound and shot through the head. The Shiite family had been kidnapped earlier by gunmen.
Three bodies also turned up just south of the northern oil city of Kirkuk.