Monday, July 02, 2007
Al Gore should be our next President
Although he has so far refused to declare his candidacy Al Gore remains a very strong contender in various polls against the various Democrats who are currently running for President.
After his "loss" to George Bush in 2000 and the subsequent battle that went all the way the Supreme Court, Gore has remained a sympathetic high profile figure with his Academy Award winning film An Inconvenient Truth and his new best seller The Assault on Reason.
In a field full of strong candidates from H. Clinton to Edwards and Obama the drive for something and someone different which has been driving the endless predictions of Gore's supposed imminent entry into in the field is palpable - but none of these are reasons to support Al Gore as our next President.
Most of his own strongest supporters don't seem to even know just why we need him as desperate as we do.
It is true that Al Gore never voted for the Iraq War as did both Clinton and Edwards.
It's true Al Gore wouldn't have to explain why he "voted for the troop funding bill, before he voted against it."
It's true that by voting to take it from an internal government/university development project for protecting our vital assests and information from nuclear war to the world changing public information and publishing system - Al Gore really did help "create the Internet".
Vinton Cerf: Good evening, or whatever time zone you are in, hi!! While we're waiting for questions, I'd like to clear up one little item - about the Vice President ... He really does deserve some credit for his early recognition of the importance of the Internet and the technology that makes it work. He was certainly among the first if not the first in Congress to realize how powerful the information revolution would be and both as Senator and Vice President he has been enormously helpful in supporting legislation and programs to help further develop the Internet - for example the Next Generation Internet program.
It's true that Al Gore has been way out on the bleeding edge of telling truth to power with his speeches to Moveon.org four years ago on fact that 9/11 could have been avoided by good old fashion good police work rather than ever intrusive electronic surveillance and no knock warrants that have become so massively abused under the Patriot Act. (Not to mention Gitmo, Extraordinary Rendition and "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques")
* "In late August 2001, Nawaq Alhamzi and Khalid Al-Midhar bought tickets to fly on American Airlines Flight 77 (which was flown into the Pentagon). They bought the tickets using their real names. Both names were then on a State Department/INS watch list called TIPOFF. Both men were sought by the FBI and CIA as suspected terrorists, in part because they had been observed at a terrorist meeting in Malaysia.
* Checking for common addresses (address information is widely available, including on the internet), analysts would have discovered that Salem Al-Hazmi (who also bought a seat on American 77) used the same address as Nawaq Alhazmi. More importantly, they could have discovered that Mohamed Atta (American 11, North Tower of the World Trade Center) and Marwan Al-Shehhi (United 175, South Tower of the World Trade Center) used the same address as Khalid Al-Midhar.
* With Mohamed Atta now also identified as a possible associate of the wanted terrorist, Al-Midhar, analysts could have added Atta�s phone numbers (also publicly available information) to their checklist. By doing so they would have identified five other hijackers (Fayez Ahmed, Mohand Alshehri, Wail Alsheri, and Abdulaziz Alomari).
* Closer to September 11, a further check of passenger lists against a more innocuous INS watch list (for expired visas) would have identified Ahmed Alghandi. Through him, the same sort of relatively simple correlations could have led to identifying the remaining hijackers, who boarded United 93 (which crashed in Pennsylvania)."
In addition, Al-Midhar and Nawaf Alhamzi, the two who were on the terrorist watch list, rented an apartment in San Diego under their own names and were listed, again under their own names, in the San Diego phone book while the FBI was searching for them.
It's true that Al Gore has blasted the Administration for ignoring the contrary information about the Niger forgeries and aluminum tubes and for concocting phony connections between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein (again way back in 2003 just one year into the Iraq War long before it was either fashionable or politically expedient to do so.
For example, according to the just-released Congressional investigation, Saddam had nothing whatsoever to do with the attacks of Sept. 11. Therefore, whatever other goals it served -- and it did serve some other goals -- the decision to invade Iraq made no sense as a way of exacting revenge for 9/11. To the contrary, the US pulled significant intelligence resources out of Pakistan and Afghanistan in order to get ready for the rushed invasion of Iraq and that disrupted the search for Osama at a critical time. And the indifference we showed to the rest of the world's opinion in the process undermined the global cooperation we need to win the war against terrorism.
In the same way, the evidence now shows clearly that Saddam did not want to work with Osama Bin Laden at all, much less give him weapons of mass destruction. So our invasion of Iraq had no effect on Al Qaeda, other than to boost their recruiting efforts.
And on the nuclear issue of course, it turned out that those documents were actually forged by somebody -- though we don't know who.
As for the cheering Iraqi crowds we anticipated, unfortunately, that didn't pan out either, so now our troops are in an ugly and dangerous situation.
Moreover, the rest of the world certainly isn't jumping in to help out very much the way we expected, so US taxpayers are now having to spend a billion dollars a week.
In other words, when you put it all together, it was just one mistaken impression after another. Lots of them.
Meanwhile Al Gore has gotten the correct impression. Lots of them.
But backseat quarter-backing the Bush Adminstration alone whether it be on his ineffectual response to 9/11 warnings or his failure to support and expand the Kyoto Treaties alone isn't a qualification for the Presidency.
Rather, there are two primary reasons why Al Gore is essentially needed as the next President lay in what he has already shown he is capable of accomplishing when he previously sat at heartbeat away from that position for 8 years.
Reason Number One: REGO
During that time President Bill Clinton placed Gore in charge of his Reinventing Government Program which during course of it's life saved $137 billion and reduced the federal workforce by 300,000 (Averaging 10% across all agencies, except the DOJ which increased personnel) and at the same time improving efficiency and responsiveness.
One of the key models that was used, amazingly, was FEMA.
During the 1990s, FEMA was routinely praised as one of the best-functioning federal agencies. Its response to the Midwestern floods of 1993, the Northridge earthquake of 1994, and 1995's Oklahoma City terrorist attack are considered models of emergency response.
We now know that under Bush FEMA has been utterly destroyed, as have nearly each and every other major government function. Rather than responding to the needs of the people, they make excuses as they did with Governor Sibelius.
Rather than reducing the size and excessive influence of Government - Bush has overseen the most massive Federal Agency ever - The Department of Homeland Security.
And yet our ports still aren't properly protected or inspected.
Under Clinton and the direction of Al Gore, the government worked for the benefit of the people, not just for corporations or to implement a partisan agenda as we've seen with the Bush DOJ Firings, the "Faith Based Initiatives" and refusal to implement EPA regulations.
The mess that Bush has made of the Government is going to require someone with a vast level of experience to correct and no one in the current set of Democratic or Republicans Presidential hopefuls has this experience except for Al Gore.
Reason Two: Terrorism
The true test of a leader isn't the photo-ops you take after things have already blown-up and gone to hell (Yes, I'm talking to You Rudy!), it's what you do to prevent that sitaution from occuring in the first place.
As most of us know former NSC Counter-terrorism chief Richard Clark attempted to get a urgent meeting of the NSC Principles in place on the danger of Al Qaeda pretty much from the first minute Bush walked into office - and was brushed off.
January 25, 2001 Richard Clarke Memo:
"We urgently need . . . a Principals level review on the al Qida network.
Even after the midnight intervention on Condi Rice by Clarke, Tenet and Cofer Black in July of 2000, August PDB and personal meeting between Tenet and Bush in Crawford - there still wasn't even a single meeting until just a week before the attack on 9/11.
While planning counter-terrorism efforts in preparation for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Clark found himself faced with a similar set of stalling, excuse making and buck passing. Considering the plot by Ramzi Yousef (the original World Trade Center bomber) to blow up nearly a dozen 747 simultaneously over the Pacific Ocean Clark asked the Special Agent in Charge at the Atlanta FBI Office... (Against All Enemies. page 106)
"What if somebody blows up a 747 over the Olympic Stadium, or even flies one into the stadium?!"
"Sounds like Tom Clancy to me," he sneered. "But if it happens well, that's an FAA problem."
In order to get some of the agencies planning for the Olympics to properly focus, Clarke made some phone calls.
One Week Later, Vice President Al Gore agreed to Chair the Counter-terrorism meeting himself.
He and Clarke made plans in the motorcade on the way to the meetihg.
"Here are some question you might like to ask, innocently." (The Same ones that Clarke had asked a week ago and received the run-around). "Then, after a awhile, you ought to look really mad."
"I do mad well." Gore smiled.
Once the meeting began he asked the questions, and got the same lame answers Clark had. He got mad, REAL Mad.
I know (then Joint Chiefs Chairman) General Shelton over there could probably personally scare away most terrorists, but we can't put Hugh on every corner. We need a better plan than this. Dick, I am going to ask you to pull that together, use whatever resoures these agences have that are needed. Anybody got any problems with that?
As a result Clark developed and implemented a comprehensive plan to look at all the various possible security issues involving the entire games and implemented it.
When Eric Robert Rudolph eventually did set off a backpack bomb at the Olympics all the emergency first responders were well primed and prepared, including hundreds of federal agents who roamed the games in plainclothes. Clarkes plan become known as the Atlanta Rules as were reused to help prevent the Millenium Bomb plot and protect numerous other threats.
After the crash of TWA Flight 800 Al Gore implemented an FAA Safety Commission, which attempted to improve the process of baggage screening, carry-on luggage checks and passenger screening.
In 1996 an oppurtunity arose to "snatch" bin Laden in Kharthoum shortly before he left Sudan for Afghanistan. Clarke's CSG made plans to implement a capture. A similar discussion of this had occurred in 1993 and had invovlement then President Clinton who after hearing and recounting both sides of the arguement (stopping a terrorist vs violating international law) Gore stated.
That's a no-brainer. Of course it's a violation of international law, that's why it's a cover action. The guy is a terrorist, Go grab his ass!"
Similar grabs had already been used to capture Ilych Sanchez (aka "Carlos the Jackel"), but in the 1996 situation it was the CIA and Special Forces who dropped the ball, then blamed Clinton for it when he'd given them the complete go ahead after listening to Gore's advice.
Like Ramsa Yousef, Bin Laden would have been brought back to the U.S. to stand trail - not GITMO - and in all likelyhood would have been convicted and imprisoned seven years before 9/11 if not for Tenet and the Pentagon Brass's cold feet after Somalia.
In both of these areas Gore is uniquely qualified and experienced to take the dismall situation we find ourselves in after 6 years of Bush Administration lies, cronyism, malfeasance and pandering to corporate profits internationally with the world's leading trade deficit, a crumbling national infratructure, dangerously over-extended and underequiped military and first responders, exploding deficit and government spending and dangerous loss of our moral authority around the world as we battle to win the hearts and minds of those who really would love to see all America stands for destroyed.
Over and above his committment to fight the Climate Crisis and to help return reasoned discourse to our social and political fabric via his books and movies, Al Gore can and has made the tough decisions when they needed to be made. He has placed the needs of his nation and the world above his own personal self-aggrandizement.
Al Gore needs to be the Next President Of the United States, for all of ours sakes.Hopefully, with a hefty dose of begging, he'll heed the call.