Thursday, March 25, 2004
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For those who are reluctant to shell out the money, Julia Turner creates a "good parts" version of Against All Enemies in Slate.
Brad DeLong, meanwhile, composes what Condoleezza Rice's public testimony would have looked like -- it looks pretty credible. [UPDATE: the New York Times reports that Rice will testify before the 9/11 Commission again in private -- she had testified behind closed doors for four hours last month.]
Fox News reports on the emnity between Rice and Clarke:
*Post title changed upon request from Tom Maguire.
UPDATE: David Adesnik has more.
"New York Times reports that Rice will testify before the 9/11 Commission again in private -- she had testified behind closed doors for four hours last month"
She says she's willing, but it's not established that she will.
The commission may well demand that she testify under oath, rather than be free to lie her ass off.
". Some of its members were more concerned about Saddam Hussein than Osama bin Laden. Nothing here can be called indefensible"
This has to be a joke right? Saddam was a threat to America? We now know with certainty that this is completely absurd. No WMD. No Al Queda link. In hindsight, this line is completely absurd. Now, lets think about it pre-9/11. A great number of people, at state, the UN, and the CIA gravely doubted that Iraq was a threat to America (even senior Bush officials *cough*Powell*cough*). Many Clinton officals told Bush officials that terrorism was the #1 threat. Not surprisngly, Bush hawks obsessed with Iraq (c.f. lexis search of Bush cabal member and Iraq pre-9/11) decided on their own Saddam was a bigger threat. This line is barely defensible.
If you are even going to mention "democratizaion of Iraq", please, please, please don't bother unless you magically found why the post-war plannign was utterly incompetent. You don't plan to democratize the Arab world and then forget the democracy building procedures, do you? I just want a reason, someone, anyone, do tell.posted by: Anon on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
BTW, the Times is suggesting that Rice isn't going to stick around for a second term:
"As she prepares to leave her job at the end of the year, Ms. Rice, the president's national security adviser, now finds herself at the center of a political storm, furiously defending both the White House and her own reputation."posted by: Jon H on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
“The commission may well demand that she testify under oath, rather than be free to lie her ass off.”
You are indeed half right. Much of the flap over Richard Clarke comes down to whether one believes Condoleezza Rice’s version of events. But since when does testifying under oath act as some sort of truth serum? Richard Clarke is a proven liar. I feel far more comfortable with Rice’s ability to tell the truth. This leads to another question: what will be the consensus opinion of the American people in the next week? Will they believe Rice or Clarke? Why do I emphasize the next seven days? This this is how long it should take for the story to be digested by the majority of citizens not obsessed by politics.
Clarke seems to despise Ms. Rice. Might he be a male chauvinist pig? Is he upset that a woman is his boss? Perhaps more importantly, on a subconscious level, a black woman? He engages in more than a few attempts at mind reading. This has already caused him some embarrassment. Clarke claims that Rice may not have previously known about the existence of Al Quaeda. This turns out to be totally false. He also charges that President Bush intimidated his staff to find a terrorist link to Saddam Hussein. Please note that Clarke doesn't provide direct proof. Instead, he relies on a gut feeling. I’m sure that others in the room may very well have come to the exact opposite conclusion. Richard Clarke most assuredly comes across as a vindictive man. It is extremely doubtful that he would be attacking the Bush administration if it had awarded him the job he desired. Somebody has mentioned that a company should never demote a senior official to a less esteemed post. This will virtually guarantee that the individual will feel embittered and seek revenge. It is always best to fire them. The Peter Drucker types apparently consider this to be a business management 101 principle. Me thinks that the political sector will now follow this advice.posted by: David Thomson on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
David Thompson writes: " It is extremely doubtful that he would be attacking the Bush administration if it had awarded him the job he desired. "
It's also extremely doubtful he would be attacking the Bush administration if it were competent.
You're clearly desperate, by the way. You must be sweating.posted by: Jon H on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
I love how in 4 days time that we've been able to "prove" that Richard Clarke is a liar and entirely discredit everything he says, but that Condoleeza Rice can be trusted to be truthful.
It's fairly laughable when you consider the amount of inaccurate information put forth by the Bush administration, Ms. Rice included, to justify the war in Iraq.
If we are to talk about lying, how about this example of Ms. Rice distorting the truth this week:
Ok. So that's out of the way. No let's talk seriously. I don't really care about the name-calling and all of the talk about how is lying and who isn't. The central question is a question of tactics and direction in the war on terrorism. Are we fighting it as effectively as we could be?
I consider Clarke's testimony important because we're finally have a conversation about whether or not the war in Iraq is a constructive part of the war on terrorism. For quite some time, any one who asked whether we were being effective in our work to fight terrorism was criticized as being unpatriotic.
It's a shame that every time someone comes forward to present a contrary opinion, more time is spent attacking and defending their character than talking about their ideas and insight.
However, even despite that attacks, I find hope in the fact that a the very least, we're starting to engage in these issue. There is nothing more important facing our country than how we can be most effective in fighting terrorism. For along time, we've only heard one side of the conversation. Now, let's hear both sides and the logic for both so we can choose which way to go from here.posted by: Jason on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
Oh, the chutzpah.
He engages in more than a few attempts at mind reading. This has already caused him some embarrassment.
... quoth David Thompson. And what odious acts of mind reading did David Thompson perform directly before this miserable quote?
Clarke seems to despise Ms. Rice. Might he be a male chauvinist pig? Is he upset that a woman is his boss? Perhaps more importantly, on a subconscious level, a black woman?
David Thompson, do you despise Richard Clarke? Are you threatened by his masculinity? Perhaps the color of his skin? Perhaps on a subconcious level you are envious of his rather large balls?
Is this why you attack him with no regard to the hypocrisy and deep irony of your attacks?
Why do you lambast him in a manner so conducive to self-implication? Do you have a sick sadistic disease of self-referential origin?
David Thompson is a proven liar. Carry on.posted by: reverseJudoChop on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
Yes, the sticking point seems to be that Condi Rice wants to appear before the panel to rebut Clarke, but the panel's rules are that rebuttals to sworn testimony must be done under oath.
Why does Rice so steadfastly refuse to testify under oath? I understand the constitutional issues, but it's starting to become something of an embarrasment, isn't it?
P.S. I don't think Dave Thompson is a liar. Much of what he writes is untrue, but I have no doubt that he really beleives them. There's an important difference.posted by: uh_clem on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
David: I think your characterization of Clarke as a "proven liar" is not valid on the terms I think people are assuming. Can we clear this up?
Are you calling Clarke a liar for his testimony under oath or for his comments to reporters in August 2002? Under oath he is telling a completely different story than in Aug 2002 so I have to assume you mean to say he was lying in Aug 2002. Am I reading you correctly?
Anon said, "No Al Queda link." as well as "Not surprisngly, Bush hawks obsessed with Iraq (c.f. lexis search of Bush cabal member and Iraq pre-9/11) decided on their own Saddam was a bigger threat. ".
Persistent ignorance is not an excuse to waste bandwidth. Following this line of comments is at least blind ignorance and at worst involuntary mental deficiency. Could be illiteracy as well.
I will continue to ask the question of what evidence is neccesary to convince the defenders of the Bush Adminstration that all might not be right in their world right now? The attacks that they are hurling at Clarke could be applied to anyone who said anything critical of the administration after previously having an inside view.
I have seen very little that has actually led me to question Clarke's account. I am talking about the evidence. Sure he might be motivated by greed, and he might be vindictive, but in the end this is not the path of least resistance for him. He could make a pile of money following the Bush party line, getting a gig on the Defense Policy Board, and using that connection to get some nice consulting fees to people like the Carlyle Group.
But he has turned his back on that route and is looking to set the record straight.
The element that disturbs me most is that the Bush administration (and the Clinton Administration) both appear reluctant to admit a failure in this matter. 3,000+ people are dead, they were killed as they were sitting in planes or at their desks, or trying to save the lives of others. The fact that happenend is enough evidence to me that there was a failure.
Clarke is the only person who seeems ready to take that failure personally and try to learn from it. He may not have all the answers, or even know exactly what could have been done to avoid the failure of 9/11, but at least he seems to be trying. All the other officials seem to believe that saying "there was nothing we could do" or "there is no guarantee action X would have prevented 9/11" is good enough. Well you know what, I want my leaders held accountable for their failures. The failure may not be a matter of incompentance or ignorance, it might just be that not failing would be really hard. Consider if I set out to run a 5 minute mile. I would probably fail, but I should at least figure out why I failed rather than just conceding that no matter what I would have done might not have prevented failure.
And this tone of denial of failure goes straight to the top. Bush is now saying, "If I had known terrorists were going to hijack planes I would have done everything to prevent that happening." Well, no sh*t. Only the most crazy conspiracy minded loon believes otherwise. But what I want to know is why he didn't know that terrorists were going to hijack planes.
It is 2004, and it is brutally obvious that the election colors every action of the Bush administration. But they have dug their own hole on this one. They were so afraid to admit taking some responsibility from the outset that as time passes it gets harder and harder for them to do so. But that is what they need to do. Admit the failure and make an effort to learn from it. Clarke's book, interviews, and testimony are all important steps towards doing that, and for that he should be seen as a hero, even if he is a vindictive person (or whatever other slur you want to toss his way).posted by: Rich on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
uh_clem: Having the National Security Adviser testifying under oath, even in private, on national security threats they directly dealt with establishes a precedent that compromises the privelaged position in its relation to the President. If the Congress wants to take action to amend the National Security Act of 1947 to change the role of the National Security Adviser then let it be done, but an appointed commission should not be rewriting the law.
The President can authorize the National Security Adviser to testify under oath, however, I think the circumstances that the nation is still at war establish the grounds that testimony by the National Security Adviser threatens the President's means to execute the responsibilities of the Executive necessary during a war.posted by: brennan stout on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
Does anyone know if the private meetings with the 9/11 commission were given under oath? Dan suggests they were, but I cannot find any information confirming this.posted by: brennan stout on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
"But what I want to know is why he didn't know that terrorists were going to hijack planes."
This underscorces why the 9/11 Commission is a not working. The media only makes it work when THEY don't ask these questions either. Anyone that thinks the editorial pages of the NY Times, WaPo, the Chicago Tribune or the Wall Street Journal are influential is plain nuts.
Has any panelist asked any of the government officials if the President was ever briefed on the kind of weapons that could be used against the United States? We know that the FBI and the CIA knew about plans to use commercial aircraft as missiles, but we don't know if President Clinton or President Bush was informed about this. Comparing words under oath to words in public we can draw that George Tenat confirmed that President Bush asked the CIA what kind of weapons could be used against the United States. The CIA would have analyst write reports on this and then allegedly send them to the White House.
So on what date did the President ask "what kind of weapons?".
When did the CIA write the reports to answer these questions?
When did they send the reports to the White House?
When did the White House receive them?
What was done after receiving them?
Just take a look at the decrying of security measures AFTER 9/11 at the airport. Can you imagine the public reaction if the President had to order the nation's air traffic to a halt?posted by: brennan stout on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
Don't get me wrong - I agree that Rice has the right to refuse to testify and Bush has the right to refuse to let her testify, just as any other person called to testify would be within their rights to take the 5th ammendment.
But what would that say about their credibility, and what does this say about Dr. Rice's?
(and don't bother with the "it'll set a bad precedent" argument. There's already a precedent for National Security Advisors testifying - granted, it's not the norm and only happens in unusual circumstances, but 9/11 wasn't exactly business as usual, was it?)posted by: uh_clem on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
"But what would that say about their credibility, and what does this say about Dr. Rice's"
Turn the question around, if she's willing to testify is private, why condemn her for not testifying in public other than to score political points? Which is one of the things the seperation of powers is supposed to minimize. Oh, thats right, because the whole point of this excersize is to score political points for some people. God forbid we find anything to improve out intelligence apparatus.
And btw, isnt it a little odd that the master of ant-terrorism Bill Clinton didnt meet with the CIA director for the last 2 years? Anybody else think just maybe thats why Clarke got his messiah complex? Because Clinton was yapping with him to avoid Tenet? Just a thought.posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
Dick Cheney is a proven liar.
Don Rumsfeld is a proven liar.
George W. Bush is a proven liar.
I guess we need to discount anything these people say as well.posted by: David Perlman on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
"(and don't bother with the "it'll set a bad precedent" argument. There's already a precedent for National Security Advisors testifying - granted, it's not the norm and only happens in unusual circumstances, but 9/11 wasn't exactly business as usual, was it?)"
The previous examples of National Security Advisers testifying under oath do not compare to the insinuation of Condeleeza Rice testifying under oath. Mr. Berger testified before the Senate Governmental Affairs committee while he was the National Security Adviser but the investigation was not related to this present role. Instead he was testifying on behalf of his affairs as the Deputy Assistant to the President on Natioanl Security Affairs in regards to the coffee meetings with the President where foreign officials with direct relations to foreign military establishments were suspected of paying the DNC hundreds of thousands of dollars IN ORDER to meet and greet the President.
Zbigniew Brzezinski testified before the Senate Foreign Relations committee decades after his time was served as National Security Adviser. The precedent that Rice's testimony would establish is that the National Security Adviser, a privelaged servant of the President that is not subject to Congressional oversight, can testify WHILE still in their role of special adviser to the President on behalf of National Security affairs conducted by the Executive branch.
Of course this is a new precedent. The only way for Dr. Rice to testify under oath on National Security affairs is for the President to request her to testify, she resign her role and then testify or the Congress must amend the National Security Act of 1947 so they have direct oversight of the National Security Adviser position.posted by: brennan stout on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
Lets please not spin this into Rice's word vs Clarke's. Its Clarke's word vs Clarke's word:
"House Intelligence Chairman Porter Goss (R-Fla.) said Wednesday that former White House anti-terror czar Richard Clarke, the author of a new book critical of President Bush’s handling of the al Qaeda threat before Sept. 11, 2001, may have lied in testimony to his committee, and said he plans to explore whether Congressional action on the matter is warranted.
Clarke’s “testimony to our committee is 180 degrees out of line with what he is saying in his book,” Goss said. “He’s either lying in his book or he lied to our committee. It’s one or the other."
I think getting at the truth on 9/11 is more important than worrying over precedent. Rice should testify, in public.
By the way, it does not seem that the most persuasive bit of Clarke's allegations has been discussed. As summarized in Slate, Clarke alleges the Bushies:
Discontinued Predator flights over Afghanistan. Clarke thought armed Predator drones could be used to kill al-Qaida members in Afghanistan without risking American lives. Clinton had authorized several unarmed flights in September and October of 2000, and "from the camera images on three flights," Clarke was convinced the drones had found Bin Laden. The Air Force agreed to prepare armed Predators for use in the spring of 2001. But the Bush administration didn't use them until after the Sept. 11 attacks.
There's been lots of talk about how Clinton had Bin Laden in his sigths as a result of these flights, and all sorts of right wing complaining about how Clinton's failure to make a prompt decision on killing him meant that Bin Laden got away. If Bush and Co were really serious about the terrorist threat, wouldn't they have continued these flights, and not accepted Air Force excuses that the planes were not ready??posted by: Appalled Moderate on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
If the Air Force was in fact right that the Predators were not ready, not sending them up may have been the right decision.
In any event, I think what we are missing here is that the missed opportunities to strike at bin Laden and al Qaeda in a way that might have averted 9/11 were water under the bridge by the time Bush was inaugurated. This doesn't excuse his administration's not making an active anti-terrorist policy an urgent priority in early 2001, but as far as preventing the terror attacks the 9/11 commission is investigating taking out bin Laden in the summer of 2001 would not have done any good.
What would have done some good is a more active defensive policy against terrorism in the United States. The relevant players here are not the Secretaries of Defense or State in either the Clinton or Bush administrations but the heads of the CIA and particularly the FBI. I remain perplexed as to why Robert Mueller or Vern Freeh have not testified in public to the commission about the failure to keep track of the Saudi nationals we had reason to believe were connected with terrorism before 9/11, or why intelligence about these men was so compartmentalized. Strictly with respect to 9/11 (as opposed to terrrorism in general) this represented a much greater failure of security policy than anything else either Clinton or Bush has been accused of.posted by: Zathras on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
"I think getting at the truth on 9/11 is more important than worrying over precedent. Rice should testify, in public"
How does testifying in public get to the truth faster than testifying in private, aside from creating an even bigger political free for all? This is a matter of appearances, is it not? We have entrusted this commission to find answers, they have the opportunity to get any information they wish from Rice in private, what will subjecting her testimony to the current circus do to enhance the process?posted by: Mark Buehneer on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
I agree 100% with everything Zathras just said. Whats more I desperately wish we didnt have to be fighting this political battle right now. Look, if Clarke wouldnt have suddenly come forward with this blitzkrieg against Bush like this, I dont think we'd be dismantling the Clinton presidency compared to Bushs first 8 months. It truly is water under the bridge. But now its a political problem. Anyone who blames the Bush administration for counterattacking this is either naive or scoring a point. Bush had no choice but to meet this criticism directly and get his side of it on record. I dont think that expecting Clarke's assertions to be remotely consistant over a 5 year period is asking too much. I dont think bringing this to light is unfair or dirty. Its simply inevitable. But again, i really wish we werent fighting this battle at this time. It does nothing for the security of this country, for Bush or Kerry.posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
You have a point on 9/11 investigations. My thought process goes more to whether Clarke's argument should be taken seriously or not, which I take to be the thread topic.
Most of Clarke's arguments, as far I can tell, are the howls of a wounded bureaucrat. (They wouldn't do meeting, they didn't take me seriously, they put this person over me, after I had years of Direct Access to the President, they challenged my expert opinion, they thought Iraq was more important than My Area of Expertise.)
But this bit with the Predators is actually verifiable. They were flown when Clinton was President, they saw Bin laden through the cameras. They were not flown under Bush. This could go to the point of the relative importance Bush and Clinton put on getting Bin Laden. It also could demonstrate that Bush & Clinton actually sort of agreed that they could not kill Bin Laden in cold blood, and Bush thought that wasting money on the Predators, therefore, wasn't warrented.
I dunno. Just thinking that this is the most damning of the substantive charges Clarke makes, and I wonder why it has slid so under the radar.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
Legal comments on Rice's potential testimony:
There are many tricky issues concerning separation of powers, executive privilege and waiver for any testimony to Congress by the President's National Security Adviser. You people don't hear the legions of lawyers screaming backstage. I know they're there.
Statements to Congress not under oath are governed by 18 USC 1001 - the Martha Stewart statute, so it is quite irrelevant whether it is under oath or not. Convictions are much, much easier to win under 18 USC 1001 than the perjury statute. Clinton's lies on deposition were to private parties rather than to a federal official, so 18 USC 1001 did not apply, only the perjury statute administered to witnesses.
The Democrats on the 9/11 Commission have an ambush waiting for Rice. This was prepared long before Clarke's book came out.
There is a real complicated dance going on here.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
Don't get me wrong, Bush should counterattack. But if Ms. Rice is going to be part of that counterattack, why can't she do so in public, subject to the same sort of questioning that Clarke received?
Yeah, 9/11 as political football is probably wrong. But Bush put that football into the arena when he released those World Trade Center ads.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
If an (R) went after a black woman with nothing but inuendo the press would go wild screeching 'sexism' and 'racism'... but Richard "The Dick" Clarke not only undermined his superior Rice... and I do mean superior... but makes wild claims that should in fact discredit his other contradictory rants...
I'm sick of the pigmentation exploitation of the (D)'s that results in Condi Rice and Colin Powell being called 'House-Slaves' while the Congressional Black Caucus gets on their knees before the almighty dollar of Marxist Aristide to NewsMedia acclaim.
Blacksploitation is such an industry that two of the most successful and powerful Americans in this country are being attacked with racially devisive slander...
I am sickened.posted by: DANEgerus on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
"Blacksploitation is such an industry that two of the most successful and powerful Americans in this country are being attacked with racially devisive slander..."
Wow. Not only is the kitchen sink being thrown at Clarke, now we are seeing the sewage.
Bush has constantly emphasized the war on terror in his campaign. You have to take the bitter with the sweet.....posted by: TexasToast on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
Egg on face:
Brennan is right - there is a difference between testimony to Congress, and statements to Congress. Rice can make written statements to Congress, and perhaps respond to written questions posed to the President (respond in his name), but she can't appear before Congress without first resigning.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
Uh, one thing I haven't seen in all of this hubbub about Clarke, terrorism, etc. is somethings about what Clarke actually accomplished in his tenure, if anything. His motivation seems to be more about spreading the blame around - let's face the facts that most of the anti-Al-Q efforts under Clarke were failures - from the first WTC bombings, to the embassy bombings in Africa, to the USS Cole, to the cruise missle strike on OBL, to not responding to Sudan's offer to capture him, etc. etc.
“’Blacksploitation is such an industry that two of the most successful and powerful Americans in this country are being attacked with racially devisive slander...’
Wow. Not only is the kitchen sink being thrown at Clarke, now we are seeing the sewage.”
Not in the least. Condoleezza Rice is not perceived to be an authentic black person by the “mainstream” media. There is a definite double standard going on.
The liberal establishment is most assuredly backing away from Richard Clarke. He is becoming a serious embarrassment. Instapundit has linked to a piece by James Lileks:
“When I said yesterday that Clarke should have expected some push-back, I should have been more clear. I meant that he must have known his contradictory statements would be made public, quickly, and these remarks, combined with his exquisitely timed book and PR push, would have an impact on his credibility. But he’s obviously smarter than I will ever be; he expected that the climate was right for his contradictions to be explained away or ignored.”
No truer words were likely ever spoken. The liberal media has once again failed the American public.
Here's an interesting new wrinkle:
From today's article in Salon:
A former FBI wiretap translator with top-secret security clearance, who has been called "very credible" by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has told Salon she recently testified to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States that the FBI had detailed information prior to Sept. 11, 2001, that a terrorist attack involving airplanes was being plotted.
And from another article:
A former FBI translator said Wednesday that the bureau had "real, specific" information relating to the Sept. 11 attacks before they happened. Sibel Edmonds worked for the agency working from Sept. 20, 2001 to March 2002.posted by: William Swann on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
David Thompson writes:
What on earth do you mean, and where do you see evidence of this perception?posted by: no name on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
"Yeah, 9/11 as political football is probably wrong. But Bush put that football into the arena when he released those World Trade Center ads."
Come on now AM, you honestly think none of this would be happening if these ads werent released? Besides that, as far as Im concerned, everything that has happened since about 9 am 9/11/01 is absolutely fair game politically. Attack Bushs leadership, taunt Bush's leadership. As the saying goes, everything changed that day. That is the debate we should be having.posted by: mark buehner on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
Dan Drezner has just added a link to the comments of David Adesnik. The following quote from a certain Kevin Drum is a definite attention getter:
“Still, there's not much question that the tone of this briefing sure doesn't sound much like the tone of the book. More later.”
Richard Clarke is indeed rapidly being marginalized. Kevin Drum is no friend of the Bush administration. I will make a prediction: the liberal establishment will soon wish they never heard of Richard Clarke. In another week, the consensus opinion will be that this episode was merely a vicious and unfair attack on President Bush.
"Edmonds said she could not comment in detail because she has been under a Justice Department gag order since October 2002"
How can the justice dept issue gag orders? If this is information that has been classified, thats one thing, but that is the wrong terminology, not to mention just talking about it would be disclosing classified information. This is odd.posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
"In another week, the consensus opinion will be that this episode was merely a vicious and unfair attack on President Bush. "
Some of these items will have to make the mainstream press first, which they dont seem in any hurry to do. All i've seen so far is 'certain allegations of political motivation voiced by Republican members', that kind of talk. Be nice if theyd actually print the alleged contradictions so people could decide for themselves. Oh, I forgot, people are too stupid to decide for themselves. They might decide the wrong way and mistakenly vote for Bush this fall. Tut tut.
Tom Holsinger writes: "Brennan is right - there is a difference between testimony to Congress, and statements to Congress. Rice can make written statements to Congress, and perhaps respond to written questions posed to the President (respond in his name), but she can't appear before Congress without first resigning."
She already did. She just doesn't want to do it in public, under oath. She didn't issue written statements.
And if she's covered by 18 USC 1001 anyway, then what's the justification for *not* being under oath?posted by: Jon H on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
Just what would be the consequences if Rice testified in public under oath without resigning? (She's not going to do such a thing without Presidential approval, so let's assume he does the necessary waivers.)
General rule of politics -- nothing in your record is off limits. Nor, really, should it be. The ideal situation is to get everyone's opinions about something out there, argue vigorously, reach some sort of national decision, and move on. By declaring something off limits,or beyond discussion,you impede that process.
Ms. Edmonds wasn't even employed by the FBI until 9/20/2001. How authoritative can she be?
Are you related to David Thomson? It would explain a lot.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
AM, you are absolutely right. But if thats the rule lets not keep hearing how Bush is declaring Kerry 'unpatriotic' for voting for defense and intelligence cuts all those years. Its a double standard. In my opinion, there is a clear line between how the candidates have behaved pre-911 and post. Otherwise its like asking FDR why he hadnt bombed any Japanese ships earlier in 1941. Well, duh. I think all this he said she said pre-911 is an unnecessary and unwise distraction. Lets talk about how the war is being handled.posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
Your point is taken on "patriotism". Alas, it is probably not taken by Kerry. As for the work of the 9-11 commission, we're just gonna disagree.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
I'm starting to think I know little of what I was talking about. It even seems to be depend on what the definition of "is" is.
I.e., Condi can't "testify under oath" before Congress, without first resigning, concerning matters of her office as the National Security Adviser position was created by Executive Order rather than an act of Congress. Maybe she can make oral statements in private to a committee, and even answer questions in private to a committee. That was my original thought until reading Brennnan Stout's post.
But I stand by my position that Condi responding to Congressional questions in private or in public would be a mistake as its Democratic members have prepared an ambush for her for presidential election reasons.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
Tom Holsinger writes: "But I stand by my position that Condi responding to Congressional questions in private or in public would be a mistake as its Democratic members have prepared an ambush for her for presidential election reasons."
The Republican members certainly tried to prepare an ambush for Clarke.
For presidential election reasons.
Clarke doesnt work for the president anymore. We have to look at the intent of the seperation of powers. It is designed to prevent _exactly_ this. An ambush of a presidential advisor for political motives. If they want their questions answered they can do it just as easilly behind closed doors or via written letters. There is absolutely no point in putting Rice on national telivsion being grilled by democratic senators except as a free campaign advertisement. Remember, the law is this way to prevent _precisely_ what you guys are asking for.posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
Mark Buehner writes: "If they want their questions answered they can do it just as easilly behind closed doors or via written letters. There is absolutely no point in putting Rice on national telivsion being grilled by democratic senators except as a free campaign advertisement. Remember, the law is this way to prevent _precisely_ what you guys are asking for."
But not under oath. Why do you think they're dodging the oath?
An earlier comment said that the oath is superfluous, due to 18 USC 1001. If that's truly the case, then what is to be gained by dodging the oath?
And anyway, grilling sometimes fails, like the Republicans failed to take down Clarke.
Maybe, if Rice has the facts on her side, she'd come out on top in a public hearing.
That's a big IF, though.
The oath makes it official, runs into separation of powers issues and creates a possibly undesirable precedent. IMO the whole idea of Condi appearing before Congress in any forum is nuts, but it's a lawyer's job to worry about all the things which can go wrong.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
Bill Frist, acting on a White House request, will ask to have Richard Clarke's testimony at the 2002 hearing declassified, so that what Clarke said then can be compared with what Clarke has told the 9/11 Commission. Mr. Frist, in advance of a ruling on his request, is already telling reporters what Mr. Clarke's testimony consisted of.
Frist also called Clarke's apology to the 9/11 families theatrical, saying Clark did not have the "privilege, responsibility or right" to apologize to anyone on behalf of the US government.
Meanwhile, a FoxNews poll shows that 55% of independents (not Democrats, and not Repobulicans, who've already made up their minds about this; but the independents who will probably decide the election) believe Clarke's testimony is credible.
So. I'm curious. How far will Republicans go to destroy Clarke? And how do y'all think it will play in the Heartland?
I also kind of wonder why Condi Rice refuses to testify under oath, whether publicly or privately.posted by: Ciel on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
"But not under oath. Why do you think they're dodging the oath?"
Lying to a congressional committee is a felony. So whats the difference? If you think RIce is a liar, why is an oath going to matter?
Its your characterization that they are dodging an oath. IF they are such a bunch of liars that doesnt make a lot of sense. BTw, do we actually know that an oath isnt taken in a closed door hearing or is that just an assumption?posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
"So. I'm curious. How far will Republicans go to destroy Clarke? And how do y'all think it will play in the Heartland"
The real question is how far has CLarke gone to destroy himself. According to the committee, what they told them behind closed doors directly contradicts his book. Is that destroying the man? Isnt this the murderer who killed his parents asking for mercy because he's an orphan?
As far as the poll, I think its pretty obvious that the mainstream media has systematically refused to dilineate Clarkes contradictions in testimony. Everything I have seen characterizes the issue as partisan wrangling. THis is by no means typical partisan wrangling. This guy may have lied to the 911 committee and then written a book about it.posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
"what they told them behind closed doors directly contradicts his book"
Ugh. "What Clarke told them behind closed doors is directly contradicted by his own book."posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
"According to the committee, what they told them behind closed doors directly contradicts his book.
According to what Committee? The request came from the WH, as relayed by Bill Frist. The Committee had, so far as I know, nothing to do with the declassification request.
"As far as the poll, I think its pretty obvious that the mainstream media has systematically refused to dilineate Clarkes contradictions in testimony. "
Really? You mean all those appearances by Cheney and Rice and their surogates all over town on every news nad talk show on TV, and they neglected to make a point-by-point refutation of Clarke's charges? Or are you saying they did make a point by point refuation and the media refused to report it?posted by: Ciel on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
"What Clarke told them behind closed doors is directly contradicted by his own book."
That's their claim, anyway.
I'd be more impressed if a Democrat claimed there were contradictions.posted by: Jon H on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
"I'd be more impressed if a Democrat claimed there were contradictions."
You got that right.posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
"Really? You mean all those appearances by Cheney and Rice and their surogates all over town on every news nad talk show on TV"
Well, tell you what. Here's the AP story. YOu tell me where it any of the contradictions are specifically laid out:
If it wasnt for blogs and 'right wing' radio, you'd never know about the background peice, or the Condi Rice email, or the resignation letter, or the any of the other interviews Clarke did in 02. No facts in these stories, just a general coverage of the event to make it look like partisan bickering. Make no mistake, this guy has _numerous_ and _demonstrable_ contradictions. But where are they in the news stories?
Heres the NYT story. Same thing, they cover the fact that the republicans are making 'accusations' but dont bother to spell out even a single one!
Amazingly, the LA Times does a half way decent job. Must have had too much coffee this morning:
"Frist, without elaborating, said Clarke's testimony in 2002 was "effusive in his praise for the actions of the Bush administration."
There, thats an accusation. Not noting there there has 'been' an accusation. An actual honest to god verifiable or deniable charge. Go watch the network news tonight, see if you here any of that. Or if you hear more 'Replicans today... blah blah blah'
posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
Bush fans always say there are contradictions, but they never, ever address Clarke's responses to accusations on those contradictions.
It's like you people haven't bothered to read the transcript.posted by: Jon h on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
“If it wasn’t for blogs and 'right wing' radio, you'd never know about the background piece, or the Condi Rice email, or the resignation letter, or the any of the other interviews Clarke did in 02. No facts in these stories, just a general coverage of the event to make it look like partisan bickering. Make no mistake, this guy has _numerous_ and _demonstrable_ contradictions. But where are they in the news stories?”
It could be that editors don’t find all of this “evidence” very convincing. I am aware of most of it, and I see no FACTUAL contradictions – just a good deal of spin and innuendo. The Fox piece is NOT contradictory if one really reads it, as opposed to just editing the good parts. The Rice E-mail is self-serving BS that is actually consistent with Clarke's desire for a stronger push against terror. The other interviews are “putting a good face on it” pieces.
If you have a FACTUAL contradiction, lets hear it. Not an interpretation, not an impression, not an opinion - A FACT.posted by: TexasToast on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
"Bush fans always say there are contradictions, but they never, ever address Clarke's responses to accusations on those contradictions.
It's like you people haven't bothered to read the transcript."
Ive read the transcript. And his responses are.. contradictory. Not to mention they dont explain that as late as August 03 (when he had been retired for 7 months), he apparantly was still testifying in a complimentary way towards Bush. My question that started this thread still has yet to be answered. Where was Richard Clarke during the most important year of American forien policy in a generation? He was retired, he was writing a book. So what has changed between last August and now that Clarke feels he just must unload on Bush with both barrels? I mean, aside from the IRaq situation being decided sans his input.
"It could be that editors don’t find all of this “evidence” very convincing. I am aware of most of it, and I see no FACTUAL contradictions – just a good deal of spin and innuendo."
Yes, we've been through that. You are willing to believe a paradox. Fine.
" If you have a FACTUAL contradiction, lets hear it. Not an interpretation, not an impression, not an opinion - A FACT."
Here's a fact. Clarke wrote in his book:
Before the election, Rice gave this interview:
Thats a fact. Draw your own conclussion of the mans insight into his coworkers.
Heres another fact. Former White House Counsel Fred Fielding stated this yesterday:
Good god, I hate picking nits, but there just isn't any choise.
Condi Rise yammered on about "Osama bin Laden" before the election.
Richard Clarke briefed her on Al Qaeda -- which she seemed not to ever have heard of -- by reminding her it's a group associated with Osama bin Laden -- whom she evidently *had* heard of. Al Qaeda...Osama bin Laden...note these are different words, with different letters and syllables and everything.
As for "He praised Bush in 2002 and then didn't praise him in 2004" -- is THAT your idea of a factual contradiction? Oh, please tell me you have something more substantive in mind than 13YOG hurt feelings.posted by: Ciel on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
Those are indeed facts - in that that is what was said. They are NOT contradictions.
Clarke’s point in the book was that his IMPRESSION was that AQ was well down in Rice's list of priorities. I think he made his point rather effectively. A mention by Rice of OSAMA BIN LADEN in ONE pre-election interview does not show that Clarke is contradicting himself. It only shows a contradiction with what Dr. Rice is saying. It also does not show that AQ was a priority for Dr. Rice. I think it’s fairly clear it wasn’t. There is certainly no emphasis on terrorism shown in the public record. You can choose to believe Clarke’s impression was wrong, and I would disagree with you, but that is not a self- contradiction by Clarke.
As to the Fielding point, Mr. Fielding’s rhetorical lack of understanding does not make Clarke a liar. He wasn’t asked by the 9/11 Commission about his opinions on Iraq. As to Fielding’s other attack, I’ll let Mr. Clare speak for himself:
"I tried," he said, "to highlight the positive and downplay the negative." Asked whether that undermined his integrity, Clarke said: "I don't think of it as a question of integrity. I think it's a question of politics." As the spokesman for the White House, he said, he represented the administration's point of view, and ably so—without lying.
posted by: TexasToast on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
Well. Looks like "Cat Killer" Frist is going to get his wish:
"No immediate information was available on how the declassification process works, but one GOP aide said the CIA and perhaps the White House would play a role in determining whether to make the testimony public."
Wow. The White House, in an all-out effort to smear the latest in a long series of inconvenient truth tellers, is going to not only request that testimony be declassified but also gets to chose WHICH testimony gets declassified.
I'm with Senator Bob Graham on this. Betchur ass we want the GOP to release the transcripts. Only, see, we want the GOP to release *all* the transcripts, including everyone who testified and the DBPs and strategy plans and priority lists from the first year of the Bush Administration.
Yes: let's declassify *everything* and find out once and for all who's telling the truth; what Bush knew and when he know it; whether the Bush Admin had any plans at all to combat al Qaeda or whether they indeed shitcanned international terrorism in favor of sniffing around for an excuse to go to war in Iraq.
Because the issue is who's telling the truth, right?
Bring it on.posted by: Ciel on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
Chuck Hagel is on the record as saying that he doesn't believe Clarke's 2002 testimony differs from his testimony a few days ago.
Little tidbits are just now gaining attention, but just wait. In a few weeks time we will see that the reason Bush and Cheney did not address the terrorism issue with the Taliban is becasue they spent this time, 01/01 - 09/01, negotiating with the very same Taliban for the proposed gas pipeline. Which, of course was the hot topic at the Cheney Energy Task Force meetings.posted by: r.t. on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
Hagel? Wait: The moderate Republican of honor and decency who genuinely wants what's best for the country....that Chuck Hagel?
Oh, don't worry about him. As someone who does not drink the sacramental Bush Kool-Ade, Hagel cannot possibly be taken seriously. Any GOP who refuses to toe the Party Line against all Enemies of the Party is a RINO.
The GOP will disown Hagel and throw Party support to some far-right hack, like they're doing in New York against Specter.posted by: Ciel on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
I hope they don't succeed. I have no love for Hagel, but he is at least his own man.
I am in agreement here. If the Bush Admin wants to declassify, then they should declassify not just Clarke's testimony but everyone else's testimony on the topic.
UBL must be laughing at us now. We'd rather destroy one man who put his freedom and life at stake to defend this nation, than possibly admit that we might have underestimated Alqueda. It is a shameful day in America. And our enemies surely gloat over our disarray.posted by: Oldman on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
Adisnik (oxblog) via the link from this post makes the following points as “facts”:
1) The Clinton administration did not have a specific plan for confronting Al Qaeda that it handed over to the Bush administration.
2) The Bush Administration decided in January 2001 to continue the implementation of the Clinton Administration's anti-terror policies.
3) In the spring of 2001, the Bush Administration decided in principle to support a five-fold increase in CIA funding for anti-Al Qaeda actions.
1. The “plan” that Clarke refers to is a “plan” to change existing strategy, and Clark makes this clear in the Fox comments. This is not a “counterintuitive” picking apart of Clarke’s words – it’s a contextual reading of Clarke’s words.
In sum, all of what Clarke says here is true – and is not contradicted by his later testimony.
Lots of thrust and parry, hardly any blood lost. No wonder, the capillaries are the only target.
"1. Does anybody, Clarke included, contend that ABSENT HINDSIGHT the September 11 attacks could have been prevented?"
Clarke says maybe, maybe not.
Consider that the Al Qaeda people used their own names, and the FBI, somewhere, knew those people, with those names, were Al Qaeda. Before September 11.
Clarke's argument that Bush wasn't treating Al Qaeda as an urgent threat, and wasn't 'shaking trees' to bring out information in the hierarchy, is a good one.
It's entirely possible that, even had there been daily anti-terror meetings of the principals, 9/11 would have happened. Luck and chance are always an issue. On the other hand, it's entirely possible that such an approach would have helped.
Would 9/11 have happened if a few Al Qaeda mugshots were running on America's Most Wanted every week during the summer of 2001? Maybe. Maybe they would have been caught, or at least given up on it and bailed.
It's entirely within the realm of possibility. Al Qaeda aren't unstoppable magical beings with super powers of evasion.
Hell, in the first 8 months of 2001, Bush did more to fight the threat of labor unions than he did to fight terrorism. If he had been as concerned about Al Qaeda, maybe 9/11 wouldn't have happened.
Maybe the millenium pickup wasn't attributable to frequent meetings in Washington, DC, (shaken trees), but just to the alertness of an INS subaltern in Washington State.
"Maybe the millenium pickup wasn't attributable to frequent meetings in Washington, DC, (shaken trees), but just to the alertness of an INS subaltern in Washington State."
If the meetings in DC never produced any signal to the INS people in Washington State, then maybe it's just due to alertness.
If, on the other hand, the meetings in DC provoked messages to the low-level employees indicating that there was a threat and increased scrutiny was required, then that would be a case where the meetings did do some good. That, after all, is the rationale behind the whole terror alert system, is it not?
I don't know whether the Washington people had been told to be alert.
The point is, though, that we were not completely ignorant in 2001. We had pieces of information that could have been used, had the effort been made.posted by: Jon H on 03.25.04 at 11:07 PM [permalink]
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