Thursday, April 01, 2004

More proof that Clarke was telling the truth
(try and that ten times fast, especially with a loose tooth)

This morning the Post notes that, "On Sept. 11, 2001, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to outline a Bush administration [foreign] policy that would address 'the threats and problems of today and the day after, not the world of yesterday' -- but the focus was largely on missile defense, not terrorism from Islamic radicals." By the world of yesterday, did she mean the Cold War? Nope, she meant the Clinton Administration!

"It mentioned terrorism, but did so in the context used in other Bush administration speeches in early 2001: as one of the dangers from rogue nations, such as Iraq, that might use weapons of terror, rather than from the cells of extremists now considered the main security threat to the United States." In fact, Rice was to have chided the Clinton Administration for not doing enough about the "real threat" -- long-range missiles.

Meanwhile, Slate's Fred Kaplan noted the overlooked but obvious: "If Clarke is spewing nonsense-- If the president and his national security adviser really did consider Al-Qaeda 'an urgent matter' —[CIA Director George] Tenet is the man to say so. It's hard to imagine that the White House hasn't tried to recruit him to do so. Yet so far he hasn't." Also MIA from the attack hounds, Colin Powell.

When asked about Clarke, Powell said the following on PBS' Newshour: "I know Mr. Clarke. I have known him for many, many years. He's a very smart guy. He served his nation very, very well. He's an expert in these matters." His book "is not the complete story," but, Powell added, "I'm not attributing any bad motives to it."

Asked if he had been recruited to join the campaign against Clarke, Powell replied, "I'm not aware of any campaign against Mr. Clarke, and I am not a member." Note, that means that A) Colin Powell is out of the loop and B) he is using a non-denial denial to answer questions about a coordinated campaign to smear Clarke coming from the Commander-in-Chief himself.

Powell said the following about Clarke's charge that the Bush administration didn't see Al-Qaeda as an "urgent threat" is also telling:

    We knew that al-Qaeda was a threat to our country. We knew that the Clinton Administration understood this and was working against al-Qaeda. We did not ignore al-Qaeda. We spent a lot of time thinking about terrorism, what should we do about it...We were working on terrorism and trying to understand it.

Kaplan notes that Tenet and Powell could have said something to despute or refute Clarke's substantive charges, yet they chose not to do so. And their silence speaks volumes.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Oh the power (and abuse) of incumency

The Wall Street Journal, not exactly a liberal rag, discovered that "The [US] Treasury tapped civil servants to calculate the cost of Sen. John Kerry's tax plan and then posted the analysis on the Treasury Web site."

Eugene Steuerle, a former Treasury tax official appointed by Reagan, said that using the analysis of the Kerry plan for political purposes "stepped over the line" that's supposed to protect career officials from political influence. "This type of release tends to reduce the reputation of the department as a fair and neutral arbiter of what constitutes good tax policy," Mr. Steuerle said.

Dan Maffei, a Democratic spokesman for the House Ways and Means committee, called the effort "highly suspicious." If the Tresury's investigation had "a legitimate legislative purpose, the first place you would go would be the Joint Committee on Taxation." Just watch, soon you will see ads by Bush that will say that Kerry's tax plan is "a tax increase of as much as $477 billion over 10 years on hardworking individuals and married couples." (The RNC has already used such figures in press releases).

The President already gets half-off all his political travel, and the security tab gets picked up by deficit-ridden cities and states. How? Well he just gives a policy speech on his way to the next fundraiser or rally. In fact, I often have trouble telling the difference between a campaign rally and a policy speech (both are equally staged).

This is not to say he is the first to do it, Clinton did as well, but never to this extent. Bush has raised $170 Million, and he would have much less cash on hand if these trips would be covered by his campaign. How about this: get the President and his lackeys out of the business of doing opposition research for his campaign, get the American people and the localities out of the business of picking up half of a campaign's tab. This would apply to both parties. No more Budget estimates by self-interested White House officials at OMB.

Make the Fed do all estimates of economic impact of budgets, tax plans etc. That way, no one can play political games with numbers. As Benjamin Disraeli and Mark Twain once said, "There's lies, damn lies, and statistics."

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Rice, Rice, Cheney*
*sung to the tune of "Ice, Ice, Baby"

Sounds like the White House finally figured out people could see through their horsesh*t According to NBC News: "In a reversal, the White House has agreed to allow national security adviser Condoleezza Rice testify in public and under oath before the Sept. 11, 2001 commission, NBC News has learned. In addition, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have agreed to testify before the entire commission, not just the two co-chairmen. Their testimony will, however, remain private."

That's fine with me. In fact, I would have been fine with Condi testifying privately as long as she was under oath, that way, when she tried to lie, there would be legal consequences. Apparently, the press stink got so bad that this deal was made. The former Provost of Stanford also released this letter to the press as well. I wonder if the CIA is still going to declassify misleading segments of Clarke's 2002 testimony in classic Republican style (patented Selective Quoting, TM) or if the White House will drop that stunt too.

On Meet the Press two days ago, Clarke (whose 60 Minutes appearance is being used in a new MoveOn ad) asked for everything to be declassified: his 2002 testimony (the complete testimony), his memos and e-mails to Condi, all of it. Something tells me there is more there.

Plus, just on a basic gut level, it seems like more shoes could fall. After all, if you were in charge of intelligence during the the worst intelligence failure in US history, one would think you would lose your job. Yet George Tenet is still there, why? Does he have lots of fun memos lying in a vault where he told Bush what was coming and Bush said, "We need to go get Saddam" or "Nah, they couldn't hit us." before 9/11? Does he have stuff that has Bush begging him to find an Iraq connection after 9/11, despite overwhelming evidence that it was Al-Qaeda?

When I turned on CNN that fateful Tuesday morning, my first thought was, "Bush will try to blame this on Saddam and go after him." I was sick to my stomach for thinking that, and for all those people who were dying before my eyes, and their families. Turns out, my gut instinct was right.

I knew it wasn't Saddam, and I was just a International Relations major in my senior year of college, just imagine what George Tenet must have thought when he was asked to look harder and find an Iraq connection.

This is why elections matter; this is why I care about politics and public policy: People's lives (and well-being) are at stake.