Friday, April 09, 2004

Rice testimony, some comments:

Here are some statements made by Condoleezza Rice along with our observations:
  • "Let me read you some of the actual chatter that was picked up in that spring and summer. Unbelievable news coming in weeks, said one. Big event. There will be a very, very, very, very big uproar. There will be attacks in the near future. Troubling, yes, but they don't tell us when. They don't tell us where. They don't tell us who. And they don't tell us how."

    That is one hell of a whopper. Rice is citing the intercepts as if the words spoken were the only information present. But that's not true. Each intercept has a time and location (and transmission method) associated with it. That can aid in figuring out who might be involved and where the center of activity might be. And clever use of intelligence can get suspects to reveal more. As Dr. Rice surely knows, there is the famous case in World War II of the Japanese signaling that they were planning an assault on a target known only as "AF." But intelligence agents didn't say to themselves that the intercepts "don't tell us where" and therefore, let's do nothing. They were able to trick the Japanese into revealing where AF was (Midway Island) by making a fuss over an alleged failure of a water-distilling unit. This allowed the U.S. to be prepared and inflict a tremendous defeat on the Japanese navy. Something similar might have been possible in the case of the al Qaeda intercepts.

  • Look who needs to be told what to do? The National Security Advisor. In her own words:
    • "I don't remember the al-Qaida cells as being something that we were told we needed to do something about."
    • "We were not presented with a plan."
    • "I believe in the Aug. 6 memorandum it says that there were 70 full field investigations underway of these cells. And so there was no recommendation that we do something about this - the F.B.I. was pursuing it."
    Fred Kaplan writes: "Why did she need a recommendation to do something? Couldn't she make recommendations herself?

    And the Left Coaster opines: "Just who was supposed to tell you this, DOCTOR Rice? Was that PhD of yours from a diploma mill? You are supposed to be advising the pResident on national security issues ..."


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