Saturday, March 27, 2004

The doctor apparently can't count:

From the New York Post, we read the following: (excerpts, emphasis added)
... Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) slammed Clarke ...

"Mr. Clarke has told two entirely different stories under oath," Frist said.

Frist, who has reviewed some of the still-classified material, quoted Clarke as having said: "The [Bush] administration actively sought to address the threat posed by al Qaeda during its first 11 months in office."

Clarke, who served under both Bush presidents and President Bill Clinton, claims he provided dire warnings to the Bush White House in the months leading up to the 9/11 attacks but that little was done.


And while the battle between Clarke and the White House rages on:

Here is a chart of the continuing carnage in Iraq, derived from the information provided by the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count website:

Seems like we've moved rather quickly from 500 to nearly 600.


This is your president speaking:

In an appearance in Albuquerque, New Mexico, president Bush said the following: (emphasis added)
First, our economy is growing: It's strong and it's getting stronger. Secondly, inflation is low, and interest rates are low. Manufacturing activity is up. The unemployment rate today is lower than the average rate in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. New Mexico's unemployment rate is 5.7 percent, down from 6 percent a year ago. Things are improving. Things are getting better. Thanks to being the most productive work force in America -- and I might say thanks to good policies -- this economy is strong, and it's getting stronger.
We think Bush meant to say "the most productive work force in the world", but was he really saying that the work force in New Mexico is "the most productive work force in America"?   Presidents are loathe to show regional preferences (just look at the waffling over which sports team the White House roots for), so it seems unlikely Bush was touting New Mexico as the pinnacle of productivity. So file this as yet another Bushism - subcategory: subject-object-reversal (derived from "America is the most productive work force").


Be careful what you ask for:

Remember a little over a year ago when there was a furor over Trent Lott's warm remarks about Strom Thurmond?

At the time, the blogosphere was active (both on the left and by some on the right like Andrew Sullivan) and credited with helping remove Lott from his position as Majority Leader of the Senate. As the time, we had reservations - not because we endorsed Lott's statements - but because we saw the affair more as an opportunity for the White House to put their man - Bill Frist - into a leadership position in the Senate. The White House and right-wingers were, on the whole, dissatisfied with Lott because he wasn't aggressive enough for their cause. They wanted a change. And if the "good government" blogosphere got credit, that had the advantage of disguising the real power being exercised. (Ask yourself, since then has a similar blogosphere effort had any effect on the leadership in the House or Senate?)

And that brings us to the recent remarks by Bill Frist about Richard Clarke:
... I do not know if Mr. ClarkeÂ’s motive for theses charges is partisan gain, personal profit, self promotion, or animus because of his failure to win a promotion in the Bush Administration.

In his appearance before the 9-11 Commission, Mr. Clarke's theatrical apology on behalf of the nation was not his right, his privilege or his responsibility. In my view it was not an act of humility, but an act of supreme arrogance and manipulation.
Would Trent Lott have said something like that? We think not.


Friday, March 26, 2004

Worth saving:

As part of our general research and pack-rat activities, we've often saved news stories about the Bush administration. Those stories have always been from newspapers or journalistic entities like Salon or Slate. We've never saved blogger posts.

Until today.

Josh Marshall's TPM has an excellent (and disturbing) post on the attacks against Richard Clarke and the egregious behavior of senator Bill Frist. Majority Leader no less. What Frist did today was truly reckless, and Marshall calls him on it. The whole affair, and TPM's summary of it, was so remarkable that we felt we had to have a local copy of Josh's post.


How to evade answering a question:

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has this to say in response to charges that he sought authority to invade Iraq immediately after 9/11:
"I can't find anybody who knows me who thinks that I go around insisting to the president that he do something like that."

"Nor can I find anyone who was around during that period in senior levels who thinks that I even might have done something like that."
So, the next time somebody asks you if you did something you shouldn't, just say, "I can'f find anybody who thinks I did it."


Thursday, March 25, 2004


There has been a lot of chit-chat over whether Clarke was "in the loop" or not. This reminds us of when Bush Sr. claimed he was "out of the loop" vis-a-vis Iran-Contra. Our view is that the expression "out of the loop" is practically meaningless. It has no firm definition. Does it mean "not involved at all" or does it mean "not primarily involved" or does it mean "partially involved but not a decision-maker"?

It is far better to say things that have clear meaning , for example: "He was not part of the policy-making apparatus" or "He was the responsible agent for program X". Those things can be answered without reference to the subjective concept of "in the loop".


Worth reading:

While we share Richard Clarke's view that the Bush administration did not do enough on terrorism prior to 9/11, we think people should be careful, and not automatically endorse 100% of what he's saying. In that vein, we suggest reading the article in Time magazine: Richard Clarke, at War With Himself.

UPDATE: We see that Political Animal (aka Calpundit) thinks the Time article has serious problems. We agree that some of what Romesh Ratnesar wrote is foolish, but we also think he's on to something when he asserts that Clarke is not the dispassionate civil servant playing it totally straight.

We don't think this is a reason to dismiss Clarke, but we think it's important to understand where everybody is coming from in this debate. Clarke, in our opinion, has done a few things that may make him vulnerable to Republican attacks. Therefore, it is wise to embrace Clarke's criticism on policy, but one should be careful before embracing Clarke the man.

That said, we do think Clarke did a noble thing when he apologized to the families of the 9/11 victims. That alone, may have done more to establish his good name to the general public than his long-time servie as a counterterrorism official.



In the 9/11 Commission public hearing today, John Lehman challenged Richard Clarke?s credibility:
LEHMAN: Until I started reading those press reports, and I said this can't be the same Dick Clarke that testified before us, because all of the promotional material and all of the spin in the networks was that this is a rounding, devastating attack -- this book -- on President Bush. That's not what I heard in the interviews. And I hope you're going to tell me ... that this tremendous difference -- and not just in nuance, but in the stories you choose to tell -- is really the result of your editors and your promoters, rather than your studied judgment, because it is so different from the whole thrust of your testimony to us.

CLARKE: ... as to your accusation that there is a difference between what I said to this commission in 15 hours of testimony and what I am saying in my book ... I think there's a very good reason for that. In the 15 hours of testimony, no one asked me what I thought about the president's invasion of Iraq.
That's not convincing. Clarke's criticism of the Bush administration is not confined to the decision to invade Iraq. Clarke says there were problems with the administration's pre-9/11 anti-terrorisms actions and policies. So why didn't he make those views known in 15 hours of testimony? Something isn't right.

To clarify: There were six hours of testimony before a joing congessional committee - not the 9/11 panel - where Clarke, speaking as a member of the administration, presented the administration's position. Fair enough. But Lehman is referring to 15 hours of testimony before the 9/11 panel at a time when (presumably) Clarke is a private citizen, and would be expected to make his critical views known.


Wednesday, March 24, 2004

It's bad out there in right-wing radioland:

We've sampled some right-wing radio and they seem to have settled on three charges against Richard Clarke:
  • He's making noise merely to peddle his book.

  • He's a disgruntled bureaucrat unhappy with his demotion.

  • He wants to work in a Kerry administration.
As noted below, the last two charges are completely false. But the right-wing radio will score points merely by repeating the same charges again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and againand again and again and again and again and again and again


This punk is also a liar:

We took a look at Ben Shapiro's latest piece of crap at He writes:
  • When Bush created the new Homeland Security Department, Clarke became the special adviser for cyberspace security. Dissatisfied with his new position, Clarke resigned in 2003.

  • Clarke's statements will surely be seen for what they are: ... a possible shot at re-entering the bureaucracy in a John Kerry administration.

  • [Joe] Wilson, like Clarke, is now seeking a permanent position in a Kerry administration ...
From the Salon interview with Richard Clarke:
Before Sept. 11, I was so frustrated with the way they were handling terrorism that I had asked to be reassigned to a different job. And the job I proposed was a job I helped to create -- a job to look at the nation's vulnerability to cyber-attack.
And from an interview on PBS' NewsHour this Monday:
If John Kennedy -- if John Kerry -- gets elected president, and if John Kerry offers me a job, I will not accept it. I don't want to be part of the Kerry administration. I've done 30 years in government. That's not what this is about.



Scott McClellan said about Richard Clarke: (March 22, 2004)
Well, why, all of a sudden, if he had all these grave concerns, did he not raise these sooner? This is one-and-a-half years after he left the administration. And now, all of a sudden, he's raising these grave concerns that he claims he had. And I think you have to look at some of the facts. One, he is bringing this up in the heat of a presidential campaign. He has written a book and he certainly wants to go out there and promote that book. Certainly let's look at the politics of it. His best buddy is Rand Beers, who is the principal foreign policy advisor to Senator Kerry's campaign. The Kerry campaign went out and immediately put these comments up on their website that Mr. Clarke made.
Fact: Clarke left the Bush administration in March 2003. One year ago. McClellan, most likely keying off of Clarke's resignation letter of 20 January 2003, is using that date to get to 14 months, which he then rounds up to one-and-a-half years.

A minor point, to be sure, but another example of how these guys are using every advantage they think they can muster in order to defend themselves.

If he thought he could get away with it, he'd round up to a decade.


Have you heard this one?

We were listening to our local AM talk radio (sorry, no audio clips available) and they were interviewing Mansoor Ijaz, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a FOX News Channel foreign affairs and terrorism analyst. In a discussion on Clarke's charge that Bush didn't act on the terrorism threat, he said:
  • Clarke & Co. had outdated thinking.
  • Clarke & Co. were focused overseas. No plan for an attack on the homeland. A new, more comprehensive plan was required.
the usual stuff, but then he said:
  • The world changed when the USS Cole was attacked. That meant a new plan was required. (Wasn't the world supposed to have changed on 9/11? Now we learn there were two "world changing" events.)
and then he said ....
  • The Bush administration had a slow start fighting terrorism because of the delay in settling the 2000 election.
Man, what a sorry excuse.


Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Where we're headed:


Monday, March 22, 2004

As long as we're doing timelines:

Reader T.A. directed us to a page at the Center for American Progress. It reviews the priorities and budget decisions for Clinton-Reno and for Bush-Ashcroft regarding counterterrorism.

Article: 9/11: Internal Government Documents Show How the Bush Administration Reduced Counterterrorism

Our diagram of how the policies relate in time and priorities:



Here are the key events prior to 9/11 as related by Richard Clarke on 60 Minutes:

UPDATE: Giving credit where credit is due. We were in a rush this morning and failed to credit Sadly No for the transcript of the 60 Minuts program which we used when creating the chart above. Also, thanks to Sisyphus Shrugged for first making us aware of said transcript.


Sunday, March 21, 2004

This is no excuse:

In the 60 Minutes program on former counter-terrorism coordinator Richard Clarke, we hear the administration's view from Stephen Hadley, Condoleezza Rice’s right-hand man in National Security Council. He says this about Clarke's accusation that the administration failed to act responsibly to the threat posed by al-Qaeda: (emphasis added)
I don't know what he's said about the prior administration, which, again, was in office and dealing with this problem for eight years. We were in office dealing with this problem for 230 days.
Low quality .wav file of that quote can be heard here.