Just when I thought the man had no fight left in his belly he surprises me with a point-blank reality smack on the face of the perpetual war-pessimist crowd. Where's it been? Nice to see. Hope it stays around.
The following are remarks from his Wednesday retort of the National Intelligence Estimate cherry-picked conclusions:
The terrorists fight us in Iraq for a reason: They want to try to stop a young democracy from developing, just like they're trying to fight another young democracy in Afghanistan. And they use it as a recruitment tool, because they understand the stakes. They understand what will happen to them when we defeat them in Iraq.
You know, to suggest that if we weren't in Iraq, we would see a rosier scenario with fewer extremists joining the radical movement requires us to ignore 20 years of experience. We weren't in Iraq when we got attacked on Sept. 11. We weren't in Iraq, and thousands of fighters were trained in terror camps inside your country, Mr. President. We weren't in Iraq when they first attacked the World Trade Center in 1993.
We weren't in Iraq when they bombed the Cole. We weren't in Iraq when they blew up our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. My judgment is, if we weren't in Iraq, they'd find some other excuse, because they have ambitions. They kill in order to achieve their objectives.
You know, in the past, Osama bin Laden used Somalia as an excuse for people to join his jihadist movement. In the past, they used the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It was a convenient way to try to recruit people to their jihadist movement. They've used all kinds of excuses...
Now, you know what's interesting about the NIE -- it was a intelligence report done last April. As I understand, the conclusions -- the evidence on the conclusions reached was stopped being gathered on February -- at the end of February. And here we are, coming down the stretch in an election campaign, and it's on the front page of your newspapers. Isn't that interesting? Somebody has taken it upon themselves to leak classified information for political purposes.
Amen to that, but how about Mr. Bush upping the ante by ordering the Justice Department to vigoriously pursue those intelligence analysts doing the leaking?
That's the headline from this beautiful commentary Richard Miniter wrote regarding the Clinton administration's clearly irresponsible reponse to terrorism from January 1993 until January 2001. Now I'll agree with Rudolph Giuliani that it's simply not constructive to engage in a pointless debate over which administration did more, and I think both made their mistakes. But to imply even for a moment that somehow 8 years of neglect wouldn't by sheer examples dwarf 8 months of neglect, especially when those 8 months were bogged down from a challenged election (Bush's FBI director wasn't swarn in until one week before 9/11 even), is ludicris.
Giuliani's also right that, "The people who deserve blame for Sept. 11, I think we should remind ourselves, are the terrorists _ the Islamic fanatics _ who came here and killed us and want to come here again and do it." But Clinton invited this debate, and no one else. Sure Chris Wallace asked the questions but there was a high road for Clinton to take and he could have said something to the effect that he hadn't planned to discuss the matter and he'd like to only discuss his New Orleans initiative, and so on. Had Chris Wallace pressed on Clinton could have kept the high road and not look like a guy who had a melt down. Thus he lost his cool (or maybe picked a fight). Either way, he's opened the door to further criticism.
On to Miniter:
Some 38 days after he was sworn in, al Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center. He did not visit the twin towers that year, even though four days after the attack he was just across the Hudson River in New Jersey, talking about job training. He made no attempt to rally the public against terrorism. His only public speech on the bombing was a few paragraphs inserted into a radio address mostly devoted an economic stimulus package. Those stray paragraphs were limited to reassuring the public and thanking the rescuers, the kinds of things governors say after hurricanes. He did not even vow to bring the bombers to justice. Instead, he turned the first terrorist attack on American soil over to the FBI.
In his Fox interview, Mr. Clinton said "no one knew that al Qaeda existed" in October 1993, during the tragic events in Somalia. But his national security adviser, Tony Lake, told me that he first learned of bin Laden "sometime in 1993," when he was thought of as a terror financier. U.S. Army Capt. James Francis Yacone, a black hawk squadron commander in Somalia, later testified that radio intercepts of enemy mortar crews firing at Americans were in Arabic, not Somali, suggesting the work of bin Laden's agents (who spoke Arabic), not warlord Farah Aideed's men (who did not). CIA and DIA reports also placed al Qaeda operatives in Somalia at the time.
By the end of Mr. Clinton's first year, al Qaeda had apparently attacked twice. The attacks would continue for every one of the Clinton years.
• In 1994, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (who would later plan the 9/11 attacks) launched "Operation Bojinka" to down 11 U.S. planes simultaneously over the Pacific. A sharp-eyed Filipina police officer foiled the plot. The sole American response: increased law-enforcement cooperation with the Philippines.
• In 1995, al Qaeda detonated a 220-pound car bomb outside the Office of Program Manager in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, killing five Americans and wounding 60 more. The FBI was sent in.
• In 1996, al Qaeda bombed the barracks of American pilots patrolling the "no-fly zones" over Iraq, killing 19. Again, the FBI responded.
• In 1997, al Qaeda consolidated its position in Afghanistan and bin Laden repeatedly declared war on the U.S. In February, bin Laden told an Arab TV network: "If someone can kill an American soldier, it is better than wasting time on other matters." No response from the Clinton administration.
• In 1998, al Qaeda simultaneously bombed U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224, including 12 U.S. diplomats. Mr. Clinton ordered cruise-missile strikes on Afghanistan and Sudan in response. Here Mr. Clinton's critics are wrong: The president was right to retaliate when America was attacked, irrespective of the Monica Lewinsky case.
Still, "Operation Infinite Reach" was weakened by Clintonian compromise. The State Department feared that Pakistan might spot the American missiles in its air space and misinterpret it as an Indian attack. So Mr. Clinton told Gen. Joe Ralston, vice chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, to notify Pakistan's army minutes before the Tomahawks passed over Pakistan. Given Pakistan's links to jihadis at the time, it is not surprising that bin Laden was tipped off, fleeing some 45 minutes before the missiles arrived.
• In 1999, the Clinton administration disrupted al Qaeda's Millennium plots, a series of bombings stretching from Amman to Los Angeles. This shining success was mostly the work of Richard Clarke, a NSC senior director who forced agencies to work together. But the Millennium approach was shortlived. Over Mr. Clarke's objections, policy reverted to the status quo.
• In January 2000, al Qaeda tried and failed to attack the U.S.S. The Sullivans off Yemen. (Their boat sank before they could reach their target.) But in October 2000, an al Qaeda bomb ripped a hole in the hull of the U.S.S. Cole, killing 17 sailors and wounding another 39.
When Mr. Clarke presented a plan to launch a massive cruise missile strike on al Qaeda and Taliban facilities in Afghanistan, the Clinton cabinet voted against it. After the meeting, a State Department counterterrorism official, Michael Sheehan, sought out Mr. Clarke. Both told me that they were stunned. Mr. Sheehan asked Mr. Clarke: "What's it going to take to get them to hit al Qaeda in Afghanistan? Does al Qaeda have to attack the Pentagon?"
There is much more to Mr. Clinton's record -- how Predator drones, which spotted bin Laden three times in 1999 and 2000, were grounded by bureaucratic infighting; how a petty dispute with an Arizona senator stopped the CIA from hiring more Arabic translators. While it is easy to look back in hindsight and blame Bill Clinton, the full scale and nature of the terrorist threat was not widely appreciated until 9/11. Still: Bill Clinton did not fully grasp that he was at war. Nor did he intuit that war requires overcoming bureaucratic objections and a democracy's natural reluctance to use force. That is a hard lesson. But it is better to learn it from studying the Clinton years than reliving them.
As media scoops go, those based on "classified" information seem to have a special cachet. But judging from the latest, selective intelligence leak about terrorism, we wonder if anyone would bother to read this stuff if it didn't have the word "secret" slapped on it.
That's our reaction to Sunday's New York Times report claiming that a 2006 national intelligence estimate, or NIE, concludes that "the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse," according to one of the unidentified "intelligence officials" cited in the article. This is supposedly because the war has provoked radical Islamists to hate America even more than they already did before they hijacked airplanes and flew them into buildings. If this is the kind of insight we pay our spooks to generate, we're in more trouble than we thought.
-- The editors of the Wall Street Journal, whose language mirrors that of Michelle Malkin's on Monday.
Speaking of that NIE, it turns out that the media - primarily the NY Times (but of course!!) and the Washington Post - selectively took just one paragraph out of the 30-page NIE to write their story. Just as the WSJ recommended Bush declassify the NIE for the full story, Robert Kagan follows suit. Kagan points out that the NY Times didn't bother actually quoting the NIE itself, but instead quoted cherry-picked anonymous "intelligence experts" reaction to it.
...so all we have are journalists' characterizations of anonymous comments by government officials, whose motives and reliability we can't judge, about intelligence assessments whose logic and argument, as well as factual basis, we have no way of knowing or gauging.
... For instance, what specifically does it mean to say that the Iraq war has worsened the "terrorism threat"? Presumably, the NIE's authors would admit that this is speculation rather than a statement of fact, since the facts suggest otherwise. Before the Iraq war, the United States suffered a series of terrorist attacks: the bombing and destruction of two American embassies in East Africa in 1998, the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in 2000, and the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Since the Iraq war started, there have not been any successful terrorist attacks against the United States. That doesn't mean the threat has diminished because of the Iraq war, but it does place the burden of proof on those who argue that it has increased.
Probably what the NIE's authors mean is not that the Iraq war has increased the actual threat. According to the Times, the report is agnostic on whether another terrorist attack is more or less likely. Rather, its authors claim that the war has increased the number of potential terrorists. Unfortunately, neither The Post nor the Times provides any figures to support this. Does the NIE? Or are its authors simply assuming that because Muslims have been angered by the war, some percentage of them must be joining the ranks of terrorists?
As a poor substitute for actual figures, The Post notes that, according to the NIE, members of terrorist cells post messages on their Web sites depicting the Iraq war as "a Western attempt to conquer Islam." No doubt they do. But to move from that observation to the conclusion that the Iraq war has increased the terrorist threat requires answering a few additional questions: How many new terrorists are there? How many of the new terrorists became terrorists because they read the messages on the Web sites? And of those, how many were motivated by the Iraq war as opposed to, say, the war in Afghanistan, or the Danish cartoons, or the Israel-Palestine conflict, or their dislike for the Saudi royal family or Hosni Mubarak, or, more recently, the comments of the pope? Perhaps our intelligence agencies have discovered a way to examine, measure and then rank the motives that drive people to become terrorists, though I tend to doubt it. But any serious and useful assessment of the effect of the Iraq war would, at a minimum, try to isolate the effect of the war from everything else that is and has been going on to stir Muslim anger. Did the NIE attempt to make that calculation?
Such an assessment would also require some estimate of what the terrorist threat would look like today if the war had not happened. For instance, did the authors of the NIE calculate the effect of the Sept. 11 attacks on the recruitment of terrorists or the effect of the bombings in Madrid and London? It is certainly possible that these events produced an increase in would-be terrorists by showing the possibility of sensational success. So if there is an overall increase, how much of it was the result of Iraq or the Danish cartoons or other perceived Western offenses against Islam, and how much of it is a continuing response to al-Qaeda's own terrorist successes before, on and after Sept. 11?
Finally, a serious evaluation of the effect of the Iraq war would have to address the Bush administration's argument that it is better to fight terrorist recruits in Iraq than in the United States. This may or may not be true, although again the administration would seem to have the stronger claim at the moment. But a serious study would have to measure the numbers of terrorists engaged in Iraq, and the numbers who may have been killed in Iraq, against any increase in the numbers of active terrorists outside Iraq as a result of the war. Did the NIE make such a calculation?
There is, in addition to all this, a question of context. What should we do if we believe certain actions might inspire some people to become potential terrorists? Should we always refrain from taking those actions, or are there cases in which we may want to act anyway? We have pretty good reason to believe, for instance, that the Persian Gulf War in 1991, and the continuing presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia after the war, was a big factor in the evolution of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. We are pretty sure that American support of the Afghan mujaheddin against the Soviet occupation forces in the late 1970s and early '80s also contributed to the growth of Islamic terrorism.
Knowing this, would we now say that we made a mistake in each of those cases? Would an NIE argue that we would be safer today if we had not helped drive the Soviets from Afghanistan or Saddam Hussein from Kuwait? The argument in both cases would be at least as sound as the argument about the most recent Iraq war.
In fact, the question of what actions make us safer cannot be answered simply by counting the number of new terrorist recruits those actions may inspire, even if we could make such a count with any confidence. I would worry about an American foreign policy driven only by fear of how our actions might inspire anger, radicalism and violence in others. As in the past, that should be only one calculation in our judgment of what does and does not make us, and the world, safer.
"The country never had a comprehensive anti-terror operation until I came to office," former president Bill Clinton told Fox News on Sunday. "I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy."
... Finally, Richard Clarke himself debunked the story in a background briefing with reporters. He said he presented two things to the incoming Bush administration: “One, what the existing strategy had been. And two, a series of issues — like aiding the Northern Alliance, changing Pakistan policy, changing Uzbek policy — that they had been unable to come to any new conclusions from ‘98 on.”
A reporter asked: “Were all of those issues part of an alleged plan that was late December and the Clinton team decided not to pursue because it was too close to — ”
“There was never a plan, Andrea,” Clarke answered. “What there was was these two things: One, a description of the existing strategy, which included a description of the threat. And two, those things which had been looked at over the course of two years, and which were still on the table.”
“So there was nothing that developed, no documents or no new plan of any sort?
“There was no new plan.”
“No new strategy? I mean, I mean, I don’t want to get into a semantics — “
“Plan, strategy — there was no, nothing new.”
“Had those issues evolved at all from October of ‘98 until December of 2000?”
“Had they evolved? Not appreciably.”
Amid all the controversy, some former Clinton-administration officials began to pull back on their story. One of them — who asked not to be named — told NR that Time didn’t have it quite right. “There were certainly ongoing efforts throughout the eight years of the Clinton administration to fight terrorism,” the official said. “It was certainly not a formal war plan. We wouldn’t have characterized it as a formal war plan. The Bush administration was briefed on the Clinton administration’s ongoing efforts and threat assessments.” That, of course, was pretty much what the Bush White House said had had happened all along.
But now, the story is back in the news. “At least I tried [to destroy al Qaeda],” Clinton told Fox. “That’s the difference in me and some, including all the right wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try and they didn’t…I tried. So I tried and failed. When I failed I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy…” Perhaps the former president hoped to put an end to the questions about his record on terrorism. Instead, he just brought the issue back to public scrutiny.
I understand why the media loves John McCain - being that the media is so leftward leaning in political viewpoints it pleases them to see one of the Republican's most recognized names consistently at odds with the Bush administration. What I do not understand is how conservative voters could even for a moment desire McCain to be a presidential hopeful, short of him being simply the lesser of two evils to say, John Kerry or Hillary Clinton. Then again, maybe there's no difference.
Indeed, McCain's most prominent pieces of legislation were co-authored with the Left's most liberal senators - Ted Kennedy (on immigration) and Russ Feingold (on campaign-finance "reform," a law this offensive to the First Amendment not seen since the infamous Sedition act). Add to that McCain is a strong believer in the unproven junk science behind global warming.
Yes, McCain has his positive points - for example, he does have a moral clarity on the mission in Iraq, even if he is a member of the "more troops" bandwagon. But his negatives far outweigh his positives.
For a short time I may have been willing to support a 2008 bid for McCain, but the last straw, to me, is his misguided leadership regarding the status of terrorists and other illegal combatants -- specifically, going forward, forcing all future US presidents into applying Geneva Convention protections to persons who have no accountability when they don't follow them themselves.
In a nutshell, John McCain - of all people - should understand the pointlessness and dangers of doing so. Today, NRO's Rich Lowry produced a succinct essay regarding McCain's odd utopian confusion, but I think that even Lowry neglects how this decision could adversely affect our own military generations from now: if Geneva protections are given to terrorists who purposely break all ethical rules of war, then why should any US soldier abide by them either? Geneva Conventions were not created to "protect" the US soldier - as McCain and former Secretary of State Colin Powell falsely propagate - but to create an incentive to fight with ethics, even when doing so put the soldier's life in more danger. Apply those protections to terrorists who don't follow laws and you've effectively watered the laws down to mean nothing.
Perhaps he [Senator John McCain] missed the story a few months ago about the two American soldiers captured by al Qaeda in Iraq. Al Qaeda released a video of them, described by the British newspaper The Guardian: "One of them, partially naked, had been beheaded and his chest cut open. The other's face was bruised, his jaw apparently broken, and his leg had long gashes. Fighters were shown turning the bodies over and lifting the head of the decapitated man."
This is savagery immune to a domestic legal debate in the U.S. Maybe McCain and Co. think that the U.S. debate [on terrorist rights] at least will influence our more reasonable adversaries. But since when have we fought a regime — Saddam's Iraq, Milosevic's Serbia, North Vietnam, North Korea, Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany — that is not barbarously committed to repression and murder?
No one in the U.S. had broached clarifying Common Article 3 in 1967 when McCain was shot down and captured by the North Vietnamese, who proceeded to beat him routinely and keep him in solitary confinement for years. The North Koreans were equally disgusting. As a U.S. Senate committee concluded: "American prisoners of war who were not deliberately murdered at the time of capture or shortly after capture, were beaten, wounded, starved and tortured."
Ah, if only the North Koreans had known how committed we were to giving the widest possible Common Article 3 protections to terrorists, maybe they would have re-thought their detention policies. McCain and Co. have a case of treaty fetishism. That is the belief that a piece of paper will alter the behavior of thugs. But a government will abide by the Geneva Conventions only if it is civilized; and if it is civilized, it is unlikely we will be fighting it, which is why we don't have to worry about defending ourselves from, say, the Danes.
So the latest National Intelligence Estimate from the CIA claims that Iraq is the "leading inspiration for new Islamic extremist networks and cells that are united by little more than an anti-Western agenda."
Well, Kudos to the WaPost for at least keeping some perspective, albeit in paragraph 12: "An NIE drawn up in the fall of 2002 concluded that Iraq had "continued its weapons of mass destruction [WMD] programs," possessed stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons and "probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade." All of those judgments, which provided the political and national security underpinnings for the Iraq invasion, turned out to be false."
I wouldn't say false, but the point is that the NIE was off base before, so it can be off base again.
However, I like Michelle Malkin's comment the most:
If our intelligence agencies are laboring under the moonbat illusion that Muslim hatred of the infidel West didn't really start bubbling until the year 2003, we are really in deep, deep doo-doo.
And isn't saying that attempting to spread freedom and democracy in Iraq is causing agnst amongst illiberal tyrants like saying circa 1941 that attempting to spread freedom and democracy in Europe and the Far East is causing agnst amongst illiberal tyrants? Or saying it circa 1951 in Seoul? Or saying it circa 1776 in Philidelphia.
Well, duh. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to spread them.
The number of outright lies uttered by Bill Clinton during his meltdown of a FOX News interview is staggering and comical. It's self-parody. I kept expecting him to wag his finger and declare he "did not have sex with that girl." The problem is he's so very good at twisting words and history, so aggressive and practiced at his own defense, and because he catches the mild-mannered Chris Wallace off guard - by the way it's laughable to label Wallace as a conservative as Clinton does - he effectively turned the interview's focus towards the strawman of vast right-wing conspiracy.
The first point that needs to be made is that Bill Clinton takes Fox News to task for daring to ask him tough questions about 9-11. It, naturally, never occurs to Clinton that the anomoly isn't that Fox News does this so much that the rest of the mainstream media never has! If the rest of the media did their job, if they didn't just pitch softballs to the likes of Bill Clinton liberals, Fox News would never have found a market in which to succeed.
To elaborate the point: conservatives don't own talk radio because conservatives happen to like radio more than TV - they own it because for decades it was the only place to get a right-wing viewpoint in an alphabet soup of liberal media: NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, PBS, NPR, etc.
Anyway, I'd fret that Chris Wallace is no match for Clinton, but it underscores that Clinton would never dare to go up against any interviewer that is tougher than Wallace, such as an O'Rielly. The Liberals are having a field day with how strong Clinton appeared, but beating Chris Wallace in a debate is like me bragging that lift more weight over my head than my 8-year-old nephew.
Having said all this, I do think it's pointless to continue second-guessing ourselves for what was a bipartisan (and citizenry) underestimation of how much damage terrorists could do on our home soil.
I'm not going to parse the entire interview, but do want to focus on a couple of ridiculous things Clinton said:
[Clinton] I’m being asked this on the Fox network. ABC just had a right-wing conservative run in their little Pathway to 9/11, falsely claiming it was based on the 9/11 Commission report, with three things asserted against me directly contradicted by the 9/11 Commission report.
Cyrus Nowrasteh is a director who has working friendships with Hollywood leftists such as Abby Mann and Oliver Stone. As Nowrasteh wrote in his 9/18 column in the Wall Street Journal, "To them [my critics] I was an Iranian-American politically conservative Muslim. It is perhaps irrelevant in our brave new world of journalism that I was born in Boulder, Colo. I am not a Muslim or practitioner of any religion, nor am I a political conservative. What am I? I am, most devoutly, an American. I asked the reporter [critic] if this kind of labeling was a new policy for the paper. He had no response."
Facts don't matter to journalists. Nor do they to Bill Clinton.
CLINTON: And I think it’s very interesting that all the conservative Republicans, who now say I didn’t do enough, claimed that I was too obsessed with bin Laden. All of President Bush’s neo-cons thought I was too obsessed with bin Laden. They had no meetings on bin Laden for nine months after I left office. All the right-wingers who now say I didn’t do enough said I did too much - same people.
Who called him "obsessed"? Name one.
Lets have Bill Clinton call out - by name - just one "neo-con" who ever said he was "obsessed" with Osama bin Laden. He won't because he can't. He'll just continue to use the "neo-con" paintbrush. This is a lie of Hitlerian or Stalinesque proportions in that it's so outrageous on its surface but because he's Clinton he can just say it again and again and people will believe it (and no I'm not comparing Clinton to Hitler or Stalin).
CLINTON: No, no. I authorized the CIA to get groups together to try to kill him. The CIA, which was run by George Tenet, that President Bush gave the Medal of Freedom to, he said, He did a good job setting up all these counterterrorism things. The country never had a comprehensive anti-terror operation until I came there.
Now, if you want to criticize me for one thing, you can criticize me for this: After the Cole, I had battle plans drawn to go into Afghanistan, overthrow the Taliban, and launch a full-scale attack search for bin Laden. But we needed basing rights in Uzbekistan, which we got after 9/11. The CIA and the FBI refused to certify that bin Laden was responsible while I was there. They refused to certify. So that meant I would’ve had to send a few hundred Special Forces in in helicopters and refuel at night.
Note the wording (which columnist Byron York expands upon below): Clinton didn't order anyone to take out Osama bin Laden, as commander in chief. He authorized. Think of the mixed message that sends to the military, law enforcement and intelligence agencies. "Yeah, you can go after him if you think you can get him." Gee, boss, thanks for the clarification. Meanwhile, if something goes wrong Clinton can accurately claim he didn't "order" the action and leave CIA and FBI directors George Tenet and Louis Freeh out to dry. There's no wonder our anti-terror forces were so hesitant to act under Clinton - he reinforced that over-lawyered, word-parsing culture.
Osama bin Laden was alive on September 11, 2001 precisely because Clinton only "authorized" his killing, but didn't order it.
Then Clinton's self-defense gets rediculous:
The entire military was against sending Special Forces in to Afghanistan and refueling by helicopter. And no one thought we could do it otherwise, because we could not get the CIA and the FBI to certify that Al Qaida was responsible while I was president.
Why couldn't Clinton have sent in more than a few hundred troops, or sent thousands even, or carpet bombed the Taliban, or rescinded the executive order against assassinations, or have fully invaded Afghanistan - he was the COMMANDER IN CHIEF, for crying out loud!!! He didn't need the permission of the military, CIA or FBI. The president of the United States orders the military around, not vice versa.
But here he is now acting like his hands were tied or something. What a coward's defense that is!
CLINTON: But at least I tried. That’s the difference in me and some, including all the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try. They did not try. I tried.
So I tried and failed. When I failed, I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke, who got demoted.
Clinton didn't try anything, at least not anything worth trying. He had 8 years of lessons. Thanks to Democrats attempting to lawsuit their way into office after 2000 recount, Bush's cabinet wasn't even in place until weeks before 9-11. Indeed, Bush's FBI director - Richard Mueller - did not take office until just one week before 9-11, thanks to Sore-Loserman.
But the most important thing here - the thing that Bill Clinton and the Democrats still don't get - is that it matters not which exact Islamic militant did which bombing.
Question: why does Bill Clinton need absolute proof whether al Qaeda is behind the Cole bombing before he can go after Osama bin Laden? By 2000 Bin Laden had at least twice on cable news networks declared war on the United States. Why does Bill Clinton need "CSI: Kabul" to act?
The WTC was bombed by the 9-11 mastermind's nephew Ramzi Yousef in 1993. You've got Islamic militants bombing US bases in Saudi Arabia in 1995 and 1996 (Khobar Towers). You've got the 1998 embassy bombings. You've got the Cole bombing in 2000. And we're not even talking about attempted Islamic terrorist plots on NYC (1994) and Seattle (2000). Wasn't all this enough to realize that the US had a serious problem with Islamic militancy?
But in Clinton's own words he proves why the Democrats' mindset on terrorism is so dangerous - even now, 5 years after 9-11 the Democrats view terrorism as a law enforcement problem (warrants and forensics and extradition treaties and FBI "certifications") instead of as the issues of national security, war and self-perservation that it is.
“I worked hard to try and kill him,” former president Bill Clinton told Fox News Sunday. “I tried. I tried and failed.”
“Him” is Osama bin Laden. And in his interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, the former president based nearly his entire defense on one source: Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror, the book by former White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke. “All I’m asking is if anybody wants to say I didn’t do enough, you read Richard Clarke’s book,” Clinton said at one point in the interview. “All you have to do is read Richard Clarke’s book to look at what we did in a comprehensive systematic way to try to protect the country against terror,” he said at another. “All you have to do is read Richard Clarke’s findings and you know it’s not true,” he said at yet another point. In all, Clinton mentioned Clarke’s name 11 times during the Fox interview.
But Clarke’s book does not, in fact, support Clinton’s claim. Judging by Clarke’s sympathetic account — as well as by the sympathetic accounts of other former Clinton aides like Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon — it’s not quite accurate to say that Clinton tried to kill bin Laden. Rather, he tried to convince — as opposed to, say, order — U.S. military and intelligence agencies to kill bin Laden. And when, on a number of occasions, those agencies refused to act, Clinton, the commander-in-chief, gave up.
Clinton did not give up in the sense of an executive who gives an order and then moves on to other things, thinking the order is being carried out when in fact it is being ignored. Instead, Clinton knew at the time that his top military and intelligence officials were dragging their feet on going after bin Laden and al Qaeda. He gave up rather than use his authority to force them into action.
Examples are all over Clarke’s book. On page 223, Clarke describes a meeting, in late 2000, of the National Security Council “principals” — among them, the heads of the CIA, the FBI, the Attorney General, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the secretaries of State, Defense. It was just after al Qaeda’s attack on the USS Cole. But neither the FBI nor the CIA would say that al Qaeda was behind the bombing, and there was little support for a retaliatory strike. Clarke quotes Mike Sheehan, a State Department official, saying in frustration, “What’s it going to take, Dick? Who the shit do they think attacked the Cole, fuckin’ Martians? The Pentagon brass won’t let Delta go get bin Laden. Hell they won’t even let the Air Force carpet bomb the place. Does al Qaeda have to attack the Pentagon to get their attention?”
That came later. But in October 2000, what would it have taken? A decisive presidential order — which never came.
The story was the same with the CIA. On page 204, Clarke vents his frustration at the CIA’s slow-walking on the question of killing bin Laden. “I still to this day do not understand why it was impossible for the United States to find a competent group of Afghans, Americans, third-country nationals, or some combination who could locate bin Laden in Afghanistan and kill him,” Clarke writes. “I believe that those in CIA who claim the [presidential] authorizations were insufficient or unclear are throwing up that claim as an excuse to cover the fact that they were pathetically unable to accomplish the mission.”
Clarke hit the CIA again a few pages later, on page 210, on the issue of the CIA’s refusal to budget money for the fight against al Qaeda. “The formal, official CIA response was that there were [no funds],” Clarke writes. “Another way to say that was that everything they were doing was more important than fighting al Qaeda.”
The FBI proved equally frustrating. On page 217, Clarke describes a colleague, Roger Cressey, who was frustrated after meeting with an FBI representative on the subject of terrorism. “That fucker is going to get some Americans killed,” Clarke reports Cressey saying. “He just sits there like a bump on a log.” Clarke adds: “I knew he was talking about an FBI representative.”
So Clinton couldn’t get the job done. Why not? According to Clarke’s pro-Clinton view, the president was stymied by Republican opposition. “Weakened by continual political attack,” Clarke writes, “[Clinton] could not get the CIA, the Pentagon, and FBI to act sufficiently to deal with the threat.”
Republicans boxed Clinton in, Clarke writes, beginning in the 1992 campaign, with criticism of Clinton’s avoidance of the draft as a young man, and extending all the way to the Lewinsky scandal and the president’s impeachment. The bottom line, Clarke argues, is that the commander-in-chief was not in command. From page 225:Because of the intensity of the political opposition that Clinton engendered, he had been heavily criticized for bombing al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, for engaging in ‘Wag the Dog’ tactics to divert attention from a scandal about his personal life. For similar reasons, he could not fire the recalcitrant FBI Director who had failed to fix the Bureau or to uncover terrorists in the United States. He had given the CIA unprecedented authority to go after bin Laden personally and al Qaeda, but had not taken steps when they did little or nothing. Because Clinton was criticized as a Vietnam War opponent without a military record, he was limited in his ability to direct the military to engage in anti-terrorist commando operations they did not want to conduct. He had tried that in Somalia, and the military had made mistakes and blamed him. In the absence of a bigger provocation from al Qaeda to silence his critics, Clinton thought he could do no more.
In the end, Clarke writes, Clinton “put in place the plans and programs that allowed America to respond to the big attacks when they did come, sweeping away the political barriers to action.”
But the bottom line is that Bill Clinton, the commander-in-chief, could not find the will to order the military into action against al Qaeda, and Bill Clinton, the head of the executive branch, could not find the will to order the CIA and FBI to act. No matter what the former president says on Fox, or anywhere else, that is his legacy in the war on terror.
[Reuters] In describing its portrait of a civilization in decline, Gibson said, "The precursors to a civilization that's going under are the same, time and time again," drawing parallels between the Mayan civilization on the brink of collapse and America's present situation. "What's human sacrifice," he asked, "if not sending guys off to Iraq for no reason?"
No reason at all... Bush and company just wanted to start a war... no reason really... that turning Iraq into a functional democracy could then positively create change in terror's big three of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria has nothing to do with it I'm sure... Bush just wanted some human sacrifices.
Oh, reallllly, Mel?
Let me see if I got this straight:
Ticket to Gibson's Apocalypto - $6
Diet Coke & popcorn - $8
Attempting to regain favor with Hollywood liberals by stooping to shameless Bush-bashing after insulting every Jew in the film industry during a bizarre, drunken anti-semetic screed - Priceless
Few people fully appreciate the challenge posed by the U.N. membership. Less than half of the U.N. membership [192 member nations] is considered free by Freedom House. Less than half are considered free or mostly free in the Index of Economic Freedom published by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal. Quite simply, most of the U.N. membership considers the president's message an inappropriate intervention into their internal affairs. Worse, authoritarian nations like China, Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela wield their considerable influence to undermine the efforts to make the U.N. more effective in promoting freedom. Perhaps the best illustration of this deplorable situation was the Sudanese delegation, secure in their confidence that China and Russia will continue to shield them from U.N. sanction or intervention, smirking when President Bush referred to the genocide in Darfur.
-- Brett D. Schaefer, Heritage Foundation.
Schaefer's point is especially relevant in light of the recent United Nations Bush-bashing fest.
Danny Glover was alongside Venezualan president Hugo Chavez as he paraded through NYC and Harlem to further denouced George Bush as "the Devil." Chavez is, apparently, a huge supporter of Leftist author Noam Chomsky.
One must wonder if Mr. Glover, Chomsky and the rest of the far Left support Chavez's severe restrictions on civil liberties or property rights, or if they just don't care. You may not like Bush, and you may not have liked Clinton before, but the most any US president serves is 8 years. The US and other Western liberal democracies are filled with outlets to voice opposition, from free expression to voting persons out of office. Not so among most of the UN nations, including Venezuela.
While the Left bemoans Bush as a enemy of liberty, Hugo Chavez actually is. According to Heritage Foundation, Chavez "has decreed new laws that define public protest as a crime, has imposed media restrictions that encourage substantial self-censorship under threat of operating license confiscation, and has begun to seize large rural farms and ranches that he claims are not sufficiently productive. " -- earning Chavez's Venezuela the "repressed" ranking from Heritage.
Self expression and press freedoms are equally curbed by Chavez's regime - journalists not friendly to the state are frequently targeted for beatings or murder, according to Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (hardly a conservative rag).
So repressed is speech in Venezuela that the Chavez regime was caught distorting on its governmental website an official press release from Human Rights Watch in 2003 for a more favorable judgment. HRW immediately issued a condemnation of the distortion, which Chavez was using to propagate his then new Bill on the Social Responsibility of Radio and Television - a device created to curb criticism of Chavez's regime. Naturally, the climate has grown far worse in tha past three years, and Venezuela slips further into the illiberal, unfree darkness.
So when Chavez decries American hegemony he's really complaining that we won't just let him continue to oppress his own people in silence.
What say ye, Messrs Glover and Chomsky?
One can say this about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - he's got a hell of a lot of nerve.
It takes nerve to say, "the occupiers are incapable of establishing security in Iraq" and complain about Iraqis murdered in cold blood when Ahmadinejad is one of the key figures exporting terrorism to Iraq and promoting that very instability!
It takes nerve to say, "Nations are awakened now. They want their rights - equal rights, and fair ones." when the Iranian people are denied those very "equal" and "fair" rights from Ahmadinejad's government. Tell me, who the hell voted for the Ayatollah anyway? Oh, that's right, a small group of like-minded, strictly illiberal extremistly theocratic men. Last month Iran's equal rights included state police smashing the satellite dishes of its citizenry - you see, we can't have free thought or competition in ideas in Iran, can we?
Does Ahmadinejad's definition of equal rights include Iran's current state-enforced Islamic dress code, or prohibition of unmarried men and women socializing, or denial of Jews from upper government positions?
It's a little comical for a man who was chosen to be president by the Ayatollah and his Guardian Council, a 12-member board that approves and can veto every law or candidate in the land, to lecture the West on democracy and freedom.
And yet, and yet, Ahmadinejad can so easily woo the world's Leftists - always smitten they are by the dictators.
Ted Turner, for example, called Iran a "sovereign state," - which by that definition so was the Taliban - and wondered how Bush can demand Iran give up its nuclear ambitions when "We have 28,000," and nations like Israel and India also have them.
Well, let's make Mr. Turner a deal - Have Ahmadinejad guarantee the same freedoms of religion, speech, assembly, press, and representation in Iran that we Western nations do, including Israel, and we'll think about it.
Indeed, Mr. Turner, who added, "Men should be barred from public office for 100 years in every part of the world... Let's give it to the women," might reconsider his status of "soverign nation" to Iran once he learns that in the last election the Ayatollah and his Supreme's Council banned all 89 female candidates from its "election."
WASHINGTON - U.S. prisons are becoming major breeding grounds for Islamic terrorists, but state and local authorities are too cash-strapped to prevent or track recruiting, a new report concludes.
The report, to be released Tuesday, found there aren't enough legitimately trained Muslim religious leaders to counsel an estimated 9,000 U.S. prison inmates who want Islamic services. That allows Islamist extremists to target their vulnerable prison-mates with distorted versions of the Quran and other Muslim readings that urge radicalization and violence.
Keep in mind that this flawed civil incarceration system is precisely where all of President Bush's critics - from the Democratic Party to bureaucrats within the State Department and even Pentagon - have been demanding he place al Qaeda members and other terrorists. The Liberal community, which tends to view terrorism as a issue of law enforcement, not as one of national security, even though that former mindset led directly to 9-11, would have us transfer our military captives to a civil judicial system - which clearly lacks the tools necessary to effectively try terrorists while simultaneously protecting national secrets of sources and methods - and then eventually place these terrorists into our civil penal system, assuming they didn't get off on some technicality.
Thus, unlike being locked into a specialized military tribunal facility these Islamic radicals can interact with the general populations of your state prison. Maybe they'll never get free, but you can be sure they will use our own prisons against us and radicalize home-grown terrorists eligible shortly for parole.
Once again, liberal notions of utopian fairness and justice, even when well-intended, put the rest of us in danger.
However, it should be noted that Guantanamo Bay is far safer and cleaner, and likely has better medical care, than our state or county systems, let alone the prisons spread throughout Europe. The deputy head of Brussels' federal police anti-terrorism squad, Alain Grignard, was quoted as saying that Guantanamo Bay was a far better facility than Belgian jails - "I know no Belgian prison where each inmate receives its Muslim kit," Grignard once said.
That's not to get all rosy, after all we're talking about prisons here, and in the case of Guantanamo Bay, a prison for the worst of the worst of our Islamic terrorist enemies.
Yet, inmate rape and violence occur frequently in our civil prison systems - both by other inmates and sometimes by prison guards - but you'll hear no Bush critic in Congress first attempt to clean up their home state's system.
Patrick Cox wrote an excellent essay on that point in May 2004: "According to the Criminal Justice Institute, in the year 2000 alone, 55 inmates were murdered, 39 died "accidentally," and 118 died for unknown reasons in American prisons." Why that's a far worse track record than anything one can accuse the military of. So forgive me if I find it hard to take the criticisms of Guantanamo Bay, or even Abu Ghraib, by liberals serious when they have missed every opportunity to reform our own civil penal system.
Well, that's my rant and back to the article.
"Radicalized prisoners are a potential pool of recruits by terrorist groups," concludes the joint study by George Washington University and the University of Virginia. "The U.S., with its large prison population, is at risk of facing the sort of homegrown terrorism currently plaguing other countries."
Additionally, state and local prison officials struggle to track radical behavior changes of inmates or religious counselors. And staff and funding shortages limit preventative programs, the report found, noting that California officials "report that every investigation into radical groups in their prisons uncovers new leads, but they simply do not have enough investigators to follow every case of radicalization."
An estimated 2 million people are imprisoned in the United States; 6 percent of them are Muslim, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Prisons have long been considered recruiting stations for gangs and, more recently, terrorists, but little has been done throughout government to combat them. The report, which will be released at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, comes as law enforcement and intelligence officials focus on finding out how and why extremist sympathizers cross a line to become operational terrorists.
The report cited several high-profile cases of terrorists who became radicalized while incarcerated, including British shoe bomber Richard Reid. It also noted what authorities call a foiled plot of a potential shooting rampage against California military facilities, synagogues and the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles by followers of Kevin James, who founded the radical group Jamiyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh, or JIS, as an inmate at California State Prison in Sacramento.
Lack of well-trained Muslim chaplains
Researchers interviewed federal, state and local prison officials, religious counselors and counterterror authorities in four states — California, New York, South Carolina and Ohio — and the District of Columbia. They concluded that federal prison authorities have made significant strides in collecting and sharing information to help monitor whether inmates are becoming radicalized.
But state and local prison officials have largely relied on contractors and volunteers to lead Islamic services because of a lack of well-trained Muslim chaplains, the report found. In New York, that led to several cases of "imams espousing violent views," it said.
The report noted a 2004 study that found that about half of 193 prisons surveyed supervised religious services or monitored them with video or audio recorders. "In the absence of monitoring by authoritative Islamic chaplains, materials that advocate violence have infiltrated the prison system undetected," it found.
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a counterterrorism consultant, said "chilling" interpretations of the Quran were given to prison inmates when he worked for the al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, an international charity that served as a major al-Qaida financier.
The readings urged Muslims "to wage war against non-Muslims who have not submitted to Islamic rule," Gartenstein-Ross said in prepared testimony to the Senate panel, obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.
"I know of only a few instances in which prisons rejected the literature we attempted to distribute — and it was never because of the literature's radicalism," said Gartenstein-Ross, who left the charity and converted to Christianity before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Al-Haramain also created a database of names, release dates and forwarding addresses of 15,000 inmates considered to be ripe for recruitment, but it was never used, he said.
Reasonable people can debate whether or not the comments of Pope Benedict XVI, in which he referenced a text quoting the prophet Mohammed as someone who used methods "evil and inhuman," to "spread by the sword the faith he preached," were accurate, wise or spiteful.
But, in the world of Islam we're dealing with a great many unreasonable people. Within a day of the Pope's comments being published Islamic radicals were burning churches in the West Bank, murdering a 66-year-old charity-worker nun in Somalia, and generally issuing death threats towards the Pope and Christians alike - thus proving the Pope's very point.
[This Is London] A notorious Muslim extremist told a demonstration in London yesterday that the Pope should face execution. Anjem Choudary said those who insulted Islam would be "subject to capital punishment".
Choudary's appeal for the death of Pope Benedict was the second time he has been linked with apparent incitement to murder within a year.
The 39-year-old lawyer organised demonstrations against the publication of cartoons of Mohammed in February in Denmark. Protesters carried placards declaring "Behead Those Who Insult Islam".
Yesterday he said: "The Muslims take their religion very seriously and non-Muslims must appreciate that and that must also understand that there may be serious consequences if you insult Islam and the prophet. Whoever insults the message of Mohammed is going to be subject to capital punishment."
He added: "I am here have a peaceful demonstration. But there may be people in Italy or other parts of the world who would carry that out. "I think that warning needs to be understood by all people who want to insult Islam and want to insult the prophet of Islam."
As well as placards attacking the Pope such as "Pope go to Hell", his followers outside the country's principal Roman Catholic church also waved slogans aimed at offending the sentiments of Christians such as "Jesus is the slave of Allah".
There's a couple important points to be made here.
First, this radical isn't some poor, downtrodden ignorant street thug, but a lawyer. This nullifies the often propagated theme among the left that terrorists choose such a lifestyle as a response to poverty, that fighting terrorism requires no more than increasing charitable aid and so on (which we do anyway). Osama bin Laden was the son of a millionaire construction tycoon; Ayman al Zawahiri was a doctor. Mohammed Atta was studying to be an architect. The list goes on.
Next, the response from so-called "moderate Islam" has been shameful. This same story quotes a prominent Turkish minister issuing the "yes, but" defense - that is, yes terrorism is bad but (insert lame excuse that blames the West, capitalism or Israel here).
Finally, once again, we see a religion and people that are so insecure in themselves, in their ever-increasingly modern world, in their religion, that their very first response to minimal criticism of their religion is murder.
Leftist apologists will no doubt make their silly comparisons recalling that Christianity, too, had its dark era where the faith was spread by the sword. But that was hundreds of years ago. Long ago Christianity had its reformation. Long ago Sunday schools traded "an eye for an eye" for "turn the other cheek." Long ago Christianity adapted, and for the better.
Nonetheless, you'll find Osama bin Laden's "useful idiots" over at the NY Times. Like all members of the genuflecting apologensia, the Times demands the Pope apologize. Ryan Sager over at RealClearPolitics calls it "self-parody," and wonders when the Times will demand an apology for all those churches burn down in the West Bank. Indeed.
People can with regularity mock Jesus, create "artwork" of Holy Mary using feces, and fill pop culture with anti-Christian motifs and they never under fear of death. To date, Christians don't detonate themselves at bus stations, murder journalists because they happen to be Jewish, force journalists to convert at gunpoint, or hijack planes and fly them into buildings.
One would think that the proper play from a newspaper that so often claims to be defending civil liberties would be to denounce anyone who used violence to retort free speech, whether one agrees with the Pope or not. It's despicable, and the West's lack of unity for liberty is a primary weakness which Islamic radicals expose and enjoy on a daily basis.
They took all the footage off my T.V.
Said it's too disturbing for you and me
It'll just breed anger, that's what the experts say
Were it up to me I'd show it every day.
-- Darryl Worley, Have You Forgotten?
It's been 5 years since Islamic radicals hijacked our planes and murdered 3,000 Americans. It seems many of us who have not forgotten, have, worse, turned it into something it wasn't.
Every so often I pull up that picture of the "Falling Man"? Do you remember that famous photograph by Richard Drew? Do you ever still wonder who he was? How much agony must he have endured that choosing to leap from 100 stories was his most-favored option?
I'd like to think we've given him and the thousands of others at least some justice since that day. And for them to know we remember them, and in the right way.
But then I see a recent Scripps-Howard poll of 1,010 adults that finds that 36 percent of Americans think it "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that the US government either conspired to execute the attack or at least allowed them to occur, and that justice has been warped by foolishness. To me these people - whether in the single or tens of millions - are no different than your average juvenile-minded, ignorant Holocaust denier. That's all they are. The modern-day equivalent of Holocaust deniers. Call them American-Holocaust deniers.
Thirty-six percent... Consider: if the poll is statistically accurate about 78 million of 218 million adults in the US think a 9-11 conspiracy is likely. 78 million!
Even if the poll's science were egregiously lacking (and that certainly is possible), and say it were off by ten-fold, and that only 3.6 percent of all adults believed a 9-11 conspiracy, it would still be 7.8 million adults.
That's millions of American Holocaust deniers.
It's a sad statement that 5 years after the attack we're still having to debunk 9-11 conspiracy theories but, alas, that's exactly where we are, and that even after a bipartisan, blue-ribbon panel of politicos and their staff produced the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, aka, the 9-11 Commission Report.
Here'd be an interesting, and I believe telling, poll: the number of adults who actually read the 9-11 Commission Report! Would you be willing to wager it's far less than 36 percent of Americans? I'm not a betting man, but I'd bet my next 36 paychecks on it.
Here'd be another interesting poll: The number of adults who believe in 9-11 conspiracy even after reading that report. Or any conspiracy-debunking report for that matter.
After all, what's easier, viewing a blurry photograph of the Pentagon after being bombarded with sensationalist Bush-oil-for-empire doubt - "see, tilt your head and look at this shadow" - or actually reading the 500+ page 9-11 Report? One supposes it's no wonder that so many Americans believe conspiracy.
Of course, it doesn't help when notable newscasts or print media, like Time, publish articles dedicated to answering the question, "Did the U.S. overreact to Sept. 11?"
Could you imagine Time, five years after Pearl Harbor, asking if we "overreacted" with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
Bush's actions are far, far less reactive than, say, FDR's detainment of all first- and second-generation Japanese-US citizens. But not a peep from Time on that comparison, eh?
While true that any idiot with time can produce their own 9-11 conspiracy site it's also true that some responsible and intelligent debunkers exist.
Popular Mechanics 9/11: Debunking The Myths
The National Institute of Standards and Technology "FAQ Page Addresses WTC Alternate Theories"
Screw Loose Change (a site dedicated to debunking a recent 9-11 conspiracy movie of similar name)
But for me, I don't really need one of these sites. For me, the conspiracy versus not is really no more than a microcosm of our society - some people believe that government is qualified to enact powerful and secretive acts, whereas others, like myself, believe that government is generally incompetent and can't keep the most meaningless of secrets between even a few operatives, let alone one such as a 9-11 conspiracy that would have required hundreds or really thousands of dedicated zealots capable of keeping their mouths shut (including, one would have to assume from the conspiracy crowd's arguments, the hundreds of people who were on the planes - which the conspiracy nuts claim were really missiles).
9-11 is what it is - a clever, but hardly brilliant, plot that exposed what were the gaping and, with hindsight, obvious flaws in our aviation security.
What it was not was a conspiracy by our government - this, of course, a pipe dream bred by those who simply refuse to accept that there exists an enemy that asks not for your political affiliation or voter registration card before killing you. You see, a government conspiracy, for them, is more calming the choice -- just as jumping out of the building was for the Falling Man.
9-11 was perpetrated, in the words of Ralph Peters, by a group of the following, which hates us for the following:
A religio-social society that restricts the flow of information, prefers myth to reality, oppresses women, makes family, clan or ethnic identity the basis for social and economic relations, subverts the rule of secular law, undervalues scientific and liberal education, discourages independent thought, and believes that ancient religious law should govern all human relations has no hope whatsoever of competing with America and the vibrant, creative states of the West and the Pacific Rim. We are succeeding, the Islamic world in failing, and they hate us for it. The preceding sentence encapsulates the cause of the terrorism of September 11th, 2001, and no amount of "rational" analysis or nervous explanation will make this basic truth go away.
Yes. And no amount of irrational conspiracy mongering will either.
If you remember nothing else this 9-11, remember that.
Well, well, after a few years of smearing top Bush administration officials it turns out that the person who "outed" Valerie Plame as an "undercover" CIA employee was then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage, and not Dick Cheney's top advisor Lewis "Scooter" Libby. This has now been verified by the Washington Post and, ironically, by uber-liberal journalists David Corn and Michael Isikoff.
Worst of all, however, it appears that those who falsely accused the Bush administration of the act knew the whole time that Armitage was in fact the leaker. Thus, for three years U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has wasted time and taxpayer money for political gain when at any time the truth could have been revealed. For three years, likewise, the discredited Joe Wilson and his wife Plame have attempted to fool the American public, all to save personal face. For three years Democratic leaders have cited Plame-Gate as the central component in their "impeach Bush" platform.
The Armitage disclosure has been buried in the back pages for the same reason that the false accusations against Libby were promoted: Libby, you see, was of the Cheney camp backing invasion of Iraq, whereas Armitage was against it. When the leaker of the identity of Plame was thought to be close to Bush the story was sexy; now that the leaker turns out to have been someone against the war it's just boring old news.
But before we get some of the most scandalous responses within the op-ed columns it's important to remember some oft-forgotten facts:
* Amid all this mess, it's not even clear a law was broken - whether by Armitage, Libby or Mickey Mouse - because every known fact indicates that Plame's employment by the CIA may have been classified by not a covert agent. These are two very different things according to US law and prosecution of them. Furthermore, to prosecute, the leaker would have had to known she was a covert agent, and leaked to harm her. Neither was ever established. Remember, Libby was charged with obstruction and perjury, but never with a leak violation.
* Likewise, documents have been published that Plame's identity was declassified before the "leak" in 2003. Hard to leak what's declassified, eh?
* It's crystal clear that Joe Wilson got the Niger "Yellowcake" assignment through pure nepotism via his CIA-wife and for the political agenda of undermining the Bush administrations attempt to show that Saddam Hussein was attempting to acquire nuclear WMD despite UN sanctions. A Senate report found Wilson lying in his denials that his wife had nothing to do with his trip to Niger.
* Joe Wilson has since been discredited from no less than three separate inquiries: The Senate and House Intelligence Committee Reports and the UK Butler Report. The Washington Post reported in 2004, "The [Senate] report also said Wilson provided misleading information to The Washington Post last June. He said then that he concluded the Niger intelligence was based on documents that had clearly been forged because 'the dates were wrong and the names were wrong.'... Wilson's reports to the CIA added to the evidence that Iraq may have tried to buy uranium in Niger, although officials at the State Department remained highly skeptical [an opinion], the report said... According to the former Niger mining minister, Wilson told his CIA contacts, Iraq tried to buy 400 tons of uranium in 1998."
* Similarly, the Butler Report found, "It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999. The British Government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Niger’s exports, the intelligence was credible."... "By extension, we conclude also that the statement in President Bush’s State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" was well-founded."
The Washington Post last Friday focus their blame on the very man thought to have been the victim: Joe Wilson.
Nevertheless, it now appears that the person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame's CIA career is Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson chose to go public with an explosive charge, claiming -- falsely, as it turned out -- that he had debunked reports of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger and that his report had circulated to senior administration officials. He ought to have expected that both those officials and journalists such as Mr. Novak would ask why a retired ambassador would have been sent on such a mission and that the answer would point to his wife. He diverted responsibility from himself and his false charges by claiming that President Bush's closest aides had engaged in an illegal conspiracy. It's unfortunate that so many people took him seriously.
Of course, Joe Wilson long ago thoroughly damaged his own credibility to the point that now even no reasonable Democrats support him. This is no surprise then.
More distressing, however, is that there would appear - now, more than ever - that there exists a perhaps loose but nonetheless politically-motivated association of persons within the State Department, CIA and Justice Department willing to go to great lengths to undermine both the Bush administration and the war in Iraq.
[Wall Street Journal] Mr. Fitzgerald has nonetheless also tried to spin an aura that Mr. Libby was responsible for outing Ms. Plame. In his press conference on October 28, 2005, the prosecutor asserted that "In fact, Mr. Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter when he talked to [former New York Times reporter] Judith Miller in June of 2003 about Valerie Wilson." But we have since learned that Mr. Armitage also told Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward about Ms. Plame -- a fact that Mr. Fitzgerald never uncovered until Mr. Woodward came forward after he heard Mr. Fitzgerald make that false public assertion.
Strangely, Mr. Armitage never seems to have told Mr. Fitzgerald that he'd talked to Mr. Woodward. And Mr. Fitzgerald never seems to have asked to see Mr. Armitage's appointment calendar, which would have showed his meeting with Mr. Novak. It's all enough to make us wonder if Mr. Fitzgerald didn't buy into the liberal "conspiracy" theory of this case from the start and target the White House while giving Mr. Armitage a pass.
Meanwhile, according to the Corn-Isikoff book, Mr. Armitage never did tell the White House or his boss, the President, that he was the leaker. Instead, in October 2003 he told Mr. Powell, who told the State Department general counsel, who in turn told the Justice Department but gave the White House Counsel only the sketchiest overview of what he'd learned and didn't mention Mr. Armitage's name. So while Mr. Fitzgerald presumably knew when he began his probe two months later that Mr. Armitage was Mr. Novak's source, the President himself was apparently kept in the dark, even as he was pledging publicly to find out who the leaker was.
At a minimum, there appears to be a serious question of disloyalty here. By keeping silent, Messrs. Powell and Armitage let the President take political heat for the case, while also letting Mr. Rove, Mr. Libby and other White House officials twist in the wind for more than two years. We also know that it was the folks in Mr. Powell's shop -- including his former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson and intelligence officer Carl Ford Jr. -- who did so much to trash John Bolton's nomination to be Ambassador to the U.N. in 2005. The State Department clique that Mr. Bush tolerated for so long did tremendous damage to his Administration.
As for Justice, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself from the case in an act of political abdication. That left then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey in charge, and he also presumably knew by October 2003 about Mr. Armitage's role as the leaker who started it all. Yet if the book's account is correct, he too misled the White House with his silence. Mr. Comey is also the official who let Mr. Fitzgerald alter his mandate from its initial find-the-leaker charge to the obstruction and perjury raps against Mr. Libby that are all this case has come down to. Remind us never to get in a foxhole with either Mr. Comey or the Powell crowd.
A "serious question of disloyalty here"? Boy, that's the understatement of the year!
An Investor's Business Daily has an even more blunt accusation:
Did Fitzgerald publicly lie? Let's look at the facts:
- The indictment of Libby that Fitzgerald extracted from the grand jury states that "on or about June 23, 2003, Libby met with New York Times reporter Judith Miller. . . . In discussing the CIA's handling of Wilson's trip to Niger, Libby informed her that Wilson's wife might work at a bureau of the CIA."
- In the Oct. 28 press conference announcing Libby's indictment, Fitzgerald claimed that "in fact, Mr. Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter when he talked to Judith Miller in June of 2003 about Valerie Wilson."
- That assertion is apparently false. A soon-to-be-released book, "Hubris," by Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and The Nation magazine's David Corn, finds that Armitage revealed Plame's identity in a meeting with The Washington Post's Bob Woodward a week before the Libby-Miller meeting in June 2003. In a Newsweek preview of the book, Isikoff cites "three government officials, a lawyer familiar with the case and an Armitage confidant" as sources for when the Armitage-Woodward conversation took place.
- Armitage is also clearly columnist Robert Novak's primary source for his July 2003 column, which was the first piece to identify Plame. On Sunday's "Meet the Press," Novak complained that "the time has way passed for my source to identify himself."
- Isikoff notes that "Armitage himself was aggressively investigated" by Fitzgerald. So Armitage fessed up at the outset. Fitzgerald long ago knew whom Armitage talked to and when. And he knew it was Armitage, not Libby, who was responsible for outing Plame (whose status as a secret CIA operative was dubious at best).
- Fitzgerald's contention in October that Libby was "the first official known to have told a reporter . . . about Valerie Wilson" may therefore have been a lie.
Fitzgerald knew in the early days of his politicized witch hunt that no crime was committed. No one intentionally revealed the identity of a truly covert agent. Yet he made a reporter, Miller, spend nearly 90 days in jail for refusing to reveal her source.
Meanwhile, Fitzgerald refused to reveal to the public the true source. From top to bottom, this has been one of the most disgraceful abuses of prosecutorial power in this country's history. That it's taking place at a time of war only magnifies its sordidness.
We wouldn't be surprised if Fitzgerald ran for high elective office in the next few years — likely as a Democrat.
And no doubt he will be eagerly embraced by the Left.
But what other events as covered by our CIA, Justice and State Departments must we now put under the microscope? If they can so blatantly propagate lies on Plame and Niger and Iraq, what else shall we find once the digging begins?
This is www.gregnews.com
Greg Reports... Greg Decides
"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile--hoping it will eat him last.." -- Winston Churchill
Wish I Could Write Like...
News & Views I Use
Mil-Blogs of Note
Greg's Published CommentaryThe Halliburton Candidate The Peace That Never Was The Neglected Point of Abu Ghraib Date With Destiny Dictators and Double Standards Redux