Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Monday, March 22, 2004  

Last night's interview with Richard Clarke did not disappoint. As a Reagan appointee and former "terrorism czar" under Clinton (a position Bush eliminated), Clarke's loaded with cred. The White House is sufficiently freaked to go on the attack (launching the dogs). They're starting with the pit bull, Condi Rice, who writes in today's Washington Post.

It's an interesting document. Rice begins by giving a point-by-point "rebuttal" of Clarke's charges, but they essentially amount to nothing more than a "we did too prepare for al Qaida." It's not particularly convincing--but it's clearly language crafted to keep the White House on the right side of the truth. Listen:

"We committed more funding to counterterrorism and intelligence efforts. We increased efforts to go after al Qaeda's finances.... We pushed hard to arm the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle so we could target terrorists with greater precision.... We also considered a modest spring 2001 increase in funding for the Northern Alliance."

She goes on to make statements that do seem to run against Clarke's charges, though, and charges that will certainly be challenged in days to come.

Through the summer increasing intelligence "chatter" focused almost exclusively on potential attacks overseas. Nonetheless, we asked for any indication of domestic threats and directed our counterterrorism team to coordinate with domestic agencies to adopt protective measures....

Despite what some have suggested, we received no intelligence that terrorists were preparing to attack the homeland using airplanes as missiles, though some analysts speculated that terrorists might hijack airplanes to try to free U.S.-held terrorists.

But that's not the impression Clarke, the president's lead man on terrorism, gives. Clarke:

"George Tenet was saying to the White House, saying to the president - because he briefed him every morning - a major al Qaeda attack is going to happen against the United States somewhere in the world in the weeks and months ahead. He said that in June, July, August."

Clarke went on to give some details of existing intel pre-9/11--including the fact that the US knew two of the suspected bombers were in the US already.

"[Bush] never thought it was important enough for him to hold a meeting on the subject, or for him to order his National Security Adviser to hold a Cabinet-level meeting on the subject."

"The cabinet meeting I asked for right after the inauguration took place-- one week prior to 9/11."

Finally, Rice is forced to make one admission--and it's possibly the most damaging of all. In the 60 Minutes interview, Clarke accused the White House of immediately trying to use 9/11 as an excuse for invading Iraq. Rice rebuts this, but admits:

Once advised that there was no evidence that Iraq was responsible for Sept. 11, the president told his National Security Council on Sept. 17 [2001] that Iraq was not on the agenda and that the initial U.S. response to Sept. 11 would be to target al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

So the White House had recieved intelligence that there was no connection between 9/11 and Iraq. Why then did the administration continue to promote those links? Why then does Dick Cheney continue to promote those links?

posted by Jeff | 7:42 AM |
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