Notes on the Atrocities
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Wednesday, April 07, 2004  

Thoughts on Condi Rice

Of course, the 9/11 Commission should attempt to reconcile the testimony of Richard Clarke and the public statements of Condi Rice. This will be the sexy material. (For example, on May 16, 2002 she said: "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon. [No one predicted] that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile." It was either an incompetent or false statement--she should be asked to account.)

But a bigger question I have now is Should Condi really have been expected to understand terror issues? Bush set about creating a cold war cabinet, and selected as his National Security Advisor a woman with obsolete expertise in Soviet and Eastern Bloc issues. Far more important to the inquiry isn't whether the White House lied to cover its ass--that would be understandable and almost forgiveable. What's more alarming is the prospect that this is a wholly incompetent administration. And actually, more plausible.

Nearly every assumption the White House had about the world was wrong. In an age of terror, they were focused on missile defense. In an age of non-state enemies, they were forcused on old dictators. In an age of globalism, it was cold-war era administration.

Incompetence is less sinister, but far more dangerous. It also seems to be the overlooked possibility. The collision course of that possibility and the facts may intersect with Condi's testimony: she will be there defending her actions in light of Richard Clarke's accusations--based on his two decades of antiterror experience. The fact that she and members of the administration lied is bound to be challenged. I suspect that's the thing the White House is preparing to defend against. But I wonder if they're worrying about grape shot while the 9/11 Commission is loading its big guns--questioning whether Condi adequately tried to protect the US from terrorist attacks.

posted by Jeff | 8:55 PM |
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