Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken

Friday, July 23, 2004

Condi, Amnesiatic water girl, waiting for people to tell her what to do 

Condi was on PBS's News hour last night. I wish I could have asked her a few things and made some interruptions.

Oklahoma City bombing, 1995, 168 victims

No major attack here for 200 years! I think maybe you still need to work on imagination and maybe even more rudimentary skills, such as memory, or perhaps how to count backwards from 2001 to 1995 and come up with a number other than 200. Do you think that's a fair assessment? I'm here to help!

Well, you didn't really need to be on a "war footing" to pay adequate attention to a security issue such as a domestic hijacking, do you? Is it not expected that a National Security Advisor be on a security footing, anyway? Aw, heck, you don't need to answer that, it would be too painful. Do you have another question, Margaret?

You just said you knew the threat was very real and could come at any time and this was a very, very high priority. Yet you testified to the Commission that prior to 9/11 the White House held only a single meeting - and not until September 4 - which addressed al Qaeda (9/11 Commission Report p. 201). You held 32 Principals Committee meetings on topics other than al Qaeda, claiming that discussing al Qaeda was unnecessary because you knew al Qaeda was a "major" threat (9/11 Commission Report p. 509, footnote #174). I'm sorry, I'm having trouble swallowing this, could you explain a bit more?

Oh, well it "almost always" pointed to something abroad, so you weren't thinking that it would haven in the US. But you remarked to the Committee, "And let's remember that those charged with protecting us from attack have to be right 100 percent of the time. To inflict devastation on a massive scale, the terrorists only have to succeed once." Reviewing,

  1. You say the intelligence "almost always" pointed abroad - meaning it pointed abroad less than 100 percent of the time
  2. You say you knew you had to get it right 100 percent of the time
  3. You say you knew terrorists only have to get it right once to succeed
  4. So you figured the only threats you had to worry about were overseas.

So, I get it, you were thinking it wouldn't happen here, because you lacked imagination about that 1 out of one hundered times. Wait, I don't, because on August 6, 2001 the President received a "historical" (your word) document titled "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US" in response to an inquiry about domestic threats that stated the "view that the threat of a Bin Ladin attack in the United States remained both current and serious." That's not a lack of imagination, it's not paying attention.

You're awful fond of trying to steer the conversation to stuff overseas. The 9/11 hijackers hijacked domestic flights, and even learned to fly in US flight schools. That's the incident we're trying you ask you about. Just wanted to point that out, go on, please - I'll be back in a minute or two - I'm going to go be sick.

... (cough) I'm Back.

I couldn't begin to count the number of times I've been told by you and your colleagues that we now live in a fundamentally different post 9/11 world. It would seem to take only minimal imagination to explore the possibility of fundamental changes. Why am I getting the idea you have the habit of waiting for someone else to advise you? It seems to me an Advisor should be advising others - or at least have an opinion on an idea that's "been around" before you've officially received it publicly in writing. One of your favorite excuses is that nobody told you to do something, so you don't do anything.

Like when you testified to the Commission that Richard Clarke, who worked under you, sent you a memo which said there were al Qaeda cells un the US. Richard Ben-Veniste asked you if you informed the President of the presence of those cells. You answered that "there was no recommendation that we do something about this" and that you, quote, "really don't remember, Commissioner, whether I discussed this with the president." Do you have any initiative of your own or are you more like a marionette with a wooden head?

This forgetting is another favorite excuse of yours. When you were speaking with Tim Russert about the reference to the African uranium intelligence the 2003 State of the Union address, he reminded you that on June 8, 2003 you claimed it got into the speech because "no one knew at the time in our circles - maybe someone knew down in the bowels of the agency, but no one in our circles knew - that there were doubts and suspicions that this might be a forgery." Afterwards your deputy Steven Hadley told reporters that the CIA had sent two memos to you casting doubt on the quality of that piece of intelligence. And indeed the claim was removed from Bush's October speech in Cincinnati.

So Russert then asked you how it later got into the State of the Union address. Your reply? It's not a matter of getting back in. It's a matter, Tim, that three-plus months later, people didn't remember that George Tenet had asked that it be taken out of the Cincinnati speech and then it was cleared by the agency. I didn't remember."

I'm outta here. Have to go get sick again.

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