Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Bush Lies; Rice Lies

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
— Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV)

At times, it seems as if there are no mysteries left in life, or that the mysteries are just too slight.

For instance, to any sane, well-informed adult reading the AP headline Rice challenges statements by Clinton on terror: Secretary says administration aggressively pursued al-Qaida before 9/11” it’s obvious Condoleezza Rice is lying.

And when one reads the AP headline ”Intel report: Iraq a ‘cause célèbre’ for extremists: President says NIE leak was political, denies war has worsened terrorism” President Bush is clearly either lying or delusional.

The only real mysteries are how the media will cover it, how the Bush cheerleaders will spin it, and how blatantly and aggressively Bush and Rice will insist that black is white and that they’re not lying through their teeth.

Rice’s lies were prompted by the now (in)famous interview of Bill Clinton by Chris Wallace at Fox News. The AP reports that the YouTube version has been downloaded over 800,000 times and earned “the show its best ratings in nearly three years.” (The video can be seen here and a previous post is here.) In addition to Rice calling Clinton’s charges that the Bush administration did little to stop al-Qaeda before 9/11 “flatly false,”

Rice also took exception to Clinton's statement that he "left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy" for incoming officials when he left office.

"We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al-Qaida," she told the newspaper, which is owned by News Corp., the same company that owns Fox News Channel.

Ah. those Bushies. They’re good at lying from plenty of practice, but at times they get sloppy and move from technically true if delusional assertions such as “I firmly believe we’re winning the war on terror” to demonstratively false statements. The Raw Story very rapidly exposed Rice’s lie:

A memo received by United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice shortly after becoming National Security Advisor in 2001 directly contradicts statements she made to reporters yesterday, RAW STORY has learned.

"We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al Qaeda," Rice told a reporter for the New York Post on Monday. "Big pieces were missing," Rice added, "like an approach to Pakistan that might work, because without Pakistan you weren't going to get Afghanistan."

Rice made the comments in response to claims made Sunday by former President Bill Clinton, who argued that his administration had done more than the current one to address the al Qaeda problem before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. She stopped short of calling the former president a liar.

However, RAW STORY has found that just five days after President George W. Bush was sworn into office, a memo from counter-terrorism expert Richard A. Clarke to Rice included the 2000 document, "Strategy for Eliminating the Threat from the Jihadist Networks of al-Qida: Status and Prospects." This document devotes over 2 of its 13 pages of material to specifically addressing strategies for securing Pakistan's cooperation in airstrikes against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Raw Story also provides the released, partially redacted document. Rice is far too smart not to know she was lying. How sad that she apparently thinks so little of the American media and American people that she feels she wouldn’t be called on it. As Tristero remarks over at Hullabaloo,

The Bush administration is lying so often and so poorly these days they're not even bothering to make it even slightly tricky to catch 'em. One recent whopper couldn't withstand more than a few hours before it fell:


Truly pathetic, Dr. Rice.

Y'know, sooner or later the press will have to consider whether it is in the country's interest to disseminate any info asserted by the administration that hasn't been indepedently [sic] verified for factual accuracy.

But this is just par for the course from the woman who asserted to Congress with a straight face that a Presidential Daily Brief entitled, “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the U.S.” was a “historical document.” The AP story captures one more gem, as Rice protests Clinton’s defense of his record and comparisons with the Bush record:

Rice questioned the value of the dialogue.
"I think this is not a very fruitful discussion," she said. "We've been through it. The 9/11 commission has turned over every rock and we know exactly what they said."

Naturally, Rice wouldn’t view any in-depth examination of the Bush administration’s actual record or comparison with the Clinton administration’s record as “fruitful.” The criminal negligence of the Bush administration and her own staggering incompetence would be laid bare. And of course, the American people don’t know exactly what the 9/11 Commission report said (certainly not those that watched ABC’s propaganda piece The Path to 9/11). If they did, Bush never would have been re-elected. This is a Bush administration classic; smear your opponent, then attempt to shut down the discussion before your ludicrous statements can come under any sort of scrutiny.

Hillary Clinton (video is here) fired back that:

“I'm certain that if my husband and his national security team had been shown a classified report entitled 'Bin Laden Determined To Attack Inside the United States' he would have taken it more seriously than history suggests it was taken by our current president and his national security team."

Richard Ben-Veniste, of the 9/11 Commission, discusses the issue of the U.S.S. Cole here, a matter conservative hacks cite as a failure of Clinton’s, even though it was Bush who failed to pursue the issue after the proof of bin Laden’s involvement was finally established. Dan Froomkin’s latest round-up also touches on these issues.

(But, as The Daily Show suggests, Rice may indeed have nothing to fear from the, err, crackerjack press so very intent on examining the actual record versus covering essential issues as gossip.)

Meanwhile, Bush was in fine form as he railed against the New York Times for its article “Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat” (as of yesterday, Technorati reported it as the most linked recent article on the web, with close to 200 links). Directly contradicting numerous statements by Bush and members of his administration, the article reported that:

A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

Again, where is the mystery? Iraq is in horrible straits. There may be a few sane, intelligent people of good faith who feel the war in Iraq has made America and the world safer from terrorism, but I haven’t heard any. The real question after this report was issued was whether Bush would finally acknowledge reality – and perhaps most importantly, whether he would acknowledge that he has repeatedly been told by experts that the reality in Iraq does not remotely match his numerous public characterizations of it. Whether Bush has been deliberately lying or is merely deeply delusional is almost academic, because in either case his leadership has been disastrous. Will our vaunted leader ever tell the truth and get a clue?

In damage control mode, the Bush administration has decided to release part of the NIE (leading to a slight mystery – what will they try to hide, and how will they try to spin the report?) Bush was very angry about this leak, and sounded the same note as Rice with his laughable assertion that he didn’t want the American people to be confused about the truth. As The Washington Post reported (via Media Matters):

Bush charged at the news conference that political opponents leaked select parts of the National Intelligence Estimate to media organizations last weekend "to create confusion in the minds of the American people" in the weeks before November's mid-term elections.

"Somebody has taken it upon themselves to leak classified information for political purposes," Bush said. "I think it's a bad habit for our government to declassify every time there is a leak."

How can anyone not just laugh when Bush decries leaking, and denounces a leak as being for “political purposes?” This from a man who authorized the leak of a previous, highly classified NIE for the express purpose of undermining an administration critic who had told the truth and thus embarrassed them? This from an administration who deliberately misrepresented classified information to a New York Times reporter in order to sell the false case for war? This from an administration that harmed national security by vengefully outing an undercover CIA agent working to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation by Iran? This from an administration that only prosecutes leaks that make it look bad?

Naturally, the Bush administration standard for leaking is that if they do it, and it makes their opponents look bad – even if it’s a lie - it’s a good leak. If the leak is unauthorized, tells the truth, and thus makes the administration look bad – it’s a bad leak. But then, hypocrisy is endemic to the Bush administration.

In reality (versus the Bush administration’s view), a bad leak is one that actually damages national security, and a good leak is anything that furthers the public interest, most commonly information about government wrongdoing, whether that wrongdoing be through incompetence or odious intent. Government officials don’t like to be embarrassed, but when they make major mistakes or do harmful things, it needs to be exposed — and as the saying goes, “sunlight is the best disinfectant.” The Bush administration’s disdain for the law and staggering incompetence provide a never-ending need for leaks.

A link to the four-page NIE summary is here.

Of course, as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has pointed out, the intelligence estimate “is not a corroboration of what the president is saying. It is a contradiction of what the president is saying.” The Democrats are pushing for the entire NIE to be declassified, at the very least those sections that deal with Iraq, and it should be.

More coverage of this issue is sure to follow. However, a few early reports deserve a look.

Former CIA agent (and Republican) Larry Johnson examines the NIE news and cites his CIA colleague Ray Close to point out how patently false and insane the Bush administration’s assertions are.

The Washington Post’s Michael Fletcher reports on why the Bush administration chose to release part of the NIE. And Karen DeYoung and Walter Pincus analyze its findings. But as they report:

"This is very much mainstream stuff," said Paul R. Pillar, the CIA's national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005. "There are no surprises."

Finally, Talking Points Memo reports that not only has the Bush administration been sitting on this information, it continues to sit on more volatile information about Iraq, and is manipulating intelligence rules to prevent most of Congress from seeing it.

If true, this is further proof that at least some members of the Bush administration know damn well the awful truth of what they’ve wrought and are actively trying to cover it up. (Sigh. If only these guys put half the energy they put into breaking the law, hiding the truth, and spinning into planning and performance instead, we wouldn’t be in such a mess.)

Is the Bush administration hiding far more information about its incompetence and wrongdoing? “What has been done will be done again.” Sadly, it's no mystery what the answer is.

(crossposted at The Blue Herald)

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