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Step off, old man!
Friday, 2 April 2004
What discrepancy?
There's no disputing the fact that the White House slime job on Richard Clarke is just that -- a slime job. They rarely dispute his facts and here's why: the major facts are pretty much supported by Bob Woodward's earlier valentine to the President called "Bush at War."

Today, there's a roundup on the that compares quotes from "Bush at War" and "Against All Enemies. Here's part of it:

"Here are four of Clarke's "controversial" charges, along with the supporting material from Woodward's much-loved book:

Rummy's targets: Pundits found it hard to believe that Rummy really said it! On September 12, Clarke alleged, the wise old owl was prowling the White House, looking for someone to bomb:

CLARKE (page 31): Later in the day, Secretary Rumsfeld complained that there were no decent targets for bombing in Afghanistan and that we should consider bombing Iraq, which, he said, had better targets. At first I thought Rumsfeld was joking. But he was serious and the President did not reject out of hand the idea of attacking Iraq.
Pundits wondered if this could be true. They should have studied their Woodward--for example, his account of Camp David on 9/15:
WOODWARD (page 84): When the group reconvened, Rumsfeld asked, Is this the time to attack Iraq? He noted that there would be a big build-up of forces in the region, and he was still deeply worried about the availability of good targets in Afghanistan.
In Bush at War, a string of advisers note that Iraq would provide better targets. (Hence the word "still" in the passage above.) Last weekend, Rumsfeld was asked about Clarke's troubling claim by Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday. Rummy gave two rambling replies; in the course of his non-answer answers, he never denied making the statement which Clarke records in his book.
Rummy and Wolfie's designs on Iraq: Say what? One of Clarke's controversial claims concerned alleged designs on Iraq. Scribes were shocked by Clarke's account of life on September 12:

CLARKE (page 30): I expected to go back to a round of meetings examining what the next attacks [against America] could be, what our vulnerabilities were, what we could do about them in the short term. Instead, I walked into a series of discussions about Iraq. At first I was incredulous that we were talking about something other than getting al Qaeda. Then I realized with almost a sharp physical pain that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were going to try to take advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda about Iraq.
What a controversial statement! Unless you read Woodward--same day:
WOODWARD (page 49): Rumsfeld raised the question of Iraq. Why shouldn't we go against Iraq, not just al Qaeda? he asked. Rumsfeld was speaking not only for himself when he raised the question. His deputy, Paul D. Wolfowitz, was committed to a policy that would make Iraq a principal target in the first round of the war on terrorism.
Not that there was anything wrong with it, but that's what Woodward records! Indeed, Woodward shows Cheney voicing a similar view:
WOODWARD (page 43): "To the extent we define our task broadly," Cheney said [at a 9/12 NSC meeting], "including those who support terrorism, then we get at states. And it's easier to find them than it is to find bin Laden."
Again, rumination on easier targets.
Bush's testes: Did Bush have a jones for linking Saddam to 9/11? That was Clarke's controversial impression on September 12. Everyone knew how shocking it was when the profiteer dared to say this:

CLARKE (page 32): "Look into Iraq, Saddam," the President said testily and left us. Lisa Gordon-Hagerty stared after him with her mouth hanging open.
Everyone knew it was controversial when Clarke recorded this troubling notion--the notion that Bush was eager to link Saddam to 9/11. Maybe they should have read their Woodward. He records Bush's view on September 17:
WOODWARD (page 98): Bush said he wanted a plan to stabilize Pakistan and protect it against the consequences of supporting the U.S.
As for Saddam Hussein, the president ended the debate. "I believe Iraq was involved, but I'm not going to strike them now. I don't have the evidence at this point."

In fact, he didn't have the evidence, but according to Woodward, he asserted belief. For the record, it's odd that Bush would have reached this judgment. Earlier, Woodward records the views of Wolfowitz, the most anti-Saddam Bush adviser:
WOODWARD (page 83): [Wolfowitz] worried about 100,000 American troops bogged down in mountain fighting in Afghanistan six months from then. In contrast, Iraq was a brittle, oppressive regime that might break easily. It was doable. He estimated that there was a 10 to 50 percent chance Saddam was involved in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Even Wolfie was only at 10 to 50 percent. By the way, this passage provides another bit of "easier target" thinking.
Not that urgent: According to Clarke, the threat of terror wasn't "urgent" for the Bush Admin before 9/11. In this case, Clarke himself told scribes where to go. Yep! He sent them straight to this passage in Woodward:

WOODWARD (page 39): [Bush] acknowledged that bin Laden was not his focus or that of his national security team. "There was a significant difference in my attitude after September 11. I was not on point...I didn't have that sense of urgency, and my blood was not nearly as boiling."
Oof! The White House would love to get that one back! Of course, the pundits would have missed it too. But Clarke just keeps bringing it up.

Posted by brettdavey at 3:56 PM EST
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Who could have known?
It's been a hellacious week so I haven't posted in a little bit. Sorry!

Condi Rice's claim that no one ever could have predicted terrorists would use planes as weapons seems to be crumbling by the minute. The latest is an article from the English paper The Independent. Here's an excerpt:

"A former translator for the FBI with top-secret security clearance says she has provided information to the panel investigating the 11 September attacks which proves senior officials knew of al-Qa'ida's plans to attack the US with aircraft months before the strikes happened.

She said the claim by the National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, that there was no such information was "an outrageous lie".

Sibel Edmonds said she spent more than three hours in a closed session with the commission's investigators providing information that was circulating within the FBI in the spring and summer of 2001 suggesting that an attack using aircraft was just months away and the terrorists were in place. The Bush administration, meanwhile, has sought to silence her and has obtained a gagging order from a court by citing the rarely used "state secrets privilege".

State secrets privilege? What the hell is that? Next up is double secret bingo privilege.

Why is there this level of debate over the issue? It's apparent that the Administration didn't take the threat of terrrorism as seriously as they did an attack with ballistic missiles from a rogue state. The latest revelations that Rice was going to deliver a speech on September 11, 2001 about such a danger shows where the Administration was focused.

They wanted the Star Wars missile defense system, a Reagan-era favorite, as the front line of US defense. These people are living in the 80's. They need to be shown the door.

Posted by brettdavey at 7:03 AM EST
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Monday, 29 March 2004
Holmes Brothers, Vinny Paz
I saw the Holmes Brothers on Friday night at the Narrows Arts Center in New Bedford. It was my third time seeing these masters of gospel, blues and soul. The first time I saw them was about 7 or 8 years ago when they opened up for G. Love and Special Sauce. I had never heard of them and I'm guessing that 98 percent of the people in the audience hadn't. Once they took the stage, people paid attention. It was impossible not to.

They have a new CD out. Get it or get some of their older stuff.

On Saturday night, Vinnie Paz captured his 50th win and then retired. The 41 year old has been a pro for 20 years and it is high time he got out. Still, there's something fascinating about watching a boxer's last hurrah. When an old singer gets up and croaks out a tune off-key, no one gets hurt. When a boxer does it, he gets punched in the nose.

Muhammad Ali's last fight wasn't against Larry Holmes like most people think. It was against Trevor Berbick in the so-called "Drama in the Bahamas." My mother -- who was a huge Ali fan -- didn't even come in from the kitchen to watch it. I guess she knew better. It was kind of painful watching him try to dance around the ring, while getting pushed around by a bum like Berbick.

I guess that's how it ends for most fighters, though.

Posted by brettdavey at 9:16 AM EST
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This was from Saturday's New York Daily News. Surprisingly, the first revelation got no play on TV this weekend.

WASHINGTON - A member of the 9/11 commission said yesterday that national security adviser Condoleezza Rice indicated in a private session she was wrong to have once stated no one expected terrorists to use planes as missiles.

The White House reportedly also backpedaled yesterday on whether President Bush pressed counterterror czar Richard Clarke the day after the attacks to find evidence that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was involved.

Clarke said the meeting occurred in the White House Situation Room and presidential aides said earlier this week the meeting never happened. But CBS News reported last night that White House aides now concede the meeting "probably" occurred.

Posted by brettdavey at 9:10 AM EST
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Saturday, 27 March 2004
Compare and contrast
Sen. Bill Frist, that Rich Little-Muppet looking dude who happens to be Majority Leader, went on the offensive yesterday in the Administration's efforts to discredit Richard Clarke.

"Mr. Clarke has told two entirely different stories under oath," Frist said in a speech from the Senate floor, alleging that Clarke said in 2002 that the Bush administration actively sought to address the threat posed by al-Qaida before the attacks.

Frist later retreated from directly accusing Clarke of perjury, telling reporters that he personally had no knowledge that there were any discrepancies between Clarke's two appearances.

Way to go, Muppet boy. you had no knowledge about it but since you're a tool you just said it anyway. OK, how about this: Bill Frist addressed Congress alleging Clarke may have committed perjury, then told reporters he had no such evidence. How about investigating this joker?

Contrast his remarks with those of Sen. Bob Graham, former Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence and Co-Chair of the Joint Committee in question.

"I concur with Senator Frist's call for de-classification of Richard Clarke's testimony to the Joint Inquiry. To the best of my recollection, there is nothing inconsistent or contradictory in that testimony and what Mr. Clarke has said this week. I would add three other recommendations:

First, if Mr. Clarke's testimony is to be released, it should be released in its entirety -- not, as the Bush administration has done in the past, selectively edited so that only portions favorable to the White House are made public.

Second, the Bush administration should de-classify other documents that surround the Clarke testimony, such as his January 25, 2002, plan for action against al Qaeda, in order to clarify the issues that are in dispute.

And finally, the Bush administration should release all other testimony and documents related to 9-11 for which classification can no longer be justified -- including the 27 pages of the Joint Inquiry's final report that address the involvement of a foreign government in supporting some of the 19 hijackers while they lived among us and finalized their evil plot.

The American people deserve to know what their government has done -- and should be doing -- to protect them from terrorists, and who should be held accountable for shortcomings that have left our country vulnerable."

We all want the truth, right? In this new spirit of declassification, let's see those 27 pages that detail the role Saudi Arabia -- oops, that unnamed supporter of terrorism -- played in 9-11.

Posted by brettdavey at 8:30 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 27 March 2004 8:39 AM EST
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Friday, 26 March 2004
Condi the Fraud
Condi Rice is such a fraud.

She wants to go talk to the 9-11 Commission again to refute the charges of Richard Clarke. She still won't testify under oath, however, and wants her testimony to be in private.

So basically, she can lie her ass off and say whatever she wants and can't be held accountable. I'm hoping the Commission tells her to screw.

Posted by brettdavey at 11:18 AM EST
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WMD jokes
I don't know if people are overreacting to the jokes Bush made about looking for WMDs. Let me say this, however: If I had a family member serving in the military in Iraq, I wouldn't find it very funny.

There are thousands of examples of pols from both parties finding someone's comments appalling, but then applying a different standard to their own. Here's something Tony Blankley, media pundit and former Gingrich staffer, wrote during the Clinton impeachment. It comes from ABc News' "The Note".

"Writing on May 3, 2000 in the Washington Times about Bill Clinton's dinner jokes about impeachment and other White House scandals, Tony Blankley wrote:

"But the audience, made up of the political and media leadership of the country, ought to be ashamed of itself for laughing and popping out of its chairs for repeated standing ovations. Because that hotel ballroom is not a night club, and Bill Clinton isn't a stand-up comic. He is the president of the United States, and there must always be a moral component to the assessment of his comments, whether they are funny or serious. In this instance, humor should not be its own reward."

I wonder what he thinks now?

Posted by brettdavey at 11:16 AM EST
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Wednesday, 24 March 2004
Dirty words or death
I've been closely following this whole Howard Stern debacle, where it looks like the FCC is going to force him off the air by threatening to revisit all his old shows and levy personal fines on Stern if they deem any of it offensive. Funny how Clear Channel, which loves Bush, dumped Stern two days after he turned on the President. Anyway, this is a portion of a letter that appeared in the Cleveland Plains-Dealer.

"I was wondering why the Republicans believe that hearing a four-letter word on the radio is more damaging than death or catastrophic injury. Consider that the Bush administration wants to increase FCC
fines for indecency up to $500,000 per violation per station, yet at the same time, it wants to restrict noneconomic damages in tort cases to $250,000 or $350,000.

So if a DJ says a four-letter word on the radio, the harm is so appalling that a fine of $500,000 per word, per station is justified. But if someone is paralyzed, killed or otherwise catastrophically injured, the most the family could get for the (noneconomic) loss would be up to $350,000."

Posted by brettdavey at 12:58 PM EST
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Tick, tick, tick
There have been a million movies where the good guy has to defuse a bomb and does so under extraordinary circumstances. None of those celluloid heroes has anything on me.

My son has been waking up at 5 a.m. lately. This morning, I got him and tried to rock him to sleep. He was in and out of consciousness, kind of moaning and groaning. I knew the chances were about even that I could get him back to sleep.

That's when the wild card came into play: an ominous smell coming from his diaper.

If I changed the diaper, I knew the game was over. He would freak out and wake up for good. So I sat there rocking him, knowing he had a big load in his pants. Was it wrong not to change him? Hell yeah, but I wasn't about to wake him up for good.

Then, as I sat in the rocking chair at about 5:30 a.m., the second wild card was dealt: I had to go to the bathroom.

There were two choices: put him in the crib prematurely and have him go off or join him in the dirty diaper club.

I put him in the crib.

He freaked out but after I returned from the bathroom, I was able to put him back to sleep. I went to bed around 5:58 a.m. Then, the third wild card came: I couldn't fall back asleep.

Posted by brettdavey at 8:46 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 24 March 2004 12:55 PM EST
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Tuesday, 23 March 2004
Crazy aides
This is from Richard Cohen's column in the Washington Post today. If the White House attacks on O'Neill and now Clarke are accurate, you have to question the decision-making of the President for putting these people in positions of power in the first place. Here it is:

Pity poor George Bush. For some reason, he has been beset by delusional aides who, once they leave the White House, write books containing lies and exaggerations and -- this is the lowest blow of all -- do not take into account the president's genius and all-around wisdom. The latest White House aide to betray the president is Richard Clarke, who was in charge of counterterrorism before and after the attacks of Sept. 11. He says Bush "failed to act prior to September 11 on the threat from al Qaeda."

As with former Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill, another fool who had somehow risen to become chairman of Alcoa, Clarke's account of his more than two years in the Bush White House was immediately denounced by a host of administration aides, some of whom -- and this is just the sheerest of coincidences -- had once assured us that Iraq was armed to the teeth with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

Posted by brettdavey at 2:03 PM EST
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