Condi's Reviews

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How'd the testimony of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice go over with Joe Sixpack and Jane Lunchbag? "Rice Can't Sway Skeptics," says this CBS News account, which recounts Rice's generally positive ratings before noting,

One opinion left unchanged by Rice's testimony is the continuing belief that the administration is not telling the entire truth about what it knew before Sept. 11. Three out of four Americans, about the same as a week ago, say the administration is hiding something, with one in ten going so far as to say it is lying.

In fairness, the 75 percent who say the administration is hiding something is probably a standard figure for any question asked about any White House, as is the 10 percent who think the prez's crew is lying.

The most amazing stat in this story is the claim that 56 percent of Americans watched or listened to part of the hearings. Those are last-episode-of-M*A*S*H numbers.

Other views of Rice's testimony:

Tough questioning doesn't shake Rice (Chicago Tribune)

Rice does the job for Bush (San Jose Mercury News)

More questions than answers (San Francisco Chronicle)

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  1. Speaking of “You’re Fired!”
    Bush will be firing himself when more news of this ongoing disaster manages to filter out from the military blackout/ censorship.

  2. Shannon:

    I actually might agree with your theory, except that Condi’s testimony appeared to mention nothing that would either exonerate or damage Bush in the polls. If anything, Bob Kerry’s questioning (“Name on fly Pres. Bush swatted?”) might have hurt a little bit. Why all the build up the for essentially obvious testimony about systemic failures in “the system” (an obvious CYA ploy)? Wouldn’t your theory be more salient if Condi had anything new or interesting to say (or an apology)?

  3. Jean Bart,

    “f you had picked up Moussaoui as we advised you to.”

    Moussaoui was already in US custody. He was arrested on August 16, 2001 on immigration charges after he aroused suspensions at his flight school. A warrant to search his computer was refused under the pre-9/11 laws. French intelligence relayed information about his possible connection to Al Queda on Sept 5 2001. He was scheduled to be deported to France a few days after 9/11.

    Under the pre-9/11 laws, Moussaoui merely had to keep his mouth shut and let 9/11 happen. US authorities had no legal means of compelling him to reveal the plot.

  4. Shannon Love,

    Actually the warrant was refused under an erroneous interpretation of the pre-9/11 laws; as the FISA appeals court decided in 2003; In re sealed cased is what it is titled.

  5. Shannon Love,

    And of course the question should be asked, if there was one raising suspicion at one flight school, why wasn’t a general alert to all flight schools put out? And no, they did not pick up Moussaoui when we asked you to; you waited weeks to do so; and then had to re-discover him doing suspicious things at a flight school.

  6. dlc,

    I don’t think they expected Rice to reveal anything new per se, they just wanted to get the attention focused on Rice. Rice got more camera time than any other witness. She got to clearly state the administrations case in detail, live and unfiltered.

    I base my case primarily on the observation that the claim of executive privilege was doomed to fail for political reasons if not legal ones. The Bush administration could have never really expected to prevent Rice from testifying under oath before the commission. Therefor, it is reasonable to assume that they instead used claims of executive privilege to control the timing of her testimony.

  7. Spoken like a real patriot.

    I am not a patriot. I have a deep mistrust of my government and I honestly would not miss 95% of it were it to spontaneously disappear. I’d just as soon piss on the flag as salute it, and I’ve done both. The only thing that props up this horrible social experiment is its people, who hold a number of concepts both foolhardy and sensible to be objective truth. Some superstitious nomads want to target these people specifically – myself included – because of events on the other side of the world that they had no hand or complicity in, and because they’ve the unmitigated gall to not believe in some angry desert deity.

    Society survived the 3000+ who died on 9/11. Just before they died our country was a very different place, and none of them will ever know what it has become. We have to be very careful I think not to alter so much what these people hold as objective truth on account of the deaths of a relative few, especially since the motivation behind those deaths was that we would do exactly that. I instead prefer taking a stance that is adversarial to those terrorists and their views, hunting them down to exterminate not just them, but anyone or anything that stands for their ideology. I would not mourn for one second the loss of every Wahabbist on the planet.

    You might not be sure why Iraq then, but it was something joe said, that Iraqi Shia were not our enemies before. This is not true; the Iraqi Shia are and have been very much our enemies and while they celebrated the fall of Hussein, the Taliban celebrated the fall of the Soviet Union, too. None of that made us any less of the Great Satan that these fools have always held us to be. Iraq was a country whose secular and religious leaders were both declared enemies. No other state besides the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan had been so openly brash in its diplomacy, and had a continued history of conflict conveniently largely ignored by the media, the U.N., and the left. To ignore that or pretend it was not a threat would have been inexcusable, whether or not it would have ever materialized.

    Bush and his cronies can kiss my ass, but motives and justifications aside taking down Iraq was the correct tactical course of action.

  8. Shannon Love,

    As I stated earlier your theory is based on a flawed chronology; please, quit with the moronic theories. 🙂

  9. Or let me put it more bluntly, you’re willing to invade another country on a crackpot theory that this will change the middle east, but you aren’t willing to pick you a known muslim radical with ties to al-Qaeda

    The problem was that he shouldn’t have been in the country in the first place. Immigrants and visitors with visas are not citizens, nor should they be treated as such. Our mistake was in allowing him to enter because once here, there was advocacy available to him – he had “rights” that couldn’t be violated, protected by those same foolish people he wanted to kill.

    American imperialism, globalization, and the internet has already changed the Middle East greatly and will continue to do so; even terrorists picking us off a few thousand or evena few hundred thousand at a time will have little to no effect on that.

  10. rst, people saying nasty things about us as they go peacefully about their lives does not make those people our enemies.

  11. does not make those people our enemies.

    Tell that to them. I cannot imagine that “Great Satan” is synonymous with anything short of being an enemy. Regardless of what we think of them on account of our “constitutional enlightenment,” which allows us to separate the people and the value of their lives from their viewpoints, they consider us their enemy, and that they go peacefully about their lives is a matter of opportunity, not motive. Many of the 9/11 hijackers also went peacefully about their lives for at least a few days beforehand.

    For many of them, to die in jihad as mujahideen is to obtain paradise. I think there is mutual beneficience then in speeding them all along.

  12. Why no press outcry for Clinton to testify publicly?

  13. Once again, I do not recall a single instance of an Iraqi Shiite being involved in terrorism against Americans – until now. I have difficulty believing that Iraqi Shiites are uniquely deprived of the opportunity to attack Americans, in comparison with Palestinians, Saudi Wahabbis, Yemenis, Iranians, Egyptians, or Pakistanis.

  14. I think Rice made some salient points regarding the long standing constraints and disconnects between what needed to be done and systemic imoediments to doing so.
    There is no better metaphor for self-neutering policies than the Clinton era decision to fly an unarmed “predator” to take pictures of Bin Laden.

  15. thoreau,

    “If my Ph.D advisor ever denounces me in public, I’ll probably crawl under a rock and weep”

    may be because you are a wuss? 🙂

    I would wait to see what he has to say about Rice and why he is saying it now – before pronouncing the “OUCH”

    Jean Bart,

    you said, 9-11 was preventable if Zach M. was picked up in 2001. The plan was executed without him – so he was not the key. If you say that he would have talked, please tell us “how” and “why”
    He is not talking now (after we know a whole lot more about what happened), why do we think he would have spilled the beans?

  16. I have difficulty believing that Iraqi Shiites are uniquely deprived of the opportunity to attack Americans

    That deprivation is not unique, nor did I claim it to be unique. It is a function of geography.

    Whether we consider them our enemies or not, they consider us to be their enemy. I see nothing wrong with holding them to their own assessment, and treating them accordingly.

  17. why do we think he would have spilled the beans?

    That is not important. The important part is the perception that picking him up earlier would have prevented anything, as opposed to just allowing him to be silent longer, or speeding a.Q.’s timeline, or just creating a furor for the ACLU and AADL to munch on, preventing more thorough interrogation. It’s an easy scapegoat. It has no rational basis; the notion is designed to be painted onto placards, not help to form any practical policy.

  18. Didn’t watch the whole thing but Rice, AKA Dr. Rice, came off very poorly in the segments i did see. Her strategery revolved around blaming the whole thing on somebody else, anybody else & insisting that 9/11 was unavoidable – i wonder who in the Bush administration thought the latter was a good idea. And the whole thing was done in a manner that did not inspire confidence in her leadership. She said on several occasions that Clarke and other subordinates hadn’t asked her to embark on this or that course of action !

    Jack Shafer and Saletan have articles in Slate that pretty much nail it.
    http://slate.msn.com/id/2098499/
    http://slate.msn.com/id/2098500/

  19. Jack Shafer and Saletan have articles in Slate that pretty much nail it.

    This was pageantry; the media wanted there to be deeper meaning in it for its consumption value and was disappointed that it was just another bit of testimony in a politically charged oversight committee.

    …unable or unwilling to tie the loose strands of the bureaucracy into a sensible vision or policy. In short, she has not done what national security advisers are supposed to do.

    It is not the job of the national security advisor to form or coalesce policy from a vague “set of ideas”, rather to coordinate the execution of existing policy between the White House and other government entities.

    Up-to-date intelligence: The precise, useful information the administration responsibly demanded and got.

    Um…huh? I don’t know why you referenced Saletan, his article isn’t saying anything…it’s like that NYPress piece on the worst New Yorkers, the man is full enough of himself to imagine that there is his clueless Rice dish is as good as the remotely clever article on Gore. He took terms that had meaning and context and satirically lambasted them with the political subtext instead: “The precise, useful information the administration didn’t get, thereby absolving it of responsibility.” Horrible article.

    Eventually we will all smell the steamy pile of partisanism and move along.

  20. hm, dunno where that errant “there is” came from. Whatever.

  21. “It is not the job of the national security advisor to form or coalesce policy from a vague “set of ideas”, rather to coordinate the execution of existing policy between the White House and other government entities.”

    Really ? Didn’t know that. Can you point out where the Official Job Description asserts this so the rest of us can take a looksee ?
    And “this” is pageantry in the same sense that any political event that also plays on TV & is closely scrutinized is ie a good proportion of what happens in Washington. That hasn’t stopped you or anyone else from mining said paegentry for meaning in the past; why start now ? Oh, what were you saying about “partisanism” ?
    If you don’t understand why i “referenced Saletan”, well sorry can’t help you out since I am allergic to posters playing dumb.

  22. Can you point out where the Official Job Description asserts this so the rest of us can take a looksee ?

    From the White House site at http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/:

    Since its inception under President Truman, the function of the Council has been to advise and assist the President on national security and foreign policies. The Council also serves as the President’s principal arm for coordinating these policies among various government agencies.

    And “this” is pageantry in the same sense that any political event that also plays on TV & is closely scrutinized is ie a good proportion of what happens in Washington.

    The degree to which this rare but still historically insignificant event was scrutinized and televised as though it had significance, or gave non-partisan, apolitical qualities to the 9/11 commission, was what turned it into a pageant.

    If you don’t understand why i “referenced Saletan”, well sorry can’t help you out since I am allergic to posters playing dumb.

    That makes no sense. His article is ridiculous on its face, regardless of how dumb I am.

  23. zorel,

    “youu said, 9-11 was preventable if Zach M. was picked up in 2001.”

    Well, earlier than he was; you collect this along with what the CIA knew of al qaeda agents in the US – indeed, they knew of specific persons in specific locations – with other details such as the knowledge of the use of flight schools, etc., and there is a very credible chance of stopping the attack. These are not super-human feats; these are what intelligence services are paid to do.

  24. Strange, i still dont see where it says – “It is not the job of the national security advisor to form or coalesce policy from a vague “set of ideas”, rather to coordinate the execution of existing policy between the White House and other government entities.” Maybe things would become clearer if you bolded and italicized some more ?

    Sorter rst : The 9-11 commision can be characterized as a pageant based on criteria I’ll make up as we roll along, based on “partisan” considerations, mostly mine.

    BTW – For an event to be described as “historically insignificant”, it usually has to be “history”.

  25. I’ll make up as we roll along

    Kaplan contends it was Rice’s job to form that policy. That is not supported by the job description.

    I have contended from the beginning that what made this pageantry was that the attention paid to it by the media was disproportionate to its value. I feel that the commission itself is a device for partisanship to give gravity to a schoolyard fight between a jackass and an elephant.

  26. it usually has to be “history”.

    BTW – it is history.

  27. “There is no better metaphor for self-neutering policies than the Clinton era decision to fly an unarmed “predator” to take pictures of Bin Laden.”

    The directive to arm the predator came out of the Clinton White House.

  28. Gillespie sez, “The most amazing stat in this story is the claim that 56 percent of Americans watched or listened to part of the hearings. Those are last-episode-of-M*A*S*H numbers.”

    M*A*S*H’s numbers would have been much higher, had its finale been broadcast simultaneously on all three major networks and several cable networks (not to mention hundreds of radio stations), as Dr. Rice’s testimony was. Under those circumstances, you have to assume that the 44% of people who didn’t watch at least part of the testimony probably didn’t watch TV at all, yesterday morning — it was that hard to escape.

    Sadly, the pervasive coverage of Rice’s testimony crowded out local news coverage, including weather and traffic reports that many people (including yours truly) need to get their day off to its best start. In all the coverage I watched, and all I read about later, there was nothing said by Dr. Rice or her inquisitors that was of more urgency than the local morning weather and traffic. A couple of cities in the area have had robberies and gang-related shootings recently; news of any such events would also have easily trumped the Dr. Rice show.

    In summary, the broadcast was important television, but not urgent. I think that news departments need to learn the difference and set their coverage priorities accordingly. The local channel I tend to watch in the morning did run a crawler with an abbreviated weather report at the bottom of the screen, but if they were going to use the crawler mechanism at all, they could have and should have provided more information about weather, traffic, and breaking news events in the local area.

  29. Does anyone here watch The Apprentice?

    If so, are you thinking what I’m thinking?

  30. titus

    i’m not sure what you’re thinking, but you sure didn’t see conan last night, because he did the whole gag with rice giving testimony side by side with edits of Trump giving his “you’re fired” speeches. it was actually pretty damn funny.

  31. rst, you know that the commission contains equal number of Republicans and Democrats, right?

    I’d be happy to claim that uncovering government screw ups is a uniquely Democratic cause, but honesty compels me to admit that it just isn’t so.

  32. “The most amazing stat in this story is the claim that 56 percent of Americans watched or listened to part of the hearings”

    I’m going to count that as evidence for my much disputed hypothesis that the entire executive privilege argument was just a tactic to control the timing of Rice’s testimony and to build public interest in it.

    If it wasn’t planned then Bush continues his extraordinary political lucky streak.

  33. “i’m not sure what you’re thinking, but you sure didn’t see conan last night, because he did the whole gag with rice giving testimony side by side with edits of Trump giving his ‘you’re fired’ speeches”

    Cable and satellite subscribers who get Comedy Central have a second chance! Last night’s Conan will be on Comedy Central tonight (Friday) at 6pm Eastern and Pacific. I’m setting my VCR!

  34. executive privilege argument was just a tactic to control the timing of Rice’s testimony and to build public interest in it.

    I don’t agree. I think that would be tactically counterintuitive. People are mostly stupid and have no comprehension of how intelligence and espionage in the real world differ from the movies, let alone the process of determining what is actionable and non-actionable intelligence…forget it, you might as well be asking them how a budget is formed, to which probably 99% of that 75% would probably stare at you slack-jawed. Not that people should have been shielded from the testimony, but I think the administration would have been just as happy had folks had their local news and weather to watch, and Dr. Condi had delivered the WH’s rebuttal in the relative quiet such a mundane exercise deserves. And James is right, this political pageantry was nowhere near as important or pertinent as your local news and weather. I think I saw Joan Rivers in the background bitching about Condi’s suit.

  35. Today in Salon.com there’s a very critical article by Rice’s old Ph.D advisor. Now yes, I know, everybody here looks down on Salon.com. And yes, I know, he’s a professor and therefore probably one of those academic lefties that we can safely disregard because he must automatically be wrong.

    But just step back a minute: Her Ph.D advisor is writing an article publicly criticizing one of his most successful students. I don’t care what your politics are, that’s one tough professor! Ouch!

    If my Ph.D advisor ever denounces me in public, I’ll probably crawl under a rock and weep. And I’m not even on strong personal terms with him. But damn!

  36. I think it is fairly apparent that she is lying when she says that 9/11 was not preventable; it was indeed preventable if you had picked up Moussaoui as we advised you to.

  37. Shannon Love,

    You would count the rotations of the moon as evidence of your silly hypothesis.

  38. Damn, Jean Bart, if you had posted that, we would have given it serious thought.

  39. The Feds,

    As I recall, the DGSE (our version of the CIA) sent a warning to the FBI about Moussaoui; the DGSE advised the FBI to find him and detain him. This was in June or July of 2001.

  40. if you had picked up Moussaoui as we advised you to.

    Picked him up on what? Not learning how to land? Here in America we have this thing called due process, meant to safeguard against illegal search and seizure and other such big government desires. Sometimes it bites us in the ass. I wouldn’t trade that away for “security,” not in a thousand years.

  41. Jean Bart,

    Well, I did predict unusual media interest in her testimony and that did in fact occur.

    I also note that Bush’s poll numbers did tick up slightly on the Rasmussen report although it to soon to tell if that will continue.

    You never did explain what was so “silly” about the idea that a politician would try to time the testimony of a key witness before the 9/11 commission for maximum beneficial impact.

  42. rst,

    Well, then place a FISA wiretap on him them; those aren’t remotely as strenuous as a regular search warrant because their primary role is not to create material for criminal investigations, but for domestic intelligence gathering.

  43. Shannon Love,

    Yes I did.

  44. I wouldn’t trade that away for “security,” not in a thousand years.

    Spoken like a real patriot. RST, obviously your colors don’t run!

  45. rst,

    Indeed, to be rather blunt, all the discussion concerning “sharing information” between CIA and FBI is partly related to the fuck up over Moussaoui. Or let me put it more bluntly, you’re willing to invade another country on a crackpot theory that this will change the middle east, but you aren’t willing to pick you a known muslim radical with ties to al-Qaeda; even after one of the world’s best intelligence services tells you the fellow is a danger to you?

  46. rst,

    “I have contended from the beginning”

    OK. We’ll just have to disagree on this whole thing.

  47. Suspicious doings at a flight school?
    Shux, we were just preparing for jobs as mid-flight relief pilots. All the landings and takeoffs would still be made by a fully rated pilot.

  48. So much of this is hindsight, even JB’s comments. It is so easy to say, “If only we had locked up X on Y’s say so,” because it seems so obvious now that locking up X should have been a priority.

    As a counter point, lets assume that we act with 100% urgency and prosecute with the most aggressive interpretations of our own laws ALL leads that come from French intelligence, all leads that come from every intelligence advisor, every time we intercept someone talking about harming Americans, and so on. Anyone want to take a stab at what our internal security budget would look like? How about a version of PATRIOT for every single threat the US government can divine?

    All I’m saying is that, obviously, we weren’t as secure as we could have been. Equally obviously, if we paid the price in dollars and civil liberties to be completely safe, no one in these parts would want to live here. Security and liberty is a game of probabilities – we accept a certain risk for living a certain kind of life and honoring certain principles (yes, I know we can all come up with exceptions in current policy, but those don’t apply generally). We got hit hard, and now we have to re evaluate the cost and benefits. Looking backwards to lay blame allows us to act as though we hadn’t agreed to those terms of security, but we had. It is just not prudent to allow the most paranoid among us to dictate national policy.

  49. http://www.startribune.com/stories/1576/1028069.html

    FBI officials promptly told the Federal Aviation Administration last August of the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui, who raised suspicions at a Minnesota flight school, but FAA security officials took no action.

    They saw no reason to check scores of other flight schools for Middle Eastern men seeking flight training, said a senior FAA official, speaking for the agency.

    There is no way to know whether such a nationwide canvass would have led investigators to any of several Sept. 11 suicide hijackers who had enrolled in flight schools in Florida and Western states.

    This was in an article dated 1/13/02. Has anything specifically come up to contradict the remarks made in the 2nd and 3rd sentences? The article itself contains more details than I’ve posted.
    There’s also this:

    http://www.cnn.com/2002/LAW/05/27/inv.moussaoui.phoenixmemo.fbi/

    The July memo from a Phoenix, Arizona, FBI agent talking about Middle Eastern men taking flying lessons and the information about Zacarias Moussaoui arrested in August went to the same FBI task force at headquarters, according to an official.

    FBI and Justice Department officials still do not know, however, if both the memo and the Moussaoui information was seen by the same person or persons within the Radical Fundamentalist Unit task force, according to the official.

    The Phoenix memo, written by agent Kenneth Williams, actually went to two task forces at FBI headquarters: the Radical Fundamentalist Unit and one dedicated to Osama bin Laden, but no action was taken on its recommendation for a nationwide survey of Arab-American students attending flight schools.

  50. Michael Maltbie, the FBI supervisory special agent accused of blocking field agents from obtaining a warrant to search Zacarias Moussaoui’s computer, has been moved out of the counterterrorism division at bureau headquarters to the Cleveland office, where he’ll work as a field supervisor, sources say.

    “That’s really a promotion,” a bureau veteran told WorldNetDaily, “because a field supervisor is a big notch over a headquarters supervisor.”

    “He’ll actually be directing investigations, rather than twiddling his thumbs half the time,” he explained. — June 7, 2002

  51. Dood, if Amerika really wanted to fuck up Iraq, they would have sent over a Wal Mart, those Arabs would have been waving those surrender flags in a few weeks…

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