Friday, February 11, 2005

Products Of A Vivid Imagination

They have got themselves all in a tizzy over at the Daily Kos. What's it this time? Well, in a veritable "Pants On Fire!" moment they believe they have caught Sec. Rice in a lie. Condi Lied: Declassified Memo from Clarke

However, if you actually try to make heads or tails out of it, you are in for a hard slog. Whether due to a deliberate attempt to mislead or sheer amateurism on their part, the mish-mash of quotes they put together is very nearly impenetrable. At issue, apparently is an op-ed piece in the March 22, 2004 Washington Post by Rice (neither linked nor contextually quoted at Daily Kos), where Rice stated, "No al-Qaeda threat was turned over to the new administration." No further explanation of this quote is ever offered. Which is odd because the Daily Kos piece goes on to quote Rice's 9/11 commission testimony recounting the assessment of Al-Qaeda in light of the U.S.S. Cole attack of 2000, presumably turned over by the Clinton administration. So does Dr. Rice suffer from alzheimer's or something?

Well it turns out that the issue was whether there was an ongoing anti-Al Qaeda policy brought over from the Clinton Administration or an assessment of Al-Qaeda sleeper cell operations in the United States that was brought over from the Clinton administration. Daily Kos' evidence that this is true is this memo from their demi-god Richard Clarke. Sorry its just the jpeg. Sorry, I don't know if this single page is all there is to the memo. The sad truth is that the Daily Kos didn't feel the need to quote/link either the Rice "lie" nor the "evidence" supposedly contradicting Dr. Rice. If you can find it in the jpeg you've done more than I could. I see mentions of the Persian Gulf states, central Asia and north Africa, but I see nary a word about the United States homeland. The Australian Herald Sun news article that formed the basis of the Daily Kos piece add no other information on that score either. Additionally, I see no evidence in the memo that the Clinton administration, who had plenty of ideas on the matter of combating Al Qaeda, had adopted any of them systematically.

If you feel like reading Dr. Rice's actual words go here. In context her quote reads:

The al Qaeda terrorist network posed a threat to the United States for almost a decade before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Throughout that period -- during the eight years of the Clinton administration and the first eight months of the Bush administration prior to Sept. 11 -- the U.S. government worked hard to counter the al Qaeda threat.

During the transition, President-elect Bush's national security team was briefed on the Clinton administration's efforts to deal with al Qaeda. The seriousness of the threat was well understood by the president and his national security principals. In response to my request for a presidential initiative, the counterterrorism team, which we had held over from the Clinton administration, suggested several ideas, some of which had been around since 1998 but had not been adopted. No al Qaeda plan was turned over to the new administration.

We adopted several of these ideas. We committed more funding to counterterrorism and intelligence efforts. We increased efforts to go after al Qaeda's finances. We increased American support for anti-terror activities in Uzbekistan.

So, the point was that during the Clinton administration there was no systematic "plan" implemented to deal with Al Qaeda, although they might react on an ad hoc or "tit-for-tat" basis. I don't see how this has been contradicted in the slightest detail. In fact, if you read Clarke's memo above he seems to agree that there was no existing plan, but a series of regional policies and uncoordinated activities. As far as I can see that backs up Dr. Rice. It certainly doesn't contradict her.

When I began to read the Daily Kos piece I thought that it seemed a "bit of a stretch." After finishing it I had to conclude it was more than a "stretch," it was a sham.

Actually there is a lie here. Unfortunately for Daily Kos it belongs to them and not to Rice, when they erroneously quote her as saying, "No al-Qaeda threat was turned over to the new administration." when she actually wrote "No al Qaeda plan was turned over to the new administration." Since their whole complaint is basically one of semantics anyway, the fact that they cannot even get that right is pretty damning.


Joe Gandleman over at The Moderate Voice is nicely sending folks over here to check out this post. It is worthwhile checking out his original post, if only to see someone impugn my integrity in the comments. Evidently I'm part of the vast right wing conspiracy. Who knew?


ThatColoredFella has kindly supplied with the a link for a .pdf file of the entire Clarke memo in question. Reading it makes it clear that it is in no way concerned with Al Qaeda striking in the U.S. That possibility is not mentioned once in the document. How exactly that can be construed as a 9/11 warning is unclear at best. Clarke spells out what he wants to accomplish from the memo:

1. A meeting to decide if Al Qaeda is anything worth even being particularly worried about.

2. If it is decided that particular attention should be paid to Al Qaeda Clarke suggests improving efforts to A) go after their money and B) inhibit their propaganda arm.

3. Get more money in the budget for step #2.

4. Decide if more money should go to the Northern Alliance (in Afganistan) and the Uzbeks.

Regardless of its own merits, I fail to see how this memo has anything to do with either A) a specific domestic terror warning, or B) a claim that Dr. Rice lied in her March 22nd, 2004 op-ed piece in the Washington Post when she said no plan of action was brought over from the previous administration. Now they did have a paper prepared at the end of 2000 to be presented to Bush & Co., presumably to aid the transistion team, but it is also clear that it was never implemented. Hell, Clarke is still asking how they were gonna respond to the U.S.S. Cole attack 5 months after it happened!

Not only is this thing not smoking, it doesn't even look like a gun.

ADDING: October 25th, 2009

I've updated the link to TMV above, although when they moved servers the old comments went the way of the dodo. It's too bad since some of my best work was in the comment section of TMV, and I would have enoyed reading again how I was a cog in the VRWC. As for the other links, the DK links work still AND the link to the full Clarke memo works as well. Not surprisingly, the newspaper links don't work anymore, but Rice's Op-Ed was quoted all over the Net, so that can be checked with a simple Google search.

No comments: