April 10, 2004

THE AUG 6 PRESIDENTIAL DAILY BRIEFING

The PDB at the heart of allegations that the Bush administration was 'unprepared' or asleep at the switch prior to 9-11 may be found here.

It reads more like a Debka post than anything pointing to an actual and imminent attack. National Security Advisory Condoleezza Rice characterized it in her testimony earlier in the week as mostly a historical document outlining facts from prior attacks and warning that the FBI had noted patterns consistent with hijackings, but the PDB writer speculates that such a hijacking might be used to free terrorists held in US prisons, not to turn passenger aircraft into missiles. Rice's characterization of the PDB is accurate. There is no way the information in this memo could possibly have led the Bush administration to prevent 9-11.

The memo's title--Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US--is itself a no-brainer in some ways, since bin Laden had already struck in the US in 1993 and had struck US embassies and the USS Cole previously. He had also issued a fatwa against the US in the early 90s. It was reasonable to conclude that bin Laden wanted badly to strike inside the US, but the memo offers no times, dates or methods of attack.

I have to wonder why the Democrat 9-11 Commissioners made such a big deal out of this memo and getting it declassified and released. It's no smoking gun. It's not even a gun capable of firing anything, certainly not a silver bullet.

Releasing this memo has done two things, imho. First, it has put to rest the notion that Bush had some serious warning prior to the attacks. If this memo is the best information he had, he had no way of stopping 9-11. But second, it has shown our enemies how little we really did know about their operations. Our enemies, if they have been paying attention, now know that CIA and FBI had information that could have led to disrupting the 9-11 plot if it had been synthesized, if it had been pushed up to the highest levels, and if we had caught a few lucky breaks. But our government didn't see 9-11 coming, and the information FBI and CIA had about the plot consisted of tiny and seemingly insignificant data points amid mountains of irrelevant data. I'm not sure what this can tell our enemies about us, but I'm sure they learned something useful from this now declassified PDB.

Conducting the 9-11 hearings in an election year in the midst of the war that we joined on 9-11 is probably the most self-destructive act this nation has ever committed. We should not be taking officials responsible for our national security down to the Hill to be raked over the coals by partisan hacks when we are still at war, and we should not be declassifying sensitive high-level memos and briefs when our enemy is still out there stalking us. I wonder if we have the stomach for this war, or the ability to maintain focus long enough to win it.

MORE: A. M. Siriano has more.

MORE: Congress had the same information that the Aug 6 2001 PDB contained. Further, Congressional Democrats have played a huge, probably decisive, role in creating the intel situation that led to 9-11.

The Republican Study Committee, a group of about 75 conservative Republicans, released a memo detailing House Democrats' overwhelming opposition to intelligence funding since 1996. According to the memo, 154 House Democrats voted to cut the U.S. intelligence budget in 1996, while 158 Democrats did the same in 1997. Although fewer Democrats voted to cut the intelligence budget in 1999 (only 61), almost all opposition to intelligence spending came from Democrats.

The memo also quotes several Democrats opposing intelligence spending, including Rep. Maxine Waters (D.-Calif.), who advocated the abolition of the CIA on the House floor in March 1997.

Add those actions to those of the Church Committee and Jimmy Carter's 1977 Halloween Massacre--in which he fired more than 800 CIA operatives worldwide--and the Democrats bear the lion's share of responsibility for any and all US intelligence failures.

MORE: You would think that the lack of specificity in the 08/06/01 PDB would be enough to satisfy the press, but word tonight is that a UPI Homeland Security editor is looking for experts willing to buttress a new working theory, which is that the Bush administration is still hiding something.

So let's add things up. The White House has submitted itself to a review of a war in the midst of of the war and in an election year against all historical precedent. The National Security Advisory has testified about the cause of a war in the middle of the war and in an election year against all precedent; the President and Vice President will testify to those same hearings. The White House has released literally thousands of documents to the Commission, including documents that reveal what officials at the highest levels are told about threats on a daily basis, while those threats are still out there and trying to strike us. Every time there has been some sort of squabble about documents or their contents, the White House has come out looking like it was telling the truth while its critics have come out looking like they were grandstanding on no solid basis.

Yet the UPI newshound still thinks the Bush administration is hiding something, and is uninterested in looking at the culpability of anyone on the other side of the aisle. That's the press for you.

MORE: And it turns out the press knew about the 08/06/01 PDB nearly a year ago. Why again were the Democrats making such a big deal about this memo?

Posted by B. Preston at 08:58 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 09, 2004

TODAY'S PRESS OUTRAGES

Reader JG sends in the follow scans from the Express, the Washintgon Post's free Metro commuter rag. The most offensive parts are highlighted in yellow:

prayers.jpg

Um, yeah. Those forty people got killed when they happened to be going to prayers in a mosque that terrorists had turned into a hideout and sniper's nest in the middle of a war zone, and US troops had the gall to attack. Yankee scum. You don't think those 40 dead just might be the insurgents themselves, do ya?

kerry-arrogance.jpg

Ok, this one isn't about the press so much as about John Kerry. Did you know he served in Vietnam? Did you know that he can't tell the difference between a limited theatre war fought in urban settings in a desert country against Islamicist fanatics bent on killing Americans and installing global sharia and a superpower proxy war fought in a southeast Asian jungle country against Communist guerrillas marching to orders from Moscow and Beijing? The guy did spend four whole months getting Purple Hearts for hangnails in Vietnam after he couldn't get out of serving--you'd think he'd know the difference between the two wars. But you'd be wrong.

Posted by B. Preston at 03:12 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

SIZING UP THE RACE

Ramesh Ponnuru has an interesting article about the polls and Bush's chances this fall:

Some of the pessimism of winter seems to be melting now. Republican operatives close to the campaign say that they are surprised at how well Bush is doing. They expect him to do even better as the fact that jobs are being created begins to sink in. (They remain worried about events in Iraq.)

I would not at all be surprised if Bush gains a lead on Kerry soon and the Dowd line is abandoned. The country is pretty evenly divided on a lot of questions, but that fact does not preclude an election being essentially decided early (as the 1996 election was).

If a Bush lead opens, expect another piece of conventional wisdom to come under scrutiny: the notion that this election will necessarily "be close" as well as "go down to the wire." I see no reason in principle to rule out the possibility that Bush will win with 53 to 54 percent of the vote. Since nobody has won an absolute majority of the popular vote for president since 1988, that would be a landslide.

On an anecdotal note I agree. A couple of weekends ago I decided to go to the Maryland state GOP strategy meeting. It was a cold and rainy Saturday morning, several months before the election but after the state's primaries. You'd think turnout would be kind of low, but you'd be wrong. The party had planned to seat about 250, but well over 300 showed up. The crowd was enthusiastic, friendly, spirited, eager for the fight and, to note our PC world, very racially diverse. The state party is already well organized, with county chairmen assigned and lists prepped and messages ready to go. I was surprised at the Republicans' level of organization this early in a very Democrat-friendly state.

All the reports I've seen say the Kerry campaign is nowhere near as organized state-by-state as Bush has been for months. If this election comes down to the ground war--which the Bush campaign clearly believes it will--Bush will win easily. He could even take blue states like Maryland.

Posted by B. Preston at 08:24 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

April 08, 2004

OPERATION SHAME A PUNDIT UPDATE

The Dodd/Byrd Hagiography of Infamy has lit up the blogosphere. Roll Call has acknowledged Dodd's "Lott Moment," and Fox News and Opinion Journal have reported on it. Armstrong Williams, who heaped scorn on Lott, heaps equal scorn on Dodd. The story is getting out there.

But our feckless hero Josh Marshall has yet to lift his heavy pen on this burning issue. It's been a week now since the comments were uttered and several days since I personally alerted him about it.

Last night, I attempted once again to communicate with Trent Lott's cyberspace nemesis, with the following email, subject line "cat got your tongue?":

Mr. Marshall,

Why the silence on Chris Dodd/Robert Byrd? The blogosphere is wondering why the blogger who toppled Trent Lott has nothing to say about another Senator guilty of the same crime. It couldn't be something as shallow as party affiliation, could it? I thought you were better than that.

Ok, I didn't really think Marshall was "better than that." I'm just being polite, or snarky, take your pick.

But still. Silence a week into a major scandal that is eerily similar to one he ginned up a year ago? What's up with that? Like dog years to human, a week in the blogosphere is practically a decade in non-blog time. It's forever. There is something strange about all this. Time to gather up some clues.

Posted by B. Preston at 02:28 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

LET ME SEE IF I'VE GOT THIS STRAIGHT

During National Security Advisor Condolezza Rice's testimony today, Richard Ben-Veniste and Bob Kerrey tried to paint the Aug 6 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing as a "warning," when the only language it seems to contain is a vague threat that "something big" was about to happen, that al Qaeda was planning some large-scale terrorist attack somewhere at some time.

Based on that information, Ben-Veniste and Kerrey would have us believe that the Bush administration should have been able to prevent the 9-11 attacks.

Yet liberals (not including Kerrey, fortunately) want to castigate the same Bush administration for using a mountain of intelligence gleaned over more than 10 years across three administrations of both parties to justify war with Iraq, and blame only the Bush administration when that intelligence turned out to be flawed.

Boil it down, it's like this: Vague information not detailing time, place or method of terrorist attack=Bush should have prevented 9-11! Specific, copious and credible information amassed over more than a decade leads to war with Iraq=Bush LIED!

MORE: Rice also popped the Millennium Myth. Richard Clarke used part of his testimony to give credit to Clinton officials for stopping a 1999/2000 plot to bomb LAX. Rice says Clarke mischaracterized what really happened, and didn't give credit where it was due:

"It's questionable to me . . . that somehow shaking the trees was what broke up the Millennium [Plot]," Rice told the 9/11 probers, referring to claims by Clinton terrorism czar Richard Clarke that White House alerts had the nation's security apparatus on the lookout for trouble.

In fact, said Rice, Clarke himself admitted that Clinton administration's warnings had nothing to do with the apprehension of Millennium bomber Ahmed Ressam.

"After Sept. 11, Dick Clarke sent us the after action report that had been done after the Millennium Plot," Rice told the Commission. "And their assessment was that Ressam had been caught by chance."

What's more, at the time Clarke said the White House had gone to "battle stations" based on intelligence an attack was coming, the Customs Bureau received no warnings from Clinton officials about potential al Qaeda attacks.

"I've checked with Customs," said Rice. "And according to their records, they weren't actually on alert at that point."

Instead, said the top Bush official, a Washington State-based Customs agent and her partner deserved credit for saving LAX.

"It was because a very alert Customs agent named Diana Dean and her colleague sensed something about Ressam," Rice explained.

"They saw that something was wrong. They tried to apprehend him. He tried to run. They then apprehended him, [then] found that there was bomb-making material and a map of Los Angeles in his car.

"Dick Clarke would say you got a lucky break," Rice told the Commission. "I would say you had an alert Customs agent who got it right."

Posted by B. Preston at 11:47 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

THE COALITION

What the &*^* is John Kerry talking about when he says the coalition needs to have a more "international face" if it's to succeed? Polish troops were the ones who killed al-Sadr's aide the other day. Terrorists have been attacking Spanish troops. And now the terrorists have taken Japanese and South Korean hostages:

An Iraqi group has kidnapped three Japanese hostages, including one woman, and promised to burn them alive if Japan does not withdraw its forces from Iraq.

Al Jazeera television screened a video today showing three Japanese dressed in civilian clothes. They are believed to be two journalists and an aid worker

The television said a statement by the hitherto unknown Iraqi group called Saraya al-Mujahideen had given Japan three days from the airing of the video to withdraw its troops from Iraq before it killed the hostages.

The statement said: "Three of your sons have fallen into our hands. We offer you two choices: either pull out your forces, or we will burn them alive. We give you three days starting the day this tape is broadcast."

The hostages were shown wearing civilians clothes. Passports shown on the video gave the woman's name as Takato Nahoko and the two men as Noriaki Imai and Soichiro Koriyama. At least one of them had a press identification card.

Earlier on Thursday, Japan vowed to make no hasty decisions about its 550 non-combat troops in the southern city of Samawa.

Reports are also claiming that seven South Koreans have also been taken hostage in Iraq.

Is that international enough for you, Kerry?

UPDATE: Reuters reports that the South Korean captives have been released. And the South Koreans captured were apparently Christian pastors.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MUQTEDDY AL-SADR

muqteddy al-sadr.jpgmuqtada-story.jpg

(story scan thanks to JG)

Posted by B. Preston at 09:08 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

KERRY STANDS BY HIS MAN

After blowing it this week and calling the psycho killer Sadr a "legitimate voice" in Iraq, Kerry tried to explain away his statement. But then he said we shouldn't arrest Muqtada al-Sadr unless we comply with his demands.

The last "his" in the sentence above actually refers to Kerry's demands on behalf of Sadr, but does it really matter? You would have thought that Kerry would huddle with his advisors yesterday, make some serious adjustments to their message, and fall over themselves trying to get it out. But no. It looks like Kerry is staying on point, and standing by his man Sadr.


Mr. Kerry ignored two questions shouted to him by reporters at a meeting he held with economic advisers, about whether he would "take out" Moktada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite clergyman, a pool report said.

What job does John Kerry think he's running for? I know he's happy that he's found another foreign leader who supports him (or at least supports Ted Kennedy) -- but actually returning the favor is strange. Why? There's an age old saying that may explain it:

Be prepared for a Kerry foreign policy statement by the end of the week where Kerry puts on his post-Vietnam olive green uniform and lays it out for us, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Viva al-Sadr! Viva La Revolucion!"

Posted by Chris Regan at 07:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 07, 2004

KERRY EMBRACES FLIP-FLOPPING AS HIS TOP PRIORITY

Said another way, with a great headline, "Kerry promises to break promises."


Trying to portray himself as a fiscal conservative, in contrast with spend-crazy President Bush, the Massachusetts Democrat vowed he would not let federal programs outside of security and education grow beyond the rate of inflation, even if that meant cutting government "services" and his own campaign pledges.

"When I say a cap on spending, I mean it," Kerry said in a speech at Georgetown University. "We will have to make real choices, and that includes priorities of my own."

Among his proposals he mentioned having to "slow down": plans for nursery school - oops, "early childhood education" - and provision of college tuition in exchange for two years of national "service." He gave no details about the cuts.

"Kerry's pledge to abide by spending caps could open him to criticism that his campaign promises cannot be trusted," the Associated Press noted.


Kerry may have the worst political sense of any major candidate in modern history. Dukakis made some tactical errors, but the guy wasn't a total political buffoon. And Kerry's supporters think Bush is dumb?!? I don't think Kerry could be elected even if Saddam Hussein returned to power in Iraq, though that would give Kerry another foreign leader's support to brag about.

Are we going to hear from the Kerry camp that this is actually a brilliant "strategery" to embrace his flip-flopping and put it into a better light -- like one might try to get control of a dying fish and put it back into water? Maybe he thinks it will innoculate him from any future charges of flip-flopping. If it works, political scientists will analyze the move for decades to come. It will be known as the process of "flip-flop consolidation."

Posted by Chris Regan at 07:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

TED KENNEDY'S COLLUSION SCANDAL

Remember the Senate memos flap--the one that the Democrats managed to blow back on Republicans? Well, a couple of Ted Kennedy's old memos may cause some serious trouble for him down the road:

According to The Center for Individual Freedom, two of Sen. Kennedy's former aides, in a memo dated April 17, 2002, recommended that he delay the confirmation of Judge Julia Smith Gibbons to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. The reason? To influence the outcome of the University of Michigan cases on racial preferences, then pending before the 6th Circuit appeals court, CFIF said.

Olati Johnson, then Judiciary counsel to Kennedy, wrote the memo, CFIF said. Melody Barnes, who at the time was chief counsel to Kennedy, joined in the memo's recommendation that Gibbons' confirmation be delayed. In all copies of the memo that have been made public, Johnson's and Barnes' names have been redacted, CFIF noted.

Johnson's job history is key to the story, the Center for Individual Freedom said.

Immediately before joining Kennedy's staff in September 2001, Olati Johnson was assistant counsel at NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. There she served as co-counsel for Elaine R. Jones.

Jones had a direct interest in the outcome of the University of Michigan undergraduate case; she served as counsel for one of the parties.

---

"The scandal is growing," said CFIF Executive Director Jeffrey Mazzella.

"First we learn that Elaine Jones tried to affect a pending case by stacking the judicial deck in her favor. Now it turns out that she enlisted the help of her former employee, Olati Johnson, who was a co-counsel in the University of Michigan undergraduate affirmative action case before she worked for Senator Kennedy."

---

"Two of Kennedy's closest advisors recommended that he engage in improper conduct," Mazzella said on Tuesday. "It's time for Senator Kennedy to answer the key question in this mushrooming scandal: Did he try to influence a major pending case by obstructing a judicial nominee? This revelation demonstrates beyond any doubt that his staff did."

This appears to be an ethics scandal of the first order: A sitting Senator was taking marching orders from staffers who had vested interests in the outcome of a court case that his actions would influence, and he apparently acted on those orders. As if we needed it, the memo case looks like more proof that Ted Kennedy is the most corrupt Senator serving today.

MORE: I understated the nature of Kennedy's scandal, so let me explain it a bit further. Kennedy sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the body that confirms, rejects or filibusters presidential appointments to the federal bench. At the time the Michigan affirmative action was being decided, Kennedy and the Committee were set to consider Judge Julia Smith Gibbons to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, which was handling the Michigan case. Two of Kennedy's aides apparently worked with outside groups to get Senator Kennedy to delay Gibbons' confirmation so that she would not get to vote on the case. The aides and the outside groups feared that, as a conservative, she would rule against affirmative action and that's why they did not want her on the bench until the case was resolved.

The aides and outside groups won, and the case was decided without Gibbons. Kennedy apparently abused his position on the Senate Judiciary Committee to effect the outcome of an ongoing court case by delaying a confirmation in order to appease the outside groups, one of which had once employed his aides. That is what the scandal is about, and if proven it should lead to at a minimum a strong censure of Kennedy and removal from the Judiciary Committee.

Posted by B. Preston at 05:58 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

BROTHERS IN ARMS

Iraqi terrorist cleric Mugtada al-Sadr and Sen. Ted Kennedy have a lot in common:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) Muqtada al-Sadr, the firebrand anti-U.S. Shiite Muslim cleric, warned the United States on Wednesday that Iraq would become another Vietnam-like conflict if Washington did not transfer power to ''honest Iraqis.''

Sounds like the Senator from Chappaquiddick:

"Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam," Kennedy said at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

I really want to win the war on terrorism, but maybe we can let the bad guys have Massachussetts.

(thanks to Chris)

Posted by B. Preston at 01:15 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

BUSH IS NOT A LIBERTARIAN

Excellent post over at Kevin Holtsberry's site. The gist: Libertarians should knock off whining about the FBI's new anti-porn effort and just accept the fact that while Bush isn't perfect from their point of view, he's the hawkish president we all need to win the war.

I agree, and I'll go a step further. If you people want to keep your porn, re-elect Bush. The reasoning is very simple here: Bush may be siccing 6 FBI agents on the multi-billion dollar porn industry, but he's also defending basic freedom in prosecuting the war on terrorism. Kerry, on the other hand, believes that the US is waging war on the Iraqi people and that Moqtada al-Sadr, the new Iraqi Aidid, is a "legitimate voice" in the new Iraq.

Let's review the facts on that. Al-Sadr got himself into trouble with the Iraqi Governing Council when he got mixed up in the murder of a rival cleric. He has been in trouble with the Council because he is an acknowledged sock puppet for the mullahs in Tehran and because he is cozy with Hezbollah. He is a terrorist, not a legitimate voice.

Tell that to John Kerry, who thinks he is. Yes, yes, yes, I know Kerry backtracked and equivocated, tried to alter the meaning of "legitimate" and all, but his gut instinct was to call Sadr, the man currently leading a bloody insurrection against US troops, "legitimate." Can you for a second imagine President Bush, the left's favorite dummy, making such a boneheaded statement about a terrorist figure? Absolutely not. Kerry's statement is another echo of 1971, when Kerry took the Communist North Vietnamese stance on ending the Vietnam war and accused the US of murdering millions of Vietnamese civilians intentionally over the course of that war. He just tends to see whoever we are fighting as an opponent of equal moral standing, if not superior.

Which means we cannot trust Kerry to lead the war effort to a successful conclusion. His history is proof of a tendency to go easy (at the very least) on our enemies, and his current statments prove he hasn't learned anything in the intervening 33 years. He won't fight to win, because he doesn't seem to believe that we should win.

A President Kerry will lose the war, meaning that Islamicist radicals will win. America will change for the worse. It's not at all impossible that forms of Sharia could replace our own laws if we capitulate, since we will end up in a loser's game of changing ourselves to make the bad guys happy. You want to lose your precious right to porn? Elect Kerry. You want to keep it? Elect Bush.

Now, as to the porn effort itself, it's probably worth noting (though the libertarians probably won't acknowledge it) that all the Bush administration is doing is returning to enforcing laws that the Clinton administration did not enforce. In their 30 year history, the relevant laws that the FBI is using here have been enforced for 20. The Clinton administration stopped enforcing them ten years ago, and porn exploded into the gigantic global enterprise it is today, with the porn spam and pop ups on the web and all that assaulting behavior. The Bush administration is restoring enforcement, nothing more. If you don't like that, libertarians, get the law changed.

And vote for Bush. He's still the best chance you have at winning the war and thus maintaining your rights.

Posted by B. Preston at 12:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

RACISM ON THE LEFT

If a right-leaning comic strip referred to Condolezza Rice by her skin color, what would the Josh Marshalls of the world say? How long do you think it would take the race-baiting Democrats and their allies in the NAACP to hold a press conference, issue a full press kit, and go wall-to-wall until they got that comic strip yanked from every single newspaper in the United States?

About a nanosecond, I'd say.

But if the strip was a perennial ally of the left? How long would the Democrats' and the NAACP's silence last?

Forever, I'd say.

That in mind, take a look at this Doonesbury that a reader sent in today:

Outlook.jpg

First, the strip is wrong on the merits: It has been proven that Rice knew what al Qaeda was before meeting Richard Clarke. She gave an interview in October 2000 in which she mentions al Qaeda, and she didn't meet Clarke until later on. Besides that, I knew what al Qaeda was by about 1996 or 1997, and I'm not a recognized expert in national security (my genius not having spread far enough beyond this blog yet). Condi certainly knew what al Qaeda was long before meeting Clarke, as did Bush (the strip implies that neither had heard of it). But besides that, the strip is just dumb and has racist overtones. It not only relies on the very tired meme that President Bush is dumb (the "it's in a book" line), but has Bush nicknaming Rice "Brown Sugar," further implying something more than a professional relationship between the two.

This is all in advance of Condi's testimony before the 9-11 Commission, of course, and is an attempt to discredit her. It won't work, but it's telling that the left is resorting to sexual innuendo and racist overtones to get her. It's equally telling that the usual race-hustling suspects won't say a word against it.

UPDATE: Technically, Rice referred to bin Laden and not al Qaeda in 2000. So what? Does that mean she'd never heard of al Qaeda, as Richard Clarke implies? Of course not. People nowadays have a tendency to assume that if Google can't find something, it never happened. As a recognized national security expert, Rice certainly knew about al Qaeda long before most people did. Can't Google it to prove it? So what. I Googled and proved that Bush didn't lie us into war months ago, finding quotes from Clinton and his national security team that are almost in verbatim agreement with what Bush and his team said in the runup to the Iraq war, and to date that proof has convinced exactly one person to knock off the "Bush LIED!" crap. The Democrats to this day still use the "Bush LIED" stuff, to the extent that it has even convinced some of our allies that Bush lied to them. Even if you can offer definitive proof, people of the left will tend to reject it if it doesn't fit their world view.

Sometimes you have to use a little logic in your own noggin and not rely so much on a search engine and the internet. Rice is a recognized national security expert, tapped by President Bush to advise him on national security issues. As such, she would have to have known about al Qaeda to some extent prior to meeting Clarke. I think the burden of proof is on her accusers here--if Clarke and his herd think she didn't know anything, prove it. One aside in a book full of half-truths, spin and outright fabrications won't cut it.

Posted by B. Preston at 08:32 AM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

April 06, 2004

OPERATION SHAME A PUNDIT

On Monday, April 5, 2004 at 8:13 pm, your humble blogger sent the following missive to Joshua Micah Marshall of the Talking Points Memo:

Hello Mr. Marshall,

Since you're the blogger most responsible for hunting down Trent Lott on his offensive Strom Thurmond birthday party comment a while back, I only thought it would be natural for you to take the lead on a similar incident from last week. I naturally chalked your silence until now up to simply being unaware of comments recently made by Senator Christopher Dodd. Speaking on the occassion of Sen. Robert Byrd's 17,000th vote last week, Sen. Dodd said the following:

It has often been said that the man and the moment come together. I do not think it is an exaggeration at all to say to my friend from West Virginia that he would have been a great Senator at any moment. Some were right for the time. Robert C. Byrd, in my view, would have been right at any time. He would have been right at the founding of this country. He would have been in the leadership crafting this Constitution. He would have been right during the great conflict of civil war in this Nation. He would have been right at the great moments of international threat we faced in the 20th century. I cannot think of a single moment in this Nation's 220-plus year history where he would not have been a valuable asset to this country. Certainly today that is not any less true.

You can verify the quote with the Congressional Record, which has helpfully archived it for posterity. The key sentence is "Robert C. Byrd, in my view, would have been right at any time." Like when Byrd said, as a Klansman in 1946, that he would rather see Old Glory trampled than fight for it alongside a black man? Or when he said later that he believed it imperative to resurrect the Klan in West Virginia? Or when he talked about "white n*ggers" a couple of years ago on national television? Does Dodd think Byrd was right all those times?

Applying the logic of the Lott fiasco, praising an old man on a special occassion is no defense. As a Republican, I agreed and called for Lott to step down as Senate Majority Leader. Again applying the logic of the Lott fiasco, Dodd should therefore face pressure from the blogosphere to step down from an important post that he holds, don't you agree? As the blogger who led the charge against Lott, I believe it falls to you to prove that the Lott fiasco was about more than just politics, it was about principle and about teaching crypto-racists a lesson.

The blogosphere is looking to you for leadership, Josh. Don't let us down.

I also sent that letter to others around the blogosphere so that, in the event of a dispute over timing or wording or any other issue, I would have proof that I was telling the unvarnished truth.

To date, I have not received a reply to my letter. That in itself is unusual. On two occassions in the past year or so, I have emailed him and received a prompt reply. We ended up engaging in brief exchanges both times. But he is silent this time, though a couple of recent posts on his blog indicate that he is receiving email without any problems. So far Mr. Marshall, who so valiantly took the lead in L'affaire Lott a year ago, has yet to utter a single word about Senator Dodd's offensive comments of last week.

It isn't as though Mr. Marshall is on haitus or blogging at a reduced pace. He is blogging about everything from the war in Iraq to Bush's poll numbers in California to a domain he owns and seems interested in selling. It isn't as though he is unaware of Dodd's comments, since I sent them to him yesterday.

But nothing--not a single, solitary word--about Senator Chris Dodd's unfortunately worded praise for Senator Byrd, praise which mirrors comments that cost Senator Trent Lott his post as Senate Majority Leader, and comments about which Marshall became positively apoplectic in condemnation.

Why?

I have a guess or two, but for now I'll leave it to you readers, and ultimately, Mr. Marshall to provide an answer.

UPDATE: Still nothing. Radio silence in email and nada on the blog. Marshall has blogged aplenty about Henry Bonilla and about some obscure Bush swipe at a reporter, but nothing at all about Senator Dodd. I'm sure you're as surprised as I am.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:15 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

DOES JOHN KERRY STILL THINK IT'S 1971?

Check out this fresh John F. Kerry quote:

"If all we do is make war against the Iraqi people and continue an American occupation fundamentally without a clarity to who and how sovereignty is being turned over, we have a very serious problem from the long run here and I think this administration is just walking dead center down into that trap," Kerry said.

Who is making "war against the Iraqi people?" Is Kerry seriously arguing that US troops are in Iraq right now waging war against the people of Iraq? Is that how he understands the war against terrorism?

It's odd, because I've been under the impression that US troops are fighting bad guys like this Sadr character and other al Qaeda jihadis and Baathist bitter-enders. It seems Presidential candidate John Kerry thinks we're there to fight the Iraqi people themselves. What we seem to have here is a major difference of opinion.

Maybe Kerry had a flashback to his version of Vietnam circa 1971--you know, the war in which he accused the US of "murdering 200,000 civilians per year."

MORE: I'm starting to wonder if Kerry actually listens to anything he says. In the quote above, he says:

If all we do is make war against the Iraqi people and continue an American occupation fundamentally without a clarity to who and how sovereignty is being turned over, we have a very serious problem from the long run here...

Run past the bit about making war on the Iraqi people for a second and look at the substance of what he's saying. Essentially, he says the Bush administration should be clear about the sovereignty handover and stick to its guns. Right? That's how it reads to me--he says the Bush administration is being unclear about the handover when it should be clear.

Now, let's look at a quote from the same story a few graphs up:

"I think the June 30 deadline is a fiction and they never should have set an arbitrary deadline, which almost clearly has been affected by the election schedule in the United States of America," Kerry told National Public Radio in an interview to be broadcast Wednesday.

Kerry later said he hopes the date has nothing to do with the Nov. 2 presidential election.

Asked what he meant in his statement to NPR, Kerry told reporters: "I mean that I think they wanted to get the troops out and get the transfer out of the way as fast as possible without regard to the stability of Iraq. The test ought to be the stability of Iraq, not an arbitrary date. ... It should not be related to the election."

So...he pulls a Dean and floats a bit of a conspiracy theory on the June 30 handover as being driven by electoral politics. If that's what he believes, fine, that's what he should say. There might even be some truth to it for all I know. But then when questioned about it later, Kerry waffles. He says the administration doesn't care about stability and is clinging to June 30 as an arbitrary date, which is absurd on its face since its obvious that stability in Iraq between now and November, no matter who's in charge there, will effect the election. Kerry says the test should be stability and not related to the election and therefore not set to a date, and so forth. Fine, if that what he believes, that's what he should say.

But. Isn't Kerry being unclear now about the handover? Bush, for whatever reason, has set a deadline that even today's violence hasn't yet cracked. That deadline is clear--June 30, 2004, Iraq will become sovereign again. What's unclear about that?

But in the course of a single day, Kerry chides Bush both for being unclear and for being arbitrarily too clear about the handover date. Can you make any sense out of that?

Posted by B. Preston at 04:42 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

HANS BLIX SHOULD STOP READING THE LIBERAL MEDIA'S SPIN ON IRAQ

The man once entrusted to ferret out Saddam's weapons says Iraq was better off under the Butcher of Baghdad's rule:

"It's positive that Saddam and his bloody regime is gone, but when one weighs the costs, it's clearly the negative aspects that dominate," Blix told daily Jyllands-Posten in an interview.

And if all you watch are CNN and Al Jazeera or read the New York Times and its stepchild the International Herald Tribune, that's what you're likely to believe.

But.

Let's hear from someone on the ground in Iraq working there day in and day out to make life better for real Iraqis. Joel Roche is in the US 16th Combat Engineer Battalion in Baghdad:

My job is mostly to be the driver of my platoon's lead Humvee. I see the missions our Army is performing, and I interact closely with the Iraqi people. Because of this, I know how successful and important our work is.

My battalion carries out dozens of missions all over the city missions that are improving people's lives. We have restored schools and universities, hospitals, power plants and water systems. We have engineered new infrastructure projects and much more. We have also brought security and order to many of Baghdad's worst areas areas once afflicted with chaos and brutality.

Our efforts to train vast numbers of Iraqis to police and secure the city's basic law and order are bearing fruit.

Our mission is vital. We are transforming a once very sick society into a hopeful place. Dozens of newspapers and the concepts of freedom of religious worship and expression are flowering. So, too, are educational improvements.

This is the work of the U.S. military. Our progress is amazing. Many people who knew only repression and terror now have hope in their heart and prosperity in their grasp. Every day the Iraqi people stream into the streets to cheer and wave at us as we drive by. When I'm on a foot patrol, walking among a crowd, countless people thank us repeatedly.

---

Our Army is carrying out 1,700 convoys and patrols each day. Only a tiny percentage actually encounter hostile action. My unit covers some of the worst and most intense areas, and I have seen some of the most tragic attacks and hostility, such as the bombing of the United Nations headquarters.

I'm not out of touch with the negative side of things. In fact, I think my unit has it harder than many other Army units in this whole operation. That said, despite some attacks, the overall picture is one of extreme success and much thanks.

The various terrorist enemies we are facing in Iraq are really aiming at you back in the United States. This is a test of will for our country. We soldiers of yours are doing great and scoring victories in confronting the evil terrorists.

The reality is one of an ever-increasing defeat of the enemies we face. Our enemies are therefore more desperate. They are striking out more viciously and indiscriminately. I realize this is causing Americans stress, and I assure you it causes us stress, too.

When I was a civilian, I spent time as a volunteer with the Israeli army. I assure you we are not facing the hostility Israelis face. Here in Iraq, we Americans are welcomed by most Iraqis.

Read the whole thing. And if you can dig up Hans Blix's email address, forward it to him. I'm sending it to the Senator from Chappaquiddick.

Posted by B. Preston at 01:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

CLINTON'S PRIORITIES AND RICHARD CLARKE

Richard Clarke's recent star turn included a startling claim, which was that President Clinton was a better anti-terror president than President Bush and made bagging the bad guys a higher priority than Bush did prior to 9-11. It's essentially a political argument, insomuch as Bush's re-election ace in the hole has been his conduct of the war. When you've taken down two terror states and by some miracle there hasn't been a major attack on US soil since 9-11, it's hard for your opponents to make a factual case that you're not doing enough to stop terrorism. Clarke used his former position as counterterrorism czar to try and knock a hole in Bush's armor on what is his strongest issue by far.

The problem for Clarke is that the facts don't support him. In his last major foreign policy speech before leaving the White House, Clinton failed to mention Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda by name. He spent lots of time describing AIDS as a serious national security threat, yet spent little time addressing terrorism in any substantive way. So it would seem that when Clinton had the chance to get the country focused on its greatest threats, he didn't see al Qaeda as a big enough threat to mention specifically, and he did see AIDS as a bigger national security threat overall. I'm open to that argument myself for a couple of reasons (I didn't say I buy it, I said I'm open to it), but the fact remains that if you spend more time in your final foreign policy address talking about AIDS than terrorism, it's reasonable to assume that you rank AIDS as a higher threat priority than terrorism. That's something your counterterrorism czar should be aware of.

I wrote about that last week, and took some guff from a reader for having the gall to mention the facts. And the more those facts come out, the worse they are for Clarke.

Not only was Clinton's last major foreign policy address bereft of al Qaeda and bin Laden warnings and strategerizing, but Clinton's last paper on foreign policy--A National Security Strategy for a Global Age, submitted in December 2000--was similarly short on terrorism specifics.

It mentions Osama bin Laden just four times in 45,000 words. It never--ever--refers to al Qaeda. How then can anyone familiar with this paper and Clinton era policy, such as Richard Clarke who was smack dab in the middle of it all, argue with a straight face that terrorism generally and al Qaeda specifically were at the top of Clinton's foreign policy to-do list?

So what does the Clinton document talk about?

The Clinton administration's final national-security report stated that its reaction to terrorist strikes was to "neither forget the crime, nor ever give up on bringing the perpetrators to justice."

The document boasted of "a dozen terrorist fugitives" who had been captured abroad and handed over to the United States "to answer for their crimes."

Those perpetrators included the men responsible for the first attack on the World Trade Center, which the intelligence community largely thought by late 2000 to be the work of operatives with links to al Qaeda. Listed among those brought to justice was a man who killed two persons outside CIA headquarters in 1993, and "an attack on a Pan Am flight more than 18 years ago."

In other words, it's exactly what you'd expect if you've been paying attention. Its terrorism contents showcase the kinds of legalistic approaches that the Clinton team pursued, the "swatting at flies" approach overturned by President Bush even before 9-11. In its emphasis, the document proves Richard Clarke has been mischaracterizing the Clinton administration's approach and prioritization when it came to terrorism. Osama bin Laden was to Clinton a second or third level threat, in spite of the fact that bin Laden had been waging a violent war against America since 1993. Clinton's own final foreign policy paper is all the proof one needs to show that Richard Clarke is, at best, spinning the Clinton approach to terrorism to make it look better, and at worst, he's outright lying about it to make Bush look bad.

Posted by B. Preston at 08:42 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 05, 2004

ANDREW SULLIVAN, UNHINGED

Is it just me, or does Andrew Sullivan tend to indulge in histrionics worthy of a sixth-grade girl?

From his swank pad in New York or Washington or wherever he lives, he states that America may be losing the war in its entirety in Iraq. The last time I checked, armed gangs of terrorists weren't roaming the streets of American cities, and we don't lay ourselves down to sleep to the rat-a-tat of AK-47s. Yet according to Sullivan we're losing the "the whole ball game."

The source of his fear was a single riveting post on an Iraqi blog, and just let me say now lest anyone misunderstand me that the blog (Healing Iraq) and its blogger (Zeyad) is a highly credible on-the-ground source. Zeyad has proven himself to be an interesting writer with a basically pro-US point of view, not at all like the untrustworthy Salam Pax that the blogosphere fell in love with last year. Zeyad doesn't sugar coat anything, and he was the first to report on a couple of fairly major stories from Iraq. Zeyad's relevant post said:

A coup d'etat is taking place in Iraq a the moment. Al-Shu'la, Al-Hurria, Thawra (Sadr city), and Kadhimiya (all Shi'ite neighbourhoods in Baghdad) have been declared liberated from occupation. Looting has already started at some places downtown, a friend of mine just returned from Sadun street and he says Al-Mahdi militiamen are breaking stores and clinics open and also at Tahrir square just across the river from the Green Zone. News from other cities in the south indicate that Sadr followers (tens of thousands of them) have taken over IP stations and governorate buildings in Kufa, Nassiriya, Ammara, Kut, and Basrah. Al-Jazeera says that policemen in these cities have sided with the Shia insurgents, which doesn't come as a surprise to me since a large portion of the police forces in these areas were recruited from Shi'ite militias and we have talked about that ages ago. And it looks like this move has been planned a long time ago.

No one knows what is happening in the capital right now. Power has been cut off in my neighbourhood since the afternoon, and I can only hear helicopters, massive explosions, and continuous shooting nearby. The streets are empty, someone told us half an hour ago that Al-Mahdi are trying to take over our neighbourhood and are being met by resistance from Sunni hardliners. Doors are locked, and AK-47's are being loaded and put close by in case they are needed. The phone keeps ringing frantically. Baghdadis are horrified and everyone seems to have made up their mind to stay home tomorrow until the situation is clear.

Not to split hairs, but what Zeyad is describing is not a coup d'etat. He is describing street violence in his immediate surroundings that he understandably extrapolated in the heat of the moment into a full-blown coup. His error here is entirely understandable, but Sullivan's isn't. From half a world away, Sullivan has the benefit of access to multiple news sources, satellite networks, and so forth. No bullets are flying past his windows. He could have read Zeyad's post and double-checked. Had he done so, he wouldn't have written such an uncritical appraisal of Zeyad's post. He would have seen that the violence was more localized than Zeyad could have realized, and that since the various bodies governing Iraq were never in danger, the did not constitute a coup d'etat, or at least not a coup that ever threatened to succeed. Instead, Sullivan just worked from Zeyad's post. A post, which it should be noted, has been appended to include a restoration of relative calm, with the Bremer administration and the Iraqi Governing Council safely still in power. Some coup.

Compare and contrast Sullivan's histrionics with Glenn Reynolds' reaction to the same post. After headlining the post with a very short nod to Zeyad for his "scoop," Glenn writes

I'm not seeing anything about this elsewhere yet. It's bad news if things are as bad as this sounds. This report from Dow Jones says that Bush is predicting more violence in Iraq.

UPDATE: D'oh. This seems to regard last night's events, not something new. I was thrown by the time difference, I guess. Still news, but not new news. On the other hand, it's still going on.

What follows is responsible, reasonable blogging--Glenn taking into account the opinions of his readers and relaying the best of them to his wider audience, relaying some coverage and some opinion and analysis from around the blogosphere. No panic. No fear, and perhaps most importantly, no attempts to take one data point (Zeyad's original post) and turn it into a full-blown trend complete with a coup d'etat spin that means we're losing the whole war.

In short, if Zeyad's post described an Iraqi version of the Tet Offensive, Sullivan would have fallen right into the hands of the enemy and unwittingly become its mouthpiece in the blogosphere. He panicked, blowing the violence out of proportion and making the enemy seems to be more powerful and threatening than he really was. Reynolds, on the other hand, didn't try to make the single report into something more and didn't panic.

Having read Andrew Sullivan on a regular basis over the past couple of years, it's obvious to me why he is a journalist: He just doesn't know a thing about anything other than spouting his opinion and trying to get that opinion out in front of events, even if those events end up running his opinions down like a pedestrian pausing too long in front of a cross town bus. But like the hardened opinion journalist he is, his intellectual roadkill doesn't slow him down for a second. I fully expect he'll be out predicting the end of the world tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that, until he eventually gets enough of his prediction right to allow a smug little smile to occupy his face. And then he'll say "I told you this would happen" just to top it all off.

The problem with that is the utter irresponsibility of it all. We bloggers have some responsibility to be thoughtful about what we post, and the larger a blogger's audience I would argue that greater that responsibility. That's one reason Kos took such a deserved beating for his "Screw them" offense, and why it's ultimately a pity that Sullivan is so widely read and so well regarded. In my opinion he's the most overrated major blogger around. He panics when it isn't justified, and throws around accusations like a true totalitarian at anyone who disagrees with him about anything. For a guy with no real job beyond his blog, he is also awfully slow to respond and typically fails to follow a moving story with any kind of speed or agility. As of this writing, for instance, he hasn't updated his Iraqi civil war post at all. Glenn Reynolds, a professor, husband and father has lit up his blog with post after post, all of it responsibly written and well sourced.

Boil Sullivan down and he basically understands gay issues and a couple of cultural issues well, and not much else. He plays with religion, mostly to denounce any that doesn't agree with his fairly narrow misinterpretations of scripture, and opines here and there on economics, but he basically doesn't know much of consequence about any of that. He certainly doesn't understand warfare or the military. He's just an opinionated guy who happens to write well and knows how to build a viable argument out of thin air. Which is why he's a journalist. What the heck else would he do?

(Chris Regan contributed to this report)

UPDATE: So Sullivan has finally gotten around to updating, and in the process has had a massive mood swing. A few hours ago we were "losing the whole ball game," remember? Now, we've got "the brightest opportunity for real change in the world since the end of the Cold War," and according to Sullivan we have to seize it. Thanks, Sherlock. He adds that he only hopes President Bush understands the situation as well as Andrew does. Like Sullivan wakes up every day to the Presidential Daily Briefing that outlines every credible threat the US faces on a continually evolving basis.

What a joke.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:30 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

SO MUCH FOR APPEASEMENT

Guess who's in al Qaeda's crosshairs this Easter?

SPAIN is braced for an Easter week terrorist attack after police admitted several suspects had probably escaped before their associates blew themselves up in Madrid at the weekend in an explosion that also killed a special forces policeman.

The alleged ringleader of Madrid's March 11 railway massacre, in which 191 people died, killed himself and four other suspects when police stormed their flat on Saturday night.

Making nice with terrorists just makes them more aggressive. Unfortunately, Spain is probably going to learn that lesson the hard way.

Posted by B. Preston at 02:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

THE PICKLED SENATOR LASHES OUT

Ted Kennedy says that Iraq is George W. Bush's Vietnam.

Right. And every last river in New England is Ted Kennedy's Chappaquiddick.

Posted by B. Preston at 02:26 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

WHAT CHRIS DODD SAID

Now that we've got that unseemly liar business out of the way, here again is what Senator Christopher Dodd said about Senator Robert "Sheets" Byrd on the occassion of the elder senator's 17,000th vote (and if one old racist buzzard casting 17,000 pork-laden votes isn't an argument for term limits, I don't know what is):

It has often been said that the man and the moment come together. I do not think it is an exaggeration at all to say to my friend from West Virginia that he would have been a great Senator at any moment. Some were right for the time. Robert C. Byrd, in my view, would have been right at any time. He would have been right at the founding of this country. He would have been in the leadership crafting this Constitution. He would have been right during the great conflict of civil war in this Nation. He would have been right at the great moments of international threat we faced in the 20th century. I cannot think of a single moment in this Nation's 220-plus year history where he would not have been a valuable asset to this country. Certainly today that is not any less true.

Which means that when Byrd infamously said that he'd rather see Old Glory trampled than to have to fight alongside a black man, Dodd is fine with that. When Byrd talks about "white n*ggers," Dodd is fine with that. And so forth and so on. Applying the logic the left applied to Senator Lott not so long ago, Dodd should give up some prestigious post he holds in the US Senate, if not his actual seat in that august body.

My question is, why the silence from the left? They want us to believe they're principled on race issues, but where are the vociferous condemnations of Dodd's Lott moment?

Sidney Blumenthal's sock puppet is strangely silent.

Posted by B. Preston at 12:37 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

CLINTON MISSED BEST CHANCE TO GET BIN LADEN

At least Clinton haters like me had a coherent narrative to sell back in the day--Clinton was unfit to be president because he was morally corrupt and did not take the responsibilities of the office seriously enough to perform them adequately. For Clinton, the political trumped the national, the moral and the ethical, and his libido trumped even the political. We Clinton haters knew the guy was smart, and never tried to sell the public a line that he wasn't. So we said Clinton was essentially a lucky guy when it came to certain circumstances (the deficit) and did his best to slide past the hard choices (like dealing with terrorism, to pick one out of a hat) and generally lied his way into and then out of scrape after scrape (oh, Lewinsky, perjury, etc). It's a story that made sense then, and makes sense now.

Case in point: 9-11 Commission Chairman Thomas Kean says Clinton missed America's best chance to nab bin Laden:

"If we had acted earlier on al-Qaida when al-Qaida was smaller and just getting started, even before bin Laden went to Afghanistan, there were times we could have gotten him," former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean told NBC's "Meet the Press."

"There's no question that had we gotten [bin Laden] and his leadership at that point, the whole story might have been different," he added.

Referring to missed opportunities in Sudan, as well as chances to kill bin Laden four years later after CIA Predator drones pinpointed his location in Afghanistan, Kean said: "Those early opportunities are clear. We had him, we saw him. I think maybe we could have done something about it."

Kean went on to speculate what could have been done--missile strike, Clinton's fanciful ninja raid, etc--but that's not really the point. Clinton had the chance, once upon a time, to get bin Laden without a fight at all. Sudan offered to hand over bin Laden, who lived in Sudan at the time, in exchange for better relations with the US, and Clinton turned them down. He claims he tried to get the Saudis to take bin Laden, but got nowhere with our oil rich friends.

What's also clear is that, pace the Clinton hater narrative, the libido was the king of Clinton's world: At the moment the Sudanese were making their offer, Clinton was trysting with a certain amorous intern and couldn't be bothered with all that international intrigue. That little rendezvous ended up costing 3,000 lives, two skyscrapers, American's sense of security and led to a global war.

The lie narrative also holds up well to history. Remember TWA 800? That's the plane that blew up off the East Coast on July 20, 1996. Its mysterious demise led to those stupid questions airline personnel used to ask when you checked in for a flight: Did you pack your own bag? etc. Like a terrorist planning to kill people won't tell a lie.

The crash happened within days of the start of the Atlanta Olympics, and in the middle of Clinton's myopic pursuit of a second term as president (so focused was he on winning that he, ahem, bent the rules to allow Chinese Army cash into his campaign coffers--our ethics charge stands up pretty well too). Well, within a few months the NTSB ruled TWA 800 an accident. That story fit well with Clinton's desire to sidle past the hard choices, since a terrorism ruling might have meant a war with Iran, possibly, or with half a dozen other suspect Middle Eastern state terror sponsors--but unlike the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, he couldn't pin it on Rush Limbaugh, so he settled for "accident" without a fuss.

Well, it turns out that the architect of the "accident" ruling was one Richard Clarke, of 60 Minutes fame. His Simon & Schuster book Against All Enemies says so:

About four weeks after the crash, based on his own rough timeline, Clarke visited the site of the investigation on Long Island. There he casually stopped to talk to a technician. Their presumed conversation is so utterly disingenuous it needs to be repeated in full:


"So this is where the bomb exploded?" I asked. "Where on the plane was it?"

"The explosion was just forward of the middle, below the floor of the passenger compartment, below row 23. But it wasn't a bomb," he added. "See the pitting pattern and the tear. It was a slow, gaseous eruption, from inside."

"What's below row 23?" I asked, slowly sensing that this was not what I thought it was.

"The center line fuel tank. It was only half full, might have heated up on the runway and caused a gas cloud inside. Then if a spark, a short circuit ..." He indicated an explosion with his hands.


The technician goes on to tell Clarke that these "old 747s" have an "electrical pump inside the center line fuel tank" and lays the blame on the pump. In fact, almost everything about the conversation is wrong, including the technician calling the center wing tank a "center line fuel tank." The tank was not half full but virtually empty. The evening was a cool 71 degrees. The plane's pumps were all recovered and found blameless, and the fuel pump wiring is not even inside the tank. The NTSB admittedly never did find the alleged ignition source.

But pride goeth before the fall. In this one chance encounter, Clarke manages to sum up the essence of the exit strategy months, if not years, before the NTSB does, and he takes all credit for it. That same day, Clarke tells us he returned to Washington and shared his exploding-fuel-tank theory with Chief of Staff Leon Panetta and National Security Agency Director Tony Lake, even sketching the 747 design.

"Does the NTSB agree with you," Lake reportedly asked Clarke. Clarke's purported response speaks to the priority politics would take over truth in this investigation "Not yet."

But it all fit so nicely for a re-election bid based on themes of peace and prosperity that we just couldn't face the facts if they might lead to hard choices like going to war. So Clarke concocted it, and Clinton bought and then sold it on his way to re-election: The crash that for all the world looked like terrorism was just an unfortunate accident. Even though it probably wasn't. Slick Willy sold America a bill of goods.

Clarke also hints in the book that the Oklahoma City bombing, which Clinton ended up blaming (philosophically) on Rush Limbaugh, might have had Middle Eastern connections. Well thanks for nothing, Mr. Clarke. Why didn't you people tell us this nine years ago? Why did you blame it on conservatives who, correctly as it turns out, accused Slick Willy of being slick and worshipping his willy?

And why won't Kean's 9-11 Commission ask some of these tough questions of people like Clarke and Clinton? Instead they're focused on intimidating National Security Advisor Condi Rice into testifying against precedent. That's right, against historical precedent. It's true that Admiral Leahy, Chief of Staff to Presidents Roosevelt and Truman, testified under oath in public to the Pearl Harbor commission, but he testified on November 22, 1945. The war had been over for months, and 1945 wasn't an election year. Rice will testify in the middle of an ongoing and increasingly politicized (by the left) war to a commission that has become a kangaroo court in the hothouse environment of an election year. But never mind that. I still think Rice will knock it out of the park.

But back to the point of this rambling mess of a post, the 9-11 Commission's own chairman says that Bill Clinton probably missed America's best chance to get bin Laden and thereby prevent 9-11. And the facts say that he's right about that.

(thanks to Chris)

Posted by B. Preston at 09:49 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

OPEN MOUTH, INSERT FOOT

The Democrats have some cleaning up to do:

"It has often been said that the man and the moment come together. I do not think it is an exaggeration at all to say to my friend from West Virginia that he would have been a great senator at any moment. Some were right for the time. Robert C. Byrd, in my view, would have been right at any time," said Senator Christopher Dodd, D-Conn

Hmm. So, according to Dodd, Byrd was right even when he said this?

[T]here are white niggers. I've seen a lot of white niggers in my time, if you want to use that word. But we all--we all--we just need to work together to make our country a better country and I--I'd just as soon quit talking about it so much.

And this?

The New York Times reported in 1971 on a letter Mr. Byrd wrote in 1946, after leaving the Klan. Writing to the Klan's Imperial Wizard, Mr. Byrd identified himself as a former Kleagle and recommended a person to serve as state Klan coordinator. He wrote, "The Klan is needed today as never before and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia. . . . It is necessary that the order be promoted immediately and in every state in the Union. Will you please inform me as to the possibilities of rebuilding the Klan realm of W.Va?"

And this?

And in a 1947 letter, after Mr. Byrd had been elected to the state senate, he wrote that he would "never submit to fight beneath that banner (the American flag) with a Negro by my side. Rather I should die a thousand times, and see old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds."

"Race mongrels," eh? Was Byrd right about that, Senator Dodd?

So what should happen to a Senator who thoughlessly praises another aging Senator with a checkered past? We know what happens when that Senator is a Republican named Lott--he lost his post as Senate Majority Leader. What should happen to Dodd? Loss of a committee spot would work. But will anything happen? Of course not. We're talking about the Democrats here, the party of hate and bigotry. They won't lift a finger.

(thanks to Hanks)

UPDATE: I don't what kind of bug Gary Farber has caught today, but he seems content to attack me for no apparent reason. In the interests of mollifying what appears to be nothing more than an angry troll who is throwing around charges he can't substantiate, I'm noting here a fact that I already noted in the comments on this post as soon as it was brought to my attention--that I've updated this post to make it line up better with the links it contains. It originally quoted Laura Ingraham by way of Henry Hanks; now I'm quoting Sen. Byrd's official site by way of Gary Farber. Happy now, Gary? What else would you like me to change while I'm at it?

UPDATE: Gary Farber is wrong on this whole, stupid thing. He says that Laura Ingraham is lying, and that she's attributing Trent Lott's words about Strom Thurmond to Chris Dodd talking about Sheets Byrd. Here's Ingraham's quote:

Dodd said of Byrd, "You would have been a great senator at any moment....you would have been right at the founding of this country, right during the Civil War....I can't think of a single moment in this nation's 220+ year history where you would not have been a valuable asset to this country."

Here's the quote from the Congressional Record:

It has often been said that the man and the moment come together. I do not think it is an exaggeration at all to say to my friend from West Virginia that he would have been a great Senator at any moment. Some were right for the time. Robert C. Byrd, in my view, would have been right at any time. He would have been right at the founding of this country. He would have been in the leadership crafting this Constitution. He would have been right during the great conflict of civil war in this Nation. He would have been right at the great moments of international threat we faced in the 20th century. I cannot think of a single moment in this Nation's 220-plus year history where he would not have been a valuable asset to this country. Certainly today that is not any less true.

She turns "he" into "you," but otherwise Ingraham gets it basically right.

Unless the Congressional Record is lying, Farber is wrong. He's accused Laura Ingraham of lying, and he's wrong. She isn't. But someone is.

That someone isn't Gary Farber. Farber is just quoting a source. The one doing the lying is Sheets Byrd. Farber quotes Byrd's official site, which says:

"It has often been said that the man and the moment come together. I do not think it is an exaggeration at all to say to my friend from West Virginia that he would have been a great senator at any moment. Some were right for the time. Robert C. Byrd, in my view, would have been right at any time," said Senator Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.

Where's the bit about the Civil War? Now, why do you suppose someone would shorten that quote on the senator's official website? It couldn't be the fact that mentioning the Civil War might just dredge up the history of the Klan, the Democrats and the Old South? Nah. Can't be that. Surely Sheets isn't running from the ghost of Nathan Bedford Forrest after all these years.

Gary, let this be a lesson to you. Actually, a couple of lessons. First, don't call people liars unless you have the goods on them. You didn't have the goods on Ingraham, and now you look like an ignoramus. People on your own site (besides me) have pointed out your error, which I'm sure was an honest mistake. Second, don't mess with the JunkYardBlog.

LAST UPDATE: Hanks has some definitive last facts and a nice roundhouse to Dodd to polish things off, and Gary Farber has apologized both to myself and Laura Ingraham. Hanks gets the ultimate happy ending with an Instalanche. So let's get on with the business of bashing Chris Dodd and Sheets Byrd, whaddya say?

Posted by B. Preston at 08:28 AM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

April 04, 2004

9/11 PANEL ALLEGES WITNESS INTIMIDATION

Isn't this old allegation interesting in light of more recent events?


A US panel investigating the September 11 terrorist attacks yesterday accused the Pentagon and the justice department of obstructing the inquiry and said witnesses were being intimidated. . .

"I think the commission feels unanimously that it's some intimidation to have somebody sitting behind you all the time who you either work for or works for your agency," [9/11 commission chairman, Thomas Kean] said.


Oh really? Witness intimidation would be serious if it actually happened wouldn't it? Of course Kean's blanket charge of "minders" and procedural stonewalling was bogus and missing facts to back up the seriousness of his charge. It turned out to be just a sexed-up lie to the media for political effect. So what does Kean's panel do to make sure that they get all the cooperation they demand? Drum roll please... Yeah, they did a little witness intimidating:

Last Monday morning 9/11 commission executive director Philip Zelikow faxed a photograph to the White House counsel's office with a note saying that if the White House didn't allow national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice to testify in public before the commission, the photograph would"...be all over Washington in 24 hours," Newsweek has learned. The photo, from a Nov. 22, 1945, New York Times story, showed presidential chief of staff Adm. William D. Leahy, appearing before a special congressional panel investigating the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

. . .

"This is what happens when you hire historians," jokes commission chairman Thomas Kean.


No, this is what happens when we hire a major league assclown to head the 9/11 commission. Wasn't Kean joking with his sidekick about Bush and Cheney last week too? What's so damn funny about allowing a 9/11 inquiry to be politicized anyhow? They've also intentionally suppressed damaging evidence about Clinton turning down Osama bin Laden. Why not threaten Bill Clinton that if he doesn't appear in public under oath to answer for it, the devastating tape will be released in a press conference? Well, Clinton knows the mainstream media would continue to suppress it anyhow, but you get the idea.

Imagine calling the White House switchboard to threaten that if Condi Rice doesn't cancel her plans to testify on Thursday you have certain politically damaging information you're going to send to the media. Just imagine, don't actually do it -- unless your name is Thomas Kean and you've decided it's no longer in John Kerry's interest for her to appear after all.

Posted by Chris Regan at 08:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

AND THE WINNER IS...

The award for April's most dishonest anti-Bush article (so far) goes to...envelope please...

Slate's Will Saletan.

On Friday, April 2nd (the same day the JYB exposed the sweetheart book deal that got Richard Clarke his 60 Minutes of fame), Slate published "All The President's Suckers," Saletan's attempt to spin against alleged Bush spin about flip-floppers like John Kerry and Richard Clarke. He begins with Bush's best line to date about John Kerry:

"The [Democratic] candidates are an interesting group, with diverse opinions: For tax cuts, and against them. For NAFTA, and against NAFTA. For the Patriot Act, and against the Patriot Act. In favor of liberating Iraq, and opposed to it. And that's just one senator from Massachusetts."

It's a good line, and it happens to be true. Saletan notes that the more he heard it, though, the more it sounded like a Dean or Kucinich attack on their fellow Dems from the primaries. And Saletan is right; the Bush line condenses and more clearly states both Dean and Kucinich lines against fellow Dems Gephardt, Edwards, lots of Congressional Democrats as well as John Kerry--those who supported the war in Iraq at some point but later made noise against it. Fair enough, I guess. The Willie Horton attack on Dukakis was hatched in the bowels of Algore's campaign before being (fairly) used against Dukakis by George H. W. Bush. Primaries tend to dredge up angles for the general election opponent to exploit. That's just the way politics is. It's a perfectly fair, and accurate, line for Bush to use against Kerry.

Saletan then offers the following:

What's with all the weak backbones? Is it a Democratic establishment disease? No, that can't be it. John DiIulio has the same problem. He's the guy the White House recruited to run the "faith-based and community initiatives" Bush promised in 2000. DiIulio quit in August 2001.

Note what Saletan has done here, or rather what he hasn't done. He hasn't dealt with the substance of the charge, which is that Kerry has flip-flopped on virtually every major issue before the voters this year. He sidles away from that fact into a broader general charge, backed up by examples of increasingly dubious relevance, that Bush simply slaps anyone who crosses him with the crime of flip-flopping. We hear from John DiIlulio, we hear from Paul O'Neill and finally from Richard Clarke. It's that last figure that Saletan wishes to rehabilitate as a witness against Bush, because Clarke has to date given the anti-Bush left what could turn out to be their most promising line of attack against him--that Bush was negligent on anti-terrorism prior to 9-11, and therefore the war is essentially his fault.

Never mind blaming the terrorists who actually committed the 9-11 crimes against humanity. That's too simple, and there's no political profit in it.

Since Clarke has in fact flip-flopped on various war issues more than, well, John Kerry has flip-flopped about war issues, he needs a little rehab. Enter Will Saletan to try and rebuild Clarke's credibility by tearing down Bush's.

Saletan attempts to pull a bait-and-switch, baiting readers with hints that the Kerry as flip-flopper charge can be proven false by attempting to show that, essentially, Bush just fools everyone.

That's another of those Democrat memes that just won't die, rather like Jason in those wretched Friday the 13th movies. The Dems can't decide whether George W. Bush is an evil genius or an addle-minded fool, so they employ both arguments at various times to explain how Bush has gotten something done or why he still enjoys any support. For bonus points, Saletan manages to employ both arguments in this deeply dishonest article.

Behold, Bush the Evil Genius:

That's how Kerry, Edwards, and Gephardt got whiplash. They supported tax cuts in 2001 when Bush challenged them to give back some of the surplus. Then the surplus vanished, Bush demanded more tax cuts, and they decided they'd been conned. They supported Bush's "No Child Left Behind" education bill in 2001. Then the administration withheld money for it, and they decided they'd been conned. They supported the Patriot Act after 9/11 when Bush urged them to trust law enforcement. Then the Justice Department took liberties with its new powers, and they decided they'd been conned. They voted for a resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq after the administration promised to use the resolution as leverage toward U.N. action, reserving unilateral war as a last resort. Then Bush ditched the United Nations and went to war, and they decided they'd been conned.

Never mind the cold, hard fact that Bush didn't "ditch" the UN--he decided to act with a broad coalition when it became clear that the French had double-crossed him. That's just another liberal lie that won't die. Note that Saletan has Bush conning everyone. Either they're all idiots or Bush is an evil criminal mastermind. And never mind that the lines of argument Bush used in 2002 and 2003 for war with Iraq are nearly verbatim matches to arguments the Clinton national security team used to try to build support for a series of major strikes against Iraq back in 1998--rogue state, possible terror ties, illicit manufacture of WMDs, etc. Clinton wasn't conning anyone, and neither was Kerry when he said the same things in 1998, 1999 and 2000, then 2001, 2002 and 2003. Bush was conning everyone, though, even though he pretty much said the same things from 2001-2003. Got that? Me either.

Then, behold Bush the Dunce:

It's too late to admit that Bush is wrong and that you were fooled. You're on record agreeing with him. He doesn't even look dishonest when he rebukes you, because, unlike the people who run his administration's scams, he can't tell the difference between what he promised and what he delivered.

Bush "can't tell the difference between what he promised and what he delivered," that line in the original article linking to another Saletan article ("Confidence Men") charging, essentially, that Bush is too dumb to understand reality yet somehow still manages to con everyone into following him.

Do you get that? I don't. But it doesn't matter. Saletan's piece is one of the clearer examples of the kind of unprincipled, illogical resistance the left is offering up against Bush this year. To the question of 9-11 responsibility, the left is currenty arguing that Bush didn't act forcefully enough to take down al Qaeda in time to stop the attacks. To the question of Iraq, the left is arguing that Bush acted rashly and too swiftly, distracting America from the war on terror by taking down a non-terrorist state that, by the purest of coincidences, housed and fed the two Abu's of terrorism, chatted dozens of times with al Qaeda representatives and openly funded terrorism in the Palestinian territories to the tune of $25k per homicide bomber. It's a heads we win, tails you lose situation they're trying to build against Bush, but if suffers from the fatal flaw of being absolutely asinine and illogical. How could Bush have justified attacking the Taliban in Afghanistan prior to 9-11? Can't you just imagine the conspiracy theories that would have erupted from that "unilateral, pre-emptive" war? It would have been even more unilateral than Iraq--since no ally would have been likely to follow us into Afghanistan absent 3,000 dead in New York--and more pre-emptive, since we would not have yet suffered the most deadly terrorist attack on US soil in our history.

But never mind logic. We're dealing with the left here. Leave your critical thinking skill at the door. Logic is quaint, but ultimately useless, if you want to follow their arguments.

But back to Saletan. He's been on an anti-Bush kick lately, as has Slate itself (except Kaus) since Richard Clarke's emergence on the scene. Saletan charges Bush in various articles with executing various cons, then using those cons against everyone who gets in his way, even though Bush himself is in fact not smart enough to understand the difference between promises and fact. Like I said, leave your critical thinking skills at the door or you won't be able to swallow, I mean follow, Saletan's arguments.

George W. Bush isn't the con man here. The real con men are people like Saletan, using their positions in the press to pull bait-and-switch tricks on unsuspecting readers, offering up the shoddiest of logic and ignoring mountains of facts that prove them wrong, all in the chase to find an angle of attack against President Bush.

The con this year is coming from the left, not the right. Pay no attention to the irresponsible, factually-challenged and useless political party behind the ideologues.

Posted by B. Preston at 06:13 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

IF GADDHAFI'S KID GETS IT, WHY CAN'T THE AMERICAN LEFT?

The American and generally Western left just can't think enough bad thoughts or say enough bad things about President Bush and his Middle East policy. In fact, the left here in America has built an entire radio network around the idea of dissing Bush's policies.

But Muammar Gaddhafi's kid understands something that even our own addle-brained lefties don't:

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - The son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said Wednesday Arab countries should support President Bush's campaign to promote democracy in the Middle East.

Numerous Arab governments have rejected Bush's democracy initiative, notably Egypt's and Saudi Arabia's, as an imposition unsuited to Arab culture and traditions.

``Instead of shouting and criticizing the American initiative, you have to bring democracy to your countries, and then there will be no need to fear America or your people,'' said Seif al-Islam Gadhafi. ``The Arabs should either change or change will be imposed on them from outside.''

Put more succinctly, stop sending fanatics to America to kill Americans and America will stop sending in its heavy armor and overwhelming air power to kill you.

How hard is that to understand? It's obvious to a former terrorist's boy, but apparently beyond the mental prowess of the American left.

Good for Gaddhafi Junior. He understands the way the world works post 9-11. So what's wrong with you lefties, huh?

(via InstaPundit)

Posted by B. Preston at 05:08 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

REMEMBERING FALLUJAH

If we were the Romans, Fallujah would have been reduced to rubble by now with no stone left lying on another.

If we were the French, we would sent in the Foreign Legion for a campaign of raping and pillaging.

If we were the Russians, we would have begun a futile and brutal seige of Fallujah, and ended up killing the innocent along with the guilty.

If we were Bill Clinton's America, Fallujah would have convinced us that we had no more business in Iraq and that we should leave. Our ignominous exit would already be in the works.

But we're not the Romans, we're not the French, and we're not the Russians, and we're no longer Bill Clinton's America, no matter how much some on the left would like us to be. We're post 9-11 Americans. We will remember the desecrations of Fallujah, and we will avenge them. But we will do it according morality, justice and patience.

Practically from the time they enter boot camp, our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines learn to approach war from a moral paradigm. We teach our warriors to abide by the general laws of warfare and by the specific rules of engagement germane to the conflicy they're fighting in.

In the case of Iraq, approaching Fallujah with an angry eye toward violent vengence would have been counterproductive. Images of our troops clashing with and killing apparently unarmed civilians would have been splashed all over the world. Our troops, in Iraq to do a mighty and good thing, would have been cast again as the villains they are not, while the terrorists would have again gotten to play the victims that they are not. Around Iraq, those on the fence would probably have been tipped into anti-American emotions at the sight of the infidels razing the Iraqi city. It might have cost us not only Iraq, but the entire Middle East and what's left of our coalition of the willing.

Instead, our troops quietly cordoned off the town. They will quietly gather the necessary intelligence, and they will quietly determine who ambushed a group of American civilians guarding a food convoy. With the proper intel, our troops will begin a series of raids aimed at surgically taking down the guilty while doing everything possible to protect the innocent. This is the right way to handle the situation.

Out of the horror of Mogadishu, when the US turned tail and ran after losing 18 soldiers, the terrorists learned that we couldn't handle the sight of blood. The terrorists operated on that understanding until 9-11, when our overwhelming response in Afghanistan threw them off track. But more important in some ways that the victory itself was the way we went about it. Rather than immediately send in the troops, President Bush had his team draft a sound plan of attack. He patiently waited until that plan was complete, only implementing it once he was sure it would accomplish the goals of unseating the Taliban and destroying al Qaeda's support base while doing minimal harm to the Afghan people themselves.

The terrorists apparently still don't understand that the script has changed. They still don't understand that, after inflicting 3,000 deaths on us in a matter of hours, America will not run from the deaths of four in a rough town in Iraq. We just won't.

We'll be patient. We'll plan. And we'll execute.

We will remember Fallujah, but it won't be the same memory we carry from Mogadishu. That debacle was a mark of shame for us. Fallujah could end up being the turning point for good, as strange as that may sound.

Already, around Iraq many are seeing the horror of terrorism and the thuggish Saddamite years for what they are, and understand that it's that past that led to the barbarity of Fallujah. They understand that powerful and evil forces are trying to turn Iraq, if not back into a Baathist hellhole, than at least into a latter day Beirut writ large. Those same Iraqis also see that, far from pounding the city to rubble to punish the innocent and the guilty indiscriminately, we Americans are going to cut the bad guys out of the Iraqi body politic. We're going to work in a way that helps everybody but the terrorists. We'll kill them and at the same time we'll rob their allies of any new propaganda point. In a war of media images, ideas and the instant global soundbite, paying attention to the propaganda side of warfare is critical. We won't win hearts and minds with images of dead children littering the streets of Fallujah, and if we were to raze the town is there any doubt that that's what the media would rush to show the world?

So we won't raze Fallujah, though that's what many would like to see happen. It would end up making the war far, far more difficult to win in the long run. We'll just find and kill the terrorists. And if we do it right, we'll remember Fallujah as the day we won a significant battle in the war to divide the terrorists and Baathist dead-enders from the Iraqi people.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:49 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack