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Hitting Bottom on Neo-Con Bullshit

It's taken a long time, a very long time -- but we've finally arrived. I knew we'd get here, somewhere in the back of my mind. I knew it would come to this. I thought maybe that Katrina would do it. Things couldn't possibly get much worse or more obvious than that complete and total debacle.

Apparently it could.

It seemed as though the Libby and Abramoff Scandals would do it, causing members of the White House Staff and various Congressmen to resign in disgrace, indictment and imminent jail.

Apparently not.

I thought we'd hit the wall with Abu Ghraib, and then Alito. The Domestic Spying. Paying reporters to shill for the administartion, faked News Reports and the Downing Street Memos.


It's going to take more -- is the new torture bill it? The truly scary part is, that it's probably not enough either even though there really isn't much more "worse" it can get!

I've said before that those we oppose are not simply ideologically foes. They are fanatics, with a pathological addiction to bullshit. The Mushroom people, who happily live in the dark while be constantly feed crap by right-winger radio, TBN, Fox News and increasingly CNN and ABC.

We can fight back - and you can bet you sweet ass we will - but this Country is suffering from a disease. One that we can't fix, only those with the disease can heal themselves after they finally Hit Rock Bottom!

For those suffering from the disease of alcoholism Republicanism it seems to be an almost universal truth that before things can get better, they have to get worse -- sometimes a lot worse.

They call it "hitting bottom" -- the place an alcoholic Neo-Conservative Asshole must reach before he finally is ready to admit that he has a problem and reaches out for help.

After all, for the true alcoholic Proto-Fascist Scumbag, it doesn't seem to him (or her) that he has a problem. He's just having a good time. If everybody would just get off his back, everything would be okay. He's got a disease, but it sure doesn't seem like one and the last thing that would ever occur to him is that he needs help.

Because alcoholism Totalitarianism is a progressive disease, there comes a point at which even the most dedicated drunk fuck-head decides that there just might be a problem.

Alcoholism Crazed Wing-batism does not stay in one place. It doesn't hit a certain stage and then level off. It keeps deepening, affecting him physcially, mentally, morally and spiritually. On all of those levels he keeps getting worse until finally he hits bottom.

We've all seen the signs. We recognize the symptoms. Our fellow Americans have a deep, serious problem. Let's not kid ourselves, it's not just a phase -- it's not just an over-reaction to 9/11.

This is a sickness!

Although the flushing of America's values probably isn't hitting bottom for those who suffer the most. Although our fellow Americans have not yet reached their preverbial "moment of clarity" and had an epiphany. They're getting closer each and everyday.

This is not the time for us to despair. London Yank is In for the Long Haul. Susan G is ready to kick some ass.

I know for myself, it's a moment I've been waiting for, while simultaneously dreading. One where we can point and say This is what your bullshit has wrought.

It's absolutely neccesary, essential, that we reach this point - and probably go further.

This is a moment that will shame America for generations to come. We won't be able to talk them down, they are hell-belt on having things their way - regardless of the consequences. They need to be forced to see just how full of it they truly are.

And we have to realize that each individual has their own personal moment of clarity. Not everyone will "hit bottom" at the same time, or in the same way. Some people have already arrived as a result of Katrina, Abramoff, Downing Street and Iraq. This is how we got Cindy Sheehan and how Francis Fukuyama the architect of the neo-conservative movement jumped the shark.

But we can't just sit wait for the rest to come around.

We have to energize ourselves, mobilize the Reality-Based Community and all former fascists Republicans we can find to rise up, stop being apathetic, look past there next car payment and dental check up, realize that they can make a difference - they must - and help stop Americas slow slide into a totalitarian state.

It's going to take a long, long time to win our country back. It's going to take generations. I've got my pitchfork and torch ready and waiting. This battle isn't over, not by a long shot.

For at least here, in America, we do have that ability, we do have that power - to fight back. This country is ours, not Bush's, nor those other 400 plus feckless cowards in Washington's. Ours.

God Bless America and the fuckheads too.


Thursday, September 28

On Keith, Clinton and Courage

When Keith Olbermann gave his ball-busting critique of President Bush this Monday - I cheered and then I worried. I knew the reaction would be intense, unrelenting and hysterical - because he'd just done the one thing that hadn't yet been done in much of the various criticism Bush has received.

He correctly noted George W. Bush's repeated failures and Cowardice!

He'd shown something Bush and his cronies are incapable of - Courage.

Naturally the shrill counter-attack didn't come from George personally. It never does.

It wasn't George Bush himself who slandered John McCain claiming he'd been driven a bit batty after his time in the Hanoi Hilton, or that he'd had an illegitimate black child out of wedlock. It wasn't George Bush himself who claimed John Kerry wanted to throw "Spitballs" at our enemies, had lied about the circumstances of his Bronze Star and had betrayed our soldiers by accusing them of War Crimes (by telling the truth). It wasn't George Bush who accused Bill Clinton of being asleep at the switch before 9/11 - and it wasn't George Bush who sent fake Anthrax to Keith Olbermann's home and then laughed at him in print.

MSNBC loudmouth Keith Olbermann flipped out when he opened his home mail yesterday. The acerbic host of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" was terrified when he opened a suspicious-looking letter with a California postmark and a batch of white powder poured out. A note inside warned Olbermann, who's a frequent critic of President Bush's policies, that it was payback for some of his on-air shtick.

[Let me re-emphasize that this letter went to Olbermann's Home - not the MSNBC Offices - which begs the question whether it was sent by someone who either knows Keith personally or was able to get his home address from other "journalists"?]

All these things were done by people even worse than Bush - the people that got him elected.

It seems amazing to me that these people would go to these lengths, but it shouldn't be. We should know by now exactly who we're dealing with. We should know by now that they'll stop at nothing, not the law - not the Constitution - not FISA - not even torture and Terrorism (which is exactly what they attempted with Olbermann) to get and keep what they want.

Which is nothing short of Absolute Power.

No, it wasn't Bush - it was Rupert Murdock's Fox News Network that attempted to sandbag President Clinton last Friday, provoking his highly animated response.

WALLACE: Can I ask you about the Clinton Global Initiative?

CLINTON: You can.

WALLACE: I always intended to sir.

CLINTON: No you intended to move your bones by doing this first. But I don't mind people asking me. I actually talked o the 9/11 commission for four hours and I told them the mistakes I thought I made. And I urged them to make those mistakes public because I thought none of us had been perfect. But instead of anybody talking about those things. I always get these clever little political...where they ask me one sided questions... It always comes from one source.


CLINTON: And you guys try to create the opposite impression when all you have to do is read Richard Clarke's findings and you know it's not true. It's just not true. And all this business about Somalia -- the same people who criticized me about Somalia were demanding I leave the next day. Same exact crowd..

WALLACE: one of the...

CLINTON: ...So if you're going to do this for gods sake follow the same standards for everybody.

Olbermann responded forcefully to the attacks on Clinton, by turning the tables onto Bush and exactly what he did and didn't do prior to 9/11. (Which was nothing!)

Thus instead of some commendable acknowledgment that you were even in office on 9/11 and the lost months before it... we have your sleazy and sloppy rewriting of history, designed by somebody who evidently redd the Orwell playbook too quickly.

Thus instead of some explanation for the inertia of your first eight months in office, we are told that you have kept us "safe" ever since -- a statement that might range anywhere from Zero, to One Hundred Percent, true.

We have nothing but your word, and your word has long since ceased to mean anything.

And, of course, the one time you have ever given us specifics about what you have kept us safe from, Mr. Bush -- you got the name of the supposedly targeted Tower in Los Angeles... wrong.

Thus was it left for the previous President to say what so many of us have felt; what so many of us have given you a pass for in the months and even the years after the attack:

You did not try.

You ignored the evidence gathered by your predecessor.

You ignored the evidence gathered by your own people.

Then, you blamed your predecessor.

That would be the textbook definition... Sir, of cowardice.

Then we have Condoleeza Rice arguing before - you guessed it - Rupert Merdock's New York Post Editorial Board that Bush Administration "did as much to stop Al-Qaeda before 9-11 as the Clinton Administration".

QUESTION: By now I assume you've seen Bill Clinton's performances. How do you respond to his specific accusation that the eight months before 9/11 the Bush Administration, in his words, didn't even try to go after al-Qaida?

SECRETARY RICE: I'd just say read the 9/11 report. We went through this. We went through this argument. The fact of the matter is I think the 9/11 Commission got it about right. Nobody organized this country or the international community to fight the terrorist threat that was upon us until 9/11. I would be the first to say that because, you know, we didn't fight the war on terror in the way that we're fighting it now. We just weren't organized as a country either domestically or as a leader internationally.

But what we did in the eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton Administration did in the preceding years. In fact, it is not true that Richard Clarke was fired. Richard Clarke was the counterterrorism czar when 9/11 happened and he left when he did not become Deputy Director of Homeland Security some several months later. We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al-Qaida. For instance, big pieces were missing, like an approach to Pakistan that might work, because without Pakistan you weren't going to get Afghanistan. And there were reasons that nobody could think of actually going in and taking out the Taliban, either the Clinton Administration or the Bush Administration, because it's true you couldn't get basing rights in Uzbekistan and that was the long pole in the tent.

So I would make the divide September 11, 2001 when the attack on this country mobilized us to fight the war on terror in a very different way. But the notion that somehow for eight months the Bush Administration sat there and didn't do that is just flatly false. And you know, I think that the 9/11 Commission understood that.

QUESTION: So you're saying Bill Clinton is a liar?

SECRETARY RICE: No, I'm just saying that, look, there was a lot of passion in that interview and I'm not going to - I would just suggest that you go back and read the 9/11 Commission report on the efforts of the Bush Administration in the eight months, things like working to get an armed Predator that actually turned out to be extraordinarily important, working to get a strategy that would allow us to get better cooperation from Pakistan and from the Central Asians, but essentially continuing the strategy that had been left to us by the Clinton Administration, including with the same counterterrorism czar who was Richard Clarke. But I think this is not a very fruitful discussion because we've been through it; the 9/11 Commission has turned over every rock and we know exactly what they said.

To be fair: Getting a foothold in Pakistan was indeed a great help, but the Armed Predator Drone project had been started under President Clinton, it simply wasn't completed until after he was out of office. The project had begun because Bin Laden's hiding place in Afghanistan was out of the reach of Helicopters, which restricted the ability of a Special Forces attack. Cruise missles launched against him had to travel for two hours over Pakistan airspace, giving him ample warning and time to escape. The Predator Drone however had already sighted Bin Laden at least twice during the Clinton Administration, but was unarmed at the time.

In contrast Condoleeza Rice did not even have a meeting to discuss use of the Armed version of the Predator until September 4th 2001 [Although Richard Clarke had begged for the urgent need for such a meeting on January 25th) This means that the Armed Predator did not even fly from the time Clinton left Office until after September 11th.

In his book Clarke accurate describes some genuine failures of the Clinton Administration - not having an Armed Predator ready, missing Bin Laden on August 20, 1998 with the Cruise Missle attack and yes, also missing him with other missle attacks that were called off by CIA. But this is how Clarke describes that fateful meeting - one month after the August 6th PDB "Bin Laden determined to attack inside the United States" and establishes exactly what the Bush Administration did about Al Qaeda prior to 9/11.

In preparation for [the Sept 4th] meeting I urged Condi Rice to see the issue cleanly, the Administration could decide that al Qaeda was just a nuisance, a cost of doing business for a superpower (as Reagan and the first President Bush had apparently decided about Hezbollah and Libya when those groups had killed hundreds of Americans), and act accordingly, as it had been doing. Or it could decide that the al Qaeda terrorist group and its affiliates posed an existential threat to the Ameican way of life, in which case we should do everthing that might be required to eliminate that threat. There was no in-between. I concluded by noting that before choosing from these alternative, it would be well for Rice to put herself in her own shoes when in the very near future al Qaeda had killed hundreds of Americans. "What will you wish then that you had already done?"

The Principals meeting, when it finally took place, was largely a noneevent. Tenet and I spoke passionately about the urgency and seriousness of the al Qaeda threat. No one disagreed.

Powell laid out an aggressive strategy for putting pressure on Pakistan to side with us against the Taliban and al Qaeda. Money might be needed, he noted, but there ws no plan to find the funds.

Rumsfeld, who looked distracted througout the session, took the Wolfowitz line that there were other terrorist concerns, like Iraq, and whatever we did on this al Qaeda business, we had to deal with the other sources of terrorism.

Tenet agreed to a series of things that CIA could do to be more aggressive, but the details would be worked offline: what would be the new authorities given CIA, how much money would be spent, where would the money come from. I doubted that process would be fruitful anytime soon. CIA had said it could not find a single dollar in any other program to transfer to the anti-al Qaeda effort. It demanded additional funds from Congress.

The only heated disagreement came over whether to fly the armed Predator over Afghanistan to attack al Qaeda. Neither CIA nor the Defense Department would agree to run that program. Rice ended the discussion without a solution. She asked that I finalize the broad policy document, a National Security Presidential Directive, on al Qaeda and send it to her for Presidential signature.

Just over a week after this meeting, the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were in flames. This fact is what the right can't stand to admit. This is what their so afraid of. This is why they attack Clinton, they attack Clarke, and they attack Olbermann -- all of whom have done nothing but show exactly what they're made of in the face of the snears, jeers, and mysterious white powder appearing in thier Personal Mail [not from al Qaeda, but from Domestic Terrorists who Support Bush]. All of whom have done what America needed them to do - none of them may have completely suceeded in their tasks, not even Olbermann - yet - but all have tried. All have shown exactly what Bush's minions - Murdock, Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, The Swiftboaters, The Republican Congress - have all failed to show.



Tuesday, September 26

Bush was Asleep at the Wheel!

After five years of skirting even the most inarguable of facts — that he was President on 9/11 and he must bear some responsibility for his, and our, unreadiness, Mr. Bush has now moved, unmistakably and without conscience or shame, towards re-writing history, and attempting to make the responsibility, entirely Mr. Clinton’s.

Of course he is not honest enough to do that directly.

As with all the other nefariousness and slime of this, our worst presidency since James Buchanan, he is having it done for him, by proxy.
From Thinkprogress:

In her interview with the New York Post, Condoleezza Rice falsely claimed that President Bush’s pre-9/11 anti-terror efforts were “at least as aggressive” as President Clinton’s. In fact, the 9-11 Commission disputes that account. While the Bush administration should have been preparing for a potential terrorist attack, it was instead focused on developing a costly missile defense system.

    [S]enior officials from both the Clinton and Bush administrations…say that Clarke had a set of proposals to ‘roll back’ al-Qaeda. In fact, the heading on Slide 14 of the Powerpoint presentation reads, ‘Response to al Qaeda: Roll back.’ Clarke’s proposals called for the ‘breakup’ of al-Qaeda cells and the arrest of their personnel.” [Time, 8/4/02]

    In a speech on May 1, 2001, Bush said, “Unlike the Cold War, today’s most urgent threat stems not from thousands of ballistic missiles in the Soviet hands, but from a small number of missiles in the hands of these states, states for whom terror and blackmail are a way of life.” [Bush, 5/1/01]

    “After his first meeting with NATO heads of state in Brussels in June 2001, Bush outlined the five top defense issues discussed with the closest U.S. allies. Missile defense was at the top of the list, followed by developing a NATO relationship with Russia, working in common purpose with Europe, increased defense spending in NATO countries, and enlarging the alliance to include former East European countries. The only reference to extremists was in Macedonia, where Bush said regional forces were seeking to subvert a new democracy.” [Washington Post, 4/1/04] expand post »

Providing more than just a briefing, In January of 2001, Richard Clarke also presented a memo request and the URGENT NEED TO ADDRESS AL-QIDA.

Attached to that memo was THE DELENDA PLAN that Clarke had developed to fight Al Qaeda both Politically and Militarily.

After the bombing of the Cole the Clinton Administration had two months to respond before leaving office. During that time the CIA and FBI could not come to an agreemen on whether Al-Qaeda and Bin Laden was responsible. That confirmation came while Bush was in office - and he did nothing.

That is the bottom line point, as Keith Olberman so eloquently stated last night on Countdown.

After five years of skirting even the most inarguable of facts — that he was President on 9/11 and he must bear some responsibility for his, and our, unreadiness, Mr. Bush has now moved, unmistakably and without conscience or shame, towards re-writing history, and attempting to make the responsibility, entirely Mr. Clinton’s.

Of course he is not honest enough to do that directly.

As with all the other nefariousness and slime of this, our worst presidency since James Buchanan, he is having it done for him, by proxy.

Thus instead of some explanation for the inertia of your first eight months in office, we are told that you have kept us "safe" ever since -- a statement that might range anywhere from Zero, to One Hundred Percent, true.

We have nothing but your word, and your word has long since ceased to mean anything.

And, of course, the one time you have ever given us specifics about what you have kept us safe from, Mr. Bush -- you got the name of the supposedly targeted Tower in Los Angeles... wrong.

Thus was it left for the previous President to say what so many of us have felt; what so many of us have given you a pass for in the months and even the years after the attack:

You did not try.

You ignored the evidence gathered by your predecessor.

You ignored the evidence gathered by your own people.

Then, you blamed your predecessor.

That would be the textbook definition... Sir, of cowardice.

To enforce the lies of the present, it is necessary to erase the truths of the past.


Spin Control on Pre-9/11

After the devastating interview between Chris Wallace and President Clinton, I wondered to myself just how are is the Right-Wing going to respond to this?

Well, the first thing they've done is - surprise - try to demonize Clinton and bolster Wallace. You see, Wallace was just being a responsible journalist - a victim of Clinton's "bullying tirade".

Yeah, right. Poor little Chrissy Wallace. Crushed by the avalanche that was Bubba Clinton. And just how do the Redstaters see this entire thing, particularly after taking their talking points from Bill Kristol?

Clinton wants to make it incorrect, or at least impolite, to criticize his record on terror. Chris Wallace stood up to him. Will others? Will his next interviewer raise the same set of questions? Will they be willing to take the criticism of being "conservative hit men" or part of the vast, Fox-centered right-wing conspiracy? Bullying and intimidation sometimes work. Clinton has used both effectively in the past. Now he wants to put out of bounds certain perfectly legitimate and straight-forward questions. Can we debate which party--based on their practice when in power--can better deal with the jihadist/terror threat? No, according to Clinton. That's illegitimate right-wing propaganda. Whose personal reputation benefits from putting such issues out of bounds? Which political party benefits? Which 2008 presidential candidate?

Bill Clinton is a smart (and calculating) politician.

... discussions of which President may have failed in the past to successfully take on the terrorist threat are not as important policywise as actually taking on the terrorist threat. But that is certainly not to say that people should be intimidated from taking on the issue. It is one thing to recognize priorities. It is quite another to give in to bullying. If we are willing as a body politic to call a cease-fire on the issue of past Presidential actions--an across the board and bipartisan cease-fire at that--then I would be in favor of it. But I am most certainly not in favor of allowing one side to get a pass merely because one of the former Presidents on that side blew a gasket.
Allowing "one side to get a pass"? When exactly did Clinton ever get a pass? Did these guys actually see "Path to 9-11"?

Now I had thought that Thinkprogress had already settled this matter, by pointing out that Clinton's issue with Wallace - that they were asking him a question that they'd never asked the Bush Administration - was absolutely true.

Neither Chris Wallace, nor his predecessor, Tony Snow ever asked anyone in the Bush administration why they failed to respond to the bombing of the USS Cole, according to a Lexis-Nexis database search. Wallace and Snow have had plenty of opportunities:

– Vice President Dick Cheney has been on Fox News Sunday 6 times.

– Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has been on Fox News Sunday 9 times.

– Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been on Fox News Sunday 23 times.

– National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley has been on Fox News Sunday 4 times.

For the record, this was Bill Clinton’s first solo appearance on Fox News Sunday.

Not so, according to a link provided by Redstate.

In 2004, Wallace asked almost the exact same question of Donald Rumsfeld that he asked Clinton today.

Here’s what Wallace asked Clinton today:

[H]indsight is 20 20 . . . but the question is why didn’t you do more, connect the dots and put them out of business?

And here is what Wallace asked Donald Rumsfeld on the March 28, 2004 episode of Fox News Sunday:

I understand this is 20/20 hindsight, it’s more than an individual manhunt. I mean — what you ended up doing in the end was going after al Qaeda where it lived. . . . pre-9/11 should you have been thinking more about that?

. . . .

What do you make of his [Richard Clarke’s] basic charge that pre-9/11 that this government, the Bush administration largely ignored the threat from al Qaeda?

. . . .

Mr. Secretary, it sure sounds like fighting terrorism was not a top priority.

Like Clinton, Think Progress shifts the argument to specific questions about the U.S.S. Cole, in order to argue that Clinton is correct:

Ooh, it looks like the Reds have a "gotcha". Although neither Wallace (or Tony Snow) ever asked specifically about the response to the U.S.S. Cole - they did ask one person, Rumsfeld, about pre-9-11 responses one single time among the 42 times that they've had Bush Administration Officials on their show. This is classic Right-wing debate strategy -- point out one minor questionable factoid in the midst of an mountain of information and poof, the mountain disappears like magic or the careful application of some "Shout" on a grass stain.

But here's the thing - I actually followed the interview link to the DOD site and found that the question Wallace asked Rumsfeld wasn't about the Bush Administration pre-9/11 response, it was about Richard Clarke.
MR. WALLACE: I think a lot of people in Washington are trying to figure out, to understand, Richard Clarke; to make sense of what he has said and of apparent contradictions in his story. Is he telling the truth or is he pushing an agenda? What do you make of his basic charge that pre-9/11 that this government, the Bush administration largely ignored the threat from al Qaeda?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I don't know the man. I have probably met and been in meetings with him two or three times, but it seems to me that apparently he was there for 10 years, and the reality is that a terrorist can attack any time at any minute, 24 hours a day, using a variety of techniques in any place at all. And it's not possible to defend in every place against every technique, against every conceivable approach. Now, what does that mean? It means that you can't stop every terrorist attack. We know that throughout history, which you keep innocent men, women, and children are going to be killed if terrorists are determined to do it. What you must do, then, is to go after the terrorists where they are and get them before they have that opportunity to have the advantage of an attack.

So basically - Rumsfeld doesn't know if Wallace's suggestion that "Clarke has an agenda" is true - which of course leaves he possibility that he does hanging in the air without Rumsfeld himself having to launch the smear - and as far as stopping 9/11 there was "nothing they could do"....

But Wallace wasn't done, he had more smearing of Clarke and back-filling for the Bush Administration to do:
MR. WALLACE: Let me follow up on that, if I can, sir, because you talked to the 9/11 Commission in private before you talked to them in public, and in your public testimony this week, and according to the Commission, the staff, this is what you told them in private. Let's put it up here, if we can --

"He [Rumsfeld] did not recall any particular counterterrorism issue that engaged his attention before 9/11 other than the development of the Predator unmanned aircraft system for possible use against bin Laden. He said the DOD," the Department of Defense, "before 9/11 was not organized or trained adequately to deal with asymmetric threats."

Mr. Secretary, it sure sounds like fighting terrorism was not a top priority.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, Chris, if you look at how our government is organized historically, the Department of Justice has the responsibility for law enforcement in the United States. The Department of Defense is, in fact, by law, under the posse comitatus law, prohibited from the engaging in frontline law enforcement, police-type activities.

In other words - "It's not my job, man". Terrorism is a law enforcement issue for the DOJ. But my-oh-my isn't that pre-9/11 thinking?

MR. WALLACE: But the terrorists were based overseas.

SEC. RUMSFELD: The terrorists were in the United States. They used a U.S. airplane, and they attacked a U.S. target, and those are things that are outside the purview of the Department of Defense.

MR. WALLACE: But what about --

SEC. RUMSFELD: Let me just make sure you understand this. The way the government instructions were laid out, the Department of State had the responsibility for the diplomatic side of it, the Department of Justice has the responsibility for the law enforcement side for domestic intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency has responsibility for foreign intelligence, and the Department of Defense has responsibility for external threats and force protection. Now, it was not something that the Department of Defense historically, in our history, was organized, trained, and equipped to do. We were organized, trained, and equipped to fight armies and navies and air forces -- not to do individual manhunts.

Aint that the truth. Still it should be pointed out that Clinton had charged Gen. Hugh Shelton (then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs) with finding a way to have Special Forces go after Bin Laden, but was stymied by logitistical issues in the region. They couldn't get Helicopters with a Special Forces team deep enough into Afghanistan without performing a night refuel operations and the Joint Chiefs and Pentagon Brass refused. Only after 9-11 did we Special Forces get the access to Uzbekistan and Pakistan that they needed.

In fact, there have been occasions in the history of the Department when the Department was chastised for investigating things locally, if you'll recall, during the Army investigations back in the '60s in the Vietnam War period.

MR. WALLACE: But looking back, sir, and I understand this is 20/20 hindsight, it's more than an individual manhunt. I mean -- what you ended up doing in the end was going after al Qaeda where it lived.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Which is the only way to do it, in my view. I think you simply have to go out --

MR. WALLACE: -- pre-9/11 should you have been thinking more about that?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, we were thinking about what to do about al Qaeda. Any suggestion that the administration was not would just be incorrect. Now, as I think it was Rich Armitage said, were we able to stop that attack? The answer is no. Were we ahead of those particular terrorists and what they were doing? Obviously not. George Tenet put it well, I thought, when he said, "Look" -- they said, "Why did it happen?" He said, "Because we didn't have a source inside that particular terrorist cell." That would have enabled it to being stopped.

Pardon me for a short moment of factiness, but we did have a source inside that particular terrorist cell. The San Diego landlord for two of the hijackers was an FBI Informant. Carry on. We also had an FBI agent in Arizona who had noticed several people leaning to fly planes, but not neccesarily how to land. He was ignored by FBI brass.

MR. WALLACE: Clarke makes one other specific charge that I'd like to give you the opportunity to respond to here today. He says that on September 12th, the day after the attack, that when all the evidence was pointing to al Qaeda that you wanted to hit Iraq. Let's look at this.

MR. CLARKE: Rumsfeld said "There aren't any good targets in Afghanistan, and there are lots of good targets in Iraq." I said, "Well, there are lots of good targets in lots of places, but Iraq had nothing to do with it."

MR. WALLACE: Mr. Secretary, true or false?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I don't know the context that he said that. I said publicly at one stage during our effort in Afghanistan, which was, of course, a highly successful effort to deal with the al Qaeda there and run them out and deny them that haven, that Afghanistan had run out of targets. That is a correct quote. It's out of context here, but it is a correct quote.

This entire line of questioning wasn't so much about whether the Bush Administration did enough pre-9/11, it was entirely about "Is Clarke Crazy or just plain nuts?" Rumsfeld tries not to directly smear Clarke, but in the end he does state :
Any suggestion that the administration was not [thinking about Al Qaeda] would just be incorrect.
Technically he's correct since Richard Clarke himself was a part of the Bush Administration and he was certainly thinking about it. But he was just about the only one. Condoleeza Rice, who was Clarke's boss and was the one who demoted him and deprioritized the entire Counter Terrorism Group - has herself has been sharply critical of Clinton's comments:

In her interview with the New York Post, Condoleezza Rice claims that the Clinton Administration did not develop a strategy to fight al Qaeda:

The secretary of state also sharply disputed Clinton’s claim that he “left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy” for the incoming Bush team during the presidential transition in 2001.

We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al Qaeda,” Rice responded during the hourlong session.

Here’s what the 9/11 Commission Report has to say about it:

As the Clinton administration drew to a close, Clarke and his staff developed a policy paper of their own [which] incorporated the CIA’s new ideas from the Blue Sky memo, and posed several near-term policy options. Clarke and his staff proposed a goal to “roll back” al Qaeda over a period of three to five years …[including] covert aid to the Northern Alliance, covert aid to Uzbekistan, and renewed Predator flights in March 2001. A sentence called for military action to destroy al Qaeda command-and control targets and infrastructure and Taliban military and command assets. The paper also expressed concern about the presence of al Qaeda operatives in the United States.” [p. 197]

Clarke, who also worked for the Bush administration, wrote Condoleezza Rice a memo as soon as the Bush administration took office, stating, “[W]e urgently need…a Principals level review of the al Qida network.” His request was denied.
Not only was his request for an urgent Principals meeting denied, no meetings what-so-ever took place on Al Qeada with key members of the Bush Administration for over 8 months.

Clinton's principle arguement was "I tried and I failed. They didn't try!".

On that point there is absolutely no denying the facts, even if that is exactly what Condi is now claiming. She's wrong. So is Redstate.

Clinton pointed out, accurately, that Fox News has a known right-wing bias. Conservatives have frequently claimed that the non-Fox and Rupert Murdock owned media has as "left-wing bias", suddenly it's unfair for a Democrat to make the exact same claim about Fox when this is the first time they've interviewed him - Ever - and the very first question is an attempt to bash his Administration for something the Bush Administration failed to do? Ridiculous.

But not at all unexpected.


Best. Keith. Ever!

Courtesy of Crooks and Liars:


Keith pulled no punches and launched another smack down on Bush and FOX News…

Video - WMV Video - QT

And finally tonight, a Special Comment about President Clinton’s interview. The headlines about them are, of course, entirely wrong. It is not essential that a past President, bullied and sandbagged by a monkey posing as a newscaster, finally lashed back.

It is not important that the current President’s "portable public chorus" has described his predecessor’s tone as "crazed."

Our tone should be crazed. The nation’s freedoms are under assault by an administration whose policies can do us as much damage as Al-Qaeda; the nation’s "marketplace of ideas" is being poisoned, by a propaganda company so blatant that Tokyo Rose would’ve quit. Nonetheless.

The headline is this: Bill Clinton did what almost none of us have done, in five years. He has spoken the truth about 9/11, and the current presidential administration.

"At least I tried," he said of his own efforts to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden. "That’s the difference in me and some, including all of the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They had eight months to try; they did not try. I tried."

Thus in his supposed emeritus years, has Mr. Clinton taken forceful and triumphant action for honesty, and for us; action as vital and as courageous as any of his presidency; action as startling and as liberating, as any, by anyone, in these last five long years.

The Bush Administration did not try to get Osama Bin Laden before 9/11.

The Bush Administration ignored all the evidence gathered by its predecessors.

The Bush Administration did not understand the Daily Briefing entitled "Bin Laden Determined To Strike in U.S."

The Bush Administration… did… not… try.—

Moreover, for the last five years one month and two weeks, the current administration, and in particular the President, has been given the greatest "pass" for incompetence and malfeasance, in American history!

President Roosevelt was rightly blamed for ignoring the warning signs — some of them, 17 years old — before Pearl Harbor.

President Hoover was correctly blamed for — if not the Great Depression itself — then the disastrous economic steps he took in the immediate aftermath of the Stock Market Crash.

Even President Lincoln assumed some measure of responsibility for the Civil War — though talk of Southern secession had begun as early as 1832.

But not this President.

To hear him bleat and whine and bully at nearly every opportunity, one would think someone else had been President on September 11th, 2001 — or the nearly eight months that preceded it.

That hardly reflects the honesty nor manliness we expect of the Executive.


But if his own fitness to serve is of no true concern to him, perhaps we should simply sigh and keep our fingers crossed, until a grown-up takes the job three Januarys from now.

Except… for this:

After five years of skirting even the most inarguable of facts — that he was President on 9/11 and he must bear some responsibility for his, and our, unreadiness, Mr. Bush has now moved, unmistakably and without conscience or shame, towards re-writing history, and attempting to make the responsibility, entirely Mr. Clinton’s.

Of course he is not honest enough to do that directly.

As with all the other nefariousness and slime of this, our worst presidency since James Buchanan, he is having it done for him, by proxy.

Thus, the sandbag effort by Fox News, Friday afternoon.

Consider the timing: The very same weekend the National Intelligence Estimate would be released and show the Iraq war to be the fraudulent failure it is — not a check on terror, but fertilizer for it!

The kind of proof of incompetence, for which the administration and its hyenas at Fox need to find a diversion, in a scapegoat.

It was the kind of cheap trick which would get a journalist fired — but a propagandist, promoted:

Promise to talk of charity and generosity; but instead launch into the lies and distortions with which the Authoritarians among us attack the virtuous and reward the useless.

And don’t even be professional enough to assume the responsibility for the slanders yourself; blame your audience for "e-mailing" you the question.

Mr. Clinton responded as you have seen.

He told the great truth un-told… about this administration’s negligence, perhaps criminal negligence, about Bin Laden.

He was brave.

Then again, Chris Wallace might be braver still. Had I — in one moment surrendered all my credibility as a journalist — and been irredeemably humiliated, as was he, I would have gone home and started a new career selling seeds by mail.

The smearing by proxy, of course, did not begin Friday afternoon.

Disney was first to sell-out its corporate reputation, with "The Path to 9/11."

Of that company’s crimes against truth one needs to say little. Simply put: someone there enabled an Authoritarian zealot to belch out Mr. Bush’s new and improved history.

The basic plot-line was this: because he was distracted by the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Bill Clinton failed to prevent 9/11.

The most curious and in some ways the most infuriating aspect of this slapdash theory, is that the Right Wingers who have advocated it — who try to sneak it into our collective consciousness through entertainment, or who sandbag Mr. Clinton with it at news interviews — have simply skipped past its most glaring flaw.

Had it been true that Clinton had been distracted from the hunt for Bin Laden in 1998 because of the Lewinsky nonsense — why did these same people not applaud him for having bombed Bin Laden’s camps in Afghanistan and Sudan on August 20th of that year? For mentioning Bin Laden by name as he did so?

That day, Republican Senator Grams of Minnesota invoked the movie "Wag The Dog."

Republican Senator Coats of Indiana questioned Mr. Clinton’s judgment.

Republican Senator Ashcroft of Missouri — the future Attorney General — echoed Coats.

Even Republican Senator Arlen Specter questioned the timing.

And of course, were it true Clinton had been "distracted" by the Lewinsky witch-hunt — who on earth conducted the Lewinsky witch-hunt? Who turned the political discourse of this nation on its head for two years?

Who corrupted the political media?

Who made it impossible for us to even bring back on the air, the counter-terrorism analysts like Dr. Richard Haass, and James Dunegan, who had warned, at this very hour, on this very network, in early 1998, of cells from the Middle East who sought to attack us, here?

Who preempted them… in order to strangle us with the trivia that was… "All Monica All The Time"?

Who… distracted whom?

This is, of course, where — as is inevitable — Mr. Bush and his henchmen prove not quite as smart as they think they are.

The full responsibility for 9/11 is obviously shared by three administrations, possibly four.

But, Mr. Bush, if you are now trying to convince us by proxy that it’s all about the distractions of 1998 and 1999, then you will have to face a startling fact that your minions may have hidden from you.

The distractions of 1998 and 1999, Mr. Bush, were carefully manufactured, and lovingly executed, not by Bill Clinton… but by the same people who got you… elected President.

Thus instead of some commendable acknowledgment that you were even in office on 9/11 and the lost months before it… we have your sleazy and sloppy rewriting of history, designed by somebody who evidently redd the Orwell playbook too quickly.

Thus instead of some explanation for the inertia of your first eight months in office, we are told that you have kept us "safe" ever since — a statement that might range anywhere from Zero, to One Hundred Percent, true.

We have nothing but your word, and your word has long since ceased to mean anything.

And, of course, the one time you have ever given us specifics about what you have kept us safe from, Mr. Bush — you got the name of the supposedly targeted Tower in Los Angeles… wrong.

Thus was it left for the previous President to say what so many of us have felt; what so many of us have given you a pass for in the months and even the years after the attack:

You did not try.

You ignored the evidence gathered by your predecessor.

You ignored the evidence gathered by your own people.

Then, you blamed your predecessor.

That would be the textbook definition… Sir, of cowardice.

To enforce the lies of the present, it is necessary to erase the truths of the past.

That was one of the great mechanical realities Eric Blair — writing as George Orwell — gave us in the novel "1984."

The great philosophical reality he gave us, Mr. Bush, may sound as familiar to you, as it has lately begun to sound familiar to me.

"The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power…

"Power is not a means; it is an end.

"One does not establish a dictatorship to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.

"The object of persecution, is persecution. The object of torture, is torture. The object of power… is power."

Earlier last Friday afternoon, before the Fox ambush, speaking in the far different context of the closing session of his remarkable Global Initiative, Mr. Clinton quoted Abraham Lincoln’s State of the Union address from 1862.

"We must disenthrall ourselves."

Mr. Clinton did not quote the rest of Mr. Lincoln’s sentence. He might well have.

"We must disenthrall ourselves — and then… we shall save our country."

And so has Mr. Clinton helped us to disenthrall ourselves, and perhaps enabled us, even at this late and bleak date… to save… our… country.

The "free pass" has been withdrawn, Mr. Bush…

You did not act to prevent 9/11.

We do not know what you have done, to prevent another 9/11.

You have failed us — then leveraged that failure, to justify a purposeless war in Iraq which will have, all too soon, claimed more American lives than did 9/11.

You have failed us anew in Afghanistan.

And you have now tried to hide your failures, by blaming your predecessor.

And now you exploit your failure, to rationalize brazen torture — which doesn’t work anyway; which only condemns our soldiers to water-boarding; which only humiliates our country further in the world; and which no true American would ever condone, let alone advocate.And there it is, sir:

Are yours the actions of a true American?

I’m K.O., good night, and good luck.

Monday, September 25

The Republican War on Fact!

Even before Chris Wallace had his ass handed to him by President Clinton, and even before the airing of the ABC/Disney Smear-umentary "Path to 9-11", Ann Coulter got smacked down by guest Host Kirsten Powers on Hannity and Colmes as she tried to claim...

"As for catching Osama, it’s irrelevant. Things are going swimmingly in Afghanistan.”

Further as I previously posted
In her August 23 column -- "What Part of the War on Terrorism Do They Support" -- Coulter repeated the false claims that Democrats "oppose the National Security Agency listening to people who are calling specific phone numbers found on al-Qaida cell phones and computers" and "oppose the Patriot Act." Introducing Coulter on Your World, Buttner stated: "You do a great job in your editorial of ... listing it all out, and when you do, it's very interesting to see -- they're really good at saying what they're against, aren't they?" Buttner later appeared to concur with Coulter's false assertion that Democrats are "against every part of the war on terror," saying: "You've said it well. The problem is that the administration doesn't always go out there and sell this. It doesn't always go out there and say, 'What are the Democrats for in this war on terror?' " Buttner then asked Coulter: "Do you think the getting out there and selling themselves and fighting against the Democrats -- that finally we're going to get the Republicans out there to fight?"

President Clinton called it a "Disinformation Campaign" - and he was precisely correct. Republicans are desperate to hang their hat on the meme that Democrats are "Weak on Terror?", but during the critical time prior to 9-11 where were they?

As Washington Monthly and William Rivers Pitt pointed out in August - they were standing in the way on nearly every initiative that then-President Clinton attempted to implement against growing Global Terrorism.

-- Republicans blocked 1995 bill provisions to allow swifter deportations and court viewing of sensitive evidence
-- Republican controlled congress blocked roving wire taps and new powers to monitor money laundering; Phil Gramm and others lead the effort
-- John Ashcroft and others rejected initiatives to tighten controls on encryption software (encryption used by 1993 bombers and 2001 terrorists)
-- Clinton created the FBI Counter terrorism Center and increased the counterterrorism budget from $78 million to $609 million in four years
-- Clinton signed a National Security Directive in 1998 to destroy al-Quada and seize or assassinate Bin Laden. Multiple assassination attempts were made
-- Clinton's CIA al-Quada unit thwarted bombing attempts in Los Angeles, New York, the UN, and the Israeli embassy in Washington DC. They also neutralized dozens of al-Queda cells overseas -- all of this without any fanfare, then or post 9/11.
-- Clinton was labeled by the Right's Robert Oakely as having an "obsession with Osama". Yet now Republicans attempt to claim Clinton, not Bush Jr, was soft on terrorism and ultimately responsible for 9/11

They find it so easy to declare that America doesn't need to abide by the Geneva Conventions, even though it doesn't produce accurate information, makes it far more dangerous for our troops - and inspires the enemy to keep fighting rather than surrender, making the war more difficult to win. They find it so easy to ignore the courts when it comes to protecting the privacy of Americans -- "All Wiretaps require a court order" (except when they don't feel like asking for one).

Opposing these methods is NOT opposing victory in the War on Terror. This far more of a War of ideologies - than of military might - of competiting theories about the nature and direction of civilization. What Democrats need to do is highlight that difference rather than cower from it. We represent a higher vision of how to fight this war. Using Fact, Logic and doing so within the confines of the Law, the Constitution and our Conscience.

Just as he did prior to the Iraq War, President Bush continues to ignore and dismiss what his own Intelligence Agencies tell him. According to the New York Times, the latest National Intelligence Estimate (which collects the view of 16 different agencies) stated:
he American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks. The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official.
But According to Bush...
You know, I’ve heard this theory about everything was just fine until we arrived, and kind of “we’re going to stir up the hornet’s nest” theory. It just doesn’t hold water, as far as I’m concerned. The terrorists attacked us and killed 3,000 of our citizens before we started the freedom agenda in the Middle East.
Even though the latest Senate Intelligence Report (PDF) clearly stated that Saddam had tried to Capture Zarqawi - and there was no connection between him and Al Qaeda - Bush Officials continue to claim the exact opposite.

And Bush himself tries to duck and cover by claim he never said there was an "operational relationship" between Saddam and Zarqawi - except that he did.

The Truth is: Saddam Hussein did not attack us. He was not armed with WMD's, didn't have programs in place to create either WMD's or Nuclear weapons - and certain was not about to hand any of these weapons over to terrorists.

But they simply refuse to believe the truth. They can not accept that torture doesn't work, that Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11, that our occupation of that nation is sending more young muslim men into the open arms of Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas then ever before.


Iraq is falling apart. Afghanistan is going to hell and a hand granade.

Do Democrats have a strategy to win? Well, yeah - the first thing to do is for America to Stop LYING TO itself.

We fucked up. Big time. Bush shouldn't have been given the authority to invade Iraq in the first place. They should have let the UN Inspectors finish their job first. (Once it was made clear that Saddam was already disarmed, he might have become the one with the insurgency problem - not us) They should have used more troops to maintain the peace after the initial attack was over. They shouldn't have let Katie O'Biern's husband hire inexperienced political partisans to oversee (and consquently fuck up) the Iraq Reconstruction Effort, not to mention let $8.8 Billion disappear into the thin air between their ears.

They should have caught or killed Osama Bin Laden at Tora Bora.

Coulda. Shoulda. Woulda. Ok, What do we do now?

Again as President Clinton has recently stated, Iraq is in a state much like that of Bosnia and Kosovo. Three distinct ethnic groups are commiting violence against each other, vying for control of the country and it's natural resources. The Loyaties of the Iraqi Army are questionable - but Clinton, with the support of both Russia and Europe was able to bring together a consensus that ended the violence in Bosnia, stopped the ethnic cleansing and brought Slobodon Milosevic to justice.

The same came be done in Iraq, if we reach out and seek help from our allies while insisting that the Iraq People take thier country back from those who would rip it apart. They can't expect us to take the bullet for them forever.

Unfortunately none of that is going to happen under this Administration. But with a Democratic Congress and a Democratic President - it just might.

And that's what the Neo-Cons are truly afraid of. They have to maintain this Deliberate Disinformation Campaign, because that's the only way they'll be able to hold on to power. They don't mind losing to Al-Qaeda, or losing to the insurgents in Iraq. It doesn't matter because they can simply spin another set of lies to make it seem like it's someone elses (Clinton's) fault. The way to really get under their skin is to make sure they lose - big time - in November. And then again in '08. It's the only way to bring a little factiness back into our Government.

Win the War at the Ballot Box, then we can finally end the War on Common Sense and Fact.


Sunday, September 24

Fox Tries to Relight PT9-11 Smear

Saturday on Heartland with John Kasich, the issue of the Clinton Administrations attempts to "get Bin Laden" were once again brought out and flogged. Kasich asked former CIA Operative Gary Berntsen if Clinton had "tried hard enough" to capture or kill the terrorist leader.

In response Mr. Berntsen claimed that "they had approached this as a law enforcement problem" and that "there was one oppurtunity in 2000, where we were up in the mountains of Afghanistan - chasing bin Laden - where they refused to pull the trigger"

The claim is identitical to the one made by the ABC/Disney docudrama "Path to 9-11" which asserted that U.S. forces had bin Laden "in their sights", but Clinton Administration Officials simply refused to do what needed to be done to get him.

Former NSA Counter-terrorism Chief Richard Clarke in response to the allegations made by the film has already stated:
1. Contrary to the movie, no US military or CIA personnel were on the ground in Afghanistan and saw bin Laden.

2. Contrary to the movie, the head of the Northern Alliance, Masood, was no where near the alleged bin Ladin camp and did not see UBL.

3. Contrary to the movie, the CIA Director actually said that he could not recommend a strike on the camp because the information was single sourced and we would have no way to know if bin Laden was in the target area by the time a cruise missile hit it.

Thinkprogress also noted:

According to the 9/11 Commission Report (pg. 199), then-CIA Director George Tenet had the authority from President Clinton to kill Bin Laden. Roger Cressy, former NSC director for counterterrorism, has written, "Mr. Clinton approved every request made of him by the CIA and the U.S. military involving using force against bin Laden and al-Qaeda."

So just what the heck is Berntsen, who is a decorated CIA veteran office with over 20 years experience - and was there in person at Tora Bora when Bin Laden escaped - talking about?

Apparently according to Frontline it's this:

Can you talk about the [2000] attempted capture of an Al Qaeda aide?

Well, I'm, of course, at home in the morning, 7:00, ... and I receive a phone call. It's the deputy in the bin Laden shop, and he's panicked, and said, "Gary, how's your Persian?" I said: "Well, actually, my Persian's pretty good at the moment. I'm in language review." ...He says: "Can you come in? We're having a crisis." So of course I drive in, go to the office, and he said: "Look, we have a team. We've been training these guys for the last two months to ... undertake some highly dangerous missions in Afghanistan. Would you be willing to go, because we only have one Persian speaker on the team?" I said, "Well, when are you leaving?," and he said, "Well, in a couple of hours." I said, "Well, how long is this mission going to be?" They said, "Several months." So I said: "OK, I'm in, let me pass the bad news to my spouse." Then, of course, I went on the mission. Went home, grabbed a couple of thousand dollars, went and bought several thousand dollars' worth of camping gear, good equipment -- told the young sales boy that I was moving to Alaska -- and then, of course, showed up several hours later.

We are flown into the Panjshir Valley [in Afghanistan] ... on a North[ern] Alliance helicopter, which looks like it's held together with bubblegum and bailing wire. I had been a crash firefighter in the Air Force; I knew an aviation accident when I saw one getting ready to happen. It was unbelievable. The aircraft tires had big bubbles the size of 50-cent pieces. There were holes from ground fire throughout the bird. There was an internal fuel tank which shouldn't have been in the middle of the body of the aircraft; it was leaking. We had to open the windows because we would have been asphyxiated. Then we flew in on that. It was quite an exciting flight. ...

That was your first time in Afghanistan?

That was my first time in Afghanistan, and it was fabulous. I was thrilled to be there. ... Unfortunately, there were some reports that came out of left field ... that said, "Bin Laden is aware that there are Americans in the country." He had put a bounty on the life of any CIA officer that could be captured in Afghanistan and brought to him for $3 million. Our headquarters panicked, and they said, "You have to come out." ...

Tell me what the mission was.

Well, we were in there to collect intelligence and, working with the Northern Alliance, to identify one of those key lieutenants near bin Laden ... and to snatch him, to kidnap him.

Did you know who you were after?

We had two or three choices. ... We knew several of the ones that we were looking at.

... Now we come back after being withdrawn. First they tell us, "You have to leave." ... We said, "We can't, because it's cloudy." Well, we were lying. It wasn't cloudy; it was blue sky, but we were trying to do anything possible to extend our mission on the ground. Finally, [there was an] intervention on the seventh floor [of CIA headquarters]: "No, you have to come out, or we'll discipline you, because we know you're not telling us the truth. We're looking at weather maps." This is what we were told. So we had to fly, and the Afghans were horrified. They were horrified that we would tell them that we wanted to come ... and then [at] the slightest threat we would abandon them. It was disgraceful.

Who was it?

It was the CIA's leadership. I would put that on [Director George] Tenet and [Deputy Director of Operations Jim] Pavitt, put that right on them. It was heartbreaking. When I came back, of those six men, two of those men would resign -- ... good men -- because they were just disgusted. They said, "We'll go do something else with our lives."

So first of all, they weren't there to capture or kill Bin Laden himself, there were after a few of his deputies -- second the recall order didn't come from Bill Clinton, it didn't come from anyone in the White House, it came from George Tenet.

Mr-Slam-Dunk-Mobile-Labs-Medal-o-Freedom himself.

As he will be shown saying to Chris Wallace today on Fox News Sunday, Bill Clinton, following the bombing of the U.S. Cole had invasion plans for Afghanistan drawn up and ready to go, but the CIA -- Tenet -- refused to certify that bin Laden had been responsible, so those plans remained on hold.

Berntsen was definately a "hard charger" one who was involved in the hunt for bin Laden fairly early, long before he became a topic of common dicussion among government officials.

Do you remember the first time you heard the words "Al Qaeda"?

I think that it was in the early '90s, and it was because Mike Scheuer had formed that group within CIA, the bin Laden Group [UbL] and was talking about the Sunni terrorism and this individual, [Osama] bin Laden, this financier. It was Scheuer who first brought that up, ... and he convinced me early on that this was a growing problem. Later, when the bombs in East Africa go off [in the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998], I'm sent to lead the team because we think this is possibly Hezbollah. Hezbollah had done the attacks on the embassy in Beirut, had done the Marine barracks [there]; they had done the Israeli Embassy in ... Argentina in '92 and '94. They had been involved in [the bombing of] Khobar Towers [in Saudi Arabia] in '96. So it looked like yet another attack done by Hezbollah. Of course, I get out there on the ground, and it's not; bin Laden has gone big.

... Where are you when you hear about [the bombings in] Dar es Salaam, [Tanzania]?

Well, of course, I'm sleeping; it's 4:20 in the morning in my townhouse in Virginia. The phone rings. I have a telephone that is encrypted in my house. I got up, turned the key and go secure, and now I'm told by the watch center that bombs have just gone off in East Africa, and that Jeff O'Connell, chief of CTC, would like me to come in immediately. I throw my clothes on, fly out the door, and go in. Then I'm with this small group -- O'Connell, [former CIA analyst] Paul Pillar, myself and a couple of others. ... O'Connell was a very decisive guy, and said, "Gary, you're going to Dar es Salaam," and he gave out the air assignments. Then we proceeded. ...

And the meaning of it being an Al Qaeda attack?

Something else big now we have to worry about. Bin Laden's gone big. Scheuer's [bin Laden] unit was about to be closed; there was discussion about folding it into something else, and there was a
lot of politics around that. Of course Scheuer got new legs after that bomb went off.

But why would Berntsen give the impression on Heartland that someone in the White House was the one pulling the plug? Maybe because, well, he's kinda of a dick. Aka - a Neo-con.

So when does it cross your field of vision that there's a real interest in the agency and in the American government ... to go kill Osama bin Laden or capture him if we can?

That's years later before we feel that they're serious. Those embassies are blown up, and the response is cruise missiles. It was a pathetic response. Bin Laden was on the ground there. We had realized it was him. We should have just sent troops in and taken him at that point. It [was] an act of war doing what he did, but the administration wanted none of it. ...

... Why, do you think?

They didn't want to have to pay the price of conflict. Now, individually, in my unit, I'm aggressive; I'm always going after these guys. I continue as aggressively as I can in every operation, every day that I'm there, ... and frequently force people's hands so they have to do the operations in the way I design them.


It's easier to get forgiveness than permission. When pursuing terrorists, I would do as much as I could, and at the last moment, you'd execute the capture and say, "Here we are; we have these guys."

You mean you were actually capturing them?

We would use some of our sources and influence other governments to do that, yes. ... I'm sort of the guy in CIA -- I was like the sixth or seventh man on the basketball team: Any time they needed a tough foul delivered or something done, I get sent in, and I always got the best playing time.

I was very, very lucky, because I'm the guy who gets to go to East Africa for the bombings. I get sent in to Afghanistan 15 months before, at the last minute. I get to go [back] on the 11th of September and replace Gary Schroen [of the CIA's Directorate of Operations] on the battlefield there. ... Whenever they needed something, I was always ready to put my hand up and go. ...

Berntsen is a field guy, hanging his ass way out there in the wilds of Afghanistan -- what does he know about conversations at the White House? Did he know that Clinton had authorized bin Laden to be killed. Did he know that he had requested Hugh Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to implement exact the plan that Gary suggested - bring in Special Forces and blow bin Laden away - but that it was the Pentagon Boys, the big bad macho military guys, who refused because of logistical issues?

Clarke speaking with Mike Sheehan, the top State Dept Counter-terrorism official in about the lack of response to the Cole bombing in 2000:
"What's it gonna take, Dick?" Sheehan demanded, "Who the shit do they think attacked the Cole, fuckin' Martians? The Pentagon brass won't let Delta go get bin Laden. Hell, they won't even let the Air Force carpet bomb the place. Does al Qeada have to attack the Pentagon to get their attention?"
When it comes to Tora Bora, when the finally did let Delta and the Air Force lose - yet Bin Laden still got away, Berntsen feels that the reins were pull back not by Tenet, but by CENTCOM (Central Command) --- that's Rumsfeld and the Pentagon Brass.

[But couldn't the president (Bush) have ordered the troops in?]

... Of course. During the 2004 campaign, when you had the Kerry/Bush discussion on this, and John Kerry says, "The president contracted this all out to the Afghans to do this," well, that's not exactly true. ... It was mostly us. We had our teams out there calling in air strikes. We did use Afghans as blocking forces, and Delta Force would go in. ... The Afghans didn't want to fight. ... We had to pay them, had to yell at them, had to threaten them, had to do all sorts of things to get them to get into combat.

There was truly a fog over what occurred, and it doesn't surprise me, because there is often lots of bureaucracy between that man in the field, whether he's a CIA officer or a military commander, and the commander in chief back there. ... And the president, of course, relied on the people around him. I don't think the president was served well. ... I know the president would have done anything possible to kill bin Laden at that point, but I'm certain my requests never got to him.

You blaming Tenet?

... It was CENTCOM's decision. ... I think Tenet stepped up on that.

So with [Secretary of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld?

There's a book written by [CENTCOM deputy commander] Mike DeLong [with Noah Lukeman] called [Inside] CENTCOM: [The Unvarnished Truth About the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq]. In that book, DeLong talks about a conversation that he has with Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld calls CENTCOM and says, "Send in troops," and CENTCOM's response is: "The altitude's too high. It's too cold." It's this, it's that -- makes up a lot of reasons. And Rumsfeld says, ... "I ski at 14,000 feet, and I'm 70," and the response is, "You don't have to carry a pack." And he says, "OK, do what you think is right."So the secretary of defense wanted them in there, but he left the final decision to the commanders on the ground, and they didn't want to do it, based on the reading of Mike DeLong's book.

Nice to see that he reads books, maybe he should try reading Clarke's.

And by the way, Fred Barnes says the President told him this month that “bin Laden doesn’t fit with the administration’s strategy for combating terrorism.

Fancy that?