Today the Secretary of State made a whirlwind tour appearing both on Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer and This Week with George Stephanapolous to address the multi-headed shit storm that coming her way from the never-ending 16 Words Controversy, George Tenet's New Book, her failure to respond to 9-11 warnings and apparent "inclination" to ignore a Congressional Subpoena.
Yeah, Life Sure can be a Bitch when you're a Gangsta! eh, Condi?
The most pressing issue, since George Tenet will be appearing on 60 Minutes tonight, is the fact that in his new book he confirms the July 10th briefing with Condi Rice and Stephan Hadley that was first revealed by Bob Woodwards "State of Denial".
Rice originally denied that the briefing had even happened, claiming that it wasn't mentioned in the 9-11 report!
But that canard didn't last long when her spokesman Sean McCormack revealed that there really had been a briefing, but gee it wasn't really any "big deal", ok?
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack [said]... the information Rice got "was not new'’ and didn’t amount to an urgent warning.
Strange, that's not how McClatchy reported it.
One official who helped to prepare the briefing, which included a PowerPoint presentation, described it as a "10 on a scale of 1 to 10″ that "connected the dots" in earlier intelligence reports to present a stark warning that al-Qaida, which had already killed Americans in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and East Africa, was poised to strike again...
Today Schieffer pressed Rice on this issue, using excerpts from tonights 60 minutes report where Tenet states that his briefing was intended to spark immediate pre-emptive offensive attacks in Afghanistan against Al Qaeda.
Rice: The idea of launching preemptive strikes into Afghanistan in July of 2001, this is a new fact. I don't know what we were supposed to pre-emptively strike in Afghanistan. Perhaps someone should ask that question...
A New Fact? Really? Back when the Woodward's book came out, it was discussed on Olberman with Roger Cressey.
OLBERMANN: My first question, you‘re now consulting within a firm with Richard Clarke, who was at that meeting on July 10, on the central question of whether Rice was warned then of an attack on the U.S. Do we know who‘s right here, Woodward or Secretary Rice?
CRESSEY: Yes, she was warned. I mean, there was a meeting. It was George Tenet, Dick Clarke, another individual from the agency, Cofer Black, and Steve Hadley. And what it was, Keith, was a briefing for Dr. Rice that was similar to a briefing the CIA gave to us in the situation room about a week before, laying out the information, the intelligence, laying out the sense of urgency. And it was pretty much given to Dr. Rice and Steve Hadley in pretty stark terms.
But it was more than just a warning - there was a plan attached also.
OLBERMANN: The $500 million Cofer Black action plan against bin Laden, would have read like crazy talk if that had been presented to her as Woodward describes it?
CRESSEY: Not crazy talk, but because in some respects, that‘s what we did after 9/11...
Although Cofer's amazing Bucket-o-Bin-Laden's-Head plan was probably a tad over the top (Wassa matter, they don't make decent Pikes no more?!), at the very least they could have done what Bill Clinton Did in 1998 against Al Qaeda and even if they didn't kill bin Laden, they could have disrupted their operations and sent a signal that we were on to them, just as he had with the Lincoln and Holland Tunnel Attacks and the Millenium Bomb Plot. It might have postponed or even caused 9-11 to be aborted.
Or they could have done what Clinton really wanted to do which was have Special Forces go after Bin Laden. Clinton stated...
"Hugh [Shelton, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs], what i think would scare the shit out of these al Qaeda guys more than any cruise missle... would be the sight of U.S. commandos, Ninja guys in black suits, jumping out of helicopters into their camps, spraying machine guns. Even if we don't get the big guys, it will have a good effect."
Except that the Joint Chief's wouldn't let him.
Then there was the Armed Predator Project which had languished on the shelf since Bush had taken office, and the fact that despite Richard Clark's desperate plea for a meeting of the NSC Principles to discuss the immentent threat of Al Qeada and implement his PLAN TO ATTACK AND DISMANTLE THEM (pdf) back in January of 2001 - No Such Meeting took place until September!
Anyway, while the Bush Administration was laying down in the face of Al Qaeda - they were more than ready to stand up and swat down the "imminent threat" of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
Rice on This Week today. (Not an exact transcript)
Stephanapolous: So was Iraq really an imminent threat?
Rice: Imminent? An "imminent threat" is not "if somebody is going to strike tomorrow," but rather, "it’s whether you believe you’re in a stronger position today to deal with the threat, or whether you’re going to be in a stronger position...
Well, what we tried to do was assess whether the threat was growing better or worse. Saddam has abused the UN Oil for Food Program. His people were under harsh sanctions, while he was enriching himself. He was still filing mass graves. This was a threat that needed to be dealt with. It was the totality of the picture prompted the President to make the decision he made
Ok, we had to solve the mass grave problem in Iraq, but not in Darfur? We had to "Get Saddam" but Bin Laden wasn't news? Bin Laden determined to attack inside the U.S. was "Historical Information?" Yeah, right.
It's odd that I've never noticed a single mention of Mass Graves in HJ 141, the Iraq Force Resolution. But maybe that's because IT DOESN'T HAVE ANY.
It does say this...
Whereas Iraq persists in violating resolutions of the United Nations Security Council by continuing to engage in brutal repression of its civilian population thereby threatening international peace and security in the region, by refusing to release, repatriate, or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq, including an American serviceman, and by failing to return property wrongfully seized by Iraq from Kuwait;
This seems to be more about recovering our MIA's and property stolen from Kuwait during the First Gulf War than addressing the "imminent threat of Iraqi mass graves", doesn't it?
Well, it does talk about Saddam Hussein's attempts to gather WMD's and Nuclear Materials.
Whereas the efforts of international weapons inspectors, United States intelligence agencies, and Iraqi defectors led to the discovery that Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical weapons and a large scale biological weapons program, and that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program that was much closer to producing a nuclear weapon than intelligence reporting had previously indicated;
Unfortunately, none of this was true.
Which then leads us to the next issue that Rice was hammered about this morning - The 16 Words.
Back in 2003 Rice said on This Week:
The Intelligence Community did not know, at least at levels that got to us (in the White House), that their were serious questions about this report
And today on This Week:
Stephanopolous: But that statement wasn't true. You and Stephen Hadley received a memo in October of 2002 that indicated that there were serious questions [ about the 16 words report].
On both shows, Rice stuck to her talking points.
This has been one of the most investigation issues...
The information was included in the NIE...
Both the Robb-Silbermann Commission and the Select Senate Commitee have addressed this...
I have answered these questions [of Rep Waxman] with hundreds of pages of documents and with several letters...
I answered these questions at my confirmation hearing...
Maybe we [Hadley and I] should have remembered [to keep the 16 words out after the Cincinatti speach], but we didn't
In point of fact neither the Robb-Silberman Commission or the Senate Select Commitee investigation had the authority to address the question of how the Bush Administration used, manipulated and/or ignored the intelligence it was provided.
The Robb-Silbermann commission essentially blames the Intelligence Community for Bush's 16 word mistake.
The Intelligence Community failed to authenticate in a timely fashion transparently forged documents purporting to show that Iraq had attempted to procure uranium from Niger.
This is basically true, since the CIA didn't yet have copies of the documents in question, but they had sent Joe Wilson to Niger to investigate and he had found that there was no "there" there. Besides the NIE did include a a lengthy dissent from the State & Energy Depts about the viabiilty of aluminum tubing for use in a centerfuge.
Contrary to her claims Sec Rice has not addressed all of Waxman's questions...
In my March I2 letter, l requested information about what you knew about this assertion and how it ended up in the State of the Union address. I asked you to answer specific questions raised in a June 10, 2003, letter and a July 29,2003, letter, both of which I enclosed. These questions included: (1) whether you had any knowledge that would explain why President Bush cited forged evidence about Iraq’s efforts to procure uranium from Niger in the State of the Union address; (2) whether you knew before the State of the Union address of the doubts raised by the CIA and the State Department about the veracity of the Niger claim; (3) whether there was a factual basis for your reference in a January 23,2003, op-ed to "Iraq’s efforts to get uranium from abroad"; and (4) whether you took appropriate steps to investigate how the Niger claim ended up in the State of the Union address after it was revealed to be fraudulent.
He has sent her a total of 16 letters, most of which she has blown-off.
According to Committee records, you have satisfactorily responded to only five of those 16 letters.
Rice apparently feels that a) She's already answered the question and/or b) She prefers to answer them on TV, but not in front of the House Oversight Commitee.
Stephanopolous: Why not Testify?
Rice: It's a seperation of powers issue. I was in the White House, and it's up to the White House Counsel's Office.
Stephanopolous: Waxman intends to site you for Contempt of Congress
Rice (and Hadley's) problem here is that George Tenet didn't just send a single memo about the Niger issue. He sent several, as well as phone calls. From the Washington Post via Common Dreams.
The officials made the disclosure hours after they were alerted by the CIA to the existence of a memo sent to [Bush]'s deputy national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, on Oct. 6. The White House said Bush's chief speechwriter, Michael Gerson, on Friday night discovered another memo from the CIA, dated Oct. 5, also expressing doubts about the Africa claims.
Hadley, who also received a phone call from CIA Director George J. Tenet before the president's Oct. 7 speech asking that the Africa allegation be removed, took the blame for allowing the charge to be revived in the State of the Union address. "I should have recalled . . . that there was controversy associated with the uranium issue," he said
Shortly after Friday's briefing, [Dan Bartlett] and Hadley said yesterday, Gerson discovered the first of two CIA memos to the White House from last October. The CIA memo, dated Oct. 5 and addressed to Gerson, Hadley and others, objected to a sentence that the White House included in a draft of Bush's upcoming speech, saying [Saddam Hussein]'s "regime has been caught attempting to purchase" uranium in Africa. The officials did not release the memo but said the uranium information was on Page 3 of a four-page document.
Oh, it was all the way back on Page 3? So you guys only read the cliff notes of your memos from the CIA now?
Two memos and a call directly from the Director of Central Intelligence himself - and they just plain forgot? No wonder she doesn't want to go under oath with that stinker of a story. The "I was just too busy" defense didn't work for Scooter and it doesn't work here.
Instead Rice intends to play chicken with the Congress, which could get very interesting indeed. As Kagro X has mentioned, there have been occasions when the Attorney Generals' Office has declined to prosecute a Contempt of Congress Charge against an Administration official, but that isn't the last card they have to play.
Just as John Murtha brought up today during his appearance on Face the Nation in regards to influencing the President - they also have the option of Impeachment, particularly if the Alberto Gonzales hand-picked lapdogs at the DOJ decide not to prosecute Secretary Rice for the pure and utter Contempt she's shown the Congress and the American people with this cock and bull story of her's.
The simple fact is that she failed to respond to genuinely urgent warnings about Al Qaeda and then ignored evidence that Saddam Hussein wasn't any kind of imminent threat to the U.S. Even the NIE, incomplete though it was, still stated that "he was unlike to use WMD's Unless he was provoked."
So of course, we provoked him didn't we!
The body count for the blunder of ignoring what the weapons inspectors were actually saying ("The U.S. Intel is Garbage") has risen to over 3,300 for Americans and hundreds of thousands for Iraqis, not to mention those who've been permenently wounded by this war - and those who were needlessly lost on 9-11.
It's high time someone was held accountable for the fact that the Bush Administration was completely asleep at the switch on 9-11 and the total FusterCluck we're made out of Iraq. Rice is as good a person to start with as anyone.
Investigate, Indict, Impeach, Remove - then Rinse and Repeat.
Ok, I've had a chance to review Tenet's performance on 60 Minutes and first thing I have to say is "Wow, doesn't that guy have some issues!"
Former CIA Analyst Ray McGovern has taken him to task on OpedNews.
We write to you on the occasion of the release of your book, At the Center of the Storm. You are on the record complaining about the "damage to your reputation". In our view the damage to your reputation is inconsequential compared to the harm your actions have caused for the U.S. soldiers engaged in combat in Iraq and the national security of the United States. We believe you have a moral obligation to return the Medal of Freedom you received from President George Bush. We also call for you to dedicate a significant percentage of the royalties from your book to the U.S. soldiers and their families who have been killed and wounded in Iraq.
McGovern also recounts what Bob Baer has to say about Tenet's ridiculous of his "Slam Dunk" whine...
"So, it is better that the 'slam dunk' referred to the ease with which the war could be sold? I guess I missed that part of the National Security Act delineating the functions of the CIA - the part about CIA marketing a war. Guess that's why I never made it into senior management."
I myself have two major bones to pick with him. First his claim that "Enhanced Interrogation" has been worth it.
What he seems to conveniently forget is that while he was sitting there behind Colin Powell at the UN while he talked about Al Qaeda and Saddam being "in cooperation" - that information came from someone who had been part of the CIA Ghost Detainee program named Ibn Sheik al-Libi and that al-Libi had told us what we wanted to hear in order to stop being tortured.
Former CIA European Chief Tyler Drumheller had tried to remove references to "biological labs" from the UN Speech because he knew the information came from a source he knew to be a fabricator codenamed "Curveball". Yet those references found their way back into the speech.
Tenet may like to protend that "No one has died" from being tortured under the CIA program, but he ignores the fact that the Pentagon and Military intelligence have also implemented their own interrogation and Ghost Detainee programs which have so far resulted in the deaths of at least 26 people (that we know of so far).
Yes, it is to his credit that Tenet tried to have the 16 words removed from various speeches made by the President - but he wasn't the only one.
Vanity Fair has found at least 14 instances prior to the 2003 State of the Union in which analysts at the C.I.A., the State Department, or other government agencies who had examined the Niger documents or reports about them raised serious doubts about their legitimacy--only to be rebuffed by Bush-administration officials who wanted to use the material. "They were just relentless," says Wilkerson, who later prepared Colin Powell's presentation before the United Nations General Assembly. "You would take it out and they would stick it back in. That was their favorite bureaucratic technique--ruthless relentlessness."
The second issue I have with Tenet is this arguement that the CIA had assets on the ground in Afghanistan in 1999 that could have "done something about bin Laden, but President Clinton wouldn't give the go ahead."
This is frankly a line of bull. Former NSC member Roger Cressey has already debunked this:
Mr. Miniter (In his Book "Losing Bin Laden") also alleges that in the spring and summer of 1998 the Clinton administration was deadlocked over the decision to conduct a special forces mission near a bin Laden camp. Mr. Miniter suggests that the president did not want to overrule Pentagon concerns over risks because he could not "stomach sending thousands of troops into harm's way." Mr. Clinton was, in fact, ready and willing to undertake a special forces or other paramilitary assault on bin Laden, particularly after our missile attacks on bin Laden in the summer of 1998, and often pressed his senior military advisers for options. But Mr. Clinton's top military and intelligence advisers concluded that a commando raid was likely to be a failure, given the potential for detection, in the absence of reliable, predictive intelligence on bin Laden's whereabouts.
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. As President Bush well knows, bin Laden was and remains very good at staying hidden.
In point of fact, it wasn't Clinton who refused to pull the trigger on bin Laden when he might have had a chance - it was Tenet as has been documented by Richard Clark as he debunked ABC's "Path to 9-11".
- Contrary to the movie, no US military or CIA personnel were on the ground in Afghanistan and saw bin Laden.
- 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.
- 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.