Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rice, Delusional

She may have been an utter failure serving President George W. Bush as Director of the National Security Council and Secretary of State, but Condoleezza Rice is still sought for her opinions on foreign policy.

So there she was being interviewed by Fortune Magazine's Nina Easton and claiming, in a self-serving fashion,

But every day terrorists plot and plan to try to attack us. They only have to be right once. We have to be right 100% of the time.

Once a fear-monger, always a fear-monger, apparently. Still, Rice would deserve credit, if only her remark were true. Fortunately, it is not. Marc Rubin reviewed ("How Bush, Cheney policies killed 3,000 on 9/11") the record on the eighth anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on United States soil. This may be a lot, but consider: Bush, Rove et al. exploited this disastrous crime (not tragedy- it was no accident or act of God) to gain carte blanche for its policies in the Gulf, and for getting elected re-elected.

During the transition period in January of 2001, Bush had a face to face meeting with then President Clinton in which Clinton told him that Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda were the single biggest threats to US national security in the world. During the same transition period Bush and Rice met face to face with outgoing National Security Advisor Sandy Berger where Berger told both Bush and Rice that Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda were the single biggest threats to US national security in the world....

Continuing during the transition period in January of 2001, Bush was given the usual national security briefings at Blair House given to all presidents-elect by the CIA and FBI. At the CIA briefing, George Tenet and the CIA told Bush that Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda were the single biggest threats to US national security in the world. And in the national security briefing from the FBI, Bush again was told that Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda were the biggest threats to US national security in the world.

When Bush finally took office the first thing he did regarding terrorism was demote Richard Clarke the anti-terrorism czar who served for 20 years under four Presidents from a cabinet level position to a sub cabinet level position....

The next thing Bush did after taking office with regards to terrorism, according to Richard Clarke's testimony before the 911 Commission and stated in his book, was to disband what Clarke called the Principals Meeting. As Clarke described it, in the Clinton administration there was a daily meeting chaired by Clarke and attended by relevant cabinet heads who had a role in fighting terrorism: Janet Reno, the Attorney General, Bob Mueller, the director of the FBI, George Tenet at CIA, and directors of ATF,Immigration and other departments directly involved in anti-terrorism.

According to Clarke, the latest intelligence regarding terrorism collected by each agency in the previous 24 hours was shared among the heads of all the agencies present. ( The 911 Commission found during the Bush Administration there was a lack of sharing of intelligence -- but in keeping with their promise not to fix blame they never stated the obvious -- that Bush's discontinuing of the Principals Meeting was a major contributing factor ).

Clarke testified that after each of these meetings, the heads of these agencies would go back to their respective departments and in his words, "shake the trees" for the latest information on terrorism developed over the last 24 hours and then present it at the next meeting. If this had this been allowed to continue this alone could have prevented 911.


A year ago the media reported on George Tenet's statements that the intelligence coming to him in July 2001 pointing to a major Al-Qaeda attack was so disturbing he went to the White House for an emergency meeting with Rice. Rice was so dismissive at the time that when asked about the meeting in 2007 she said she couldn't even remember having it though White House logs show that in fact Tenet did have a meeting with her on the date in July that he claimed. Either she is lying or has a selective memory.

But the two most damning pieces of evidence against Bush, Rice and Cheney is the August 4th, 2001 PDB (Presidential Daily Briefing and declassified in 2004) entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Within the United States" and an August CIA translation of an Al-Qaeda intercept which, when translated, indicated that there was going to be an imminent major attack against the United States and in the words of the CIA memo it was going to be "spectacular."

The first piece of evidence supporting this is the famous Phoenix Memo. An FBI agent in Phoenix had been called by the owner of a Phoenix flying school who was suspicious of two new students. What made him suspicious was that the two flying students were both middle eastern men who wanted to learn how to fly jumbo jets but curiously didn't want to learn how to take off or land. They were also paying for their flying lessons with cash. One of those two men was Mohammed Atta.

The FBI agent agreed the activity was suspicious and wrote up a report. But the report was never sent up the ladder and never reached FBI Headquarters in Washington. Under the old process during the Clinton Administration where terrorism had the highest priority, that information would have been sent right to the top and would have been something Mueller would have shared with Clarke and the others at the Principles Meeting. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to figure out what Clarke, Reno and Mueller would have done with this information.

From that moment on, Atta and all of his associates wouldn't have been able to sneeze without the FBI knowing about it. They would have been under surveillance 24 hours a day. Their phones would have been tapped. The plot undeniably would have been discovered and 911 would have been prevented with this one piece of information alone.

And what of the day of the attack itself?

On the morning of September 11, Mohammed Atta and another of the 911 hijackers boarded a flight from the Portland Airport in Maine to Logan for the connecting flight to San Franciso. The ticket taker at the Maine airport was taken aback by the fact that the ticket was a $2500 one way ticket to San Francisco, the kind you get when you book your flight at the last minute. It immediately raised his eyebrows and his suspicions. As he told interviewers, "You dont see one of those ( a $2500 one way ticket) very often". And this was at the Maine airport, not a busy hub so Atta and the other hijacker stood out like sore thumbs to begin with. What would have happened if that clerk had gotten an FAA alert for a potential hijacking and to be aware of any suspicious activity by middle eastern men? What are the odds that an FAA alert, the fact that they were middle eastern and the $2500 ticket might have led to him making a call?

Let's review the Aministration's role:

- During the transition period: the president-elect is told separately by the outgoing president, (with Rice) the outgoing National Security Advisor, the CIA director, and the FBI that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda were the greatest national security threats facing the U.S.A.

- Once in office: the President downgrades the office held by the veteran counter-terrorism expert, Richard Clarke from a cabinet-level, to a sub-cabinet level, position. He disbands the daily Principals meeting, in which heads of all agencies involved in intelligence gathering would discuss the latest intelligence any had collected; NSC director Rice is told by CIA director Tenet in July, 2001 of his fear of an impending major attack by Al Qaeda while and Clarke and Tenet feverishly (with their "hair on fire") try to get Rice to arrange a meeting with the President.

- The President departs on August 3 for vacation at his faux ranch, where he stays until September 3. The President receives on 8/6/01 the Presidential Daily Briefing entitled "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in U.S.," at a page-and-a-half disturbingly longer than the usual one-or-two page PDB.

Obviously, CIA Director Tenet- who later received a Congressional Medal of Honor from President Bush- cannot escape blame. When a Principals Committee meeting finally was held on September 4, Tenet neglected to mention that he had been told that Islamic jihadist Zacharias Moussaoui had been taking lessons on how to fly a 747. President Bush and National Security Advisor Rice were not alone in neglecting the threat posed by Al Qaeda.

Incompetence throughout the government, highlighted by the President's apathy, merely demonstrates the outrageous dishonesty of Rice's comment that "They only have to be right once. We have to be right 100% of the time." The gang that left office on January 20, 2009 did not know exactly when and where and how the attacks of 9/11/01 would take place. But its negligence was striking, startling, and devastating. Failure to challenge Mrs. Rice about her role is emblematic of a conservative mainstream media that has ill-served our nation for decades.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Summary of the FAA Extension Act in the House:


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