Monday, March 22, 2004

Randi Rhodes (soon to be heard daily on Air America) is on CNN right now decimating the right-wing party line on Richard Clarke's accusations -- trotting out the statements of FBI agent after FBI agent who have said on the record they got no support in their efforts to pursue al Qaeda leads.

Not that it should require much dismissing. Condy's been doing the talk show circuit saying, in essense, "Clarke was focused on an international threat but had no plan for protecting us at home, which is what we were concerned about. All he wanted was more meetings."

But as Clarke made clear on 60 Minutes, daily meetings -- what he called 'going to battle stations', and keeping the pressure on the various intelligence departments -- helped foil a plot to bomb LA International Airport in 1999. So not only did he have a strategy to handle domestic terrorism, it was a strategy that had been proven to work.

Maybe Rice, and the White House, have a point when they claim Clarke wasn't focused on eliminating al Qaeda and they were. Maybe. But in the summer of 2001, when they had warnings of an (pardon the expression) imminent threat, long-range planning should have been put on the back burner. The first goal should have been doing everything possible to stop the immediate threat.

The White House chose not to. A proven option -- battle stations -- was available to them, and they chose not to use it.

No amount of spin and smear can change those facts. They admit to them -- Condy said, on camera, that she "didn't think another meeting was necessary".

Good thing she wasn't making those decisions in 1999, isn't it?

As for Dan Bartlett's idiotic claims that the timing of Clarke's revelations is politically motivated... the timing coincides with his 9/11 commission testimony and his book release, which is timed to coincide with the free publicity surrounding his 9/11 commission testimony.

So if Bartlett wants to blame anyone for the timing, he doesn't have far to walk to find the culprits.

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