Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Rummy made a mis-step.

In his statement to the 9/11 committee he relates the story of his (second) Senate confirmation hearing as Secretary of Defense, and of him thinking back to Cheney's own confirmation hearing for the same post in 1989 and how although no one mentioned Iraq during that hearing, soon enough it was everyone's focus.

(paraphrase) "I wondered what name, that no one was using during my hearing, would soon be on everyone's lips. Three months later we had the answer -- Afghanistan, and al Qaeda."

Doesn't this just confirm Clarke's account of being ignored? If Rumsfeld wasn't aware until April 2001 that al Qaeda was a looming threat, then somehow all those warnings passed on by the Clinton administration stressing how al Qaeda should be a top priority just didn't sink in to Rummy.

Incidentally, as much as the Bush team tries to claim that al Qaeda and terrorism were among their top priorities, read the text of Rummy's statement to his 2001 confirmation hearing. He mentions the word terrorism twice -- and both times, it's in the context of a WMD attack via missile, and the implicit need for missile defense:

Second, we must develop the capabilities to defend against missiles, terrorism, and newer threats against our space assets and information systems. The American people, our forces abroad, and our friends and allies must be protected against the threats with which modern technology and its proliferation confront us;

In a world of smaller, but in some respects more deadly threats, the ability to defend ourselves and our friends against attacks by missiles and other terror weapons can strengthen deterrence and provide an important compliment purely to retaliatory capabilities. Moreover, the ability to protect our forces is essential to preserving our freedom to act in a crisis. To this end, effective missile defense_not only homeland defense, but also the ability to defend U.S. forces abroad and our allies and friends, must be achieved in the most cost-effective manner that modern technology offers.

Neither time does he mention terrorism in the context of al Qaeda, of the attack on the USS Cole or the embassy bombings. It is not mentioned at all as one of the three priorities of the armed forces under Bush, nor one of the five objectives for the DoD under Rummy.

Not mentioned at all.

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