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Monday, August 02, 2004

It's bad enough going from Ari Fleischer to Scottie Mac, but the drop in dissembling quality when you get down to Andy Card is just appalling.

The President, after he received the 9/11 Commission report, and he received that report on the morning of the 22nd -- he did task me to put together a group we call the Intelligence Reform Task Force. And we started our work on the 23rd, and we held meetings over the course of the last 10 days that have taken an awful lot of time. The President was involved personally in hours of meetings, two hours of meetings with the task force, two separate meetings. He also spent an awful lot of time on the phone with me and Dr. Rice and Fran Townsend in going over the briefing papers that were written for him so that he could participate in the decision-making process.


Here's what we learn from Mr. Card:

1) After months and months of hearings, the Bush administration takes at most a week and a half to consider the implications and recommendations -- I say at most because it's clear what Card considers a "lot of time" is not what anyone outside of the insect kingdom would consider a lot. That ten days is just the elapsed time between the creation of the task force, and its report -- who knows how much time they spent in between actually working?

2) Bush himself spent only two hours directly involved in the process.

Actually, Card pretty much spells out how much time they spent in total:

The principals of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council gave hours and hours of time to this effort, as well. In fact, we had one three-hour meeting and we had two one-hour meetings beyond that, that included the principals without the President, talking through these issues. And then there was a working group of staff.


So that's two hours with the President, and five hours without. Seven hours over 10 days for the principals, plus the grunt work. Gosh. They really talked that one to death, didn't they?

3) The summaries of the discussions had to be dumbed down so Bush would understand them, and someone still had to talk him through them.

Card goes on, alas:

This does build on the many reforms that the President put in place after September 11th, 2001. Let's not forget how difficult it was to be able to respond to September 11th and find that we had a bureaucracy that was diverse, not well-coordinated, and required the President to take full action under his authority to create the Homeland Security Advisor and the Homeland Security Council.

He went to the limits of his constitutional authority to create that White House body that would force coordination among the agencies, and there are over 100 agencies involved in securing the homeland.


Damn that Constitution! Why does the Constitution hate America?

The President did direct that we be as forward-leaning as possible in working with the 9/11 Commission.


Cheap shot alert!: Is 'forward-leaning' White House code for 'bend over'?

This was a herculean effort, and the President has considered the recommendations. He thinks that he has embraced the most important recommendations to go forward with.


I always thought Bush was a stubborn dolt, but is it really a 'herculean effort' just to get him to consider something? Wow. And 'he thinks' he's embraced the most important recommendations? And you just let him carry on with his delusions? Have you broken the bad news about Santa to him yet, Andy, or are you working up to it?

But the process was one where I was kind of a cattle prod, keeping people to the task at hand, knowing that there could have been an opportunity for a long, long debate over these issues.


Yeah, heaven forbid there be a long debate. Not that there would have been any point...

The President instructed me to have a consensus develop early in the process, and where no consensus could be developed, he would be glad to make tough decisions. And he made some tough decisions.


Translation: "Cardy, I've already made up my mind on this, so get everyone on board or I will shit on their heads." No wonder they didn't waste much time on meetings.

This is, perhaps, more insight into the White House decision-making process than Card intended to reveal.

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