March 30, 2004

As a matter of principle, I don't have any

Giving up on "principle", Condi Rice has agreed to testify -publicly and under oath- to the 9/11 Commission. This shouldn't substantively change the discussion at hand. While there have been claims by the commision that they want to "clear up" some contradictions between Dr. Rice's previous (closed and not under oath) discussions with the Commission and what Richard Clarke has recently said, it seems like the White House has essentially capitulated on the facts of pre-9/11 al-Qaeda awareness, and all the open testimony will give us is some political grandstanding.

As Radosh points out, all this discussion has been a sideshow that the administration (read: Karl Rove) is comfortable with: better to engage in a mind-numbing discussion of what precedent there is and what precedent this will establish, rather than a frank discussion of the administration's policy objectives.

Further, I think the whole what-did-they-do-before-9/11 discussion is a sideshow: I will readily admit that al-Qaeda was the furthest thing from my mind in the first half of 2001. And from the Commission's version of the story, there was "little variation" between how the Clinton adminstration handled it and how the Bush administration handled it in it's first nine months (if only because most of the same people were running the show on a day-to-day basis).

Even if the Bush administration was clarivoyant enough to see that action had to be taken immediately, the CIA and FBI had pushed back on suggestions of that sort from the Clinton White House, and would have done so with the Bush White House.

The real question we should (and one the Commission can't) ask is: what response does the White House have to Clarke's resignation? Clarke says resigned because he felt the invasion of Iraq was a sideshow to the fight with al-Qaeda, a complaint many had at the time, and seems borne out in hindsight.

Posted by Mike at 06:18 PM GMT

Yes, I too would prefer to blame Al Qaeda for 9/11 rather than the Bush administration. It was such a nonstandard act that asking the White House to anticipate it is really a bit much.

But, as you say, this does not excuse them for running after Saddam Hussein in response to 9/11.

Posted by: Stefan Geens on March 30, 2004 10:05 PM

So that's what they teach you at SAIS! The ability to straightfacedly refer to 9/11 as "a nonstandard act".

Remind me never to go anywhere near Bologna...

Posted by: Felix on March 30, 2004 11:09 PM

poor Condi just wants Valenti's old MPAA job, and then, ultimately, a shot at Gove of California. Now she's going to be forced to answer just what Dubya knew and when he knew it in an election storm.

Posted by: Ron Mwangaguhunga on March 31, 2004 01:43 AM

I'll bet dollars to donuts that Condi's dream job is coaching (American) football at Stanford... and who can blame her?

Posted by: mike on March 31, 2004 07:18 AM

"I'll bet dollars to donuts..."

Never come across this phrase before. Of course, in order to gauge how confident you are about the stated outcome, one would need to know how many dollars and how many donuts (were it, say, 2 dollars to 100 donuts, that would still make the outcome something of a longshot), but I suspect that isn't a terribly helpful comment.

Posted by: mark zerdin on March 31, 2004 12:32 PM

Mark: I cannot be helped if your upbringing lacked from a healthy serving of obscure American ideosyncratic phrases.

Condi Rice is a well known afficionado of the gridiron, and as former provost of Stanford, I imagine she looks out her window on the Rose Garden at times and wishes she was drawing up offensive strategies for next fall. I wish I was, and I'm not a huge football fan.

And it's my party, so I'll comment if I want to.

Posted by: mike on April 1, 2004 04:13 AM