Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Arkansas Best--Gene Lyons--Delivers the Coup-de-Grace to Lying Liar Condersleezy Rice

When the going gets tough, Bush goes fishing
Gene Lyons
Posted on Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Be it recorded that as all hell broke loose in Iraq last week, costing the lives of 60 brave U.S. soldiers, their commander-in-chief went fishing. For readers naive enough to imagine that ole Dubya just slipped on down to the fishin’ hole to ease his mind, it should be stipulated that he was hard at work filming an episode of Roland Martin’s program for the Outdoor Life cable TV channel—in effect, a free campaign commercial to be shown next August.

According to The Associated Press, Martin brought his crew to Crawford, Texas, at White House invitation. It’s even been reported that the president landed a 4-pound largemouth, although if press accounts were as truthful as Condoleezza Rice’s testimony to the 9/11 Commission, somebody probably had to thaw the lunker out before hooking it to George W. Bush’s line. But never mind, fellow rednecks. All you’re supposed to notice is that ole Dubya phoned Condi from his official Texas good-ole-boy pick-em-up truck to say she done good. Well, she done bad.

So bad that in an administration more concerned with reality than symbolism, Rice would be headed back to Stanford University to compose her memoirs and preside over faculty senate meetings.

Academia is clearly where she belongs. I once taught courses at a college that allowed itself three years to make the transition from a quarterly to a semester system. Judging by last week’s testimony, that’d be about Rice’s speed.

With the CIA director running around Washington with his hair on fire, as they say, and counter-terrorism chief Richard Clarke demanding to know if it would take hundreds of Americans lying dead in the street to wake up the White House, Rice testified that she couldn’t remember if she’d told Bush about active al-Qa’ida cells in the U.S. She’d also forgotten whether the president met with the FBI director. Translation: Of course not. Bush was too keen to head for his Texas bass pond.

Luckily, Rice was talking about the Bush administration’s pre-9/11 failure to comprehend the terrorist threat and not something truly important like sex. Otherwise, people might have noticed that her testimony made Bill Clinton’s accounts of his Oval Office exploits look comparatively straightforward. After all, when Clinton told the nation that he "did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," it was technically true. Sexual intercourse hadn’t occurred.

But when Rice, smiling inappropriately like a poorly rehearsed Miss Alabama contestant, repeatedly testified under oath that an Aug. 6 presidential daily briefing, or PDB, "was historical information based on old reporting, there was no new threat information, and it did not, in fact, warn of any coming attacks inside the United States," well, that wasn’t even technically true. Secure in the knowledge that the document was classified, she even condescendingly offered to read it aloud to Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste, currently under attack by GOP shills for being rude to darling Condi. Rice even brazenly insisted that "there was nothing in this memo that suggested that an attack was coming on New York or Washington, D. C." Now that the White House has yielded to pressure and declassified the Aug. 6 PDB, however, everybody can see why Ben-Veniste was so impatient.

In fact, New York and Washington were the only geographical locations specifically mentioned. In only 17 sentences—short enough for even Bush to read—the CIA warned exactly who planned to attack the U.S. and came tantalizingly close to stipulating the how and the where. The document said the FBI had etected "patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York." It added that the FBI and CIA had intelligence that "a group of [Osama] bin Ladin supporters was in the U.S. planning attacks with explosives." This in the wake of 40 previous briefings warning the White House, as Commissioner Fred F. Fielding put it, that "the upcoming attack would be spectacular, something quantitatively different from anything that had been done." Alas, we have a president who, even after the Aug. 6 document, titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.," became public, blithely told reporters that it "said nothing about an attack on America." That president has a national security adviser who, when she wasn’t obfuscating in the commission’s face, filibustered about her scholarly interest in "structural" and "cultural" barriers preventing White House action. We’ve got a structural problem, all right: a president who doesn’t know apple butter from Shinola, and a pathologically evasive national security adviser who would evidently have to be "tasked" to call the Fire Department if her own hair were ablaze. This White House began dissembling on Sept. 11, 2001, proclaiming it had "no warning" of terrorist attacks. No wonder it wanted no investigation.

• Free-lance columnist Gene Lyons is a Little Rock author and recipient
of the National Magazine Award.


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