Thursday, March 25, 2004

I can't even get through a Maureen Dowd column anymore, and I'm trying to figure out why. Her habit of "Dowdifying" (taking quotes out of context so as to completely change their meaning) people is annoying, but easily dismissed. I think my biggest problem is her utter hypocrisy spurred on by her total stupidity.

F. Scott Fitzgerald said "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function." Ms. Dowd, it seems lacks this ability entirely. Accordingly, I feel the need to do my first real Fisking:

As the White House was sliming Richard Clarke, the 9/11 families were stroking him.
That's a lot of families to fit around one man--I'm impressed.

Several relatives of victims surrounded the ex-counterterrorism chief after his testimony yesterday and reached out to pat him.
Ah, so it was just a few. And were they an elected few chosen to represent the total group? No, of course not. Still, we must clearly accept their feelings as representative of all victims.
After being condescended to, stonewalled, led on and put off by the White House, they were glad to hear somebody say: "Those entrusted with protecting you failed you. And I failed you."

"Mr. Clarke is the first person who has apologized to the families and held himself accountable," said the lovely Kristen Breitweiser of New Jersey, whose husband died in the south tower. "I am enormously grateful for that." She and other widows left the hearing room to protest Condoleezza Rice's lame no-show.

1)I don't buy that Clarke is the first to apologize. In fact, I've heard Bush do it on television, multiple times.
2)These families have received more, on an order of magnitude, than the families of the soldiers who have died fighting to ensure that such an attack never happens again. I don't call that stonewalling or condescension.

If only Sandy Berger had told the incoming Bush officials that Al Qaeda was no big deal, they might have gotten alarmed about it. They were determined to disdain all things Clinton, including what they considered his overemphasis on terrorism.

Dick Cheney, Rummy et al. were on amber alert, "preserved in amber," as Mr. Clarke put it, obsessing on old G.O.P. issues that had been hot when they were last in power, like a menacing Saddam and a Star Wars missile shield to protect America from the awesome might of the Evil Empire.

Terrorism wasn't really their cup of tea anyhow.

Yes. Bush paid no attention to terrorism because Clinton did. That makes a whole lot of sense.
It must also be the reason that he doesn't cheat on his wife. I mean, clearly neither one could be that they're different men and see different priorities in the world.
Mistakes were made before 9/11, clearly, or else it wouldn't have happened. I maintain, however, that Bush's response after that horrid day was significantly stronger than 99% of people's would have been.

As Mr. Clarke writes, the ascension of Al Qaeda and the devolution of Iraq were topics that called for nuance: "Bush and his inner circle had no real interest in complicated analyses; on the issues that they cared about, they already knew the answers, it was received wisdom."

The Bush crew was thinking big, and Osama seemed puny to them.

Nuance. I wonder, what did Clarke advocate that Bush didn't follow? Maybe I've missed it, but I haven't seen any nuanced approaches that Clarke feels were ignored. And, if the Clinton Administration saw UBL as so important, why didn't they take the opportunities they've now admitted they had to take him out? Maybe because, if they were kept in power for another 8 months, 9/11 would have still happened. No one saw it coming. Maybe they should have, but it wasn't simply a failing of Bush's inner circle.

Donald Rumsfeld told the 9/11 panel that there had been no point retaliating for the Cole bombing in October 2000, "four months after the fact," because that might have sent a signal of weakness.

So it was too late to whack Osama four months later, but not too late to re-whack Saddam 12 years later?

Well, let's see. We've heard speeches from UBL that clearly refer to Clinton's responses to the 1993 bombing, as well as the attacks on the African embassies. And every time, he points out that all we did was lob a few missiles at a pharmaceutical plant and call the matter closed. It was purely retaliatory, never preemptive. After 9/11, we learned the valuable lesson that we could no longer go on trying to intercept intended attacks, but we had to go after those planning them, and those supporting them. That means taking down the Al Quaida network at every possible turn, and changing the make-up of the Middle East so that terrorism is no longer tenable.

As he admitted to the commission on Tuesday, the defense secretary didn't like the idea of going after Osama in Afghanistan because "it didn't have a lot of targets." You just ended up bombing rocks instead of palaces. "Afghanistan was something like 8,000 miles from the United States. . . . You can pound the rubble in an Al Qaeda training camp 15 times and not do much damage; they can put tents right back up."

So, not showy and not convenient? Crummy excuses, Rummy.

Ah, a Dowdification. Should have known that she wouldn't go a full column without using one. The thing is, that's not all Rummy said, Ms. Dowd. He also pointed out that there wasn't enough public or international support to eliminate the Taliban, which was the only way to truly take terrorism out of Afghanistan. Now, I agree that this is the point of leadership, and they should have made it happen. But nobody saw what was coming, and short of that vision, there was no use in taking out specific camps in Afghanistan.

Paul Wolfowitz was completely uninterested in Al Qaeda unless he could use it as a rationale to invade Iraq as part of his grandiose dream to remake the Middle East in his image. (And John Ashcroft was just too busy covering up immodest statues and trying to cut counterterrorism funds.)

In the Clarke book, Mr. Wolfowitz fidgets as Mr. Clarke urges that armed Predators target Osama at a meeting in April 2001. "Well," Wolfie whines, "I just don't understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man, bin Laden."

OK, that I can't even tolerate. Because Wolfowitz wants to stop focusing on an individual, he doesn't care about Al Quaida. Ashcroft, who has no say whatsoever in foreign matters, is always evil. And what's wrong with a dream for remaking the Middle East? Can you honestly say that it would be a bad thing if suddenly Israel were surrounded by Arad democracies? Do you really believe that would fail to reduce the Palestinian terrorist threat, in turn increasing the likelihood of compromise

Besides confirming what we already knew — that national security in this White House has been as ideologically driven as the domestic agenda — the Clarke book and the commission hearings are most chilling in describing how clueless the agencies charged with sorting through clues were under Clinton and Bush.

Reprising the scene in the White House on 9/11, Mr. Clarke says Dale Watson, the F.B.I.'s counterterrorism chief, called him. "We got the passenger manifests from the airlines," Mr. Watson said. "We recognize some names, Dick. They're Al Qaeda."

Mr. Clarke recalled: "I was stunned, not that the attack was Al Qaeda but that there were Al Qaeda operatives on board aircraft using names that F.B.I. knew were Al Qaeda." Mr. Watson told Mr. Clarke that "C.I.A. forgot to tell us about them."

I don't really have anything to argue with here, mostly because Dowd finally admits that the problems under W existed under Clinton too. Also, this is nothing new. We know that the intelligence failed us, the question that Clarke hasn't shed any light on is: why?

Mr. Clarke's argument that the Bush team's misguided adventurism in Iraq has actually spawned more terrorism and diverted resources has panicked the Bushies, who are running as heroic terror warriors.

It's always gross to see a White House stoop to smearing the character of someone seen as a threat. It was sickening when the Clinton White House smeared Monica Lewinsky, and it's sickening now.

Ok, Ms. Dowd, please tell me how they've smeared his character? By releasing his statements from a year and two years ago? Even four years ago? Is it really a character smear to show people that what someone said previously is completely opposite to what they're saying now? I don't think so.

Finally, that's over. I hope it wasn't too painful, but thank you for indulging me.

No comments: