Saturday, April 24, 2004

Draft Day II

Sean Taylor has arrived. From the Redskins website:

Many pro personnel experts believe Taylor not only could be an instant Pro Bowler but the best safety in the league in a couple of years.

Do the math.

Arrington + Taylor = Destructive.


Back At It

On the heels of their ridiculous assertion that John Kerry would withdraw US troops from Iraq even if another Saddam-like dictator was in place (see 04.21, The Post Misleads) the Post editorial board delivers another whopper today.

Mr. Woodward's reporting rebuts some of the more sensational recent charges against the president: that he arrived in office determined to wage war against Saddam Hussein and that he willfully deceived Americans about the case for intervention(emphasis added).

Really? One has to wonder if the Post Ed.'s have actually read Plan Of Attack; because, contrary to their assertion, Mr. Woodward's reporting seems to prove, rather than rebut, the charge that President Bush intentionally mislead Americans about the case for intervention.

This overview of Plan Of Attack, by Post reporter William Hamilton, describes an intelligence briefing held in December 2002.

HAMILTON: Bush wanted someone with Powell's credibility to present the evidence that Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction [to the UN], a case the president had initially found less than convincing when presented to him by CIA Deputy Director John E. McLaughlin at a White House meeting on Dec. 21, 2002.

McLaughlin's version used communications intercepts, satellite photos, diagrams and other intelligence. Nice try, Bush said when the CIA official was finished, according to [Woodward's] book. I don't think this quite, it's not something that Joe Public would understand or would gain a lot of confidence from.

He then turned to Tenet, McLaughlin's boss, and said, I've been told all this intelligence about having WMD, and this is the best we've got?

It's a slam-dunk case, Tenet replied, throwing his arms in the air. Bush pressed him again. George, how confident are you?

Don't worry, it's a slam dunk, Tenet repeated.

Tenet later told associates he should have said the evidence on weapons was not ironclad, according to Woodward.

As reported by the incomparable Daily Howler on Wednesday, Woodward's account of that December briefing (endoresed by the Bush campaign) raises a troubling question. Nevermind that in the briefing, Bush saw nothing he viewed as persuassive to "Joe Public;" if prior to the briefing he had only been told of evidence of WMD - "I've been told all this intelligence about having WMD, and this is the best we've got?" - and had not personally seen it or been briefed on the evidence himself, why did he make the following statements as early as September 2002?

1) September 7, 2002. "I would remind you that when the inspectors first went into Iraq and were deinied, finally denied access, a report came out of the Atomic - the IAEA - that they were six months away from developing a weapon. I don't know what more evidence we need." In response to that comment, IAEA chief spokesman Mark Gwozdecky said, "There never been a report like that issued from this agency." (The Washington Times, "Agency Disavows Report on Iraq Arms" 09.27. 2002)

2) September 12, 2002. Before the UN, Bush stated that thousands of high-strength aluminum tubes in Iraq's possesion "were used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons." ("President's Remarks at the United Nations General Assembly" 09.12.2002) The IAEA later said that the tubes were ill-suited for uranium enrichment, but they were identical to tubes that Iraq had used previously to maek conventional artillery rockets. (The Washington Post, "US Claim on Nuclear Weapon Program Is Called into Question" 01.24.2003)

3) October 7, 2002. Addressing the nation, Bush said Iraq has a fleet of unmanned aircraft which could be fitted with chemical or biological agents and used "for missions targeting the United States." In truth, the aircraft did not have the range to reach the US. (The Washington Post, "For Bush, Facts Are Malleable" 10.22.2002)

(Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, Weapons Of Mass Deception)

Not only were these claims untrue at the time they were spoken, apparently the President never even saw the intelligence alleged to support said claims, he was only told of it. Bush was fed his lines by the administration hawks, and like any good actor, he went before the public and recited them as if they were his own. If this does not constitute "willfully decieving Americans," it is hard to imagine what does.


Friday, April 23, 2004

Draft Day

Hopefully this will defray some of the arguments for bringing back the draft.

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - Despite the shrapnel wounds Staff Sgt. William Pinkley suffered during his tour in Iraq, the 26-year-old is joining other soldiers who are re-enlisting at rates that exceed (emphasis added) the retention goals set by the Pentagon.

The accepted wisdom was that there would be a decline in re-enlistment following the war, to the point that it was cited as a reason for reinstating the draft.

From a political standpoint, any mention of a draft hurts Bush; if for no other reason than it raises a critical issue: the war has left the US military over-deployed, and essential National Guard units, such as the Military Police, in low supply and high demand.


Thursday, April 22, 2004

Earth Day Blowout Extravaganza!

It's our Ronald Reagan 2 for 1 special! Now, not only can you enjoy Earth Day with this gem from the Gipper:

"Trains are not any more energy efficient than the average automobile, with both getting about 48 passenger miles to the gallon."
-Ronald Reagan, quoted in the Chicago Tribune, May 10, 1980. (The U.S. Department of Transportation calculates that a 14-car train traveling at 80 miles per hour gets 400 passenger miles to the gallon. A 1980 auto carrying an average of 2.2 people gets 42.6 passenger miles to the gallon.)

But we're also dusting off this long lost classic, just in time for your Earth Day celebration!

"Growing and decaying vegetation in this land are responsible for 93 percent of the oxides of nitrogen." -Ronald Reagan, quoted in the Los Angeles Times, October 9, 1980. (According to Dr. Michael Oppenheimer of the Environmental Defense Fund, industrial sources are responsible for at least 65 percent and possibly as much as 90 percent of the oxides of nitrogen in the U.S.)

Thanks to Cowboys And Idiots: The Ronald Reagan Presidency.


Blogs And The City

I came across this today. The only way to describe it is like a cross between Hello Kitty and The OC.

Which, quite frankly, scares the hell out of me.


On Earth Day, Bush Notes His Efforts To Combat Pollution (...No, Really.)

Today on GeorgeWBush.com, a transcript of the President's speech in recognition of Earth Day. Yes, it's unintentionally hilarious. And yes, I've got highlights.

PRESIDENT BUSH: It's my honor to celebrate Earth Day with you in a state that I know pretty darn well, in a state that I love, in an area that I now realize I know well because it was right off the beach here that old Number 41 and I liked to try to catch striped bass. (Laughter.) It's a pretty good place to fish around here.

So Junior and his dad like to fish while they're in Maine. Charming. But before father and son grill up that catch of the day, they should take a look at this, from the NRDC (National Resources Defense Council) Bush Record On Mercury.

Many scientists, environmentalists and politicians are outraged that the White House tweaked the scientific information to minimize the threat of mercury exposure. Examples of the changes include crossing out the word "confirmed" in the phrase "confirmed public health risk," and changing "are at an increased health risk" to "may be at an increased health risk." In several cases, the edits toned down the link between power plants and elevated levels of methylmercury in fish, despite the fact that power plan pollution is the largest unregulated source of mercury air pollution. In fact, high mercury levels prompted fish safety warnings in more than 44 states over the past year.

I know that when I think, "elevated levels of methylmercury in fish," I think delicious.

For sheer nonsense, this comment also stood out:

PRESIDENT BUSH: In the years since Earth Day was established, America has made great strides in honoring the ideal of conservation and living by high standards of stewardship. We've made tremendous progress during the last four years.

Here are some of the accomplishments which have lead to the President's tremendous progress on behalf of the environment.

a) Granting special exemptions to allow the injection of sewage into deep wells in Florida, despite the government's own studies that show that pollution could contaminate drinking water supplies.

b) Loosening restrictions on the release of inadequately treated sewage into waterways while shelving long-standing proposals to reduce sewage spills that every year contaminate beaches and coastal waters with bacteria, viruses, and fecal matter.

c) Cutting a sweetheart legal deal behind closed doors with the state of Utah that threatens to open millions of acres of wilderness-quality public lands to drilling, mining, road building, and other developments.

d) Rejecting tough new mercury standards in favor of a plan that would allow nearly seven times as much mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants for nearly 20 more years.

e) Easing environmental safeguards and public participation requirements to promote logging in national forests and oil and gas drilling on pristine public lands.

NRDC, "Rewriting The Rules"

I yearn for the days when Republican presidents would simply deny that pollution exists, rather than celebrate disingenuous attempts to combat it.

"All the waste in a year from a nuclear power plant can be stored under a desk." Ronald Reagan (Republican candidate for president), quoted in the Burlington (Vermont) Free Press, February 15, 1980. (In reality, the average nuclear reactor generates 30 tons of radioactive waste per year.)


Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Hypocrisy Ain't Just A River In Egypt

On Political Animal, Mr. Frum is discussing the hypocrisy of conservatives as related to the military service of Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry. Many Republicans, who now wish to examine whether or not Kerry was "injured enough" to recieve his first Purple Heart, were appalled at thought of applying further scrutiny to Bush's military records.

As always, Kevin Frum covers it better than most and so I'll add just one thing. If we're talking about hypocrisy where Vietnam War service records are concerned, let's not forget this chestnut:

"The fundamental difficulty is that he has not told the full truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth." - George H.W. Bush, challenging Bill Clinton's draft record.

The Washington Post, "Bush Takes Up Draft Cry" 09.22.1992

When will Bush Sr. finally put his foot down and demand that Junior tells us the whole story behind his absence from the Alabama National Guard?


The Post Misleads

The Washington Post Editorial Board today makes a ridiculous charge based on this statement from John Kerry:

"With respect to getting our troops out, the measure is the stability of Iraq. [Democracy] shouldn't be the measure of when you leave. I have always said from day one that the goal here . . . is a stable Iraq, not whether or not that's a full democracy."

Using that statement, the Post editorial staff accused Kerry of revising his commitment to a democratic government in Iraq, then went on to steer readers into believing that Kerry will withdraw US troops from Iraq no matter what state the country is in; even if another dictator has taken control.

Mr. Kerry now argues that there is a third option. But what would that be? "I can't tell you what it's going to be," he said to reporters covering his campaign. "That stability can take several forms." True; in the Middle East, there is the stability of Islamic dictatorship, the stability of military dictatorship and the stability of monarchical dictatorship. In Lebanon, there is the stability of permanent foreign occupation and de facto ethnic partition. None is in the interest of the United States; all have helped create the extremism and terrorism against which this nation is now at war.

The Washington Post, "Mr. Kerry Revises," 04.21.2004

To facilitate this charge, the Post editorial takes Kerry's statement out of context. The original statement was made within the framework of a larger discussion on turning control of Iraq over to UN, after which the country would probably stabilize whether elections had yet been held or not.

In his most extended comments about Iraq since the eruption of new violence there that has left more than 80 American soldiers dead this month, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee charged that Bush failed in his news conference Tuesday night to offer a clear exit strategy or to show any willingness to cede authority to gain greater international cooperation.

Kerry said withdrawal of U.S. forces should be determined by whether Iraq has been stabilized, not whether it has achieved democracy. Democracy "shouldn't be the measurement of when you leave," Kerry told reporters at an afternoon news conference. "You leave with stability. You hope you can continue the process of democratization -- obviously, that's our goal. But with respect to getting our troops out, the measurement is the stability of Iraq."

Kerry said more international support would help take the focus off the U.S. occupation. "The minute you have that international acceptance, you begin to reduce some of the capacity of people to focus on the infidel United States and to focus their energies on our occupation alone."

The Washington Post, 04.15.2004

The "stability" Kerry mentions, and the "third option" which the Post found so troubling, clearly references turning authority of Iraq over to the UN. Kerry cannot tell the Post Ed's exactly what form the turnover will take because the UN, by means of special representative Lakhdar Brahimi, is still determining how the transfer of power to Iraqis will occur. Brahimi may decide that the June 30 transfer date should hold; he may recommend that elections not take place for another year. Regardless, any decision by the UN to accept control of Iraq will be affected his choice.

However, were the United Nations to take control of Iraq, three things would likely happen; all of which would result in a more stable Iraq than currently exists, though without elected Iraqi officials in place.

1) The arrival of the UN troops would relieve some of the burden placed on the American military, thus giving the US the option to begin withdrawing certain units from Iraq.

2) With the deployment of UN troops from several member nations, the American "face" on the occupation would be removed and violence fueled by anti-Americanism would decrease.

3) A democratic election process, at the recommendations of Brahimi, would be put into place and an election date announced.

With tours being extended once again, the burden placed on US forces in Iraq is incredible. Should the UN become involved and Brahimi decide that a fair election process will take up to a year to implement, it would be foolish to postpone leave for combat-weary American units. If Iraq stabilizes, the date of elections becomes arbitrary.


Tuesday, April 20, 2004

AL East Powerhouse

Not to brag, but there's this.


Good Beer, Dumb Guy

This from Dennis Miller, last May (also included in the previous post):

DENNIS MILLER: The war's over now. You know Mr. Sherman and Peabody aren't getting in way back in the machine and going back for a do-over here. This one is in the books, my friends. It's over.

Hannity and Comes 05.08.2003

Could Miller have been clueless or callous? And with over 700 American lives lost, would he like to apologize for his dismissive attitude toward the threat faced by our military in Iraq?


Champagne Supernova

I've said this before, but the way Bush and Co. handled the "victory" phase of this war (from about mid-April to mid-May of last year) was appalling. There is a near compulsion from this administration to gloat on a previously unimaginable level, and Bob Woodward's new book "Plan Of Attack" brings yet another example.

Woodward describes Cheney's favorable reaction to a column by former Reagan official Ken Adelman.

On April 10, 2003, Ken Adelman, a Reagan administration official and supporter of the Iraq war, published an op-ed article in The Washington Post headlined, " 'Cakewalk' Revisited," more or less gloating over what appeared to be the quick victory there, and reminding readers that 14 months earlier he had written that war would be a "cakewalk." He chastised those who had predicted disaster. "Taking first prize among the many frightful forecasters" was Brent Scowcroft, who served as national security adviser in the first Bush administration. Adelman wrote that his own confidence came from having worked for Donald H. Rumsfeld three times and "from knowing Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz for so many years."

Vice President Cheney phoned Adelman, who was in Paris with his wife, Carol. What a clever column, the vice president said. You really demolished them.

In hindsight, Adelman's ignorance is remarkable. However, equably remarkable is the April 13 dinner that Woodward goes on to describe, hosted by Cheney to "celebrate" the victory in Iraq. Keep in mind that by the time dinner guest Ken Adelman makes this point, over 110 US soldiers have died in the war.

The war has been awesome, Adelman said. "So I just want to make a toast, without getting too cheesy. To the president of the United States."

They all raised their glasses. Hear! Hear!

That Cheney allowed Woodward to be present for this sort of event shows his complete lack of touch with normal society. A group of powerful Republicans, sharing a champagne toast to celebrate a war being fought as they enjoy fine dining, reinforces most every negative stereotype of conservatives.

Yet this is hardly the first example of such chest-thumping on the part of the Bush administration. Take the Mission Accomplished publicity stunt, for example. Marking the end of major combat operations, during which approximately 150 American soldiers lost their lives, it was staged with the kind of somber reflection usually displayed at high school pep rallies. Yet it energized the Republican base, at least in part, because it angered liberals. One of the qualities conservatives like about Bush is that he has an open contempt for liberal sensibilities.

Chris Matthews, who in the past compared Bush to Winston Churchill, has publicly admitted as much. This from the April 13 transcript of Hardball.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: I like him when he [Bush] you know when I like him best? When he gives the answer nobody likes, like, what did you do wrong? I'm not prepared to say that right now.


MATTHEWS: And my greatest philosopher is Jesus Christ. I like when he says the stuff that the liberals don't like.

BUCHANAN: That was terrific, yes.

The message is clear: one of Bush's greatest strengths is the extent to which his message and policies tweak liberals. Some conservatives pundits admire it so much, they aren't bothered when minor issues like the loss of human life interfere with this political gamesmanship.

Take this remarkable exchange on Iraq from last May, (Hannity and Colmes 05.08.2003) between Dennis Miller and Alan Colmes. Miller (whose CNBC talk show is now billed as "half as funny as Gallagher, with none of the intelligence) admits he finds the liberal frustration toward lack of WMD in Iraq, "fun."

MILLER: As far as weapons of mass destruction go, to be honest, Alan, I was never sure they had them. That was not a big ticket for me. We said that to get the war machine out of port. But to be quite honest with you, I was hoping they didn't have them because I assume if they had them they would use them and we'd have a lot more dead, young, brave American boys than 125.

So to be honest, I kind of hope they don't find them. Because guess what? The war's over now. You know Mr. Sherman and Peabody aren't getting in way back in the machine and going back for a do-over here. This one is in the books, my friends. It's over.

And you know something? If it makes guys cranky like you that we didn't find them, well, that's kind of fun, too.

Spot on, Dennis. Nevermind the sacrifice on the part of our military for a non-existent threat, it's all pickles and giggles when you're having "fun" slamming the libs!


Monday, April 19, 2004

A Newspaper Occasionally Printed In English

Mr. Reynolds is complaining about Kerry's taxes again. He links to a NY Post piece by Howie Carr.

Weary of liberals always clamoring for higher taxes on other people, an anti-tax group managed to place a line on the tax form giving Bay Staters the option of paying at the old, since-repealed 5.85 percent rate, rather than at the current 5.3 percent rate.

For two years now, John Kerry has had the opportunity to pay his "fair share." But like some Benedict Arnold CEO, the Democratic Party candidate for president has taken the money and ran.

I know that Howie and Glenn desperately want us to believe that Kerry is a closeted penny-hound, scouring every nook and cranny of his tax form for a possible deduction; but the reality is that an accountant does Kerry's taxes. And unless told otherwise, that accountant will perform his function, which is to ensure his or her client saves money.

Too bad Kerry wasn't up on every fringe anti-tax group and right-wing blog, or he could have just checked the "pay more" box and avoided this mess.

Also from the Carr piece, this:

What is undisputed is that Kerry's jet-setting lifestyle is completely financed by Teresa Heinz Kerry's late first husband, a Republican senator from Pennsylvania.

This is a sore-point with conservatives and I can't quite understand what they're angry about: that John Heinz dared practice the heathen tradition of leaving his savings to his wife when he passed; or that Teresa Heinz selfishly fell in love and married again.

Am I missing something? Is it a faith-based thing?


Guess Who's Coming To Dinner

And he's bringing Death Squads for dessert.

Got this from Atrios. Bush seems to think his appointment of John Negroponte as US ambassador to Iraq reaffirms that the country "will be free and democratic and peaceful." I concur. The Iraqis should just relax and take his word for it. Someone show me one thing that suggests the Negroponte appointment would send the wrong message to your average Iraqi.

Oh wait...

A career diplomat with 37 years in the foreign service, Negroponte served as ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985. As ambassador, Negroponte dedicated himself to Reagan's anti-Communist drive in the region, overseeing the extensive military build-up in Honduras, the Big Pine II joint military exercises that deployed thousands of U.S. troops in the country from 1983 to 1984, and the training of Contra forces on Honduran bases by CIA and Argentine advisors. During his ambassadorship, U.S. support for the Contras led Washington to invest tens of millions of dollars in aid to Hondura's military--then involved in a clandestine campaign to detain, torture and murder suspected subversives. According to the National Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras, dozens of Hondurans died or disappeared during the early 1980s at the hands of the CIA-trained intelligence unit Battalion 316, a death squad run by then-army chief and graduate of the U.S. School of the Americas, Gen. Gustavo Alvarez Martinez.

(NACLA [North American Congress on Latin America] Report On The Americas, "Back To The Future," Nov/Dec 2001 Vol. 35 Issue 3)

This can't be good for business...


Are UN Or Are You Out?

This morning, Mr. Yglesias is arguing that sending the Marines into Fallujah might not be the best way to deal with that particular insurgency; even if the Marines are sure to give much more than they take in regards to casualties.

More important, they're Marines, not magicians. They can't make people like us, and they can't make Fallujans care more about procedural fairness than about their inevitably lowered status under the new regime.

He also makes this very good point:

Nor are Marines cops, well-trained to patrol the streets indefinitely maintaining order and looking out for insurgents who just put down their guns temporarily but never surrendered. And even if they were cops, think about this. Suppose your city was patrolled by a bunch of policemen who practiced a strange religion and didn't speak your language. The DC cops who patrol Columbia Heights make a reasonably comprehensive effort to get Spanish-speakers on the scene when they're dealing with folks (be they suspects or victims) who don't know English, and there's still all sorts of trouble.

This is the crux of the problem in Iraq right now, and it is precisely why John Kerry's call for turning the country over to UN control is spot-on. Along with UN involvement comes additional troops from Muslim countries. And while these troops may not convince the Iraqis to like us, they stand a far better chance of communicating our sincere intentions, to leave behind a democratically elected government, than does a group of well-armed Marines. The mere sight of additional soldiers of any nationality would affirm our commitment to scale back US military presence.

As to why the UN may heighten involvement for Kerry, but not Bush: simple. John Kerry did not devote the entire pre-war period to marginalizing the organization and declaring it "irrelevant," only to return months later and ask for assistance without the slightest hint of contrition.

Besides, the rift between Bush and the UN began not with Iraq, but when Bush rode into office talking like a cross between an Atari game and a post-WWI isolationist...

(The game screen shots are from Missile Command, by the way)


Sunday, April 18, 2004

She Said She Wants Some Marvin Gaye...

Check out the video for All Falls Down by Kanye West, co-starring Stacey Dash. One word to describe Ms. Dash: incomparable.


Melo Yellow

Carmelo Anthony's NBA Playoff debut is going less than well...


Javy Lopez for VP!

Who's in first place in the AL East? Your Baltimore Orioles that's who...


It's A Saudi Sunday

The Sunday Washington Post has this excerpt from Bob Woodward's new book, showing the extraordinary courtesies afforded Saudi Arabia by this White House.

Not only was Prince Bandar allowed to view classified Iraq war plans marked NOFORN (NO FOREIGN, material not to be seen by foreign nations), he was also told of the plan to invade Iraq before Colin Powell.

Bandar Told Ahead of Powell

One of Rice's jobs was, as she called it, "to read the secretaries": Powell and Rumsfeld. Since the president had told Rumsfeld about his decision to go to war, he had better tell Powell, and fast. Powell was close to Prince Bandar, who now was informed of the decision.

"Mr. President," Rice said, "if you're getting to a place that you really think this might happen, you need to call Colin in and talk to him." Powell had the most difficult job, keeping the diplomatic track alive.

On the lighter side of things, there's this exchange between Cheney and Rumsfeld.

"Saddam, this time, will be out, period?" Bandar asked skeptically. "What will happen to him?"

Cheney, who had been quiet as usual, replied, "Prince Bandar, once we start, Saddam is toast."

...After Bandar had left, Rumsfeld voiced some concern about the vice president's "toast" remark. "Jesus Christ, what was that all about, Dick?"

"I didn't want to leave any doubt in his mind what we're planning to do," Cheney said.

As to Bush and the Saudi Royal Family, Roger Ailes finds this interesting, and I agree. It's taken from the NY Times review of Craig Unger's new book, House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties.

[Craig Unger] even puts a price tag on the Saudis' contributions to the Bush family: a staggering $1.476 billion, paid out over 30 years as gifts to Bush-related charities, as generous perks (including a Saudi-sponsored European hunting trip for George H. W. Bush and his 1991 gulf war cabinet just after the November 2000 general election) and as investments in Bush-related businesses like Harken Energy or the Carlyle Group.

This isn't the same Saudi Arabia that produced 15 of the 9-11 hijackers, is it?


(Saudi) Arabian Nights

Mr. Taylor over at Pandagon is talking about the Bush family connection to the Saudi royals here and here.

He also discusses the general lack of mainstream media coverage given to potential Bush "scandals," as compared to that of his predecessor, Bill Cinton. I tend to agree. The degree to which republicans were able to define Clinton as immoral, in the eyes of the press and the public, was staggering. This was the result of a strategy that began long before innaguration; Clinton came into office dragging scandals with him.

In addition, there was a cumulative effect with Clinton that does not exist with Bush. Gennifer Flowers, Monica Lewinsky, Paula Jones, Juanita Broderick, etc. provided a virtual color-by-numbers for the press. The picture was already drawn out for them, all they had to do was provide the pretty colors. On the other hand, the media seem far less anxious to connect the dots concerning Bush, the Saudis and 9-11.

Or the Plame leak, or the WMD, or the Energy Commission....


Who's Partisan Now?

With conservative pundits stepping all over each other this past week to decry the 9-11 Commission as partisan, a look back at the Richard Clarke testimony seems in order. You may be less than shocked to discover some hefty partisanship on the part of republican commission members James Thompson and Fred Fielding, as they attempt to discredit Clarke.

Take a look at Thompson first, who bypasses opening remarks if favor of going right after Clarke's credibility.

JAMES THOMPSON, COMMISSION MEMBER: Mr. Clarke, as we sit here this afternoon, we have your book and we have your press briefing of August 2002. Which is true?

CLARKE: Well, I think the question is a little misleading.

The press briefing you're referring to comes in the following context: Time magazine had published a cover story article highlighting what your staff briefing talks about. They had learned that, as your staff briefing notes, that there was a strategy or a plan and a series of additional options that were presented to the national security adviser and the new Bush team when they came into office.

Time magazine ran a somewhat sensational story that implied that the Bush administration hadn't worked on that plan. And this, of course, coming after 9/11 caused the Bush White House a great deal of concern.

So I was asked by several people in senior levels of the Bush White House to do a press backgrounder to try to explain that set of facts in a way that minimized criticism of the administration. And so I did.

Now, we can get into semantic games of whether it was a strategy, or whether it was a plan, or whether it was a series of options to be decided upon. I think the facts are as they were outlined in your staff briefing.

THOMPSON: Well, let's take a look, then, at your press briefing, because I don't want to engage in semantic games. You said, the Bush administration decided, then, you know, mid-January -- that's mid- January, 2001 -- to do 2 things: one, vigorously pursue the existing the policy -- that would be the Clinton policy -- including all of the lethal covert action findings which we've now made public to some extent. Is that so? Did they decide in January of 2001 to vigorously pursue the existing Clinton policy?

CLARKE: They decided that the existing covert action findings would remain in effect.

THOMPSON: OK. The second thing the administration decided to do is to initiate a process to look at those issues which had been on the table for a couple of years and get them decided. Now, that seems to indicate to me that proposals had been sitting on the table in the Clinton administration for a couple of years, but that the Bush administration was going to get them done. Is that a correct assumption?

CLARKE: Well, that was my hope at the time. It turned out not to be the case.

THOMPSON: Well, then why in August of 2002, over a year later, did you say that it was the case?

CLARKE: I was asked to make that case to the press. I was a special assistant to the president, and I made the case I was asked to make.

THOMPSON: Are you saying to be you were asked to make an untrue case to the press and the public, and that you went ahead and did it?

CLARKE: No, sir. Not untrue. Not an untrue case. I was asked to highlight the positive aspects of what the administration had done and to minimize the negative aspects of what the administration had done. And as a special assistant to the president, one is frequently asked to do that kind of thing. I've done it for several presidents.

Later in the hearing, Fred Fielding tries to advance the same line of spin: Richard Clarke is contradicting himself.

FRED FIELDING, COMMISSION MEMBER: Mr. Clarke, thank you for being here.

I shared John's feelings when I read your interviews with the staff as well, because it gave a perspective of something that bridged different administrations and really had a chance to see it. And of course, you were looking at it from different level than some of the other people we had interviewed.

And likewise, I was a little taken back when I saw the hoopla and the promotion for the book and when I saw this transcript that just came forward today.

But what's bothering me now is that not only did you interview with us, but you also spent more than six hours with the congressional joint inquiry. And I've read your information, and, I mean, that's a very serious body and very serious inquiry -- not that we're not. But I can't believe over six hours you never expressed any concern to them that the Bush administration didn't act with sufficient urgency to address these horrible potential problems if you felt that way.

Did you ever list for the joint inquiry any of the measures that you thought should have been taken that weren't?

CLARKE: I think all the measures that I thought should have been taken were in the plan that I presented in January of 2001 and were in the NSPD that the principals approved in September, September 4th, 2001. There were no additional measures that I had in mind other than those that I presented. And as I did explain, both to the commission and to the joint inquiry, those proposals, which ultimately were adopted by the principals committee, took a very, very, very long time to make it through the policy development process.

FIELDING: Well, I understand that, but I think the charges that you've made are much more -- I think they're much deeper than that.

Let me ask you a question, because it's been bothering me as well. You've been involved intimately in PDD-39 and in PDD-62. The latter certainly very much implicates your own position. How long did it take for those to be developed and signed?

CLARKE: I'm not sure I could recollect that answer. Perhaps the staff could find that.

To your general answer about how long does it take PDDs to be signed, I've seen them signed in a day and I've seen them take three years.

FIELDING: Well, of course. I mean, we've all seen that. But these were -- obviously 62 was a very important one, but obviously the one that we're talking about that was developed was an extremely important one, and it was one that you put a lot into yourself. And it was in the beginning of a new administration. Anyway...

CLARKE: Sir, if I may?


CLARKE: There's also the issue that was raised earlier by another member of the commission was to whether all of the pending decisions needed to be rolled up into a national security presidential directive or whether, based on the urgency of the intelligence, some of them couldn't -- like arming the Predator to attack and kill bin Laden -- why did that have to wait until the entire policy was developed?

Weren't there pieces like that that could have been broken off and decided right away? Now I certainly urged that. I urged that beginning in February when I realized that this policy process was going to take forever.

FIELDING: I understand. And I understand your testimony that you did that. What I don't understand is, if you had these deep feelings and deep concerns about the lack of ability and urgency within the Bush administration, that you didn't advise the joint inquiry. And I mean, did you feel it unnecessary to tell them that the Bush administration was too preoccupied with the Cold War issues or Iraq at that point?

CLARKE: I wasn't asked, sir. I think I provided the joint inquiry, as a member of the administration at the time, please recall, I provided the joint inquiry all the facts it needed to make the conclusions which I've made about how long it took and what the development of the policy process was like and the refusal of the administration to spin out for earlier decision things like the armed Predator.

FIELDING: Well, it obviously will be up to the members of the joint inquiry to make that decision and judgment.

But, you must agree that it's not like -- going before a joint inquiry is not like going before a press background briefing. As you said, I think your description was I tried to highlight the positive and play down the negative. But the joint inquiry wasn't asking you to do that, they were asking you to come forward, weren't they?

CLARKE: I answered very fully all of the questions the joint inquiry had asked. They said that themselves in their comments to me, and in their report. I testified for six hours. And I testified as a member of the Bush administration.

And I think, sir, with all of your experience in this city, you understand as well as I do the freedom one has to speak critical of an administration when one is a member of that administration.

FIELDING: I do understand that. But I also understand the integrity with which you have to take your job. But thank you, sir.

CLARKE: Thank you.

During the second round of questioning, Thompson, apparently not satisfied with he and Fielding's attempts to brand Clarke a liar, tries to force the issue again.

THOMPSON: Mr. Clarke, in this background briefing, as Senator Kerrey has now described it, for the press in August of 2002, you intended to mislead the press, did you not?

CLARKE: No. I think there is a very fine line that anyone who's been in the White House, in any administration, can tell you about. And that is when you are special assistant to the president and you're asked to explain something that is potentially embarrassing to the administration, because the administration didn't do enough or didn't do it in a timely manner and is taking political heat for it, as was the case there, you have a choice. Actually, I think you have three choices. You can resign rather than do it. I chose not to do that. Second choice is...

THOMPSON: Why was that, Mr. Clarke? You finally resigned because you were frustrated.

CLARKE: I was, at that time, at the request of the president, preparing a national strategy to defend America's cyberspace, something which I thought then and think now is vitally important. I thought that completing that strategy was a lot more important than whether or not I had to provide emphasis in one place or other while discussing the facts on this particular news story.

The second choice one has, Governor, is whether or not to say things that are untruthful. And no one in the Bush White House asked me to say things that were untruthful, and I would not have said them.

In any event, the third choice that one has is to put the best face you can for the administration on the facts as they were, and that is what I did.

I think that is what most people in the White House in any administration do when they're asked to explain something that is embarrassing to the administration.

THOMPSON: But you will admit that what you said in August of 2002 is inconsistent with what you say in your book?

CLARKE: No, I don't think it's inconsistent at all. I think, as I said in your last round of questioning, Governor, that it's really a matter here of emphasis and tone. I mean, what you're suggesting, perhaps, is that as special assistant to the president of the United States when asked to give a press backgrounder I should spend my time in that press backgrounder criticizing him. I think that's somewhat of an unrealistic thing to expect.

THOMPSON: Well, what it suggests to me is that there is one standard of candor and morality for White House special assistants and another standard of candor and morality for the rest of America.

CLARKE: I don't get that. I don't think it's a question of morality at all. I think it's a question of politics.

CLARKE: Well, I...


THOMPSON: I'm not a Washington insider. I've never been a special assistant in the White House. I'm from the Midwest. So I think I'll leave it there.

Nevermind the fact that, rather than questioning Clarke on improving terrorism prevention, the republican commissioners spent much of their allotted time trying to catch him in a contradiction; the allegations raised by Fielding and Thompson are troublesome because they are blatantly false.

Not only did Clarke say nothing contradictory in the 2002 press briefing, but none other than Sen. Pat Roberts, R-KS, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that Clarke did not contradict himself during the Congressional Joint Inquiry on the September 11 attacks, in July 2002.

Where were the liberal pundits on this one? Partisanship reared it's ugly head long before Condoleezza Rice took the stand.

For more, take a look at the O'Franken Factor blog.