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Posts Tagged ‘PAUL WOLFOWITZ’

REWRITING HISTORY: IT’S NOT JUST FOR RUSSIANS ANYMORE

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics on February 17, 2016 at 12:01 am

At one time, Americans believed that the wholesale rewriting of history happened only in the Soviet Union.

“The problem with writing about history in the Soviet Union,” went the joke, “is that you never know what’s going to happen yesterday.”  

A classic example of this occurred in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia.  

Lavrenti Beria had been head of the NKVD, the dreaded secret police, from 1938 to 1953. In 1953, following the death of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, Beria was arrested and executed on orders of his fellow Communist Party leaders, who feared they were targets of a coming purge.  

Lavrenti Beria

But the Great Soviet Encyclopedia had just gone to press with a long article singing Beria’s praises.  

What to do?  

The editors of the Encyclopedia wrote an equally long article about “the Bering Straits,” which was to be pasted over the article about Beria, and sent this off to its subscribers. An unknown number of them decided it was safer to paste accordingly. 

Today, the Republican party is furiously rewriting history in a desperate attempt to win the 2016 Presidential election. 

Specifically, its members are now trying to convince Americans that:

  1. President George W. Bush “kept us safe” (excluding, of course, the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, which snuffed out the lives of 3,000 Americans); and/or
  2. President Bush isn’t to blame for 9/11–it’s his predecessor, Bill Clinton (who left office more than a year and a half before 9/11). 

Joseph Stalin was depicted in Soviet “history” texts as the architect of Russia’s victory over Nazi Germany during World War II.  

No “historian” dared mention that Stalin’s wholesale purges of the Red Army in the 1930s had made the country vulnerable to the German attack in 1941. As had Stalin’s “nonaggression” pact with Germany in 1939, where he and Hitler aggressively divided Poland between them. 

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Joseph Stalin

Recently, Jeb Bush has entered the “Rewriting History for Americans” sweepstakes.

On October 16, 2015, during an interview on Bloomberg TV, Donald Trump, the leading Republican candidate for President in 2016, dared speak (for Republicans) the unspeakable:

“When you talk about George Bush, I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time. He was President, OK?  Blame him, or don’t blame him, but he was President. The World Trade Center came down during his reign.” 

Jeb Bush was quick to respond on Twitter: “How pathetic for @realdonaldtrump criticize the president for 9/11. We were attacked & my brother kept us safe.”   

Jeb Bush

Not one to let Bush–or anyone else–have the last word, Trump blasted more Tweets: 

“At the debate you said your brother kept us safe–I wanted to be nice & did not mention the WTC came down during his watch, 9/11.”

And: “No @JebBush, you’re pathetic for saying nothing happened during your brother’s term when the World Trade Center was attacked and came down.” 

Now another Republican Presidential candidate has taken to rewriting 9/11: Florida United States Senator Marco Rubio. 

This came during the Republican Presidential debate in Greenville, South Carolina, on February 13. 

According to Rubio: “The World Trade Center came down because Bill Clinton didn’t kill Osama bin Laden when he had the chance to kill him.” 

And on the following day, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” he again made the charge: “If you’re going to ascribe blame, don’t blame George W. Bush, blame a decision that was made years earlier, not to take out bin Laden when the opportunity presented itself.”  

All of which ignores such embarrassing truths as: 

  • During the first eight months of the Bush Presidency, Richard Clarke, the counter-terrorism adviser on the National Security Council, was not permitted to brief President Bush, despite mounting evidence of plans for a new Al-Qaeda outrage.  
  • From January 20 to September 11, 2001, Bush was on vacation, according to the Washington Post, 42% of the time.
  • National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice initially refused to hold a cabinet-level meeting on the subject of terrorism. Then she insisted that the matter be handled only by a more junior Deputy Principals meeting.  
  • Paul Wolfowitz, the number-two man at the Department of Defense, said: “I don’t understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man, bin Laden.” 
  • Even after Clarke outlined the threat posed by Al-Qaeda, Wolfowitz–whose real target was Saddam Hussein–said: “You give bin Laden too much credit.” 
  • Finally, at a meeting with Rice on September 4, 2001, Clarke challenged her to “picture yourself at a moment when in the very near future Al-Qaeda has killed hundreds of Americans, and imagine asking yourself what you wish then that you had already done.” 
  • Seven days later, Al-Qaeda struck, and 3,000 Americans died horrifically–and needlessly. 
  • Neither Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Rice, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld nor Wolowitz ever admitted their negligence. Nor has any of them been brought to account.

People who say the Republicans are “batshit crazy” for denying responsibility for 9/11 clearly haven’t read–or understood–George Orwell’s novel, 1984.  

The unnamed Party’s slogan is: “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

The same holds true for Republicans: They hope to rewrite the past, as Joseph Stalin did, to wash away their crimes and errors–and pin these on their self-declared enemies.

And thus gain–and retain–absolute power over 300 million Americans.

CHENEY LIES DESCRIBE 9/11, NOT BENGHAZI: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on May 16, 2013 at 12:00 am

According to former Vice President Dick Cheney, President Barack Obama is trying to “cover up” the nature of a terrorist attack on the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012.

He made this accusation while appearing on the right-wing Sean Hannity radio program on May 13.

Yet, perhaps unwittingly, Cheney’s accusations say at least as much about the failures of the Bush Administration to prevent 9/11–and its deliberate efforts to lie the United States into a needless war with Iraq.

CHENEY ON BENGHAZI:  There was never any doubt about what was happening here.  And the whole notion, they have gone through this process trying to get to the truth, they did exactly the opposite.

You say this, too, you start out with the truth as reported by the intelligence community, and then you turn it into a total distortion once the political types in the White House and some senior folks at the State Department get their hands on it.

THE RECORD ON 9/11/IRAQ:   Among the lies told by high-ranking Bush Administration officials to persuade Americans that Iraq posed an immediate threat to national security:

  • Iraq had sought uranium from Niger, in west Africa;
  • Thousands of aluminum tubes imported by Iraq could be used in centrifuges to create enriched uranium;
  • Iraq had up to 20 long-range Scud missiles, prohibited under UN sanctions;
  • Iraq had massive stockpiles of chemical and biological
  • Iraq had massive stockpiles of chemical and biological agents, including nerve gas, anthrax and botulinum toxin;
  • Saddam Hussein had issued chemical weapons to front-line troops who would use them when US forces crossed into Iraq.

Specifically:

August 26, 2002: Cheney told the Veterans of Foreign Wars, “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us.”

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Dick Cheney

September 8, 2002: National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice said on CNN: ”There is certainly evidence that al Qaeda people have been in Iraq. There is certainly evidence that Saddam Hussein cavorts with terrorists.”

September 18, 2002: Rumsfeld told the House Armed Services Committee, “We do know that the Iraqi regime has chemical and biological weapons. His regime has amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons—including VX, sarin, cyclosarin and mustard gas.”

October 7, 2002: Bush declared in a nationally televised speech in Cincinnati that Iraq “possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons.”

January 7, 2003: Rumsfeld told a Pentagon news briefing, “There’s no doubt in my mind but that they currently have chemical and biological weapons.” This certainty was based on contemporary intelligence, he said, not the fact that Iraq had used chemical weapons in the 1980s.

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Donald Rumsfeld

February 8, 2003: Bush said in his weekly radio address: “We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons—the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have.”

March 16, 2003: Cheney declared on NBC’s “Meet the Press”: “We believe [Saddam Hussein] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.”

March 30, 2003: On ABC’s “This Week” program, 10 days into the war, Rumsfeld said: “We know where they [weapons of mass destruction] are.”

CHENEY ON BENGHAZI:  Remember when they were doing the bin Laden raid, you got pictures all over the place of the President sitting in the Situation Room and monitoring the take-down of Osama Bin Laden.  This was exactly the opposite of that.

THE RECORD ON 9/11/IRAQ:  Remember when–on May 1, 2003–President Bush landed a Lockheed S-3 Viking aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln?  How, to sailors’ cheers, he announced the end of major combat operations in the Iraq War?  How, above him, a huge banner read: “Mission Accomplished”?

George W. Bush claiming the Iraq war is over

And remember how guerrilla warfare increased in Iraq–and the majority of military and civilian casualties occurred after the speech?  Remember how administration officials grew increasingly testy and evasive in their interviews and press conferences? 

Remember how they suddenly quit talking about all those “weapons of mass destruction” that hadn’t been found in Iraq?

CHENEY ON BENGHAZI:  There were a lot of questions that need to be asked about the military chain of command….We have especially-trained units that practice this thing all the time.  They are very good at it and they are champing at the bit to go….Why weren’t they deployed ready to go to take action….?

THE RECORD ON 9/11:  When the first plane struck the World Trade Center, President Bush was reading My Pet Goat to a group of elementary schoolchildren in Sarasota County, Florida.  Even after being told that a second plane had hit the Center, Bush continued reading to the children for another seven minutes.

No armed Air Force planes were stationed between New York and Washington.  The CIA and the National Security Agency–the nation’s code-cracking center–stood totally vulnerable to aerial attack.  So did the Congress.

At the White House, Secret Service agents threw open the doors and told “ordinary” staffers to evacuate and fend for themselves.  Those officials considered worth protecting–such as Cheney and National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice–were hustled into a secure, bomb-proof chamber.

CHENEY LIES DESCRIBE 9/11, NOT BENGHAZI: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In History, Politics on May 15, 2013 at 12:09 am

On May 13, 2013, former Vice President Dick Cheney appeared on the right-wing Sean Hannity radio show.

His mission: To assail President Barack Obama for a terrorist attack on the American embassy in Behghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012.  Four Americans were killed, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.  Ten others were injured.

Dick Cheney

Ironically, many of Cheney’s comments more accurately described the George W. Bush administration during the eight months before 9/11.  In that terrorist attack, 2,977 Americans died.

CHENEY ON BEHGHAZI:  I think it’s one of the worst incidences, frankly, that I can recall in my career….

That the State Department and White House ignored repeated warnings from the CIA about the threat. They ignored messages from their own people on the ground that they need more security.  They reduced what was already there. And the administration  either had no forces ready to respond to an attack, which should have been anticipated….

THE RECORD ON 9/11:   Among the most lethal offenses of the Bush Administration: The appointing of officials who refused to take seriously the threat posed by Al-Qaeda.

And this arrogance and indifference continued–-right up to September 11, 2001, when the World Trade Center and Pentagon became targets for destruction.

One of the few administration officials to take Al-Qaeda seriously was Richard Clarke, the chief counter-terrorism adviser on the National Security Council.

Clarke had been thus appointed in 1998 by President Bill Clinton. He continued to hold this role under President Bush, but with a major difference: The position was no longer given cabinet-level access.

This put him at a severe disadvantage when dealing with other, higher-ranking Bush officials–such as:

  • Vice President Dick Cheney
  • Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
  • Rumsfeld’s deputy, Paul Wolfowitz and
  • National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice.

These turned out to be the very officials who refused to believe that Al-Qaeda posed a lethal threat to the United States.

During the entire first eight months of the Bush Presidency, Clarke was not permitted to brief President Bush a single time, despite mounting evidence of plans for a new al-Qaeda outrage.

And  during his first eight months in office before September 11, Bush was on vacation, according to the Washington Post, 42% of the time.

CHENEY ON BEHGHAZI:  …Well they tried to cover it up by constructing a false story, claiming there was confusion about what happened in the Benghazi compound. There was no confusion…..

The cover up included several officials up to and including President Obama and the cover up is still ongoing.

THE RECORD ON 9/11:  Eager to invade Iraq, President Bush searched for any excuse to convince America of the necessity of going to war. 

On the evening after the September 11 attacks, Bush took Clarke aside during a meeting in the White House Situation Room.

World Trade Center on September 11, 2001

“I want you, as soon as you can, to go back over everything, everything. See if Saddam [Hussein, the dictator of Iraq] did this. See if he’s linked in any way.”

Clarke was stunned: “But, Mr. President, Al Qaeda did this.”

“I know, I know,” said Bush. “But see if Saddam was involved. I want to know.”

On September 12, 2001, Bush attended a meeting of the National Security Council.

“Why shouldn’t we go against Iraq, not just Al Qaeda?” demanded Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense.

Vice President Dick Cheney enthusiastically agreed.

Secretary of State Colin Powell then pointed out there was absolutely no evidence that Iraq had had anything to do with 9/11 or Al Qaeda. And he added: “The American people want us to do something about Al-Qaeda”–-not Iraq.

On November 21, 2001, only 10 weeks after 9/11, Bush told Rumsfeld: It’s time to turn to Iraq.

Bush and his war-hungry Cabinet officials knew that Americans demanded vengeance on Al Qaeda’s mastermind, Osama bin Laden, and not Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein,. So they repeatedly fabricated “links” between the two:

  • Saddam had worked hand-in-glove with Bin Laden to plan 9/11.
  • Saddam was harboring and supporting Al Qaeda throughout Iraq.
  • Saddam, with help from Al Qaeda, was scheming to build a nuclear bomb.

Yet as early as September 22, 2001, Bush had received a classified President’s Daily Brief intelligence report, which stated that there was no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to 9/11.

The report added that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda.

Bush administration officials repeatedly claimed that Iraq possessed huge quantities of chemical and biological weapons, in violation of UN resolutions. And they further claimed that US intelligence agencies had determined:

  • the precise locations where these weapons were stored;
  • the identities of those involved in their production; and
  • the military orders issued by Saddam Hussein for their use in the event of war.

FOREGIVABLE–AND UNFORGIVABLE–TRAGEDIES: PART FIVE (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on December 3, 2012 at 12:10 am

When Germany’s Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler, wanted to invade Poland in 1939, he mounted a propaganda campaign to “justify” his intentions.

Adolf Hitler

German “newspapers”–produced by Joseph Goebbels, the club-footed Minister of Propaganda–carried fictitious stories of how brutal Poles were beating and even murdering their helpless German citizens.

In theaters, German audiences saw phony newsreels showing Poles attacking and raping German women living in Poland.

For a time, Hitler not only deceived the Germans but the world.

Just before German tanks and troops invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, members of Hitler’s dreaded SS rounded up a number of prisoners from German concentration camps.

They inmates were dressed in Polish Army uniforms and driven to a German radio station at Gleiwitz, on the German/Polish border.  There they were shot by SS men.  Then Polish-speaking SS men “seized” the station and broadcast to Germany that a Polish invasion was now under way.

Leaders of Britain and France were taken in by this ruse.  They had pledged to go to war if Hitler attacked Poland–but they didn’t want to take on Germany if Poland had been the aggressor.

By the time the truth became known, Poland was securely in German hands.

On August 22, Hitler had outlined his strategy to a group of high-ranking military officers:

I shall give a propagandist cause for starting the war.  Never mind whether it is plausible or not.  The victor will not be asked, later on, whether he told the truth or not.  In starting and waging a war, it is not Right that matters, but Victory.

President George W. Bush followed a similar strategy while he prepared to invade Iraq:  He ordered the topmost members of his administration to convince the American people of its necessity.

George W. Bush

Among their arguments–all eventually revealed as lies–were:

  • Saddam had worked hand-in-glove with Bin Laden to plan 9/11.
  • Saddam was harboring and supporting Al Qaeda throughout Iraq.
  • Saddam, with help from Al Qaeda, was scheming to build a nuclear bomb.
  • Iraq possessed huge quantities of chemical/biological weapons, in violation of UN resolutions.
  • American Intelligence agencies had determined the precise locations where these weapons were stored.

Hitler never regretted his decision to invade Poland–although he was taken aback by the reaction of Britain and France to it.  Both countries shortly declared war on Germany–just as they had warned they would do.

Similarly, Bush never regretted his decision to invade Iraq, which occurred on March 29, 2003.

Even as American occupying forces repeatedly failed to turn up any evidence of “weapons of mass destruction” (WMDs), Bush and his minions claimed the invasion a good thing.

In fact, Bush–who hid out the Vietnam war in the Texas Air National Guard–even joked publicly about the absence of WMDs.

He did so at a White House Correspondents dinner on March 24, 2004–one year after he had started the war.

To Bush, the non-existent WMDs were nothing more than the butt of a joke that night. While an overhead projector displayed photos of a puzzled-looking Bush searching around the Oval Office, Bush recited a comedy routine.

“Those weapons of mass destruction have gotta be somewhere,” Bush laughed, while a photo showed him poking around the corners in the Oval Office.

“Nope–no weapons over there! Maybe they’re under here,” he said, as a photo showed him looking under a desk.

Meanwhile, an assembly of wealthy, pampered men and women–the elite of America’s media and political classes–laughed heartily during Bush’s performance.

Ultimately, the war that Bush had deliberately provoked would take the lives of 4,486 Americans.

Click here: Bush laughs at no WMD in Iraq – YouTube

Contrast all this with the letter almost 100 right-wing Republicans sent President Barack Obama on November 19:

“Dear Mr. President,” the letter opens. “We, the undersigned, are deeply troubled by your current comments that you are considering Ambassador Susan Rice to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.

“Though Ambassador Rice has been our representative to the U.N., we believe her misleading statements over the days and weeks following the attack on our embassy in Libya that led to the deaths of Ambassador [Christopher] Stevens and three other Americans caused irreparable damage to her credibility both at home and around the world.”

Add it all up:

  • From January to August, 2001, President Bush and the topmost officials of his Cabinet smugly ignore warnings about a coming terrorist attack by Al Qaeda.
  • On September 11, 3,000 Americans die, needlessly and horrifically, when that attack occurs.
  • The Bush administration launches a year-long, lie-strewn campaign to convince Americans that Iraq has WMDs.
  • After America invades Iraq, no WMDs are found.
  • Bush finds this hilarious, openly joking about it.
  • All of that is instantly justified by Republicans.
  • Susan Rice repeats what American intelligence agencies told her–that the Libya attack was triggered by an anti-Muslim video.  Only later does the CIA call it a terrorist attack.
  • Republicans say they are “deeply troubled” by this.

Clearly there is a highly political–and hypocritical–double-standard at work here.

FORGIVABLE–AND UNFORGIVABLE–TRAGEDIES: PART FOUR (OF FIVE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on November 30, 2012 at 12:00 am

On September 11, 2001, the criminally negligent behavior of senior members of the George W. Bush administration led to the deaths of 3,000 Americans.

Yet even worse was to come.

On the evening after the September 11 attacks, President Bush held a private meeting with Richard Clarke, the counter-terrorism advisor to the National Security Council.

“I want you, as soon as you can, to go back over everything, everything,” said Bush.  “See if Saddam [Hussein, the dictator of Iraq] did this.  See if he’s linked in any way.”

Clarke was stunned: “But, Mr. President, Al Qaeda did this.”

“I know, I know,” said Bush.  “But see if Saddam was involved.  I want to know.”

On September 12, 2001, Bush attended a meeting of the National Security Council.

“Why shouldn’t we go against Iraq, not just Al Qaeda?” demanded Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense.

Vice President Dick Cheney enthusiastically agreed.

Secretary of State Colin Powell then pointed out there was absolutely no evidence that Iraq had had anything to do with 9/11 or Al Qaeda.  And he added: “The American people want us to do something about Al-Qaeda”–not Iraq.

In 1940, Adolf Hitler had salivated for a war against the Soviet Union even while he was locked in mortal combat with England.  Now, 61 years later, Bush couldn’t wait to invade Iraq even before his armies had pacified Afghanistan.

On November 21, 2001, only 10 weeks after 9/11, Bush told Rumsfeld: It’s time to turn to Iraq.

Bush and his war-hungry Cabinet officials knew that Americans demanded vengeance on Al Qaeda’s mastermind, Osama bin Laden, and  not Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein,.  So they repeatedly fabricated “links” between the two:

  • Saddam had worked hand-in-glove with Bin Laden to plan 9/11.
  • Saddam was harboring and supporting Al Qaeda throughout Iraq.
  • Saddam, with help from Al Qaeda, was scheming to build a nuclear bomb.

Yet as early as September 22, 2001, Bush had received a classified President’s Daily Brief intelligence report, which stated that there was no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to 9/11.

The report added that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda.

Even more important: Saddam had tried to monitor Al Qaeda through his intelligence service–because he saw Al Qaeda and other theocratic radical Islamist organizations as a potential threat to his secular regime.

Bush administration officials repeatedly claimed that Iraq possessed huge quantities of chemical and biological weapons, in violation of UN resolutions.  And they further claimed that US intelligence agencies had determined:

  • the precise locations where these weapons were stored;
  • the identities of those involved in their production; and
  • the military orders issued by Saddam Hussein for their use in the event of war.

Among other lies stated as fact by members of the Bush administration:

  • Iraq had sought uranium from Niger, in west Africa;
  • Thousands of aluminum tubes imported by Iraq could be used in centrifuges to create enriched uranium;
  • Iraq had up to 20 long-range Scud missiles, prohibited under UN sanctions;
  • Iraq had massive stockpiles of chemical and biological
  • Iraq had massive stockpiles of chemical and biological agents, including nerve gas, anthrax and botulinum toxin;
  • Saddam Hussein had issued chemical weapons to front-line troops who would use them when US forces crossed into Iraq.

Consider the following:

August 26, 2002: Cheney told the Veterans of Foreign Wars, “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us.”

September 8, 2002: National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice said on CNN: “There is certainly evidence that al Qaeda people have been in Iraq. There is certainly evidence that Saddam Hussein cavorts with terrorists.”

September 18, 2002: Rumsfeld told the House Armed Services Committee, “We do know that the Iraqi regime has chemical and biological weapons. His regime has amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons—including VX, sarin, cyclosarin and mustard gas.”

October 7, 2002:  Bush declared in a nationally televised speech in Cincinnati that Iraq “possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons.”

January 7, 2003: Rumsfeld told a Pentagon news briefing, “There’s no doubt in my mind but that they currently have chemical and biological weapons.” This certainty was based on contemporary intelligence, he said, not the fact that Iraq had used chemical weapons in the 1980s.

January 9, 2003: White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said, “We know for a fact that there are weapons there.”

February 8, 2003: Bush said in his weekly radio address: “We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons—the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have.”

March 16, 2003: Cheney declared on NBC’s “Meet the Press”: “We believe [Saddam Hussein] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.”

March 17, 2003: In his final prewar ultimatum, Bush declared, “Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.”

March 30, 2003:  On ABC’s “This Week” program, 10 days into the war, Rumsfeld said: “We know where they [weapons of mass destruction] are.”

FORGIVABLE–AND UNFORGIVABLE–TRAGEDIES: PART THREE (OF FIVE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on November 29, 2012 at 12:01 am

Republicans claim to be “deeply troubled” by the conduct of Susan Rice, the American ambassador to the United Nations, after the Benghazi tragedy, which left four dead Americans in its wake.

But they showed no such concerns when the George W. Bush administration refused to seriously address the mounting evidence that Al Qaeda intended to strike at the United States.

And when that refusal snuffed out the lives of 3,000 Americans.

Nigel Hamilton is the bestselling author of American Caesars: Lives of the Presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George W. Bush. 

In his chapter on George W. Bush, he chronicles the futile struggles of counter-terrorism chief Richard Clarke to warn his superiors of an upcoming Al Qaeda attack.

As chef counter-terrorism advisor to President Bill Clinton, he had held cabinet-level access. But now he faced a serious handicap:  Although he retained his position under Bush, he was now denied such access.

This put him at a severe disadvantage when dealing with higher-ranking Bush officials–-who refused to believe that Al-Qaeda posed a lethal threat to the United States.

National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice initially refused to hold a cabinet-level meeting on the subject.  Then she insisted the matter be handled only by a more junior Deputy Principals meeting in April, 2001.

Paul Wolfowitz, the number-two man at the Department of Defense, said: “I don’t understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man, bin Laden.”

Even after Clarke outlined the threat posed by Al-Qaeda, Wolfowitz–whose real target was Saddam Hussein–said: “You give bin Laden too much credit.”

Wolfowitz insisted that bin Laden couldn’t carry out his terrorist acts without the aid of a state sponsor–namely, Iraq.

Wolfowitz, in fact, blamed Iraq for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Clarke was stunned, since there was absolutely no evidence of Iraqi involvement in this.

Paul Wolfowitz

“Al-Qaeda plans major acts of terrorism against the United States,” Clarke warned his colleagues.

He pointed out that, like Adolf Hitler, bin Laden had actually published his plans for future destruction.

And he added: “Sometimes, as with Hitler in Mein Kampf, you have to believe that these people will actually do what they say they will do.”

Wolfowitz heatedly traded on his Jewish heritage to bring Clarke’s arguments to a halt: “I resent any comparison between the Holocaust and this little terrorist in Afghanistan.”

Writing in outraged fury, Hamilton sums up Clarke’s agonizing frustrations:

  • Bush’s senior advisors treated their colleagues who had served in the Clinton administration with contempt.
  • President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz seemed content to ignore the danger signals of an impending al-Qaeda attack.
  • This left only Secretary of State Colin Powell, his deputy Richard Armitage, Richard Clarke and a skeptical Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill, to wage “a lonely battle to waken a seemingly deranged new administration.”

Clarke alerted Federal Intelligence agencies that “Al-Qaeda is planning a major attack on us.” He asked the FBI and CIA to report to his office all they could learn about suspicious persons or activities at home and abroad.

Finally, at a meeting with Rice on September 4, 2001, Clarke challenged Rice: 

“Picture yourself at a moment when in the very near future Al-Qaeda has killed hundreds of Americans, and imagine asking yourself what you wish then that you had already done.”

Apparently Rice couldn’t imagine such a scenario, because she took no action to prevent it. Nor did she urge anyone else to do so.

Seven days later, Al-Qaeda struck, and 3,000 Americans died horrifically–and needlessly.

Neither Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld nor Wolowitz ever admitted their negligence.  Nor would any of them be brought to account.

Condoleeze Rice, Dick Cheney, George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld

Disgustingly, these are the same officials who, afterward, posed as the Nation’s  saviors-–and branded anyone who disagreed with them as a traitor, practices Republicans continue to use to this day.

Only Richard Clarke-–who had vainly argued for stepped-up security precautions and taking the fight to Al Qaeda–gave that apology.

On March 24, 2004, Clarke testified at the public 9/11 Commission hearings. Addressing relatives of victims in the audience, he said: “Your government failed you, those entrusted with protecting you failed you, and I failed you.”

Yet even worse was to come.

On the evening after the September 11 attacks, Bush took Clarke aside during a meeting in the White House Situation Room:

“I want you, as soon as you can, to go back over everything, everything.  See if Saddam [Hussein, the dictator of Iraq] did this.  See if he’s linked in any way.”

Clarke was stunned: “But, Mr. President, Al Qaeda did this.”

“I know, I know,” said Bush.  “But see if Saddam was involved.  I want to know.”

FORGIVABLE–AND UNFORGIVABLE–TRAGEDIES: PART TWO (OF FIVE)

In Bureaucracy, Politics, Social commentary on November 28, 2012 at 12:00 am

Republicans claim to be “deeply troubled” by the conduct of Susan Rice, the American ambassador to the United Nations, after the Benghazi tragedy, which left four dead Americans in its wake.

But they showed no such concerns when the George W. Bush administration refused to seriously address the mounting evidence that Al Qaeda intended to strike at the United States.

And when that refusal snuffed out the lives of 3,000 Americans.

It’s important to remember those who made 9/11 not simply possible but inevitable.

And that does not mean only the 19 hijackers who turned those planes into fuel-bombs. It means those officials at the highest levels of the administration of President George W. Bush.

Officials who profited economically and/or politically from the tragedy but were never accountable for the resulting death and destruction. Starting with the former President himself.

Even at the Republican National Convention in Tampa in August, Bush was hailed as the man “who kept us safe.”  Except, of course, for that small matter of 3,000 dead Americans on 9/11.

British historian Nigel Hamilton has dared to lay bare the facts of this outrage. Hamilton is the author of several highly acclaimed political biographies, including JFK: Reckless Youth, and Bill Clinton: Mastering the Presidency.

In 2007, he began research on his latest book: American Caesars: The Lives of the Presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George W. Bush.

The inspiration for this came from a classic work of ancient biography: The Twelve Caesars, by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus–known as Suetonius.

Suetonius, a Roman citizen and historian, had chronicled the lives of the first twelve Caesars of imperial Rome: Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian.

Hamilton wanted to examine post-World War II United States history as Suetonius had examined that of ancient Rome: Through the lives of the 12 “emperors” who had held the power of life and death over their fellow citizens–and those of other nations.

For Hamilton, the “greatest of American emperors, the Caesar Augustus of his time,” was Franklin D. Roosevelt, who led his country through the Great Depression and World War II.

His “”great successors” were Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy–who, in turn, contained the Soviet Union abroad and presided over sustained economic prosperity at home.

By contrast, “arguably the worst of all the American Caesars” was “George W. Bush, and his deputy, Dick Cheney, who willfully and recklessly destroyed so much of the moral basis of American leadership in the modern world.”

Among the most lethal of Bush’s offenses: The appointing of officials who refused to take seriously the threat posed by Al-Qaeda.

And this arrogance and indifference continued–right up to September 11, 2001, when the World Trade Center and Pentagon became targets for destruction.

Among the few administration officials who did take Al-Qaeda seriously was Richard Clarke, the chief counter-terrorism adviser on the National Security Council.

Richard Clarke

Clarke had been thus appointed in 1998 by President Bill Clinton. He continued to hold this role under President Bush, but with a major difference: The position was no longer given cabinet-level access.

This put him at a severe disadvantage when dealing with other, higher-ranking Bush officials–such as:

  • Vice President Dick Cheney
  • Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
  • Rumsfeld’s deputy, Paul Wolfowitz and
  • National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice.

These turned out to be the very officials who refused to believe that Al-Qaeda posed a lethal threat to the United States.

In a perverse travesty of justice, Condoleeza Rice appeared as a featured speaker at the 2012 Republican National Convention that nominated Mitt Romney for President.

Without a hint of apology for her own neglectful role in making 9/11 not only possible but inevitable, she said on August 29:

“I will never forget the bright September day, standing at my desk in the White House, when my young assistant said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center–and then a second one–and a third, the Pentagon.

“And then the news of a fourth, driven into the ground by brave citizens that died so that many others would live. From that day on our sense of vulnerability and our understanding of security would be altered forever.”

Hamilton noted that Richard Clarke was certain that Osama bin Laden had arranged the [USS.] Cole bombing in Aden on October 12, 2000.

For months, Clarke tried to convince others in the Bush Administration that Bin Laden was plotting another attack against the United States–either abroad or at home.

During the first eight months of the Bush Presidency, Clarke was forbidden to brief President Bush, despite the mounting evidence that al-Qaeda was planning to strike.

Even more vexing for Clarke: During his first eight months as President before September 11, Bush was on vacation 42% of the time, according to the Washington Post.

FORGIVABLE–AND UNFORGIVABLE–TRAGEDIES: PART ONE (OF FIVE)

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2012 at 12:05 am

Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives are once again on a witch hunt.

This time, their intended victim is Susan Rice, United States ambassador to the United Nations, and a possible successor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

With the re-election of President Barack Obama, Clinton is not expected to stay on during his second term.

And the reason for the witch hunt?

On September 11, a terrorist attack on the United States diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, left four Americans dead–including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

U.S. compound in Benghazi under attack

Hours before the Benghazi violence, a mob had attacked the U.S. Embassy in Cairo in response to a “blasphemous” anti-Muslim video posted on YouTube.

Appearing on several political talk-shows just days after the attack, Rice attributed the attacks to the video. Later investigation showed it was the work of an Al Qaeda terrorist cell.

The Benghazi attack came on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., which killed about 3,000 Americans.

Republicans–and especially then-Presidential candidate Mitt Romney–charged that the Libya assault was clearly a terrorist attack aimed at the anniversary.

Republicans have since demanded that President Obama abandon any plans he might have to nominate Rice as Clinton’s replacement as Secretary of State.

Responding to her critics, Rice held a press conference outside the U.N. Security Council on November 21:

“As a senior U.S. diplomat, I agreed to a White House request to appear on the Sunday shows to talk about the full range of national security issues of the day, which at that time were primarily and particularly the protests that were enveloping and threatening many diplomatic facilities, American diplomatic facilities around the world, and Iran’s nuclear program.

“When discussing the attack against our facilities in Benghazi, I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community. I made clear that the information was preliminary, and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers.

“Everyone, particularly the intelligence community, has worked in good faith to provide the best assessment based on the information available.

“…I knew Chris Stevens.  I worked closely with him and had the privilege of doing so as we tried together, as a government, to free the Libyan people from the tyranny of [Libyan leader Moammar] Kadaffi.

Christopher Stevens

“He was a valued colleague, and his loss, as well as the loss of his three colleagues, is a massive tragedy for all of us who serve in the U.S. government, and for all the American people,” said Rice.

Rice is no diplomatic lightweight.  She is a former Brookings Institute fellow, and served on the staff of the National Security Council and as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during President Bill Clinton’s second term.

She was confirmed by unanimous consent of the Senate as America’s ambassador to the UN on January 22, 2009.

Yet, on November 19, almost 100 House Republicans sent President Barack Obama a letter, urging him to not nominate her as Secretary of State.

They argued that Rice’s credibility had been irreparably damaged by her statements coming after the Libya attacks.

“Dear Mr. President,” the letter opened.  “We, the undersigned, are deeply troubled by your current comments that you are considering Ambassador Susan Rice to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.

“…We believe [Rice’s] misleading statements over the days and weeks following the attack on our embassy in Libya that led to the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans caused irreparable damage to her credibility both at home and around the world.

“In her interviews over that time, Ambassador Rice propagated a falsehood that the attacks were ‘spontaneous,’ the outcome of a protest ‘spun out of control’ and the result of a YouTube video.

“Only on September 19–eight days after the attack–did the American people learn from National Counterterrorism Director Matthew Olson that the intelligence services quickly considered the attack an act of terrorism and that Al Qaeda may have played a role.

“We believe that making her the face of U.S. foreign policy…would greatly undermine your desire to improve U.S. relations with the world,” the letter concluded.

Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic U.S. Senator from California and chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Rice had solid reason to not label the Benghazi attack a terrorist mission.

That view, said Feinstein, was based on information that had not yet been cleared by intelligence officials for public release.

But that didn’t make any difference to Rice’s critics.

Republicans claim to be “deeply troubled” by Rice’s behavior after a tragedy that left four dead Americans in its wake.

But they showed no such concern when the George W. Bush administration refused to seriously address mounting evidence that Al Qaeda planned to strike inside the United States.

And when that refusal snuffed out the lives of 3,000 Americans.

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