Memeorandum


Powered by TypePad

« Able Was I - Weldon Remembers! | Main | 9/11 Commission To Pentagon - Over To You! »

August 17, 2005

Comments

Thomas

This story would be helped if someone who actually worked on Able Danger came forward. Not disparaging Shaffer here, but he didn't seem to be involved in the process. He says the info gathered was twenty times what the Pentagon handed over. Well, what was in this information? Did it provide focus on the 60 member 'cell'? If it did, then there is definitely something fishy here. If it was all over the place, and the 'cell' came up out of nowhere, and had a muddled context, then there probably isn't.

AJStrata

Add me to the list who want a full and complete congressional investigation.

aaron

Bonus points for admitting what he did not know and what his real job function was instead of inflating it.

Cecil Turner

As a bat for Clinton/Berger/Gorelick (or Bush/Tenet . . .) bashers, this seems like pretty thin gruel. Even if the intelligence had been solid, a report of mid-level Al Qaeda operatives in the US might well have been lost in the noise. Compare that to some of the far more obvious indicators ignored in the lead-up to Pearl Harbor--and the subsequent egregious communications failures--and by historical standards this stuff just doesn't rate.

The failure of the 9/11 Commission to address it after the fact is an entirely different matter. Of course if they never got Atta's name, then it makes perfect sense. And if DOD decided not to compromise an ongoing intercept operation so that a fact-finding commission could learn that a set of data that was likely to've been ignored anyway was never passed on . . . well, that's hardly inconceivable. Color me skeptical.

Marcel

Now that Defense and the FBI have more freedom to share intelligence, have they actually been sharing? Or have the legal walls come down while bureaucratic walls still exist?

Geek, Esq.

I'd suggest the Senate instead of the House, because there are a few folks there that can put partisanship aside. I don't think such folks exist in the House.

kr

Patience.

Wolfman

There are growing indications that the Clinton administration ignored or underreacted to intelligence reporting that preceded 911. In contrast, the Bush administration overread intelligence. In a post-911 world, it saw the tip of an iceburg and then incorrectly estimated what lay beneath the surface.

The 911 Commission is looking increasingly suspect. Its Able Danger comments are unsatisfying; and now it appears that the State Department gave stern warnings - either not discovered or reported by the Commission - to the Clinton Administration about OBL relocating to Afghanistan in 1996.

It's time for Congressional hearings.

Etienne

Honest question: Can someone explain the significance of this, such that a Congressional inquiry might be required, beyond reiterating the disastrous consequences of "the wall" policy pre-9/11?

I can see there may be some partisan political fruit to be picked, but how does this go over any new ground? We already know that the FBI was informed of the inordinate number of Arab flight students and their disinterest in learning to take off and land. We know that information never got passed on during the spring and summer of 2001. How is this materially different? Is there really anything OF USE TO THE AMERICAN PUBLIC beyond more fodder for some always delicious Clinton bashing. I mean, our freaking government is hardly operation these days as it is. Do we really need to start empowering commissions to investigate commissions?

Appalled Moderate

Etienne:

The problem is not only Able Danger, but that the commission report also did not mention the State Department warnings on allowing Bin Laden to move to Afghanistan or the memo on the Wall that is fueling an article in the New York Post.

Congress passed legislation on the basis of findings of the Commission. To the extent the fact finding process of the 9-11 commission was influenced by a desire to minimize Clinton-era errors, that legislation may have been flawed. As a for instance, Congress has been reluctant to fund data mining projects like Able Danger. Think there would be that same reluctance if the 9-11 commission highlighted the stuff that's been in the New York Times over the last few weeks?

Now, whether Congressional hearings would just be an oportunity for endless blovations or contain a few moments of thoughtfulness is a close question. But, I think we do have to wonder what the 9-11 commission thought it was doing by raking Condi and company over the coals, and ignoring other things.

Wolfman

Etienne,

There is - and will continue to be - a debate about how to balance our civil liberties and national security.

The more we understand about the consequences of shifting that balance in one direction or the other, the better.

For reasons I can only speculate about, the 911 Commission appears to have missed or concealed important facts that bear that important debate (Able Danger, the 1996 State Department warning, and the White memo).

Lurking Observer

Whether or not there is a need for a Congressional investigation, I think it is useful to unpack the Able Danger problem (or, more accurately, the 9-11 Commission problem) into its constituent components.

The biggest issue, apart from Able Danger, State Department, etc., was whether or not there were problems within the intelligence community that hindered provision of early warning.

Data mining, sharing of intel between agencies, the line between domestic and foreign spying, all of these are issues of concern. If, for example, it turns out that the "wall" was a huge hindrance, does that recast the utility of the PATRIOT Act, at least some of which was aimed at tearing down the "wall"? What about "Total Information Awareness"?

Ironically, this is what the 9-11 Commission was intended to resolve, but recent evidence suggests that they may not have done as thorough a job as possible.

Which is a separate issue.

The question that recent revelations arouses, while partly linked to what we knew prior to 9-11, raises discomfiting questions about the 9-11 Commission itself.

-Were they informed of the Able Danger program? What about the State Department warning? What about Mary Jo White's warning?

-If not, why not?

-If so, why did they not follow up?

It is eminently possible that there are reasonable answers to all of these questions, including that they simply made a mistake, falling prey to preconceived notions, and picking and choosing which data to believe or to emphasize.

[Note: Choosing to believe information that supports your preconceived notion is the same "lie" of which the Bush Administration is often accused. In this regard, if this is what happened, then the 9-11 Commission "fixed" its conclusions in about the same manner as the Bush Administration is said to have "fixed" its conclusions. Goose, gander.]

Or it is possible that they do not have reasonable answers.

Unfortunately, the constitution of said panel, including the inclusion of one of the architects of "the wall," not to mention the flip-flop over whether they'd been informed of Able Danger at all has hurt their credibility.


None of which necessarily suggests a Congressional investigation would necessarily be an improvement---but if there continues a steady series of disclosures along these lines, it may be the only way to determine whether the Commission itself undertook a full, thorough investigation or not.

vadkins

I posted a transcript of the 1 hour interview of Lt. Col. Shaffer on The Savage Nation last night at:
http://qtmonster.typepad.com/qt_monsters_place/2005/08/able_dangers_of.html

Etienne

Congress passed legislation on the basis of findings of the Commission. To the extent the fact finding process of the 9-11 commission was influenced by a desire to minimize Clinton-era errors, that legislation may have been flawed. As a for instance, Congress has been reluctant to fund data mining projects like Able Danger.

The only thing that makes sense here is to try and understand the efficacy of data mining projects. The whole "desire to minimize Clinton era errors" is silly, given the bipartisan makeup of the commission and the fact that the commission DID identify the pertinent problem,i.e. "the wall". We definitely don't need a commission just to investigate whether data mining projects are a good idea. Couldn't good old fashioned research do that job a lot quicker?

I have another question, another honest one. Do those who advocate investigating things like this also think we should be investigating the politicization of intelligence prior to the Iraq invasion? Does that seem at all consequential to any here, considering it deals with an actual ongoing matter where Americans are dying every day? Not to mention the fact that similar manipulations of intelligence, if not addressed, could lead us into another disastrous situation that the country would not be honestly informed about?

I'm all for Congressional investigations, and as a New Yorker, I'm definitely all for investigating ways to intercept terrorist operations...but I'm sick unto the death of my Congress being used as a partisan witch hunting tool. The Congress is already disgustingly bloated and seems to do nothing but pass porky bills designed to get politicians re-elected. I'd much prefer an investigation into how they're keeping us safe NOW, rather than finding new ways to blame Clinton for things that are over and done.

boris

Is there really anything OF USE TO THE AMERICAN PUBLIC beyond more fodder for some always delicious Clinton bashing.

Busting the omission commission lock on the Atta timeline is more important than who's to blame for shortcomings in the commission report.

''There was no way that Atta could have been in the United States at that time, which is why the staff didn't give this tremendous weight when they were writing the report. This information was not meshing with the other information that we had.''
This isn't just 20/20 Blindsight ... the defenders want to maintain complete control of that timeline to retroactively prevent any connections between Iraq and 911. The dataminer info would bust that retro control wide open.

Seven Machos

I can't believe Bush-Rove-PNAC-evil placed such severe restrictions on meetings between the FBI and military intelligence in mid-2000. This is a disgrace.

That was an election year if I recall correctly. Certainly, had the public known that military intelligence had busted a ring of terrorists, it would have been more likely to elect the sitting vice president. Everybody KNOWS the Bushies purposefully made inter-agency cooperation more difficult in order to hurt the Democrats. Bush OBSTRUCTED the government in mid-2000, then had the gall to steal the election through the mechanizations of the Supreme Court and its so-called "authority" to interpret the Constitution.

This may have cost Al Gore the electoral college. But for this TRAVESTY of justice, Al Gore may well be president today, and we'd all be a lot safer, and September 11 would never have happened.

BUSH LIED!!!!!!! PEOPLE DIED!!!!!!!!!!!!

Seven Machos

So, basically, Etienne, you'd like an investigation into how the Bush administration is combatting terror now, because you don't like Bush.

You don't want an investigation into how the Clinton administration combatted terror, because you like Clinton.

Also, even though (thank God!) we have been mostly spared from terror since nine months into Bush's two-term presidency, you'd like "an investigation into how they're keeping us safe NOW."

You are ridiculously, shortsightedly, and ignorantly partisan. At least you are honest about it.

Etienne

This isn't just 20/20 Blindsight ... the defenders want to maintain complete control of that timeline to retroactively prevent any connections between Iraq and 911. The dataminer info would bust that retro control wide open.

Help me out here, boris. How does losing control of the timeline CREATE any Iraq/911 connections? Are you saying that this is the missing link that justifies the entire debacle? Please explain, because that sounds like a hell of a leap.

I'm here to try and understand this. It's a rare rightwing site that discusses this kind of a thing in a rational manner (sevenmachos excepted, of course).

Etienne

Um, actually, Mr. Macho, I don't give a pig's fart about Clinton. What I'd like to do is live in the present because unlike you (I'm guessing) I actually live in a place that has been victimized by terror and is vulnerable to it in the future.

The Clinton bashing, especially on the part of Republicans who refuse to accept ANY responsibility for the war,energy prices, deficit or anything else that has happened under their monopolistic control of our government, has gone from tiresome to pathological. As for calling me partisan, well, what do you call yourself?

Cecil Turner

"How does losing control of the timeline CREATE any Iraq/911 connections?"

The most significant one was the purported Atta/IIS meeting in Prague ("debunked" by the contention Atta was in the US at the time). As are the other (weak) indications the post-9/11 anthrax attack was foreign-sourced (which, if true, would tend to implicate Iraq).

boris

How does losing control of the timeline CREATE any Iraq/911 connections?

The omission commission Atta timeline HAS BEEN USED to dispute Iraq/911 connections as YOU WELL KNOW.

If the commission report authority supporting the timeline is discredited, then existing evidence which was formerly inadequate to budge that timeline becomes more credible.

Seven Machos

1. For the 57th time, Etienne uses the word "monopolistic" incorrectly.

2. I live smack-dab in the middle of the terror threat, Edy.

3. How are energy prices Bush's fault? Energy prices are China's and India's fault. There is no sinister explanation. Supply and demand, pal. Look into it.

4. I accept full responsibility for the war. I'm an advocate of the war. What advocates of the war DON'T accept responsibility for the war? This is silly.

5. I am a partisan. The difference is, I don't immediately go on the defensive when an administration I generally support is implicated in doing something wrong. (As I have said repeatedly, we didn't destroy enough and post-war planning was negligently awful.) You are on this board pretending to "try to understand" stuff, which suggests that you are in some way neutral, when the fact is you can't stand the president. What's to understand? I mean, besides words like "monopoly" and "pathology," which you throw around but clearly have no grasp of.

Lurking Observer

Etienne:

You are presuming that intelligence was politicized. As I noted above, it is far more likely to have been subject to the very human, very normal (and unfortunate) susceptibility to weighting evidence that supports preconceived notions over that which doesn't.

As to the 9-11/Saddam connection, there would be no "creation" of such a link; the 9-11 Commission, even if it was utterly used as a whitewash, cannot create a link if there wasn't one.

However.

Part of the argument that has been laid out against the Iraq War is the idea that there was no connection between Saddam and the 9-11 hijackers. (We'll leave aside the broader issue of Saddam and al-Qaeda for the moment.)

But what of Mohammed Atta? The claim has been made that Atta was in Prague and met with Iraqi intelligence.


Personally, I don't know if Atta can be linkned to the Iraqis; but the point here is that the Commission, which was responsible for investigating intelligence failures preceding 9-11, was apparently shown a glaring one (ignoring Able Danger-data) and did not undertake due diligence to investigate further.


Instead, Atta's possible meeting with the Iraqis was dismissed, in one defense by the Commission staff, because it didn't fit the preconceived timeline. What was the basis for said timeline? Cell-phone usage and INS visa records?

It is possible, however, (and this is not yet clear from the drip-drip-drip of revelations), that the Able Danger people had, in fact, other evidence regarding Atta.

IF such data exists in the Able Danger files, and IF it links Atta to the Iraqis, this raises several questions:

How does this recast the war with Iraq?

Why did the 9-11 Commission refuse to pay more att'n to the Able Danger element?


But the real issue isn't Atta and 9-11; the issue is the Commission's responsibility for determining what intel failures occurred prior to 9-11. If they refused to investigate leads (e.g., Able Danger), then they failed in their responsibility.

Note, btw, that the Commission is not charged with investigating the Iraq War. They were given a specific charter, and stuck to that charter (insofar as they did discharge their responsibilities).

boris

But the real issue isn't Atta and 9-11; the issue is the Commission's responsibility for determining what intel failures occurred prior to 9-11.

Wrong. If there is a real issue, it is the intel failures that occurred prior to 9-11. The commission is, was and always will be an effing joke.

Aside from that, the net-combat issue is the Iraq war, and for that ... Atta and 9-11 is where it's at.

Etienne

Believe me, Macho Man, when I come here to understand, it isn't you I'm asking questions of. Smack dab in the middle of a terror target? Where would that be, generally speaking? ... And of course I understand gas prices aren't the administration's fault. Nothing ever is. But you might want to tell that to the American people, who seem to be coming to a rather different judgment.

The fact that I don't like Bush - and indeed I'm honest about that, I thoroughly despise him and what he and his gang have done to my country - in no way exempts me from trying to understand how my government failed my fellow citizens that day, and what has been done to prevent a future attack. One day soon this creep will be gone, but this country and all its citizens will still be here.

Thanks for the responses, boris & Cecil, but that does sound like the same old same old. OK, the timeline justified the idea that Atta couldn't have been in Prague, but it didn't preclude anyone from presenting evidence that he WAS there either. And even if that was a proven fact, which it likely never will (or can) be, then that is some flimsy hooks to be hanging a war on.

I'm really not looking to stir up shit. I want to understand whether or not this is a matter of consequence, or just another partisan tempest in a teapot. The only sites discussing it are the righty ones, and most of the posters are frothing at the mouth so insanely they make even seventesticles sound statesmanlike.

Lurking Observer

boris:

Yes, that is a better formulation. The issue is what intelligence failures occurred, how can they be prevented or at least mitigated in the future.

The 9-11 Commission was responsible for trying to determine said failures and proposing solutions. Insofar as they did not undertake due diligence in investigating all of the failures/solutions, they are remiss.

Where the issue becomes explosive is why they did not do so (presuming that they did not do so, which sadly becomes more and more likely w/ each new revelation, be it of ignored State Department memos or Mary Jo White's warnings). If it turned out, for example, that the Commission ignored evidence that Atta met w/ Iraqi agents, or that the "wall" had proven to be a fatal flaw, then its recommendations are at best suspect, and at worst worthless.

But I don't think we have quite enough evidence just yet to know what the Commission did or did not do (although, as I wrote, it's not looking good for it).

Appalled Moderate

Etienne:

Part of the mandate of these type of commissions is to report, accurately, the full story of what happened -- what went wrong. They are supposed to be deadening in their detail and convince the Ameican people that what went wrong has been investigated thoroughly. Then everyone can have closure, and move on to the next problem.

When Commissions like this fairly clearly have members with conflict of interest problems, and then ignore or downplay data, they hurt their own credibility. Folks keep scratching the itch. Conspiracy theorists keep theorizing.

Based on the current play of the news, there appear to have been three relevent pieces of info left out of the report -- Able Danger, Mary Joe White's objections to the wall, and warnings to the Clinton Admistration about letting Bin Laden go to Afghanistan. There were no dramatic questions on these matters in televised hearings -- no finger pointing and demands to witnesses for the full details. With respect to Bush, however, we were treated to Richard Clarke and fairly probing questioning of Condi Rice regarding the famous August briefing.

Now, maybe there are similar omissions and errors regarding the Commission's evaluation of Bush's report. But they don't seem to have been reported and, in the rather partisan atmosphere of the Presidential campaign, I would have thought they would have been.

Lurking Observer

Etienne:

It is an important issue, b/c a failure to conduct due diligence means that the report is half-a**ed at best.

As for the Atta aspect, it would indicate that there might well have been a direct link between Saddam and al-Qaeda---no small issue. Intelligence agents don't just meet on a whim, especially with people about to conduct a rather major attack.

As for who is examining the issue, it has been my distinct impression that the Left-side of the blogosphere focuses on issues that cast Bush in a bad light. Able Danger does not do so, any more than the Air America scandal does so; ergo, little coverage by the Left of either. Conversely, both sides are discussing Cindy Sheehan, and that hardly makes that topic a more important one.

But the 9-11 Commission is not a matter of partisanship, any more than the Warren Commission or the Committees to examine Pearl Harbor. IF the 9-11 Commission did not fulfill its responsibilities, then there is an enormous problem, and it is important to determine why it shirked its duties (if it really did so).

Etienne

Thanks for the response, LO. I know the commission wasn't charged with investigating prewar intelligence manipulation. That investigation was postponed until after the elections - apparently the ones scheduled to take place after all the participants are dead.

I don't see how it is "far more likely" that all the wrong conclusions were a perfect storm of human error though. It was clear, from multiple sources (not the least of which is the Downing Street Minutes) that the administration wanted certain conclusions and then - lo and behold! - it got them. We'll never know because the admin is not going to ever allow us to understand how they did this to our supposedly free democratic society.

In any case, that's not the issue at hand. I realize the Atta-in-Prague scenario is important to war supporters. If they can use this information to make that case, I will surely listen to it.

Can anyone explain WHY both Repubs and Dems on the commission collaborated to conceal this evidence if that is the case? Just to keep things neat? Why?

Lurking Observer

Etienne:

If you keep the sarcasm level down, you're far more likely to get a reasoned response.

Your first two paras put you down, in my book, as someone who already knows all the answers, making any response more likely to be simply a waste of time.

As for the DSM, they've been debated and discussed enough that I doubt any response on that front will make much dent. Ditto your blithe dismissal of Atta-in-Prague (IF it happened).

The reality is that intelligence is often a matter of picking and choosing, since the other side is busily obfuscating and confusing the issue. For that matter, your own side might be doing the same (e.g., by collecting so much data that picking out the best nuggets is hard).

Groupthink is common---no one need lie to create it (although your comments would suggest that you don't really believe that). That might well explain both Bush and the 9-11 Commission---a preconceived notion dominating the discussion.

That doesn't address certain issues that should have proven disturbing from the get-go. Beginning w/ why Jamie Gorelick was on the Commission itself, rather than being a witness.

Oh, and bipartisan is not a synonym for non-partisan. Putting James Jeffords and Teddy Kennedy on the same commission would make it bipartisan, but no more non-partisan than putting Zell Miller, Ed Koch, and Dick Cheney on the same commission. The fact that the Commission ignored several items is unfortunately becoming ever clearer, and makes the whole "why would GOPers ignore it" moot, since it happened.

Toby Petzold

Why isn't Sandy Berger in jail?

Etienne

I'm sorry about the sarcasm, LO. I tend to gird for battle when I come to righty sites.

I still am not seeing anything exciting here, except one more incidence of important intelligence being channelled into bureaucratic dead ends. It really doesn't do a thing to lend credence to any Iraq/9-11 connections. Possibly it refutes the timeline that prevented placing Atta in Prague, but neither does it place him there. If you can't prove I was home last night, does that prove I was out robbing the gas station?

I missed the DSM conversations here, unfortunately. I'm sure they were lively. I do like to get the conservative viewpoints on such things. As you see, you found the most forgiving interpretation for them, but I certainly can not. In any case, we will have to wait for the history books to explain it to us, because our government certainly will not. Of that we can be sure.

I do understand it is important for commissions to be honest and thorough. I do NOT understand what would motivate any of the members besides Gorelick to suppress this information. And of course, it isn't really clear what info the commission received, so it is another presumption to suppose they suppressed anything at all.

Mackenzie

The 9/11 Commission was a typical Washington bi-partisan commission consisting of 50% Republicans and 50% Democrats not currently holding a political office or party position. The same with the senior staff. Any commission populated by politicians is overly conscious of partisan sensibilities. Whether knowingly or not there are political trade-offs - one side doesn't dwell on the other side's shortcomings in return for the same soft treatment. Maybe there is no such thing as non-partisanship, but bipartisan efforts are never going to dig deeply enough.

Etienne

What's the alternative, Mackenzie?

I think the American people have despaired of ever having their government give a true accounting of any of its actions. It is one of the ways we have lost the integrity of our democracy. The spirit of partisan warfare that people are engaging in now is kind of a vicarious substitute for democracy, because anyone who has spent any time on any political blog knows that truth seeking is the lowest of the motivations. It's usually all about pinning the blame on anyone who isn't "us".

If there was ever a time for a political maverick in America, it is now.

Seven Machos

I can see the White House from here.

Dwilkers

"Maybe there is no such thing as non-partisanship, but bipartisan efforts are never going to dig deeply enough."

Just so. And that is why a congressional 'investigation' (rolleyes) of any sort is pointless.

And guys, the Able Danger story, if true, undermines the idea that 9/11 was a 'failure of intelligence', no? One obvious point of the story is the intelligence was ignored because of policy considerations.

Seven Machos

Dwilkers is exactly correct. Clinton and Bush and Bush and Reagan and Carter can be blamed for this.

gs

Etienne, I commented regarding this post that Rumsfeld's hand-picked Army Chief of Staff might have been involved in the decision not to meet with the FBI. If the Clinton administration and Rumsfeld each could show to disadvantage here, it's understandable that partisans on both sides might let unsplashed mud lay. Bad for the country, but understandable.

Lurking Observer

Dwilkers:

Yes and no. Pearl Harbor was not a failure of intelligence, in the sense that people were aware an attack of some sort by the Japanese was going to occur somewhere in the Pacific. Some even thought it would be at Pearl Harbor.

But the fact of the matter is that they did not know when, they did not know what kind of attack (sabotage vs air attack), they did not know how.

Thus, it was an intelligence failure (although intelligence failures can be due to a variety of factors, including a bad policy, e.g., "the wall," or bad decisions, e.g., lining up the aircraft b/c you think sabotage is more likely than an air attack).


Etienne:

In the first place, this was not the sole issue. The Czechs have long said that they placed Atta in Prague with the Iraqis. In your analogy, your defense that you weren't robbing the gas station was that you couldn't be there, b/c you were someplace else (say, in bed). If I can show that you were definitely not in bed, and someone else can show that they saw you at the gas station at the time of the robbery, it doesn't PROVE you robbed the station, but it certainly goes a long way towards it.

This begs the question of whether a law enforcement model, and especially a criminal model, is the right one for dealing w/ such issues in the first place.

If we consider the possibility that the proper analogy is a civil suit, i.e., preponderance of evidence, rather than criminal, beyond a reasonable doubt, then you are in even deeper trouble.

Seven Machos

Lurking Observer: Ultimately, you can't fit war into law -- despite thousands of years of trying -- because war, once embarked upon, is extra-judicial by its nature. It is a situation in which two groups claiming a monopoly on force fight until one group claims a monopoly on force.

In criminal law, it is understood, even for the most part by the criminals themselves, that the State has a monopoly on force. In civil law, since both sides submit to a court's jurisdiction, there is complete understanding.

Etienne: note my correct use of the concept of "monopoly."

Cecil Turner

"OK, the timeline justified the idea that Atta couldn't have been in Prague, but it didn't preclude anyone from presenting evidence that he WAS there either."

There was one [disputed] sighting. But since nobody was following Atta at the time, he'd only be noticed when he contacted someone who was being followed. That sort of information is going to be thin.

"And even if that was a proven fact, which it likely never will (or can) be, then that is some flimsy hooks to be hanging a war on."

Not sure what the draw is in looking for ex-post-facto casus belli. Saddam was in violation of the Gulf War cease-fire, which is as good a "hook" as any. We thought he was a gathering danger of providing chem/bio assistance to terrorists (and he may have actually provided that assistance through Atta . . . and we may never know).

Lurking Observer

7:

I agree that war is not compatible with law. I recently re-watched "Breaker Morant," and am reminded of their key conclusion: War is not subject to peacetime morality, and by extension, legal reasoning.

I utilized the legal analogy primarily b/c Etienne insists that the absence of evidence is the same as evidence of absence, when that is in fact illogical and deeply flawed reasoning.

More to the point, given the widespread American belief that the legal approach is the preferred one, even in matters of war, I thought it useful to suggest that rather than a criminal court analogy, a civil court one is better in the context of the anarchical international system. (Of course, juxtaposing law and anarchy together begs quite a few questions as well, but we all work w/ what we have.)

Etienne

"The Czechs have long said"?...See, that sounds like Fox News copyrighted phrase "some people say". That doesn't constitute proof or evidence or any damn thing at all. That's hearsay, or even less.

The question of law enforcement vs. war waging is another sticky wicket. Again, not least because of the partisan clubbing its used for, by the likes of the despicable Rove. War can only be fought between states. You can't have a war where a state wages war against an ideology. That doesn't mean the ideology isn't a deadly threat. It's just that the old categories are useless. What makes me uncomfortable about the right wing is the apparent delight so many take in the concept of war, and their blind faith in its efficacy.

It would seem that a logical course is the one that will likely be the one taken - some combination of law enforcement work as deployed against drug cartels and surgical military strikes executed with (one would hope) precision and planning. Of course the crucial element is clean, non political intelligence. Which is why I wonder at the apathy for this concept from the right and why there are calls to investigate everything from steroids to oral sex, but not this.

Thank you for the vocab lesson, Seven, but I've been reading about the nuts and bolts of our Congressional processes and the word "monopoly", while not precise, is certainly applicable.

You can see the White House? That sounds a little scary, for some reason.

Wolfman

Schaffer has said that he told 911 Commission staff, before the 911 report, that Atta had been identified and shown in some sort of chart. Apparently, this story is also told by a Navy captain associated with Able Danger.

911 Commission leaders deny the foregoing, and report they never received any "chart" identifying Atta.

Is someone lying? Did the chart in fact exist? If yes, what happened to it? Did the prior DOD destroy it? Is the current DOD withholding it?

And there are reports that DOD attorneys stopped the Able Danger group from reporting their findings to the FBI. Has anyone identified these lawyers and asked them about it?

And why is it that the 911 Commission would not report something just because their only evidence is the testimony of American soldiers entrusted with our most sensitive intelligence? If we don't trust them (Schaffer and the Navy captain), why were they involved with Able Danger in the first place?

Lurking Observer

Etienne:

Just what in the world do you think intelligence is? What makes you think it's any different for police intelligence, including the drug enforcement model you think will eventually take over?

It would be nice, of course, if the bad guys could be duped into signing a confession, in the guise of signing for their laundry or somesuch. Just in time for Tom Cruise or Roger Moore to win the girl by the end.

But, as we see w/ the Milosevic trial, folks have gotten a lot smarter at avoiding self-incrimination.

Yes, someone (in this case, Czech intelligence) says they overheard something. Or saw something. That's how intelligence works. Intelligence is not an international version of "Law & Order." To expect that is to divorce yourself from the (ugly) reality of intelligence, itself the dirtiest, lowest-down, most uncertain part of the ugly reality of international relations. There's a reason it's referred to as a "wilderness of mirrors."

Lance

Etienne,

I don't know whether Atta was in Prague, but the Czechs stand by their claim he was, and there is other evidence as well. Does that prove it? No. However, if another intelligence agency says they saw a specific person it is pretty strong evidence, from what you are saying it seems you did not follow the detailed discussion of that evidence which was substantial as intelligence goes. The key element against it was that at one point when they are suspected of having met, we believed they must have seen the wrong person, because we "knew he wasn't there!" I always found that evidence weak, especially the cell phone evidence, but we just don't know.

Proof like you demand is a pretty high standard to meet, but we would be a lot closer if we found the timeline used was wrong. If they did meet was it because of 9/11? Does it matter? Difficult questions, but saying that something short of a voluntarily presented sample of DNA being donated on film with mutinational witnesses to insure uncompromised provenace isn't going to get us far. Proof isn't the issue, evidence is and we had good evidence that was dismissed because "it just couldn't be true."

In addition, your constant harping about when we are going to begin investigating intelligence before the Iraq war is a bit annoying. WE DID THAT! The Senate Intelligence report which is so wrapped up with Joe Wilson did happen. I know, I remember it. If your complaint is that it was inadequate and run by blowhards go ahead and join the choir. It did happen however. Check Tom's archives.

boris

Iraq involvement in 911 is a fairly big deal. A lot of people could overlook lack of WMDs if Saddam was involved.

That's what's really at stake here. The whole Bush lied mantra depends on the Iraq war being ignoble. It may not matter to those of us who support the war on strategic and humanitarian grounds, but the technicality arguments using no fly and cease fire violations are unpersuasive to the touchy feely group thinkers.

A majority believed Saddam was involved in 911 after it happened despite official statements that there was no direct evidence. There has been a campaign to blame that belief on the administration, another lie in effect. Throwing the omission commission Atta timeline into question undermines that campaign and allows what evidence there is to speak for itself.

There's more than Prague.

Geoffrey Barto

Bill Buckley once spoke of the classic CIA assassination operation: everyone involved except the target was killed. Can we really believe that the governments of four or five countries were tracking Mohammed Atta as a suspected terrorist and everyone of them lost track of him? I can. All it takes is a law enforcement bureaucracy where you have to fill out more paperwork to take action than to put something on the back burner. And societies that don't take locking people up lightly.

Reading the comments, I wince, because there's too much Clinton, too much Bush, too much 9/11 Commission. What we need is to accept that security can't be perfect, to see where it could have been better and to think through how much power we're willing to give governments run by imperfect people in the hope of better security next time.

We don't need a bad guy here. We need a thoughtful debate over whether, in the long run, the wall is a bad thing because it constrains those charged with our security or a good thing because it limits the ability of the government to direct (perhaps improperly or even maliciously) its power against individual people.

That is not a scientific question for experts. It's a political question for the voters to decide based on who they elect.

That we knew Atta's name, pre-9/11 is surprising. That we didn't do anything about it is typical. That a government might come about that acts every time a possible Atta shows up, however, is terrifying.

owl

I think both sides decided to go soft on each other since the beating up of Administration officials satisfied the blood lust. I don't know how they excuse not putting Gorelick under oath since the "wall" seems to be story of 9/11.

I know I blamed Clinton because I was sitting out here, Joe B Citizen, and watching ....something.....attack us over and over for almost 10 years. Small but constant attacks and the feeling that ....something....was building. Felt this strongly before Bush was elected.

So Bush is blamed because he decided to go after a known longtime threat. When N Korea or Iran drops a biggie somewhere in the world, he will be blamed for "ignoring" the problem. Can't you just hear the anti-war, Mother Sheehan supporters when that happens? Can you imagine them if he should decide to do something BEFORE they drop one? If Iran sends a suitcase into NY, someone is going to wonder why Bush did not attack Iran, since he knew they were building. The war protesters will be screaming the loudest and marching with their media sticks. Think I will lighten up on Clinton.

I do wish everyone could stop the blame long enough to study this data mining. We have PCed everything to such an extent, they would be afraid to say that the big, bad military was invading someone's privacy. If they actually came up with Atta, pardon one and all and let the data mining begin.

kim

OK, Etienne, I got your number. You note that since the Czechs' 'said' something, that therefore it is 'hearsay or worse'.

Right.

Your world and welcome to it.
===============================================

Etienne

LO, I missed your point in your last post. Yes, police intelligence is intelligence, subject to same flaws,etc. as military intelligence. Where did I say different? I said we must have faith as a country that the people analyzing the intelligence do not have a separate, secret political agenda. I don't see how anyone can disagree with this, or how the rather condescending (and unenlightening) remarks about "how intelligence works" make any difference to that point.

I did miss the discussions of the Prague evidence, not only here, but everywhere, and not for trying. The only admin mouthpiece pushing it was Darth Cheney. Can anyone link me to something objective? (Please nothing from Newsmax.) I'm interested, sincerely. But boris' "more than Prague" vagueness, coupled with his admission that the war cheerleaders would dearly love to have some of this kind of proof to wave around, only confirms my belief that it's a red herring.

Basically to go back to my gas station robbery analogy, we haven't proved that Atta was out of the country, only that it's possible we had evidence he was involved with a Brooklyn cell and no one acted on it. Somehow this lends credence to the idea that, since the timeline isn't absolute, he MAY have been out of the country, and some ultra-vague Czech intelligence ( which we can't know anything about, but should believe) says he was in Prague, making that one in a million Iraq/9-11 connection that the right wing media is longing for. Sorry if this doesn't bowl me over, but you shouldn't reasonably expect it to bowl anyone else over either.

Geoffrey, you're right. We don't need a bad guy when it comes to 9/11. The minute you blame Clinton's gang, you have to ask yourself why Bush's gang didn't immediately pick up their shovels and get to work on those gaping holes. Neither administration was vigilant enough, and all that really matters is what kind of vigilance is being exercised NOW.

kim

So, Etienne, do you think Saddam should be in power now?
==================================================

kim

He said, she said,
Everywhere a hearsaid.
Aurally Etienned,
Seeing is dead.
=======================

richard mcenroe

Damn, Tom, two whole posts with not one word on Karl Rove. Does this mean we've officially moved onto the new scandal du jour?

kim

It is worth reminding ourselves that 4 and a half days ago, and less than 9 hours after the post, lesley pointed us to light Colonel Shaffer's anonymous post at Intel-Dump.

Thanks, lesley.
================================

Etienne

I know I blamed Clinton because I was sitting out here, Joe B Citizen, and watching ....something.....attack us over and over for almost 10 years. Small but constant attacks and the feeling that ....something....was building. Felt this strongly before Bush was elected.

So, after presumably voting for Bush, did you feel any dismay when he showed absolutely NO inclination to reform anti terrorism practices, gave it low priority, and did not even have his first meeting on counter terrorism measures until 7 days before 9/11? Since you were so attuned to this threat - remarkably so, almost like you were psychicn - didn't it bother you that Bush saw NONE of these Clinton era flaws and made exactly NO proactive moves of his own?

I really don't understand this. If Clinton was such a loser, and Bush was your knight in shining armor, how exactly do you explain his complete apathy towards terrorism in his first nine months in office. I don't even blame Bush for his failure to protect my city, even to the point that no jets were scrambled while two hijacked planes circled our city for half an hour. But how on earth do you complain about the one guy and forgive the other? Clearly Bush was no activist on this danger to America, no man of pro-action, no hardliner. The main thing I remember reading about him during those first months was how much he wanted to emulate Reagan in taking long vacations.

kim

Jets got scrambled. They headed out to sea as per protocol. It took an admiral screaming on the radio to turn them around. By then it was too late.

Read about these things. Find out the truth. You are a fount of received wrong wisdom.
=================================================

kim

Etienne, in this time of Google and freedom to think independently and creatively, there is really no excuse for your articulate and ignorant parroting of the party line. You are eminently predictable.

And what's the meaning of putting the phrase 'Darth Cheney' in the same paragraph in which you protested your bona fides as a genuinely curious discussant?

And why to you characterize some of your questions as 'honest'?
===================================================

Etienne

Uh,kim, it kills me to even respond to your nonsense, but why don't you freaking read and learn a little yourself:

For starters:

Failures to Scramble
Interceptors were only scrambled from distant bases after long delays.
* Despite the fact that Flights 11 and 175 were headed for New York City, no interceptors were scrambled from nearby Laguardia, or from Langley, Virginia.
* Despite NORAD's having recieved formal notification of the first hijacking at 8:38, no interceptors were scrambled from Andrews to protect the nearby Pentagon until after it was hit at 9:37.


* Failures to Intercept
Once in the air, interceptors flew at only small fractions of their top speeds, assuring they would fail to intercept the airliners.
* The two F-15s scrambled from Otis AFB to chase Flight 11 flew at an average of 447 mph, about 23.8% their top speed of 1875 mph.
* The two F-16s scrambled from Langley to protect the capital flew at an average of 410.5 mph, about 27.4% of their top speed of 1500 mph.


* Failures to Redeploy
Nearby fighters on routine patrol duty were not redeployed to intercept the airliners, nor were fighters that belatedly reached Manhattan sent to defend the capital.
* Two F-15s flying off the coast of Long Island were not redeployed to Manhattan until after the second tower was hit.
* The two F-15s scrambled from Otis AFB to protect Manhattan could have reached the capital in 9.6 minutes once they arrived over New York City. That was still 34 minutes before the Pentagon was hit.

This isn't the issue at hand either, but the point is the search for truth is SO incredibly selective. Whether or not Atta might have been in Brooklyn when he supposedly wasn't in Prague is worth a Congressional hearing! But nothing else needs to be looked into at all.

I don't have any conclusions on any of this, but I do make use of my ability to ask questions. It's a total pain in the ass to have fools like kim bouncing in accusing you of stupidity for being smart enough to look into the things they enjoy being blissfully ignorant about. Between that and being labeled a commie Marxist by people who couldn't define either term (not here, but almost any other righty site), it's truly impossible to assess the honesty and/or integrity of the conservative viewpoint.

boris

So who's to blame that passengers on the first three airliners didn't thwart their hijackers like flight 93 did ???

Stupid question ?

Oh yeah, like all of yours.

Ken Hahn

The 9-11 comission is and always was a joke. The report is worthless because every member of the comission was more interested in hiding something than revealing anything. The recomendations are what you'd expect, a giant new bureaucracy and total confusion in any control of intellegence. Put a few Democratic partisans together with an equal number of RINOs, add a self serving staff and you get rubbish. Appointing Gorelick is somewhat like adding Charles Manson to the Grand Jury.

Anyone who takes anything from the report seriously is not interested in the security of the country. There is plenty of blame to go around, but we'll never find any failures if we rely on "investigations" like that one.

kim

Do you know how those average speeds were calculated? Were they crow miles or actual miles? I know, do you, Etienne?
==============================================

kim

And how does your response support your contention that Bush had something to do with jets failing to shoot down the hijackers?
================================================

Jim Rockford

Etienne -- I think myself as a 9/11 general anti-terror supporter, there are some things that stand out from both Administrations.

1. The curious and otherwise inexplicable Bill Clinton-George Bush lovefest. Mutual CYA and body burying?

2. Bush Administration not raising an eyebrow at the makeup of the 9/11 Commission, including Gorelick. It's almost as if they didn't care.

3. The prevailing sentiment of both Administrations up to 9/11 epitomized by Larry C. Johnson's infamous NYT piece "The Declining Terrorist Threat" and echoed still to this day by BBC's "Power of Nightmares" etc. Terrorism was viewed as a nuisance at best by both Admins.

4. The curious case of Atta, the three other pilots trips to Germany ... at the same time the Germans arrested two Iraqi spies for suspected terrorism plotting against US bases in Germany at Saddam's direction. For some inexplicable reason Mohammed Atta and the other pilots all left to return to Hamburg Germany. Then mysteriously returned to the US. No reason for this was ever determined.

5. The very WEIRD Iraqi/Al-Qaeda connection to the 1993 and 2001 WTC plots. 1993 WTC bomber Ramzi Yusef is the nephew of 2001 Architect Khalid Sheik Mohammed, and is also a relative of the one uncaught 1993 conspirator, Abdul Rahman Yassin (said to be an Iraqi citizen and traveled on an Iraqi passport), last seen in Baghdad shortly before the Iraq War, where Saddam had given Yassin a pension and refuge. Note that the 1996 Bojinka plot had been uncovered when Yusef and Khalid Sheik Mohammed set Yusef's apartment on fire whilst bomb making, and the Yusef Laptop containing the Bojinka plot was recovered by Manila police (assassinate the Pope, bomb 12 airliners out of the sky, crash other airliners into the CIA at Langley, Pentagon, White House, and yes WTC). Note Khalid Sheik Mohammed sent money in 1993 to Yusef to move the plot forward.

ALL these guys are supposed to be Pakistani Baluchis who were in Kuwait during Saddam's invasion. No one is really sure who/what they are, if they are indeed Pakistani Baluchis.

6. The VERY WEIRD silence on the 1998 Clinton indictment of Osama bin Laden collaborating with Saddam in trying to obtain WMDs. You'd think that the Bush Admin would trumpet this, yet from the beginning they ignored it in the run-up to the Iraq War.

Simply put, the Bush Admin does not act like you'd expect, and neither does Bill Clinton personally (you can see he's very different than say, Madeline Albright or Sandy Burglar). Bush ignores significant and mysterious connections (is their some secret Baluchi clan deeply embedded in Al Qaeda and with relationships to the Baathists in Iraq?) and seems oddly not to care about other Clinton-era documents that link Saddam and Osama.

What gives? My own guess (only a guess) is that Bush had no different views than Bill Clinton towards terror, that he shared Larry C. Johnson's views on terror, and pursued a profoundly isolationist policy aimed only at improving relations with Mexico in the 8 months or so before 9/11. That very quickly Clinton and Bush agreed to bury mutual bodies.

Weird huh?

kim

And you've reached to think I've called you stupid. Ignorant, yes, stupid, no.
=================================================

Cecil Turner

"Sorry if this doesn't bowl me over, but you shouldn't reasonably expect it to bowl anyone else over either."

Perhaps. But it's worth noting that we've already suffered a WMD attack, and have no good idea where it came from. The FBI's fascination with domestic scientists (always a bit farfetched, IMHO) is looking more and more like a product of the profilers that gave us a "white man in a white van" DC sniper. And that anthrax had to come from somewhere.

"It's a total pain in the ass to have fools like kim bouncing in accusing you of stupidity for being smart enough to look into the things they enjoy being blissfully ignorant about."

I'd recommend not using the word "ignorant" in the same post as that bit about scrambles, percentages of top speeds, and "redeployment."

AST

"do people think they have seen enough to merit a Congressional investigation?" HUH?

What was the 9/11 Commission? Wasn't IT supposed to get to the root of all this? All another Congressional investigation would do is confuse the issue further, because everybody who knows anything will be covering his/her behind. We might as well appoint Richard Clarke to find out whose fault all this was.

Personally, the elephant in the living room is Gorelick's rule that kept Justice Department prosecutors from seeing intelligence information. That should tell us all we need to know. Bush's administration was at fault for not ending that right off the bat. There was plenty of information available to tell anybody that Al Qaeda was seriously dangerous, and Bush's people should have made it their highest priority. But that doesn't excuse the institutional culture that had grown up over the previous 8 years. Changing administrations from Clinton to Bush was like rebuilding a 1992 jalopy that hasn't had an oil change or a tune up for 8 years and needs a valve job and new rings, and expecting it to win a race that has already started. If it ever recovers from postmodernism, history will not be kind to Bill Clinton and the criminal neglect of his administration of its duty to protect this nation.

Please, no more hearings. They're like trying to teach a pig to dance. It doesn't work and it annoys the pig. If people aren't already disgusted with the bungling prior to 9/11, nothing new is going to wake them up.

ThomasJackson

Its clear that the 9-11 commission has been completely disdcredited and that it functioned to cover up Clinton's actions. Action needs to be taken against those who refused to cover the Able Danger material. If they were more concerned about partisan politics than national security they don't deserve to be in government because they lack both judgement and professionalism.

Seven Machos

Look. I don't think Bill Clinton was inept. He was a C to C- president with a small-time domestic agenda (after getting pummelled on healthcare) and no foreign policy vision. Same old, same old with China, terror, Mexico, whatever. I do note that he was a bit hemmed in by his own proclivities, baggage, and supporters. Any serious foreign policy gambit would have been considered "wag the dog." That's everyone's fault, but mostly his.

I think Bush is a B- to C+. He was twice beatable by anybody with a pulse and a hint of political acumen. Like Clinton, Bush doesn't seem to have a killer instinct when actually governing and making law (as opposed to running for office).

Why does the Left feel ABSOLUTELY COMPELLED to pin all blame and vent all its frustrations on Bush (and to defend its own guy)? I guess that's the way of the world, but it's a dumb way.

Syl

Etienne

"But boris' "more than Prague" vagueness, coupled with his admission that the war cheerleaders would dearly love to have some of this kind of proof to wave around, only confirms my belief that it's a red herring."

What one may WISH has nothing to do with what IS. So you're going to conclude there's nothing to Prague because your poitical 'enemy' would like it to be true? I'm really impressed by your open mind.

And this takes the cake:

"Of course the crucial element is clean, non political intelligence. "

What the hell do you mean by clean?!?!? Political?!?!? Intelligence is what it is. It points out facts and possible facts. These pieces of intellgence, whether intercepts, photos, discovered documents, data told/given you by other intelligence agencies, are DOTS. Analysis attempts to connect the dots into something meaningful.

Then an administration official asks for anything we've got indicating bio weapons development in darkistan. The administration makes policy from the analysis. The administration then politicizes the policy.

Can you give me an example of political intelligence? of non-political intelligence? You can't do it because there's no such thing as political or non-political intelligence. It is what it is. And, further, intelligence is rarely 'clean', whatever you meant by that. Even a 'clean' satellite photo can be interpreted in various ways. Many sources are not 'clean', in fact many sources wish to misinform us. Determining what is what is part of the analysis.

And explain to me why we shouldn't take the word of Czech intelligence concerning something one of their agents is sure about? It can't be dismissed out of hand. AFAIK it was dismissed because (1)there was only one source, albeit a strong source, (2)Atta's cell phone was used in Fla during that time...weak (3)the INS has no record of Atta leaving the country during that time....not as weak, but still weak. Especially since now it seems Atta was in this country long before any INS records show he was here. That points to big flaws in INS records.

So, tell me, what's political about that?

Syl

And what the hell has Bush done about INS? Anything? Remember they sent one of the hijackers his papers weeks after 9/11.

jukeboxgrad

According to Shaffer, DOD had the equivalent of 40 suitcases of papers on Op Able. We have reason to understand that 95% of this was not handed over to the commission, but rather inspected (presumably under some time constraints) in a "DOD reading room." It seems entirely possible to me that Atta's name (along with lots of other names) was buried somewhere in that big pile of paper. If so, it's easy to see how the commission people missed it, and it's hard to see why Weldon and Shaffer are so excited.

That's a bit of a mystery. Here's another mystery. Certain people have a lot to say about Atta in Prague, but have nothing to say (as far as I can tell) about "very direct" links between Saudi officials and 9/11 hijackers. I wonder why that is.

More on the Saudi-9/11 connection here, here, here, here, here and here.

Back to Atta for a minute. Here's a very detailed rant which reminds us of all sorts of interesting things about Atta, such as how in 4/2001 a warrant was issued for his arrest. That writer is convinced that Atta was actually in Prague for that meeting, and that this (along with other observations) tends to show that both Clinton and Bush have been sweeping all sorts of things under the rug.

Seven Machos

Syl -- INS is no longer an agency. It is controlled and wrapped into Homeland Security.

Etienne

Syl, not to bring up a sore subject, but if you need an example of politicizing intelligence just go back to the main page here and read any of the dozens of Plame stories. A president reporting phony intelligence in an SOTU speech sounds rather political to me also, no? And what on earth is "fixing" intelligence if it isn't cherrypicking to achieve the desired political result?

"Clean" intelligence is one that has been analyzed without any underlying, secret political agenda. That is not how the intelligence that led to this war was analyzed - and 1850 American lives, uncounted Iraqi lives, 350 billion dollars, and no exit strategy later the dire condequences are all too apparent. If our kids are going to be dying to "spread democracy" we damn well deserve to have a little bit of here at home, starting with a transparent and honest government.


I don't discount the Prague evidence out of hand. I've just never seen any support for it other than hearsay. And given the administration's proven track record of making intelligence say what it wants it to say, that isn't enough for me.

kim

Once again, why is what the Czechs say hearsay?
================================================

Cecil Turner

"A president reporting phony intelligence in an SOTU speech sounds rather political to me also, no?"

"Phony intelligence"? After an extensive investigation, the Butler Commission concluded: "the statements on Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa . . . were well-founded."

"And what on earth is "fixing" intelligence if it isn't cherrypicking to achieve the desired political result?"

The evidence is that this was predominantly an intelligence gathering failure, rather than a political one. Again after extensive investigation, the SSIC concluded:

1. Most of the major key judgments in the Intelligence Community's October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction, either overstated, or were not supported by, the underlying intelligence reporting.
But goes on to say:
The Committee found no evidence that the IC's mischaracterization or exaggeration of the intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) capabilities was the result of political pressure.
"And given the administration's proven track record of making intelligence say what it wants it to say, that isn't enough for me. "

There is obviously an objectivity issue here, but I'm not sure it's the one you think it is.

TM

Damn, Tom, two whole posts with not one word on Karl Rove. Does this mean we've officially moved onto the new scandal du jour?

There is no moving on here at the Anti-MoveOn site. We just circle restlessly around whatever story (or shiny bright object) is currently holdiong our attention.

As to the Atta in in Prage story, Etienne (and others) might find the 9/11 Commission's account to be helpful. It was covered in Chapter 7 of their report, and (IIRC) the Czechs were a bit wobbly in their ID. Also, we eventually captured the Iraqi who reportedly met Atta, and he denies it (well, he would, wouldn't he).

boris

Evidence for connections between Saddam and 911 has not been evaluated objectively. Yet. There has been a campaign to dispute any connctions in order to discredit the Iraq invasion. There has also been a campaign to blame Bush, despite official statements, for the widespread belief that Saddam was involved. IOW Bush lied about WMD and Saddam's guilt.

Saddam was not entitled to presumption of innocence. After Gulf War 1 it became painfully obvious (painfully OBVIOUS) that leaving Saddam in power was a big mistake. After 911 with troops deployed to the area and on his border, Saddam was given an ultimatum. He relied on his bribes and peekaboo inspections on his own terms to save him. He was wrong.

He did not know what he was dealing with. A simple minded Texan with a quick temper and a fast draw had been finagled into the White House by a family of political connivers.

After 911 Saddam should have been saying "Yes sir, no sir" instead of "up yours". He got what was coming to him.

So yeah. I'm all for discrediting the omission commission and the connection deniers. Let the evidence speak for itself with the proper standard ... Saddam was guilty until proven innocent.

Dwilkers

In the meantime, while we all spam the board with blame Bush this, blame Clinton that, this and the Plame story point to the Big Problem; Intelligence gathering in this country appears to be a game partisans play rather than a serious national security endeavor.

Still. 4 years after 9/11 and they are still playing games instead of doing their fooking jobs.

Etienne

So, boris, you pin the non-objectivity of intelligence evaluation on those all powerful liberals who want to discredit Bush. Seeing as how they can't even get a single bill to come to the floor of the Senate, can you explain how they have the power to secretly manipulate our intelligence? And why they didn't do so BEFORE we began the war to sacrifice our youth so the Iranians could finally get the friendly Islamic neighbor they wanted in Iraq?

And, broken record time: IF we went over there to depose Saddam, and ONLY to depose Saddam (since after all that is the ONLY thing we've accomplished), didn't the American people have the Constitutional RIGHT to have their elected representatives vote on THAT? Instead of on cooked books and fixed facts? Or do you find the concept of our constitutional democracy to be too quaint?

I like your description of how we ended up with our Fratboy in Chief though. A lot of the rancor in our national divide these days derives from the glee certain parts of the country take in having what they perceive as "one of their own" running our country. Even if he's really a little blueblooded elitist prince. And even if he's running it into the ground. Go figure.

boris

Taking Glee: A simple minded Texan with a quick temper and a fast draw had been finagled into the White House by a family of political connivers.

You bet. Suffer y'all. Good economy, winning wars, great attitude, Hmm ... I guess you would prefer recession, losing and misery. You must be a moonbat!


Etienne

Holy crap, boris, you can't be serious. Winning wars? Like the one in Iraq, where 6 more soldiers were blown up by an uncontrolled insurgency (no combat, just IEDs making mincemeat of our guys) in the past 24 hours, where $340 billion have gone up in smoke,where we get to choose between two possible outcomes - civil war or an Islamic republic, or maybe both! Though I'm sure when Bush withdraws the troops ignominiously in time to get more thieving Repubs elected midterm he'll declare VICTORY!...and you'll parrot that line.

Great attitude? Uh, maybe in redneck country. We are living in Revenge of the Redneck America at this point in time. This I know, but the "greatness" of what they are bringing to America, as reflected by their educational levels, gun violence, divorce statistics and poverty, probably ain't anything to crow about.

Lastly, good economy? Yes, for the luxury classes. All I can figure is you're one of them thar elitists yourself, boris, because the average Joe in America has seen real wages drop and is about ready to cut his throat when he contemplates his gas and heating bills. That good economy is another "fixed fact" mirage, my friend.

I do understand the glee. A part of the country that felt it had no voice has taken its bitter revenge on those of us they were so jealous of. Problem is, we've all had a chance now to see what they're made of. The more they come to speak for America, the more we become the world's moral pariah. I do think it has peaked though, and the pendulum is swinging the other way. All things work out as they should. It just takes time.

boris

A part of the country that felt it had no voice has taken its bitter revenge on those of us they were so jealous of.

You might want to put some ice on that persecution complex.

Etienne

You're right it was a bit over the top. It has come as a revelation to people in my part of the country how large a segment of the American population is still living under a Civil War hangover. We really didn't know there were so many people out there who thought the old South, with all its bigotries and violence, was such a cool idea. We thought moving intelligently forward into the 21st century was kind of a universal force, and didn't understand the mindset of worshipping an infallible leader, having always been taught that was unAmerican. We ARE learning now though.

In case anyone wants to jump on my about my redneck generalizations I'd like to refer them to today's Dallas Morning News

An excerpt: What does it mean that those in ultraviolet(blue)states are more likely to be Catholic and have a college education, but less likely to be overweight? That those in infrared states are more likely to drive a pickup, smoke or get shot?

With all the liberal bashing in the press these days, I've yet to read a single thing that made me anything less than proud to be a TRUE BLUE American. Maybe it wasn't jealousy that motivated this redneck revenge. But what else could it have been - masochism?

owl

I am a little more interested in what happens and who to blame if a suitcase comes into NY.

Our good Allies sitting at one table waving a useless stick as a weapon (UN)at Iran. Other Allies sitting with China across from N Korea (who I think is fronting for China). I assume they are all sitting there because the only other alternative is for the US to attack them or keep paying their blackmail. Appease or attack? So what's the answer?

Who is to blame if a suitcase comes into NY? I saw no alternative than going into Iraq but it seems half the country disagreed since they are still marching. The only solution I ever heard from any of them was ........UN. Well I didn't see the UN stopping 9/11. They seem unable to stop Iran or N Korea.

So who is to blame if a suitcase comes into DC? Bush, because he didn't attack them or do we fall back on "we needed to cooperate more with our good Allies"? Two tables of Good Allies. Does anyone expect results?

No Etienne, I don't think you have to be Mother Palm Reader when someone says they hate you, have actually acted upon it (remember Carter's little problem?)practice the same cult religion and they just happen to be building nukes. Where were you to have missed all those attacks in the 90's? If we found out about so many, how many more happened that we didn't or whitewashed?

I just hope like heck someone really is data mining.

Etienne

I think about that suitcase a lot also, owl. I kind of wish we had spent the $350 billion (including whatever became of the largest one time cash transfer in the history of the New York Fed ) on something that actually helped prevent that ever happening. Right now, I'd say we're coasting on a wing and a prayer. I don't feel the least bit safe. I just trust my fate to God.

You didn't answer my question though. Didn't Bush's apathy and lack of proactive response to the Clinton era flaws impact your opinion of him at all? Did you expect him to be a man of action or were you satisfied that he seemed only to be a man of vacation ?

jukeboxgrad

KIM: "why is what the Czechs say hearsay"

There's a certain amount of ambiguity (to put it mildly) in what the Czechs have said on this topic: " ... Havel ... [has] informed the White House that there is no evidence of a meeting in Prague between an Iraqi intelligence official and Mohamed Atta ... One senior Czech official told the New York Times: 'The interior minister claims [Atta and Mr Ani] did meet, but the intelligence people have told me that they didn't, that the meeting didn't happen.' "

jukeboxgrad

CECIL: "After an extensive investigation, the Butler Commission concluded"

What a shame that Butler couldn't manage to offer any meaningful evidence to back up what they said. Then again, maybe they wanted to be careful not to inadvertently out any WMD operatives. On the other hand, it's now years later, and still no proof has emerged. How odd, unless such proof never existed.

"the SSIC concluded"

What a shame that SSCI deferred some of the hardest and most important questions (such as "whether public statements, reports, and testimony regarding Iraq by U.S. Government officials made between the Gulf War period and the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom were substantiated by intelligence information") to a later phase ("phase two") which has never happened.

So suggesting that SSCI ever "concluded" its work is a bit misleading.

And although you're fond of mentioning the NIE, I notice you still have nothing to say about how there came to be two difference versions, with some interesting variances.

jukeboxgrad

BORIS: "There has also been a campaign to blame Bush, despite official statements, for the widespread belief that Saddam was involved."

Not "despite" official statements. Because of official statements. Bush et al repeatedly claimed that Saddam and al-Qaeda had ties (this is documented here). Bush said "you can't distinguish between al-Qaida and Saddam." I think this was meant to convey the idea, and did successfully convey the idea, that Saddam was behind 9/11. Meanwhile, all sorts of strong signals pointing at the Saudis were swept under the rug. How peculiar.

"After Gulf War 1 it became painfully obvious (painfully OBVIOUS) that leaving Saddam in power was a big mistake."

After OIF it has become painfully obvious that Dubya's dad was prescient when he wrote: "Had we gone the invasion route, the U.S. could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different--and perhaps barren--outcome."

"peekaboo inspections on his own terms"

Really? Where did you get that nonsense? Read any Blix lately? "Access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect" (link).

"winning wars"

We're in the third year and we still don't control the road to the airport. If this is what you call winning, I wonder about your idea of losing. As in many other things, your standards are too low.

boris

Blix = oil for food patsy

jukeboxgrad

Nice job dodging the point. Let us know when you have a shred of evidence that your characterization ("peekaboo inspections on his own terms") is correct and Blix's ("access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect") is not.

A good start would be to let us know about anyone who seriously disputed Blix when he made that statement (1/27/03).

boris

access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect

At that time, with US troops on his border demanding compliance on OUR TERMS, here comes Ignorance is Blix with phony forwarned fake inspections trying to ward the US off so that the oil for food gravy train could continue.

Evidence ??? Oil For Food. You may have heard of it.

Syl

JBG

"Because of official statements"

I call bs on you JBG. How do you explain that on 9/13/01 78% of Americans believed Saddam had something to do with 9/11?

Poll was published in the Washington Post. Google it.

You're spouting a LIE because you KNOW these accusations are false. If you want any credibility around here, then don't continue to spout lies that have been already refuted.

Etienne

So Oil for Food scandal means there were WMDs in Iraq?

I am beginning to understand where Bush's disconnect from reality comes from and why his "look over there while we lie and cheat and steal" tactics have been so successful with a certain segment of the population. It's a built in logic defying mechanism.

Inspections being accurate + Iraq being an unarmed nation + Bush pulling inspectors to keep them from revealing this = Oil for Food and the UN sucks. I get it.

Seven Machos

1. I love how when Clinton was in office the good economy was good for everyone. Now that Bush is in office, says Edy, it's only good for the "luxury class." Same thing happened under Reagan. Why is that? Do Republicans bring in some sort of caste system? More janitor jobs?

2. Gee, Edy, you say we have a "Fratboy in Chief." You say that "certain parts of the country" take "glee" because "'one of their own'" is "running our country." You say that, "really," Bush is "a little blueblooded elitist prince" who is "running" the country "into the ground."

SO THIS "RANCOR IN OUR NATIONAL DIVIDE" -- WHO IS CAUSING IT???

You are truly an idiot, Etienne, in the real philosophical sense of the word, with absolutely no sense of self-awareness.

boris

So Oil for Food scandal means there were WMDs in Iraq?

Is that like a demonstration of your powers of deduction? Ha ha, that's funny. No, really ... had Saddam complied with US demands at the time, he might be a free man today. Instead he relied on his bribes.

By the time US troops arrived on his border, Blixy wasn't going to cut it. When weapons are drawn, compliance is required, WMDs or not.

Etienne

No actualy Macho I'm just the kind of American fellow citizen you've shielded yourself from. I know how it happens. I never understood I was sharing my country with the likes of you either. But now I do understand, and you should also.

And no, the economy under Clinton, while better for the working/middle class, was still inequitable in a way that is disgraceful for a modern democracy. Under Bush, the corporatization of America has just gone on a steroids diet, creating the largest income gap in the developed world...along with one of the worst high school graduation rates, infant mortality rates, teenage pregnancy rates, etc. I know it's Marxist commie blasphemy to imply that a society's health should be measured by anything other than the exponential growth of wealth in the investor class, but there you have it.

Who is causing the rancor? Absolutely without a doubt the Rove worshipping fake christian conservatives who control the government AND the media. Absolutely. I know Fox News inside out, have been there, have two relatives there. They are a propaganda outlet, and make no bones about it. Part of their job is to make sure "their" people hate the other half of America. And they do a damn efficient job of it.

Bush IS a freaking blue blood elitist. One who PRETENDS to be a silly little ranch boy...who can't ride a horse, wears patent leather shoes on his dirt roads, and uh, "clears brush" in Texas heat like a goddamn nutcase. That isn't slander. That's putting the light on the reality that part of the program of deception here is this creation of his fake "rancher" credentials. We're supposed to forget he bought the thing just before running for pres, just after stealing land through eminent domain to build his baseball stadium...just like we're supposed to think he's a "christian" who just happens to enjoy mocking the woman he's having put to death.

Sorry macho. I don't worship kings. I'm an American. That's our reason for being. Just because we have a militaristic class who now considers leader-worship patriotic doesn't make it so.

Seven Machos

I couldn't have written a better parody of goofy Bush-Rove-evil than the genuone article composed by Edy above. I think anyone reading this thread can plainly see which side is rational and which side is pathologically irrational. Edy: note my correct use of the word "pathological."

Etienne

What a country. Where NOT buying into government sponsored propaganda makes you um,pathological. (Sure about that, Macho?)

And it might be a parody if it weren't so sadly true. Like I said, I know Fox inside out. I know one of the people who reads the emails and listens to messages from viewers. Would you believe it - the initial response to the Cindy Sheehan story was 5 to 1 "bush should meet with her" and "don't rip her up". Man, that worried the Fox execs and not long after, O'Reilly (you know that sex freak who lectures on morality) started his tirades, followed by Gibson (i.e. the ugliest man I ever had to listen to a dirty joke from), and a general condemnatory/condescending tone from all the commentators. Voila! Within a week, the messages turned not only against Sheehan, but abusively so, as in "that ugly bitch should go home and beg for forgiveness blah blah blah"...Like brainwashing subjects for chrissake! Fox has found the dirty little secret in America - a huge number of its citizens want to be told how to think!

Anyway, cheers, buddy. Keep up that good republican work - never respond to a substantive point with anything other than an RNC approved talking point, and ALWAYS remember to denigrate your opponent's sanity.

Seven Machos

Edy -- I don't watch FOX News.

I'm sure it's all FOX's fault, though, that most Americans either don't care about your buddy Cindy Sheehan, or think she's a raving loon. I mean, it couldn't have anthing to do with this:

CINDY UNLEASHED: 'THE BIGGEST TERRORIST IN THE WORLD IS GEORGE W. BUSH'
Wed Aug 17 2005 21:51:56 ET

"We are not waging a war on terror in this country. We’re waging a war of terror. The biggest terrorist in the world is George W. Bush!"

So declared Cindy Sheehan earlier this year during a rally at San Francisco State University.

Sheehan, who is demanding a second meeting with Bush, stated: "We are waging a nuclear war in Iraq right now. That country is contaminated. It will be contaminated for practically eternity now."

Sheehan unleashed a foul-mouth tirade on April 27, 2005:

"They’re a bunch of fucking hypocrites! And we need to, we just need to rise up..." Sheehan said of the Bush administration.

"If George Bush believes his rhetoric and his bullshit, that this is a war for freedom and democracy, that he is spreading freedom and democracy, does he think every person he kills makes Iraq more free?"

"The whole world is damaged. Our humanity is damaged. If he thinks that it’s so important for Iraq to have a U.S.-imposed sense of freedom and democracy, then he needs to sign up his two little party-animal girls. They need to go to this war."

"We want our country back and, if we have to impeach everybody from George Bush down to the person who picks up dog shit in Washington, we will impeach all those people."


Developing...http://www.drudgereport.com/flash3.htm

The comments to this entry are closed.

Wilson/Plame