The 537-page book describes tensions among senior officials from the very beginning of the administration. Mr. Woodward writes that in the weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Tenet believed that Mr. Rumsfeld was impeding the effort to develop a coherent strategy to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. Mr. Rumsfeld questioned the electronic signals from terrorism suspects that the National Security Agency had been intercepting, wondering whether they might be part of an elaborate deception plan by Al Qaeda.
On July 10, 2001, the book says, Mr. Tenet and his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, met with Ms. Rice at the White House to impress upon her the seriousness of the intelligence the agency was collecting about an impending attack. But both men came away from the meeting feeling that Ms. Rice had not taken the warnings seriously.
The main content of the book, however, focuses on the confusion and dissention within the Bush Administration regarding Iraq -- whether to attack, how to wage the war, how to characterize the resistance, how to win the war.
As late as November 2003, Mr. Bush is quoted as saying of the situation in Iraq: “I don’t want anyone in the cabinet to say it is an insurgency. I don’t think we are there yet.”
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld is described as disengaged from the nuts-and-bolts of occupying and reconstructing Iraq — a task that was initially supposed to be under the direction of the Pentagon — and so hostile toward Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, that President Bush had to tell him to return her phone calls. The American commander for the Middle East, Gen. John P. Abizaid, is reported to have told visitors to his headquarters in Qatar in the fall of 2005 that “Rumsfeld doesn’t have any credibility anymore” to make a public case for the American strategy for victory in Iraq.
The question is when this president is going to accept responsibility for getting us into this war -- and responsibility for getting us out. "Stay the course" until he can pass off the problem to the next president is not a winning strategy.
"The notion somehow for eight months the Bush administration sat there and didn't do that is just flatly false - and I think the 9/11 commission understood that," Rice said during a wide-ranging meeting with Post editors and reporters.
This coming from the former National Security Advisor who pushed aside Richard Clarke, the in-house expert on al-Qaeda. This coming from the White House staffer who pretty much ignored the presidential briefing memo about Osama bin Laden's plans to strike within the U.S. This coming from a key player in the Bush Administration, which fought against even having a 9/11 Commission look into 9/11. They didn't want anyone looking into it.
"What we did in the eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton administration did in the preceding years," Rice added.
She also whines about analyses by our own U.S. intelligence agencies that what the Bush Administration is doing is making things worse.
Transitioning to the global war on terror, an animated Rice questioned, "When are we going to stop blaming ourselves for the rise of terrorism?"
This is the perspective problem the entire Bush Administration seems to have: More concern about criticism of them, more concern about the political prospects of the GOP, more concern about spinning themselves into hero status, than any concern in actually doing something effective or at least making sure they're not just making things worse.
When, Condi? When you stop being a major cause of the rise of terrorism.
Asked about recently leaked internal U.S. intelligence estimates that claimed the Iraq war was fueling terrorist recruiting, Rice said: "Now that we're fighting back, of course they are fighting back, too."
"I find it just extraordinary that the argument is, all right, so they're using the fact they're being challenged in the Middle East and challenged in Iraq to recruit, therefore you've made the war on terrorism worse.
"It's as if we were in a good place on Sept. 11. Clearly, we weren't," she added.
Except, Condi, that the terrorists weren't even in Iraq until you and Bush invaded there. The terrorists were in Afghanistan.
Remember Afghanistan? That's the place where Osama has been, by many accounts, all this time. That's where al-Qaeda planned 9/11. That's where the Taliban government sheltered these terrorists.
We do not know what you have done, to prevent another 9/11.
You have failed us — then leveraged that failure, to justify a purposeless war in Iraq which will have, all too soon, claimed more American lives than did 9/11.
You have failed us anew in Afghanistan.
And you have now tried to hide your failures, by blaming your predecessor.
And now you exploit your failure, to rationalize brazen torture — which doesn’t work anyway; which only condemns our soldiers to water-boarding; which only humiliates our country further in the world; and which no true American would ever condone, let alone advocate.And there it is, sir:
Are yours the actions of a true American?
Here are some relevant videos via YouTube:
Clinton refuses to roll over for Chris Wallace on Fox
Olbermann on Clinton, and the Bush Administration's passing the buck
Democratic lawmakers, responding to an intelligence report that found that the Iraq war has invigorated Islamic radicalism and worsened the global terrorist threat, said the assessment by American spy agencies demonstrated that the Bush administration needed to devise a new strategy for its handling of the war.
Again, the Democratic response is the lead, not the report itself.
USA Today (quoting the AP): "Democrats blast Iraq handling as report says war has increased threat"
Democrats on Sunday seized on an intelligence assessment that said the Iraq war has increased the terrorist threat, saying it was further evidence that Americans should choose new leadership in the November elections.
The Democrats hoped the report would undermine the GOP's image as the party more capable of handling terrorism as the campaign enters its final six-week stretch.
Another major news publication treating the Democrats as the news, and the report itself as just a prop.
The White House on Sunday sharply disagreed with a new U.S. intelligence assessment that the war in Iraq is encouraging global terrorism, as Bush administration officials stressed that anti-American fervor in the Muslim world began long before the Sept. 11 attacks.
White House spokesman Peter Watkins declined to talk specifically about the National Intelligence Estimate, a classified analysis that represents a consensus view of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies.
A little better. At least the focus is on the players reponsible (instead of the Democrats, who aren't).
The question remains: Why are the news media positioning this as a Democratic Party story, and not a national security story?
The war in Iraq has become a primary recruitment vehicle for violent Islamic extremists, motivating a new generation of potential terrorists around the world whose numbers may be increasing faster than the United States and its allies can reduce the threat, U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded.
A 30-page National Intelligence Estimate completed in April cites the "centrality" of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the insurgency that has followed, as the leading inspiration for new Islamic extremist networks and cells that are united by little more than an anti-Western agenda. It concludes that, rather than contributing to eventual victory in the global counterterrorism struggle, the situation in Iraq has worsened the U.S. position, according to officials familiar with the classified document.
"It's a very candid assessment," one intelligence official said yesterday of the estimate, the first formal examination of global terrorist trends written by the National Intelligence Council since the March 2003 invasion. "It's stating the obvious."
Thank you, Washington Post, for reporting the news and not the spin.
The report was completed in April and represented a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government, according to an intelligence official. The official, confirming accounts first published in Sunday's New York Times and Washington Post, spoke on condition of anonymity on Sunday because the report is classified.
"Unfortunately this report is just confirmation that the Bush administration's stay-the-course approach to the Iraq war has not just made the war more difficult and more deadly for our troops, but has also made the war on terror more dangerous for every American," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, head of the Democratic effort to take control of the House.
"It's time for a new direction in this country," Emanuel, D-Ill., said in the statement.
"Press reports say our nation's intelligence services have confirmed that
President Bush's repeated missteps in Iraq and his stubborn refusal to change course have made America less safe," said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. "No election-year White House PR campaign can hide this truth."
Interesting how the AP report emphasizes that the Democrats are talking about the report, and does not emphasize the report itself.
You'd think that national security would be a bigger story than what Congressional Democrats are saying about that report.
You'd think. But the Beltway press can be a bit myopic on these things. They don't see truth, just politicians.
On the key issue of detainee treatment that had caused the impasse between the White House and the dissident Republicans, the two sides agreed on a list of specified crimes that could provoke prosecution of CIA interrogators and others. They also agreed that past violations of the Geneva Conventions, an international treaty barring degrading and humiliating treatment of detainees, would not result in criminal or civil legal action.
The White House, for its part, yielded in its demand to adopt, with congressional approval, a restricted definition of its obligations under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. That article requires humane treatment of detainees and bars "violence to life and person," such as death and mutilation, as well as cruel treatment and "outrages upon personal dignity."
The compromise language gives the president a dominant -- but not exclusive -- role in deciding which interrogation methods are permitted by that provision of the treaty. It also prohibits detainees from using the Geneva Conventions to challenge their imprisonment or seek civil damages for mistreatment, as the administration sought.
The torture provisions, which are staunchly defended by hawks who, for the most part, have not served in the military, are still a mystery.
What methods of torture were being employed by the CIA on terr’r suspects? 495 of the 535 members of Congress, including the Senate can’t tell you. With the recent redefinition of the Geneva Conventions between the President and those "maverick" politicking, stumping, fooling Republican Senators McCain and Frist, which methods were kept, and which ones were dumped? Again, only 40 of our 535 most important national leaders can answer that question. It’s “secret”, as are so many other actions this President and his Administration take behind closed doors.
What is even more disturbing about this whole thing is the fact that in just a couple of days, 495 of our members of the Halls of Congress will be asked to, and most likely will be participating in the vote to finalize this so-called “anti-torture” legislation; the brainchild of President Bush. And they don’t even know what they’re voting for or against, only that the President wants it quite badly; some on the left going as far as to speculate for the self-serving purpose of staying out of prison for war crimes.
The temptation to cave into fear and descend to the level of the terror criminals out there seems to be irresistible to these conservatives.
We fought the Nazis and did not descend to their level. What enemy we have faced since has been more horrible in goals and tactics? The instances of our past, where Americans let fear short-cut American values -- such as the Japanese internment camps and the witch-hunt against American citizens under McCarthy -- have been shameful episodes. Have we learned nothing as a nation?
America is at a crossroads here. George W. Bush took our mandate -- which was largely the world's mandate -- to deal with the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and twisted it into a horrific war of choice in Iraq. That's bad enough. We're in a fucking mess there.
But he's not only taking us into imperialist adventurism, but also into the darker depths of base and inhumane behavior. Torture? Do we really need to shred our Constitution in order to be safe, as the Republicans claim?
If they cannot perform their jobs within the framework of the law and the U.S. Constitution, then they should have a chance to resign, then be impeached if they don’t. A lack of creative ideas and the ability to perform critical thinking does not give anybody the right to hover above the law. And that is exactly what these people are trying to do.
It's time America responded with integrity and intelligence, and not easily-goaded rage and stupidity.