dangerous games

The GOP's obsession with President Clinton is a symptom of a growing radicalization of conservative politics in this country (which has only accelerated under total GOP control of all three branches of government, instead of diminshing as I had expected). In a spectacular inversion, the conservative moderates are pushed farther and farther to the fringes, until they are left alone on the field, contemplating their impotence.

This is harmful in the general First Amendment sense because such radicalization and conformity dominating 50% of the political landscape acts to undermine the free discussion of ideas in our society, dialouges that serve the common good by fostering the ideal of the best solution to each problem, based on merit, not ideology. The mainstream of conservative thought however labels dissent as Treason, and disagreement as Bias.

But sometimes this damage to our society takes a much more direct form. The media never grapples this issue directly, preferring to hide behind an illusion of objectivity - but you can sometimes discern the larger picture by reading between the lines. Case in point: this story in the AP.

Read between the lines:

Nearly a dozen current and former senior U.S. officials described to AP the extensive discussions in 2000 and 2001 inside the Clinton and Bush administrations about using an armed Predator to kill bin Laden. Most spoke only on condition of anonymity, citing the classified nature of the information. Two former national security aides also cite some of the discussion inside the Bush White House in a recent book they published on terrorism.

The officials said that within days of President Bush taking office in January 2001, his top terrorism expert on the National Security Council, Richard Clarke, urged National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to resume the drone flights to track down bin Laden, citing the successes of late 2000.

The drones were one component of a broader plan that Clarke, a career government employee, had devised in the final days of the Clinton administration to go after al-Qaida after the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole. Clinton officials decided just before Christmas 2000 to forward the plan to the incoming Bush administration rather than implement it during Clinton's final days, the officials said.

So in January of 2001 - 8 months before 9-11 - the Bush Administration was briefed about the counter-terrorism plans of the Clinton Administration, notably the use of armed Predator drones to hunt and kill bin Laden.

Continue on:

After Clarke's briefing in January, the drone plan was discussed again in late April by national security deputies and the test on the mock-up of bin Laden's home was conducted in July. A Bush administration official said Rice was generally supportive of the idea as part of a broader strategy.

At a White House meeting of Bush's national security principals on Sept. 4, 2001, senior officials discussed several ideas, including use of the drones, as they finalized a plan to accelerate efforts to go after al-Qaida amid signs of a growing threat of a domestic attack.

Among those present were Rice, CIA Director George Tenet, soon-to-be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Clarke, then Bush's anti-terrorism chief inside the White House.

So a week before 9-11, the plan which was formulated by the previous administration was still unimplemented. A week before 9-11, the findings of Bush's own new terrorism task force and security analyses were only being finalized, despite the fact that there were detailed plans that were ready to have been implemented as early as January.

Why do you think that is? the narrative that emerges from the AP story is a focus on the "missed opportunity" of OBL's dramatic escape from a hellfire missile. Entirely lost is the analysis of what the Bush Administration was doing to counter terrorism (ie, nothing) a week before 9-11 despite having a detailed plan of action sitting unused for 8 months.

Read between the lines...

for a detailed analysis of what the Clinton Administration had done to address the terrorist threat by OBL, I suggest The Age of Sacred Terror, by former Clinton staffers Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon.

Related: see Eschaton for the original link and analysis. Also see this comment by Leah on that thread.

No comments: