Out of the Memory Hole

While wandering around the web today I came across this Lawrence Kudlow article that accuses Democrats of living in fantasyland.

This coming from Larry Kudlow is equivalent to a sewer accusing the Dems of being full of shit.

The whole article is a ghastly exercise in projection — accusing Dems of everything Republicans are guilty of — but I want to narrow my comments to one part of the article. Kudlow says:

And then there’s Sen. Hillary Clinton, who recently stated: “I’m certain that if my husband and his national security team had been shown a classified report titled ‘Bin Laden determined to attack inside the United States,’ he would’ve taken it more seriously than history suggests it was taken by our current president and his national security team.”

The Democrats must be held accountable for such statements.

Mrs. Clinton neglects to tell us that the subject of a Dec. 4, 1998, brief received by President Clinton was “Bin Laden preparing to hijack U.S. aircraft and other attacks.” This material comes courtesy of the 9-11 commission, which President Clinton himself cited during his now infamous interview with Chris Wallace.

You can find the text of this memo on this page (scroll about two-thirds down the page). Following this, you can find what the Clinton Administration did in response (e.g., airports put on high alert; Generals Shelton and Zinni came up with military options; etc.). Larry Kudlow doesn’t seem to understand that the significance of the August 6, 2001 memo was not that Bush was given a memo, but that Bush was given a memo and blew it off.

The Clinton Administration did take steps in response to the December 4, 1998 memo. Perhaps they could have done more, but something (what Clinton did) is more than nothing (what Bush did).

Keep in mind that less than four months earlier, in August 1998, President Clinton had initiated a series of cruise missile strikes on al Qaeda targets in Sudan and Afghanistan and had issued an executive order freezing assets owned by bin Laden and al Qaeda and stipulating that U.S. citizens and firms could not do business with them [source]. Also in 1998 President Clinton authorized the Hart-Rudman Commission on national security. You know, the commission that issued a final report on January 31, 2001, predicting terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. The report Bush ignored.

The 1998 memo was written during an ongoing antiterrorist effort. The 2001 memo was written while Bush was on vacation.

Back to Kudlow:

Additionally, terrorist expert Richard Clarke, whom the former president also cited in the Wallace interview, made it clear in an August 2002 press conference that the Bush administration had stepped up the anti-bin-Laden effort during its first eight months in power. Clarke said Bush shifted the anti-terror effort from a rollback strategy to an elimination strategy. The Bush administration also increased the anti-al-Qaida budget fivefold. Translated, Bush was tougher on al-Qaida than his predecessor.

Wow, did Richard Clarke really say that? I was drawing a blank. A bit of googling refreshed my memory. Fred Kaplan described Clarke’s testimony to the 9/11 Commission:

Three of the panel’s Republicans tried to throw some punches Clarke’s way, but they didn’t land.

James Thompson entered the ring with a swagger, holding up a copy of Clarke’s new book in one hand and a thick document in the other. “We have your book and we have your press briefing of August 2002,” he bellowed. “Which is true?” He went on to observe that none of his book’s attacks on Bush can be found anywhere in that briefing.

Clarke calmly noted that, in August 2002, he was special assistant to President Bush. White House officials asked him to give a “background briefing” to the press, to minimize the political damage of a Time cover story on Bush’s failure to take certain measures before 9/11. “I was asked to highlight the positive aspects of what the administration had done and to play down the negative aspects,” Clarke said, adding, “When one is a special assistant to the president, one is asked to do that sort of thing. I’ve done it for several presidents.”

Nervous laughter came from the crowd—or was it from the panel? The implication was clear: This is what I used to do and—though he didn’t mention them explicitly—this is what Condi Rice and Stephen Hadley are doing now when they’re defending the president.

In the interest of full disclosure, here is Clarke’s 2002 press briefing, and here is a PDF of Clarke’s testimony to the /11 commission. The press briefing, read casually, certainly gives an impression that the Bushies had stepped up to the plate. But if you know the details you can see that Clarke is doing a soft shoe. Right off the bat he says “that no plan on Al Qaeda that was passed from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration,” but we know for a fact that Clarke had passed a plan to the Bush administration. It appears the Bushies were forcing Clarke to lie for them.

9 thoughts on “Out of the Memory Hole

  1. “It appears the Bushies were forcing Clarke to lie for them.”
    It appears they forced a number of others as well, including Colin Powell

  2. It becomes hard to argue, at some point, once you realize that the facts don’t matter to these people. They have their official story, and by God, that’s what they’ll hold to. One can call it insane intransigence, or one can call it “discipline”, but the result is the same. One wonders if there is enough energy available to call bullshit on these people everytime they open their mouths, but that seems to be necessary.

    Anyway, their real mission, of course, with the “it’s Clinton’s fault TOO” (which is really the best they can hope to come out of this) is to generate enough cynicism and apathy to keep turnout down sufficiently so that the gerrymandering, voter roll purging, i.d. checking, absentee ballot fraud and electronic machine-rigging will be sufficient to overcome the public’s actual discontent with these bastards which would be reflected in anything approaching an “honest” election.

    Sad as it seems, they have had remarkable success with this formula, and I really don’t see the kind of necessary broad countermeasures being set up. The biggest of all is get-out-the-vote… that’s the one we’ve got to do…

  3. I remember that testimony by Clarke and was quite impressed at how he made his point without using those words about lying for the administration. I think the most important part of his testimony, which the repugs don’t want to be reminded of, was his apology to the family members of the victims of 911. During that testimony Clarke represented the kind of federal government manager I was used to working for in my almost 30 plus years in the federal government. I only wish I had one supervisor half of skills, knowledge, and abilities shown by Clarke during that testimony. Now, I mostly refer to my higher level officials as my stupidvisors.

    Again, Maha, your superb analytical skills really help us cut through the bs.

  4. Perhaps it’s because I’m quite long-in-the-tooth – which does afford one a broad experience of “living” history – or I’m jaded – which also can come with age – but it would seem that we are experiencing an America of the corrupt, by the corrupt and for the corrupt – which certainly is not unique as nations go, but relatively unique to America.

    But then I say well, we’ve still got the vote . And then I read that there are four companies/corporations controlling our electronic voting processes, three of which are tied by the umbilical cord to the Republican party. Then I read that local election committees have abrogated their oversight responsibilities, which ultimately boils down to the fox guarding the hen house and I wonder, “Do I really have the vote?”

    There are many Richard Clarkes who speak out, but either can’t be heard, speak out after the damage is done, and once they do seem unable to out-shout their detractors.

    It all leaves me with the feeling that this great republic that I’ve lived in and been proud of for 74 years is going to die before I do.

  5. felicity smith:

    I know how you feel, but I see it as the wealthy rolling the clock back to the 20’s — we little people took the country away from them for a while, but now their plan to get it back is bearing fruit. All that money spent on fake think tanks and buying up newspapers and radio stations is finally paying off.

    Seems like “one man, one vote” is being overtaken by “one dollar, one vote.”

  6. Well, actually, Felicity, we have lived through something like this before – a little over a hundred years ago. All this reminds me of our so-called Golden Age.

  7. wmr

    True, “we” did disrupt their priveleged, and in their eyes, deserved life-style. Of course, the New Deal, the Warren Court, the Great Society, graduated income tax, school busing, school desegregation, welfare, women’s rights, peace marches and movements, burning draft cards, unions, reproductive choice, Miranda rights,,, and the glorious ’60s have been eating at their guts for years.

    But I don’t remember this much corruption all at once and permeating all branches of government, the media, and the corporate world. Besides which, and I hate to say it, a population not only suffering from some sort of mental ennui but so seemingly acquiescent to the rule of Big Brother.

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