Friday, September 29, 2006

Did Bush try to get bin Laden before 9/11? Olberman proves he didn't.

"Countdown" on MSNBC at 8:00PM Eastern every weeknight has become the show to watch. Unfortunately many of us find that getting cable just to watch MSNBC is too expensive. Sometimes, though, the best of what Keith Olberman presents is given in transcript form. This is one of those times.

Last Friday (September 22, 2006) President Bill Clinton was asked by a Fox News right-winger whether he was responsible for allowing bin Laden to conduct the attack against America on 9/11. Bill Clinton was clearly repressing his anger at the insulting accusation when is stated that "He tried. He failed, but at least he tried. The current administration [Bush] had eight months and didn't even try." Was it true that Bush didn't even try? This is Countdown's report according to MSNBC:
Thus, tonight a special investigation. Mr. Clinton is not in office, Mr. Bush is. His policies determine how the U.S. fights al Qaeda, so it is important that we understand how he has done so in the past. Comparing the two presidents is valid, necessary, to illuminate the capacities of the office. Mr. Clinton said it plainly, he failed to get bin Laden. Mr. Bush has acknowledged no such failure.

But while it has become conventional wisdom, although debunked by the 9/11 report, that Mr. Clinton dropped an offer from Sudan to hand over bin Laden, it is rare to hear anyone discuss whether similar but real feelers were ever extended to Mr. Bush. And it is, we suspect, even more rare to see this tape of the Bush White House addressing reports of such feelers in February 2001, after the government knew al Qaeda had attacked the U.S.S. Cole.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, February 27, 2001)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Taliban in Afghanistan, they have offered that they are ready to hand over Osama bin Laden to Saudi Arabia if the United States drops its sanctions, and the—they have a kind of deal that they want to make with the United States. Do you have any comments (INAUDIBLE)?

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Let me take that and get back to you on that.


OLBERMANN: There is no record of any subsequent discussion on that matter.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, of course, responded to President Clinton by defending the Bush record. “We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al Qaeda,” she said.

Our goal in this report is to rise to Mr. Clinton’s challenge and assess the record of Mr. Bush‘s efforts against al Qaeda in his first eight months in office.

We begin with Rice’s claim that Clinton left no strategy to fight al Qaeda.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, January 20, 2001)


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.


OLBERMANN (voice-over): On January 25, 2001, five days after Mr. Bush took office, counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke sent Rice a memo, attaching to it a document entitled “Strategy for Eliminating the Threat of al Qaeda.” It was, Clarke, wrote, “developed by the last administration to give to you, incorporating diplomatic, economic, military, public diplomacy, and intelligence tools.”

Clarke’s memo requested a follow-up cabinet-level meeting to address time-sensitive questions about al Qaeda. But President Bush had downgraded counterterrorism from a cabinet-level job, so Clarke now dealt instead with deputy secretaries.

RICHARD CLARKE, FORMER COUNTERTERRORISM CZAR: It slowed it down enormously, by months. First of all, the deputies’ committee didn’t meet urgently in January or February.

OLBERMANN: Why the delay? Rice later tried to explain.

RICE: America’s al Qaeda policy wasn’t working because our Afghanistan policy wasn’t working, and our Afghanistan policy wasn’t working because our Pakistan policy wasn’t working. We recognized that America’s counterterrorism policy had to be connected to our regional strategies, and to our overall foreign policy.

OLBERMANN: That, although Clarke’s January 25 memo specifically warned, “Al Qaeda is not some narrow little terrorist issue that needs to be included in broader regional policy. By proceeding with separate policy reviews on Central Asia, etc., we would deal inadequately with the need for a comprehensive multiregional policy on al Qaeda.”

Clarke’s deputies’ meeting came in April, when, he says, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz insisted the real terrorism threat was not al Qaeda, but Iraq.

By July 16, the deputies had a proposal for dealing with al Qaeda, a proposal, Clarke says, was essentially the same plan he gave Rice five months earlier, and it still had to go to the principals, the cabinet secretaries.

CLARKE: But the principals’ calendar was full, and then they went on vacation, many of them, in August, so we couldn’t meet in August. And therefore the principals met in September.

OLBERMANN: Although the principals had already met on other issues, their first meeting on al Qaeda was not until after Labor Day, on September 4, 2001.

But what were Mr. Bush and his top advisers doing during this time? Mr. Bush was personally briefed about al Qaeda even before the election, in November 2000. During the transition, President Clinton and his national security adviser, Sandy Berger, say they told Bush and his team of the urgency of getting al Qaeda.

Three days before President Bush took office Berger spoke at a passing-the-baton event, which Rice attended.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, January 17, 2001)

SANDY BERGER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: With survivors of the U.S.S. Cole reinforced the reality that America is in a deadly struggle with a new breed of anti-Western jihadists. Nothing less than a war, I think, is fair to describe this.

OLBERMANN: Eight days later, Clarke sent Rice the strategy Clinton had developed for retaliating in the event that al Qaeda was found to have been behind the previous October’s attack on the U.S.S. Cole. The next day, the FBI conclusively pinned the Cole attack on al Qaeda.

Mr. Bush ordered no military strike, no escalation of existing Clinton measures. Instead, he repeated Clinton’s previous diplomatic efforts, writing a letter to Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf in February and another on August 4.

Until September 11, even when Mr. Bush was asked about the Cole, an attack carried out on water by men in a boat, he offered a consistent prescription for keeping America safe, one he reiterated upon taking office.


BUSH: To protect our own people, our allies and friends, we must develop and we must deploy effective missile defenses.


OLBERMANN: Democrats, who controlled the Senate, warned that his focus was misplaced.


SEN. CARL LEVIN (D): I’m also concerned that we may not be putting enough emphasis on countering the most likely threats to our national security and to the security of our forces deployed around the world, those asymmetric threats, like terrorist attacks on the U.S.S. Cole on our barracks and our embassies around the world, on the World Trade Center.


OLBERMANN: He was not alone. The executive director of the Hart-Rudmann Commission’s request to brief Bush and Cheney on the terror threats they had studied was denied.

On February 26, 2001, Paul Bremer said of the administration, quote, “What they will do is stagger along until there’s a major incident, and then suddenly say, Oh, my God, shouldn’t we be organized to deal with this?”

According to the 9/11 Commission report, even bin Laden expected Bush to respond militarily to the Cole bombing. Quote, “In February 2001, according to a source, bin Laden wanted the United States to attack, and if it did not, he would launch something bigger.”

The most famous warning came in the August 6 presidential daily briefing, reporting “patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.”

According to the 9/11 report, “Bush did not recall discussing the August 6 report with the attorney general, or whether Rice had done so. We have found no indication of any further discussion before September 11 among the president and his top advisers of the possibility of a threat of an al Qaeda attack in the United States. Tenet does not recall any discussions with the president of the domestic threat during this period. Domestic agencies did not know what to do, and no one gave them direction. The borders were not hardened, transportation systems were not fortified, electronic surveillance was not targeted against the domestic threat, state and local law enforcement were not marshaled to augment the FBI‘s efforts. The public was not warned.”

Explanations after the fact suggested a lack of familiarity with the recent history of terrorism.


RICE: I don’t think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There wasn’t any way then we could have anticipated what was about to happen, of course, in—on 9/11.

(Subtitle: 1995, Philippines uncovers plot to fly planes into Pentagon and World Trade Center.)

(Subtitle: September 1999, U.S. study: Al Qaeda might crash planes into Pentagon.)

(Subtitle: Spring 2001, New York City trial testimony: Bin Laden sending agents to acquire planes.)

BUSH: These terrorists had burrowed in our country for over two years. They were well organized. They were well planned. They struck in a way that was unimaginable.

(Subtitle: July 2001, FBI told of Zacarias Moussaoui‘s interest in flying jumbo jets.)

(Subtitle: September 2001, FBI memo: Moussaoui could fly something into the World Trade Center.)


OLBERMANN: On September 10, 2001, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California requested a meeting with Vice President Cheney to press the case for aggressive counterterrorism measures. She is told Mr. Cheney will need some time to prepare first, six months.

That same day, the NSA intercepted a communique from Afghanistan to Saudi Arabia, stating, “Tomorrow is zero hour.” That communique was only translated into English on September 12.


OLBERMANN: It appears now that the operative word in the phrase “We could not have anticipated” was the word “we.”
  • Bush is currently President and responsible. Clinton is not.
  • According to Clinton's National Security Advisor, Sandy Burger, President-to-be Bush was briefed on the urgency of getting al Qadea in November 2000, even before he was innaugerated as President.
  • Allegations that Sudan tried to turn bin Laden over to the U.S. unde3r Clinton have been convincingly disproven.
  • The Taliban offered to turn bin Laden over to the U.S. in Febuaryb 2001. There is no record of subsequent discussion of this. [Note: The Bush administration considers negotiating with their enemies to be "rewarding them." Because of this they refuse to negotiate with those they consider enemies. Current examples are North Korea, Iran and Syria.] After being asked about this at a Press conference, the Press Secretary promised to get back to the questioner later. He never did.
  • Condi Rice claims that the Clinton administration never left a comprehensive strategy to deal with al Qaeda. [The Clinton administration left their Counterterrorism Czar, Richard Clarke, in office. Clarke sent a memo to Condi Rice five days after the change-over which included an attachment entitled "Strategy for Eliminating the Threat of al Queda" which incorporated diplomatic, economic, military, public diplomacy, and intelligence tools. If that was not sufficient, Richard Clarke was available in his office in the White House to fill in any gaps if asked.]
  • Condi Rice makes the point that, in her opinion, the proposed policy against al Qaeda was unworkable because it was not part of an overall policy that included solutions to the regional problems with Afghanistand, Pakistan and the entire region. [Richard Clarke's memo pointed out that regional solutions would not address the specific problems of al Qaeda. There is no record that he was asked about this.]
  • Richard Clarke was lowered in rank upon the innaugeration of Bush. Instead of reporting to "The Principles" he was reduced to reporting to their deputies who did not have decision authority beyond recommending a report to the Principles. As a result, the deputies meeting was held in July and agreed with his proposals, but needed to present it to the Principles. This finally ocurred September 4, 2001 since the principles were on vaction through all of August. During the vacation in August Bush was briefed by the CIA with a Presidential Daily Briefing that was entiteld "Al Qaeda plans to attack the U.S. in the near future." The August 6 , 2001 presidential daily briefing (PDB) reported directly to Bush "patterns of suspicions activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or toher types of attacks, including recentsurveillance of federal buildings in New York." In addition, signal traffic among terrorists increased sharply during this period. This was when Bush told his briefer "OK. You have covered your ass." and dismissed him. Bush is not known to have discussed the August 6th report with anyone before September 11. He did not discuss it with the Director of the CIA, George Tenet. He did not ask any subordinates how to respond. No one gave him any direction how to respond. No action by Bush or the Executive Department was taken to identify or prepare for any attacks on America.
  • Sen.Carl Levin (representing Senate Democrats) was publically concerned that that the administration was not putting enough emphasis on terrorist attacks before 9/11. The Executive Director of the Hart-Rudmann Commission asked to brief Bush and Cheney before 9/11 about the terrorist threats they had studied, but was refused. [Note - it appears that the primary foreign security threat Bush and Cheney recognized before 9/11 was their imaginary threat of state-based missiles and the resulting need for a missile defense system.]
  • Clinton did not receive word that al Qaeda had conducted the attack on the Cole until right before the innaugeration of Bush, so he handed the problem off to the new administration [much as Bush 41 sent U.S. troops into Somalia just before leaving office and passed off that problem to Clinton.] Bush and Cheney did nothing about the response to the Cole bombing. ["According to the 9/11 Commission report, even bin Laden expected Bush to respond militarily to the Cole Bombing. Quote, 'In February 2001, according to a source, bin Laden wandet the United States to attack, and if it did not, he would launch something bigger.' "]
  • The Bush administration and specifically Condi Rice have repeated claimed "No one could have anticipated that someone would hijack airliners and fly them into the World Trade Center or the Pentagon." [1995 - Philippines uncovers plot to fly planes into Pentgon and World Trade Center. --- U.S. study, 1999: al Qaeda might crash planes into Pentagon. --- Spring 2001, New York City trial testimony: bin Laden sending agents to acquire planes. --- July 2001, FBI was told of Zacarias Moussaoui's interest in flying jumbo jets. --- Septembewr 2001, FBI memo: Moussaoui could fly something into the World Trade Center. --- September 10: NSA intercepted a communique from Afghanistan to Saudi Arabia stating "Tomorrow is zero hour." The communique was only translated into English on September 12. ]
  • On September 10, 2001, Senator Dianne Feinstein fo California requested a meeting with Vice President Cheney to press the case for aggressive counterterrorism measures. She is told Mr. Cheney will need six months to prepare first. [In other words, Cheney had no preparation for the real threat against America on September 10, 2001. He already knew what the threats against America were, and they did NOT include terrorism from a non-state supported organization. Terrorism was not on his radar, in spite of the warnings from the Clinton administration and from others with good Intelligence sources. ]
The members of the Bush administration bought their own propaganda. They considered anything that Clinton touched to be wrong and to be ignored. They assumed that they were correct, and that anyone who disagreed with them had to be wrong. As a result, the refused to accept new information until it came in the form of nearly 3,000 dead on September 11, 2001.

Since anyone who disagrees with the Bush administration has to be wrong, then the only explanation for what they present is that they are the enemies of the administration. As enemies, they act from enmity towards Bush et al, and everything they present must be ignored.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the NeoCons know they are correct. Their only possible conclusion is that anyone who opposes them (or even presents information showing that their conclusions or decisions are wrong) do so merely because they want the power that the Bush administration currently holds.

They also know that their base expects them to be perfect and to be always correct. So they explain all problems as being the result of enemies who are working to defeat them. They are never wrong, it is always enemies who undercut them.

When you look at this logic, it requires that those who undercut them be traitors. The external enemies cannot have the information and insight to defeat them unbless traitors give it to them. All defeats have to be the result of internal enemies and traitors. Al Qaeda is not as dangerous as the internal Liberals who want the power the Bush/Cheney currently hold. If they are perfect and without error, this is the only possible explanation for failures to succeed in what they attempt.

All of this is the perfect logic that results from understanding that Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld cannot be wrong. And they cannot be wrong because they are implementing the perfect ideology of "Conservatism."

As long as they are successful, Conservatism remains perfect. When they fail, it must be the result of traitors. But when it becomes clear that they were simply wrong, and their efforts failed, then the next conclusion is that they are not Conservatives. Since Conservatism is perfect, then any failure of conservatism has to be a result of flawed people who are not conservative.

The result of this is the recent statements that Bush is not a conservative. But he is. The problem is just that he failed. He tried to apply the conservative ideology rather than getting people who were fact-oriented to work with him.

Anyone who wonders what Bush has done wrong should look at the concept of Bounded Rationality by Herbert Simon. No human can make rational decisions that involve more that roughly seven major variables. (Most are limited to about five or fewer variables.)

Beyond that they are guessing. In any situation requiring more that that, individuals will choose part of the problem and work with just that. It can only be done by ignoring elements of the overall problem.

Being perfect is impossible. It is beyond human capability. But it is also not something that can be sold as a politician. Effective politicians have to understand that, and recognize that what is sold to the political base isn't what they are really getting.

Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld simply haven't figured that out. Instead they imagine that using military power, they can change reality to match their limited intellectual visions of the overall problems.

Bush has become the worst President in the history of America.

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