Sunday, April 11, 2004

Rice Faces the Obnoxious People

On April 8, Condoleezza Rice testified under oath in front of the 9/11 Commission, which treated Rice like a criminal, and did its very best to place the blame on the Bush Administration and to embarrass Bush and his government as mush as possible. The way the Commission was set up, and the way in which certain Commissioners used their session with Rice, made it clear that the investigation is nothing but a political farce.The room where Rice testified was packed with 9/11 families who applauded whenever the Bush Administration was accused of being responsible for the attacks. The applause of these handpicked, “grief-stricken” families was so inappropriate, and so ill timed, that even Bob Kerrey, one of the two worst Commissioners, was forced to ask them to cease in their applause (which they did not). These people applauded after the following sentence of Kerrey’s: “…let me say that I don't think we understand how the Muslim world views us, and I'm terribly worried that the military tactics in Iraq are going to do a number of things, and they're all bad.” The people in the room who clapped at that sentence were showing their solidarity with the terrorist effort to drive us out of Iraq.

Of all the Commissioners, the two who were by far the worst were the appalling Left-wingers Ben-Veniste and Bob Kerrey. Ben-Veniste is a so-called journalist, who showed with his insinuations an unveiled hatred of the Bush administration. He used the questions he asked in a rhetorical manner, and then tried to prevent Rice from giving him the answers. Consider the following exchange about the August 6th Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB):

BEN-VENISTE: Isn't it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the August 6th PDB warned against possible attacks in this country? And I ask you whether you recall the title of that PDB?

RICE: I believe the title was, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."Now, the...

BEN-VENISTE: Thank you.

RICE: No, Mr. Ben-Veniste...

BEN-VENISTE: I will get into the...

RICE: I would like to finish my point here.

BEN-VENISTE: I didn't know there was a point.

RICE: Given that -- you asked me whether or not it warned of attacks.

BEN-VENISTE: I asked you what the title was.

RICE: You said, did it not warn of attacks. It did not warn of attacks inside the United States. It was historical information based on old reporting. There was no new threat information. And it did not, in fact, warn of any coming attacks inside the United States.
You will notice that Ben-Veniste did not expect Dr. Rice to address his first question, and that he instead wanted to focus on the misleading title of the memo. He does, by the way, already know that the title of the memo is misleading, since he has read it. Ben-Veniste continued to badger Rice about the irrelevant. He could not bring himself to drop the subject of the memo. The following exchange starts with Rice attempting to answer Ben-Veniste’s question as to whether or not the memo warned that Al-Qaeda was making preparations for hijackings:

RICE: What the August 6th PDB said, and perhaps I should read to you...

BEN-VENISTE: We would be happy to have it declassified in full at this time, including its title.

RICE: I believe, Mr. Ben-Veniste, that you've had access to this PDB. But let me just...

BEN-VENISTE: But we have not had it declassified so that it can be shown publicly, as you know.

RICE: I believe you've had access to this PDB -- exceptional access. But let me address your question.

BEN-VENISTE: Nor could we, prior to today, reveal the title of that PDB.

RICE: May I address the question, sir?

It doesn’t sound like Ben-Veniste is really concentrating on essentials, does it? You can tell that he came into room already knowing all he cared to about the situation.Then of course there was the abominable Bob Kerrey. He said for example, “I think we're going to end up with civil war if we continue [with] the military operation strategies that we have in place…And I wanted to make that declaration. You needn't comment on it, but as I said, I'm not going to have an opportunity to talk to you [about] this closely.” In other words, Sen. Kerrey wanted his question time to make political statements, as opposed to asking important questions. Another example of Kerrey’s making himself look foolish:

KERREY: You said the president was tired of swatting flies. Can you tell me one example where the president swatted a fly when it came to Al Qaida prior to 9/11?

RICE: I think what the president was speaking to was...

KERREY: No, no. What fly had he swatted?

RICE: Well, the disruptions abroad was what he was really focusing on...

KERREY: No, no...

RICE: ... when the CIA would go after Abu Zubaydah...

KERREY: He hadn't swatted...

RICE: ... or go after this guy...

KERREY: Dr. Rice, we didn't...

RICE: That was what was meant.

KERREY: We only swatted a fly once on the 20th of August 1998. We didn't swat any flies afterwards. How the hell could he be tired?

RICE: We swatted at -- I think he felt that what the agency was doing was going after individual terrorists here and there, and that's what he meant by swatting flies. It was simply a figure of speech.

KERREY: Well, I think it's an unfortunate figure of speech because I think, especially after the attack on the Cole on the 12th of October, 2000, it would not have been swatting a fly. It would not have been -- we did not need to wait to get a strategic plan.

Kerrey then went on to question why the Bush administration did nothing to hunt down the bombers of the USS Cole. Has he forgotten that the Cole was attacked during the Clinton administration? In the face of these attacks on Bush Policy, however, Rice pulled an interesting move on Kerrey – she brought up one of his own speeches, in which Kerrey said that the best way to address the Cole issue was “to do something about the threat of Saddam Hussein.” This was the only time that the room’s applause was directed against the panel of Commissioners.

Despite all of the trivia that the Commission brought up, and all of its circus-like tactics, Condoleezza Rice kept her cool, and very smartly addressed the questions put to her as best as she could (and as often as the Commissioners would let her). But was her testimony necessary when she had already testified for the Congressional 9/11 Investigation? Did the Commissioners really need Dr. Rice to break precedent by appearing before them while still an active National Security Advisor? Of course not. And if there was any doubt about that, the actual scene of her testimony removed it.


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