Thursday, March 25, 2004

Bush's Watergate moment yesterday 

Yesterday was possibly the worst day of George W. Bush's presidency. I say that with full knowledge of how horrible 9-11 was, the invasion of Iraq, etc. But I can't remember a more damaging day to Bush's presidency, and that's what I'm talking about.

Clarke pretty much ANNIHILATED any doubt that he is telling the truth. Even when Jim Thompson cornered him and said he was on the "record" as having said the opposite of what he says now--Clarke reminds us all that he was WORKING FOR BUSH when he said that, and it was his JOB to present the best spin for his boss AT THAT TIME. He still held his views, and could and can today prove why he believes what he says now.

Why didn't he say that back then? He would have been fired. Well, folks, he DID quit in disgust, and so did his good friend Ed Beers--although Beers only lasted A MONTH. Clarke stuck it out for years. Working for Bush that long, knowing what he knew...that makes Clarke a HERO, not a hypocrite.

Anyway, the point is this: We had a Watergate moment yesterday in the 9-11 Commission hearings. But it involved NOT Clarke, but, ironically enough, the CIA chief--George Tenet. I think he just let it slip out, but this guy is supposed to be able to keep a SECRET!

Courtesy of Hesiod's Counterspin Central, who caught it first, here it is:

ROEMER: You were running around saying something spectacular is going to happen. You were worried about this. You were on record from 1998 on saying you're at war with Al Qaida.

But why wasn't the United States government more concerned about those attacks on the United States?

TENET: Congressman Roemer, I'd ask you this afternoon when you get Mr. Clarke here, who was the chairman of the CSG, to go through the process of what they were looking at, actions they were tasking, how they thought about this problem. I wasn't sitting in that room.

I'd ask you to think about asking him how we dealt with this in this time period and find out what that response is.

ROEMER: So you're saying that it is the responsibility of the National Security Council...

TENET: Well, the CSG...

ROEMER: ... to develop the policy to go after the terrorists...

TENET: Sir, the CSG is a mechanism where all of these issues come into play every time it meets. What is the threat? What actions do we take?

It's a focal point for the way this government has organized itself around terrorism for years.

ROEMER: So you're saying it's them, not the CIA, that should have been attentive to this?

TENET: Well, the CIA is in the CSG meeting as well. I mean, everybody's at the table. The FBI is there, the NCS is there, CIA is there, domestic agencies are there.

Throughout this time period -- I don't have access to the minutes and recordings of what happened -- what actions were they tasking, how were they thinking about this?

ROEMER: They're going through a bottom-up review...

KEAN: Congressman, we've got to move on. We have run out of time. We've got one more commissioner.



This is like the moment during the Watergate hearings when Alexander Butterfield admitted that Nixon taped all of his White House meetings!

This is HUGE NEWS!


UPDATE: Note, also, how right when Tenet let the cat out of the bag, Chairman Kean cut off the line of questioning?


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