In The End, It Wasn't Their Responsibility

AlterNet: The 9/11 Story That Got Away

Judy Miller was told about an al-Qaeda intercept in July 2001 that talked about an operation so big that America couldn't avoid response. She went to her editor. Between them, they decided that there wasn't enough information for a story. Judy tried to shake loose more information, but it wasn't forthcoming, and it turned into August, and August turned into September.

But it wasn't their responsibility to say something. The counter terrorism people were regarded as extremists the way Judy saw it. And after nothing happened on July 4, everybody wrote al-Qaeda off. Even the Cole bombing the October before had been a very loosely organized affair. Al-Qaeda was regarded as a bunch of chumps.

It was the responsibility of the higher-ups to listen. And this intercept, just aired today, was by no means the worst of it. There was the Phoenix memo. There was the August 6 PDB. There was plenty of information and warnings out there. And they were ignored by this incompetent bunch of numbskulls, who were more concerned with their own political agenda than our national security.

You've Quit Working For Fox - Right, Tony?

Crooks and Liars

MR. SNOW: Well, as I pointed out -- I mentioned this yesterday, and for -- let me see if I can find my quote, because I pulled it out. Chuck Hagel, as you may recall, made a fair amount of news over the weekend when he first said that -- let's see -- "Well, I want to listen to the details and I want to listen to the President," said Senator Hagel -- he said this on "This Week" on a competing network.

O'Reilly and The Race Card

Bill O'Reilly has taken the phrase "xenophobic demagogue" to new heights:

Now in 1986, President Reagan thought he could solve the [immigration] problem by granting about 3 million illegal aliens amnesty. The New York Times was in heaven, editorializing back then, quote, "The new law won't work miracles but it will induce most employers to pay attention, to turn off the magnets, to slow the tide." Of course, just the opposite happened. But the Times hasn't learned a thing. That's because the newspaper and many far-left thinkers believe the white power structure that controls America is bad, so a drastic change is needed.

According to the lefty zealots, the white Christians who hold power must be swept out by a new multicultural tide, a rainbow coalition, if you will. This can only happen if demographics change in America.

An open-border policy and the legalization of millions of Hispanic illegal aliens would deeply affect the political landscape in America. That's what The New York Times and many others on the left want. They might get it. And that's the "Memo."
I guess this is what to expect from here on out. November sweeps is all about the war on Christmas, and May is all about the war on brown people. Jeez Louise...

Give Them An Inch...

New York Times

James Dobson is hop, hop, hopping mad. Bush hasn't put that ban against gays marrying in the Constitution yet. The Republicans haven't outlawed minors crossing state lines to get abortions. And obsenity fines haven't been raised on broadcasters yet.

Plus, gays got covered in a hate-crimes bill, and embryonic stem cell research was extended as well. He is fit to be tied.

"There's just very, very little to show for what has happened," Dr. Dobson said, "and I think there's going to be some trouble down the road if they don't get on the ball."
He's threatening to keep his people at home if the Republicans don't start kowtowing to his political ends. The flecks of spittle are just flying from his sputtering lips.

Well, good. The Bush Administration has lived by the Christianist vote and it shall die by it as well. Dobsonstilskin can just stomp on the floor all the way to Hell as far as I'm concerned. Good riddance to them both.

Cheney's Notes on Wilson Editorial


So nice to see this. The original belongs in a museum somewhere, just as soon as Patrick Fitzgerald gets done with it.

It's quite clear that Cheney was itching to discredit Wilson while he read this article, especially from the handwritten notes atop the page:

Have they done this sort of thing before?
Sent an Amb. to answer a question?
Do we ordinarily send people out pro bono to work for us?
Or did his wife send him on a junket?
The "they" is the CIA, so it's abundantly clear that on July 6, 2003, Cheney knew that:
  • Wilson's wife worked for the CIA
  • She worked in a high enough position in which her ability to "send him on a junket" would be accepted
  • Cheney saw the potential of using this information as a way to discredit Wilson's story
The pro bono question is another interesting point - how could this have discredited Wilson? If the CIA normally paid their fact-finders, Wilson's pro bono status could be seen as a ploy to sanitize his motives. Some people find it a matter of character to avoid even the appearance of evil; Cheney finds it suspicious. That says more about the character of the Vice President than Wilson.

Here's what Cheney underlined in Wilson's editorial:
...I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.

...I was told that it referred to a memorandum of agreement that documented the sale of uranium Niger to Iraq in the late 1990's.

While the CIA paid my expenses (my time was offered pro bono)...

...ambassador told me that she knew about the allegations of uranium sales to Iraq - and that she felt she had already debunked them in her reports to Washington.

It did not take long to conclude that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place. would be exceedingly difficult for Niger to transfer uranium to Iraq.

...there's simply too much oversight over too small an industry for a sale to have transpired.
(As for the actual memorandum, I never saw it. But news accounts have pointed out...

Though I did not file a written report...

...and a specific answer from the agency to the office of the vice president (this may have been delivered orally). While I have not seen any of these reports,...

The vice president's office asked a serious question. I was asked to help formulate the answer. I did so, and I have every confidence that the answer I provided was circulated to the appropriate officials within our government.
A junket is a "a trip or errand made by an public official at public expense with dubious public benefit". To support the idea that Wilson's trip was a junket, Cheney had to find reasons that the trip was of "dubious public benefit" (Wilson's profit was negligable, since he wasn't paid). And two of the underlined quotes seem to be building that case - the local ambassador had already debunked the Niger papers, it did not take long to ascertain the doubtfulness of the transaction.

Other things are underlined to be verified apparently, for they are all documentation - the memorandum of agreement, the ambassador's debunking report, the "specific answer from the agency to the office of the vice president", and most pointedly, Wilson's expenses. The notation of Wilson's non-paper report is highlighted as well, which could be used in a "dubious nature" argument.

An interesting passage is Wilson's confession as to never seeing the memorandum of agreement. I can imagine Cheney's glee as he began to underline, only to stop half-heartedly in the middle of the second sentence. The news accounts point out that the memo had glaring errors, and how Cheney must have choked, knowing that Wilson had another source for that information, his wife. Who told Wilson about the memorandum first? Could it have been his wife, the CIA agent Cheney so obviously knows about? And then to read that Wilson has "every confidence" that his mission was told to the "appropriate officials"? Wilson was walking the line, saying just exactly what he could and finding ways to say what might otherwise have exposed his wife, his wife...Wilson's wife.

As Richard Cheney read this opinion piece, he could not help but be struck by Wilson's tender steps around his wife's identity as a CIA agent, and his crafty statements about his certain knowledge of things unknowable. As he put this paper aside, he'd developed the plan that could be used to discredit Joseph Wilson's exposure of their incompetence - find a way, any way, to make this about Wilson's wife sending him on an useless mission at taxpayer expense.

What really remains to be known is if Cheney was aware of Valerie Plame's actual status, and whether the people who did divulge her identity to reporters, Scooter Libby and Karl Rove, knew this as well. Because now we know who put this plan into play. It was Dick Cheney in the office of the Vice President with a felt pen.

And At 5, He Gets the Fax from Tony

E & P

[Tim Russert] also disclosed that he goes to church every week at 4 p.m. on Saturday and prays "that I will ask the right questions" on NBC the following morning.

Interview: Jeff Dowd and "The Big Lebowski"

A very nice interview with the dude who inspired the Dude, about the movie The Big Lebowski. The interview is really great, and I love the part where Dowd is watching Sean Penn and Robin Wright Penn do a one-hour version of the first Austin Powers movie, which they had just seen. Can you imagine Sean Penn doing, "Yeah, Baby! Behave..." That cracks me up.