Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Bin Laden threats are real

Did that get your attention? Why didn't it do the same for Bush?

As part of his attempt to put all the blame for 9/11 on the Clinton admin for not unleashing the full wrath of the intelligence community on an unsuspecting world, Ashcroft yesterday said that when he came into office, “We should end the failed capture policy, I said. We should find and kill bin Laden.” Ignoring the fact that Clinton had already ordered bin Laden assassinated, this must be the first time that a US attorney general (more general than attorney here) has publicly called for an extra-judicial execution.

As Ha’aretz has been saying for a couple of weeks, Sharon had a few demands to make of Bush, and today Bush gave in to them all, including denying a right of return and letting Israel keep 60% of the West Bank, in exchange for removing a few sparsely populated, expensive to defend, settlements in Gaza. Bush phrased this as pragmatism, acknowledging the “realities on the ground,” by which he means settlements erected in violation of international law. “Establishing facts on the ground” is of course a key phrase in Likud cynicism, and it has paid off in spades. Not perhaps the best week for Bush to give another example of his contempt for Arabs/Muslims, while calling war criminal Ariel Sharon (wasn’t he supposed to be indicted for bribery right about now?) bold and courageous. The Guardian says that Israel had 4 possible plans for removal of some settlements from the West Bank, but the US took the first one offered, which, naturally, gave the least to the Palestinians (500 settlers evacuated). The Palestinian PM points out that Bush is the first “president” to legitimize the settlements. Bush also talked about being committed to Israel as a Jewish state; he did not suggest that Palestine should be a Muslim state, and you can imagine his reaction if someone else did. Despite yesterday having said that “brown-skinned” Muslims are capable of democracy, on the ancient question of whether Israel should be Jewish or a democracy, Bush came down firmly on the side of the former. Does that mean Muslims are capable of democracy, but not Jews?

Speaking of toadying, the leader of Australia’s Labor Party makes a bid for the yoof vote, saying that Labor’s policy is bling-bling.

The next visitor to Bush is Tony Blair, who will not bother to meet John Kerry, although they’ll both be in New York.

From the 9/11 hearings:
ROEMER: You don't see the president of the United States once in the month of August?

TENET: He's in Texas.

Yesterday, of course, Bush said that he talked with Tenet all the time.

And more news on intelligence reports sent to Bush in the spring of ‘01: headlines included "Bin Laden planning multiple operations," "Bin Laden network's plans advancing" and "Bin Laden threats are real."

Hilarious parody of political blogs (read the comments section too).

And a good parody of the Bush press conference.

And here’s another one:
Q: Sir, you like to say that the August 6, 2001 intelligence briefing didn’t say al Qaeda was planning to fly planes into the World Trade Center at 8:48 a.m. on a sunny morning on September 11th as Mabel Johnson sat down to have a bagel at her house in Des Moines and a butterfly flapped its wings in Singapore, and therefore there was nothing “threatening” about the memo and no need for you to take action. But it did mention the likelihood of hijackings. Did the memo trigger you to take any action whatsoever to prevent even this kind of attack?
A: No.

Tom Shales on the press conf: “"When I say something, I mean it," George W. Bush said decisively near the end of last night's prime-time presidential news conference. Nobody called out, "When will you say something?" -- the White House press corps is too mannerly for that -- but some reporters, and some viewers, must have been thinking it.”

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