Monday, September 11, 2006

There are intelligence reports and conflicting intelligence reports all the time

I skipped “The Path to 9/11” (which isn’t quite the same thing as skipping down the path to 9/11), because life is too short and, you know, The Simpsons was on. I will also skip most of Monday’s coverage, with the mournful music and slow motion footage of the towers falling and whatnot, and you probably should too. Feeling sad about a tragedy is not obligatory because the calendar tells you that today is the day to feel sad about it. And you’re unlikely to hear anything that will make you a wiser or better person, just as 9/11 did not make us a wiser or a better nation.

5 months after 9/11, Bush was so embarrassed about not having captured bin Laden that he never spoke the man’s name. For some reason, 5 years of failure is less embarrassing than 5 months, and Bush has taken to quoting him in every speech. I suppose he’ll do it again today, but one could wish that he’d quote Jefferson or Paine, one of the idealists who helped create that freedom for which they, you know, hate us. Making us secure at any price is not the high moral calling Bush seems to believe it to be.

Condi went on no fewer than three talk shows this morning. She came close to admitting that the intel on WMDs in Iraq was wrong, but “once you’re in Iraq you can learn things that you could not possibly know before you were in Iraq.” Have to invade a country to learn whether it was worth invading. Asked on a different program about a 2002 CIA report that Iraq was not supplying chemical or biological weapons or training to Al Qaida, she said, “There are intelligence reports and conflicting intelligence reports all the time.”

And she insisted, contrary to Friday’s Senate committee report, that there were “multiple contacts going back a decade between Osama bin Laden and Iraq.” And when asked what about all the countries that sponsor terrorists who we haven’t invaded, she offered this: “Well, but Saddam Hussein was special in this case. This is somebody against whom we went to war in 1991.” Um, so?

Really, for someone with a doctorate, you have to wonder about her inability to use facts to support a thesis. Here’s how she responds to a rather apposite question (but with no follow-through) from Chris Wallace:
Q: Secretary Rice, what evidence do you have that the homegrown Sunnis and Shia fighting each other in Iraq, and of course that at this point is the vast majority of the violence, that they have any interest in attacking the U.S.?

RICE: Well, clearly the person who set off much of the sectarian violence, who plotted the notion that Shias should go after Sunnis and you should try and spark civil conflict, actually was the al-Qaida leader at the time, Zarqawi, who we later killed.

Q: But he’s gone.

RICE: Well, but it was his strategy and we know that, to try and set off sectarian violence.
Back to Saddam: “We were still at war with him in 1998 when we used American forces to try and disable his weapons of mass destruction.” We did what now?

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