Monday, April 05, 2004

Bob Graham lays the Lumber to the Bush Administration When Bob Graham tells you what happened on such and such a day, you know he is telling you what happened on such and such a day. This is a guy who puts everything AND I MEAN EVERYTHING into the Bob Graham diary and memory bank. In short, he's a hell of a Senator, but a damn scary blogger. Graham tells the chilling story that by FEBRUARY 2002, the Bush Administration was letting off on Al Queda, to move on to Iraq. Again FEBRUARY 2002!!! From economist academic Brad DeLong's site comes this: Senator Bob Graham is a really unhappy camper: CFR Publications: Senator Bob Graham Remarks to the Council on Foreign Relations: BOB GRAHAM: Good morning and good afternoon and, Gerry, thank you very much for your kind introduction. I was saying I appreciate both your remembrance and your remarks. I'm going to start at the outset this afternoon by saying that I will make some comments today that will not be well-received in the White House. I have observed the White House's reaction to comments that it does not well receive, and so in a matter of pre-emptive defense, I have a confession to make. When I was four years old, I was enrolled in the Winkin', Blinkin', and Nod Nursery School in Tallahassee, Florida. On a day in the spring of my enrollment in 1941, I kicked in a house made of blocks by some of the other students at Winkin', Blinkin', and Nod Nursery School. The director of the school told me, "Robert, we cannot have that behavior by the children at Winkin', Blinkin', and Nod. I am calling your mother and asking that she come and take you home, and that she not ever bring you back." Now, that's on the record, you can make whatever you wish of that confession. Friends, this has been a painful week for our nation. The horrible tragedy of September 11 has been revisited, first in hearings by the [9/11] Commission and, second, by the revelations in the book ["Against All Enemies: Inside the White House's War on Terror--What Really Happened"] of the former White House counterterrorism director, Richard Clarke. More painful than the memories which these events have resurrected, I believe is the growing realization that our leaders did not do everything that they could have done and should have done to protect Americans from a terrorist attack. The 9/11 Commission, for example, has reported that they endorse the recommendations of the Joint Congressional Inquiry [into the 9/11 terrorist attacks], which I co-chaired with my friend and colleague and fellow Floridian, Porter Goss. We found that failures of intelligence collection and analysis, compounded by a lack of information-sharing within the intelligence community and between the intelligence community and the law enforcement community, cost us the chance to detect and disrupt the plot of the 19 hijackers. In short, September 11 could have--indeed, should have--been prevented. I share Richard Clarke's view that since September 11, President Bush and his key members of his administration have failed to keep their eye on the ball on the war on terrorism. Frankly, we had al Qaeda on the ropes in the spring of 2002. But rather than finishing the job and crushing the operational command structure of al Qaeda, we shifted our focus. Let me share a personal story. [U.S.] Central Command, which has responsibility for our military actions in both Afghanistan and Iraq, is headquartered in Tampa, Florida, at MacDill Air Force Base. It has been my practice to periodically visit the Central Command, to receive a briefing as to what they are doing. I did that in February of 2002. After the formal briefing with PowerPoint [presentations] and all that goes with a military briefing, I was asked by one of the senior commanders of Central Command to go into his office. We did, the door was closed, and he turned to me, and he said, "Senator, we have stopped fighting the war on terror in Afghanistan. We are moving military and intelligence personnel and resources out of Afghanistan to get ready for a future war in Iraq." This is February of 2002. "Senator, what we are engaged in now is a manhunt not a war, and we are not trained to conduct a manhunt." To draw a historical analogy, I think that what the Bush administration did, beginning as early as February of 2002, was to make a decision that we would fight a pre-emptive war against Mussolini and let Hitler run free. I agree with Richard Clarke, who concludes in his book that Iraq was a complete and unnecessary tangent. I have described [it] as a distraction. Now, I don't mean to suggest, and I do not believe Richard Clarke means to suggest, that Saddam Hussein is anything other than a bad, evil person who did bad and evil things to his own people and his neighbors and would hoped to have done it more broadly. But the question was not a singular question about Saddam Hussein. It was, rather, a comparative question. Of all the evils in that neighborhood of the Middle East and Central Asia, which evil deserved to have our primary military attention?... In the words of InstaCracker... Indeed.
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