Sunday, May 06, 2007

Condoleezza Rice's diplomatic team

* clemons:
'Then there are those citizens in Pyongyang, Damascus and Tehran. . .

Thanks to Condoleezza Rice's diplomatic team -- strengthened enormously by some key departures and addition of new talent -- we are talking to "prominent citizens" from all these cities.

It's useful to note that none of this would have been possible without the departure of John Bolton, followed by the exit of Robert Joseph -- who at least was honorable in his decision to resign because he couldn't support the direction of America's dealmaking with North Korea.

In contrast, John Bolton had to be pushed out and preempted by withholding Senate confirmation before he began his barrage of criticism against his fellow Bush administration colleagues and the President himself."
* Frank Rich (thnx Jen):
"That accounting might well begin with Mr. Powell’s successor, Condoleezza Rice. Of all the top-tier policy players who were beside the president and vice president at the war’s creation, she is the highest still in power and still on the taxpayers’ payroll. She is also the only one who can still get a free pass from the press. The current groupthink Beltway narrative has it that the secretary of state’s recidivist foreign-policy realism and latent shuttle diplomacy have happily banished the Cheney-Rumsfeld cowboy arrogance that rode America into a ditch.

Thus Ms. Rice was dispatched to three Sunday shows last weekend to bat away Mr. Tenet’s book before “60 Minutes” broadcast its interview with him that night. But in each appearance her statements raised more questions than they answered. She was persistently at odds with the record, not just the record as spun by Mr. Tenet but also the public record. She must be held to a higher standard — a k a the truth — before she too jumps ship.

It’s now been nearly five years since Ms. Rice did her part to sell the Iraq war on a Sept. 8, 2002, Sunday show with her rendition of “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” Yet there she was last Sunday on ABC, claiming that she never meant to imply then that Saddam was an imminent threat. “The question of imminence isn’t whether or not somebody is going to strike tomorrow” is how she put it. In other words, she is still covering up the war’s origins. On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” she claimed that intelligence errors before the war were “worldwide” even though the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Mohamed ElBaradei publicly stated there was “no evidence” of an Iraqi nuclear program and even though Germany’s intelligence service sent strenuous prewar warnings that the C.I.A.’s principal informant on Saddam’s supposed biological weapons was a fraud.

Of the Sunday interviewers, it was George Stephanopoulos who went for the jugular by returning to that nonexistent uranium from Africa. He forced Ms. Rice to watch a clip of her appearance on his show in June 2003, when she claimed she did not know of any serious questions about the uranium evidence before the war. Then he came as close as any Sunday host ever has to calling a guest a liar. “But that statement wasn’t true,” Mr. Stephanopoulos said. Ms. Rice pleaded memory loss, but the facts remain. She received a memo raising serious questions about the uranium in October 2002, three months before the president included the infamous 16 words on the subject in his State of the Union address. Her deputy, Stephen Hadley, received two memos as well as a phone call of warning from Mr. Tenet.

Apologists for Ms. Rice, particularly those in the press who are embarrassed by their own early cheerleading for the war, like to say that this is ancient history, just as they said of the C.I.A. leak case. We’re all supposed to move on and just worry about what happens next. Try telling that to families whose children went to Iraq to stop Saddam’s nukes. Besides, there’s a continuum between past deceptions and present ones, as the secretary of state seamlessly demonstrated last Sunday.

On ABC, she pushed the administration’s line portraying Iraq’s current violence as a Qaeda plot hatched by the Samarra bombing of February 2006. But that Qaeda isn’t the Qaeda of 9/11; it’s a largely Iraqi group fighting on one side of a civil war. And by February 2006, sectarian violence had already been gathering steam for 15 months — in part because Ms. Rice and company ignored the genuine imminence of that civil war just as they had ignored the alarms about bin Laden’s Qaeda in August 2001.
That Ms. Rice feels scant responsibility for any of this was evident in her repeated assertions on Sunday that all the questions about prewar intelligence had been answered by the Robb-Silberman and Senate committee inquiries, neither of which even addressed how the administration used the intelligence it received. Now she risks being held in contempt of Congress by ducking a subpoena authorized by the House’s Oversight Committee, whose chairman, Henry Waxman, has been trying to get direct answers from her about the uranium hoax since 2003.

Ms. Rice is stonewalling his investigation by rambling on about separation of powers and claiming she answered all relevant questions in writing, to Senator Carl Levin, during her confirmation to the cabinet in January 2005. If former or incumbent national security advisers like Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski could testify before Congress without defiling the Constitution, so can she. As for her answers to Senator Levin’s questions, five of eight were pure Alberto Gonzales: she either didn’t recall or didn’t know."
* nyt ed:
"...In either case, the scandal (purgegate) is only getting bigger and more disturbing.
It is long past time for President Bush to fire Mr. Gonzales. But Congress, especially the Republicans who have dared confront the White House on this issue, should not be satisfied with that. There are strong indications that the purge was ordered out of the White House, involving at the very least the former counsel, Harriet Miers, and Karl Rove.

It is the duty of Congress to compel them and other officials to finally tell the truth to the American people."

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