Thursday, March 25, 2004

New questions about Rice's own credibility. While Condoleezza Rice has been all over TV blasting Clarke and making the unlikely claim that the Bush Administration made terrorism a top priority before 9/11, the evidence is growing about her own contradictions and false assertions. For instance, in today's Times account of Clarke's testimony, it notes at the end how Rice and Dick Armitage couldn't get their stories straight about military options before 9/11:

Although the strategy paper is classified, Ms. Rice, the security adviser, cited it on Sunday in defending the administration's efforts in an opinion article in The Washington Post in anticipation of the release of Mr. Clarke's book. She said the document was prepared before the Sept. 11 attacks and outlined a tough new policy in controlling and eradicating Al Qaeda, including "military options to attack Al Qaeda and Taliban leadership, ground forces and other targets — taking the fight to the enemy where he lived."

But under questioning,, Depuy Secretary of State Richard L.Armitage contradicted her and said the paper had no military option before the Sept. 11 attacks.

"No," Mr. Armitage said, "I think that was amended after the horror of 9/11."

A full run-down of Rice's latest lies and exaggerations can be found at the Center for American Progress:

UNSUBSTANTIATED – RICE COUNTERS WITH DISHONEST FUNDING CLAIM: On Larry King Live last night, Clarke charged that "if Condi Rice had been doing her job [critical information to prevent 9/11] would have been shaken out in the summer of 2001." Instead of appearing before the commission to defend herself as the bipartisan panel has requested, Rice responded on NBC Nightly News, claiming inaccurately that the "the president increased counterterrorism funding several-fold" before 9/11. In reality, the Bush Administration was preparing a FY2003 budget (the first budget fully authored by the new Administration) that proposed serious cuts to key counterterrorism programs. As the 2/28/02 NYT reported, the Bush White House "did not endorse F.B.I. requests for $58 million for 149 new counterterrorism field agents, 200 intelligence analysts and 54 additional translators" and "proposed a $65 million cut for the program that gives state and local counterterrorism grants." Newsweek noted the Administration "vetoed a request to divert $800 million from missile defense into counterterrorism." See a display of Rice's dishonesty in this American Progress video clip.

UNSUBSTANTIATED – RICE COUNTERS WITH DISHONEST PREDATOR CLAIM: Rice also claimed on NBC News that "we were acting on issues like arming the Predator" – an unmanned reconnaissance drone – another statement designed to distort the record. As AP reported, while "the military successfully tested an armed Predator throughout the first half of 2001," the Bush Administration failed to resolve a bureaucratic "debate over whether the CIA or Pentagon should operate" the system, and it did not get off the ground before 9/11. At the same time "the Bush administration did not fly the unmanned planes over Afghanistan during its first eight months" even in a reconnaissance capacity.

DISHONEST – COMMISSION PROVES RICE WAS DISHONEST IN MAY: In May of 2002, Rice held a press conference to defend the Administration from new revelations that the President had been explicitly warned about an al Qaeda threat to airlines in August of 2001. She "suggested that Bush had requested the briefing because of his keen concern about elevated terrorist threat levels that summer." But according to the CIA, the briefing "was not requested by President Bush." As commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste disclosed, "the CIA informed the panel that the author of the briefing does not recall such a request from Bush and that the idea to compile the briefing came from within the CIA."

On the credibility front, Clarke still comes out ahead.

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