'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Impugning Condi's Integrity 

So below is the good part of the exchange during Rice's confirmation hearing in which Barbara Boxer all but calls Rice a liar. In the midst of an impressive opening salvo Boxer says the following:
So I want to show you some statements that you made regarding the nuclear threat and the ability of Saddam to attack us. Now, September 5th -- let me get to the right package here. On July 30th, 2003, you were asked by PBS NewsHour's Gwen Ifill if you continued to stand by the claims you made about Saddam's nuclear program in the days and months leading up to the war.

In what appears to be an effort to downplay the nuclear-weapons scare tactics you used before the war, your answer was, and I quote, "It was a case that said he was trying to reconstitute. He's trying to acquire nuclear weapons. Nobody ever said that it was going to be the next year." So that's what you said to the American people on television -- "Nobody ever said it was going to be the next year."

Well, that wasn't true, because nine months before you said this to the American people, what had George Bush said, President Bush, at his speech at the Cincinnati Museum Center? "If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy or steal an amount of highly-enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year."

Rice replies by blaming the nonexistent WMD stockpiles on bad intelligence and claiming
"it wasn't just weapons of mass destruction. He was also a place -- his territory was a place where terrorists were welcomed"
but then, perhaps not very surprisingly, doesn't attempt to support the Hussein-backed-terrorists line by claiming there was a collabortaive relationship between al-Qaeda and Hussein's Iraq -- looks like Cheney is the last hold out on that particular fantasy.

She also cites a pre-invasion Bush speech "in which [Bush] talked about the fact that, yes, there was the threat of weapons of mass destruction, but he also talked to the strategic threat that Saddam Hussein was to the region", leading to the following wonderful exchange:

SEN. BOXER: Well, you should read what we voted on when we voted to support the war, which I did not, but most of my colleagues did. It was WMD, period. That was the reason and the causation for that, you know, particular vote.

But, again, I just feel you quote President Bush when it suits you but you contradicted him when he said, "Yes, Saddam could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year." You go on television nine months later and said, "Nobody ever said it was" --

MS. RICE: Senator, that was just a question of pointing out to people that there was an uncertainty. No one was saying that he would have to have a weapon within a year for it to be worth it to go to war.

SEN. BOXER: Well, if you can't admit to this mistake, I hope that you'll --

MS. RICE: Senator, we can have this discussion in any way that you would like. But I really hope that you will refrain from impugning my integrity. Thank you very much.

SEN. BOXER: I'm not. I'm just quoting what you said. You contradicted the president and you contradicted yourself.

MS. RICE: Senator, I'm happy to continue the discussion, but I really hope that you will not imply that I take the truth lightly.

Just to back up Senator Boxer's allegations above I'd like to point out that the lie Boxer highlights is one of many. Rice has a history of lying on the public record; she's not as able a disembler as other members of Bush's cabinet, notably Rumsfeld. Here are a few other examples, lifted from an old Paul Waldman piece in The Gadflyer:

o Rice said, "I don't think anybody could have predicted that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile."

In fact, not only had the French government foiled a 1994 plan to hijack an airplane and fly it into the Eiffel Tower, an incident Rice must have been aware of, but at the G-8 summit Bush attended just months before September 11, the Italian government received information that Al Qaeda was planning to fly an airplane into the summit, so anti-aircraft batteries were placed at the Genoa airport.

Richard Clarke himself led a team evaluating terrorist threats at the 1996 summer Olympics in Atlanta that prepared for the possibility of a hijacked plane being flown into the Olympic stadium; Clarke told Tim Russert that he tried to get funding to put a similar protection plan in place on a permanent basis to protect Congress and the White House, but was unable to.

o Rice said the aluminum tubes Iraq had purchased were "only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs."

In fact, the experts who looked at the aluminum tubes – the ones who actually knew something about making nuclear weapons – concluded that the tubes were virtually useless in enriching uranium. They were meant for conventional rockets.

o When it was revealed that one month before September 11 President Bush had received a briefing discussing Al Qaeda plans to attack the United States, Rice said the briefing only discussed events overseas. More recently, she said the briefing happened at Bush's request, because he was so concerned about Al Qaeda.

The title of the briefing was "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." The CIA says it occurred not because Bush requested it, but at their initiative.

o "Richard Clarke had plenty of opportunities to tell us in the administration that he thought the war on terrorism was moving in the wrong direction and he chose not to."

On January 24, 2001, Clarke sent a memo to Rice urging her to call a cabinet-level meeting to discuss attacking Al Qaeda. Instead, the President assigned Dick Cheney to head a task force on the subject. Cheney's task force never met.

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