Condi’s Testimony–A Running Tab

Her Opening Statement: (9.14) Why is her voice shaking?

The Commission Chairmen, Lee Hamilton and Thomas Keane, asked the Commissioners not to repeat the partisanship shown in the questioning of Clarke when they question Condi.

“In a very difficult atmosphere, in a town that is the most polarized I’ve ever seen, the commission is trying to do a job for the American people that is, to the best of our ability, nonpolitical,” Mr. Kean said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Sure. NOW they want to get nonpolitical. Publican translation: “We can attack but they can’t.”

(9.22) The only thing that could have stopped 9/11 was better info collection which legal restrictions due to laws against the invasion of privacy made difficult or impossible.

(9.26) Linked Iraq invasion and Libyan negotiation.

(9.33) There was a blizzard of warnings and it was impossible to tell which were serious.

(9.35) Bush “badgered” Lindsey in the hours after 9/11 to get make sure Wall Street continued to function. Mr Bush has hois priorities. This during a long rationalization defending their concentration on Iraq as the potential perp. No mention of FBI and CSG’ instantaneous knowledge that it was AQ because the names of AQ ops were on the passenger list.

(9.45) Her voice is still shaking. In fact, it seems to be getting worse (?).

(9.46) Claims that if they had paid attention to the CSG reports they “might have gone off-course” because they were focused on the danger of the Northern Alliance.

(10.03) Condi is fighting Ben-Veniste even though he isn’t attacking her, using up a good deal of his time for questions. It’s becoming clear that she has zero interest in explaining anything; she’s there to defend Bush. Period. Every answer is defensive, every answer includes generalizations about what a great job they did.

(10.08) Ben-Veniste keeps trying to ask if Louis Freeh talked to Bush, and she keeps insisting on answering that “structural problems” inhibited the info flow.

(10.13) Ah. The “structural problems” that were the reason they didn’t do anything were the fault of the Clinton Administration because they weren’t willing to “break down..walls between criminal and intelligence” by passing, say, a PATRIOT Act.

(10.24) Principals’ meetings “weren’t efficient”, so she talked to Rummy and Co herself. She rejects “shaking the trees” because she “just doesn’t believe” there was some piece of info that would “connect-the-dots.” Adds she didn’t have a Principals’ meeting during China crisis.

(10.29) Gorelick points out that a lot of agencies knew nothing about the threats. Rice responds that the warnings concerned international, not domestic, threats. Gorelick responds, essentially, that that’s not true and that domestic threat-warnings were everywhere when Bush took office. Rice goes back to the “structural problems” without answering Gorelick’s question. Then she says it’s Clarke’s fault for not connecting with Andy Card because she’s not “responsible for domestic agencies”.

(10.46) Gorton’s throwing nerf balls. If they were any softer, he’d be up to his elbows in Rice pudding.

(10.52) Defending the PATRIOT Act again. Suggests that the pre-emption debate should be over.

(11.00) Kerrey goes after the “fly-swatter” and wants to know how Bush could have been “tired of swatting flies” when he hadn’t swatted any? Rice responds that it was tactics v strategy. (Kerrey keeps calling Rice “Dr Clarke”.) He breaks off yet another long answer to challenge her “fillibustering”. She insists on wasting time answering anyway.

(11.07) Kerrey wants to know what she did to make sure the FBI and the CIA were talking? She says it was Clarke’s responsibility.

(11.09) Back to the “structural changes” which should have been made by Clinton (though she doesn’t mention his name) being the reason for the BA’s lack of movement.

(11.14) Kerrey’s right: her answers to Republican Commission members are a whole lot shorter than to similar questions from Democrats. Slick. Cuts the time of the opposition while appearing to be responsive. Of course, what Lehman’s doing is listing her excuses for her so all she has to do is agree with him.

(11.28) Rice: When you don’t have specifics, how do you organize a response to a general threat? I dunno, maybe turn out the troops to find out exactly what the threat is?

(11.31) Why didn’t Clarke talk to the President? Because it wouldn’t have done any good and anyway he didn’t ask. Much longer answers again.

(11.36) Roemer: Why didn’t the Principals meet in the face of this Big Big Threat? Do you have any responsibility for making sure that happens? Rice. No. It was the responsibility of the CSG (Clarke).

(11.41) Rice explains the definition of “warning”: must be specific, otherwise it isn’t a warning. Pretty narrow. Sort of like what the meaning of “is” is.

(11.45) Says again that she didn’t do anything because Clarke never asked her to do anything. “He never gave me a plan [to carry out].”

(11.47) Insists that even though she has to admit (reluctantly) that independent terrorist organizations do exist, they’re “much more effective” when supported by a state.

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