Even Byron York doesn’t buy it.
Today is the birthday of our nation’s first President, George Washington.
Realizing that he was walking on “untrodden ground,” George Washington was careful to consider how his actions as President could define the office of the United States Presidency for generations to come.
For example, Washington rejected the title a Senate Committee proposed for him – “His Highness the President of the United States and Protector of the Rights of the Same” — in favor of the more familiar “Mr. President.”
An important distinction. And a helpful reminder to the current occupant of the White House that he, too, is President — and not King — George.
– Jennifer Palmieri
Today the Salt Lake Tribune reports that Hatch has “clarified” his remarks:
On Tuesday, Hatch said he may have misspoken at the event, and he was speaking of conditions in post-Hussein Iraq and the terrorist network led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
“Saddam clearly had a long history of supporting terrorists, but I was not talking about any formal link between Saddam and al-Qaida before the war,” Hatch said in a statement.
“Instead, I pointed out that the current insurgency in Iraq includes al-Qaida, under the leadership of al-Zarqawi, along with former elements of Saddam’s regime.”
Actually, it couldn’t be clearer from Hatch’s original statement what he was talking about, and it had nothing to do with “the current insurgency” or al-Zarqawi:
And, more importantly, we’ve stopped a mass murderer in Saddam Hussein. Nobody denies that he was supporting al-Qaeda. Well, I shouldn’t say nobody. Nobody with brains.
In other words, Hatch’s “clarification” is really just another deception.
In contrast to many bloggers, I believe the bipartisan cry that our national security has been outsourced to the United Arab Emirates is misguided. The fact that the argument is gaining steam underscores the reality that politicians can still successfully politicize 9/11 by using the manipulative politics of fear.
This issue has little, if anything, to do with national security and far more to do with politics. Xenophobic conservatives have found allies with liberals on this issue because liberals are a) looking for any opening to criticize Bush on national security; and, b) think they can do that by outflanking Bush to the right on this issue and therefore sound “tougher” and “stronger.” The blogosphere, being somewhat insulated from political pressures, should have a more thorough discussion of this issue.
We have instead been largely engaged in a disingenuous debate. Following the lead of President Jimmy Carter, progressives can and should embrace the reality of globalization and accept that our more inter-connected world affords us an opportunity to build mutual respect and understanding. Some key points: Read more
Last night, Fox News military analyst Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney put forth a radical new theory on why we didn’t find WMD’s in Iraq – the Russians moved them to Syria. Watch it:
O’REILLY: What do you believe happened?
MCINERNEY: Well, I believe that — that [Saddam Hussein] had [WMD] and then the Russians convinced him, because they sent a team in, a Spetsnaz [Russian Special Forces] team in, and they moved those weapons into three locations in Syria and one into Bekaa Valley. And they did it very thoroughly. They were very professional. They were Spetsnaz with GRU. They knew exactly where all the material was, because they were preventing the inspectors from finding it. And then they had a brilliant what they call mass deroka – deception – campaign. When the Iraqi survey group didn’t find anything, then they spread throughout the capitals of Europe and the U.N: “See, there were no WMD.”
O’REILLY: So you believe that the Russians themselves moved the WMD’s?
MCINERNEY: Absolutely, absolutely.
O’Reilly didn’t challenge McInerney’s assertion. The 92-page Duelfer report addendum, however, found “no information gleaned from questioning Iraqis supported the possibility” Saddam moved WMD to Syria. McInerney’s theory is breathtakingly conspiratorial. He not only argues Russia moved the WMDs out of Iraq, but he also says they covered the whole thing up with a massive propoganda campaign.
It’s all par for the course in the No Spin Zone.
Human Rights First just released a report concluding that since Aug. 2002, 98 detainees have died while in U.S. custody in the global war on terror. “According to the U.S. military’s own classifications, 34 of these cases are suspected or confirmed homicides; Human Rights First has identified another 11 in which the facts suggest death as a result of physical abuse or harsh conditions of detention.” The report also found that officials often failed to report the deaths and “effective punishment has been too little and too late.”
Yesterday on BBC Newsnight, Bush administration apologist David Rivkin defended the administration’s practice of torture. He argued that even if the report is true, torturing people to death is no big deal. Watch the exchange here.
BBC: If that [HRF report] is true, then this is a big scandal.
RIVKIN: No, with all due respect, it is not. … Let’s assume that 10 individuals were tortured to death. And again, I’m not conceding it to be the case. Let’s assume for the sake of a discussion that this is the case. The biggest problem of criticis like Deborah and most other criticis, is that terrible historical amnesia and a failure of perspective. Ten people were tortured to death out of over 100,000 detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan. That, according to my math, is 1,000th of 1 percent, which is a better rate than the situation in either Vietnam, WWI, or WWII, or most civilian penal systems. So from a standpoint of sheer numbers, it’s not a scandal. Unfortunately, bad things happen in detention. Bad things happen in confinement.
Dubai World Ports is controlled by the royal family of the United Arab Emirates. Atrios notes this morning that former CIA director Tenet told the 9/11 commission that the United States did not target Bin Laden at a camp in Afghanistan in February 1999 because he was meeting with the UAE royal family.
Here are some more details on the incident from the 9/11 commission. Here’s Tenet’s March 24, 2004 testimony:
MR. TENET:…The third complicating factor here is, you might have wiped out half the royal family in the UAE in the process, which I’m sure entered into everybody’s calculation in all this.
More details from the 9/11 Staff Report:
On February 8, the military began to ready itself for a possible strike. The next day, national technical intelligence confirmed the location and description of the larger camp and showed the nearby presence of an official aircraft of the United Arab Emirates. But the location of Bin Ladin’s quarters could not be pinned down so precisely…According to reporting from the tribals, Bin Ladin regularly went from his adjacent camp to the larger camp where he visited the Emiratis; the tribals expected him to be at the hunting camp for such a visit at least until midmorning on February 11…No strike was launched. By February 12 Bin Ladin had apparently moved on, and the immediate strike plans became moot. According to CIA and Defense officials, policymakers were concerned about the danger that a strike would kill an Emirati prince or other senior officials who might be with Bin Ladin or close by.
Former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke expressed concern about the UAE royal family’s relationship with Bin Laden:
On March 7, 1999, Clarke called a UAE official to express his concerns about possible associations between Emirati officials and Bin Ladin…The United Arab Emirates was becoming both a valued counterterrorism ally of the United States and a persistent counterterrorism problem…
This information only underscores why the administration should have fully investigated the sale, as required by law, before approving it.
“President Bush was unaware of the pending sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates until the deal already had been approved by his administration, the White House said Wednesday.”
In ordinary cases of foreign direct investment the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) first conducts a 30-day “review” of the transaction. After the review, the committee makes a judgment as to whether a 45-day “investigation” is necessary to address national security concerns.
The law, however, was amended in 1993. That amendment makes the 45-day investigation mandatory in cases like the Dubai World Ports transfer. From the CFIUS website:
The Dubai World Ports purchase triggers the automatic investigation. First, the company is “controlled” by a foreign government. Second, it’s undeniable that port operations “could affect the national security of the United States.”
Yet, the investigation never happened. Bush administration officials “could not say why a 45-day investigation did not occur.”