Monday, March 22, 2004

Castro suppressed, but not in Canada

Oliver Stone made a documentary about Castro that HBO refused to air, although they will air a second, more negative documentary Stone made later. As this Globe and Mail article discusses, perhaps the powers that be were afraid Americans might take to Fidel, hence the blackout. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) though has more respect for its citizenry, and is letting Canadians see Stone's documentary Commandante on March 28th.

In other news, John Kerry issued a strong statement against Chavez in Venezuela,
Throughout his time in office, President Chavez has repeatedly undermined democratic institutions by using extra-legal means, including politically motivated incarcerations, to consolidate power. In fact, his close relationship with Fidel Castro has raised serious questions about his commitment to leading a truly democratic government.
Is Kerry playing politics? Does he really know the situation with Chavez? I don't know. This stance does not distinguish him from Bush on this issue.

Tuesday will be an interesting news day. NASA is expected to announce a major scientific finding at 2 p.m. today. As Florida Today reported,
Scientists previously announced the rover found the first hard evidence water once drenched its landing site.

"This is the major announcement of the two," spokesman Don Savage said Monday.

And re Bush... First it was Paul O'Neill revealing that the Bush administration was after Saddam from the day they took office. Now Richard Clarke is going on the record about the lack of interest in pursuing the genuine Al Qaeda threat and focusing instead on the Iraqi threat. In his Guardian interview Tuesday, Clarke says,
April was an initial discussion of terrorism policy writ large and at that meeting I said we had to talk about al-Qaida. And because it was terrorism policy writ large [Paul] Wolfowitz said we have to talk about Iraqi terrorism and I said that's interesting because there hasn't been any Iraqi terrorism against the United States. There hasn't been any for 8 years. And he said something derisive about how I shouldn't believe the CIA and FBI, that they've been wrong. And I said if you know more than I know tell me what it is, because I've been doing this for 8 years and I don't know about any Iraqi-sponsored terrorism against the US since 1993. When I said let's start talking about Bin Laden, he said Bin Laden couldn't possibly have attacked the World Trade Centre in '93. One little terrorist group like that couldn't possibly have staged that operation. It must have been Iraq.
So was it ignorance or willfulness that allowed us to be so vulnerable on 9/11? Clarke draws a distinct contract between the actions of the Clinton administration and those of the Bush administration, given similar information.
Contrast December '99 with June and July and August 2001. In December '99 we get similar kinds of evidence that al-Qaida was planning a similar kind of attack. President Clinton asks the national security advisor to hold daily meetings with attorney-general, the CIA, FBI. They go back to their departments from the White House and shake the departments out to the field offices to find out everything they can find. It becomes the number one priority of those agencies. When the head of the FBI and CIA have to go to the White House every day, things happen and by the way, we prevented the attack. Contrast that with June, July, August 2001 when the president is being briefed virtually every day in his morning intelligence briefing that something is about to happen, and he never chairs a meeting and he never asks Condi rice to chair a meeting about what we're doing about stopping the attacks. She didn't hold one meeting during all those three months. Now, it turns out that buried in the FBI and CIA, there was information about two of these al-Qaida terrorists who turned out to be hijackers [Khalid Almidhar and Nawaf Alhazmi]. We didn't know that. The leadership of the FBI didn't know that, but if the leadership had to report on a daily basis to the White House, he would have shaken the trees and he would have found out those two guys were there. We would have put their pictures on the front page of every newspaper and we probably would have caught them. Now would that have stopped 9/11? I don't know. It would have stopped those two guys, and knowing the FBI the way they can take a thread and pull on it, they would probably have found others.
Clarke says he specifically warned Condoleeza Rice of the upcoming threat:
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice refuses to testify under oath, insisting that presidential advisers need not answer to legislative bodies.

Rice's no-show will leave the floor to a former subordinate on Wednesday, ex-counterterror guru Richard Clarke, who lambastes the White House in a new told-you-so book for failing to take seriously his warnings about al-Qaida in early 2001.

"Well, there's a lot of blame to go around, and I probably deserve some blame, too," Clarke told 60 Minutes Sunday night. "But on January 24, 2001, I wrote a memo to Condoleezza Rice asking for, urgently - underlined urgently - a Cabinet-level meeting to deal with the impending al-Qaida attack. And that urgent memo wasn't acted on."
Lastly, speaking of 9/11, check out the 9/11 Timeline for the incredible but real tale of what was known, acted on, and not acted on before, during and after 9/11.


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