Thursday, April 08, 2004

The Real "Bombshell" In Condi's Testimony

Right now on Drudge, the headline reads, "CONDI BOMBSHELL: BUSH'S FIRST NATIONAL SECURITY DIRECTIVE: ELIMINATE Al-QAEDA". Drudge is right about the 'bombshell' part, but he's completely wrong about what the actual bombshell is.

Oh yeah. And he's lying.

The testimony:

This new strategy was developed over the Spring and Summer of 2001, and was approved by the President's senior national security officials on September 4. It was the very first major national security policy directive of the Bush Administration - - not Russia, not missile defense, not Iraq, but the elimination of al-Qaida.

Okay, so Bush's first major national security policy directive was the "elimination of al-Qaida." But what about the fact that Bush's first major national security policy directive was not issued until September 4, 2001, nearly a full nine months after the man took office?!?!

And for Drudge to headline this as some sort of grand triumph of the Bush administration? Absolutely preposterous.

First of all, even Rice didn't call it "the first national security policy directive." She called it "the first major national security policy directive" (emphasis mine). Looking through her testimony, the first time she speaks of a national security policy directive after her prepared remarks is in response to a question posed by Fred Fielding about efforts to prevent intelligence failures in "the first several months of the administration."

We did have a national security policy directive asking the CIA, through the foreign intelligence board, headed by Brent Scowcroft, to review its intelligence activities, the way that it gathered intelligence. And that was a study that was to be completed.

It's clear to me from Drudge's headline that this spin is being coordinated from the top. The plan seems to have been for Rice to use the word "major" and then for all of the pro-W media to drop it, making it seem that the Bush administration always had its eyes on the prize.

Here's to fine distinctions making all the difference.

posted by Scott | 4/08/2004 | |

With Budget Proposal, Kerry Seeks To Define Self Early

We all know what the Bush administration is doing to define John Kerry in the eyes of the American people. The ads have been running constantly on cable news and in battleground states that make all sorts of outrageous claims about Kerry wanting to hike the gas tax and raise other taxes by billions of dollars. What has been less clear is what Kerry is doing to define himself.

Yesterday, Kerry announced an initiative to control federal spending by re-enacting 'pay as you go' rules assuring funding for new programs. This, coupled with the repeal of the $200,000+ personal income tax cuts and closing of corporate tax loopholes, is Kerry's very smart answer to the 'tax and spend liberal' charge we all see being tossed around right now.

Kerry knows he can't fight the charge that he's going to raise some taxes. He is. But rather than denying the whole premise outright, he's being honest about what taxes he's going to raise and what taxes he is not. That's a smart move when the voting public is getting tired of the current administration's dishonesty and half-truths.

Kerry also knows that he doesn't even have to fight the charge that he's going to spend money. Democrats used to have to prove that they would cut spending. Team W has changed that with their free-spending ways. Now Kerry just has to meet the 'hold the line' standard in order to be seen as more fiscally conservative than the current GOP officeholders.

In much the same way that Newt Gingrich's Contract For America appealed to voters with (supposedly) common sense ideas, Kerry is putting on the table a very reasonable proposal for dealing with federal spending and deficits. In other words, if it's not a good idea to take out a loan to buy a Lamborghini when you're having trouble putting the kids through college, it's likewise not a good idea to spend billions of dollars on impractical pet projects. That's something people can not only understand, but will be more likely to rally around.

It may seem early for Kerry to be issuing big policy proposals right now. But with the GOP mud flying fast and furious, it's something he needs to do.

posted by Scott | 4/08/2004 | |

What Is Scalia Hiding?

Presidential installation specialist Antonin Scalia yesterday ordered two reporters, one from the AP and one from The Hattiesburg American, erase their audio tapes of a speech Scalia gave at a Mississippi high school.

For the record, I doubt that Scalia said much of anything that would cause any controversy. Let me correct that. I doubt that Scalia said much that would have sounded surprising coming out of his mouth.

Along with some of his earlier actions to curtail press coverage of his speeches, this raises some serious questions about Scalia's ability to uphold first amendment rights. And without any insight into what he's saying, calls into question his ability to be a fair and impartial jurist. Even though we don't know what's being said, it's pretty damning that he doesn't want it to be heard by the public.

posted by Scott | 4/08/2004 | |

Monday, April 05, 2004

Surprise!!! Team W Sees Iraq War As Reelection Stunt

This really just confirms all of my worst suspicions about the Bush administration and the war against Iraq. It seems that StratCom, the Coalition Provisional Authority's Office of Strategic Communications, is really just a front operation for the GOP.

Here are some interesting little tidbits about StratCom that the AP dug up for their piece:

Dan Senor, a former press secretary for Spencer Abraham, the Michigan Republican who's now Energy Secretary, heads the office packed with former Bush campaign workers, political appointees and ex-Capitol Hill staffers.

Senor jogged in a Thanksgiving Day race here wearing a "Bush-Cheney 2004" T-shirt.

Senor was with the Carlyle Group, an investment firm with Bush family ties and big defense industry holdings.

One-third of the U.S. civilian workers in the press office have GOP ties...

More than half a dozen CPA officials in the press office worked on Bush's 2000 presidential campaign or are related to Bush campaign workers...

As if all of that is not damning enough, two different CPA consultants charged that StratCom has been, in essence, engaged in politics for the better part of the last year. One anonymous source claimed that the organization "sent targeted 'good news' releases to American [media] outlets that were timed to deflect criticism of Bush during the Democratic primaries."

Another consultant went on the record, saying that "the civilians in [StratCom]... viewed their job as essentially political, promoting what the Coalition Provisional Authority is doing in Iraq as a political arm of the Bush administration."

Every time I think about giving Team W the benefit of the doubt, they expose themselves as more disgusting and less human than I'd previously thought possible. Excuse me while I go down some Pepto.

posted by Scott | 4/05/2004 | |
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