The Airing of Grievances
Friday, April 09, 2004
"Condoleezza, Condoleezza, Men Have Named You..."
And awaaaaay we go...actually, I don't have too much add, beyond my own personal impressions of Dr. Rice's testimony, I'll leave links that disect it far better than I could have below. For starters, I was continually being interrupted while listening to the questioning, so I don't have a good sense of the flow of the proceedings. She generally seemed composed, but occasionally unsure of what she was saying. To her credit, she handled Bob Kerrey's unnecessary, but still immensely entertaining, beratement pretty well.
However, I came away more confused than I was beforehand and I think that was entirely her aim. Keep in mind that all week, she was being mock interviewed at the White House harder than a 1st year business school student in January. Like a job interview, the questions that were to be asked could pretty easily be discerned and their answers practiced beforehand. This gave us such pearls of wisdom as the notion that there was no silver bullet than could have prevented 9/11 (something that not even Richard Clarke would dispute), or that she would have moved heaven and earth to stop 9/11 had she known it was coming. Great, thanks.
She continually fell back on talking points, including a cameo appearance of my all-time favorite, "At Camp David, it was a map of Afghanistan that was rolled out on to the table." She would often attempt to give follow-on explanations to her answers to yes/no questions. At one point I think she even said, "That depends on what your definition of 'Is' is". OK, I made that up. And finally, if all the talking points had been exhausted and hard details were needed, she would inevitably fall back on that Reagan-era chestnut, "I don't recall."
My favorite part of Dr. Rice's testimony is transcribed in full below. This tells you everything you need to know about how Dr. Rice and other Administration officials talk around the truth:
RICE: I remember very well that the president was aware that there were issues inside the United States. He talked to people about this. But I don't remember the al-Qaida cells as being something that we were told we needed to do something about.
BEN-VENISTE: Isn't it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the August 6th PDB warned against possible attacks in this country? And I ask you whether you recall the title of that PDB?
RICE: I believe the title was, Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.
An evasive semantic discussion ensued from there. Now to the links:
NY Times analysis
CNN's Clarke/Rice comparison
Center for American Progress (I highly recommend the "Claim vs. Fact" links)