Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Condi Rice and former KKK Kleagle Byrd

Glenn Reynolds linked to this post at Power and Control detailing Senator Byrd's connection to the KKK.

Is there a story here? Yes, because Democrats would be all over a Republican former KKK member. Democrats have made David Duke a household name even though he's a very minor political figure only elected to a single term in the Lousiana legislature. This story demonstrates how Democrats are full of hypocrisy.

Clark wrote in a comment, "Dr. Rice has no other qualifications other than her race and sex, as that is all that right-wing Republicans can mention." He has a followup post at his blog.

Actually, I've never mentioned Condi until today, but maybe that's because I'm a libertarian and not a "right-wing Republican."

Did her being a black woman have anything to do with Bush picking her? Possibly. Bush is always trying to out-liberal the liberals. It's a waste of time because he's not going to pick up any votes even if every single member of his cabinet is black.

But the race issue is always a big deal to Democrats because you can be sure that, if Bush's cabinet were made up entirely of white men, the Democrats would be saying, "look Bush is racist for only picking white men."


spydrz said...

I often wonder how things would be different if Byrd happened to be Republican. Why my West Virginia relatives worship him is beyond belief.

Ron Chusid said...

It is a shame this has become so partisan. Personally, I objected to cabinet members and other government officials who lied us into war when it occured under a Democratic President (LBJ) just as I object when this is done by a Republican administration.

Besides the major issue of her involvment in getting into Iraq, I am also concerned with the concentration of power occuring in the Bush administration, fearing in this case we may see infringements upon the traditional independence (although limited) in the foreign service.

Ron Chusid said...

Below is an excerpt from Senator Byrd's Senate statement. If anyone objects to what he had to say they should respond to his statements. Bringing up his past in the KKK would be relevant if this was a confirmation hearing for Senator Byrd, but is irrelevant to the current proceedings.

Bringing up the connection to the KKK appears to simply be an attempt to avoid answering the real questions. Considering that abuses of power as we have seen in Iraq is an extreme example of the state gone amok, I would not expect a libertarian blog to fall for this. Unfortunately I find far too many libertarians get duped by the right wing's propaganda machine because they use the language of free markets and liberty while pursuing policies which promote the opposite.

From Senator Byrd's statement:

Dr. Rice is responsible for some of the most overblown rhetoric that the Administration used to scare the American people into believing that there was an imminent threat from Iraq. On September 8, 2002, Dr. Rice conjured visions of American cities being consumed by mushroom clouds. On an appearance on CNN, she warned: “The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he [Saddam] can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

Dr. Rice also claimed that she had conclusive evidence about Iraq’s alleged nuclear weapons program. During that same interview, she also said: “We do know that he is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon. We do know that there have been shipments going into… Iraq, for instance, of aluminum tubes… that are really only suited for nuclear weapons programs.”

We now know that Iraq’s nuclear program was a fiction. Charles Duelfer, the chief arms inspector of the CIA’s Iraq Survey Group, reported on September 30, 2004: “Saddam Husayn ended the nuclear program in 1991 following the Gulf war. [The Iraq Survey Group] found no evidence to suggest concerted efforts to restart the program.”

But Dr. Rice’s statements in 2002 were not only wrong, they also did not accurately reflect the intelligence reports of the time. Declassified portions of the CIA’s National Intelligence Estimate from October 2002 make it clear that there were disagreements among our intelligence analysts about the state of Iraq’s nuclear program. But Dr. Rice seriously misrepresented their disputes when she categorically stated, “We do know that [Saddam] is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon.”

Her allegation also misrepresented to the American people the controversy in those same intelligence reports about the aluminum tubes. Again, Dr. Rice said that these tubes were “really only suited for nuclear weapons programs.” But intelligence experts at the State Department and the Department of Energy believed that those tubes had nothing to do with building a nuclear weapon, and made their dissent known in the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate. This view, which was at odds with Dr. Rice’s representations, was later confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency and our own CIA arms inspectors.

Dr. Rice made other statements that helped to build a case for war by implying a link between Iraq and September 11. On multiple occasions, Dr. Rice spoke about the supposed evidence that Saddam and Al Qaeda were in league with each other. For example, on September 25, 2002, Dr. Rice said on the PBS NewsHour:

“No one is trying to make an argument at this point that Saddam Hussein somehow had operational control of what happened on September 11, so we don’t want to push this too far, but this is a story that is unfolding, and it is getting clear, and we’re learning more…. But yes, there clearly are contact[s] between Al Qaeda and Iraq that can be documented; there clearly is testimony that some of the contacts have been important contacts and that there is a relationship there.”

What Dr. Rice did not say was that some of those supposed links were being called into question by our intelligence agencies, such as the alleged meeting between a 9-11 ringleader and an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague that has now been debunked. These attempts to connect Iraq and Al Qaeda appear to be a prime example of cherry-picking intelligence to hype the supposed threat of Iraq, while keeping contrary evidence away from the American people, wrapped up in the red tape of top secret reports.

Dr. Rice pressed the point even further, creating scenarios that threatened tens of thousands of American lives, even when that threat wasn’t supported by intelligence. On March 9, 2003, just eleven days before the invasion of Iraq, Dr. Rice appeared on “Face the Nation” and said:

“Now the al-Qaida is an organization that's quite dispersed and --and quite widespread in its effects, but it clearly has had links to the Iraqis, not to mention Iraqi links to all kinds of other terrorists. And what we do not want is the day when Saddam Hussein decides that he's had enough of dealing with sanctions, enough of dealing with, quote, unquote, "containment," enough of dealing with America, and it's time to end it on his terms, by transferring one of these weapons, just a little vial of something, to a terrorist for blackmail or for worse.”

But the intelligence community had already addressed this scenario with great skepticism. In fact, the CIA’s National Intelligence Estimate from October 2002 concluded that it had “low confidence” that Saddam would ever transfer any weapons of mass destruction – weapons that he did not have, as it turned out – to anyone outside of his control. This is yet more evidence of an abuse of intelligence in order to build the case for an unprovoked war with Iraq.

And what has been the effect of the first use of the reckless doctrine of preemptive war? In a most ironic and deadly twist, the false situation described by the Administration before the war -- namely, that Iraq was a training ground for terrorists poised to attack us -- is exactly the situation that our war in Iraq has created.

But it was this unjustified war that created the situation that the President claimed he was trying to prevent. Violent extremists have flooded into Iraq from all corners of the world. Iraqis have taken up arms themselves to fight against the continuing U.S. occupation of their country. According to a CIA report released in December 2004, intelligence analysts now see Iraq, destabilized by the Administration’s ill-conceived war, as the training ground for a new generation of terrorists. [Mapping the Global Future: Report of the National Intelligence Council’s 2020 Project, pp. 94] It should be profoundly disturbing to all Americans if the most dangerous breeding ground for terrorism shifted from Afghanistan to Iraq, simply because of the Administration’s ill-advised rush to war in March 2003.

Dr. Rice’s role in the war against Iraq was not limited to building the case for an unprecedented, preemptive invasion of a country that had not attacked us first. Her role also extends to the Administration’s failed efforts to establish peace in Iraq. In October 2003, five months after he declared "Mission Accomplished," the President created the Iraq Stabilization Group, headed by Dr. Rice. The task of the Iraq Stabilization Group was to coordinate efforts to speed reconstruction aid to help bring the violence in Iraq to an end.

But what has the Iraq Stabilization Group accomplished under the leadership of Dr. Rice? When she took the helm of the stabilization efforts, 319 U.S. troops had been killed in Iraq. That number now stands at 1,368 as of today (Tuesday 1/25). More than 10,600 troops have been wounded. The cost of the war has spiraled to $149 billion, and the White House is on the verge of asking Congress for another $80 billion. Despite the mandate of the Iraq Stabilization Group, the situation in Iraq has gone from bad to worse. More ominously, the level of violence only keeps growing, week after week, month after month, and no Administration official, whether from the White House, the Pentagon, or Foggy Bottom, has made any predictions about when the violence will finally subside.

Furthermore, of the $18.4 billion in Iraqi reconstruction aid appropriated by Congress in October 2003, the Administration has spent only $2.7 billion. With these funds moving so slowly, it is hard to believe that the Iraq Stabilization Group has had any success at all in speeding the reconstruction efforts in Iraq. For all the hue and cry about the need to speed up aid to Iraq, one wonders if there should be more tough questions asked of Dr. Rice about what she has accomplished as the head of this group.

There are also many unanswered questions about Dr. Rice’s record as National Security Advisor. Richard Clarke, the former White House counter-terrorism advisor, has leveled scathing criticism against Dr. Rice and the National Security Council for failing to recognize the threat from Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden in the months leading up to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In particular, Mr. Clarke states that he submitted a request on January 25, 2001, for an urgent meeting of the National Security Council on the threat of al Qaeda.

However, due to decisions made by Dr. Rice and her staff, that urgent meeting did not occur until too late: the meeting was not actually called until September 4, 2001. Mr. Clarke, who is widely acknowledged as one of the leading authorities on terrorism in government at that time, told the 9-11 Commission that he was so frustrated with those decisions that he asked to be reassigned to different issues, and the Bush White House approved that request.

Dr. Rice appeared before the 9-11 Commission on April 8, 2004, but if anything, her testimony raised only more questions about what the President and others knew about the threats to New York City and Washington, D.C. in the weeks before the attacks, and whether more could have been done to prevent them.

Why wasn’t any action taken when she and the President received an intelligence report on August 6, 2001, entitled, “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States?” Why did Dr. Rice and President Bush reassign Richard Clarke, the leading terrorism expert in the White House, soon after taking office in 2001? Why did it take nine months for Dr. Rice to call the first high-level National Security Council meeting on the threat of Osama bin Laden? As the Senate debates her nomination today, we still have not heard full answers to these questions.

In addition to Mr. Clarke’s criticism, Dr. David Kay, the former CIA weapons inspector in Iraq, also has strong words for the National Security Council and its role in the run up to the war in Iraq. When Dr. Kay appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee on August 18, 2004, to analyze why the Administration’s pre-war intelligence was so wrong about weapons of mass destruction, he described the National Security Council as the "dog that didn’t bark" to warn the President about the weakness of those intelligence reports. Dr. Kay continued: “Every president who has been successful, at least that I know of, in the history of this republic, has developed both informal and formal means of getting checks on whether people who tell him things are in fact telling him the whole truth.… The recent history has been a reliance on the NSC system to do it. I quite frankly think that has not served this president very well.”

What Dr. Kay appears to state was his view that the National Security Council, under the leadership of Dr. Rice, did not do a sufficient job of raising doubts about the quality of the intelligence about Iraq. On the contrary, based upon Dr. Rice’s statements that I quoted earlier, her rhetoric even went beyond the questionable intelligence that the CIA had available on Iraq, in order to hype the threats of aluminum tubes, mushroom clouds, and connections between Iraq and September 11.

In light of the massive reorganization of our intelligence agencies enacted by Congress last year, shouldn’t this nomination spur the Senate to stop, look, and listen about what has been going on in the National Security Council for the last four years? Don’t these serious questions about the failings of the National Security Council under Dr. Rice deserve a more through examination before the Senate votes to confirm her as the next Secretary of State?

Accountability has become an old-fashioned notion in some circles these days, but accountability is not a negotiable commodity when it comes to the highest circles of our nation’s government. The accountability of government officials is an obligation, not a luxury. And yet, accountability is an obligation that this President and his administration appear loath to fulfill.

Instead of being held to account for their actions, the architects of the policies that led our nation into war with Iraq, policies based on faulty intelligence and phantom weapons of mass destruction, have been rewarded by the President with accolades and promotions. Instead of admitting to mistakes in the war on Iraq and its disastrous aftermath, the President and his inner circle of advisers continue to cling to myths and misconceptions. The only notion of accountability that this President is willing to acknowledge is the November elections, which he has described as a moment of accountability and an endorsement of his policies. Unfortunately, after-the-fact validation of victory is hardly the standard of accountability that the American people have the right to expect from their elected officials. It is one thing to accept responsibility for success; it is quite another to accept accountability for failure.

Sadly, failure has tainted far too many aspects of our nation’s international policies over the past four years, culminating in the deadly insurgency that has resulted from the invasion of Iraq. With respect to this particular nomination, I believe that there needs to be accountability for the mistakes and missteps that have led the United States into the dilemma in which it finds itself today, besieged by increasing violence in Iraq, battling an unprecedented decline in world opinion, and increasingly isolated from our allies due to our provocative, belligerent, bellicose, and unilateralist foreign policy.

Whether the Administration will continue to pursue these policies cannot be known to Senators today, as we prepare to cast our votes. At her confirmation hearing on January 18, Dr. Rice proclaimed that “Our interaction with the rest of the world must be a conversation, not a monologue.” But two days later, President Bush gave an inaugural address that seemed to rattle sabers at any nation that he does not consider to be free. Before Senators cast their vote, we must wonder whether we are casting our lot for more diplomacy or more belligerence? Reconciliation or more confrontation? Which face of this Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde foreign policy will be revealed in the next four years?

Although I do not question her credentials, I do oppose many of the critical decisions that Dr. Rice has made during her four years as National Security Advisor. She has a record, and the record is there for us to judge. There remain too many unanswered questions about Dr. Rice’s failure to protect our country before the tragic attacks of September 11, her public efforts to politicize intelligence, and her often stated allegiance to the doctrine of preemption.

Clark said...

Actually what I said was, "Apparrently, Dr. Rice has no other qualifications other than her race and sex, as that is all that right-wing Republicans can mention."
I intended that as a comment on her supporters, not Rice her self. I think her credentials are swell but her performance in office leaves a lot to be desired.

dax said...

And all this from a Senator that awhile back was wearing a sheet over his head and burning crosses on the front-yards of Blacks.
Way to go LibDems!

Charles said...

Thanks for the long and boring Byrd reprint I could scroll through. Anyone listen to Byrd and Kennedy? Not only do they look about to keel over, they can't keep their place in the speech paper, slur words... it's pitiful.

Anyway, you know Sen Byrd only joined the KKK to fight communism (no, seriously!), so I guess this means Condi Rice is a communist. Man, good thing he is on the side of right and will fight Hillary Clinton and her professed Marxist-Leninist beliefs in a couple of years.

dadahead said...

The reason everybody would jumping all over a Republican ex-KKK senator if the positions were reversed is because the Republican party is currently the party of racists. Nobody cares about Byrd being an ex-KKKer because he is a Democrat, a party that doesn't have the (recent*) history of being home to ex-KKKers who, unlike Byrd, have not given up on their old ways.

*Yes, I realize the Democrats used to be the party of Southern racists, but obviously the parties have switched roles now.

M. Simon said...

The Democrats are not bigoted. Except when it comes to White Men.

Now you have to wonder why the Dems never had a person of color as Secty of State or Defence. I will say that Clinton had Ron Brown as Secty of Commerce until his unfortunate demise. So they did give it a go.

As to Sen. Byrd and Condi I think it is possible (though unlikely given his recent pronouncements on white niggers) that he is not a racist.

Still it is quite politically tone deaf to give him a go against Condi.

Truth be told I have waited years to fire a shot across the Byrd's bow. He gave me an opportunity I couldn't resist. Evidently a lot of liberals (Roger Simon fer instance) were on the same wave length.

The Dems anti-Racism is a political ploy not a deeply held belief. They would dump it in an instant if it suited their political purposes. It is quite possible the Republicans are no better.

The thing is any smart Democrat could have seen this coming. Which just shows how politically inept the Dems have become.

Then we have Senator Ted speaking out on simulated drowning as a form of torture.

What are these people thinking?

Bush is a master politician (no matter what you think of his policies). He waves a red flag and the Dems just have to charge. OTOH this whole anti-Condi thing was planned in advance as part of a snub of Bush and a Dem fund raising campaign. Smart. Really smart.

I wonder if it is so smart to keep firing up the base while shrinking it.

BTW I think Bush's move to the "ownership society" is a libertarian move. It is unfortunate that most Libertarians are not smart enough to see that despite the huge price Bush has paid (the drug "benefit") he is moving government to a more libertarian position on a lot of social programs (MSA's, Social Security). The difference between Bush and a "real" Libertarian is that his programs get passed.

I think in 30 years when the trends become more evident he will be seen as one of our most libertarian presidents (at least economically).

Old Blind Dog said...

I think it would be fun to watch Condi kick Hillary's ass in 2008.

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