Shouting 'Cross the Potomac

barstool philosopher,
backseat driver
but never a Monday morning quarterback

adrag1 at [until the QP server gets fixed]
willv at


Virginia Pundit Watch Will Vehrs' Weekly Column at Bacon's Rebellion

DC Metro Blog Map

UVA Center for Politics and Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball Predictions 2002


Spinsanity - Countering rhetoric with reason


On the Third Hand
A blog by a proud member of the Bellicose Women's Brigade


Newsrack Blog

Mark A. Kilmer's Political Annotation

A Nickles Worth of Free Advice

Where HipHop and Libertarianism meet

Note To Self
"Crash"'s way kewl blog

The Rallying Point

Mind Over What Matters

MaxSpeak Weblog


Off the Kuff

What She Really Thinks

Unqualified Offerings

Talking Points Memo


Matt Welch


the talking dog

Cornfield Commentary

Cooped Up

The Rittenhouse Review

The Lefty Directory

Sneaking Suspicions

Derek Crane

Common Sense and Wonder

Jim Miller on Politics

Croooow Blog: Rantings and ravings on the news of the day.

Ipse Dixit

The Road to Surfdom

Jason Rylander


Smythe's World

Weblog Central



War Liberal

Andrew Sullivan

The Volokh Conspiracy

Counterspin Central
perfunctory links(We think it's "the Mother of links pages for news and pundit junkies" - eds)

Independent Gay Forum
Independent Gay Forum

Town Hall: Conservative News and Information - The Conservative Movement Starts Here

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Conservatives Critique Bushian Conservatism

Tony Adragna
First, Andrew Sullivan's observations
[...] Bush's conservatism is of a type that is simply more comfortable with the power of government than conservatives usually are. He certainly has little hesitation in using it for conservative ends. That makes sense for Bush, a man who was used to walking around the White House corridors long before he ever won the presidency. To more small-government types and libertarians, it's distressing. To Bush, it's merely full speed ahead. Meanwhile, the government he hands off to his successor will be bigger, more expensive and far more powerful in its anti-terror powers than anything he inherited. Whatever else that is, it's hardly a conservative achievement.
That's the conclusion to a column in which Andrew says things like, "in some critical ways, [Bush's conservatism is] far less traditionally conservative than the administration of Bill Clinton," "Bush is now proposing the biggest new entitlement since Nixon," and "[in foreign policy] the way in which Bush has chosen a strategic and systemic response... is the mark of a radical, not a conservative."

Next, George Will comments
This is the summer of conservatives' discontent. Conservatism has been disoriented by events in the past several weeks. Cumulatively, foreign and domestic developments constitute an identity crisis of conservatism, which is being recast -- and perhaps rendered incoherent.

George W. Bush may be the most conservative person to serve as president since Calvin Coolidge. Yet his presidency is coinciding with, and is in some instances initiating or ratifying, developments disconcerting to four factions within conservatism.
He then goes on to give examples of what Bush has done to give rise to disconcertment from conservatives.

Hello! Where have these two knuckleheads been for the last 2½ years!?!

The Romans had a cure for when troops fell asleep on watch...

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

A Question of Intelligence (cont.)

Tony Adragna
I've not been wanting to take a hyper-critical line on the 16 words story, mainly because I think the war was nonetheless justified notwithstanding that the case was sloppily argued [as I suggested in Aug '02 — long before the '03 SOTU — by asking rhetorically "Could it be the salesman has a very salable product, but keeps screwing up the pitch?"]

But I keep coming back to the question asked the other day: Why not rely on our own intelligence estimates? If Mr. Hadley was relying on the Oct NIE and the Jan memo "citing the language in the Oct. 1 intelligence estimate," then why didn't the SOTU make a claim about what the U.S. knew?

The only explanation that makes sense is that at the time the SOTU was written the speechwriters knew of CIA's incredulity. If Hadley was only aware of problems with " technical specifics of the Africa charge, not its general accuracy," then he could've left the specifics out and made a general reference relying on the Oct NIE and Jan memo.

Instead, we got an advert to "the British government."

And why no head rollage?

Something smells awful funky about the way the White House is handling this matter...

Speaking of the British government, Anne Applebaum's latest op-ed column makes this observation
When George Tenet fell on his sword earlier this month over that now infamous piece of British intelligence that made it into the president's State of the Union speech, the story played [in the U.S.] as "White House Dumps on CIA." In Britain, it played as "White House Dumps on Britain."[emphasis added]
That the White House didn't intend to cause problems for Tony Blair is no solace...

Dems maybe getting a clue re Homeland Security... When Glenn Reynolds offered advice to the Democrats on how to criticize the administration's approach to Homeland Security, did he have this in mind?
just as they did last week in forcing a series of losing votes on initiatives challenging President Bush's Iraq policy, the Democrats were seeking to make a political point. They plan other, more narrowly targeted efforts to increase anti-terrorism spending. The Democrats' contention, disputed by Republicans, is that the administration and the GOP-controlled Congress are shortchanging the nation's domestic security needs.

Byrd's proposal sought to add $602 million for transit security; $729.5 million for police, firefighters and "first responders"; $238.5 million for border protections; $100 million to safeguard air cargo; and $80 million to protect chemical facilities.

Since Congress's initial $40 billion response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, "the momentum has slowed," Byrd told the Senate. "Homeland security initiatives are falling behind." He cited a recent Council of Foreign Relations task force report warning that local responders remain unprepared for a catastrophic attack. "The American people believe that we here in Washington are taking care of the problem," Byrd said. "We must not mislead them."
I'm not sure this is quite what Glenn was thinking, though it's maybe headed in the right direction. I think Glenn would like to see — I definitely would — more focus on mission creep at the Department. Sen. Lieberman and others certainly had no problem voicing concerns when DHS creeped beyond security into a political dispute...

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Surprise! Non-News Gets No Headline... FBI Still Doesn't Have A Clue...

Tony Adragna
Last night the AP fired off a report highlighting some info from soon to be released 900 page declassified version of the joint House and Senate intelligence committees' report on their investigation into 9-11
WASHINGTON - An FBI informant knew two of the Sept. 11 hijackers but never suspected they were terrorists, according to a congressional report that nonetheless concludes no single piece of information could have prevented the attacks.

The unidentified informant was with Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi in San Diego during the summer of 2000, although the nature of their relationship was unclear...
Mickey Kaus says it isn't news.

And, of course, it isn't!

But, help me read this passage, folks
Newsweek magazine first revealed the report's information about the informant. According to federal enforcement officials, the informant reported contact with Almihdhar and Alhazmi to his FBI handler in the summer of 2000. The report said he gave only their first names, and there was no reason for the men to have caused misgivings since at that point neither was on government watch lists of suspected terrorists.

It wasn't until after the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole at port in Yemen that the FBI learned both men had attended a January 2000 meeting in Malaysia of major al-Qaida operatives. The CIA had known the two attended the meeting, but apparently the information never was shared with the FBI.[emphasis added]
I'll hafta read congress' report to know for sure, but it looks to me, if the AP has put it correctly, like the FBI knew sometime after Oct '00 but before Aug '01, that the two men in question had links to al Qaeda.

Newsweek has more
[T]he FBI gets the toughest treatment. A few months after [suspected secret Saudi agent] al-Bayoumi took them to San Diego, Almihdhar and Alhazmi moved into the house of a local professor who was a longtime FBI “asset.” The prof also had earlier contact with another hijacker, Hani Hanjour. But even though the informant was in regular touch with his FBI handler, the bureau never pieced together that he was living with terrorists. The bureau also failed to pursue other leads, including a local imam who dealt with several key 9-11 figures. The report, one congressional investigator said, “is a scathing indictment of the FBI as an agency that doesn’t have a clue about terrorism.” Furious bureau officials say the report misstates the evidence. They say the bureau checked out al-Bayoumi—now back in Saudi Arabia—and concluded he had not given the hijackers “material support.” As for Almihdhar and Alhazmi, “there was nothing there that gave us any suspicion about these guys,” said one FBI official.
On a related note: This is what concerned me most 'bout the USA PATRIOT Act — 'twas unnecessary, the arguments for the Act were unadulterated CYA.

It's not the granting of power that might be needed [though, I'm still unnconvinced of the need], the abusive exercise of which true Patriots wouldn't stand for, that troubled me. Rather, it's the way that Congress went about passing the Act.

When something goes wrong, you ask questions, get some answers 'bout what went wrong & how it went wrong, then you take some action. That didn't happen prior to the Act passing — 'twas more like DoJ used 9-11 as an excuse to get its whole grocery order filled on credit.

It's long been clear to me that the FBI couldn't get its act together to use the tools it aready had. You don't give people more authority after they've proven themselves pooch screwers. I think the action needed wasn't Act passage, but head rollage...