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Thursday, July 24, 2003
Conservatives Critique Bushian Conservatism
Tony AdragnaFirst, 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.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 AdragnaI'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.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 AdragnaLast 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.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.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...