There will be a lot of looking back today. There are some good reasons to look back. To remember those that are no longer with us and to learn from our mistakes.
Clinton’s most public response, of course, were the cruise missile attacks of 1998, directed against Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and the Sudan, following the terrorist bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Operating on limited intelligence — at that time, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tazikistan refused to share information on the terrorists whereabouts inside Afghanistan — U. S. strikes missed bin Laden by only a couple of hours.
Even so, Clinton was accused of only firing missiles in order to divert media attention from the Lewinsky hearings. A longer campaign would have stirred up even more criticism.
So Clinton tried another tack. He sponsored legislation to freeze the financial assets of international organizations suspected of funneling money to bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network — identical to orders given by President Bush this month — but it was killed, on behalf of big banks, by Republican Senator Phil Gramm of Texas.
Those actions, we knew about. Others, we did not, until recently. Starting in 1998, for example, Clinton gave the CIA a green light to use whatever covert means were necessary to gather information on Osama bin Laden and his followers, and to disrupt and preempt any planned terrorist activities against the United States.
As part of that effort, the CIA, under Clinton, trained and equipped some 60 commandos from Pakistan to enter Afghanistan and capture bin Laden. The operation collapsed when Pakistan experienced a military coup and a new government took over.
New York Times Rewrites Iraq War History, To Bush—and Times—WMDs were not just a ‘possibility’
In a New York Times article (9/6/06) on George W. Bush’s September 5 speech concerning terrorism and Iraq, reporters David Sanger and John O’Neil included a striking revision of Bush’s reasoning for going to war:
The possibility that Saddam Hussein might develop ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and pass them to terrorists was the prime reason Mr. Bush gave in 2003 for ordering the invasion of Iraq.
Of course, the drive to war rested firmly on Bush’s repeated and emphatic claim that Hussein had already developed WMDs, which he possessed and was prepared to use—a bogus claim that the mainstream media, led by the Times’ own Judith Miller, largely accepted as an article of faith and bolstered with credulous reports based on faulty information. (See Extra!, 7-8/03.)
Bush’s charges that Iraq concealed chemical and biological weapons were unequivocal. “Iraq has stockpiled biological and chemical weapons, and is rebuilding the facilities used to make more of those weapons,” Bush told the U.N. (9/12/02).
“The Iraqi regime . . . possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons,” Bush said in a speech in Cincinnati (10/7/02). “We’ve also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas.”
“Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised,” Bush said in a March 17, 2003 address to the nation.
The New York Times’ editorial page unskeptically accepted these claims and incorporated them into the paper’s own arguments. In a September 18, 2002 editorial, the paper declared:
What really counts in this conflict…is the destruction of Iraq’s unconventional weapons and the dismantling of its program to develop nuclear arms…. What makes Iraq the subject of intense concern, as Mr. Bush noted, is Mr. Hussein’s defiance of the Security Council’s longstanding instructions to dismantle Baghdad’s nuclear weapons program and to eliminate all its biological and chemical weapons and the materials used to make them.
After the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution on inspectors returning to Iraq, the Times editorialized (11/9/02):
The unwavering goal is to disarm Iraq, enforcing a string of previous Security Council resolutions that Baghdad has contemptuously ignored. The cost of letting that happen has been diminished authority for the United Nations and a growing danger that Iraq’s unconventional weapons will be used in war or passed on to terrorists. Mr. Bush has galvanized the Security Council to declare that its orders must now be obeyed and those dangers eliminated.
Lastly a good diary from Valtin at DKos about Richard Armitage who is hardly the nieve non-partisan gossip that most of the media and the right-wing blogs have made him out to be. He is well pickled in the neocon kool-aid. The Secret History of Richard L. Armitage
This diary will detail the political history of Mr. Armitage, who is usually briefly identified as a friend and ally of Colin Powell, and an enemy of the neo-cons in the George W. Bush administration. If you follow the details below, wherein it is shown that Richard Armitage has a shadowy and dirty history in U.S. intelligence operations, including Iran-Contra, and has long been a sophisticated member of the top echelons of the U.S. government, in addition to being a prominent member of the neo-con Project for the New American Century — I think that the idea that Armitage was a gossipy and forgetful bumbler who innocently let fall Plame’s name will seem more and more unlikely.
I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should
from the lyrics to Not Ready to Make Nice by The Dixie Chicks