MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT Susan Rice
NBC reports today that "GOP senators not satisfied with Rice explanation of Benghazi aftermath",
and after a "candid" meeting with Ambassador Rice, McCain claims that he is "significantly troubled" with her answers.
BuzzFlash has been around for 12 years, and we remember quite well that when Condi Rice was George W. Bush's National Security Advisor, both she and Bush ignored warnings of possible impending Al Qaeda hijackings in the US. This, we remind you, was prior to the fateful day of 9/11, as a result of which more than 3000 people have died due to the attacks on the Twin Towers.
For a while after 9/11, Bush and Rice denied receiving any alerts. Then, after months passed and a pre-September 11th CIA intelligence briefing was disclosed that warned Al Qaeda was determined to strike in the US, Bush and Rice changed their tune by parsing their responses to indicate that they were never informed of hijackings that would be flown into buildings. This became the so-called rationale for their not doing anything to prevent the attacks -- nothing at all.
The unearthed memo, which was the most sensational made public (while other warnings were revealed even in the relatively whitewashed 9/11 hearings), was dated August 6, 2001. It was the daily presidential intelligence briefing and was seen by both Bush (who blew off the CIA liaison who presented it to him at Bush's ranch in Texas) and Rice.
Journalist Kurt Eichenwald wrote an op-ed in the September 10, 2012 New York Times that reveals how the White House was virtually defiant in not taking any preventive action against Al Qaeda prior to 9/11. Eichenwald received access to written warnings in the hands of the White House that preceded the August 6 memo:
While those documents are still not public, I have read excerpts from many of them, along with other recently declassified records, and come to an inescapable conclusion: the administration’s reaction to what Mr. Bush was told in the weeks before that infamous briefing reflected significantly more negligence than has been disclosed. In other words, the Aug. 6 document, for all of the controversy it provoked, is not nearly as shocking as the briefs that came before it.
The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001. By May 1, the Central Intelligence Agency told the White House of a report that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation. Weeks later, on June 22, the daily brief reported that Qaeda strikes could be “imminent,” although intelligence suggested the time frame was flexible.
But some in the administration considered the warning to be just bluster….
“The U.S. is not the target of a disinformation campaign by Usama Bin Laden,” the daily brief of June 29 read, using the government’s transliteration of Bin Laden’s first name. Going on for more than a page, the document recited much of the evidence, including an interview that month with a Middle Eastern journalist in which Bin Laden aides warned of a coming attack….
And the C.I.A. repeated the warnings in the briefs that followed. Operatives connected to Bin Laden, one reported on June 29, expected the planned near-term attacks to have “dramatic consequences,” including major casualties. On July 1, the brief stated that the operation had been delayed, but “will occur soon.” Some of the briefs again reminded Mr. Bush that the attack timing was flexible, and that, despite any perceived delay, the planned assault was on track.
Condi Rice, as National Security Advisor, was generally the funnel through which such intelligence alarms went through before getting to Bush. She also had separate meetings with George Tenet, head of the CIA, who reportedly told her of the agency's concern about Al Qaeda launching attacks in the US, including hijackings. In fact, at one point during a public inquiry about the 9/11 attacks, Rice was forced to read the headline of the infamous August 6th CIA memo: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”
Yet, despite all the signs pointing to willful negligence – which included not even taking the minimal step of heightening security against hijackings at airports – Condi Rice was confirmed as Secretary of State by an 85-13 vote of the United States Senate on January 26, 2005, with the full support of the Republican caucus. Dissenting votes included Democrats such as Barbara Boxer and the late Robert Byrd who felt that Rice was not being held accountable for her role in ignoring the 9/11 warnings and her support of the Iraq War.
So when Reuters headlines its article about Susan Rice's meeting with GOP senators this morning, "Rice meeting with senators fails to dampen criticism," you know that the Republican double standard of hypocrisy is in full swing. Whatever the explanations that occurred after the killings in Benghazi were, Susan Rice is UN Ambassador, not the National Security Advisor. The Republican pummeling of Rice -- given its historical support of the Bush administration/Condi Rice failure to even try and prevent 9/11 coupled with its bloody war policies – is more than just partisan politics.
After all, we are talking about national security here – and the only security that the McCain/Graham Republican Party appears to be protecting is their own jobs. More than 3000 people from all nations died in the Twin Towers on 9/11 and in the other hijacked planes. Thousands upon thousands more perished in two wars launched by the Bush administration.
Given the comparatively positive national security record under President Obama in terms of terrorism – and given Susan Rice's peripheral role as a script reader in the Benghazi affair – McCain, Graham and their self-serving colleagues are vilifying the wrong Rice.
But they know that. It's all part of the same shameful bullying that we have seen for years, one that puts the national security interests of the United States in partisan peril.