| NATIONAL SECURITY
Giuliani’s 9/11 Conspiracy Theory
During a speech yesterday at Pat Robertson’s Regent University, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani indirectly blamed President Clinton for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Echoing arguments offered frequently by Bush administration officials, Giuliani claimed that Clinton treated the 1993 World Trade Center bombing “as a criminal act instead of a terrorist attack,” which “emboldened other strikes” on the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, Kenya, and Tanzania, and later on the USS Cole. “The United States government, then President Clinton, did not respond,” Giuliani said. “Bin Laden declared war on us. We didn’t hear it.” The claim that Clinton “did not respond” to global terrorism during his administration is demonstrably and flagrantly false. (Giuliani himself knows this. Just last year, before he became a presidential candidate, he said, “The idea of trying to cast blame on Clinton [for the 9/11 attacks] is just wrong for many, many reasons, not the least of which is I don’t think he deserves it.”) Giuliani’s fundamentally misguided approach to counterterrorism is evidenced not only by his dishonest smears of President Clinton, but by his embrace of the same national security strategy as President Bush, under whom global terrorism is rising, Osama bin Laden is resurgent, the Middle East is deeper in violent unrest, and the U.S. military is in the midst of a readiness crisis.
CLINTON’S TERRORISM RECORD: The Clinton administration’s efforts to “thwart international terrorism and bin Laden’s network were historic, unprecedented and, sadly, not followed up on.” Richard Clarke, who served as counterterrorism czar for Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II, detailed Clinton’s counterterrorism record after Vice President Cheney claimed in 2004 that the United States had “no great success in dealing with terrorists” during the 1990s: “It’s possible that the vice president has spent so little time studying the terrorist phenomenon that he doesn’t know about the successes in the 1990s,” Clarke said. “There were many. The Clinton administration stopped Iraqi terrorism against the United States, through military intervention. It stopped Iranian terrorism against the United States, through covert action. It stopped the al-Qaida attempt to have a dominant influence in Bosnia. It stopped the terrorist attacks at the millennium. It stopped many other terrorist attacks, including on the U.S. embassy in Albania. And it began a lethal covert action program against al-Qaida,” including military strikes against al Qaeda targets. Giuliani claims Clinton “did not respond” to bin Laden. In fact, Roger Cressy, former National Security Council director for counterterrorism, has written, “Mr. Clinton approved every request made of him by the CIA and the U.S. military involving using force against bin Laden and al Qaeda.”
TERRORISM AS A CRIMINAL ACT: Giuliani’s criticism that the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was considered “a criminal act instead of a terrorist attack” shows a deeply flawed understanding of counterterrorism. In fact, the United States “has long regarded [terrorist] acts as criminal,” according to the 9/11 Commission Staff Report. This practice continues under Bush; last year, for example, Bush introduced a plan to “improve national legal and regulatory frameworks to ensure appropriate criminal and civil liability” for nuclear terrorists. However, it was under Clinton that terrorism was first treated as a national security threat. The 1993 World Trade Center attack, which occurred one month after Clinton took office, “called attention to a new kind of terrorist danger.” Not until July 1995 did the U.S. intelligence community identify this “new terrorist phenomenon” characterized by “loose affiliations of Islamist extremists” who were “more fluid and multinational than the older organizations.” Clinton had already taken action. A June 1995 Presidential Decision Directive issued by Clinton for the first time emphasized concern about terrorism “as a national security issue,” not just a matter of law enforcement. Clinton’s directive declared that the United States saw “terrorism as a potential threat to national security as well as a criminal act and will apply all appropriate means to combat it.” By 1997, U.S. intelligence confirmed “the existence of al Qaeda as a worldwide terrorist organization,” and for the last three years of his presidency, Clinton “raised the issue of terrorism in virtually every important speech he gave.”
THE USS COLE MYTH: Giuliani has frequently repeated the claim that Clinton did not respond to the bombing of the USS Cole. “You know, we get attacked on the Cole. We don’t do anything about it,” he told Fox News earlier this month. In fact, President Clinton was eager — at the recommendation of top counterterrorism aides — to retaliate against al Qaeda for the USS Cole. But that attack took place in October 2000. As Clinton explained in a 2006 interview, both the CIA and FBI “refused to certify that Bin Laden was responsible” for the attack on the Cole until early 2001, which foreclosed the possibility of a full response during the Clinton administration.
THE BUSH/GIULIANI COUNTERTERRORISM STRATEGY — INVADE IRAQ: When President Bush came into office, his administration was warned that no foe but al Qaeda posed “an immediate and serious threat to the United States.” Yet in May 2001, Bush declared that “today’s most urgent threat” was not terrorism but “ballistic missiles” in the hands of rogue states, specifically Iraq. In June 2001, Bush “outlined the five top defense issues” to NATO allies, and the “only reference to extremists was in Macedonia.” Even as 9/11 occured, the focus remained on Iraq. On the day of the attacks, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told aides he wanted “best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H.” — meaning Saddam Hussein. One day later, Bush “testily” told Richard Clarke and other aides, “Go back over everything, everything. See if Saddam did this.” Within three months, Bush began drawing up plans for the Iraq invasion. This singular, ideological focus culminated in a policy that has consumed countless resources that could have been used to eliminate global terrorist networks and bolster homeland security. Yet to this day, Giuliani remains supportive of Bush’s approach. He said recently that invading Iraq was “absolutely the right thing to do,” and claimed the war would “help reduce the risk for this country.”
CIVIL RIGHTS — PENTAGON REVISES POSITION ON GAYS IN THE MILITARY: Yesterday, the Service Members Legal Defense Network released a Pentagon statement that “includes the first language from Pentagon leaders suggesting that lesbian and gay service personnel should continue to use their skills in support of national security efforts, even after facing dismissal under the law.” The statement reads: “These separated members have the opportunity to continue to serve their nation and national security by putting their abilities to use by way of civilian employment with other Federal agencies, the Department of Defense, or in the private sector, such as with a government contractor.” The Pentagon’s statement recognizing gays marks a positive step forward. In the 1990s, the military’s policy was that “homosexuality is incompatible with military service.” In March, backed by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Gen. Peter Pace controversially claimed that the “military should not condone immoral acts,” referring to homosexuality. But the Pentagon still will not call for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). Since the policy was instituted in 1993, at least 11,000 servicemembers, hundreds of whom had key specialty skills — such as training in Arabic — have been forced out of service. With our currently overstretched armed forces, the military could lure as many as 41,000 recruits if gays could serve openly. With the State Department facing a dearth of Arabic translators, Reps. Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Gary Ackerman (D-NY) yesterday urged the Department to hire bilingual gays expelled from the military as a result of DADT.
ADMINISTRATION — CHENEY’S OFFICE DISMISSES CRITICISM WITH ‘LEGALISTIC’ NON-RESPONSE: Last week, House investigators revealed that Vice President Dick Cheney had exempted his office from a presidential executive order designed to safeguard classified national security information, arguing that the Office of the Vice President is not an “entity within the executive branch” and thus not subject to presidential executive orders. Members of Congress have strongly objected to Cheney’s argument, saying that he is attempting to skirt accountability and hold himself above the rule of law. In a letter to Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Cheney’s chief of staff and former general counsel, David Addington, dismissed the complaints: “Constitutional issues in government are generally best left for discussion when unavoidable disputes arise in a specific context instead of in theoretical discussions.” Kerry found Addington’s “legalistic” response unacceptable, saying it “raises more questions than it purports to answer.” “[I] ask again for the Vice President’s office to plainly answer the question of whether he considers himself outside the realm of agency scrutiny,” Kerry added. In his letter to Kerry, Addington also altered the Vice President’s argument, saying Cheney was exempt because the executive order in question “makes clear that the Vice President is treated like the President and distinguishes the two of them from ‘agencies.'” This claim has previously been debunked by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, who pointed out that the executive order explicitly includes “any other entity within the executive branch that comes into the possession of classified information.” Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) will offer an amendment this week to “place a hold on funds for Cheney’s office and official home until he clarifies to which branch of government he belongs.”
LABOR — CONSERVATIVES BLOCK EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE ACT IN SENATE: In a vote on the Senate floor yesterday, the Employee Free Choice Act of 2007 (EFCA) failed to garner the “60 [votes] needed to permit a full debate and floor vote.” Despite easily passing the House in a 241-185 vote and gaining 47 co-sponsors in the Senate, “President Bush had vowed to veto the bill if it ever reached him.” The proposed law would have given “employees at a workplace the right to unionize as soon as a majority signed cards saying they wanted to do so.” “Under current law, an employer can insist on a secret-ballot election,” even after a majority of employees express their desire to organize. Further, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service found that even when unions win representation elections, 45 percent of the time they fail to secure contracts from employers. The EFCA would shift the balance of the playing field — from one that is currently tilted overwhelmingly in favor of employers who dictate whether employees can organize, to a process that is instead employee-driven. Opponents of the proposed law charge that the EFCA “takes away the right to a secret ballot.” Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said of the bill, “This is an assault on the culture’s old tradition of secret elections.” In reality, the EFCA does not abolish elections, but allows workers to “choose the union formation process — elections or majority sign-up.” “What the Employee Free Choice Act does prevent is an employer manipulating the flawed system to influence the election outcome.” Rep. George Miller (D-CA) said of yesterday’s vote: conservative “senators have shown once again that they do not understand the very real economic concerns of America’s middle-class families. They continue to vote for the special interests and against American workers.” You can voice your support for the EFCA in an online petition to the Senate HERE.
In its forth and final installment on the influence and power of Dick Cheney, the Washington Post details the Vice President’s quiet control over energy and environmental laws. Paul Hoffman, a Cheney appointee at the Interior Department, explained, “His genius is that he builds networks and puts the right people in the right places, and then trusts them to make well-informed decisions that comport with his overall vision.”
The number of adults without health insurance jumped by 2 million from 2005 to 2006, according to a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I would wish him well, and ask him to please bring the troops (in Iraq) home,” said SiCKO filmmaker Michael Moore when asked what “one thing” he would like to say to President Bush.
“The United States has invested $19 billion to train and equip nearly 350,000 Iraqi soldiers and police since toppling Saddam Hussein, but the ability of those forces to provide security remains in doubt, according to the findings of a bipartisan congressional investigation to be released today.”
500: Number of Christian families who have left the Dora district in Baghdad because of the “chaos.” “The flight of Dora’s Christians is an example of how the initial phase of the U.S. security crackdown here has failed to establish security and stop the sectarian ‘cleansing’ of Baghdad’s neighborhoods.”
Violence is surging against women in Afghanistan. While the “lives of Afghan women and girls have improved vastly since the 2001 fall of the Taliban…this month has seen a rising number of attempts to quash these advances with threats and violence.”
The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing yesterday examining the legal basis for holding detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, the lawyer who prevailed in his argument in Hamdan that President Bush’s military commissions were unconstitutional, told the committee, “Guantanamo is Uncle Sam’s recruiting poster of jihadist recruitment.”
And finally: Former Sen. Dean Barkley (D-MN) is on the market for a mate. Barkley has a profile on Match.com, where he says that he is looking for a woman “younger than him, whose turn-ons would include ‘brainiacs,’ ‘erotica,’ and ‘thunderstorms.’” He also admits, “I am a star trek nut along with star wars.”
A new poll finds that “liberal ideas” are gaining with young Americans, who are “more likely than the general public to favor a government-run universal health care insurance system, an open-door policy on immigration and the legalization of gay marriage.”
LOUISIANA: State legislature bans late-term abortions, the first state to do so since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal ban earlier this year.
CONNECTICUT: “Shattering” the college dreams of immigrants, Gov. M. Jodi Rell (R) vetoes bill granting in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants.
CALIFORNIA: Fisherman are fighting back against policies for the Klamath River that have decimated the environment and killed millions of fish.
CIVIL RIGHTS: “Wealthy, gay political donors who target state-level races” are a “new force” in politics, seeking to elect gay-friendly politicians.
THINK PROGRESS: Elizabeth Edwards confronts Ann Coulter during a live television appearance.
TPM MUCKRAKER: “Caging” investigation suggests minority vote suppression by former Rove-protege Tim Griffin.
TV NEWSER: Right-wing pundit Glenn Beck to guest host on CNN during the week of July 2.
SCHOLARS AND ROGUES: President Bush’s patronage appointment of ambassadors exceeds both his father and President Clinton.
“The President and the Vice President are complying with all the rules and regulations regarding the handling of classified material and making sure that it is safeguarded and protected.”
— White House spokesperson Dana Perino, 6/22/07
“The security officers described repeated instances in which security breaches were reported to the White House Security Office by Secret Service or CIA agents, but were never investigated. In one case, the White House Security Office took no action after receiving a report that a White House official left classified materials unattended in a hotel room.”
— Letter from House oversight chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) to White House counsel Fred Fielding, 6/26/07