Political MoJo

Condi Busted on Her Own Personal State of Denial

| Mon Oct. 2, 2006 10:36 PM EDT

A few hours ago, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that she can't recall then-CIA chief George Tenet warning her (two months before 9/11) that an Al Qaeda attack within the United States was impending, as Bob Woodward's State of Denial claims that Tenet did.

"What I am quite certain of is that I would remember if I was told, as this account apparently says, that there was about to be an attack in the United States, and the idea that I would somehow have ignored that I find incomprehensible," Rice said.

But now we learn (via the NYT):

A review of White House records has determined that George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, did brief Condoleezza Rice and other top officials on July 10, 2001, about the looming threat from Al Qaeda, a State Department spokesman said Monday.
The account by Sean McCormack came hours after Ms. Rice, the secretary of state, told reporters aboard her airplane that she did not recall the specific meeting on July 10, 2001, noting that she had met repeatedly with Mr. Tenet that summer about terrorist threats. Ms. Rice, the national security adviser at the time, said it was "incomprehensible" she ignored dire terrorist threats two months before the Sept. 11 attacks.
Mr. McCormack also said records show that the Sept. 11 commission was informed about the meeting, a fact that former intelligence officials and members of the commission confirmed on Monday.
Whoops.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Which Is Worse: The U.S. Torturing British Residents or Britain Not Taking Them Back?

| Mon Oct. 2, 2006 9:40 PM EDT

You know the War on Terror is a joke when the U.S. and Britain are reduced to bizarre bickering over what to do with Britain's share of the Gitmo detainees. It seems cooperation on the matter extends only so far as championing the cause of moral depravity. The London Guardian revealed today that the U.S. has been holding at least nine former British residents at Guantanamo, but the U.K. only wants to take back one of them. That might sound kind of understandable, in a callous, self-interested way, if the UK wasn't arguing in the same breath that the men pose very little threat to anyone. These are, after all, people who have never been convicted on terrorism charges. The Brits pointed out as much in response to a demand by our government that any of the men it releases to the UK be essentially spied on 24/7. The Brits said that would be too expensive and noted that the men "do not pose a sufficient threat." So why do they only want back one guy out of nine? Only they know. Perhaps they're worried that men who have been tortured four years running might not be very socially well adjusted. Even though the men are scheduled for release, their lawyers say they are still being exposed to inhuman treatment, such as extremes of cold and heat--all too literally making for a depraved game of hot potato.

Salacious Exchanges With Underage Male Pages

| Mon Oct. 2, 2006 9:26 PM EDT

No, it's not a line out of Gilbert and Sullivan; it's a line out of this AP story, which takes up the crucial question in the scandal all of Washington is calling, with cheeky brilliance, "Foleygate": "What did GOP leaders know and when did they know it?" As Media Matters notes, the press inititally bought Dennis Hastert's spin that the emails Republican leaders were "over friendly" (which they were!), but is now rallying to the the view that, as one Republican strategist says, "[It's not] so much about Foley as it is about the handling of this." Democrats, once again the beneficiaries of a Republican disaster they did nothing to bring about, are "delighted."

Foley Now In Deeper Trouble

| Mon Oct. 2, 2006 4:50 PM EDT

Congressman Mark Foley, already in enough trouble for sending sexually explicit and other inappropriate messages to adolescent Congressional pages, is now looking at a more serious charge. It turns out that Foley made repeated attempts to get a page to rendevous with him at night.

"I would drive a few miles for a hot stud like you," Foley said in one message. This text, according to the FBI, could constitute what it takes for the government to make a federal charge of soliciting for sex with a minor on the Internet against the former Congressman. There is also at least one message that indicates that Foley met with at least one page in San Diego, though the nature of the meeting is not known.

Here is the text of one message:

Maf54: I want to see you
Teen: Like I said not til feb…then we will go to dinner
Maf54: and then what happens
Teen: we eat…we drink…who knows…hang out…late into the night
Maf54: and
Teen: I dunno
Maf54: dunno what
Teen: hmmm I have the feeling that you are fishing here…im not sure what I would be comfortable with…well see

Foley, former co-chair of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, has checked into a rehab facility in order to deal with his alcoholism. He once said, "We track library books better than we do sexual predators." Apparently, Foley was counting on a continuation of that poor tracking.

Environmental Damage: Another Reason Why a Border Fence is a Bad Idea

| Mon Oct. 2, 2006 4:43 PM EDT

Ranchers like Mike Vickers, and others who make their living on the US-Mexico border, aren't the only ones who think building a fence to keep out illegal immigrants is a dumb idea. Environmental groups working along the border and the National Park Service object to a fence on environmental grounds. Where illegals routinely cross the border you find millions of tons of trash, erosion from thousands of illegally carved trails and roads, and habitat fragmentation, among other environmental effects. Building a fence doesn't solve that problem; it just shifts it to another location as immigrants cross somewhere else. "We realize that the problems we are facing environmentally in this region are a direct effect of past border patrol strategy that have relied primarily on walls," says an environmentalist in a new Mother Jones piece. Read it here.

Supreme Court Declines to Take Up Sex Toys

| Mon Oct. 2, 2006 4:24 PM EDT

The Justices have declined to consider whether a Texas law making it a crime to promote sex toys shaped like sexual organs is hilarious unconstitutional.

As the AP explains, an adult bookstore employee in El Paso, Texas, sued the state after being arrested for showing two undercover officers a device shaped like a penis and telling the female officer the device would arouse and gratify her.

As we pointed out a few issues ago, sex toys fill a lucrative—and increasingly mainstream—niche of the multi-million-dollar-a-year sex industry. And let's just say they are increasingly being wielded, brandished, and generally waved around as weapons in the culture wars. Take Alabama, where it's a crime to engage in the production and sale of "any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs."

Keep an eye out -- this might become a wedge issue.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Texas to DC: Don't Fence Me In

| Sun Oct. 1, 2006 8:08 PM EDT

You know things are getting interesting when Mike Vickers, rancher, ex-Minuteman, and poster boy for the South-Texas-has-had-it-with-immigration line says Congress' fence not only won't help, but will actually make life worse in his neck of the woods. All along the Rio Grande, it turns out, people who otherwise couldn't be more hard-line about the border are appalled that Congress actually approved what for a while seemed like just one more election-year fantasy. Read the rest in a fine piece by the LA Times' Miguel Bustillo; for an early report on the current round of border posturing, pull up Michael Scherer's "Scrimmage on the Border." And once you're ready for the full-on, no-excuses tour de force on what is going on along La Linea and why no amount of liberal or conservative posturing will fix it, go see Charles Bowden's three-decades-in-the-making "Exodus" in Mother Jones' September/October issue.

Update--PERA Has Passed In the House of Representatives

| Sun Oct. 1, 2006 1:12 PM EDT

The Public Expression of Religion Act has passed the House. As a rule, bills of this kind do not make it through the Senate, but these days, who knows? The Senate's companion bill, sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback, is receiving support from civil liberties haters all across the country.

Woodward, Kissinger, Vietnam--Let's Do The Time Warp Again

| Sun Oct. 1, 2006 2:13 AM EDT

Oh well, the folks at the Post must have gotten extra server space for this one, so head on over and check out the Woodward-gets-religion show for yourself. Among the bits we haven't seen in the wall-to-wall coverage of "State of Denial" are some very disturbing ones, to wit:


A powerful, largely invisible influence on Bush's Iraq policy was former secretary of state Kissinger.

"Of the outside people that I talk to in this job," Vice President Cheney told me in the summer of 2005, "I probably talk to Henry Kissinger more than I talk to anybody else. He just comes by and, I guess at least once a month, Scooter [his then-chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby] and I sit down with him."

The president also met privately with Kissinger every couple of months, making him the most regular and frequent outside adviser to Bush on foreign affairs.

Kissinger sensed wobbliness everywhere on Iraq, and he increasingly saw it through the prism of the Vietnam War. For Kissinger, the overriding lesson of Vietnam is to stick it out.

In his writing, speeches and private comments, Kissinger claimed that the United States had essentially won the war in 1972, only to lose it because of the weakened resolve of the public and Congress.

In a column in The Washington Post on Aug. 12, 2005, titled "Lessons for an Exit Strategy," Kissinger wrote, "Victory over the insurgency is the only meaningful exit strategy."

He delivered the same message directly to Bush, Cheney and Hadley at the White House.

Victory had to be the goal, he told all. Don't let it happen again. Don't give an inch, or else the media, the Congress and the American culture of avoiding hardship will walk you back.

They've known about Foley for almost a YEAR?

| Sun Oct. 1, 2006 1:47 AM EDT

One of the many questions that beg answering in the Foley disaster: How exactly, now that we've all lived through a decade's worth of Catholic priest scandal and outrage over institutional hierarchy whitewashing--how, after all that, do you go from late 2005 to September 2006 convincing yourself that "suspiciously friendly" emails from a powerful man to a teenage boy are not a problem? How, Bishop Hastert?

Now for the cluelessness sweepstakes:

Rich Galen, a Republican political strategist, worried that voters might lump Foley's name with former representatives Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio), Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.), all of whom were forced to resign or were indicted amid various scandals this year.

No, Rich. You'd be lucky if people thought this was only as bad as Ney/DeLay/Duke.