As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Oh, The Things They Did

So let's take a quick break from calling Obama Hitler to have a look at his predecessor. Anything new coming out?

Doop-de-do... hey, look, turns out they hired mercenaries to carry out extra-judicial assassinations!

The Central Intelligence Agency in 2004 hired outside contractors from the private security contractor Blackwater USA as part of a secret program to locate and assassinate top operatives of Al Qaeda, according to current and former government officials.

Executives from Blackwater, which has generated controversy because of its aggressive tactics in Iraq, helped the spy agency with planning, training and surveillance. The C.I.A. spent several million dollars on the program, which did not successfully capture or kill any terrorist suspects.

The fact that the C.I.A. used an outside company for the program was a major reason that Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A.’s director, became alarmed and called an emergency meeting in June to tell Congress that the agency had withheld details of the program for seven years, the officials said.

It's the perfect Bush-era blend of privatization and murder.

Also, I think we know how Blackwater mercenaries react in situations where they are given guns and a measure of freedom - that would be Nissour Square. I guess we should be happy the "Blackwater in Your Corner" campaign only reached the formative stages.

So, anything else? Hmm... here's confirmation from Tom Ridge of something we knew all along!

Among the headlines promoted by publisher Thomas Dunne Books: Ridge was never invited to sit in on National Security Council meetings; was “blindsided” by the FBI in morning Oval Office meetings because the agency withheld critical information from him; found his urgings to block Michael Brown from being named head of the emergency agency blamed for the Hurricane Katrina disaster ignored; and was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush’s re-election, something he saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over.

Obviously, this is Ridge's book, and he gets to set the history. But I don't think you could escape the sneaking suspicion that, every even-numbered year in the age of Bush, suddenly we were told about "chatter" from terrorists and definitive plans and the raising of the alert level. I used to call it the Federal Even-yeared Anti-Terror Response, or FEAR, Unit.

Can Ridge apologize now for saying in 2004 "We don't do politics at the Department of Homeland Security"?

My, what a trip down memory lane this morning...

...Marc Ambinder calls pattern recognition "gut hatred of Bush", admits his skepticism about politicized terror alerts was wrong, but at least he wasn't a hippie about it. This guy should be fired for admitting that.

But he's a card-carrying Villager, so he'll be promoted.


Osama bin Laden had released a videotape with one more ominous sounding but unspecific threat against the United States. Neither Mr. Ridge nor any of the department’s security experts thought the message warranted any change in the nation’s alert status.

“…at this point there was nothing to indicate a specific threat and no reason to cause undue public alarm,” he writes.

But that view met resistance in a tense conference call with members of the intelligence community and several other Cabinet officers including Attorney General John Ashcroft and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

“A vigorous, some might say dramatic, discussion ensured. Ashcroft strongly urged an increase in the threat level and was supported by Rumsfeld.”

Noting the correlation found between increases in the threat level and the president’s approval rating, Mr. Ridge writes, “I wondered, ‘Is this about security or politics?’”

No wonder Ridge didn't run for Senate.

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