Tuesday, October 03, 2006
The Amnesia Defense
At first Condoleezza Rice flatly denied the reports that George Tenet had briefed her in July 2001 about terror threats. Then she spun around to "I can't remember" any briefings.
She's stuck with the amnesia defense, because the records confirm that she had that briefing. But the amnesia defense does not relieve her of culpability. It's an admission of serious neglect of her duties.
There is of course no way to prove that somebody does remember something they claim they don't remember. We'll just have to take her word that a briefing on major threats to national security was so unimportant to Bush's National Security Adviser that she forgot all about it instead of acting on it.
If, in fact, Condoleezza Rice does not remember a briefing on a matter that should have been her highest priority as National Security Adviser, even when reminded of the details, then she's too clueless to be entrusted with the responsibilities of high government office. So which is it, Condi? Evil or stupid? Make your choice and confess to it. Then resign.
But of course that's nowhere near as important as vilifying her Clinton-era predecessor, Sandy Berger -- the guy who tried to get her to pay attention to Al-Qaeda -- for daring to destroy copies (not originals, but copies) he'd made of his own meeting notes that Bush classified because they showed how industrious Clinton and Berger were compared to Bush.
At least Sandy Berger was reviewing the records from the time period about which he expected to be questioned; if Condi honestly didn't remember that briefing, then she didn't bother preparing herself to give testimony. Which would be contempt of Congress at best.
That's why I believe Condi is lying, too. She is willfully stupid, but she's not stupid enough to be completely unaware that she had that briefing. I mean. Bush's handlers had a private investigator go all through his background before he announced his presidential candidacy, specifically to make sure they could defend against attacks. You can't convince me that these people didn't thoroughly review the pre-9/11 record, if only to identify exactly what might be unearthed so they'd be prepared with alibis. It's pretty damning that "I forgot" is the best they can do.
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