9/11, the Current Administration, & Accountability

Krugman is awesome.

First of all, for any of you who actually might not know who he is, here's his NYT bio--
Paul Krugman joined The New York Times in 1999 as a columnist on the Op-Ed Page and continues as professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University.

Mr. Krugman received his B.A. from Yale University in 1974 and his Ph.D. from MIT in 1977. He has taught at Yale, MIT and Stanford. At MIT he became the Ford International Professor of Economics.

Mr. Krugman is the author or editor of 20 books and more than 200 papers in professional journals and edited volumes. His professional reputation rests largely on work in international trade and finance; he is one of the founders of the "new trade theory," a major rethinking of the theory of international trade. In recognition of that work, in 1991 the American Economic Association awarded him its John Bates Clark medal, a prize given every two years to "that economist under forty who is adjudged to have made a significant contribution to economic knowledge." Mr. Krugman's current academic research is focused on economic and currency crises.

At the same time, Mr. Krugman has written extensively for a broader public audience. Some of his recent articles on economic issues, originally published in Foreign Affairs, Harvard Business Review, Scientific American and other journals, are reprinted in Pop Internationalism and The Accidental Theorist.
Now...his latest NYT column comments on the 9/11 commission's proceedings and related information (I have to add, all the stuff I warned voting friends and family about nearly four years ago has come to fruition multifold, unfortunately...in this case, I would have preferred to have been wrong). Richard Clarke is not someone I would tend to admire, he is hawkish, he wants the US to have a secret police, and I'm sure he has many views divergent from my own, but he is speaking out even after seeing the threats and consequences Paul O'Neil (another with whom I'd differ on many things, but he did try to talk about things he saw and thought should be made public) and others that occurred after speaking out. With all the cover-up, this could make Watergate look like a day at Disneyland:
Lifting the Shroud


Published: March 23, 2004

From the day it took office, U.S. News & World Report wrote a few months ago, the Bush administration "dropped a shroud of secrecy" over the federal government. After 9/11, the administration's secretiveness knew no limits — Americans, Ari Fleischer ominously warned, "need to watch what they say, watch what they do." Patriotic citizens were supposed to accept the administration's version of events, not ask awkward questions.

But something remarkable has been happening lately: more and more insiders are finding the courage to reveal the truth on issues ranging from mercury pollution — yes, Virginia, polluters do write the regulations these days, and never mind the science — to the war on terror.

It's important, when you read the inevitable attempts to impugn the character of the latest whistle-blower, to realize just how risky it is to reveal awkward truths about the Bush administration. When Gen. Eric Shinseki told Congress that postwar Iraq would require a large occupation force, that was the end of his military career. When Ambassador Joseph Wilson IV revealed that the 2003 State of the Union speech contained information known to be false, someone in the White House destroyed his wife's career by revealing that she was a C.I.A. operative. And we now know that Richard Foster, the Medicare system's chief actuary, was threatened with dismissal if he revealed to Congress the likely cost of the administration's prescription drug plan.

The latest insider to come forth, of course, is Richard Clarke, George Bush's former counterterrorism czar and the author of the just-published "Against All Enemies."

On "60 Minutes" on Sunday, Mr. Clarke said the previously unsayable: that Mr. Bush, the self-proclaimed "war president," had "done a terrible job on the war against terrorism." After a few hours of shocked silence, the character assassination began. He "may have had a grudge to bear since he probably wanted a more prominent position," declared Dick Cheney, who also says that Mr. Clarke was "out of the loop." (What loop? Before 9/11, Mr. Clarke was the administration's top official on counterterrorism.) It's "more about politics and a book promotion than about policy," Scott McClellan said.

Of course, Bush officials have to attack Mr. Clarke's character because there is plenty of independent evidence confirming the thrust of his charges.

Did the Bush administration ignore terrorism warnings before 9/11? Justice Department documents obtained by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, show that it did. Not only did John Ashcroft completely drop terrorism as a priority — it wasn't even mentioned in his list of seven "strategic goals" — just one day before 9/11 he proposed a reduction in counterterrorism funds.

Did the administration neglect counterterrorism even after 9/11? After 9/11 the F.B.I. requested $1.5 billion for counterterrorism operations, but the White House slashed this by two-thirds. (Meanwhile, the Bush campaign has been attacking John Kerry because he once voted for a small cut in intelligence funds.)

Oh, and the next time terrorists launch an attack on American soil, they will find their task made much easier by the administration's strange reluctance, even after 9/11, to protect potential targets. In November 2001 a bipartisan delegation urged the president to spend about $10 billion on top-security priorities like ports and nuclear sites. But Mr. Bush flatly refused.

Finally, did some top officials really want to respond to 9/11 not by going after Al Qaeda, but by attacking Iraq? Of course they did. "From the very first moments after Sept. 11," Kenneth Pollack told "Frontline," "there was a group of people, both inside and outside the administration, who believed that the war on terrorism . . . should target Iraq first." Mr. Clarke simply adds more detail.

Still, the administration would like you to think that Mr. Clarke had base motives in writing his book. But given the hawks' dominance of the best-seller lists until last fall, it's unlikely that he wrote it for the money. Given the assumption by most political pundits, until very recently, that Mr. Bush was guaranteed re-election, it's unlikely that he wrote it in the hopes of getting a political job. And given the Bush administration's penchant for punishing its critics, he must have known that he was taking a huge personal risk.

So why did he write it? How about this: Maybe he just wanted the public to know the truth.
Dr. Krugman's Op-Ed page

One good thing to come from the proceedings yesterday was an apology, as a friend, Chris Nelson, points out in his blog...
The Apology

Here is the question that reporters everywhere should be asking of this administration, but none EVER WILL:

"Richard Clarke apologized to the families of the 9/11 victims and to America for not doing enough to stop 9/11. Will you?"

I was shocked when this bit of news -- that Mr. Clarke had apologized during the 9/11 hearing -- wasn't played over and over again in the TV news. Because given all of Colin Powell's hedging, Condoleeza Rice's refusal to be grilled publicly (while at the same time declassifying documents in order to smear Richard Clarke), and George W. Bush's meager hour of testimony, Mr. Clarke's admission was the first genuinely honorable moment to come out of this whole fiasco. Jeff Greenfield didn't mention it. Bill Schneider wasn't giving it his "Political Play of the Week" award. And all seemed to be treating the Bush campaign's smear tactics as justified, never noting the irony of Rice appearing on Hannity and Colmes on the same day she refused to testify in a public hearing.

The New York Times praises Clarke for the apology.
Yea, and the Nixon administration used the principle of executive privilege not to testify as well.

By the way, the opening paragraph from that NYT article today regarding the apology:
The seminal moment of this week's hearings on 9/11 surely came yesterday when Richard Clarke, the former antiterrorism chief in the Bush and Clinton administrations, opened his testimony by apologizing to the families whose loved ones died in the terror attacks. The government, Mr. Clarke said, had failed them, "and I failed you." He added, "We tried hard, but that doesn't matter because we failed." It suddenly seemed that after the billions of words uttered about that terrible day, Mr. Clarke had found the ones that still needed saying.