Those who would destroy…

“…The tone and the terms of the evolving struggle for political dominance here present the possibility that such an attack could similarly strengthen those whom both candidates have pledged to destroy…”

Mark Danner, in this week’s New Yorker:

America has endured fierce electoral struggles over war and peace before, most recently over Vietnam in 1968. This “war on terror” campaign, however, in its focus on the critical question of “Who can make us safer?,” may come to more closely resemble the Red-baiting campaigns of the fifties or the elections after the Civil War in which rivals “waved the bloody shirt.” But this campaign includes a shadow player the others lacked. For nearly a decade, Al Qaeda has attempted not to defeat the United States militarily but to gain adherents by building its image among Muslims as the only effective counter to America and to the moderate regimes that American power sustains. To this political program the Bush Administration sought to offer what it thought of as a political response: to “transform the Middle East,” by way of war in Iraq. So far, the occupation has done much to diminish American prestige among the moderate Muslims it was meant to persuade — and has helped increase the prestige of those who make the claim, while they go on killing the occupiers, that they are the only effective opposition to American power.
In the United States, the debate over Iraq has encouraged a kind of corrosive, brutal politics that has at its center an appeal to personal fear. That leaves a powerful weapon in the hands of the terrorists, who gained enormously after the attacks in Madrid by appearing to swing Spain’s election against a major ally of President Bush. No one can say what effect a terrorist attack would have on the American election. But the tone and the terms of the evolving struggle for political dominance here present the possibility that such an attack could similarly strengthen those whom both candidates have pledged to destroy.

One Condi, under Oath…

Good news. National Security Advisor Condi Rice will testify under oath before the 9/11 commission. But there are hitches…

Good news. National Security Advisor Condi Rice will testify under oath before the 9/11 commission.
In White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales’ letter, he writes:

The president has consistently stated a policy of strong support for the commission and instructed the executive branch to provide unprecedented and extraordinary access to the commission. To my knowledge, the executive branch has provided access to documents or information in response to each of the requests issued by the commission to date, including many highly classified and extremely sensitive documents that have seldom, if ever, been made available outside the executive branch.

Ah, but wait, there’s more:

The necessary conditions are as follows. First, the commission must agree in writing that Dr. Rice’s testimony before the commission does not set any precedent for future commission requests, or requests in any other context, for testimony by a national security adviser or any other White House official.
Second, the commission must agree in writing that it will not request additional public testimony from any White House official, including Dr. Rice.

Nice. One shot guys, and that’s it. Let’s leave aside the fact that the commission is not an arm of Congress and is a presidentially appointed body, so the separation of powers argument is shaky, at best. What this is, is a face-saving move as Josh Marshall notes. He also makes the excellent point that without any followup sessions allowed, what happens if Rice’s testimony contradicts Clarke’s?
Regardless, it’s about time. After a week of surging storm clouds, Team Bush has finally decided that the only way to rebut Richard Clarke’s remarks is to make Rice talk, publicly and under oath. The question is, will she be able to avoid perjuring herself and will anyone be able to do anything about it if she does?
Those of us who opposed the war and just about everything the Bush administration has done obviously suspect the Administration has been resistant to Rice’s testimony because we think the administration has something to hide — likely gross incompetence, obsession and a small-minded agenda. Nothing criminal, but it would be very, very damaging to Bush’s halo as a “war president.”
Those who support the war and the White House think Clarke is a propagandist for the evil doers, aka the Democratic Party, that _he’s_ the liar and — the horror! — that he’s a big ol’ gay. Now if they can just finger him as a Canadian or Frenchman, the demonization will be complete.
Speaking of complete, I’ve spent too much time on l’affaire de Clarke. People like Josh Marshall, Billmon, Kevin Drum and George Paine are doing a better job and I urge you to check on them for Washington politicking re Clarke. We will now return to our regularly scheduled war in Iraq.