Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine Albright Conduct a Masterclass on the Banal Horror of U.S. Foreign Policy

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I wonder what it would be like if the US government tried — actually made an attempt — to stop lying. I imagine we’ll never know. Lies and the lying liars who tell them seem to be deeply embedded within the political system. In the Intercept Jon Schwarz takes a brief look at two of the most brazen of the liars and calls out their lies. He writes:

AT THE BEGINNING of a new “MasterClass” on diplomacy with Condoleezza Rice and the late Madeleine Albright, Rice explains that “some people have even said, ‘The diplomat lies for their country.’”

Soon afterward, Albright makes similar remarks: “There are some incredible definitions of diplomacy, which is, it gives you the capability to go and lie for your country.”

If this is in fact what diplomacy is all about — and presumably Rice and Albright would be in a position to know — this MasterClass shows that they are both incredibly committed diplomats.

Albright, who died earlier this year, was America’s first female secretary of state, serving during the Bill Clinton administration. Rice was the second, during the administration of George W. Bush.

It’s not all lies, of course. The entire Rice/Albright video lasts almost 3.5 hours, the same length as the extended DVD version of “The Fellowship of the Ring.” Most of the time, the two emit a quiet murmur of mind-obliterating platitudes, accompanied by what seems to be the music from C-SPAN and stock footage of a chessboard. For instance, Albright tells us that “Americans didn’t recognize well enough how fragile democracy was, but at the same time how resilient democracy was,” which is somehow both banal and incomprehensible.

In fact, the lies are just as boring as the parts that are true. You might assume Rice and Albright would mislead viewers in cunning, complex ways that would require extensive effort to refute. Instead, they both just straightforwardly deny reality.

All in all, watching the languorous, dull-but-accurate parts is like being forced to eat eight gallons of stale banana pudding. Then the lies are like a batch of botulism mixed in. By the end, you will definitely feel ill, but you can only ascribe it to the entire experience, rather than being able to narrow it down to one specific cause.

Explicating all of Rice and Albright’s deceptions would require an article that would take longer to read than the running time of the MasterClass itself. So let’s just hit the highlights.

The cruelest segment of the video, as measured by the chasm between the promised content and what’s actually delivered, is called “Learning From Failed Decisions.” The text below this title claims that Rice will share “her mistakes on 9/11 and Iraq.”

However, it turns out the only mistake Rice made was believing her incompetent underlings. “I was in two situations,” she begins, “where the intelligence turned out in one case to be lacking, and in another case to be wrong.”

The first, of course, is the 9/11 attacks. On September 11, 2001, Rice was Bush’s national security adviser — i.e., arguably the person most responsible in the U.S. government for addressing any threats of terrorism. Here’s her explanation for how she and her colleagues missed what was going on:

All that the intelligence reports were saying … was, something big is going to happen. “There will be a wedding,” which was terrorist code for some kind of attack. But all of the intelligence actually pointed to something happening outside of the country.

When I heard Rice say this, my brain seized up and ground to a confused halt. My thought process went something like:

I —
Wha
HOW?!?!?!?
where am i. have i slipped into an alternate universe where up is down & the sky is green & giraffes sing hit duets with taylor swift?

This was because — although it may be fading from living memory — the most famous moment of Condoleezza Rice’s life occurred in 2004, when she acknowledged in front of the 9/11 Commission that the entire U.S. intelligence apparatus warned Bush that an Al Qaeda attack might be imminent inside America. Here, watch it for yourself:

That’s right: The presidential daily brief delivered to Bush on August 6, 2001, one month before the 9/11 attacks, was headlined “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” You can read the whole thing here. The very first sentence states, “Bin Laden since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the U.S.” Later, the brief warns that “FBI information … indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings.”

So here, Rice put essentially no effort into her deceit. But what she says next is somehow even worse:

We had a pretty bright wall between what the FBI could do and what the CIA could do. They didn’t talk to each other. So just to give an example — probably by now everybody knows the case of [Zacarias] Moussaoui, who was the flight student in Arizona who only wanted to learn to fly one way. That might have been a signal. He was known to the FBI. He was not known to the CIA.

Almost everything about this is inaccurate. Rice is correct that Moussaoui was a member of Al Qaeda who came to the U.S. and attended flight school, where he did behave in peculiar ways. However, he did not go to flight school in Arizona, as Rice says; it was in Oklahoma and Minnesota. It’s not the case that he “only wanted to fly one way.” (According a report by the Justice Department inspector general, “Media reports later incorrectly reported that Moussaoui had stated that he did not want to learn to take off or land a plane.”)

Most importantly, whatever wall prevented some information from passing between the FBI and the CIA, it did not stop Moussaoui from being caught. His . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by Leisureguy

26 September 2022 at 10:29 am

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