Wednesday, March 24, 2004
...the fundamental division in this administration is Paul Wolfowitz's view that you cannot have an international terrorist organization that is coordinated unless it's state sponsored and the other view held by Powell and others say, no, you can have such an organization.
...they mean state sponsorship as an individual head of state who is sponsoring this. They don't mean that making, accommodating like the Saudis did, accommodating like Taliban did, accommodating like, like Iran did to some extent. Accommodating is not what they mean by sponsorship. My discussions with them as then as chairman of the committee was this is a specific thing where you have Saddam Hussein saying, look, I'm with you. Here's the deal. Let's work this out together. That's what they mean by sponsorship.
That's pretty clear. There's just one problem for my analysis: Biden's apologetic occurred much later in the show. Here's that quote in full:
BIDEN: Can I say one more thing? I think it is unfair to blame the president for the spread of terror and the diffuseness of it. Even if he had followed the advice of me and many other people, I still think the same thing would have happened. I think Iraq is another problem that's almost distinct and is sapping our energies and sapping our, and we did it all wrong in my view, but I think, I want to make it clear I do not believe because we went to Iraq this is the reason why this organization is starting to morph.
Does this get the press off the hook? It might depend on what you think Clarke's core allegations are. If you think that Clarke is mainly saying that there's a correlation between the invasion of Iraq and a subsequent rise in terrorist attacks, then using Biden's quote to defend the president is fair. But look at how the quote is situated in USA Today:
"Rumsfeld said there aren't any good targets in Afghanistan. And there are lots of good targets in Iraq," Clarke said on Sunday's 60 Minutes. "I said, 'Well, there are lots of good targets in lots of places, but Iraq had nothing to do with it.' "
The White House defended the consideration of a potential Iraq link. "Given Iraq's past support of terror it would have been irresponsible not to ask if Iraq had any involvement in the attack," it said.
Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., said Sunday on ABC's This Week that while he has been critical of Bush policies on Iraq, "I think it's unfair to blame the president for the spread of terror and the diffuseness of it."
At best, the quote is a non sequitor. But it's clearly placed in such a way as to make it seem relevant to 9-11 rather than 3-11. In fact, the USA Today article doesn't mention the idea that the invasion of Iraq has created a breeding ground for Islamic fundamentalism. So I'll stick with my claim that leaving out the rest of what Biden had to say constitutes a serious misrepresentation.
The Guardian fares better. Their use of the quote comes a few paragraphs after this:
"Nothing America could have done would have provided al-Qaida and its new generation of cloned groups a better recruitment device than our unprovoked invasion of an oil-rich Arab country,'' Clarke wrote.
Clarke added: "One shudders to think what additional errors (Bush) will make in the next four years to strengthen the al-Qaida follow-ons: attacking Syria or Iran, undermining the Saudi regime without a plan for a successor state?''
Biden's quote is a response to this charge. The only problem is that the Guardian's article buries Biden's remark below two paragraphs of Lieberman defending the Bush Administration's focus on Iraq in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.