Briar Patch

Regarding Condi Rice’s upcoming public testimony, I was wondering how long it would take for somebody to figure this out.


44 Responses to “Briar Patch”

  1. Macker Says:

    Dr. Rice will not just sweep the floor with Dick Clarke…she will wipe her ASS with him, then throw him back down the toilet where he belongs!

  2. D Says:

    Okay, Mr. Goldblatt. You can put your pom-poms down now and wait for the game to actually start.

  3. silver Says:


  4. Mike M Says:

    The Democrats on the committee were probably pushing the point so hard because they never actually thought that Rice would testify. Then they could paint her and Bush as uncooperative and secretive.

    Well, they got their wish. Bush is cooperating and Condi has become the star witness of the proceedings. She will be the last to testify and will have had weeks to prepare. Even better, she will be able to nuke the profiteering Clarke and his John-Kerry-like flip flopping testimony.

    Believe me, the last thing Ted Kennedy wanted is a brilliant black woman taking a wrecking ball to his carefully staged political circus when it was starting to look like Bush might have been vulnerable. I can’t wait to see the look on his bloated red face during her testimony.

    Be careful what you wish for, boys.

  5. John Farren Says:

    This is so consistent with the Bush pattern – tease your opponents till they scream, then sucker-punch them. Time after time.
    If even a casually observing Brit like me can see it, why can’t his opponents?
    Who’s overseeing their political strategy, for heavens sake, Wile E. Coyote?

  6. ilyka Says:

    Nice piece. Now if only I could feel as confident about this assertion by Goldblatt:

    And it would serve liberals right if she did decide to run, for Rice would be their worst nightmare. She would win the women’s vote outright, peel away half the black vote, and set back the Democratic party for a generation.

    Um, don’t think so. We’re talking about a bunch known for their amazing speed at doin’ the waffle. I foresee “Aunt Thomasina” jibes in her future if she runs.

    As for how she’s perceived by the left now, well, it ain’t pretty.

  7. erp Says:

    Remember how anxious the Dems were to rake Oliver North over the coals. I watched the entire thing (that was before the internet) and you could actually tell as the day went by that there was a softening in the senator’s attitude and the questions became deferential.

    What we didn’t know until later was that phone calls and telegrams were pouring in — the vast majority of which we favorable to the good Lt. Colonel. He played them for the fools they are.

    I can’t wait for Dr. Rice to teach them their manners.

  8. sandy P. Says:

    John, you’re paying attention.

    Not bad for a dumb cowboy, eh?

  9. MonkeyPants Says:

    Could it be that the President out-strategerized them?


  10. Robin Goodfellow Says:

    Actually, I think it was just a classic case of the Democrats misunderestimating Bush, again.

  11. John J. Coupal Says:

    I’m just waiting for Senator Edward M. Kennedy to tear into Dr. Rice.

    The outcome will be a beauty to behold!

  12. rosignol Says:

    This is so consistent with the Bush pattern – tease your opponents till they scream, then sucker-punch them. Time after time.
    If even a casually observing Brit like me can see it, why can’t his opponents?

    I’m guessing they’re still seeing stars from the last time, and desperately hoping that this time, it’ll work.

    It’s like Charlie Brown and the football.

  13. wrapper Says:

    I’m wondering how someone can blather about shreds of evidence concerning closed door testimony. Crystal ball?

    I think a look at the transcripts of Condi talking about terrorists will have her mentioning OBL but not AQ.

  14. Trevor Saccucci Says:


    Differentiating OBL and al Qaeda is making a distinction without a difference. Recasting your last sentance in a more historical light yields this:

    I think a look at the transcripts of Churchill talking about invading armies will have him mentioning Hitler but not the Nazis.

    I think the analogy is sound, and sufficiently illustrative.

  15. Synthstuff - music, photography and more... Says:

    Condi’s Moment

    The Vodka Pundit links to this editorial in today’s National Review Online Like I said the other day, Condi is going to open a can of whoop-ass on Clarke’s tender little fundament. From the article: The archetypal liberal is the…

  16. Synthstuff - music, photography and more... Says:

    Condi’s Moment

    The Vodka Pundit links to this editorial in today’s National Review Online Like I said the other day, Condi is going to open a can of whoop-ass on Clarke’s tender little fundament. From the article: The archetypal liberal is the…

  17. wrapper Says:


    Neither you, nor I, nor Clarke know what is or was in Ms. Rice’s mind. If it is Clarke’s impression that she had never heard of AQ, and you weren’t in the room, his opinion is perfectly valid.

    Does that make it a true statement? No. He had had little contact with Ms. Rice until that time so he could have been premature to consider she was unaware of OBL’s gang.

    Subsequent admin. policies coupled with certain events seem to indicate his first impression was probably correct.

  18. Trevor Saccucci Says:


    When you state:
    Neither you, nor I , nor Clarke know what was is or was in Ms. Rice’s mind.

    To the extent that neither of us is telepathic, I think you’re correct here. However, I think a little application of Ockham’s Razor makes Clarke’s claim of Rice’s surprise out to be at best an example of poor judgement, at worst an outright fabrication. I had heard of al Qaeda around 2000, and I’m a chemist. Given that, and Rice’s professional background, and especially that the briefing Clarke described must have taken place after the USS Cole bombing in Yemen, I think any direct claims or insinuations that she didn’t know who al Qaeda were when Clarke mentioned them to her are simply not credible.

    I also note this statement:
    Subsequent admin. policies coupled with certain events seem to indicate his first impression was probably correct.

    Those are very specific claims made without a single specific example cited to back them up. As that statement stands, and especially in light of what I mentioned above, I don’t find it credible, either.

    For more background on Clarke, Eric Scheie has a post which links to this site which gives examples of some of Clarke’s work and on the Y2K issue and other matters in his capacity as Cyberterrorism chief, and some of his own commentary on them. They do not paint a pretty picture.

  19. Mike M Says:

    We could rely on psychic powers and assumption, or we could just look at the facts to prove that Clarke is a profiteering partisan liar:

    Partial Text:

    Audio: (in a gray box at the bottom right of the page)

    Rice clearly knows about and discusses OBL and AQ, well before September 11th and way before her meeting with the commission. Clarke is either woefully ignorant or deliberately lying about this issue. His slander of Dr. Rice is a pathetic attempt to cover up his own failure. I think another tearful, grandstanding apology is in order, Mr. Clarke.

  20. wrapper Says:

    The simplest explanation indicates Clarke has poor judgement, or is lying? I don’t think so, but you’re welcome to your opinion and Clarke is entitled to his.

  21. Slartibartfast Says:

    I’m just waiting for Senator Edward M. Kennedy to tear into Dr. Rice.

    Unless Dr. Rice is secretly a bottle of vodka or a cheeseburger, I doubt Kennedy will be doing any tearing-into.

  22. rosignol Says:

    Wrapper: you’re asking us to believe Clarke when he says that the President’s National Security Advisor didn’t know about the terrorist group respoinsible for the Cole bombing and the African embassy bombing until he told her about them.

    IMO, it’s a lot more likely that Clarke is full of it.

    After spending the ’90s listening to Clarke blather about the imminent and dire threat of cyberterrorism, I consider him slightly less credible than the stuff I flush down the toilet. That has nothing to do with partisan opinion, and everything to do with my professional background: networking and systems administration.

  23. wrapper Says:

    Congrats on your job ros. I’m sure your family is very proud of you.

    Since your on line while reading this, maybe you can surf to a site that can explain what it means when someone says, “she gave the impression.”

    Trevor gives the impression he knows what he’s talking about when he imitates Whatthe F’ck Buckley with his posts, but impressions can be misleading.

    Perhaps Mr. Clarke was wrong, perhaps I’m wrong also.

  24. Trevor Saccucci Says:


    Statements like Clarke’s cannot be reasonably taken in isolation from the histories of the people involved; they can’t be treated simply as statements to be analyzed in isolation like examples in a college logic course. By far the greatest likelihood vis-a-vis Clarke and and Rice is that they had both knew of al Qaeda before the now-infamous briefing.

    As a strict logical point, I don’t know if you knew about al Qaeda before last night, but the likelihood of that is very low indeed; Ockham’s Razor leads me to that conclusion.

    Out of curiosity, why the sarcastic ad hominem jab at me? While I’ve been tough on your arguments, I haven’t insulted you personally. The ad hominem attacks detract from your arguments; you’ll be a more effective debator if you drop them in future.

  25. wrapper Says:

    Sorry Trevor, you are annoying me with your certitude about something you did not witness, or know anything about outside of what is reported in the media.

    Your points are at the service of your partisan loyalties.

  26. Trevor Saccucci Says:

    Wrapper, these will likely be the last words I’m going to have with you on this subject. For your own sake as a debator, whether you’re annoyed or not, realize that ad hominem attacks do not help you in a debate. When you start relying on attacks on your opponent’s character instead of using counter-arguments and facts which support your point of view, you’ve essentially chosen not to have your arguments taken seriously. For example, this comment: “Your points are at the service of your partisan loyalties.” If my points are well-reasoned and backed up with citable facts, my “partisan loyalties” are immaterial.

    And a little note about certitude: If you don’t use Ockham’s Razor to make sense of conflicting information, like Clarke’s assesment of Rice’s facial expression in the context of this thread, you run the risk of falling prey to radical skepticism – that is, questioning everything you experience in the world around you in such detail that you’re not significantly certain of anything. The classic example of this is the “brain in a box” paradox, which claims that everything you experience could just be the result of a scientist stimulating your disembodied brain in box. While it can explain your experiences, it isn’t likely to be the case. Your experiences are much more simply explained by assuming your brain is in your body, and leaving the scientist and the box out of the picture.

    I don’t know with absolute certainty what transpired between Clarke and Rice at that briefing which he described in his book. Clarke and Rice are both human like the rest of us, with fallible recollections. But by integrating many sources of information about both people, I came up with an explanation for why Clarke wrote what he did about that briefing consistent with the principle of Ockham’s Razor.

    Could I have been wrong? I’m as human as the next man, so sure, but I don’t think I’m wrong here. You and other people can check the claims I’ve made and my line of reasoning. Others may come to conclusions different from mine; if they present their citations and lines of reasoning, a reasoned debate can ensue. Absent that, we’re just talking past each other unproductively, so I think I’ll leave it at that.

  27. wrapper Says:


    It is impossible for you to provide citable facts about Clarke’s and Rice’s exchange, anything you have gleaned from the media concerning their history does not provide you with citable facts.

    Can you provide the conflicting information concerning their meeting that the razor clears up for you? I think the radical skepticism is on your part. Your partisanship imputes bad faith on Clarke’s part for what is essentially a minor point in his book.

    I merely pointed out that Rice, having once mentioned OBL, is not necessarily aware of AQ like the link to NRO asserts. And apparently you assert as well.

    Partisanship on your part is driving this discussion. You have convinced yourself that you are the final arbitor of what transpired and throwing in irrelevancies like the razor only helps convince yourself.

    It’s one line in a book, relax.

  28. rosignol Says:

    Wrapper, what is driving the discussion is *your* insistance that Clarke interpeted a facial expression to mean that the President’s National Security Advisor had not heard of the terrorist group that had blown up a USN warship and two embassies.

    To people who have some understanding of what a National Security Advisor does, it is simply not a credible assertion. It’s like saying that the Secretady of Defense during the Viet Nam war may have known who Ho Chi Minh was, but had never heard of the Viet Cong.

    Does this help you understand where we’re coming from?

  29. wrapper Says:

    Notwithstanding my insistence, Clarke himself said Condi gave the impression. I’m just willing to allow him his own opinion.

    I don’t agree with your analogy that includes Viet Nam, tone it down and try again.

  30. Mike M Says:

    Uh, guys, not to interrupt your flame war here, but I linked to the facts above. Condi Rice did know about OBL and AQ well before 9/11…as she discusses in her October 2000 interview.

    Clarke’s supposed personal impressions are irrelevant. A lot of people had the impression that the Earth was the center of the universe in the 1500’s. They were wrong. So it Clarke. His musings are in direct conflict with recorded fact, and defending his ignorance doesn’t make him any more credible.

  31. wrapper Says:

    Sorry mike, when radio fatboy says:

    RUSH: This is before the election of 2000. Sounds to me like she knows about Al-Qaeda.

    That doesn’t rise to the level of fact.

    Clarke’s opinion can only be impeached by his own remarks, either before or after the event in question.

    Can you link to that?

  32. Mike M Says:

    Oh right, I forgot. Rush is entirely fiction to you guys, even when he posts a transcript of someone elses words. It happened to be the first link that showed up when I did the search. So how about listening to the complete radio interview with Condi Rice I linked to below it?

    Clarke’s opinion can be impeached by the facts, which it is in that interview.

  33. wrapper Says:

    Does Condi say the words al Qaeda in the interview?

  34. Trevor Saccucci Says:

    As wrapper’s last few comments to me and his “radio fatboy” crack indicate, he seems to be in ad hominem seethe mode. I think he’s beyond debate – he’s flipped the critical thinking switch off, and gotten lost in radical skepticism la-la land. That being the case, I think I’ve lost interest in this thread.

  35. Mike M Says:

    Does she say “al-Queda”? No, but she wasn’t asked about al-Queda. The interviewer asked Rice: What does George W. Bush do about Osama Bin Laden?”

    Her response: “There needs to be better cooperation because we don’t want to wake up one day and find out that Osama bin Laden has been successful on our own territory.”

    She continues: “We really need a stronger policy of holding the states accountable that support terrorism. The truth of the matter is the terrorists who are just out there operating without bases or state support are a lot less dangerous than ones who find save havens…as bin Laden does sometimes in places like Afghanistan and Sudan.”

    Obviously she demonstrates a perfect and near-prophetic knowledge of the situation. She understands the threat of Osama and his followers, the differences and dangers associated with state sponsored terrorism, and that terrorism was a regional problem spanning Africa, the Middle East, and central Asia. And mind you that this is one singular interview. I don’t have time to post every single word that Rice said about terrorism prior to 9/11 to satisfy your desires.

    But if you believe Richard Clarke, this is trumped by his claim of a questionable facial expression…which was mentioned nowhere by himself or anyone else until it appeared in the pages of a book that he had written and would personally profit from years after the incident supposedly occured.

    So is it possible that Clarke *thought* Rice didn’t know about al-Queda? Maybe. If so he’s not a liar, it just means that he was unaware of the depth and breadth of Dr. Rice’s knowledge. So he’s simply ignorant, and standing by his claims in the face of hard evidence to the contrary. Fact is, Clarke was still wrong about Rice and is facing a mountain of evidence against most of his other claims against the Bush administration. I’m not willing to give him the generous benefit of the doubt that he needs for his story to jive.

    Advantage: Rice.

  36. wrapper Says:

    Does anyone know if Mr. Clarke heard the interview in question? A case could remotely be made that his opinion of Ms Rice was disingenous if he had in fact heard the interview.

    Remember folks, this debate is not really about what Ms Rice knew or didn’t know. It’s about whether Clarke is entitled to his opinion.

    If you can provide evidence that Clarke has said anything before or since that indicates Ms. Rice knew of AQ in Jan of 2001, then he did indeed smear Ms Rice, you’re right and I’m wrong.

    Until that time, Clarke is entitled to his opinion.

  37. steve h Says:

    Interesting closing question, wrapper.

    While you’re debating whether Clarke is entitled to his opinion, may I ask how you know that Clarke’s only two pieces of information were the radio interview and the facial expression?

    Do you know what memos and/or reports crossed the desk of either Ms. Rice or Mr. Clarke?

    Did Clarke ever continue conversations with Rice about AQ and/or OBL?

    The number of things that neither of us appear to know about this situation might outweigh the things we do know.

    The question of whether Clarke is entitled to an opinion is a senseless question. His opinion is his business, and the reasons why he holds that opinion, are his business, not ours.

    The question at hand is, does his expression of that opinion involve deception? Either self-deception on his part, or deception in the selection of the facts he mentions, and how he mentions them?

    Further, how does this one line in a book reflect on his entire character, and the accusations he levels at President Bush, National Security Advisor Rice, and others? It might be a niggling point best forgotten, or it might be a characteristic point worth remembering. That question is best answered by review other facts and claims of fact made by Clarke, and seeing if this one fits into a pattern.

    With the few facts that I have at hand, I find that Clarke comes far short of Rice in the field of credibility, for the reasons outlined by other posters above.

    Feel free to disagree with me, but remember that I am also entitled to my own opinion, and that we are both dealing with a limited fact-set.

  38. wrapper Says:


    I believe Ms. Rice’s interview came before her meeting with Clarke. I am not aware Mr. Clarke had any knowledge of Ms Rice before he met with her and and formed his infamous impression. Anything he learned after that is irrelevant. The question is the impression made at that moment.

    I am not aware that he has given reference to any information that indicated he KNEW that she had knowledge before their meeting. That would be the only thing that could call his motives into question.

    Rightie arguements center around the belief that Rice knew of AQ, and Clarke knew she knew so his recounting of the impression is made out of malice. That has not been proved here or elsewhere.

    The press that skews rightward is surely looking for evidence that Ms Rice made mention of AQ specifically before Jan 2001. I patiently await their word, and I guess you do also.

  39. Mike M Says:

    You’re supporting Clarke based on him believing his own opinion? Frankly it doesn’t matter. Using your arguments, Clarke could say George W. Bush was an alien in a rubber suit and you would back him up as long as he consistently made the statement. It’s his opinion, after all.

    Like I said above, it doesn’t matter when Clarke heard or knew anything about Rice. His impressions do not jive with reality, and he’s failed to own up to that.

    Unless you can come up with a more convincing argument, I’m through here. Discussing what’s going on in Clarkes own mind is a waste of time, and makes him no more credible in the eyes of myself or the rest of the blogosphere. He’s damaged goods, and his story has been dropped by the media now that he’s no longer useful against the Bush administration.

  40. hey Says:

    from listening to your conversation wrappe, i can tell that you robber 13 banks in 13 states

    now I don’t “know” that this is false. is it disingeneous, mean, likely illegal, etc? for sure

    its a classic smear tactic.

    hes saying that the NSA was ignorant about her responsibilities… we’ve got proof that she isn’t (above and beyond that whole professor, massive accomplishments, former whie house postings etc) and that she knew what he was discussing

    so he is either a rather horrible judge of people, enagaging in low smear tactics, or both

    i vote for both (especially as he repeats it) but it could just be that he is completely socially inept (actually, that is coming out even from his supporters)

    so whats your point wrapper? how is that statement useful and productive? how is it meaningful? it isn’t meaningful as a means to attack rice, as she clearly knew the subject area. so why are you defending it?

    oh right, clarke must be defended, despite the fact that he is an incompetent scumbag with an axe to grind, cause he is attacking bush. the right had linda trip… we said, yes she is a bitch from hell who likely committed illlegal wire tapping, but she is telling the truth

    argue the facts: what facts does clarke have? is there enough evidence to overwhelm his frustrated career ambitions and the distortions that that would put in his view of bush? tripp had a blue dress that really should have gone to the cleaners months earlier. what does clarke have? anything? so far, doesn’t look like much, but maybe if you find a tape or something

  41. JNS Says:

    Bush allowing Dr. Rice to testify is a lesson in “be careful what you wish for” only if you view the 9/11 commission as a political instrument for each party to use to make the other look bad, which NRO apparently does. If, however, you view it as an instrument for holding our government accountable and getting a clear, complete picture of the failings that allowed 9/11 to happen and the adequacy of our response, it is a great victory.

    In any event, the political damage has already been done. Bush looked ridiculous by insisting on his lame separation of powers excuse for preventing her from testifying even while she was “testifying” on every news show and giving the same information to the commission in private. If he was genuinely concerned about setting a bad precedent, he could simply have waived the executive privilege in this one instance, and it would not have affected future presidents at all. Instead, he dug in his heels until political pressure made it impossible for him to do anything else.

    Sadly, it looks as though no matter how embarrassing it is for him to insist on appearing before the commission in private and with the Vice President holding his hand, no matter how outrageous it is for him to refuse to turn over 11,000 pages of documents, no amount of political pressure will prevent him from doing otherwise. I guess the NRO would grudgingly concede that this is a great victory for those stupid, short sighted liberals.

  42. rosignol Says:

    JNS, this all leads to the obvious question: if Rice was already talking to the comission in private, what is the point of making her do so in public?

    The one answer I can think of is to create a spectacle. Now, why on earth would someone want to create a spectacle centered on the biggest disaster to occur during Bush’s term?

    I’ve heard there is an coincidence with regards to when the comission is scheduled to release it’s report, and the Democratic convention. Can anyone confirm that?

  43. JNS Says:

    Personally, I think it has more to do with holding public figures accountable and allowing victims and the rest of the public to actually hear what they have to say, first hand. It’s about the principle that no one is just too important or so beyond reproach that they shouldn’t be required to swear an oath that they will tell the truth. But don’t take my word for it. If you think this is some stunt being staged by those nefarious Democrats, why don’t you ask the Republican members of the commission and Congress why they, too, called for her to testify?

  44. rosignol Says:

    Damned if I know. I’m all for finding out what happened, why it happened, and how to keep it from happening again. But I’m not for making officials testify in public as therapy for the traumatized.

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