Condi Claims US Was at War When She Ignored August 6, 2001 PDB

Condi Rice is, of all Bush’s top aides, the best at managing her reputation. Which is why her interview with Fareed Zakaria yesterday is so interesting.

Sure, there are some examples of Condi’s signature lies, such as when she claims the dedicated group to hunt Osama bin Laden–which was shut down between 2005 and 2009, after which Obama reinstituted it–proves the Bush Administration’s focus on capturing OBL.

ZAKARIA: President Obama did say that he felt that the capture or killing of Bin Laden was not a top priority when he took office and he moved it to a top priority. What’s your reaction?

RICE: Oh, it was a top priority. We wanted to get Osama Bin Laden every single day. And there was a unit at the – the agency that worked on nothing else.

More interesting, though, is Condi’s confusion about how many Presidents have hunted OBL. At the beginning of her interview, she suggests that the hunt for OBL has spanned just two presidencies.

ZAKARIA: When you first heard the news about Bin Laden’s assassination, what – what did you think?

RICE: Well, I was incredibly gratified and, frankly, relieved. It been a long hunt for him. I was proud that over two presidencies we were persistent enough and patient enough to put together the picture that ultimately led to him. You don’t just stumble upon Osama Bin Laden. It takes a lot of work to get there.

But then there’s this remarkable exchange.

ZAKARIA: And you’re hearing some Republicans, people like Rush Limbaugh, say Obama really doesn’t deserve much credit for this. You know, the – the operation was a routine operation.

You’ve been in the White House. Do you think that the president at key moments had to make difficult calls whether to use a drone, whether to use a special operations?

RICE: I’ve been in the White House, and I’ve seen a president make difficult decisions. And there were difficult decisions in this. What – what President Obama has done, indeed, it was a – it was a brave decision.

Now, it is absolutely the case that the United States of America has been fighting this war for at least 10 years, and really a bit longer. And so this is a victory across presidencies. It’s a – it’s a victory for having learned more how to fight the counterterrorism fight. [my emphasis]

Now, I presume the reference to a war that pre-dates 9/11 and even May 2011 is Condi’s claim that when she was demoting Richard Clarke in the early days of 2001 and when Bush was saying “I’m tired of swatting at flies … I’m tired of playing defense. I want to play offense. I want to take the fight to the terrorists” in March 2001, that was part of an already-engaged war with al Qaeda. Her reference to the hunt for OBL across two, not three, presidencies would seem to discount Clinton’s efforts to capture or kill him.

But that would presumably also mean Condi and Bush were at war when they dismissed the urgency of the August 6, 2001 PDB, titled “Bin Laden determined to strike in US” and discussing preparations for plane hijackings.

Or maybe the reference to a longer war refers to the efforts Clinton made to neutralize OBL after OBL declared war on the US in 1996. If so, it’d sure be nice if Condi said that explicitly, given how many times the Bush Administration claimed Clinton did nothing to hunt down OBL.

Which raises the next question. I agree we’ve spent much of the last 10 years learning how to fight terrorism. Aside from obvious stupid, easily avoidable mistakes like the Iraq War and torture, there’s nothing wrong with admitting that we had to learn to do this right (though we often ignored the lessons that the UK and Israel, as well as other European countries, learned in their earlier counterterrorist fights).

But is Condi admitting that Obama has learned things that the Bush Administration didn’t know?

  1. harpie says:

    Sorry, Marcy, I really don’t mean to be a pain, but I’m pretty sure you mean 1996, not 2006?

  2. PeasantParty says:

    You said it, Rice will do and say anything to save her reputation. She is a liar from the start and always will be. She certainly cannot answer a straight question with a direct answer. Anything that comes out of her mouth is converted as a CYA no matter what the message is or how it is perceived by anybody that hears it.

  3. radiofreewill says:

    It seems remarkable that the content of the August 6th PDB indicates that a source with ‘eyes on’ the planning for the 911 attack was trying to warn us of impending danger.

    To ‘ignore’ a warning that explicit is the same as saying, “If it’s true, then I’ll let it happen.”

  4. rugger9 says:

    Even the best at managing the message can’t do it.

    Condi’s skated away from a lot of offal she has created with her cronies. The fact that even AGAG crawled out to rewrite history means something, and the fact the so-called-liberal-media had them on without any rebuttals means that nothing has changed from the Bush years with respect to reporting. These Bushies have no objective credibility, maybe the MSM thinks they’ll be able to hold the wingnut demographic for ratings, after all 30% beats the 5% they’d be getting if they did the “safe” reporting demanded by their corporate masters.

    The Bushies know and don’t care that they trashed the country, after all they got what they wanted and the D’s got left holding the bag to get their congressional clocks cleaned in 2010.

  5. BoxTurtle says:

    The heck of it is, her reputation is pretty solid except for places like FDL. The wingnuts eat what they’re served without question, she talks a very good game and the media doesn’t challenge her so as far as the middle is concerned that above is gospel truth.

    If she were to declare for the GOP nomination, I think she’d be the frontrunner.

    Boxturtle (Sarah will have to get out her little black dress to compete with Condi and her boots)

  6. cregan says:

    More important was that speech Obama made that Sunday night. I did this, I did that. Trying to make it sound like he and his advisors did something new and recent. Like the entire operation was developed since he was President.

    Then, we find out in good reporting by many news organizations–with consistently the same conclusion–that this entire result came about through many years of hard, detailed work by many people.

    These effort and the progress on it, were through all the years you mentioned. Lots of points of progress in the news accounts during the 2005 to 2009 period.

    It was patently absurd for any one administration to claim credit for this operation coming to a head. The true picture is that a lot of people worked a lot of years to get to the point it got last week.

    One side wants to boost their re-election chances, and the other side would like to rehabilitate their image.

    Obama deserves credit for deciding to use boots on the ground instead of a drone, that was a high risk, “gutsy” call. The rest of it was the result of many people’s (of one party, or another party and of no party) efforts begun earlier and continued right on through DONE ON BEHALF OF THE COUNTRY and not some politician of any party.

    • MadDog says:

      I’m not so sure one can make the case that the Bush/Cheney regime pulled its own weight in looking for OBL.

      Tora Bora comes to mind.

      As does the pullout of the vast majority of Special Ops troops and CIA folks from Afghanistan to ramp up the phony smoking mushroom cloud threat in Iraq.

      And then Dubya’s own commentary that getting OBL was of little importance to him.

      These are just a few of the many instances where the Bush/Cheney regime not only took their eye off the ball, but chose to ignore reality.

      I don’t know where you get your facts suggesting that the Bush/Cheney regime made anything like a comparable effort in getting OBL to that of the Obama administration, but it sure doesn’t comport with reality.

      Sounds more like revisionist history to me.

      • alabama says:

        Revisionist history is exactly what it is, MadDog. The Bush people know that the victor writes the history… They also know that Obama has a way of making the Bush regime look like losers, and, to make things worse, the man actually wins a few things that got away… We might start to look funny and old, what with that tornado tour and that birth certificate thing… And where in the hell is the press? Why do they have to be reminded of better days? Loyal lapdogs all from 2001 to 2009, how far will they let him take this amnesia thing (his revisionist history)? They laugh when he beats up on Trump! They just sit there, watching him swing from “Obama-the-wimp” to “Obama-the bad”.

        It’s not much fun, fighting a propaganda machine in the hands of a clever usurper…And what’s with this torture thing? Can’t they see that Obama gets his kicks from torturing us, who gave up a decade of our lives to bask in immortality?

      • rugger9 says:

        Exactly my point about the need to revise the narrative, add to that the Condi 9/11/01 speech plan, and the Bushies have a hard time claiming they were anything but asleep at the switch. What other “war” plan included ignoring the blinking red warnings delivered by Tenet not only in the 8/6 PDB but also within the week before 9/11/01?

        What other country cut taxes in the midst of a “war” [actually a real one]? Russia under Nicholas II, when he declared the country would quit drinking for the duration of World War I. Since the vodka trade was a state monopoly this meant that revenues were cut by one third when the ukase was implemented. Between that and the gross lack of preparation by the late Czarist government, Nick 2 ended up shot in Ekaterinburg.

        Bush is largely responsible for the depth of the deficit. He also financed the wars by selling bonds to the Chinese, and I’m wondering what quid pro quos are in play.

      • bobschacht says:

        You forgot the part where Bush, on camera, pretends to look for OBL under his desk, etc., making a joke of the whole thing (including, IMHO, his presidency).

        Bob in AZ

        • onitgoes says:

          Ah yes, and there is THAT, as well. As I just stated, I don’t see BushCo as expending much energy, effort or resources on “looking for” ObL. Once W permitted ObL to escape from the Tora Bora Hills (and I believe that the Seals, themselves, commented that they were in the hangar about ready to load up the choppers when the mission was called off), it was pretty much “game off” in terms of ObL.

          On the one hand, it is kind of amazing that Obama managed to pull this off, despite nonsensical “messaging” afterwards. On the other hand, I’m not entirely clear how much it really matters… esp in terms of what will actually “change” – and hopefully for the betterment of US citizens, plus those in other countries currently being killed & maimed – bc of this one action.

          All I’m seeing are a bunch of BushCo CROOKS & LIARS standing up on their hind legs and braying out a lot of loud self-congratulatory praise. Bunch of b.s., if ya ask me.

    • emptywheel says:

      I appreciate your point about people doing this for the country. The folks who deserve the most credit, after all–spooks and SEALs–are required to work in non-partisan fashion.

      And I agree, up to a point. One of the issues is about efficacy. Not just torture, but also an overreliance on SIGINT (in the same show, Hayden admits the trail went dead bc OBL went off the grid), a refusal to have expert interrogators lead interrogations, the distraction of Iraq, etc. Some of that is fair human mistake, some of it is not.

      But part of THIS post is about pointing out that Bush spent years suggesting Clinton had done nothing. And the aversion to everything Clinton had done is one of the reasons Bush didn’t take the warnings on 9/11 seriously, which is in turn one of the reasons why our country overreacted to the threat of terrorism to the detriment of some other serious threats.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        If Shrub has one defining characteristic, it is that he is acutely sensitive to embarrassment. Given his thoughtless behavior, he finds himself embarrassed often. He responses are always unrestrained; he can’t imagine having a power without using it. Examples can be taken from almost any of his first four decades, school, college, b-school, drunken playboy.

        He learned a few ways to deliver payback from a young Karl Rove, when they both “worked” for Poppa Bush, but Junior has demonstrated that behavior his whole life: from using exceptional expletives to cuss out a minor critic at a restaurant, in front of his wife and young daughter, to starting two wars.

        Restraint and proportion are as hard for him to grasp as the knack of running a business by making money at it, rather than relying on dad’s pals to dig him out of one more debt-filled hole.

      • cregan says:

        Yes, you are right about the Clinton point. Which I meant, but may not have expanded upon, when speaking about how no one President or administration can claim credit for something done by many career people over many years.

        Again, the incremental steps of progress occurred in just about each year since the beginning of the thread, and certainly, you could say that initial information developed during Clinton’s time–Osama exists and is in Afghanistan, for example–helped narrow the area to look.

        There wasn’t some big flurry of information on this trail that only occurred after 2009, or a trail only created after 2009. And, importantly, if that guy had not mistakenly answered his phone call from the courier a year or so ago, nobody would be claiming credit for anything today.

        Lastly, by the Keystone Cops way the story of the raid was handled, un-handled, re-handled and then back-handled, it seems the only precision operators in this case were the seals.

        • onitgoes says:

          Lastly, by the Keystone Cops way the story of the raid was handled, un-handled, re-handled and then back-handled, it seems the only precision operators in this case were the seals

          On that point, in particular, I agree completely with you. It’s like watching dunderheads on parade with each passing hour of “new information” being “released” or “discovered” or “remembered” or whatever. Oy vey.

          I’m not so confident about how much energy/effort/hard work/etc that BushCo actually put into the for real capturing/assassination of ObL. Too many times, W, himself, dismissed ObL as not mattering. I don’t think ObL did matter to Bush. After all, ObL was the son of his family’s very very good friends, and it’s been proven (as mentioned, above), that BushCo was mainly interested in War with Iraq to go after the Oil; 9/11 provided a convenient excuse to lie to the gullible public and make *seem* as if Iraq was all about “capturing” Obl; it wasn’t; and BushCo knew ObL wasn’t even in Afganistan anymore, much less Iraq. I truly don’t think that W was particularly motivated to go after ObL. JMHO, of course, but pretty based on words out of Bush’s mouth, fwiw.

        • papau says:

          The point may be that the information from torture – that there was a currier and that the person was not important – was useless info, as well as being a lie as to the currier’s importance (and this after near 200 near death waterboardng tortures in a month to one person). If it had been useful I am sure Bush would have done something other than say he was not interested in OBL and then prove the point by shutting down the special unit set up to get him – a unit not re-activated until Obama.

          Indeed the intel folks note that standard “just talk” interrogation in 2005 – and later – got the only real usable info that allowed them to build the net that caught the phone call.

  7. MadDog says:

    Condi Rice is, of all Bush’s top aides, the best at managing her reputation…

    On a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is the very best, Condi comes in somewhere at about .0001, so if she was the best in the Bush/Cheney regime, imagine just how bad the rest of the bottom-feeders were.

  8. MaryCh says:

    The popular perception of Condi is mystifying to me – is it that she’s so effective in carrying out the ‘shape of the earth – opinions differ’ obfuscation?

    I would think that her Johns Hopkins speech that never was, detailing her National Security Advisor perch view of threats to the U.S. of A., scheduled for freakin’ 9/11/01 and completely bereft of a mention of terrorism, would be insuperable.

  9. Minnesotachuck says:

    though we often ignored the lessons that the UK and Israel, as well as other European countries, learned in their earlier counterterrorist fights

    Us gringos have a long history of willfully ignoring lessons learned off shore. The bottom of the North Atlantic is littered with the rusting hulks of merchant vessels that are testimony to how long it took for Ernie King et al to begrudgingly admit that maybe the Limeys were onto something with this convoy idea.

  10. donbacon says:

    Condi can be expected to lie and she didn’t disappoint.
    Zakaria can be expected to be Condi’s shill and he didn’t disappoint either.
    EW can be expected to catch them at it and . . .etc.

  11. Mary says:

    I had a dream the other night. Clinton had stepped down as Sec of State and Obama had appointed Rice. His spox was going on and on about how it was a bipartisan gesture and they had to pick someone the Republicans would go along with and she had experience and was a nifty spiffy keeno pick etc. and I couldn’t even work up any splutter over it.

  12. Phoenix Woman says:

    The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Corporate Media Mind.

    Nobody in any media that’s likely to be encountered by the majority of Americans — in other words, nobody on the evening TV news or drive-time radio — is ever going to wreck their meal ticket by calling Condi out on this crap. They’ll parse Obama’s birth certificate six ways from sundown, but Condi can spew her crap with the confidence born of knowing that no one in the mainstream press will challenge her bullshit to her face, much less in any arena where the majority of Americans could see it.

    • Teddy Partridge says:

      And the one patsy they put up to interview her — Larry O’Donnell — only improves her standing among the True Believers by interrupting and contradicting her in his patented, librul-media way.

      • lsls says:

        She was on a roll, and maybe we would have caught it, had he not spoken over her constantly…so annoying, but at least he jumped her case.

    • Knut says:

      Here’s a piece of research someone here with the time and talent can carry out. Remember yesterday, when the Bushies outnumbered Democrats and Administration officials 6:1 on the morning talk shows. It ought to be a relatively simple thing to find out who the producers and the persons charged with setting up the line-ups are, who they take orders from, and how much they gave in the last cycle to the Republicans. Beyond that, how many of them are related (wife, children) to Republican operators or were in the last administration. Get this information, and then out them. So much for the ‘liberal’ media.

  13. Adam503 says:

    Must have been one of Condi’s many, “I wanted to be a concert pianist*” moments.

    (At the age of fifteen, Rice began piano classes with the goal of becoming a concert pianist. Let’s go back and look at the replay on that. At the age of FIFTEEN, Rice decided to be a concert pianist.)

  14. seaglass says:

    She has an evil gaze doesn’t she. More dark window dressing the fascists like to drape over their evil plans. They laugh when they stick blacks , Jews , Hispanics up front to do their HR and PR work and then meet at their all white , no women, Jews , wet backs etc. clubs these loathesome creatures live in. I know more then a few. The Rice’s et. al. are more then willing to do their bidding for the cash and Corp. jobs. Condi is a paid for Corp. shill just like Obama.

    • onitgoes says:

      … More dark window dressing the fascists like to drape over their evil plans. They laugh when they stick blacks , Jews , Hispanics up front to do their HR and PR work and then meet at their all white , no women, Jews , wet backs etc. clubs these loathesome creatures live in. I know more then a few…

      No sh*t. Exactly. I know some of those white boys, too. Think they’re all feminist & color-blind & stuff? Don’t make me laugh. It’s a very tight old white boyz network. No wimmin ‘n coloredz allowed.

  15. TEHelms says:

    And after hearing Ms. Rice is there any doubt about where revisionist history comes from? She forgets that Bin Laden Station was created by George Tenent at the CIA in 1996! Amazing!

  16. hackworth1 says:

    Nothing new has been learned by the execution of the tactical strike that killed Bin Laden. The premise that it took ten years of war in three countries and trillions of dollars is patently ridiculous.

    Liberals had suggested long ago that OBL could have been taken out in this way.

    The Global War on Terror diverts all our resources to the MIC and creates more terror. Israel.

    • onitgoes says:

      Nothing new has been learned by the execution of the tactical strike that killed Bin Laden. The premise that it took ten years of war in three countries and trillions of dollars is patently ridiculous.

      Yeah. Ain’t that a bitch? And yet I witness many US citizens eagerly jumping in line to drink very deeply of that Kool Aid.

  17. tejanarusa says:

    Gotta give credit to Lawrence O’Donnell (much as he irritates me) – as Arbusto said at 15, he did call out Condi during his interview and he did call her the worst national security adviser ever in the next-day “analysis” of the interview.

    You could also see one reason more interviewers don’t call her out – she was really good at evading his attempts, accusing him of rudely interruptin her, “asking” to finish her thought then avoiding answering his pointed question; threatening to end the

    nterview forthwith if he didn’t back off, etc., etc.

    It actually was a pretty good illustration of why she was terrible at her job, and why she bears a lot of responsibility for the WTC/DC 9/11 attacks. She knew about the damn Aug 6 memo, and ignored it – her testimony to the 9/11 commission (where her knowledge had to be dragged out of her, following which she denied it mattered) made that clear.

    And she will not acknowledge that they dropped the ball – Tora Bora, Iraq-instead-of-Afghanistan/Pakistan, terminating the bin Laden group, ignoring the advice from the Clinton admnistration at the 2001 transistion that terror and al Qaeda would/should be their priority.

    She ought to be in jail as a traitor, too, for allowing her partisan prejudices to overshadow her duties.

  18. NorskeFlamethrower says:


    Citizen emptywheel:

    I’m an old man who’s been screamed at, shot at and spit at by experts so very few Vaudeville clowns scare me as long as they’re in front of me…but this grotesque creature sends cold chills down my spine every time I see her sneerin’ face and listen to her lies delivered with such cold-blooded self-assurance. Everything about this woman is as phony as Donald Trump’s hair and the fact that she can attract prime time airspace to repeat her big lies makes me sick to my stomach.

    Anyone who can make Mrs. McClinton look like St. Francis of Assisi is comepletely beyond redemption.


  19. onitgoes says:

    So whatcher sayin’ is that Condi Rice is a sleazy sociopath with no shame who’ll lie, cheat ‘n steal, just as long as she’s paid well to do it?

    And so, you’re point would be????

    (not exactly snark, albeit thanks for the more fulsome explanation).

    It’s really a photo-finish anymore for me whether I loathe Obamaco or Bushco more. I think it just depends who’s up on the stage strutting & chest-beating and blaming *someone else* for their mistakes.

    The history that I remember is that Clinton was chasing after ObL for some amount of time, and I recall that some of us dfh’s were “mad” at him for some activites that Clinton approved in the name of fighting terrorism. Looking backwards (what a quaint notion), one can see more method, and less madness, in some things that Clinton did.

    Now Condi stands up her hind legs & brays out the party line that, really really, Bushco did ALL of the heavy lifting and “THAT one” just got lucky (and we’re ignoring the blowjob that cannot be named, etc).

    What a load of crap, per usual. Yet another day, yet another Act in the Kabuki Show.

  20. endtimesgal says:

    Condi Rice is an incompetent not very intelligent human being. My husband met her once and that was his opinion in 1995. Her specialty was the cold war. That’s all she ever understood. I blame her for 9/11 as much as Bin Laden. Also she can rot in hell for never ever saying she was sorry for sitting on her ass and doing shit all while thousands died. It’s been so much FUN to see her trotted out and her her worthless opinions again. Between this and the torture debates I am not sure what anyone ever voted for Obama for-he probably would give her and Bush a medal for 9/11 just in the name of bipartisanship while inviting them to celebrate their good intentions. When instead of good intentions firing incompetent people actually might keep us a little safer.

    • Knut says:

      I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt on the ‘we were at war’ bit. Nothing else. Agree that she was working way above her pay grade (but so was the President). The administration had decided to take down Saddam and take over his oil from the get-go in January 2001. In that respect they were already planning war. 911 came at a convenient time. They were warned that something might happened, but supposed it would be relative minor, like the World Trade Center bombing, which failed. But even a minor hit would have served as a casus belli, which is all they were looking for. Bush didn’t claim that he hit the Trifecta on 911 for nothing. It was Cheney’s wet dream come true. So for Condi, they were already at war in August, not to mention September, 2001.

  21. designcreature says:

    I don’t know why the networks are dragging up all the Bush has beens as if what they to say is somehow enlightening. She, Condi Rice, is almost the worst of the lot. Perhaps she’d do better back in Texas mowing Dubya’s lawn.

  22. jrubin998 says:

    The revisionists, like Condi Rice, don’t get that we are not in the age of Clergy writing books that take many years!

    We are in a technological age where there is video clips, digital books, search engines, etc. Anyone who needs to see the truth can find it extremely easy. Liars only profligate in small quarters of the web, or their own segment of news stations.

    Why she is teaching at a University is beyond reason! Anyone listening to her lectures must be sleeping in class or find they can say anything like her and be an A student!!!!!

  23. TheOracle says:

    Condi Rice was also the one who told the 9/11 Commission that the Bush administration held its one and only pre-9/11 top-level counter-terrorism principals meeting in the week before 9/11, at which was discussed (according to Rice) the Bush administration’s overall Middle East strategy.

    Overall Middle East strategy?

    Oh, right. One word. Iraq. And maybe Iran. Because by one week before 9/11, the Bush administration had already had the Pentagon conduct Persian Gulf war game simulations.

    What was revealing about Condi Rice’s statement was her not including any reference to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden as having been discussed at this ONE pre-9/11 counter-terrorism principals meeting. Maybe al Qaeda and bin Laden were discussed as part of the Bush administration’s “overall Middle East strategy” meeting, but if so, why didn’t she say so? IOW, al Qaeda and bin Laden may have been mentioned and discussed among the top Bush administration officials at this ONE self-described “counter-terrorism” principals, but probably only in passing, as top Bush officials moved on to their “overall Middle East strategy,” which as we’ve since learned involved Bush administration plans to lock-down the Persian Gulf, first apparently, by invading Iraq, deposing Saddam Hussein and the Sunni Baathists, oh, and securing Iraq’s oil resources for western oil companies, and second, moving onto Iran and its oil resources (90 percent of which is produced in Iran’s southwestern province right across from Basra Iraq along the Iraqi/Iranian border).

    So, not only did Condi Rice and all other top-level Bush administration officials blow-off the threat presented by al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden before the 9/11 attacks, but they also blew the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan (Tora Bora) after 9/11, and blew their “overall Middle East strategy,” leaving the post-invasion Shiite leaders in Iraq closely aligned with the Shiite leaders of Iran. Mission Accomplished?