There’s no nice way of putting this: David Kay bitch-slaps Incompetent Condi:
A former Bush administration official who led the fruitless postwar effort to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq told Congress on Wednesday that the National Security Council led by Condoleezza Rice had botched intelligence information before the war and was “the dog that did not bark” over Iraq’s weapons program.
In uncharacteristically caustic remarks about his former colleagues, the weapons inspector, David Kay, said the National Security Council had failed to protect President Bush from faulty prewar intelligence and had left Secretary of State Colin L. Powell “hanging out in the wind” when he tried to gather intelligence before the war about Iraq’s weapons programs.
“Where was the N.S.C?” Dr. Kay asked, suggesting that the president had come to depend too heavily on information supplied by Ms. Rice, Mr. Bush’s national security adviser, and that the president needed to reach out to others for national security information.
“Every president who has been successful, at least that I know of, in the history of this republic, has developed both informal and formal means of getting checks on whether people who tell him things are in fact telling him the whole truth,” Dr. Kay told the Senate intelligence committee at a hearing called to discuss the findings of the Sept. 11 commission.
“I think this is particularly crucial and difficult to do in the intelligence area,” he continued. “The recent history has been a reliance on the N.S.C. system to do it. I quite frankly think that has not served this president very well.”
Dr. Kay did not identify Ms. Rice by name in his often-impassioned testimony. But his remarks were clearly aimed at her performance and reflected a widespread view among intelligence specialists that Ms. Rice, perhaps Mr. Bush’s most trusted aide, and the National Security Council have never been held sufficiently accountable for intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the Iraq war.
Couple this with some wise words from Dahlia Lithwick:
One of the most enduring memories from the Bush-Gore debates in 2000 was Al Gore, all sighs and eye-rolls, trapped in what must have felt like the middle-school playground fight from hell instead of a presidential debate. Everything about Mr. Gore’s demeanor signaled that he felt he was giving a punk kid a much-needed scolding. Which missed the point: a lot of very smart people voted for Mr. Bush in 2000 because to them, he represented a return to honesty and morality. Dismissing him as a stupid child, and these voters as stupid-children-by-association, is no way to win them back.
Furthermore, the campaign to cast Mr. Bush as a bumbling child ignores the very grown-up machine that stands behind him. Infantilizing the president shifts the focus away from the Cheneys, Rumsfelds, Ashcrofts and Wolfowitzes. These are the men who promised us short, easy wars and painless little suspensions of the Geneva Conventions. These are the men of the secret energy-policy meetings. They aren’t a bunch of rowdy juveniles. They represent one of the most secretive, powerful administrations in recent memory. Whether the president could outscore your kids on the SAT is a distraction from that fact.
I’ll be the first to admit that I “infantilize” Commander Poopy Pants (see? I did it again) but I think that Lithwick is on to something here (even if I don’t agree with her completely). George Bush is his own Achilles heel, but his administration is full of them from Cheney to Rumsfeld to Condi to Wolfowitz to Ashcroft. It’s okay to be a part of the hate-Bush movement (welcome aboard!) but spreading the vitriol around to his surrogates in coordinated assaults keeps the administration back on their heels defending this one, then that one, then the other. I’m no warblogger, which means I don’t have a well-thumbed copy of Sun Tzu laying about the house, but it seems to me an assault on all fronts is called for here.
Not that we should stop infantilizing the Flightsuit Kid….