Condi Rice: Booted?
(Photo by Michael Probst/AP.)
***NOTE: The Prettyman Courthouse has power and is open today. EW heard from the courthouse, the jury will be deliberating. The power outage issue is in another courthouse in DC — and we will have live coverage from the courthouse throughout deliberations today. Thanks. — CHS***
In this week's New Yorker, Seymour Hersh's article describes a "redirection" of U.S. strategy involving covert activities that "has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims." Hersh says that the Saudi government has already cooperated with Bush's administration in clandestine operations against Hizballah, Iran and Syria. The key players behind the strategy redirection, Hersh adds, are Vice President Cheney, Elliott Abrams of the National Security Council, departing U.S. ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and Bandar–Rice doesn't make the list….
The Saudis want to strengthen the U.S.'s hand in the region, limit Iran's emerging influence and bolster their own role as a defender of Muslim causes. But questions arise where it gets murky: Do Saudi Arabia and the U.S. share the same interests? Will they agree on methods? Who will influence the other, and will it be for better or worse? Will Bandar's counsel keep Bush out of new adventures in the Middle East? Or will the Administration's confusion about how to proceed give Bandar undue influence-and perhaps lead to some bold missteps that the U.S. will later regret? As Woodward described his relationship with CIA director William Casey 20 years ago, "Bandar had found Americans naive about the world, but here was a man with no inhibitions." Woodward adds a moment later, "Bandar knew how to have a conversation that never took place." Writing about Bandar just last week, The Washington Post's Jackson Diehl said: "Bandar's spin and dazzle make it tempting to think he can pull off almost anything."
So, is Bandar the Saudi tail that wags the American dog? His role in the recent Mecca agreement is a curious one. Condi Rice spent months beforehand arranging a summit meeting between Olmert and President Mahmoud Abbas to resume negotiations on a final settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. The move was strongly supported by many U.S. allies, notably Jordan. However, Cheney, Bandar's friend, was lukewarm to the idea, to say the least. A week before the summit, Saudi Arabia, with Iran's apparent blessing, cobbled together a Palestinian unity deal between Abbas and Hamas. That agreement, which puts Abbas's Fatah party in the same government as a group calling for Israel's destruction, took the wind out of Rice's sails. (emphasis mine)
Ouch. Perhaps a little diversion to soothe the bruised reputation? I hear Ferragamo will be having their winter clearance soon. And there's no need to wait for the next hurricane to shop. Perhaps a smack? (What? Did you click the link?!?)
Do read Sy Hersh's article, if you haven't already. I'd like some oversight on this issue, please: "While Rice has been deeply involved in shaping the public policy, former and current officials said that the clandestine side has been guided by Cheney." A shadow intel and national security apparatus being run out of the office of the Vice President smacks of subversion of the intel rules and regs. I'll be placing a call to Sen. Rockefeller today to ask about this.
And if you missed it yesterday, do go back and read through Scarecrow's fantastic post on the Hersh article — and all of the links he compiled on these intel end-runs from Cheney.
We are way past time for some accountability on this. And then some.
UPDATE: Keith Olbermann had some great thoughts on Condi last night in a Special Comment. (H/T to RevDeb for posting the link.)