Thursday, December 7, 2006

Update on US Administration Incompetence

The press has recently documented two new milestones concerning Bush administration incompetence (Hat tips go to TPM and Sullivan):

From a NYT report on North Korea: Having previously rejected -- not to mention gleefully mocked --the Clinton administration approach of offering North Korea aid in return for ceasing to manufacture nuclear weapons, the Bush administration has flip-flopped. Now the US is willing to bribe the North Koreans if this will put a stop to their program. The US hand is much weaker today under Bush than it had been under Clinton, for North Korea now has the bomb.

From a MSNBC report on Terrorism: Dale Watson, the FBI's top counterterrorism official both before and after 9/11 (but now retired), did not even know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite muslim.

Lawyer: And do you know the differences in the religion between Shiite and Sunni Muslims?

Watson: Not technically, no.

FBI leaders don't need to know about the actual issues to do their jobs, according to an official interviewed for the story. Also: only six FBI employees speak Arabic well; at least one of whom isn't trusted enough to do terrorism-related work. A previous story -- I posted on it here -- suggested that no Arabic speakers had been assigned to counter-terrorism at the FBI five years after 9/11.

A Personal Refelction

Standing in the middle of Broadway in an eerily quiet Times Square -- save for the occasional siren of a fire truck -- stone faced New Yorkers walked towards us; they were headed north. Just north, away from it. "It" was the sickly giant cloud rising over lower Manhattan, a mountain of grey and white smoke churning in the blue sky. Turning to a Canadian man standing beside me, I said something like (expletives omitted), "The head of the CIA --fired! Defense -- fired!"

How wrong I was. In time, the CIA and FBI chiefs were to be awarded the Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush, re-elected in 2004 for being perceived as tough on terror.

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