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Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Hate the war, miss your job? Don't just sit there, vote for Bob!
No, I'm not running for anything. That was the campaign slogan of Florida Senator Bob Graham, who campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination for a few months last year. He was always at least close to being my second choice--he had the Senate thing going like Kerry and Edwards, the former governor thing like Dean, the southern thing like Edwards and Clark, and the voted-against-the-war thing like Kucinich. He also was on the Congressional committee that investigated 9/11, and had some scathing things to say about the multitude of failures that is the Bush administration.

Well, he's still saying them! Michelle linked to a speech Graham gave in the Senate on Monday. Unfortunately, most Americans will never hear nor read the speech. I'm lucky that Michelle found it, and I hope you're feeling lucky that I'm linking to it here! Here are some of the things Graham said:

From New York City and the Pentagon to a field in rural Pennsylvania, 9-11 demonstrated the vulnerabilities of our free society.

But in my view, and after the careful review of the Intelligence Committees, the most tragic aspect of this day never to be forgotten is that it could have been prevented. Had our intelligence agencies been better organized and more focused on the problem of international terrorism--particularly Osama bin Laden--September 11th would have been prevented.

I also have concluded that, had the President and the Congress initiated the reforms that our joint inquiry recommended, we might well have avoided the embarrassment of the flawed intelligence on weapons of mass destruction--or the misleading use of that intelligence--which formed the basis of our war against Iraq. Surely, the people of America would be safer today had these reforms been undertaken.
The fact that we conducted this bipartisan, bicameral inquiry and submitted recommendations creates a new heightened level of congressional responsibility. If the terrorists are successful in another attack in the United States, the American people will demand to know what the institutions of government learned from 9-11, and how the intelligence agencies, the White House, and the Congress used that knowledge to harden the United States against future terrorist attacks. Congress was largely able to avoid accountability for 9-11. Mark my words: There will be no avoidance of responsibility for the next attack.

There will be no avoiding responsibility for the President. September 11, 2001, was a wake up call--it told us we had severe deficiencies in our intelligence community. If 9-11 was a wake up call, the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was a report card on how far we have come since 9-11 in correcting the problems in our intelligence community. The grade we received on that report card is F. The President and Congress have failed to initiate the reforms recommended by a series of review panels and our bipartisan, bicameral joint committee of inquiry.
What troubles me more than the President's unwillingness to make the necessary changes is his unwillingness to even admit that our Nation has a problem. Just last week, the President responded to questions about the inaccuracies of his statements about Iraq's WMD capability by saying he has "great confidence in our intelligence community.'' How can he have great confidence in our intelligence community after it has been proven confused before September 11 and completely wrong on the threat posed by Iraq?
The intelligence component of the Department of Homeland Security was envisioned to be the one place where our domestic vulnerabilities are evaluated and mapped against all threats to the homeland. The idea was that the threats could come from a variety of sources, not just terrorists, and one agency needed to be responsible for having the entire picture on its radar screen. Unfortunately, the administration has chosen to gut the intelligence function at the Department of Homeland Security. The position of director of intelligence for the new department has been vacant for much of the time the Department has been in existence. This is indicative of the lack of attention and significance it is given. The staff is totally inadequate for the mission outlined in the legislation that established the department.
Significant evidence of foreign government involvement in the 9-11 attacks was uncovered by the joint inquiry.

It is incomprehensible why this administration has refused to aggressively pursue the leads that our inquiry developed. One example of the failure to pursue leads that point to foreign government involvement is the refusal of the FBI to aggressively follow the money trail that flowed from officials of a foreign government to at least some of the terrorists. In spite of being provided evidence by our committee, the FBI and the administration refused to use all the law enforcement tools at their disposal to follow the money trail. Why would the administration not use all of its available powers to track
this money? In addition, the question of whether other terrorists were getting similar support was not pursued. Therefore the extent of the
involvement of the foreign government has never been fully investigated. Recent press reports indicate that there is even more suspicious activity than was known at the time we issued our report.
I wish I could be more specific in discussing the involvement of foreign governments in the 9-11 plot. Unfortunately, the administration will not allow me to do so. After 7 months of effort to de-classify the report that we filed on December 20, 2002, the CIA, the FBI and other agencies decided to keep significant portions secret. In particular, there are 27 pages that were virtually completely censored. These are pages 396 through 422 from Part Four of the report, which is entitled, "Finding, Discussion and Narrative Regarding Certain Sensitive National Security Matters.''
What this indicates is that in the months following the release of our recommendation that the administration "aggressively'' address the foreign government involvement in 9-11, the Bush administration not only failed to pursue and investigate foreign government involvement, the administration misused the classification process to protect the foreign governments that may have been involved in 9-11. There is no reason for the Bush administration to continue to shield make-believe allies who are supporting, either directly or indirectly, terrorists who want to kill Americans.

Not quite right there, Senator. The truth is that there is no VALID reason for the Bushies to conceal make-believe allies. Oil kickbacks are not valid reasons, but they are reasons.

Anyhow, great speech, Senator Graham! In think Graham is considered a likely vice-presidential candidate, especially if a northerner wins the nomination. He would be an excellent choice, IMHO.