Sunday, September 24, 2006

Clinton Unloads on Faux News

As anyone who's seen a brilliant trailer and then gone to find out that the movie was total crap knows, it's easy to give a false impression with a few simple editing tricks. For the past couple days, the Drudge Report and other right-wing sites have been downright orgasmic over a 50-second clip that they claimed showed Clinton coming unhinged and being forced by Fox News to admit he failed to prevent 9-11. Watch a longer version of that interview, which has just a little bit more substance following the "I failed" part than the Fox promo would suggest.


Anonymous said...

I didn't believe Clinton when he said he stayed in Somalia for nine months after Black Hawk Down. But I looked it up at the Washington Post site and couldn't find any reference to pulling out. All I found was reference to transfering authority to the United Nations, six months later.

Why did I think all this time that Clinton had pulled out right away? Because of Fox News. They say it all the time, and until a couple years ago I was polluting my mind by watching ass "journalists" like Shepard Smith. Even I, a Democrat who should know better, ate it all up. I'm never watching that "fair and balanced" network again.

I'm glad Clinton finally went on their show, because he totally called them for the partisan hacks they are.

Paul said...

anonymous: that was Operation Restore Hope. I don't recall any news organizations claim the US pulled out "right away." The initial deployment was under Pres George HW Bush in response to the UN-in advance of UN operations - they generally take quite a while to get underway. Clinton came to office, the transfer to the UN took place, US troop levels were greatly reduced (May). Pres Clinton referenced the killing of the Pakistani UN troops - took place in June - the Ranger task force didn't deploy until Aug. Black Hawk down occurred in Oct. There was a short -term spike in troop levels (reinforcements) but Pres Clinton said we'd leave completely by end of March - the troop levels came down very quickly - the UN left a year later.

Mr. Bell - interesting perspective. Don't know the criteria for Drudge Report as a right-wing site - seems to be more of a link to various wire services, newspaper articles and columnists. I first saw him on - not CSPAN, but a talk he gave early on to the National Press Club. The audience was hostile - listed his lack of training, credentials, sensationalist reporting, he shot back with a number of stories he said he broke that they missed. Still a lot of antipathy on both sides.

The Fox advert was clearly a teaser, the YouTube pretty bad, but I went to the Drudge site and got a 10-min clip. I did watch the interview on Sunday, recorded it, Mr. Wallace said up front the agreed format was half on Pres Clinton's initiative, half on other issues. Seemed to me Pres Clinton was looking for a chance to hit back at his critics and saw that as a good forum. Bit of hyperbole that seemed to appeal to his base (hit man kind of comments, Fox News jabs, etc) but I often wonder why such emotionalism is expected to win converts? I've always found Mr. Wallace pretty neutral, asks good questions. Wasn't at all surprised people "emailed with that question" - it's all you hear now, Clinton didn't get bin Laden. I also found it interesting how quickly a transcript with commentary popped up on John Podesta's (Pres Clinton's Chief of Staff) Center for American Progress (nonpartisan) site. But, if it's a game, Pres Clinton's playing it well - much better than the current power brokers are.

My view - the rise of jihadists has been going on for 20 years. No one - Pres George HW Bush, Pres Clinton, initially the current administration - saw it for what it was. I clearly remember asking a couple of military acquaintences why, after Khobar Towers, the FBI sent a team to Saudi Arabia. The answer was "don't really know, must be their investigative expertise." It was law enforcement intertwined with warfighting. Seems many saw "terrorists" similar to Stalin's comment of "how many divisions does the Pope have?" Capable of sporadic hits but nothing approaching warfare as we understood it (in spite of bin Laden's declaration of war in 1998 (Mr. Wallace, I believe, said 1996 - but Pres Clinton didn't address that).

Remember all the talk and commentary after 9/11? "Who are these people, what did we do to them, why do they hate us and why do they want to kill us?" Answers took a long time to sort out. If we were facing a grave threat during Pres Clinton's terms they did not effectively communicate that to the US public. Nor did the Bush administration change emphasis.

Interesting, too, that Pres Clinton spoke openly of the number of times he'd ordered bin Laden killed. Just imagine if the subject wasn't bin Laden, 9/11 hadn't happened and Pres Bush said "I've given orders to kill a foreign national - contracted with others to do it." Whew.

Regarding all the references to Mr. Clarke - well, by the Washington standards of power - the money and people you control - he didn't seem to have much. He had the power of access, but fact was under Clinton his views weren't effectively acted upon, and when Bush administration came in, even less so. Some may get the impression from his writings he was about the only one charged with advising on al Qaeda/bin Laden. Not so. He may have been correct in many recommendations, but if the recommentations were not acted upon, his effectiveness, and the way one can imply he was viewed by his superiors, can be called into question.

Another good topic, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Paul, Shep Smith has alluded to a pullout a few times, and Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity mention it all the time. I never realized Clinton actually refused to pull out and stayed until the UN could take over.

About killing a foreign national, I'm pretty sure that's always been acceptable to Americans if that person's a threat to the United States. Isn't that the kind of thing we assumed our spies were doing overseas for the past 60 years?

Paul said...

I was referring to the Executive Order begun by Pres Ford and affirmed by all Presidents since - "No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination."

No qualifiers, there. So Pres Clinton affirmed the EO, then stated on the Chris Wallace interview that he'd - what- contracted with others. My point was, if Pres Bush had made the same assertion that is the issue we'd be discussing. Frankly, if true, I'm glad Pres Clinton did it - highly defensible position, given bin Laden's track record and stated intentions at the time.

Re: US stayed until UN took over - rather a fun with words situation. US troop levels, if I recall correctly, were pretty low by then. Presence of a few hundred US forces does not constitute, in my mind, "staying until someone else can take over."

Darrin Bell said...

That order was originally issued in response to the discovery that the CIA had made repeated attempts on the life of Fidel Castro, a person who had never directed any attacks agains the United States. Presidents from Reagan through Bush Jr. have held that acting in self-defense -- killing in response to attacks upon us -- is not a "political assassination" and therefore isn't restricted by that executive order, or by Carter & Reagan's affirmations of that order. I agree with that opinion.

Furthermore, if it were Bush rather than Clinton, I don't believe for a second that it would be a topic of discussion right now. In fact, Bush has made the same assertion, ever since 9/11. Bush has made no secret of the fact that he's contracted with the Northern Alliance in the past, and the Pakistanis now, to bring in Bin Laden "dead or alive." Nobody has a problem with that.

Paul said...

Good points. I hold to my musing, though - if the comment had been made by the current President his opponents would have said - what? A reasoned explanation like the one given here? Doubtful.

tiffany said...

I don't get it. The current president has said that, over and over again. The only thing his opponents criticize him for is failing to do it.

Paul said...

No - I meant Pres Clinton's line of "contracting with other - what, agencies, organization - to kill bin Laden." Was glad to hear him say it, though. From by background, I read that as entirely different than using conventional military or clandestine nonmilitary (direct government assets) to kill bin Laden.