This morning The Girls and I took in the classic Ray Harryhausen flick The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, courtesy of a DVD I borrowed from the local library. Our Five-Year-Old loved it, especially, of course, the monster's rampage through New York City.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- A newly released memo warned the White House at the start of the Bush administration that al Qaeda represented a threat throughout the Islamic world, a warning that critics said went unheeded by President Bush until the September 11, 2001, attacks.
The memo dated January 25, 2001 -- five days after Bush took office -- was an essential feature of last year's hearings into intelligence failures before the attacks on New York and Washington. A copy of the document was posted on the National Security Archive Web site Thursday.
The memo, from former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke to then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, had been described during the hearings but its full contents had not been disclosed.
Clarke, a holdover from the Clinton administration, had requested an immediate meeting of top national security officials as soon as possible after Bush took office to discuss combating al Qaeda. He described the network as a threat with broad reach.
"Al Qaeda affects centrally our policies on Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asia, North Africa and the GCC (Gulf Arab states). Leaders in Jordan and Saudi Arabia see al Qaeda as a direct threat to them," Clarke wrote.
"The strength of the network of organizations limits the scope of support friendly Arab regimes can give to a range of U.S. policies, including Iraq policy and the (Israeli-Palestinian) Peace Process. We would make a major error if we underestimated the challenge al Qaeda poses."
The memo also warned of overestimating the stability of moderate regional allies threatened by al Qaeda.
It recommended that the new administration urgently discuss the al Qaeda network, including the magnitude of the threat it posed and strategy for dealing with it.
The document was declassified April 7, 2004, one day before Rice's testimony before the September 11 commission. It was released recently by the National Security Council to the National Security Archive -- a private library of declassified U.S. documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
The meeting on al Qaeda requested by Clarke did not take place until September 4, 2001.
Nearly half of the Federal Aviation Administration's daily intelligence reports in the months leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks mentioned Osama bin Laden's terrorist network, according to newly released documents.
A report by the 9/11 Commission adds new details to long-standing concerns by the commission that the FAA did not respond aggressively enough in 2001 to intelligence suggesting al-Qaeda was planning an attack. The report was withheld from the public for five months before it was declassified. [...]
The report, completed Aug. 26, was intended as an addendum to the commission's full report. But the Bush administration spent months blacking out material it considered secret. The report was sent to the Archives on Jan. 28 with large chunks deleted.
More from CNN. Of course, electoral considerations played no part at all in the Bush Administration delaying this report.
One thing's for sure...the Clarke memo story casts serious doubt, to say the least, on Rice's testimony before the commission, and confirms beyond a doubt that she was incompetent in her job as National Security Adviser.
It also proves that the Bush Administration was indeed warned of the al Qaeda threat, and that it failed in its essential duty to defend the country.
Check out this Slate article on some of the shell games the Administration is playing with defense funding...most egregiously, by pretending it has no idea -- not even a baseline -- what operations Iraq and Afghanistan will cost this year.
A supplemental budget request is an accepted way to deal with the uncertainties of military operations. A year goes by between the time a budget is proposed and the time it goes into effect. If a war is going on, no one can predict a year ahead of time how many bullets will be fired, bombs dropped, fuel consumed, wheels replaced, tank-treads patched, and so forth. So, at some point, the Pentagon might request an extra sum of money—a supplemental—to accommodate the extra requirements.
However, this year, the Pentagon is using the supplemental option for purposes that go way beyond standard practice. First, Donald Rumsfeld and his comptroller's office are not even taking an educated guess at how much the Army might need in Iraq next year. For the budget, they are requesting peacetime levels of funding and intend to put all war costs into the supplemental.
Here's proof. In February 2001, shortly after Bush and Rumsfeld entered office, the Pentagon's request for Army O&M came to $31.2 billion for FY 2002, with expectations of $30 billion in FY03 and $31 billion in FY04. It turned out they needed more in FY04; wars were on in Iraq and Afghanistan. The budget documents released Monday show that Army O&M actually amounted to $62.4 billion in FY04 and $45.4 billion in FY05. Yet for FY06, the Pentagon is requesting just $31.8 billion—the same sum it requested five years ago, as if there were no war. It is fair to surmise that at least another $15 billion will be requested in the supplemental.
But this sort of low-balling is just the beginning. Rumsfeld is also putting into the supplemental items relating to the expansion of the U.S. Army—not to the war in Iraq.
Of course, Bush has never been honest with the American people about the costs and benefits of his Iraqi adventure, so why start now?
My lovely wife and I have been spending the last week or so going through the boxed set of Neon Genesis Evangelion she gave me for Xmas. She's become quite hooked on it, in fact. She also teared up a few times at some of the sadder parts (for example, the last 13 episodes or so), which is one of the reasons I love her so.
"This is the smallest I've seen it in at least the last 10 years," Police Chief Eddie Compass said after posing for a picture with a group of women wearing grass skirts and coconut shells. "I think it's the early date and the rain."
The annual pre-Lent celebration, a combination of family party and Bacchanalian blowout, still resembled the same jubilant citywide spectacle it has been for over a century — it was just a bit easier to get around.
Along St. Charles Avenue, the normally jam-packed street had stretches of empty spaces when the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club, the first of 11 parades Tuesday, made its way past.
The problem was partly that Fat Tuesday is the earliest this year it's been in 15 years — so far from spring break that it kept much of the college crowd away.
And while Tuesday was cloudy but mild, with the temperature around 70, rain had fallen Monday and during the night, turning some spots muddy.
"It's definitely off," said Fallon Daunhauer, a bartender at Johnny White's in the French Quarter for 21 years. "I think both things hurt. It's not the best weather and it's so early. Too close to Christmas, not close enough to spring break to get the college kids in."
...but frankly, a Mardi Gras not overcrowded with the MTV Spring Break Daytona Beach West scene would be fine with me.
For my part, I'm giving up desserts for Lent starting tomorrow, so today was my last day to indulge for a while.
Update: I got one today (Wednesday, Feb. 9th....yeah, I bought a kid's meal...got a problem with that?), and the game is similar to the ittle LCD Sega games McDonals was doling out a while back. Of course, since the Atari 2600 Activision games were fairly simply they translate decently, but it's at least equal parts licensing of the brand name as the game concept. I got "Grand Prix," which involves dodging horizontally scrolling cars. It's okay, but I'm still hankering for the "Barnstorming" game.
Regarding last weekend's the Iraqi election, I'd like to go on record as agreeing with Jeff Cooper:
It's important not to exaggerate the extent of Sunday's success. This election does not mean that Iraq is a healthy democracy, or even a viable democracy. The widespread Sunni boycott of the vote has ominous implications for the perceived legitimacy of the resulting government in important sections of the country. Indeed, there's still no assurance that a functioning government will emerge, or that the insurgency will lose steam. And Sunday's vote certainly does not serve as a post-hoc justification for the numerous terrible decisions that the Bush administration made over the course of more than two years. But Sunday's vote can't be dismissed as irrelevant, either. And just as I, an opponent of the war, was moved by the initial expressions of exuberance in Iraq following Saddam Hussein's fall, so too I couldn't help but be moved by the photographs of Iraqi voters holding up their ink-stained fingers.