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Four Color Politics

Mainly the Quotes of the Morning, with occasional Other Crap.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Whack a Mole, Pt 2.

“Yesterday we discussed how we shouldn’t be worrying about al Qaeda regrouping in Pakistan, because we have brought the fight to them in Iraq. It sure is a good thing that we’re winning the war there, because everywhere else it seems to be going to Hades in a handbasket.”

“President Bush’s top counterterrorism advisers acknowledged Tuesday that the strategy for fighting Osama bin Laden’s leadership of Al Qaeda in Pakistan had failed, as the White House released a grim new intelligence assessment that has forced the administration to consider more aggressive measures inside Pakistan.

The intelligence report, the most formal assessment since the Sept. 11 attacks about the terrorist threat facing the United States, concludes that the United States is losing ground on a number of fronts in the fight against Al Qaeda, and describes the terrorist organization as having significantly strengthened over the past two years.”
-New York Times, July 17, 2007

“We would be fighting al Qaeda in Pakistan, but, as you all know, Pakistan is a sovereign country, and we only attack sovereign countries that have four letters in their names and start with ‘Ir’ (Iran.. you’re next).”

“Q: Tony, is it because the U.S. military is stretched and taxed and every other way you want to describe it, in Iraq, is that a reason why when the report says that there is a safe haven in the Pakistan federally administered tribal area that includes the lieutenants and top leadership of al Qaeda, is that why the U.S. isn't going in there, or is it out of deference to Musharraf?
MR. SNOW: No, again, if you talk -- when you talk about the U.S. going in there, you don't blithely go into another nation and conduct operations. We --
Q: Well, the President went into a sovereign nation in 2003.
MR. SNOW: Well, he went into a sovereign nation that was, in fact -- he also had with him the support of 17 U.N. resolutions, including Resolution 1441.
Q: But he could seek similar world support for such an action --
MR. SNOW: Well, again -- but on the other hand, we are working with a sovereign nation which is an ally with us, in this particular case. And when it comes to Pakistan, the United States has, in fact, been continuously working with President Musharraf and we're going to do what we can to try to strengthen his hand in whatever he needs. We have spent -- we have devoted considerable resources to helping him beef up capabilities and presence within the federally administered tribal areas, which are very tough.
Q: With all the complications and diplomacy and everything else involved in this, but just for the American citizen watching this, if we can identify that the safe haven is there, that lieutenants and top leadership are there --
MR. SNOW: Well, it's not as if they've hung out a shingle and there's a great big compound. These are people who, in fact, do their very best to remain concealed.”
-Press Gaggle with White House Spokesman Tony Snow, July 17, 2007

“Yes, as Fearless Leader has told us, the terrorists hide in caves!”

“They hide in caves. See, this is a different kind of war. And part of my responsibilities as your President is to remind people about the realities that we face in America. One of the realities is, is that these people hide in caves.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, September 5, 2002

“See? That is why we had to attack Iraq instead. It is a desert, so there are fewer caves for the terrorists to hide in, so we can find them easier there. Personally I am going to check my closet, since it is too small to give them any hiding places at all. Makes perfect sense. I feel safer already.”

“Q: Tony, when the report -- the NIE says that al Qaeda is likely to try to leverage the gains it's made in Iraq to mount an attack on U.S. soil, doesn't that undermine the President's case that by fighting the terrorists in Iraq, we're preventing them from coming to U.S. soil and attacking here?
MR. SNOW: No, and you asked the same question to Fran, and she reread to you the language of the NIE, which is probably worth doing, because what it really talks about is the fact that it will -- let me just find the particular item there -- what's happening is al Qaeda basically is looking for ways to generate bragging rights that are going to be useful in recruiting or plotting or trying to leverage contacts. Here's what it says: ‘Of those concerns, we assess that al Qaeda will try to exploit the conflict in Iraq, to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al Qaeda in Iraq, its most visible and capable affiliate, and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack us here.’ It does not say that it has a stronger hand. What it says is that it is going to try to exploit, for political and also for recruiting purposes, anything it possibly can out of the ongoing conflict in Iraq.
Q: Right. The President was warned of that, though, by the CIA before the war in Iraq.
MR. SNOW: Well, the President had a lot of inputs before the war.”
-Press Gaggle with White House Spokesman Tony Snow, July 17, 2007

“Yes, many, many people told Fearless Leader things before he invaded Iraq, and he didn’t listen to any of them. Now we just need to understand that, despite being stuck in the middle of a civil war while the real enemy regroups in another country, we are safer.
That doesn’t sound right.. Tony, can you explain it better?”

“Q: What do you want the public to take away from a day that has seen the administration talk again about a heightened terror environment, while at the same time again saying there are no credible, specific threats?
MR. SNOW: I think what they ought to take away from it is that we have a vigorous and, so far, successful effort to go against al Qaeda. And, in fact, there ought to be reassurance and, at the same time, vigilance.”
-Press Gaggle with White House Spokesman Tony Snow, July 17, 2007

“See? You should just relax and be frightened at the same time. It isn’t like the war in Iraq distracted us from winning against al Qaeda, because there was no way to win in the fight against al Qaeda anyway. Don’t believe me? Just ask the Administration.”

“Q: Tony, doesn't all this discussion of the threat posed by al Qaeda on multiple fronts, on which you, yourself, say the government is going after them, suggest that the group should have been crushed entirely before the U.S. took up something like going into Iraq?
Q: Why not?
MR. SNOW: The fact is that this is a group that was --
Q: Why give them the battlefield?
MR. SNOW: Excuse me -- they were already spread out over 60 countries, Wendell, before the war began. Al Qaeda started war against the United States in 1993 with the bombing of the World Trade Center, that continued with actions at Khobar Towers, the bombing of the USS Cole, the bombings of embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Al Qaeda was already in the battlefield before that war began. Furthermore, al Qaeda had dispersed itself around the globe.
So, in point of fact, what you are asking is a question, why didn't we crush al Qaeda globally before we went into Iraq?
Q: Precisely, yes, that's what I'm asking.
MR. SNOW: The answer is that, as part of a larger war on terror, you're assuming that al Qaeda is a small, contained entity that can be beaten by conventional war methods. And the fact is, when you take a look at asymmetrical warfare, it is something where you constantly have to go after a shifting enemy.
Q: Are you telling me it was impossible to smash them globally before we went into Iraq?
MR. SNOW: Yes.
Q: Thank you.”
-Press Gaggle with White House Spokesman Tony Snow, July 17, 2007

“As Mr. Snow explained.. Crushing al Qaeda was impossible before we attacked Iraq, and now we aren’t even trying to fight them in their strongholds, so the War on Terra will continue forever. I guess the big problem is that they have so many high-level management people ready to take over..”

“Q: Could you talk about the hierarchy here and how you decide who is high-ranking, who isn't high-ranking? You put 26 guys high-ranking. Do you have any sense of how big this operation is, what the command and control is like there?
MR. SNOW: Well, you do know -- again, you don't want to go too far into disclosing sources and methods, but on the other hand, what you do have is a pretty clear structure. You do have al-Masri and his lieutenants, who are sort of at the top of the pyramid. And actually, Kevin did provide kind of an operational flowchart. I'll make that available to you. I did not put that together as a slide --
Q: But just the scope of the organization. I mean, you, over the years, have said that, I think, two-thirds of al Qaeda, the international leaders --
MR. SNOW: Yes, senior leadership.
Q: -- senior leadership was knocked out, and yet you said they're regenerating. It appears, from tracking this for the past few years, that al Qaeda in Iraq also regenerates --
MR. SNOW: Of course.
Q: Zarqawi was killed. So you'd say, these senior leaders, they just keep regenerating?
MR. SNOW: Well, look, people fill the vacancies. But on the other hand, what you also have when you fill those vacancies, quite often are people with less experience and less capability than the people they have replaced. “
-Press Gaggle with White House Spokesman Tony Snow, July 17, 2007

“That’s just the way it is in management. There is always someone ready to step up to the plate and take over.”

“The Bush administration has failed to fill roughly a quarter of the top leadership posts at the Department of Homeland Security, creating a ‘gaping hole’ in the nation's preparedness for a terrorist attack or other threat, according to a congressional report to be released today.
As of May 1, Homeland Security had 138 vacancies among its top 575 positions, with the greatest voids reported in its policy, legal and intelligence sections, as well as immigration agencies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard. The vacant slots include presidential, senior executive and other high-level appointments, according to the report by the House Homeland Security Committee.”
-Washington Post, July 9, 2007

“I guess that what we don’t have in quantity we will have to make up in quality..”

“I don't know what I'll do long-term. I'm a terrible long-term planner.”
-Condoleeza Rice, interview in the issue July 23 issue of Business Week

“We are royally screwed.”


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