Saturday, July 26, 2003

The Wrath Of Max Cleland

The ex-Senator was on Bill Moyer's NOW last night.

Not with Moyers, unfortuantely, The interviewer was Frank Sesno, late of CNN, who couldn't quite believe Cleland's ready outrage and kept asking him if he was sure he understood the seriousness of the charges he was making.

SESNO: Coming back to this report for just a minute, I spoke with someone at CIA who said after reviewing this report that there's a lot of stuff in there. But really, nothing new. Did you see anything new in it?

CLELAND: Absolutely.


SESNO: So, your commission builds on the joint Congressional…



CLELAND: Now, let's talk about that.

SESNO: So, where do you go that they didn't?

CLELAND: Let's talk about that here. This commission was formed about mid-December, the 9/11 Commission. We were supposed to use the joint inquiry report as a launching pad to get into this issue of not only fixing the intelligence community, but moving beyond, and getting into what is the al Qaeda all about? What is this terrorist global network that we're fighting? A new kind of war and all that.

Well, the independent, bi-partisan commission, hello, didn't even get the stuff 'til a few weeks ago.

I'm saying that's deliberate. I am saying that the delay in relating this information to the American public out of a hearing… series of hearings, that several members of Congress knew eight or ten months ago, including Bob Graham and others, that was deliberately slow walked… the 9/11 Commission was deliberately slow walked, because the Administration's policy was, and its priority was, we're gonna take Saddam Hussein out.

SESNO: Senator, do you have any documentation or any proof to back up this very serious charge of yours that this was deliberate besides your own…

CLELAND: Well, first of all…

SESNO: …hunch or gut?

CLELAND: …it's obvious.

SESNO: No, no, no, no…

CLELAND: But… but…

SESNO: …but beyond… but beyond being obvious, let me press…

CLELAND: First of all the war in Iraq…

SESNO: …you on this…

CLELAND: Yeah, okay.

SESNO: …because this is a very serious charge you're making. If you're saying that this was deliberate what I'm asking is has anybody said anything to you, from inside the Administration to support that? Have you seen any document, any memorandum that substantiates your charge?

CLELAND: Well, just look at it. Okay? This executive summary of the intelligence inquiry… the joint intelligence inquiry, the executive summary, was available December 10th. Why did it take nine months to go over what ought to be held out of that?

Now, I'm saying that that was slow walked. I am also saying why did it take eight months to get this 9/11 Commission really cranked up and going, and the first step was to use the Intelligence Committee report as a jumping off point? Why did all of this take so long?

Because the real priority of the White House was not the 9/11 Commission — they fought it. And it was just, and it really was their interest was to delay the revelation of this report.

One of the reasons they didn't want it is they didn't want all this stuff out there.

SESNO: The White House says, and I've spoken to them, that they didn't slow walk it, that there was a lot of very sensitive information involved, both in disseminating the information to begin with, and then determining how much should be released.

Max Cleland remained unconvinced. And outraged.

I couldn't find an audio or video link for the segment, but the transcript is well worth reading.

And not confusing sour grapes with patriotic outrage, I get the definite feeling the White House may yet rue the day it decided to make Max Cleland an ex-Senator.