Condi Rice testimony

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Overall, I haven't seen anything suprising so far in the Rice testimony. I do want to register my thoughts on one commision member's questioning. A couple members from the Democratic side were a little impatient and impolite with her, but one takes the cake.

Bob Kerrey asked a couple "Have you stopped beating your wife?" questions of Dr. Rice. When she insisted on challenging the assumptions of his questions before answering them, he told her not to filibuster him since he only has ten minutes. (Another panel member, Richard Ben-Veniste, had done this once or twice already, seemingly more interested in his own conspiracy theories than what she had to say, since he obviously didn't listen to her, but it didn't stop her from addressing his false assumptions either.) Kerrey was the one who raised those issues with her, so it's his choice how his time gets used. Then he had the gall to suggest that he'd been patient and polite with her. I don't how polite it is to call someone named Condoleeza Rice by the name "Dr. Clarke". I counted at least five instances of this, and there were probably far more. Getting someone's name wrong is extremely impolite. Insisting that she not challenge erroneous assumptions of his questions is a good example of impatient behavior. Rolling your eyes, grinning with disbelief, and getty edgy while listening to someone does not show politeness and willingness to hear what she has to say, nor does it exemplify patience. He started out well, but I stopped listening to what he had to say after too much of this.

Update: Best quote of the morning: "I don't like to beat a dead horse, but there's a lot of lame ones running around here. Let's see if we can't push them out the door." -- James Thompson, member of the commission

Update 2: As it's wrapping up, I'll say that it seems to me as if she's done what I expected. She's given a cogent presentation of the Administration's perspective on these issues. She answered pretty much every question to my satisfaction and made a couple members of the commission look like jerks and conspiracy theorists. This is from someone who doesn't know most of the issues in detail, but it didn't seem to me as if they had anything serious that she couldn't answer. The commission's chair concluded by saying that she had "advanced their understanding on certain events". Afterward, the vice-chair said he didn't think any of their questions threw her and that her comments would be useful to them. We'll see what the fallout is as it comes.

Update 3: Her prepared statement is already online.

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I thought I'd take a run through my Blogroll to see what folks are saying about todays appearance by Condoleezza Rice before the 9-11 Commission. This is just 14 examples of the overwhelmingly favorable reaction from those in my... Read More

5 Comments

You're right about the "beating your wife" question. The whole thing is mostly leading questions and hypotheticals.

Fox news posted the full transcript of todays hearing online in a printable format. :-)

I thought Condi was great.

The Dems went in expecting to eat REice for Lunch, but got an accute case of indigestion for their trouble. :-)

From a liberal (somewhat) Democrat's perspective, however, nothing that she said in any way contradicted anything Clarke said, she just gave a different spin on the same topics. Neither of them lied, they just gave different interpretations of the data. So, if you think that her not remembering whether or not she communicated to Bush that there were Al-Qaeda cells in the country was doing a 'good job', or if you believe that a PDB memo entitled "Bin-Laden will attempt to attack the United States" (which they refuse to release) was just about foreign attacks, then more power to you...

Oh, and also, from a liberal democrat's perspective, yes, Kerrey was a big goon...

She never said the memo was just about foreign attacks. She said it was a historical account of what Bin Laden had given some indication that he might do, with much speculation about the possible things they mentioned. According to her, a long list of things appeared, including some like what happened (though not so explicit), but there were so many other things, and some of them were nowhere near as severe as 9-11, many of them not being on American soil but attacks against the United States, that it hardly counts as a warning that he would send hijackers to fly planes into the World Trade Center.

As for the different interpretations thing, my impression was that her interpretations make it sound like Clarke wasn't making a lot of stuff up but was seeing a lot of interactions with people who have a much wider, strategic outlook as minimizing the role of his detail-focused job. As a detail person myself, I can understand why he would feel that way, but it's a perfectly natural response from someone who has wider concerns. Instapundit gives reason to think there are some substantive refutations of Clarke's overall picture, and I got the same sense.

Some of the commentary I've heard brought this out. She's a strategic person, and he's a logistical person. She probably isn't going to remember all the details of every little action he did, and he's likely to misinterpret a lot of the more strategic-thinking people's responses to his more focused work, because he's not looking at the big picture.

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