On PBS’s Charlie Rose — six years after the eve of the Iraq invasion — former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice discussed the decision to invade Iraq. Rice said she has had no “second thoughts” about striking the country, and when pressed by Rose on whether Saddam Hussein had connections to 9/11, Rice blankly claimed that “no one” believed in such a link.
Really? The supposed ties between Sadddam and 9/11 formed the basis of the administration’s cause for war. A letter from the White House to the House Speaker on March 18, 2003, read:
“(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.”
In his book, Bush At War, Bob Woodward noted that Bush said he believed Iraq was involved with 9/11. On Sept. 15, 2002, Rice said that Saddam had links to al Qaeda. Former Vice President Dick Cheney still believes there was a link between Iraq and al Qaeda. Former press secretary Ari Fleischer said last week, “But after September 11th, having been being hit once, how could we take a chance that Saddam Hussein might not strike again?”
President Obama sent “a special message to the people and government of Iran” on Nowruz, the beginning of the Persian New Year:
"In this season of new beginnings I would like to speak clearly to Iran’s leaders. We have serious differences that have grown over time. My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community. This process will not be advanced by threats. We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect.
"You, too, have a choice. The United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations. You have that right — but it comes with real responsibilities, and that place cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization. And the measure of that greatness is not the capacity to destroy, it is your demonstrated ability to build and create."
Bloomberg News reports that Neil Barofsky, inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, told the House Ways and Means oversight subcommittee that the Bush administration fully approved paying bonuses to AIG employees in its November agreement to provide federal bailout funds to the failing insurance company.
Think Progress: Yesterday on NBC News, Brian Williams revealed that the McCain campaign "steered" the media toward the story, now proven to be a hoax, about a young volunteer, Ashley Todd, being attacked by an Obama supporter:
"The McCain campaign steered reporters' attention to the story yesterday. John McCain even called the 20-year old woman. Sarah Palin called her family. Well, tonight that woman is charged with making a false report."
TPM's Greg Sargent also reported yesterday on the McCain campaign's involvement in pushing the hoax, with a McCain spokesman telling reporters that the attacker told the victim, "Oh you're with McCain, you're with the McCain campaign? I'm going to teach you a lesson."
Update: Todd is now reportedly "upset with the media for blowing this into a political firestorm."
Update: ThinkProgress spoke with a representative from the McCain campaign who confirmed that they have STILL not yet put out a statement about the Todd hoax.
Think Progress: Following the Drudge Report's lead yesterday, news organizations picked up the story of a McCain campaign volunteer in Pittsburgh named Ashley Todd, who said that a black man mugged her, sexually assaulted her, and scratched a "B" into her cheek because she had a McCain bumper sticker on her car. The police quickly pointed out "inconsistencies" in her story. Todd has now confessed that she made up the story.
On his blog yesterday, Fox News Executive VP John Moody, who is a Pittsburgh native, wrote that the incident's credibility was inextricably tied to McCain's campaign:
"If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain's quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting."
Yesterday, before Todd had confessed, the McCain campaign put out a statement about the incident, saying, "We're shaken up by this. It's sick and disgusting."
Headline: GOP mailing depicts Obama's face on food stamp By Press-Enterprise
RIVERSIDE, CA — The latest newsletter by a Republican women's group depicts Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama surrounded by a watermelon, ribs and a bucket of fried chicken, prompting outrage in political circles.
The October newsletter by the Chaffey Community Republican Women, Federated says if Obama is elected his image will appear on food stamps -- instead of dollar bills like other presidents. The statement is followed by an illustration of "Obama Bucks" -- a phony $10 bill featuring Obama's face on a donkey's body, labeled "United States Food Stamps."
The GOP e-mail newsletter is drawing harsh criticism from members of the political group, elected leaders, party officials and others as racist.
The group's president, Diane Fedele, said she "doesn't think in racist terms."
"It was just food to me," she said.
Sheila Raines, an African-American member of the club, was the first person to complain to Fedele about the newsletter. Raines, of San Bernardino, said she has worked hard to try to convince other minorities to join the Republican Party and now she feels betrayed.
"This is what keeps African-Americans from joining the Republican Party," she said. "I'm really hurt. I cried for 45 minutes."
The newsletter prompted a rebuke from another African-American member of the organization, which is well recognized in the community for its philanthropy and efforts to register and turn out voters.
Acquanetta Warren, a Fontana councilwoman and member of the women's group, said the item is rude and requires a public apology. "When I opened that up and saw it, I said, 'Why did they do this? It doesn't even reflect our principles and values."
The Sacramento Bee on Wednesday posted an image it said was captured from the Sacramento County GOP Web site that showed Obama in a turban next to Osama bin Laden.
It said: "The difference between Osama and Obama is just a little B.S." The site also encouraged members to "Waterboard Barack Obama," a reference to a torture technique.
Mark Kirk, a spokesman for the San Bernardino County GOP chairman, said "Unfortunately, I don't know what you do to correct ignorance like this, but we will do what we can."
Think Progress: This morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Time Magazine Jay Carney pointed out that Gov. Sarah Palin has yet to answer any questions on foreign or domestic policy. McCain adviser Nicolle Wallace interjected, “Who cares?!” Wallace erroneously said, Palin "took the stage and talked to the American people about things they care about: How they’re gonna save their homes."
Of course, Palin never said anything about the housing crisis in her speech. Though she attacked Barack Obama and community organizers, lied about her opposition to the Bridge to Nowhere, and reversed positions on whether we can “drill our way out of” the energy crisis, Palin did not mention any aspect of domestic or foreign policy during her speech. She discussed McCain’s POW experience, compared herself to a pitbull, and declared that “victory in Iraq is finally in sight,” but never said anything remotely related to how Americans could save their homes.
Appearing on CNN this morning, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) praised her performance but said it lacked specific policy recommendations. “I didn’t hear the phrase ‘middle class.’ I didn’t hear a single word about health care. I didn’t hear a single word about helping people get to college,” Biden said.
According to Time's Anna Marie Cox, the McCain campaign abruptly canceled a Habitat for Humanity appearance today.
Think Progress: In a interview yesterday with ABC News, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) “has been in charge [of the Alaska National Guard] and she has had national security as one of her primary responsibilities.” But the Associated Press reports today that under Palin’s leadership, the Alaska National Guard has experienced a “crisis level” personnel shortage:
[S]ix months ago, Air Force Maj. Gen. Craig Campbell, the Alaska Guard’s top officer, warned in an internal memo that “missions are at risk.” The lack of qualified airmen, Campbell said, “has reached a crisis level.”
The situation has improved since the March 1 memo was written, Campbell said Wednesday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press — but not enough to eliminate his concern that shortages will result in the “burnout” of troops the Guard already has.