September 27, 2006

Dis-Enthralling Ourselves

For those of you who missed Chris Wallace's ambush interview of former President Bill Clinton on Fox News last weekend, here is the set-up:
Wallace sat down to speak with Mr. Clinton under the guidelines that 15 minutes would be devoted to the Clinton Global Initiative, and the remaining 15 minutes could be used to cover any other topic(s) that came to mind. After roughly one question on the Clinton Global Initiative, Wallace dove right into what, he claimed, his audience "had been eMailing him" to ask: Why didn't Bill Clinton do more to get Osama bin Laden?

What followed was one of the more interesting exchanges one is likely to see between a sitting or former U.S. President and the news media. Despite Fox News' efforts to label Mr. Clinton's response as "crazed," our 42nd president was anything but. He was, however, forceful and more than a little angry as he called out Fox News, Chris Wallace and the American right wing for attempting to rewrite history and foment a disinformation campaign. Repeatedly citing Richard Clarke, the chief anti-terrorism expert in the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, he almost - but not quite - wiped the smugness off Wallace's face.
The entire interview is below, divided into three segments. Parts 1 and 2 cover the exchange referenced above, with part 3 back on the topic of the Clinton Global Initiative.

Backers of President Bush, lifting the words out of context, have fixated on Clinton's statement that he "failed to get bin Laden," despite the culpability of the Bush Administration in disregarding the Presidential Daily Briefing entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States," and ignoring transition briefings set up by outgoing National Security Advisor Sandy Berger to inform the incoming president of the plan for addressing Islamist terrorism that the Clinton Administration had developed. (Bush National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice famously derided the last as nothing more than "a series of actionable steps." Draw your own conclusions as to the difference.)

In response to this - and at some risk of Sensen No Sen becoming an occasional hagiography of Keith Olbermann - below is the most recent special commentary from the host of Countdown. It is devoted to the Clinton interview and the manner in which the Bush Administration has undermined the Constitution and our way of life in the aftermath of 9/11, as it continues to assault civil liberties and advocate torture. While Olbermann's special commentaries are occasionally of lesser quality, this isn't one of those times, and he knocks it out of the park, declaring "an end to the free pass" George W. Bush has had to act in the most un-American of ways.
One can only hope that President Bush is, indeed, finally held accountable. For surely, somewhere, Osama bin Laden sits smiling to himself, watching us do the job of dismantling our nation from within, far more effectively than he could ever hope to do himself.

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