Daily Show on GAO Critique of Bush Anti-Terror War: “We Could Have Gotten Here By Doing Nothing.”


Daily Show host Jon Stewart and Comedy Central Senior Military Analyst Rob Riggle had a mention-worthy chat last night about an important new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the badly named ‘war on terror.’
The GAO report is titled “Combating Terrorism: The United States lacks Comprehensive Plan to Destroy the Terrorist Threat and Close the Safe Haven in Pakistan’s Federal Administered Tribal Areas”. (pdf here)
The Daily Show clip is here:

But here’s the cool part. . .

Rob Riggle: “In 2001, there was a memo — Bin Laden determined to attack United States from a safe haven in Afghanistan. . .
Now 7 years and $700 billion later, we get a new memo saying Bin Landen determined to attack United States from a safe haven somewhere around Afghanistan. . .
We are right back where we started. We could have gotten here by doing nothing.”

I am acquainted with GAO staff member Edward George who had a major hand in writing this report, which is provocative, candid, and substantially dismissive of the Bush administration’s anti-terror efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
— Steve Clemons


19 comments on “Daily Show on GAO Critique of Bush Anti-Terror War: “We Could Have Gotten Here By Doing Nothing.”

  1. Kathleen says:

    pauline.. great background articles for this post.. 2nd NY Sun piece


  2. pauline says:

    For those who SERIOUSLY QUESTION the gw hand-picked 9/11 Commission —
    Available at Amazon, or get your local library to order —
    “9/11: The Myth and The Reality – 2 DVD Set”
    by David Ray Griffin
    “This shocking film brings together an account of the 9/11 tragedy that is far more logical than the one we’ve been asked to believe. Gathering stories from the mainstream press, reports from other countries, the work of other researchers, and the contradictory words of US government officials, David Ray Griffin presents a case that leaves very little doubt that the attacks of 9/11 need to be further investigated.
    Disturbing facts emerge that put into serious question the official story and reveal an enormous deception. Packed with bonus features, expert analysis, in-depth commentary and unforgettable conclusions about this tragic event in American history.
    Griffin scrutinizes the timeline and physical evidence of September 11 for unresolved inconsistencies.”
    Special Features:
    Interactive Menus, Scene Selection, Bonus Interviews, Web Enhanced
    Disc Two Features Two Bonus Films:
    1. Truth and Politics: Unanswered Questions About 9/11
    2. Flights of Fancy: The 9/11 Commission’s Incredible Tales About Flights 11, 175, 77, 93


  3. pauline says:

    “NATO Looks to Exit Afghanistan Whether U.S. Approves or Not”
    Has a secret NATO exit deal been planned for war-torn nation?
    By Richard Walker
    When NATO meets in Paris in June for a summit on Afghanistan, there could be a secret deal on the table that will offer a way out of a war in which the U.S. and its allies have become increasingly bogged down.
    Much to the dismay of Washington war planners, there has been a growing weariness in Europe with the Afghan conflict and reluctance by NATO members to expand troop commitments. This past year, Pentagon chiefs have consistently complained that European allies have not been pulling their weight at a time when it is vital to throw more troops into the fight against a resurgent Taliban, and a re-formed al Qaeda, whose leadership is based somewhere in the tribal lands between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
    Talk of a secret deal emerged during the recent NATO summit in the Romanian capital, Bucharest, when member nations were given a classified dossier outlining a German-inspired strategy for a reduction in troop levels leading to a phased withdrawal. The proposal conflicted strongly with the views of Pentagon military chiefs who have long argued that a resolution of the conflict could take decades. They believe that, like Iraq, Afghanistan might require a U.S.-NATO presence without a time limit.
    For some observers, the shifting German position on Afghanistan was predictable because the German public has consistently made it clear it is opposed to a long-term military commitment. During a NATO summit in Holland last year, Germany’s defense minister, Franz Joseph Jung, hinted at building up the Afghan security forces as a prelude to troop withdrawals, but he was careful not to elaborate or provide a timescale. But, in the wake of this latest summit, reports indicated that the secret German dossier went further, pointing to a need to build, train and equip an Afghan army and police force to take over from NATO.
    Some of the proposals were said to fall into line with a British policy advocating intensive training of the Afghan military, the planning for a robust police force to combat organized crime and terrorism and the creation of an independent judiciary.
    The British, however, have been reluctant to predicate their proposals on any hint of an exit strategy. Nonetheless, Germany’s apparent willingness to set the groundwork for a phased withdrawal could find favor with NATO countries that are reluctant to commit to a long-term engagement in Afghanistan.
    Another unusual aspect of the Bucharest summit was the background role played by Russia, which experienced its own Vietnam when it occupied Afghanistan. Russian President Vladimir Putin sent summit members an offer that would allow NATO to ship food and “non-lethal military equipment” for its Afghan forces across Russian territory, thus avoiding treacherous routes through Pakistan.
    The Pakistani routes have begun to prove hazardous for NATO food and oil convoys, with 40 oil tankers destroyed in a recent attack.
    A curious aspect of the Russian offer was that Russia also made it on behalf of six neighboring countries, including Uzbekistan, through which NATO convoys would have to pass after exiting Russia en route to northern Afghanistan. Those countries come under Russia’s NATO alternative, the CSTO—Collective Security Treaty Organization. By making the offer, President Putin was in effect indicating that NATO needed a closer partnership with Russia. Putin and his advisers had carefully studied NATO’s logistical difficulties and the fact that the Taliban had identified most of NATO’s transit routes through Pakistan, making it easy to hit NATO supply lines.
    In particular, the Taliban had been zeroing in on the major Pakistan-Afghanistan crossing point at Torkham, thereby interrupting important supply convoys. When Putin made his offer he was equally aware of a growing concern within NATO about the changing political climate in Pakistan and how, in the longer term, it could have a negative impact on NATO’s reliance on Pakistan as a supply route.
    If all of that was not enough to make the Bucharest summit a complex affair, there were calls from countries like Uzbekistan for a dialogue between the Afghan Northern Alliance led by Gen. Rashid Dostum and the Taliban. Dostum, with the help of U.S. Special Forces, crushed the Taliban at the outset of the U.S. invasion. His territory shares a border crossing with Uzbekistan, and both he and the Uzbekistani president, Islam Karimov, have benefited tremendously from the heroin traffic that uses the crossing.
    While the Pentagon still maintains good relations with Dostum, it has no time for Karimov, who ordered the U.S. to leave bases in his country after Washington diplomats condemned his killing of hundreds of Muslim protesters in 2005. His regime has been accused of boiling dissidents alive; yet several years ago he visited the White House and signed a secret pact with President George W. Bush. Aside from his proposal to start talks with the Taliban, he also recommended involving neighboring countries like China in a dialogue to find a solution to the Afghan crisis.
    While that may appeal to one or two NATO members, it will be dismissed by British and American leaders, who were dismayed to learn in Bucharest that the Northern Alliance was already engaged in a secret dialogue with the Taliban. The source for that information was none other than the Uzbek leader, Islam Karimov.
    It now looks like NATO for the foreseeable future will be tied to Russia and countries like Uzbekistan for supply lines, and that could prove problematic, especially if men like Karimov choose to play a greater role in Afghan politics. For example, if NATO has to rely entirely on routes through Russia, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tadzhikistan and Kyrgyzstan, it will make it difficult to exclude the leaders of those nations from demanding a role in forging an outcome to the Afghan conflict.
    Richard Walker is the nom de plume of a former mainstream news producer who now writes for AFP so he can expose the kinds of subjects that he was forbidden to cover in the controlled press.
    (Issue # 17, April 28, 2008)
    see —


  4. pauline says:

    “War architect blames Powell for Iraq”
    04/25/2008 @ 8:54 am
    Filed by John Byrne
    Blames Powell, Armitage, Bremer, Rumsfeld, Rice
    The man who led the office that supplied the Bush Administration with “raw intelligence” on Iraq now says everyone else is to blame but himself.
    Douglas Feith, President Bush’s former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, headed the Office of Special Plans, a secretive outfit which passed along unverified “alternative” intelligence to Administration decisionmakers in the run up to war.
    A Senate Intelligence Committee report found that the Office “developed, produced, and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al Qaida relationship, which included some conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community, to senior decision-makers.”
    In other words, they passed on “intelligence” that was never vetted, much of which appeared to align with a hawkish Administration agenda.
    On Thursday, Feith pointed his finger at everyone but himself regarding the war in Iraq. According to the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, at a book-launch party for his new book, “War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism,” Feith blamed a laundry list of officials for failing “to challenge the logic of going to war.”
    Blames Bush, too
    “He argued that former secretary of state Colin Powell and his deputy, Richard Armitage, were the ones who failed to challenge the logic of going to war — not him,” Milbank wrote. “He suggested that Powell, Armitage, Franks, former Iraq viceroy Jerry Bremer and even Feith’s old boss, Donald Rumsfeld, should be blamed for the postwar chaos in Iraq — not him. He blamed then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice for the way she operated (“fundamental differences were essentially papered over rather than resolved”). He accused the CIA of “improper” and unprofessional behavior. And he implicitly blamed President Bush for not cracking down on insubordinate behavior at the State Department.”
    “Yet at the same time, Feith told the… crowd that he disapproved of the “snide and shallow self-justification typical in memoirs of former officials,” or what Feith cleverly called the ” ‘I-was-surrounded-by-idiots’ school of memoir writing,” Milbank continues. “Feith pointed out that he supported his account with 140 pages of notes and documents. And yet, in his hour-long panel discussion, Feith seemed to be of the impression that he had, in fact, been surrounded by idiots.”
    Feith himself hasn’t escaped accusations that he was aloof during his time at his Office of Special Plans.
    According to Bob Woodward’s Plan of Attack, then- Secretary of State Colin Powell referred to the Office as the “Gestapo” office. Former CIA director George Tenet called his work “total crap.”
    When Feith stepped in to back recruiting a brigade of “Free Iraqi Forces” to enter Iraq with Americans, according to the book Cobra II, “Franks turned to Feith in a Pentagon corridor, letting him know where he stood: ‘I don’t have time for this fucking bullshit.”
    During his book launch party, Feith ironically remarked, “The CIA and the intelligence community should not be shading intelligence.”
    Milbank notes that Feith has been out of touch. Vaunting his book on “60 Minutes,” Feith asserted the Administration didn’t need to claim Iraq had weapons of mass destruction to invade.
    “Pointing so many fingers in so many directions, a man is bound to get confused — as happened when Steve Kroft asked him on “60 Minutes” about his claim that the lack of troops contributed to looting in Baghdad,” he adds. “‘I don’t believe I raised the troop-level issue in that connection,” Feith replied. Then Kroft presented him with the passage. “That’s a fair point,’ Feith amended.”
    Remarked Milbank wryly, “It must have been very difficult being Doug Feith: correct all the time, and surrounded by idiots.”
    see —


  5. rich says:

    Imagine the media narrative and political dynamics had Jimmy Carter been President while Osama bin Laden was running loose for seven YEARS.
    The Rose Garden drumbeat and Nightline’s daily count (Day 444 of the Iran hostage CRISIS!!!) would pale in comparison.
    Yet not a peep for Bush’s refusal to face the public, or face the facts, or blatant refusal to bring Osama bin Laden to justice. No media drumbeat. No commentator ridicule. No political pressure in any real effective sense.
    You get the palpable sense that somebody other than the President thinks he’s calling the shots.
    The facts are these: Osama bin Laden’s still free to operate as he pleases. ~3,000 Americans died on 9/11. The President isn’t actively pursuing bin Laden, and admitted he isn’t concerned. There’s no public stink being made about it.
    Under Carter and now Bush, American soldiers and citizens are paying for foreign policies inconsistent with American political and legal principles. Had the CIA not trained SAVAK to torture Iranian citizens, there’d’ve been no hostages and no takeover of the American Embassy.
    “One well known writer was arrested, tortured for months, and finally placed before television cameras to `confess` that his works paid too much attention to social problems and not enough to the great achievements of the White Revolution. …. By the end of 1975, twenty-two prominent poets, novelist, professors, theater directors, and film makers were in jail for criticizing the regime. And many others had been physically attacked for refusing to cooperate with the authorities.”
    Had Paul Bremer installed a sovereign nationalist govt in Iraq—rather than auctioning off Iraq-owned assets to corporate bidders—there’d be no nationalist Iraqi resistance to the American occupation.
    Rev. Jeremiah Wright, like George Washington, was dead right—the political chickens come home to roost. Quarter British soldiers in American homes, get the American Revolution. Smash down doors of Iraqi homes in the middle of the night, get an armed nationalist resistance.
    This is elementary, intrinsically American politics. You don’t invade or go to war without a legitimate political (& moral) cause, and you don’t do either without a legitimate Declaration of War. That’s conservative. That’s red, white and blue.
    That eliminates entangling alliances, staggering debt, and blowback at an unbelievably irresponsible scale. And I’d rather deal with issues via formal internal political debate, prior to military commitments, than after the fact by bearing the brunt of blowback delivered by events on the global stage.


  6. bob h says:

    But you forget to mention the salutary effect of the GWOT on the share prices and compensation packages of CEOs of Defense companies.


  7. TokyoTom says:

    Thanks for this, Steve.
    What the clip didn’t point out was that spending $700 billion (or $3 trillion, as Stiglitz has it) on NOTHING was not a bug, but a feature, of the policy.
    That money is passing through the hands of insiders and going to insiders. It’s the old rule of what our leaders do with OPM (Other People’s Money); they use it to aggrandize themselves and to benefit friends. We haven’t even started to put this war on the regular budget. Rather, Bush and his supporters are taking a blank check from our children by boorowing.


  8. Dirk says:

    Good point David, I was appalled that this little punk, bitch, MF Dan Gillerman insulted former President Jimmy Carter.
    In case you haven’t seen it:
    This little weasel should be involuntarily deported back to Israel.


  9. Rowan Berkeley says:

    “When the winter comes, you find out which trees are the evergreens,” as the luckless CIA man Harvey Newbegin remarked in one of Len Deighton’s earlier and better thrillers. Steve Clemens is one of the evergreens.


  10. David says:

    I agree, Sassy Suzy. I have found that it is never a mistake to check in on The Washington Note. And it is never a mistake to consider whatever Steve is willing to offer. He really is a very helpful link to people and policies we need to know about. And he ain’t out to proselytize, spin, or otherwise propagandize. He does take stands when they need to be taken, a la John Bolton. But there is a refreshing honesty and insightfulness to The Washington Note. And I just stumbled on to it – I no longer remember how. Still looking forward to the day he gets something really wrong in an area about which I am knowledgeable. Meanwhile…
    Oh, and screw the Israeli ambassador to the UN for calling Jimmy Carter a bigot. Bigotry Jimmy Carter is utterly incapable of. The Israeli ambassador to the UN, on the other hand, exudes bigotry toward an honest appraiser of the tragedy in Palestine. And screw Condi Rice for being a liar regarding what the State Department did or did not tell Jimmy Carter. But then how could she stay on in Bush/Cheney world if she weren’t? All the straight talkers get fired by those bastards.


  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    The “War on Terror” is a huge scam, and is marketed to the mass amount of idiots that seem to be the bread and butter of our population.
    If you want to tear the guts out of anyone that buys into this “GWOT” bullshit, all you need do is ask them to logically, coherantly, and convincingly defend the slogan “We are fighting them there so we don’t have to fight them here”. I have yet to find someone that can logically defend that ridiculous premise. (Understandably, because there is no logical defense for the premise. Which is precisely why we will never see McCain, Hillary, or Obama being asked that question.)
    The truth is, any reasonably intelligent citizen, who has kept him or herself well informed, could rip Bush, Hillary, McCain, or Obama a new asshole in an honest debate in which the questions and topics were not vetted. Which is precisely why we see this carefully choreographed dialogue with plastic citizens asking softball questions about irrelevant fluff.
    And by the way, it is painfully obvious that the incompetent ass that designed this TWN comment protocol inserted this glitch ridden “CAPTCHA” horseshit as an act of domestic terrorism, and should be subjected to a week on the business end of Lyndie England’s leash.


  12. Joe Klein's conscience says:

    That says everything you need to know about the US today, right?


  13. Qalice says:

    I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Rob Riggle is a Marine.


  14. ManagedChaos says:

    Everything the Bush administration has done with respect to the “war on terra” has made us less safe, created more terrorists, alienated more allies, lined the pockets of Bush cronies with both money and power and played right into the hands of bin laden’s movement. Do you really think this is all coincidental? At what point does incompetence turn into complicity. 9/11 was the catalyst that allowed the neo-cons to fulfill their dreams of conquest. 9/11 was an inside job.
    If everything you believe is everything you are supposed to believe, is it a coincidence?


  15. Mr.Murder says:

    CSpan actually screens callers and has done so for years.
    They scrubbed my comments to Mylroi off their archives.
    Brain Lamb is a Nixon stoolie.


  16. hillary clinton says:

    LETS NUKE EM!!!!


  17. jon says:

    Just a simple, clear piece of the truth. How unusual.
    When did the parties swap places? Democrats have to clean house,
    put things right and patch it up, and balance the budgets. While
    spendthrift, inattentive wastrel Republicans give away the store and
    pick needless fights.
    I think the bill ought to be forwarded to the RNC. Including the bill
    of indictments.


  18. Linda says:

    It’s sad but makes one smile that best political commentary and punditry is on Comedy Central rather than CNN, Fox, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, or CBS. Otherwise, I just trust C-Span as they don’t comment.


  19. Sassy Suzy says:

    Thank you Steve! You are posting so much great material. We’d never see this kind of thing if you didn’t post. Greetings from the family.


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