Saturday, January 21, 2006

Al Gore ? Nevermore !!

Al Gore , who won the 2000 election by Popular votes, but lost by Electoral votes , has emerged recently to criticize the Bush administration ,and to make recognizable running-for-president noises.

No surprise there ! Mr. Gore can hardly be expected to have warm,fuzzy feelings for his erstwhile opponent .

It is also unsurprising to see that some of his former supporters are experiencing a wave of nostalgia for “Honest Al “ – and wondering : “Gee ! Suppose He had become President – instead of that awful Republican ? How different –no, how WONDERFUL life would be !”

What WOULD life have been like with Al Gore in the “cat bird seat” ?

Well, for starters, 9/11 WOULD have happened. It had been planned years in advance,and Osama and his Merry Men were not overly interested in the outcome of the 2000 elections.

Let’s assume the outcome would have been pretty much the same .
(Perhaps Al Gore would have been in Tennessee mending political fences –and reading “My Little Goat” to some grade schoolers there:
Who knows ? )

Once he and Vice President Lieberman returned from their “undisclosed locations” , and things settled down a bit, President Gore would have been in a very tight spot – with the circumstances leading up to 9/11 aimed like an arrow at the very heart of his presidency – and no one else but Al Gore and Bill Clinton to blame !

People would want to know why airport security wasn’t better – and someone would have pointed out that Al Gore himself (presumably with the whole-hearted approval of his boss) had gutted recommendations made by a “blue ribbon” panel he had chaired – AND – that almost immediately afterwards, the airlines made huge contributions to the Clinton-Gore campaign .

The connection was so brazen, even The Nation – hardly a bastion of Neo-Con Thought – remarked upon it : rather sarcastically, in an article titled: “Boodle and Airline Security”.

People would also want to know about that whole “Saudi thing” , whereby just about any holder of a Saudi passport was admitted to the United States without question. ( The US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia-Clinton appointee Wyche Fowler- even disciplined one Consular Officer who questioned the policy.)

Source for this is the 9/11 Commission Report supplement: “9/11 and Terrorist Travel”.

The Saudis, you see, were considered “ideal” visitors, as they spent lavishly, and very often wanted nothing more than a trip to Disneyland.

(Did I mention the Disney empire was a heavy Clinton-Gore campaign contributor ? $21,950 for the 96’ re-election campaign + $23,114 for the ’97 Inaugural .)

People might also ask about the NSA and the CIA : Why didn’t they warn us ?

The NSA – yes, the same NSA being accused of “ spying on Americans” – had been tied up with spying on…..France !

America and France were commercial rivals ,and the French , it was said, were in the habit of closing lucrative overseas contracts by paying hefty bribes to foreign officials ( and collecting a commission on the bribes !)

The American business community appealed to Mr. Clinton –and-once the contributions were bundled and received , NSA was put to work on those pesky French : turning up bushels of information on who was paying what to whom. The CIA would then see to it that “the lowdown” was given to the Opposition Press in the Purchaser’s country.

A multi-million dollar sale the French had counted on would suddenly fall through, and the Americans would win the contract. ( Our tax dollars at work ! Yay !) The grateful business community would cough up another hundred thou or so for one of the many Clinton “slush funds”.

Meanwhile, the NSA and the CIA were picking up all sorts of chatter from places like Pakistan,Afghanistan, Yemen,and other Islamist strongholds – but the chatter was going untranslated . Too much of the budget had been spent on French-speakers.

Okay, I think we can conclude 9/11 wouldn’t have done much for Mr. Gore’s reputation , can’t we ?

“Maybe so”, his loyal followers say. “ But at least we wouldn’t have all this wicked invasion of privacy !”

Really ?

Let me draw your attention to this article – courtesy of EPIC : the “somewhat progressive” Electronic Privacy Information Center.
I have abstracted a bit of the report. Contents in full may be viewed at the link shown:

Clipper Chip is a cryptographic device purportedly intended to protect private communications while at the same time permitting government agents to obtain the "keys" upon presentation of what has been vaguely characterized as "legal authorization."

The "keys" are held by two government "escrow agents" and would enable the government to access the encrypted private communication.

While Clipper would be used to encrypt voice transmissions, a similar chip known as Capstone would be used to encrypt data.

The underlying cryptographic algorithm, known as Skipjack, was developed by the National Security Agency (NSA), a super-secret military intelligence agency responsible for intercepting foreign government communications and breaking the codes that protect such transmissions.

In 1987, Congress passed the Computer Security Act, a law intended to limit NSA's role in developing standards for the civilian communications system. In spite of that legislation, the agency has played a leading role in the Clipper initiative and other civilian security proposals, such as the Digital Signature Standard.

NSA has classified the Skipjack algorithm on national security grounds, thus precluding independent evaluation of the system's strength.

On Feb. 4, 1994, the White House announced the adoption of the Clipper Chip. The adoption was supported by Vice President Gore. The White House released a factsheet of Questions and Answers on the decision.

Let’s talk about Post 9/11 actions by a Gore-Lieberman administration.

Given the fact Mr. Gore would have had the same military and CIA advisers, and given earlier assessments and statements by the previous (Clinton-Gore) administration, I’m inclined to believe we would still have troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

One of the compelling factors in the decision to “neutralize” Iraq was the seldom-publicized belief Saddam Hussein would have taken advantage of the US involvement in Afghanistan to launch a pre-emptive attack on Saudi Arabia . (Tommy Franks alluded to this-rather briefly- in his book “ American Soldier”.)

The Saudis –understandably – were playing their own game. Despite huge purchases of American arms,their only real defense was hired mercenaries of uncertain loyalty , “led” by absentee Saudi officers.

They were terrified of Iraq, and terrified of providing open support to the Americans – so they used their contacts in the CIA to present the White House with carefully manicured intelligence.

It is “fashionable” in certain circles to suggest it was the Israelis who wanted the US to invade Iraq . I’m sure they have shed no tears over the downfall of Saddam , but even a casual examination suggests they were more likely alarmed by the prospect : in the previous Gulf War,it was Israel that was targeted by Saddam’s missiles ; and , had Saddam used chemical or biological warheads, the Patriot batteries that shot down the incoming Scuds would have dumped the deadly contents on Israeli cities. It may be instructive to recall that the Israelis threatened Saddam with a nuclear strike the second time around.

Okay. We probably would have troops at risk in Iraq. How about Iran ?

This is where we start getting into some very strange areas !

In 1995, Al Gore – with the full authorization of President Clinton – signed a secret agreement with (then) Russian Prime Minister Viktor S. Chernomydin ,which called for an end to the sales of Russian armaments to Iran by 1999 – but which approved of Moscow’s completion of “existing orders” – including the delivery of 3 Kilo class diesel electric submarines – despite the fact this order completion was a direct contravention of the Iran-Iraq Arms Nonproliferation Act (also known as Gore-McCain, because the very same Al Gore had co-sponsored the bill in 1992,when he was a Senator.)

Noting the proximity of the 1996 elections,one cannot help but wonder –given Mr. Gore’s predilection for fund-raising – whether some carefully laundered Russian and/or Iranian money did not flow into one of the many Clinton funds.

The Russians ignored this secret “agreement”, and were still delivering goodies to Iran in the year 2000 : prompting this chiding article in the New York Times:

In early 2000 , while Mr. Gore was still on the campaign trail , the Clinton administration allegedly supplied plans for nuclear weapon triggers to Iran – in a botched CIA operation called Operation Merlin : again with the full knowledge and approval of (then) President Clinton – according to NY Times writer James Risen , in his controversial book : “State of War”.

According to the Risen story , the designs were defective, but the defects were easily remedied, and the Russian go-between selected for this odd mission offered to do just that.

I’d like to believe Mr. Risen’s source got it wrong, and that the plans were for “fail safe” devices – intended to self-destruct a weapon if it were accidentally launched, or had been hijacked by militants – (President Eisenhower provided the same information to the Russians during his term in office as a means of reducing the threat of an inadvertent nuclear exchange) – but, given the Clinton-Gore history of “open market” diplomacy, and the recent revelations about Hillary Clinton’s acceptance of campaign contributions from two pro-Iranian groups, I wonder if Mr. Risen got only half the story !

Should “ auld acquaintance” be forgot ?

In the case of Al Gore : most definitely !


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