“Booksmarts ain’t nothin without some common sense.” So many would-be father figures in my life have shared this sagely advice with me, I think it may be the first set of words I ever heard.

But, for all her advanced education (the media just won’t let us forget that classical piano playing, Phi Beta Kappa-in, PhD totin, four language speakin, former Stanford provost) and clear intelligence (much of it wasted in the service of an administration inspired by incompetence and single-minded arrogance), Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice hasn’t seemed to master even the booksmarts part, for she has demonstrated a remarkable inability to read.

STRIKE 1: Summer 2004. Hearings before the 9/11 Commission in the US Capitol

Rice declares, “Had we thought that there was an attack coming in Washington or New York, we would have moved heaven and earth to try and stop it.”

Ah, but then she was pressed about the existence of a certain now-rockstar memo (so famous that I’m expecting any day to see the August 6 PDB on the cover of US Weekly, dating Flava Flave). From her “had we thought there was an attack coming” testimony, Condi adjusted quickly, according to CNN:

“Asked by Democratic commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste, a former Watergate prosecutor who has read the memo, to recall the title, Rice said: “I believe the title was ‘Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.'” (emphasis most certainly added by me)

STRIKE 2: September 2006, shortly after former President Bill Clinton’s verbal drop kick on Fox News

As I reported last week, Condi came out swinging post-Clinton not-all-Democrats-will-take-this-b.s. moment, saying then, “We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al Qaeda,” and clearly trying to put the full blame for 9/11 on Bubba.

Yet, in a second blow to her “Terrorism? What Terrorism?” moment, Rice was forced to acknowledge the existence of this:

a memo from counter-terrorism expert Richard A. Clarke to Rice included the 2000 document, “Strategy for Eliminating the Threat from the Jihadist Networks of al-Qida: Status and Prospects.” (this time I added italics and bold. Watch out now!)

STRIKE 3: October 2006, aka Yesterday, the Tenet Meeting

Good ol’ Bob Woodward surprises all of us. After throwing two fake right punches with Bush at War and Plan of Attack, his third book lands solidly on the dome of the Bush administration in State of Denial. In this book, Woodward cites a July 10, 2001 meeting between then-CIA director and precious medal-collector George Tenet, Rice and the CIA’s top counter-terrorism officer named — why does this feel appropriate? — Cofer Black.

According to Newsday:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she cannot recall then-CIA chief George Tenet warning her of an impending al-Qaida attack two months before the Sept. 11 attacks, but according to news reports a review of White House records has determined that Tenet did brief her and other top officials

Sadly, I had no opportunity to emphasize a memo but a briefing is pretty close.

Ms. Rice, what were you doing as National Security Advisor if not reading urgent memos about impending attacks and listening to the head of the CIA and a spook named Mr. Black echo the same? In my experience, academics such as yourself are the best when it comes to memos and meetings, yet you cannot recall?

I’m sorry, but the Bob Erlichman defense just doesn’t cut it for me.

It always surprised me that Rice was so broadly approved for the job of Sec’y of State. After claiming that “who could imagine the terrorists would attack us with planes?” (uh, the creators of Flight Simulator!?!?) I thought it absurd to reward nonsense with a promotion.

However, we’re up to strike three, and it’s time to toss somebody out of the game. The final insult to me is that so many want to see Rice as president. Here’s my plan to squash that ignorant idea: the people who want her to run should send her a high priority memo.


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