Your Government Failed You.

I decided to head over to Ballroom E to see the panel called "Iraq in Strategic Context." It sounded like an oxymoron to me. However when I got here there was a sign saying that the Iraq panel was postponed for one hundred more years two hours and instead they had moved up one of the other panels I wanted to see to 1:30 PM. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

Did anyone see the two pigeons roaming around the east side of the Convention center? They looked like they were setting up camp in the cool air conditioning. I hear they're liveblogging at

So now I am here at "Your Government Failed You." Cheery. Here's the blurb if you'd like to check it out in more detail. Richard Clarke, former chief counter-terrorism adviser and author of Your Government Failed You: Breaking the Cycle of National Security Disasters and Rand Beers, president of the National Security Network, are leading the discussion.

Richard Clarke, left, and Rand Beers discussing the government failures.

Beers gets a laugh by starting with saying "Dick, why would you write a boring book like this?" Clarke explains the usual reasons -- looking back on past mistakes so you can prevent more in the future.
Clarke is now debunking some of the myths about the US military - best trained? Nope, no counter-insurgency training. Best equipped? Nope, Humvees with canvas over the windows.

"As to best led?" Clarke says. Uncomfortable silence, and then: "They were led by Tommy Franks. Who let Bin Laden escape in Afghanistan...and it's not just Franks. It's the whole US Army General corps at that time. Who stood up and said we don't have the training and the equipment to do this?"


Questions from the audience time. A guy poses a question about how Clarke mentioned Franks let Bin Laden escape, and how he thinks that the US didn't really want to capture Bin Laden at all so that we could go into Iraq.
Clarke says in December 2001 we went into Afghanistan, as he understood it, to capture Bin Laden. The CIA was in the mountains closing in on Bin Laden, and then asked for military reinforcements. Clarke announces that he reveals in his book that the Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlin also said that they need to move troops to the border to prevent Bin Laden from escaping. But her request was also denied.
Clarke says that the human brain wants to assume that those facts add up to that we just wanted Bin Laden to escape. Then he pauses and says "But actually, it was just incompetence."
That's comforting.

Someone asks about Valerie Plame, and how much damage outing her did. Clarke says that Randy can better answer it. Beers answers that as an individual case, it's not clear yet and the investigation was classified so it's hard for him to say. But it is a "clear reminder that this kind of thing can happen again and preferably people will be better-skilled at keeping these kinds of secrets. But it does represent the kind of politicization of the intelligence committee."

Time's up.

Mean Rachel Truth #1 of the Day: Our government sucks.

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