However, there’s a “downside” to all this foot fetishism
“Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice regrets having gone shoe-shopping and out for a night at the theater while Hurricane Katrina ravaged the US Gulf coast, she wrote in excerpts of her memoir released Sunday.
In “No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington,” which arrives in bookstores next week, Rice, the top US diplomat during president George W. Bush’s second term, writes ruefully that she later came to understand it was a major political misstep during one of the most violent and costly storms ever to hit US shores.”
As the ever-fashionable (yet socially responsible) Anderson Cooper notes —
“According to Drudge, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has recently enjoyed a little Broadway entertainment. And Page Six reports that she’s also working on her backhand with Monica Seles. So the Gulf Coast has gone all Mad Max, women are being raped in the Superdome, and Rice is enjoying a brief vacation in New York. We wish we were surprised.
What does surprise us: Just moments ago at the Ferragamo on 5th Avenue, Condoleeza Rice was seen spending several thousands of dollars on some nice, new shoes (we’ve confirmed this, so her new heels will surely get coverage from the WaPo’s Robin Givhan). A fellow shopper, unable to fathom the absurdity of Rice’s timing, went up to the Secretary and reportedly shouted, “How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!” Never one to have her fashion choices questioned, Rice had security PHYSICALLY REMOVE the woman.
Angry Lady, whoever you are, we love you. You are a true American, and we’ll go shoe shopping with you anytime.”
“I didn’t think much about the dire warnings of an approaching hurricane called Katrina,” she wrote in an excerpt of the book published on the Politico.com website, saying that she had flown to New York for a brief holiday in late August 2005.”
“On July 10, 2001, two months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, then-CIA Director George J. Tenet met with his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, at CIA headquarters to review the latest on Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Black laid out the case, consisting of communications intercepts and other top-secret intelligence showing the increasing likelihood that al-Qaeda would soon attack the United States. It was a mass of fragments and dots that nonetheless made a compelling case, so compelling to Tenet that he decided he and Black should go to the White House immediately.
Tenet called Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser, from the car and said he needed to see her right away. There was no practical way she could refuse such a request from the CIA director.
For months, Tenet had been pressing Rice to set a clear counterterrorism policy, including specific presidential orders called “findings” that would give the CIA stronger authority to conduct covert action against bin Laden. Perhaps a dramatic appearance — Black called it an “out of cycle” session, beyond Tenet’s regular weekly meeting with Rice — would get her attention.
Tenet had been losing sleep over the recent intelligence he’d seen. There was no conclusive, smoking-gun intelligence, but there was such a huge volume of data that an intelligence officer’s instinct strongly suggested that something was coming. He and Black hoped to convey the depth of their anxiety and get Rice to kick-start the government into immediate action.
He did not know when, where or how, but Tenet felt there was too much noise in the intelligence systems. Two weeks earlier, he had told Richard A. Clarke, the National Security Council’s counterterrorism director: “It’s my sixth sense, but I feel it coming. This is going to be the big one.”
But Tenet had been having difficulty getting traction on an immediate bin Laden action plan, in part because Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had questioned all the National Security Agency intercepts and other intelligence. Could all this be a grand deception? Rumsfeld had asked. Perhaps it was a plan to measure U.S. reactions and defenses.
Tenet had the NSA review all the intercepts, and the agency concluded they were of genuine al-Qaeda communications. On June 30, a top-secret senior executive intelligence brief contained an article headlined “Bin Laden Threats Are Real.”
File and Forget — right Condi?
“The July 10 meeting between Tenet, Black and Rice went unmentioned in the various reports of investigations into the Sept. 11 attacks, but it stood out in the minds of Tenet and Black as the starkest warning they had given the White House on bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Though the investigators had access to all the paperwork on the meeting, Black felt there were things the commissions wanted to know about and things they didn’t want to know about.
Philip D. Zelikow, the aggressive executive director of the Sept. 11 commission and a University of Virginia professor who had co-authored a book with Rice on Germany, knew something about the July 10 meeting, but it was not clear to him what immediate action really would have meant. In 2005 Rice hired Zelikow as a top aide at the State Department.
Afterward, Tenet looked back on the meeting with Rice as a tremendous lost opportunity to prevent or disrupt the Sept. 11 attacks. Rice could have gotten through to Bush on the threat, but she just didn’t get it in time, Tenet thought. He felt that he had done his job and had been very direct about the threat, but that Rice had not moved quickly. He felt she was not organized and did not push people, as he tried to do at the CIA.
Black later said, “The only thing we didn’t do was pull the trigger to the gun we were holding to her head.”
Especially if the gun’s smoking — right Dubbya?
(Back to Yahoo on Condi)
“Rice wrote that she called then-Secretary of Homeland Security Mike Chertoff as the storm advanced, inquiring if there was any way she could help, and was told that “he’d call if he needed me.
“I hung up, got dressed, and went to see ‘Spamalot’” she said, referring to a hit Broadway play.”
A play which taught her an important lesson —
“The next morning, I went shopping at the Ferragamo shoe store down the block from my hotel,” she wrote.”
“When it became clear that Katrina was even more severe than feared, Rice said she called the president to say that she was returning to the US capital.
“The airwaves were filled with devastating pictures from New Orleans. And the faces of most of the people in distress were black. I knew right away that I should never have left Washington,” she wrote, sensing a brewing public relations disaster both for her and for the president.
Sure enough, she wrote, minutes after the phone call, a senior aide showed her the headline of an article posted on a political website.
“Eyewitness: Sec of State Condi Rice laughs it up at ‘Spamalot’ while Gulf Coast lays in tatters,” it read.
Rice added that she “sat there kicking myself for having been so tone-deaf. I wasn’t just the secretary of state with responsibility for foreign affairs; I was the highest-ranking black in the administration and a key advisor to the president. What had I been thinking?” she writes in the book.
“In retrospect, the hurricane’s aftermath was the first in a spiral of negative events that would almost engulf the Bush presidency,” she writes in the memoir, which is due to be published by Crown Books on November 1.
“There were many missteps, both in perception and in reality. I’m still mad at myself for only belatedly understanding my own role and responsibilities in the crisis.”
Cue the Pet Shop Boys