On Meet the Press yesterday, the L.A. Times’s Ron Brownstein predicted two possible fallouts from Condoleezza Rice’s 9/11 testimony and the release of the “Bin Laden Determined to Strike” memo. One major issue was the interpretation of Rice’s under-oath claim that the memo was “historical” in light of the memo’s mentions of current and future activities by al Qaeda and anti-terrorism investigators. The other was a focus on why the president and his team didn’t do more to respond to the information in the briefing, for instance following up for more about the reported 70+ active FBI investigations into al Qaeda.
But it seems to me that the biggest fallout, politically, for Bush, Rice et. al. is the continued erosion of the White House’s overall credibility in the “War on Terror.” The wartime footing of the administration and its stated and unstated claims to the moral high ground–over Democrats, critics, Richard Clarke, the international community and the slowly-awakening press–start to look pretty shaky if it can be demonstrated that their focus on national security was unsteady, or that the political efficacy of half-truth is more important to them than a sober assessment of the government’s preparedness.