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as seen on phillyBurbs.com

Intelligence test
How stupid am I?

Every day Americans in flag-draped body bags are being brought home from Iraq in large transports planes that land in Dover.

But for the first time in my lifetime, TV cameras are being kept away from the Air Force Base in Delaware under orders from the Defense Department, ostensibly to preserve the privacy of families in mourning.

Out of sight, out of mind.

In Washington, secret contracts to rebuild that nation continue to be handed out to U.S. companies - many with political ties - without public bidding by President Bush's administration with the word "Classified" stamped on them.

Meanwhile, Condoleeza Rice, Bush's national security adviser, continues her refusal to testify before a Congressional commission investigating intelligence lapses that let terrorists slam commercial jets into New York's twin towers and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

She, and nearly everyone else in the White House, take turns on the morning news shows blasting away at the credibility of former counterterror chief Richard Clarke, a 30-year federal employee and Rice's former underling, for saying the Bush administration ignored the warning signs that led to 9/11.

Connect the dots and this still-sketchy picture doesn't look pretty. It's like a bad Rorschach test, drawing the worse images from your imagination.

Does Clarke have an ax to grind? Sure, he does. Show me a whistleblower that doesn't. Is he trying to bolster sales of his book? Possibly. Was he right to apologize to those who lost loved ones in the terror attacks? Absolutely.

Thomas Jefferson said eternal vigilence is the price of freedom and this all happened on Clarke's watch. And he wasn't exactly new on the job either, having served in the same role with the Clinton Administration.

No matter what happens now or what the 9/11 commission finds, my opinion of Clinton's presidency is forever changed thanks to Clarke.

I used to think of Clinton as if he were some sort of Jethro Bodine in the White House, a hillbilly who didn't have a clue and got caught in a tryst with an intern. Clinton seemed to do nothing after the U.S.S. Cole was attacked in 2000 and when Bin Laden claimed responsibility for blowing up two U.S. embassies in Africa in the '90s.

Hell, Bin Laden's near-impugnity for those acts of war led him to issue a press release in 1998 to announce the formation of al Qaeda. I remember reading it, remarking at the time about the nerve of that guy and wondering why the White House didn't do something.

Now, thanks to Clarke, we know that Clinton lifted his own presidential decree against assassinations and ordered Bin Laden and his top henchmen killed. The CIA simply failed to get them.

Maybe, it was all the acrimony and confusion surrounding the bitter transition between the Democratic and Republican administrations. But you would have thought that somebody would have brought up Bin Laden's name with his or her successor before leaving the building.

Or maybe it was just those missing "W" keys from keyboards in the White House when Bush took over. After all, you can't have a war on terror without "W."


Last week's column, "So long, old friend, "drew the ire of Samantha Bloch who wrote in to say, "Could your column today be any more Negadelphian?"

Sorry Samantha, that wasn't its intent. I was simply trying to sum up my own feelings while watching the implosion of the Vet, which served as the home for the Phillies and the Eagles. Despite moving to new stadiums, both clubs still seem championship-challenged.


Speaking of old glory, Ken Avallon, of the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame, wrote in to say his group helped create a new exhibit for the Atwater Kent museum in Philly that opens on Thursday. "Will We Ever Forget: Baseball in Philadelphia, 1876-2004" will serve as the backdrop for four lectures on the history of Philly baseball. To read more about it, click here.


Finally, a column I wrote more than a year ago about the insidiousness of some adware programs, "Death to Xupiter," drew the attention of Eve Everett:

"About a week ago, I noticed subtle changes on MSN Internet Explorer. First, the home page fluctuated between normal and this damned Sqwire. Then it took it over completely. This was accompanied by a side file of porno filfth. Then, I noticed my toolbar changed and I could not longer use MSN Explorer. It totally crippled and paralyzed all functions!

"... Isn't there some way we can put a stop to this ? I feel mentally sullied. Are there any bills in Congress or groups I can protest to?"

The short answer Eve, is no. Congress is still working on Anti-Spam legislation and hasn't even considered this issue yet. But thanks letting my readers know that it's time to update their Ad-aware and Spybot software to protect themselves from Sqwire.

Dave Ralis' Pave The Grass column appears on Mondays. You can send him an e-mail at  or call him at 215-269-5051. To read his previous columns, click here.

March 29, 2004