I know these revelations are getting repetitive, but that's because the incompetence and lying keeps repeating itself: same shiftiness, different day. Today's item: Now we learn that Condi, who said "I don't know anyone who wasn't caught off guard by Hamas' strong showing," was in fact given information that showed Hamas in a dead heat with Fatah, with the momentum in its favor. A Hamas victory should not have been a surprise. What was the State Department's response to this information? None, as far as we know.
After Hamas trounced Fatah in Palestine's legislative elections, Condi was the designated spokesperson to trot out the Administration's preferred excuse: the intelligence was bad. Who knew?
The problem, as the indispensable Steven Aftergood of the Secrecy Blog explains, is that Condi and the Administration had perfectly good information showing that Hamas was surging in popularity and could well overtake Fatah.
A State Department report (warning: pdf) showed Fatah and Hamas running neck and neck. The report also showed that 22% of voters were likely to change their minds at the last minute, and that the changers were nearly twice as likely to move to Hamas as to Fatah.
Sounds like they pretty much nailed it. A Hamas victory was highly possible - certainly nothing to be "caught off guard" about. So why lie? Probably because telling the truth would raise the question: Why didn't you do something about it?
Not to publicly endorse Fatah, of course. That would be the kiss of death. Nor was there time left to address the issue of rampant Fatah corruption, which the intel suggested was the number one reason for Hamas' strong showing.
But there was another reason for the movement in Hamas' direction: the inability of Fatah to win any concessions at the bargaining table. Voters who watched as Israel and the U. S. rejected any possibility of discussion with Arafat had most likely assumed that these positions would change after Arafat's death.
Said the State Department report, "Likely voters who have little or no hope that there will be a peaceful resolution to the conflict clearly prefer Hamas (30%) to Fateh (12%)."
Abbas came to power with friendly words from both parties, but no concessions. An influential bloc of voters had apparently concluded that there was no hope for peaceful reconciliation, and had turned to Hamas.
Every year that passes decreases the possibilities for peaceful resolution of the Palestinian question. The fact that fewer Palestinians believe that negotiations will work has tragic implications - not just for the Palestinians themselves, but for Israeli security.
But addressing those issues will be uncomfortable and challenging, and will require us to prod not only the Palestinians but our Israeli allies too. It's easier and safer to lie and pretend we didn't know what was happened.
Memo to Condi: "Hamas Determined To Strike Inside Palestine." But then, maybe she thought it was only "historical."