The other morning, we were talking about the election, and our son Tom brought up the testimony of Richard Clarke, the former anti-terrorism czar (why not tsar, by the way?), before the 9/11 Commission. Specifically, he mentioned how Clarke had testified that during the Clinton administration, he had a direct line to the national security advisor (Sandy Berger) and other senior officials; under Bush, he said, his communications were put in a channel through subordinates that often meant it took months for him to get a meeting with the national security chief (Condoleeza Rice) on urgent matters. So, of course I like the fact Tom, who’s a senior in high school and getting more and more engaged with the world, has the specifics of Clare’s testimony at hand. It’s interesting where he got it. The 9/11 Commission hearings are offered free on Apple’s iTunes; Tom downloaded the Clarke testimony because he likes to listen to “spoken-word stuff” when he goes to bed. Interesting. When we were kids, we listened to stuff on records and the radio when we went to bed, too; but not so much “spoken-word stuff,” and not anything like the 9/11 Commission hearings (I guess the equivalent for us would have been a recording of Daniel Ellsberg reading The Pentagon Papers.
(And while I’m talking about iTunes, just let me comment on one of their TV ads. Bono, from U2, is on screen, and he counts off the start of a song in Spanish. “Uno, dos, tres, catorce.” Yeah, that’s “one, two, three, fourteen.” Nice. Listeners have picked up on this and are discussing what it means online. One forum I found includes theories that this is a reference to a character on the old ABC series “Three’s Company”; another is that this refers to passages in the New Testament. )