Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 14, 2004
POLITICS/WAR: Hindsight

The Boston Globe throws a tantrum over the August 6, 2001 memo (reprinted over at Kevin Drum's site):

[W]hen Bush read the carefully chosen title of the Aug. 6 brief -- "Bin Laden determined to strike in the US" -- he should have demanded that his national security team scour files for useful information and institute immediate preventive precautions.

The Aug. 6 memo was in response to a request Bush had made for an assessment of bin Laden's intentions. It was the right question to ask. . . But the answers Bush received should have lit a fire under him. He should have demanded action from the government agencies under his command.

After all, Bush was being told that bin Laden wanted to kill people inside America, that he already had operatives and cells in this country, and that he "wanted to hijack a US aircraft." If Bush had made prevention an urgent priority, two of the hijackers -- Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaq Alhazmi, whom the CIA had identified from a terrorist conclave in Malaysia and who were living openly in San Diego -- might have been nabbed. The memo from an FBI agent in Phoenix about Arab males at flight schools might have been pursued. The request from the FBI's Colleen Rowley to examine the computer of Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker, might have been granted. The government had the clues that fateful summer. It lacked a commander in chief to prod officials to align them in a pattern and take preventive action.

(Emphasis added). Talk about nonsense - does the Globe really think that the people making these decisions report directly to the president, or for that matter, have less than about 10 layers of reporting between them and the president? And remember, every level you go down, to get action, you have to order that many other people to do other things that wouldn't get you anywhere . . .

Jane Galt has a great rebuttal to the hindsighters. Excerpt:

You're George Bush in August 2001. Tell me, specifically, what you would have done based on that memo, that would have a reasonable chance of apprehending the hijackers. "Put the government on alert" is glaringly insufficient. The memo says that Al Qaeda may want to hijack an airplane to secure the release of militants, or that it may aim to make some sort of attack in Washington. Given that you do not know which of these, if either, is true, nor when, where, or how the attack will come; given that the "chatter" to which opponents of Mr Bush like to refer has more often not presaged an attack (as we have seen with the numerous "Orange Alerts" and so forth); and given that any measures you take will be expensive and anger some subset of the population, what do you do? If your answers include, with astonishing foresight, such unprecedented things as strip searching passengers on domestic flights or ordering pilots not to open cockpit doors even after hijackers have begun killing passengers, please explain which of the tens of thousands of domestic flights taking off in the United States each day you plan to target; where you will get the extra personnel to do so; how you will respond when the ACLU and the airlines get a preliminary injunction against you for flagrantly violating passengers' civil rights; how you plan to sell the massive delays to the millions of angry passengers; what you are going to do about the inevitable Democratic charges of racial profiling; and how long you plan to keep this up, given that you have no idea whether an attack is due this week, this year, or at all? You must also include a section explaining what you are going to do about the North Korea expert shouting in your ear that you really need to pay attention to this intelligence saying that crazy Cousin Kim may have nukes.

(Emphasis in original). Read the whole thing.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:55 AM | Politics 2004 • | War 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

To say nothing of the fact that almost none of this was new information. It had all been true for years, and there was no way of knowing it would suddenly come to fruition a month later. According to Condoleeza Rice, there were only two new things in that memo: the casing of federal buildings in New York (which turned out to be a false alarm, and would not have done anything to stop 9/11), and the call to the embassy (again unrelated to 9/11).

The only things that might have hinted at 9/11 were the hijacking rumors and "consistent activities," and to the best of my knowledge, that information was years old. I have a hard time believing that the press is unable to understand that. In a analogy the liberal media could understand, it's like going out and buying a gun when today's paper says a serial killer was spotted in your city three years ago.

Posted by: Donald S. Crankshaw at April 15, 2004 1:53 AM
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