Man Without Qualities

Thursday, May 16, 2002

What Terrorists Do II

Condoleezza Rice has now given her briefing to the media regarding the "warnings" received by the White House prior to the September 11 disasters, Matt Drudge has provided the transcript and the New York Times has provided its rather predictable spin. Ms. Rice describes White House considerations very much like the hypothetical conversation between White House aides invented in the prior post. The reader may examine the transcript for herself to see if she agrees with the Times that Ms. Rice "had a difficult time explaining why it took eight months to reveal that the C.I.A. had raised the specific possibility of a hijacking by Al Qaeda, even a conventional one." Perhaps I missed it, but Ms. Rice didn't seem to have a "hard time" with anything.

Now that the White House has had its representative fill in the details of the pre-September 11 White House understanding, it would be useful to the nation for Congressional Democrats to submit their representative to similarly intense questioning about how they could have thought there was NOT a substantial generalized hijacking desire on the part of al Qaida and other such groups prior to September 11. The Democrats have been making out as if the White House "revelations" contained lots of information new to them. But from the descriptions of the "warnings" in the media, it is hard to see what that "new" information could possibly be. They owe it to the people to explain in detail.

But not according to the Times. The Times thinks that "The revelation of the warning seems likely to hasten the investigation in Congress about what preventive steps the administration might have taken, an examination that Mr. Bush has been eager to avoid." But if "Mr. Bush has been eager to avoid" such an examination, the Times certainly has thought it worth while to bring that matter to the publics attention previously.

One might have thought that such a thing would be news, as in the kind of news that goes into two inch high headlines: "PRESIDENT EAGER TO AVOID EXAMINATION OF WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN DONE TO AVOID 9-11 DISASTERS!!!" The Man Without Qualities does not remember such headlines in the Times. What could the paper be trying to tell us? Maybe the Congressional polls aren't looking as good for the Democrats as they make out. It sounds as if they may be getting a bit desperate.

But then there is Senator Shelby.

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