February 28, 2004

One Hour. It's another Friday afternoon news dump. Preznit Bush will answer questions from 9/11 Commission Chairman Thomas Kean and Co-Chairman Lee Hamilton -- in private and for only one hour. One hour! Sixty fucking minutes. ... Bush spent more than 2 hours at this year's Daytona 500.

Bush, like any other person offering testimony, cannot dictate the terms of his interview. Besides insisting that it will decide who Bush meets, where he meets them, and for how long he will sit there, perhaps the White House could script the Commission's questions too. ... Bush, Cheney, Clinton and Gore should appear before the entire 10-member Commission and they should stay until all members have asked all their questions. Also, broadcasting each session live would be an excellent affirmation of our open, democratic society.

Allowing Bush to meet behind closed doors with a man who was doing business with Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law (Kean) and a man who actively helped derail the Iran-Contra investigation (Hamilton) does not inspire much confidence. Call the Commission at 202-331-4060 if you're as disgusted as I am.

Other Bush news from Friday: He "plans a week of heavy fund raising ... Bush starts with a reception Monday for the National Republican Senatorial Committee in Washington. ... On Wednesday, Bush flies to Los Angeles for a pair of fund-raisers ... Bush has a third California fund-raiser scheduled for Thursday in Santa Clara. ... Bush opens the following week with a pair of fund-raisers, including events in Dallas and Houston. Those two fund-raisers bookend an appearance by Bush at a Houston livestock and rodeo event." ... Well, it's no wonder Bush can't spare more than an hour; that's one busy schedule. Check out Uggabugga's cool pie chart.

I read that Kean appeared on C-SPAN yesterday and said fighter planes were not scrambled on 9/11 because the US military was not expecting attacks from inside the US. It's highly disturbing that Kean continues to trot out this long-discredited myth. Here are a few points (if you want dozens and dozens more, go here):

Time, June 20, 2001: "For sheer diabolical genius (of the Hollywood variety), nothing came close to the reports that European security services are preparing to counter a Bin Laden attempt to assassinate President Bush at next month's G8 summit in Genoa, Italy. According to German intelligence sources, the plot involved Bin Laden paying German neo-Nazis to fly remote controlled-model aircraft packed with Semtex into the conference hall and blow the leaders of the industrialized world to smithereens." (Also here, here and here.)

Condoleeza Rice received an intelligence summary on June 28, 2001, which stated "it is highly likely that a significant al Qaeda attack is in the near future, within several weeks." ... On July 5, 2001, Richard Clarke, the government's top counterterrorism official, warned that "something spectacular is going to happen here, and it's going to happen soon."

A widely-distributed FAA document from July 2001: "A domestic hijacking would likely result in a greater number of American hostages but would be operationally more difficult to accomplish. We don't rule it out. If, however, the intent of the hijackers is not to exchange hostages for prisoners but to commit suicide in a spectacular explosion, a domestic hijacking would probably be preferable."

The President's Daily Briefing given to Bush on August 6, 2001 warned that bin Laden may hijack airplanes for a terrorist attack within the United States. At the time, Bush is on vacation in Texas (for the entire month); the New York Times reports he "broke off from work early and spent most of the day fishing."

On the morning of September 11, John Fulton, a 25-year veteran of the intelligence community and the CIA's Chief of the Strategic War Gaming Division, and his team were "running a pre-planned simulation to explore the emergency response issues that would be created if a plane were to strike a building." ... Yet Rice stated on May 16, 2002: "I don't think anybody could have predicted that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile." Months later, she changed her tune slightly.

Also: The 9/11 Commission now has until July 26 to complete its work. Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert reversed himself yesterday and announced that he would support the 60-day extension.

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