April 11, 2004

This PDB Goes to 11. The White House has released a slightly redacted copy of the August 6, 2001 PDB (pdf). There is some damning information and it exposes some more White House lies, but there is nothing that would warrant the kind of resistance the administration has shown in keeping the memo away from anyone, no matter how high his or her security clearance. Why?

Well, the August 6 PDB might actually be 11½ pages long -- and we are simply being thrown a bone. An October 2002 story in the German weekly Die Zeit states that the PDB was actually 11½ pages long, not the 1½ pages usually reported (and released). ... The article can be read here. A snip:

"Crawford, Aug. 6, 2001. U.S. president George W. Bush is on vacation. He wants to spend the whole month at his ranch in Texas. Every morning, however, he still receives his Presidential Daily Brief, or PDB, wherein the CIA informs the president about the country's security situation. On this morning, the report is straight from the CIA director. His PDB runs 11 and one-half printed pages, instead of the usual two to three, and carries the title, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." Therein the CIA chief explains that al Qaeda has decided to carry out attacks within the United States, and that presumably members of the terrorist organization have been in the country for some time. It is unclear whether the CIA director informed the president about the statements of arrested al Qaeda members. According to their confessions, the terrorist organization for some time has been thinking about hijacking planes and using them as missiles."

Some people have wondered if the article includes a typo -- and 11½ really should be 1½.

First, there is another reference to this PDB being 10-12 pages long in the New York Times of November 11, 2003: "People call it a lot of things: the world's most exclusive newspaper, a supersecret product of the Central Intelligence Agency and a document so sensitive that widespread dissemination would endanger lives. ... Whatever the definition, the document is the innocuously named President's Daily Brief, a 10- to 12-page report produced overnight by the CIA. In recent weeks, it has become the hottest property in Washington. Two powerful bodies are demanding to see it: the nonpartisan commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the Senate Intelligence Committee..."

Second, in a discussion of the memo at Democratic Underground, the original German article was found. The key sentence: "Sein PDB-Papier hat statt der sonst üblichen zwei bis drei diesmal elfeinhalb bedruckte Seiten und trägt die Überschrift Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." ... One poster comments: "The elfeinhalb highlighted translates as eleven and a half. Impossible to get a 'one' out of that." Someone else offers a literal translation: "His PDB-Paper has instead of the otherwise usual two to three this time eleven-and-a-half printed pages and bears the title Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S."... A third poster: "I speak German not fluently, but enough to get by. It definitely says 11.5 printed pages, normally 2 or 3."

So. What are the chances the media will press the White House to clear up this discrepancy?

I'd also like to see this memo: "One such CIA briefing, in July 2001, was particularly chilling and prophetic. It predicted that Osama bin Laden was about to launch a terrorist strike 'in the coming weeks,' the congressional investigators found. The intelligence briefing went on to say: 'The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against U.S. facilities or interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no warning.' ... (One source says the recipients of the briefing included Bush himself.)"

Quote of the Day: "I will not permit any course that leaves America undefended." Bush, August 29, 2001 speech to the American Legion.

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