Friday, May 17, 2002

Bush Alerted to Hijacking Threats

After reading some of the stories the past day or so on George W. Bush's miss of the Hijacking threats, it is quite amusing to see the way much of the conservative press is reacting. Andrew Sullivan for example, continues to rant and rave about the death of Dutch Ideologue Pim Fortuyn, rather than discuss this event. In today's Daily Dish he brushes it off as if Bush hearing about an alleged threat is not news. Well of course it is news! The President and his administration, and the conservative press, post September 11, continuously have tried to pin the blame for the attacks on Clinton, the FBI, or the Intelligence Agencies. The truth of the matter is, the buck stops with Bush, and it seems that Andrew Sullivan, and much of the conservative punditry don't want to see that. From a story in Today's Washington Post by Barton Gellman,

"But it is also true that Bush and his Cabinet advisers were not yet disposed to respond to al Qaeda as a first-tier national security threat. The alerts of the early and mid-summer -- described by two career counterterrorist officials as the most urgent in decades -- had faded to secondary concern by the time of Bush's extended Crawford vacation. As late as Sept. 9, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld threatened a presidential veto when the Senate proposed to divert $600 million to counterterrorism from ballistic missile defense."

This is the most telling fact when people want to play the blame game. Terrorism was not a tier 1 concern, in either the Clinton or Bush administrations, until of course after September 11. While many of these conservative types like to spin the story in the direction of, "well, there were no specific threats," or "threats like this were mentioned all the time." The fact is, Bush was told about it on August 6 in his Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB), and to be very clear, not all threats or concerns make it to the President. When items such as these are included in the PDB and when the President is shown these items, it is indeed something that warrants sufficient attention. Of course, I have no idea how seriously Bush took this matter, but his actions show that it was't quite serious enough. In my mind it would have warranted some sort of warning, at a minimum, to the Federal Aviaition Administration, which obviously never occurred. Even post 9/11 the FAA has not been quick enough to respond to security issues, but think, what if on August 10, an alarm was sent to the FAA to be more vigilant in their screening of passengers, or what if the FAA stopped allowing all sharp/blunt objects on planes following this warning for the next 60 days? In the past warnings have been heeded and security had been stepped up at airports. So, do I think, that the Bush administration dropped the ball, sure i do. Now what needs to happen is a political response that acknowledges this miss rather than a spin that makes it appear as if what Bush did was acceptable. Tell that to the families of the "American Heroes" that passed on that day, because Bush's miss on this is anything but acceptable.


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