Tags: Lessons | From | Doused | Firestorm

Lessons From a Doused Firestorm

Tuesday, 21 May 2002 12:00 AM

I promised myself that I wouldn't write another word about the scandal that wasn't. There's been enough written about the non-story without my adding to the verbiage.

But I can't help myself – there's been so much garbage strewn about that I simply have to put on my gloves and try to eliminate the cause of stench to the extent possible.

What's to be learned from last week's media firestorm about the Aug. 6 intelligence briefing given to President Bush, which we were told in the very beginning he failed to reveal to the American people, thus possibly averting the tragedy of Sept. 11?


Their initial reaction – asking, in effect, "What did the president know and when did he know it?" in a transparent attempt to invoke the sorry memory of Watergate and equate Bush with the late President Nixon – failed to register, and when it became obvious that the Aug. 6 briefing was anything but specific and was based on what amounts to ancient history, they beat a hasty retreat.

They all but stuttered in their attempt to cover their rear ends, telling anyone who listened that they didn't really mean to suggest that the president hadn't done everything in his power to protect the American people, blah, blah, blah.

Oh no? Just what the hell were they talking about in the couple of days before the truth came out and leveled their quickly constructed attack mechanism?

"I think what we have to do now is to find out what the president, what the White House, knew about the events leading up to 9-11, when they knew it and, most importantly, what was done about it at that time," was House Minority Leader Dick Gebhardt's immediate reaction.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., echoed Gephardt's call: "Why did it take eight months for us to receive this information?" Daschle asked, calling for a blue-ribbon commission to investigate. "And secondly, what specific actions were taken by the White House in response?"

Daschle said that Vice President Dick Cheney had "requested on several occasions that we not have an inquiry" into what intelligence the administration had before the hijackings and how they acted on it.

That statement was untrue. What Cheney says he told Democrats was that they should leave the matter in the hands of the two congressional intelligence committees, where it belongs, and not in some witch-hunting special congressional committee.

Moreover, it did not "take eight months for" the information to reach the Hill. The gist of it was communicated to the Senate and House intelligence committees at the time of the presidential briefing. These people just can't bring themselves to tell the whole truth.

The latest attempts to salvage something out of the wreckage of their planned smear campaign is two-pronged:

This last demand smells of the Civil War Congress' creation of the Committee on the Conduct of the War, which tried to usurp Lincoln's executive powers and run the war from Capitol Hill. Fortunately they didn't succeed, or the war would probably still be going on.

Let's face it: These people are about as close to slime as they can get. In the midst of a war in which members of America's armed forces are facing death every day and the American people are in constant danger from fanatical terrorists, this congressional scum doesn't hesitate to try to undermine Americans' confidence in their president's ability to protect them and defeat our enemies. And they do it by resorting to falsehood and chicanery.

If the American people have paid any attention to what has just happened, and have any concern for the future of this country, when they go to the polls in November they'll avoid casting a single vote for a Democrat congressional candidate.

By their willingness to use any method foul or fouler to regain their lost power on Capitol Hill, these demagogues have forfeited any claim to the loyalty of their constituents.

Just before pushing voting levers, they should conjure up a vision of Sen. Hillary whatshername Clinton standing in the well of the Senate chamber and holding aloft a newspaper with the headline "Bush Knew" and slandering the president of the United States, who has moved mountains to restore the dignity and honor of his office, which this wretched woman and her rapist husband dragged through the mud for eight long years.

Mrs. Clinton, after all, is the perfect model of a modern Democrat.

It's hard to distinguish between the real Democrats and their media counterparts. They are all Marxists, all wedded to the socialist ideal, and all willing to shade the truth, ignore it, or, when all else fails, lie about it.

They don't want to hear this. They want us to believe they're "objective," non-partisan, hard-nosed seekers of the truth. But the truth as they see it is not the truth, but rather their distorted vision of it.

And so they approached the alleged what-did-Bush-know non-story as a thirst-crazed man lost in a desert approaches the mirage of an oasis. To their horror, their precious anti-Bush story turned out to be a cruel mirage.

Incredibly, it took Newsweek's liberal Evan Thomas, himself a grandson of socialist presidential candidate Norman Thomas, to explain what motivated his colleagues in their blind rush to judgment. On a PBS broadcast, Thomas said:

"This may be one of these phony, bogus stories out of which something good actually happens. The incredible alarm everybody has about how Bush should have known – all of that is baloney ..."

The host of the PBS show was, in the words of the Media Research Center, "dumbstruck."

"So the New York Times and the Washington Post are all falling for a fake and bogus story. Is that what you're saying?" he asked.

"Yes," Thomas replied. " I think the media, that's exactly what I'm saying. ... It's not the Times and the Post so much. It's all of us. The media beast was so happy to have a scandal here that we jumped up and down and waved our arms and got all excited about it."

That about says it all. Except for how this whole charade got started in the first place.

It seems that a congressional staff member (of guess what party) of one of the two intelligence committees on the Hill got hold of data concerning the Aug. 6 presidential briefing, edited out the facts that showed the so-called warning about al-Qaeda was old data that lacked any specifics, and handed the now-specious memo over to the Karl Marx memorial network, CBS, which then gleefully broke the phony story.

It took about two days for most of the media to recognize that there was no story here, but just by watching presidential press secretary Ari Fleischer's daily press briefings it was easy to recognize the fact that the omniscient Washington press corps was loathe to let go of a story even if it wasn't a story.

After all, had it been true it could have damaged President Bush and crippled GOP hopes for a November victory. So therefore, there just had to be something there.

And so the fallback position became, as expressed by ABC's Terry Moran, questions about why – if, as Condi Rice had said, the White House was deeply concerned about potential al-Qaeda activities – had not the Bushies alerted the public about their concern?

Which leads me to ask Terry: Just how do you tell the public that you're concerned about something, but you don't have any details about what you're concerned about? What do you do? Put out a statement saying "We're worried sick that terrorists are about to do something or other and we thought you should know about it"?

After all, these vague warnings about what terrorists were up to had been around for years. What possible actions could have been taken to prevent terrorist attacks in these circumstances? Shut down the airports?

Anyway, the whole thing turned out to be much ado about nothing. But it did show once again just how sorry a crew we have in the congressional wing of the Democrat Party and among their media allies.

Remember that come November.

Phil Brennan is a veteran journalist who writes for NewsMax.com. He is editor & publisher of Wednesday on the Web (http://www.pvbr.com) and was Washington columnist for National Review magazine in the 1960s. He also served as a staff aide for the House Republican Policy Committee and helped handle the Washington public relations operation for the Alaska Statehood Committee which won statehood for Alaska. He is a trustee of the Lincoln Heritage Institute.

He can be reached at

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I promised myself that I wouldn't write another word about the scandal that wasn't. There's been enough written about the non-story without my adding to the verbiage. But I can't help myself - there's been so much garbage strewn about that I simply have to put on my...
Tuesday, 21 May 2002 12:00 AM
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