Tags: What | Did | Know | and | When?

What Did He Know … and When?

Thursday, 16 May 2002 12:00 AM

Today's top story will certainly be the news that President Bush received an intelligence briefing indicating that Osama bin Laden's terrorist goons might try to hijack a commercial airliner. A spokesman for the CIA says that these warnings are routinely passed on during the president's intelligence briefings.

Today there will be many Americans who are going to come away believing that Bush was warned of the specifics, that he was told an airliner would be hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Towers.

That is not what is being said. All we know is that he received a generalized warning of possible hijackings - and that he then acted to put U.S. law enforcement agencies on a higher state of alert.

In truth, the news really isn't all that shocking. But …

There is a sense of desperation within the ranks of the Social Democratic Party. George Bush's continuing popularity poses a threat to what should have been a Democrat slam-dunk - gaining seats in the House and Senate in this off-year election.

Rest assured that every effort will be made to use these new revelations to undercut support for Bush. What better way to attack Bush than on the very issue that has contributed so much to his high approval ratings?

As sure as Cynthia McKinney will be wearing braids today, she and her supporters will be claiming vindication for her earlier remarks about Bush.

Let's be clear. No matter how puffed-up Cynthia and her supporters become today, yesterday's revelations don't transform her from a loud-mouthed partisan into a sage.

In her Berkeley NPR statement several weeks ago Cynthia McKinney implied - she did not directly charge, she implied - that President Bush had specific knowledge that Osama bin Laden's henchmen would hijack commercial airliners on a specific date and would fly those airliners into specific buildings in an attempt to kill innocents.

Cynthia implied further that Bush made a conscious decision to do nothing about those warnings because he, in fact, wanted those attacks to take place so that his buddies in the defense industry could make money from the military action that would follow.

These were Cynthia's words on that NPR radio show in March:

Today McKinney will hold a press conference. She will say that yesterday's news completely vindicates her. Her supporters will cheer. The "I told you so's" will echo off the walls.

There is no way that anyone is ever going to convince any McKinney supporter that her remarks were and remain careless and unfounded. There was nothing in yesterday's news that indicates that Bush or anyone in his administration knew that these airliners were going to be hijacked on a particular day and flown into the World Trade towers in Manhattan.

Was there "adequate" warning, as Cynthia charged? Well, if you want to call a generalized warning that some of Osama bin Laden's goons might try to hijack an airliner from an unspecified airline flying out of some unspecified airport in some unspecified part of the world on some unspecified date "adequate," you might say that Cynthia was right. Sure – we all know that this is "adequate" warning, don't we.

What about Cynthia's charge that "there were people who failed to act"? That's rather vague, isn't it? Did she specifically mean Bush? This morning the Washington Post - hardly friendly to Bush - reports that Bush put law enforcement agencies on alert as soon as he received the intelligence briefing. Is that a failure to act?

And what about Cynthia's charges that Bush's failure to act and failure to warn the American people was all part of a plan to insure huge profits to his buddies in the defense industry?

He did act. He put law enforcement on alert. No, he didn't warn the American people. There is no evidence that he had any information that the American people were in danger. What was he going to warn them about?

Bottom line. Cynthia is going to make a completely unfounded claim of vindication. Her followers will agree. Those who resent Bush's presence in the White House will agree. Nothing - no amount of information or logic - will sway them.

In the meantime, those who are truly concerned about our security and correcting the mistakes that WERE made will absorb this information and proceed to address the REAL failures.

One word. Profiling. Now it seems that George Bush received a generalized intelligence briefing that some radicals associated with Osama bin Laden might try to hijack an American airliner. Alerting law enforcement is one thing. Bush did that. But allowing law enforcement to use the most effective means possible to address the threat is another. Is that where Bush failed? Possibly so.

What would happen if those warnings were made in a world ruled by common sense instead of political correctness? Airport security personnel would immediately be instructed to pay special attention to all passengers of Middle Eastern appearance. Extra searches, pat-downs, luggage searches, background checks … the works. You have information that Arabs are going to try to hijack airplanes – you subject Arabs to extra security measures.

And what happens when these warnings are made in a world ruled by political correctness? You search airline pilots and blue-haired grandmothers while Middle Eastern men and women proceed through the checkpoints with one-way tickets and box cutters.

Yeah, there was a failure. Cynthia is right here. Somebody failed to act. Someone failed to PROFILE!

The California State Assembly is getting ready to vote on a bill that would outlaw using American Indian names as mascot names. Another blow struck for quality education on the left coast. Next in the batter's box … PETA?

OK ... all of you who just can't stand it when I write or say anything about general aviation can go away.

Fox News did it again last night. On the Fox Report at 7:00 Eastern they ran a story about FBI memos warning that Osama bin Laden's terrorists might have been making plans to fly airplanes into the World Trade towers.

OK. Fair so far. But while the Fox reporters were telling us the story, what did you see on the screen? Pictures of small airplanes and small airports, that's what. Just small private airplanes. Not one commercial jet airliner – just single engine private airplanes. Then the video switched from the small private airplanes to the scene of the towers collapsing in New York.

Excuse me, but were those small private airplanes crashing into the World Trade towers? Don't think so. So why would Fox present this video montage: small airplanes, then the towers collapsing?

Images like this can only make uninformed, hysterical people even more afraid of general aviation than they already are. The question is, was that Fox News Channel's intent?

We have a story from Alhambra, Calif., of a teacher in trouble Evidently, Barbara Cser took some masking tape and wrapped it around the mouth of a particularly yakkity student. Now she says that it was all a joke ... but the wheels of vengeance are already turning.

Question ... is putting masking tape over a student's mouth just because he's a bit chatty any worse than coercing the student's parents to put him on drugs? Ritalin?

I'll take the tape.

We're hearing more and more lately how cheated Bill Clinton feels about not being in the White House when the terrorists attacked.

Clinton: "He hasn't told me yet whether he's [Al Gore] going to run. If he does, of course, at the outset he would be the front-runner. But I think he recognizes that under these circumstances, like every other Democrat, he'll have to make his case; but obviously he's got a lot of friends around America and a lot of people that know we won the popular vote last time and a lot of people think we won the vote in Florida last time. I'm one of them."

Yeah, Slick Willie. And there are a lot of people who think that you're a rapist. I'm one of them.

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Today's top story will certainly be the news that President Bush received an intelligence briefing indicating that Osama bin Laden's terrorist goons might try to hijack a commercial airliner.A spokesman for the CIA says that these warnings are routinely passed on during...
Thursday, 16 May 2002 12:00 AM
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