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January 18, 2009

A Shockingly Correct Reply

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Vanity Fair magazine hasn't been a very George W. Bush-friendly journalistic zone. Even though he'll no longer be president in a few days, Graydon Carter and company keep piling on poor W while getting misty-eyed over John F. Kennedy who (1) was aggressive regarding national defense and (2) a tax-cutter (remind you of anyone?).

The February 2009 issue delivers one last groin-kick in the form of an article ("Farewell to All That: An Oral History of the Bush White House" by Cullen Murphy and Todd S. Purdom, starting page 88) comprised of carefully selected quotes from people who interacted with the President in one way or another.

On page 96, under the heading "August 6, 2001" the article states (original was in italics):

While vacationing at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, Bush is given a Presidential Daily Briefing memorandum whose headline warns that the al-Qaeda terrorist leader, Osama bin Laden, is "determined to strike in U.S." After being briefed on the document by a C.I.A. analyst, Bush responds, "All right, you've covered your ass now."

I strongly suspect that Vanity Fair intended readers to gasp, thinking "Why, that idiot Bush was given warning of the 9/11 attack and did nothing!!"

Your reaction might differ from mine, but I thought that I would say almost exactly the same thing Bush did, assuming the memorandum was no more specific than Vanity Fair indicates.

Why? Because a vague warning with no actionable information is next to worthless. What would you think if I said "There's big trouble brewing; you'd better watch out" and nothing more. It's the same situation Bush faced.

Unfortunately, most readers probably never get beyond the initial shock of learning of a disaster that "could have been prevented." I suppose that's why leading public relations professionals, "documentary" film makers, major media journalists and other opinion-manipulators are paid so well.

No doubt Obama will be treated much more kindly if/when America is hit with a terrorist strike on his watch.



posted by Donald at January 18, 2009


"aggressive regarding national defense": 'defense' is hardly the word for a habit of invading other countries.

Posted by: dearieme on January 18, 2009 12:56 PM

I'm smiling here at Bush's sense of humor. Thank's for sharing.
In the world of medicine, the CYA equivalent is "Dr. X informed of (irrelevant info. with no action necessary) and no orders given."

Posted by: jz on January 18, 2009 1:19 PM

Bush hatred was maniacal and hysterical in Woodstock. This community just disgraced itself with BushHitler, assassination chic, 9/11 conspiracy theories, and Bush Lied People Died wackiness.

Here's my theory on why the lunatic left went so crazy over Bush. It was primarily his Texas twang and evangelical Christian stuff. To the lunatic left, this signaled disapproval of their sexual antics. And, as we know, we must approve (not merely tolerate) the sexual antics of the lunatic left, or we are "oppressing" them.

I've got a tag phrase for this syndrome: "George Bush ruined my love life!"

This, I think, really is the source of Bush Dementia Syndrome. Woodstock is a good proving ground for this theory. The single motherhood, gay liberation, shove your genitals in the rubes' face crowd is composed of people who are constantly failing in their sex and love lives. They have been told for 50 years that any failure in their loves lives is the result of "oppression." It's always somebody else's fault. That somebody is the Republicans in general, and Bush in particular.

And, so, Bush isn't just a demonic war mongerer. Get rid of Bush and the leftist loonies are convinced they'll find happiness in sex and love. Bush is strangling their genitals! Contrarily, the same crowd is obsessed with Obama's blackness. They are much enamored with what they see as the "better" approach to sexuality in the black community, i.e., single motherhood, absentee fathers and wild promiscuity.

That's why the completely deranged hysteria. At least, one of the reasons, anyway.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on January 18, 2009 2:07 PM

The whole Obama love fest has been nothing but one massive blowjob from liberals and the press(the same people really). I can't say I've ever seen anything like it. The hypocrisy has been stunning, even for liberals and the MSM. An example here:

Posted by: Anon on January 18, 2009 2:42 PM

> Because a vague warning with no actionable information is next to worthless. What would you think if I said "There's big trouble brewing

That I should intensify investigative activity.

Posted by: Eric J. Johnson on January 18, 2009 4:59 PM

You can't say that Bush did nothing - look at Steve Sailer's UPI column, published on 9-11:

"Bush had called for laxer airport security"

Posted by: gcochran on January 18, 2009 5:40 PM

There was no actionable information that Saddam Hussein had WMDs or any ties to al-Qaeda. That didn't stop Team Bush from fabricating it to frauduently generate support to invade, destroy and occupy at great and continuing cost, Iraq.

The contempt for Bush is the same contempt that would attach to any president who had all the constructive instincts and sublety of Godzilla stomping Tokyo.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on January 18, 2009 7:47 PM

It's just so sad. You are so deluded that we're deluded. :)

Posted by: Upstate Guy on January 18, 2009 9:49 PM

Donald, was the Iraq war a good idea? How about cutting taxes while we're engaged in such a war? Good idea?

I slightly agree that 9/11 was pretty much unpreventable. But the total clusterfuck that has been the response to it is indefensible.

Posted by: JV on January 19, 2009 12:45 AM

Why did the good liberals and Democrats keep funding the war? Where were they when the nation needed a voice of reason? They've been AWOL on just abut everything(from the war to this economic disaster). Of course, they'll pile on now.

Posted by: Curious on January 19, 2009 12:57 AM


Thank you for something very well written, and more importantly, completely right.

Posted by: Brent on January 19, 2009 3:10 AM

Curious, do a search for "record filibustering"

Posted by: Upstate Guy on January 19, 2009 9:55 AM

"Curious, do a search for "record filibustering"

So what?

Posted by: Curious on January 19, 2009 12:06 PM

Curious, I agree the Dems blew it, although Upstate is right about the filibustering. Even if every Dem voted against the war funding, the Repubs had enough votes to get it through.

That's not the issue, though. Was the war a good idea in the first place? Was lowering taxes during such an endeavor a good idea. I don't give two shits whose idea it was, in my opinion, both were disastrous. I'm no Obama-maniac, but you guys are missing the point. I'm fully prepared to be highly disappointed with Obama, and yet I'm THRILLED that he's there, mostly because Bush was a total fucking disaster. I was all set to be happy with McCain. Almost anybody, really, in comparison.

Posted by: JV on January 19, 2009 2:18 PM

Like W, Kennedy was aggressive on national defense (though I would argue he mainly responded to Soviet aggression) and a tax cutter.

Unlike W, Kennedy was also competent and avoided getting stuck in protracted, large-scale counter-insurgency ops that tied down huge numbers of troops and pissed away vast quantities of blood and treasure.

W is most aptly compared to LBJ. Unpopular, losing war abroad, and unchecked social spending at home. Blech, what a disaster.

Posted by: Lugo on January 19, 2009 3:57 PM

How could Obama be treated more kindly than Bush? Bush won re-election, with suggests that NOBODY held him responsible for 9/11.

Have you actually persuaded yourself that Bush was treated "unkindly"?

Cry baby.

Posted by: phosphorious on January 19, 2009 5:11 PM

Read the passage again. Bush didn't "do nothing." He actively mocked and derided the CIA analyst, thus discouraging any further grim details. It's the perfect combo of arrogance, condescension, and deliberate ignorance that characterized his entire administration.

Posted by: Steve on January 19, 2009 10:50 PM

This is an old story, included in the 9/11 report and known before then. The guy made a special trip down to Bush's vacation land to make the report because he felt it was urgent. It was a sketchy report because Bush insisted that all reports be short. The people who knew about this stuff spent a lot of time trying to rouse Bush's interest, but they were unsuccessful.

"Why did the good liberals and Democrats keep funding the war? Where were they when the nation needed a voice of reason? "

Plenty of liberals tried, but the Democratic Party as a whole failed. But far, far less badly than Bush and the kneejerk Republicans failed.

For a long time now "The Democrats are just as bad as we are" has been the best Republicans could say for themselves.They've been right far too often.

Posted by: John Emerson on January 19, 2009 11:38 PM

JFK had the misfortune of getting killed in office -so to say he had the judgement not to get us into a quagmire assumes facts not in evidence. He was ramping up advisors in Viet Nam. The mistake was not taking out Saddam in 91 when we had the larger military more able to handle an occupation - and maybe we would have had a more trusting Shia majority, Iran would have certainly easier to contain. But pre- 9/11 Saddaam was an unstabling influence, at least to me 9/11 proved that the status quo in the middle east was no longer tenable - so upsetting the apple cart was a plan - much was accomplished - the Pakistan/N.KOrea/Iraq nuke info mart was brough to light and dismantled - libya gave up thier wmd, lebabon kicked syria out briefly - teh corruption of the UN briefly saw the light of day that is was not all peached and cream and mistakes were made does not negate that real success has been achieved. We have a budding democracy in the middle east, we have had no terrorist attacks on our soil since 9/11 - and we showed resolve to see a difficult mission through and not run because we got our nose bloodied like lebanon, like somalia. Bush will be judged better by history then the insta history currently being peddled by the MSM

Posted by: kevin on January 20, 2009 1:07 PM

It was not a sketchy report because Bush insisted all reports be short - ALL Presidents insist that such reports be short. It was a sketchy report because the CIA had NO good intel (sketchy info, sketchy report). If they had anything actionable they could have easily put it in a short report, but they had nothing. "Osama wants to attack us here somehow, at some time, and maybe wants to hijack some planes." Great, thank you for your interest in national security, but what exactly am I supposed to do about that?

The CIA would CERTAINLY have been able to "rouse Bush's interest" with some USEFUL intelligence. Too bad they had none. This is not about Dubya being asleep at the switch, it is about the CIA being incompetent. It's been one disastrous intel failure after another over the past 20 years, and NOBODY is ever held accountable! Heck, Tenet gets a medal! They oughta scrap that whole worthless nest of self-serving bureaucrats and start again from the ground up.

Posted by: Lugo on January 20, 2009 1:30 PM

"JFK had the misfortune of getting killed in office -so to say he had the judgement not to get us into a quagmire assumes facts not in evidence."

No. The national security apparatus strongly and continuously recommended intervention in Laos and Vietnam throughout 1961. JFK was smart enough to say no. My own view is that he was getting ready to pull the plug on South Vietnam in 1963, but regardless of your opinion on that, his decisions in 1961 were very good.

"9/11 proved that the status quo in the middle east was no longer tenable"

This isn't the best argument for invading Iraq, or occupying it rather than doing a drive-by shooting, or trying to create a democracy instead of installing our own puppet strongman.

"the Pakistan/N.KOrea/Iraq nuke info mart was brough to light and dismantled"

Jesus, I hope you're right, but I doubt it. (Read Thomas Reed's The Nuclear Express for a contrary view.)

"real success has been achieved"

At what cost? In my view the costs vastly outweigh the benefits.

"We have a budding democracy in the middle east,"

Bah. I prefer pro-American strongmen. If you had an actual free election in most of those countries, the result would be appalling from our perspective (e.g. the likes of Hamas would be elected).

I would have preferred to see a little more competence along with that resolve you think so highly of.

I remain convinced that history will judge Dubya as the Republican LBJ, i.e. an unmitigated disaster.

Posted by: JP on January 20, 2009 11:10 PM

Here is the report.

Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate bin Laden since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US. Bin Laden implied in U.S. television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and "bring the fighting to America."

After U.S. missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, bin Laden told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a -- -- service.

An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told - - service at the same time that bin Laden was planning to exploit the operative's access to the U.S. to mount a terrorist strike.

The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of bin Laden's first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the U.S.

Convicted plotter Ahmed Ressam has told the FBI that he conceived the idea to attack Los Angeles International Airport himself, but that in ---, Laden lieutenant Abu Zubaydah encouraged him and helped facilitate the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaydah was planning his own U.S. attack.

Ressam says bin Laden was aware of the Los Angeles operation. Although Bin Laden has not succeeded, his attacks against the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks. Bin Laden associates surveyed our embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam as early as 1993, and some members of the Nairobi cell planning the bombings were arrested and deported in 1997.

Al Qaeda members -- including some who are U.S. citizens -- have resided in or traveled to the U.S. for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks.

Two al-Qaeda members found guilty in the conspiracy to bomb our embassies in East Africa were U.S. citizens, and a senior EIJ member lived in California in the mid-1990s.

A clandestine source said in 1998 that a bin Laden cell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks.

We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a ---- service in 1998 saying that Bin Laden wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft to gain the release of "Blind Sheikh" Omar Abdel Rahman and other U.S.-held extremists.

Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.

The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full-field investigations throughout the U.S. that it considers bin Laden-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group or bin Laden supporters was in the U.S. planning attacks with explosives.

Posted by: lemmy caution on January 21, 2009 8:14 PM

Few Presidents wanted reports to be as short as Bush did.

At different times before 9/11, various people in government tried various methods of getting Bush to pay more attention to terrorism. All failed.

Bush had nothing actionable after 9/11 either, but he went ahead and did a lot of the things he should have done before 9/11 anyway. Funny, that.

There was really no reason for Bush to try to prevent 9/11, anyway. As soon as it happened, he had a free ride for five years or so.

Bush apologists will never learn. Hopefully they'll at least fade away.

Posted by: John Emerson on January 21, 2009 9:41 PM

Don't you know the "Bush is stooopid, nyuk nyuk nyuk" shtick is passe now? The sell-by date of Bush Derangement Syndrome was yesterday, my friend!

The ONLY valid method for "getting Bush's attention" about terrorism is to provide actionable intelligence. There wasn't any! "Lemmy" quoted the PDB, it is laughable! What, exactly, was Bush supposed to do as a result of the vague suspicions mentioned in that brief?

Posted by: Lugo on January 21, 2009 11:53 PM

Lugo, I agree 9/11 was pretty much unpreventable. When it happened, and during the weeks after, I never once blamed Bush or anyone, really. I was, however, worried that the situation would taken advantage of to further goals already in place that could not have gotten through otherwise. It's what the Bush administration did in response to 9/11 that has been a total clusterfuck in every way.

Posted by: JV on January 22, 2009 11:49 AM

Most of you must be very young.

Posted by: mudmarine on January 22, 2009 11:23 PM

Oh mudmarine, what a lazy and dismissive response.

Posted by: JV on January 23, 2009 6:14 AM

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