Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Bush & Co. quickly responded to news reports that the terror alert info was many years old. Yet, the source is "unnamed officials" -- doesn't anyone want to go on record (fear?)?

Of course, nothing has really been cleared up on this topic -- just muddled confusion remains. Example, from Washington Post:

But authorities did not publicly make it clear until yesterday that the information compiled during that surveillance, contained on computer disks and documents seized during raids in Pakistan, was created in 2000 and 2001 or, in some cases, undated. Much of the information was also obtained from the Internet or other public sources, officials said. Authorities issued somewhat conflicting signals yesterday about the timing of the surveillance.

And then this in USA Today:

Although U.S. authorities continue to analyze information, the material does not point to an existing plan of attack, said the law enforcement officials. But the same officials and U.S. intelligence authorities cautioned that the surveillance activity -- although much of it was done three to four years ago -- should not be discounted because al-Qaeda plans its attacks well in advance.

OK, let me understand. Now we are being lectured about how "al-Qaeda plans its attacks well in advance" and therefore we should embrace such warnings based on seemingly old intel.

Fine. But then how does this square with the now infamous PDB and Dr. Rice's explanation of such? Recall that on August 6th, 2001, Bush (who at the time was set to enjoy the longest presidential vacation in 32 years) was informed of the PDB intel alert titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack in the United States," and proceeded to spend 27 days vacationing on the ranch. (Note: this briefing was only one of 40 on the threat of bin Laden that the president received between Jan. 20 and Sept. 11, '01).

As recent as May of this year, our National Security Advisor, Condi Rice, is on record stating this Aug. 6th PDB contained "historical information based on old reporting," adding that "there was no new threat information."

OK, now wait a minute. On the one hand, the administration is using as a supporting reason for the recent high-alert status, "al-Qaeda plans its attacks well in advance," and yet just a few months ago, we were to accept from our top national security official quite the opposite (a sort of "chill out, the info was old, relax, no imminent threat was perceived," etc.)....? Which is it? Rice makes the case that "historical" intel is of little urgency or relevance, yet today we learn from officials that such dated info is very relevant and pertinent.

Squirm left, squirm right. Is it any wonder this administration has very little credibility left? Where is Mr. Rove to check the consistency of this stuff?

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