Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Deny, Deny, Deny

A '60s sex comedy titled (if memory serves) A Guide for the Married Man includes a skit about the power of denial.

A wife returns home unexpectedly and catches her husband in bed with another woman. Wifey screams and shrieks and hollers. The adulterous couple calmly leave the bed, dress, and refuse to admit that anything untoward was going on. "Honey, you're seeing things," the husband assures his spouse. "I have no idea what you're talking about, honest. I'd never cheat on you." The denials are so eerily calm and so persistent that, once the lover leaves the home, the wife begins to wonder if she truly saw what she saw.

I think our current president uses the same guidebook. Regarding the now-infamous Presidential Daily Briefing, W told reporters: "I am satisfied that I never saw any intelligence that indicated there was going to be an attack on America -- at a time and a place, an attack." And: "But that PDB said nothing about an attack on America."

Oh really? It did in my reading. It may not have given a date and flight numbers, but it did mention hijackings. And nobody beefed up airport security.

That's just for starters. For an eye-opening view of the PDB, turn to this analysis by CIA veteran Larry C. Johnson. A key quote:

At a minimum, the details in the 6 August PDB should have motivated Rice to convene a principals’ meeting. Such a meeting would have ensured that all members of the president’s national security team were aware of the information that had been shared with the president. George Bush should have directed the different department heads to report back within one week on any information relevant to the Al Qaeda threat. Had he done this there is a high probability that the FBI field agents concerns about Arabs taking flight training would have rung some bells.

Recall that two of the hijackers were living in San Diego with an FBI informant. Had anyone bothered to shake the trees (to use the newly-chic phrase), some very pertinent information might well have come to the attention of agents in California.

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