Sunday, April 11, 2004

What the memo says 

After all the hype the August 6th, 2001 presidential intelligence briefing was getting in the liberal blogosphere, its actual text, released last night, is a bit of a disappointment. The most interesting bit is near the end, on the bottom of the first page and top of the second page:
We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a [blacked out] service in 1998 saying that Bin Ladin wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of "Blind Shaykh" 'Umar 'Abd al-Rahman and other US-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.
(emphasis mine) I wonder what "federal buildings" were being surveyed? The World Trade Center doesn't qualify as a federal building, right? Still, that's pretty specific information: hijackings and surveillance of buildings in New York mentioned in the same sentence.

Did Bush even read the memo? It's quite possible he did not. Remember this exchange with Fox news anchor Brit Hume?
HUME: How do you get your news?

BUSH: I get briefed by Andy Card and Condi in the morning. They come in and tell me...

I glance at the headlines just to kind of a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read the news themselves.
If Bush rarely bothers to read the news, why would he make an effort to read any of the gazillion memos he receives every day? Given that the memo says "for the president only," it's unlikely that any of his staff read the memo and appraised him of its contents. So it's quite possible that Bush never read the memo and was never made aware of what it said. Even if he did read it, the contents are sufficiently vague that it's not clear what he could have done about it (though I'll admit his August 7th departure for a month-long vacation at the Texas ranch was pretty bad timing).
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