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Missed Opportunity
August 12, 2003 2:00 PM   Subscribe

Officials: Bush Administration Was Slow to Approve Drones to Kill Bin Laden I am not able to say how accurate this posting is, but I post it because it strikes me that if true, Bush is certainly not the strong and forthright Texan gunman he has been made out to be. Any one know more on this issue?
posted by Postroad (37 comments total)

 
I will continue to place blame for 9/11 onto George W. Bush's gilded head and weak shoulders.
posted by the fire you left me at 2:03 PM on August 12, 2003


Seems like another stab at Bush done in hindsight. Woulda, shoulda, coulda, it's all hindsight now.

If I could have beaten Bin Laden up in 5th grade after school out by the service buildings, but declined, am I responsible for 9/11?
posted by mathowie at 2:07 PM on August 12, 2003


Yeah. You finally found your grail. Must've been lying in wait for quite some time there. Now be sure to milk it for all it's worth.
posted by HTuttle at 2:08 PM on August 12, 2003


Matt, I think you would have been justified in beating him up only if he had terrorized you in dodge ball or hijacked your lunch box.
posted by TBoneMcCool at 2:15 PM on August 12, 2003


It seems that for all his aggressive talk, Bush was not quick to discard the ban on assassination. If that was the rationale, I think I agree with what he didn't do. Knowing what we knew publicly on Sept. 10, we shouldn't have been trying to gun him down, IMO. (Would that have stopped the attacks?)

Bush should be criticized for inaction before and shortly after 9/11 for a LOT of things--for not having heeded warnings passed on by the Clinton administration, for allowing Ashcroft to pursue medical marijuana rather than getting the FBI to cooperate with the CIA (along with other important matters overlooked), for inaction shortly after the attacks and cowardice in hiding out, for allowing a planeload of Saudis to fly away uninterviewed, and all along for concealing information which could help all of us find out what happened--because a lot of it is going to be embarrassing to Bush, to the Saudis, and to a number of others. But criticism for not using a Predator to gun down Osama strikes me as bogus.
posted by palancik at 2:17 PM on August 12, 2003


Top administration officials discussed the mission to kill bin Laden as late as one week before the suicide attacks on New York and Washington, but they had not yet resolved a debate over whether the CIA or Pentagon should operate the armed Predators and whether the missiles would be sufficiently lethal, officials told The Associated Press.


I've maintained long and hard that GW isn't a bad President because he's a gunslingin' Crusader. He's a bad President because he's a gunslingin' crusader who's incompetant, and surrounds himself with individuals of equal (lacking) talent. It doesn't matter if a quick decision to drone Osama into the hereafter would have prevented 9/11 ... because it didn't happen. What does matter is that here we have a clear example of how this administration operates. The question wasn't about whether or not something should be done, it was a pissing match over who got to play with the toys. We can't bring back the dead with a whole lotta woulda, shoulda, coulda, but we can (as Postroad did) ask the question "why not". Seems to me, the answer is right there: incompetance.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:19 PM on August 12, 2003


It seems that for all his aggressive talk, Bush was not quick to discard the ban on assassination.

Exactly where is there any evidence of that?
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:23 PM on August 12, 2003


Interrogative:

What's the difference between whining "woulda coulda shoulda" in hindsight, and holding elected officals accountable for the job they're doing?
posted by scarabic at 2:29 PM on August 12, 2003


Bush is certainly not the strong and forthright Texan gunman he has been made out to be. Any one know more on this issue?
posted by delmoi at 2:32 PM on August 12, 2003


hahaha
posted by delmoi at 2:32 PM on August 12, 2003


Matt...if Bin Laden was already a known terrorist (who had previously attacked America) back in the 5th grade, then, yes, you would hold at least some level of responsibility. Otherwise, it's a poor analogy.

On preview: What scarabic said.
posted by mathis23 at 2:34 PM on August 12, 2003


John Dean (of Watergate fame) on the classified sections of the 9/11 report:
Bluntly stated, either the Bush White House knew about the potential of terrorists flying airplanes into skyscrapers (notwithstanding their claims to the contrary), or the CIA failed to give the White House this essential information, which it possessed and provided to others.

Bush is withholding the document that answers this question. Accordingly, it seems more likely that the former possibility is the truth. That is, it seems very probable that those in the White House knew much more than they have admitted, and they are covering up their failure to take action.
posted by homunculus at 2:35 PM on August 12, 2003


Look, if you just watched Episode I, I don't think you'd be that confident in your army of drones either.
posted by Stan Chin at 2:40 PM on August 12, 2003


Bush is certainly not the strong and forthright Texan gunman he has been made out to be. Any one know more on this issue?

Slow to the draw...
posted by thomcatspike at 2:40 PM on August 12, 2003


Here's the hypocrisy I see- GWB made a big deal in his post-9/11 speeches about going after "those who would strike at America" (not the exact quote, but something to that effect). It now becomes known that, before 9/11, he had the opportunity to do so- as others have pointed out, bin Laden fit this category well before 9/11- but decided not to.

Unless I'm missing something, the connection seems obvious.
posted by mkultra at 2:51 PM on August 12, 2003


Sorry for the length, but will Saletan has written convincingly about this over a year ago:

"If only the Bush administration had heeded a 1999 Library of Congress report on The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism, the latest terrorist strike against the United States need never have happened. In that report, experts commissioned by the National Intelligence Council outlined "New Forms of Terrorist-Threat Scenarios." From that discussion and clues in other government reports, the FBI, the CIA, and the White House could have pieced together and averted the deadly plot that has since unfolded.

The plot to which I'm referring, of course, is last week's suicide bombing of a U.S. Navy destroyer docked in Baltimore, which claimed the lives of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and more than 100 sailors. This despicable deed, perpetrated by Tamil guerrillas using a small submarine packed with explosives, was telegraphed years in advance. It should have been obvious to anyone who read the 1999 NIC report and other intelligence-related documents freely available on the Internet.

The NIC report advised policymakers, "The world leaders in terrorist suicide attacks are not the Islamic fundamentalists, but the Tamils of Sri Lanka." The report warned that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, was "the only terrorist group to have assassinated three heads of government" and that it posed a threat to the United States.

The administration's professed surprise at the use of a submarine to execute the attack rings hollow. As the NIC report noted, the LTTE had previously blown up "at least one naval battleship." A Winter 1999 report by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, citing a Sri Lankan intelligence source, added that LTTE members had "allegedly received glider, micro-light and speedboat training … for future 'kamikaze' strikes." In April 2001, an analysis of Patterns of Global Terrorism by the U.S. State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism referred to the discovery of "a partially completed submersible at a shipyard in Phuket, Thailand, owned by an LTTE-sympathizer."

The use of an all-female crew to gain easier entry to the United States likewise should have been anticipated. As the NIC report noted, the LTTE has a "limitless supply of female suicide commandos." Nor should the crew's entry through Canada have caught the government unaware. The LTTE's use of Canada as a "portal to the United States" was cited three years ago by Michael Pearson, an official of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, in testimony before a House subcommittee. As for the cyber-attack that disrupted U.S. military communications just before the bombing, FBI Director Louis Freeh warned senators a year ago that Tamil terrorists had already "engaged in attacks on foreign government Web-sites and e-mail servers."

There's only one good reason to excuse the administration for failing to anticipate this terrorist strike: It never happened. And yet every quotation attributed to the reports cited above is accurate. So is the entire first paragraph of this story. The NIC report did project new "Terrorist-Threat Scenarios." In addition to the LTTE, it named another dangerous terrorist organization, al-Qaida, and suggested methods by which that organization might strike the United States. Other government reports hinted at the same culprit and the same methods. The difference is that one scenario happened, and the other didn't.

In retrospect, it seems obvious to many people that the FBI, the CIA, and the White House should have "connected the dots" and anticipated al-Qaida's use of hijacked planes to hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But everything seems more obvious in retrospect, because you know which things are true and which aren't. What makes hindsight so easy is that you know not just what you needed to worry about, but what you didn't need to worry about. Identifying threats and mobilizing to prevent them isn't as easy as finding a single pattern. Intelligence is full of patterns involving numerous groups, targets, and methods. If you're the president of the United States or one of his intelligence advisers, you have to decide which threats are most worth investigating, mobilizing for, or disrupting people's everyday lives for.

It's easy, after the fact, for reporters and political opponents to go back and dig up reports that hinted at what eventually happened. They don't have to sort through the false leads and alternative scenarios. They know how the story ends.

Article URL: http://slate.msn.com/id/2066033/"
posted by Jos Bleau at 3:18 PM on August 12, 2003


Bush acted on uncertain intelligence! For shame!

Bush didn't act on uncertain intelligence! For shame!

Er... some folks really will take any opportunity...
posted by jammer at 3:25 PM on August 12, 2003


It now becomes known that, before 9/11, he had the opportunity to do so- as others have pointed out, bin Laden fit this category well before 9/11- but decided not to.
Unless I'm missing something, the connection seems obvious.

Why didn't Clinton arrest him when he had the chance? The Cole attack happened in his term. Not saying well Clinton missed, yet this has been discussed, why Clinton didn't grasp him when he had the chance too. Not enough proof for the UN? Or maybe the obvious Presidents are birds of a feather.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:35 PM on August 12, 2003


If I could have beaten Bin Laden up in 5th grade after school out by the service buildings, but declined, am I responsible for 9/11?

Two problems:

1. He benefits from a tough on Terrorism stance daily, although he obviously flubbed plenty of chances before 9/11 and continues to now.

2. We're all much more paranoid than you are. For most of us, there is no question as to G.W.'s involvement in 9/11, from daddy's Bin Laden CIA training camps in Afghanistan, to orders to back off the Bin Laden family, the lines have been drawn here and elsewhere and most of us stand pretty firmly in our positions. Now we all scamper to prove what we believe.

Er... some folks really will take any opportunity...

Quite so, yes.

But that does nothing to say that he hasn't made two monumental fuck-ups so far that were both easily preventable given what we've learned so far, and that can't be dismissed.
posted by velacroix at 3:41 PM on August 12, 2003


Pathetic lefty whining. Next thing you know liberals will organize public rallies to demand that Bush send Schwarzenegger back into the past to kill Osama's mother.
posted by 111 at 3:54 PM on August 12, 2003


Bush acted on uncertain intelligence! For shame!

Uncertain intelligence? Such as Al Qaeda claiming credit for bombing US targets?
posted by Hildago at 3:58 PM on August 12, 2003


It's easy, after the fact, for reporters and political opponents to go back and dig up reports that hinted at what eventually happened. They don't have to sort through the false leads and alternative scenarios. They know how the story ends.

Yes, and that analysis should feed back into the intelligence machine, so that it can be improved.

This lengthy Baltimore bombing scenario is a false positive. The elements of a postive indication were there, yet it never came true. Fine.

But false positives are not our problem. We should worry about the false negatives, ie: nothing was identified, but something really did happen. Every time that occurs is an opportunity to critique the firewall that is supposedly protecting our lives.
posted by scarabic at 3:59 PM on August 12, 2003


Personally, I can't see this as being a "gotcha" against the Bush Administration, even though I thoroughly dislike the administration and everything that's happened since the World Trade Center attack. That being said, however, in a perfect world of balanced people, it would take the wind out of the sails of those in the Right Wing (and I imagine the WH itself) who blame the attacks on the Clinton Administration's lack of action against Bin Laden.

I'm fairly sure I remember a month or so back various conservative pundits castigating Clinton for not assassinating Bin Laden when they had the chance, but now we see that the Bush administration had the exact same opportunities and were just as cautious as to the means.

But I know this isn't a perfect world, and I'd be flabbergasted if this story changed anything.
posted by tittergrrl at 3:59 PM on August 12, 2003


Pathetic lefty whining. Next thing you know liberals will organize public rallies to demand that Bush send Schwarzenegger back into the past to kill Osama's mother.

Obviously, 111, you'd want to send Robert Patrick or Kristanna Loken back into the past, not the outddated Schwarzenegger model! ;)
posted by tittergrrl at 4:02 PM on August 12, 2003


Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.
posted by Triplanetary at 4:20 PM on August 12, 2003


On one hand, I want to say...christ...this doesn't matter.

But then I actually wake up and say that anything that can help fuck Bush is okay with me.
posted by damnitkage at 4:22 PM on August 12, 2003


I think it's reasonable to give someone a "ding" for missing something without crying "gotcha" and demanding they hand in their badge.
posted by scarabic at 4:31 PM on August 12, 2003


"But then I actually wake up and say that anything that can help fuck Bush is okay with me."

Ah. Nuke in NY perhaps? Faulty intelligence work once again, why didn't Bush pay attention to that old Japanese diesel sub sold to the scrappers in Australia in 1956, that languished in the scrapyard till some 'hindoos' (as the scrapyard owner called them) bought it as a museum piece - or so they said, back in 1983... Sub refurbed in a dockyard warehouse in Iran - packed with obsolescent Soviet suitcase nukes, then towed under a tanker across the Atlantic, cast off fifty miles outside of New York - and then they made it to Ellis Island before setting off the nukes. Each was only about a kiloton, but there were twenty of them...

Bush would look a right idiot then, wouldn't he? But hey, you'd be okay with that.
posted by JB71 at 4:32 PM on August 12, 2003


great stuff tittergrrl. this silly blame-game goes on with both sides (although IMO the right still hold the title, at least for now) and as far as i'm concerned the annoyingly predictable rhetoric accomplishes nothing except to encourage those who want more ammunition. sometimes i could swear that i'm watching a bizzaro-world episode of 'the o'reilly factor' here.
posted by poopy at 4:35 PM on August 12, 2003


Bush would look a right idiot then, wouldn't he? But hey, you'd be okay with that.

Ewwww! Way to catch him on that slip-up, JB71! After all, he was being completely serious and was in essence summarizing the whole of his philosophy in that single sentence, which seemed off the cuff and sarcastic, but in fact was carefully crafting to stand up to the surgical scalpel that is your intellect. But you caught him anyway, and now look at how you've humiliated him! We're all, frankly, in awe.
posted by Hildago at 5:23 PM on August 12, 2003


Did anyone else think this was an Onion headline before they clicked on the link? I did.
posted by ajblust at 5:38 PM on August 12, 2003


I point out, once again, that many of you (left and right) are ignoring the obvious (except tittergrrl who seems to get it). I'd expect this blatant disregard from idiots on the far right like 111, but what excuse do the rest of you have? Read it again:

Top administration officials discussed the mission to kill bin Laden as late as one week before the suicide attacks on New York and Washington, but they had not yet resolved a debate over whether the CIA or Pentagon should operate the armed Predators and whether the missiles would be sufficiently lethal, officials told The Associated Press.

How do you spell incompetence? Anyone? Bueller? Triplanetary said it all. And thomcatspike, you did notice the part of the article where it mentions Clinton's staff passing inportant intel to the Bush people so they could act on it, didn't you? Guess not. 111, why do you hate Americans so much (and obviously wish them dead with your head-in-the-sand claims of whining)? You do realize that us lefties are just trying to get the President to back up his bullshit, don't you? Guess not.
posted by Wulfgar! at 6:52 PM on August 12, 2003


And as the John Dean piece I linked points out, we don't actually know what Bush knew about the al Qaeda threat before 9/11. David Corn put it well: "It is unusual--if not absurd--for an administration to claim that the state of presidential knowledge is top-secret when the material in question has been made public. But that's what Bush officials have done. Consequently, the public does not know whether these warnings made it to Bush and whether he responded."

What I find amazing is that much of the public doesn't want to know, and even gets testy when someone brings up the question.
posted by homunculus at 7:33 PM on August 12, 2003


If only we had the stability of an unchanging number-one movie at the box office, all these nagging doubts would just go away.
posted by homunculus at 7:35 PM on August 12, 2003


i must've misread tittergrrl's remark. oh well.

If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.
posted by poopy at 7:39 PM on August 12, 2003


Note to self: Assemble Posse To Pants Stan Chin.
posted by y2karl at 10:09 PM on August 12, 2003


you'd want to send Robert Patrick or Kristanna Loken back into the past, not the outddated Schwarzenegger model

but the schwarzenegger model is tried and tested and has a 2:1 record on time travel missions while the two experimental models are 0:1.
posted by biffa at 2:15 AM on August 13, 2003


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