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April 10, 2004
CNN: PDB Contained No Actionable Items

Although CNN's headline, "Key document warned of possible al Qaeda scenarios," and its lead paragraph imply something else, the August 6th PDB in fact contains no items regarding hijackers using planes as missiles, nor does it sketch any scenarios that went unresponded:

CNN confirmed highlights of the classified August 6, 2001 presidential daily briefing, or PDB, which is expected to be declassified and released in the next several days. ... Sources aware of the PDB say much of the intelligence is uncorroborated, and none of it is related to the eventual September 11 terrorist plot [emph mine].

To get that last nugget of information that I bolded, you have to read down to the penultimate paragraph. Prior to that, CNN emphasizes al-Qaeda's intent to strike the US -- but who would be surprised to learn that Islamofascists who had already blown up two of our embassies, committed a suicide attack on one of our warships, and had already tried to blow up the World Trade Center wanted to attack us on our homeland? If that intention was a surprise to anyone, they would have had to have been in a coma since 1979.

What's remarkable from the list of issues in the PDB, as reported by CNN, is that for each threat, the administration took steps to counter it:

-- An intelligence report received in May 2001 indicating al Qaeda was attempting to send operatives to the United States through Canada to carry out an attack using explosives. This information had been passed on to intelligence and law enforcement agencies;

-- Al Qaeda had been considering ways to hijack American planes to win the release of operatives who had been arrested in 1998 and 1999 [and the FAA had already been warned of potential hijacking threats -- Ed];

-- Osama bin Laden was set on striking the US as early as 1997 through early 2001;

-- Some intelligence suggested suspected al Qaeda operatives were traveling to and from the United States, were U.S. citizens, and may have had a support network in the U.S.;

-- At least 70 FBI investigations were underway in 2001 [emph mine]regarding possible al Qaeda cells/terrorist-related operations in the U.S.

So, rather than the portrait of malignant neglect emanating from Richard Ben-Veniste's fever swamp or the evil complicity coming from Howard Dean's, the fact is that the PDB demonstrates that the President was responding vigorously to those threats that were known at the time. No wonder Ben-Veniste wanted to cut off Condi Rice at the title of the briefing, and now we can see that his demand for declassification was nothing more than bluff.

Let's quit chasing our tail. The failure of 9/11 was an intelligence failure, brought on by the handcuffing of our agents over the information-sharing paranoia of the American people on the right and left, collection methods, relationships with informants and infiltrators, and cash. It wasn't George Bush's fault, it wasn't Bill Clinton's fault, it wasn't even Jimmy Carter's fault, although every president before 9/11 going back to Carter could have done a lot more to fight Islamofascist terror than they did. Let's remove the bureaucratic shackles, free our intelligence services to enable them to protect America, and quit conducting gotcha sessions on live TV.

Because until we focus on winning instead of playing dueling book tours, we will lose this war, and the next time millions of Americans will be dead in the streets.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 10, 2004 7:53 AM

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» Dems Spin Aug 6 PDB into Blame Game Centerpiece from Joefish's Freshwater Blog
Captain Ed has a great post on the August 6th PDB (President's Daily Briefing), a document which is quickly becoming the Holy Grail in the Democrat's blame game campaign, at The Captain's Quarters. Ed refers to a CNN story on the (soon to be declassi... [Read More]

Tracked on April 10, 2004 3:45 PM

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