Joel Mowbray

And the only suspicious activity highlighted in the document was ?recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.?  Yes, it mentions ?New York,? but that?s an awfully big place, chock-full of ripe targets?and the World Trade Center was not a ?federal building.?

Caught red-handed misstating the facts, the Times gave the following quasi-clarification that same evening in a news story on the declassified document: ?But the briefing did not point to any specific time or place of attack and did not warn that planes could be used as missiles.?

The article?s next paragraph, however, promptly returned to the Times? campaign to paint Bush as a liar: ?But the page-and-a-quarter-long document showed that Mr. Bush was given more specific and contemporary information about terrorist threats than the White House had previously acknowledged.?

What ?specific? and ?contemporary? information exactly?

Referencing possible ?hijackings or other types of attacks? is about as ?specific? as a ?yellow? versus ?orange? terror alert. 

In short, there was nothing new, specific, or actionable in the much-ballyhooed PDB.

Naysayers will point to the ?hijacking? reference, but there was no mechanism in place to respond to a vague threat of a hijacking in fall 2001.  The bureaucracies were broken.  The FAA barely functioned, and Boston?s Logan International Airport was but one of many with near-nonexistent security. 

The ugly truth is that directing the massive U.S. bureaucracy to respond to the previously ignored threat of radical Islam in fall 2001 is like the Titanic captain steering once he spotted the iceberg. 

After all, it is clear to anyone who reads the briefing that there was sadly nothing specific in it that Bush could have acted on in order to prevent 9/11. 

Anyone, that is, except the New York Times.

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

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