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Sunday, October 09, 2005

Reality check

Hey, the President mentioned Osama bin Laden last week! Indeed, Bush referenced bin Laden by name five times in his speech to the National Endowment for Democracy on October 6.

This bragging point caught my eye:
Overall, the United States and our partners have disrupted at least ten serious al Qaeda terrorist plots since September the 11th, including three al Qaeda plots to attack inside the United States. We've stopped at least five more al Qaeda efforts to case targets in the United States, or infiltrate operatives into our country.
The 15 plots are summarized on this fact sheet.

Was this list, er, grounded in reality? Let's discuss the US cases since those are closer to home, meaning we should be able to verify them and they are of greatest concerns to Americans.

Well, one of the three "threats" in the US is the Jose Padilla case, which automatically undermines credibility of the President's claim. The "imminent threat" from Padilla was about on par with Iraq's WMD.

Thanks to RJ Eskow at skippy, I've seen the LA Times rundown:
The White House acknowledged that many of the plots cited by Bush were based on previously known information. But it would not comment on whether Bush and his administration had claimed credit for thwarting terrorist plots in the United States that, in reality, had not risen to the level of a "serious" operational plot at all, as some federal counter-terrorism officials maintained.

A case in point, the U.S. counter-terrorism authorities said, is the alleged plot that included the Library Tower.
In regard to that particular attack, the newspaper notes that authorities "said that, at best, the alleged plot was something that had been discussed but never put into action."

Plot stopped? Hmmmm. Sounds like strike two.
The White House refused to provide additional information on a third U.S. plot on the list, which it said involved suicide airline attacks on the East Coast. Counter-terrorism officials said they were not certain what the White House referred to.
We'll have to wait, eh?

BTW, it appears that the administration knows that it cannot really sort out a real it passes the buck!

This looks to me like derelection of duty and leadership:
"Our job is to gather intelligence and pass it on to local authorities," Mr. Bush told reporters in a White House picture-taking session with Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany of Hungary. "And they make the judgments necessary to respond.
I'm sure that's what Americans want, local cops and elected officials deciding how to interpret information from foreign intelligence. It might work for NYC, but what about Toledo? Or Peoria? Or Tulsa?

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