PDB Roundup

Lots of reaction around the blogosphere to yesterday’s release of the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief: Steven Taylor (here, here, and here), Dean Esmay, Scott Ott, Rob Tagorda, Steve Verdon, Chris Lawrence, Ogged, Paul, and Kevin Drum.

Steven also observes the power of headlines: “If the PDB had a less provocative (especially in retrospect) title, i.e., ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.’ would the critics be as able to interpret the contents as they have?”

The pithiest comes from Jeff Jarvis: “I’m no Bushie but I’m sick of the attempt to find an enemy within with the enemy is clearly without.”

Indeed. Which is why I opposed the creation of the commission in the first place. These things invariably become finger-pointing, ass covering exercises despite the theoretical objective of discovering what went wrong so as to fix the process. They’re never very helpful, which is doubly true during a presidential election year. And they’re downright unhelpful when there’s a war on.

FILED UNDER: Terrorism, , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. wren says:

    Not helpful? Not to Bush I guess. However we did learn a lot this week. Most importantly that the attacks could have been prevented. And that next to nothing was done by the Whitehouse before 9/11. What’s been done since then has been misguided, inadequate or wrong-headed. The Whitehouse really did drop the ball in 2001. They haven’t picked it up since then. Time for a change.

  2. Rodney Dill says:

    Actually we learned that the Whitehouse was doing a lot (70 ongoing FBI investigations). We also learned how the weak-minded, like wren, can be influenced by the liberal spin. I’m copying comments to a post here that I put on Wizbang, but is equally applicable here.
    __________
    The Democrat spin is entirely ignoring the fact that both the Bush and previous administrations were and had been doing something. There were 70 ongoing FBI investigations, reports were reaching the president. Was the president supposed to assume that the FBI and any other government org was not handling things correctly that they knew about based on the PDB. The PDB also doesn’t document all that the gov’t over the years WAS doing to address terrorism.

    Of Course the liberal pundits get a free pass as in hind sight we can see that what had been done was not enough.

    But, for this PDB to be a signal for Bush, or any previous administration, to take action would be to ask. Is there enough information in this PDB to gut the current intelligence structure in this country, create homeland security, new airport security structure, get congressional support and funding for all the former. And all before 9/11.

    (actually all between 8/6 and 9/11)

    The point is not that we didn’t know at all or weren’t taking any action. The point is that we didn’t now enough to take the extreme actions that we are currently at today. The PDB did not make that case with the ‘facts’ it contains to make that quantum leap in security efforts.
    __________

    I read the PDB and it backs up what the adminstration has been saying all along. The only way you can spin it otherwise is to include information only known after 9/11/. Peoples minds being what they are this spin will be somewhat successful, as many are incapable of compartmentalized thinking and will only weigh this evidence in the light of everything they ‘currently’ know.

  3. Paul says:

    No wren , what we learned this week is that you are a hopeless partisan asshat.

  4. Hal says:

    Ooohhhh Paul! You’re such a tool.

  5. Art says:

    Well if Wren is weak minded then many of the rest of you either do not have a mind or choose not to use it.

    How has the war in IRAQ helped to fight OBS? In fact it has turned thousancs if not millions of Arabs and Islamists against us. Pictures of Mosques being bombed and of women and children dead, create new new hatred of the US. Seeing as how Bush was just so hot to invade IRAQ one might suspect that he and his cabal would have thought – What happens when we’ve won? They didn’t and this week 48 U.S. Servicemen and women paid the price.

    Should we abandon IRAQ? Can’t! So pour in the troops and do the job properly. Give our people over there enough ammunition, equipment and people to defend themselves. Remember that they are dealing with an increasingly hostile populace and finally remember John Kerry had nothing to do with this.

    Be strong enough to shoulder the blame that belongs to you and those you so blindly support. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, rather than just trying to blame Kerry, Iran , Syria, and anyone else who comes to mind. Be MEN and WOMEN not church mice. In doing so you just might recue a President in dire need of help.

    Art

  6. Jim says:

    What would have been the result if President Bush with a flash of inspiration (because it certainly wasn’t in the brief) decided for security concerns to shut down the sky for all of August and Sept (just to be safe). How quickly would Wren have decried that?

  7. Kevin Drum says:

    James: I have to say that if Bush hadn’t treated 9/11 so blatantly politically I’d sympathize more with your view. But from the very beginning he’s treated it mostly as a way to pummel Democrats and win House seats. Given that, it’s only natural that his opponents are also going to treat it politically.

    Bush had a once-in-a-lifetime chance after 9/11 to genuinely unite the country and put together a bipartisan approach to terrorism. He decided not to. I think you ought to pin the blame for the partisan atmosphere there before you start blaming anyone else.

  8. Art says:

    Hey Jimbo:

    You don’t think Bush might have taken a more imaginative approach like having the FBI check flight schools records to see if anyone was training for just such a mission. More than one flight school operator notified the FBI of his suspicions PRIOR to 9/11. No you likely don’t see that as something Bush would do because like him you’re thick.

    Best,

    Art

  9. Steve says:

    James: I have to say that if Bush hadn’t treated 9/11 so blatantly politically I’d sympathize more with your view. But from the very beginning he’s treated it mostly as a way to pummel Democrats and win House seats. Given that, it’s only natural that his opponents are also going to treat it politically.

    And this makes Bush different from other politicians how? You are such a naive nitwit Kevin it is astonishing.

    Bush had a once-in-a-lifetime chance after 9/11 to genuinely unite the country and put together a bipartisan approach to terrorism. He decided not to.

    That is because the bipartisan approach would have been to continue the law enforcement approach which is what let 9/11 happen inpart. With the law enforcment approach you can’t just go arrest people who you suspect of being terrorists, you have to have things like probable cause, evidence and so forth. Suspicious behavior isn’t always enough.

    I think you ought to pin the blame for the partisan atmosphere there before you start blaming anyone else.

    I’m rubber you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me sticks to you. Christ, I can’t believe the childlike naivete sometimes.

  10. Art says:

    Hey Stevie Boy:

    James has a good point, in fact it’s an excellant point. Why not stop playing blindman and open your eyes. Prior to 9/11 we know know that Bush knew or should have know that Al-Queda was in country, intended to use aircraft, possibly as missiles, and was looking at NY and Washington. We also know that the FBI knew that suspicious people were taking flight training. One guy told the flight school operator,”I don’t want to know how to land the plane, just how to take off and fly it”. Now had Bush had the foresight (is that a non-sequector), after the August 6th memo to ask the FBI to look into the possibility of Al-Queda using planes as weapons he’d likely have rousted them into putting the flight school info and the other intel together. At the very least he would have done SOMETHING. But no. Shrub didn’t want to swat at flies, now did he? Shrub wanted to invade IRAQ? No-one including Daddy Bush really knows why. So Shrub had to manufacture evidence of the grave threat Saddam posed to the rest of us. It took him more than 2 years to do this. He huffed and he puffed and he blew Saddam’s house down. But poor little Shrub never thought about feeding the occupants of Saddam’s house, providing a safe, crime free environment, or lights and water did he? Nope. That was too much for little ole Shrub’s brain. Poor little Shrubbie. Really we should be crying over what he’s done to the men and women who have fought his war for him. Another 16 dead since Friday. Just because poor little Shrub can’t think more than a day or two ahead. Over 600 dead and more dying as we write all because of Shrubbie. Meanwhile Shrubbie’s holdin’ a barby for his huntin’ and gun buddies down at the ranch. Course Dickie’s in charge somewhere over in Asia. Really sad isn’t it. You must really love your tax refunds to love a guy like Shrubbie.

    Best,

    Art

  11. McGehee says:

    Hmmm. Let’s look at the checklist.

    1.) Document released undercuts the anti-Bush agenda. Check.

    2.) Anti-Bush spin-trolls emerge once more from the woodwork. Check.

    McGehee’s Law is still valid.

  12. Art says:

    Hmmmm:

    “Hmmm. Let’s look at the checklist.

    1.) Document released undercuts the anti-Bush agenda. Check.

    2.) Anti-Bush spin-trolls emerge once more from the woodwork. Check.

    McGehee’s Law is still valid.

    Posted by: McGehee at April 11, 2004 17:24 Permalink

    Point 1.
    Document is damming of Bush and his inaction. Can not possibly hurt the anti Bush people and gives life to the truth.

    Point 2. Someone emerges to bring you a Truth Bulletin and you call him a Troll. How Bush like. Don’t attack the message, don’t defend the record, attack the messenger.

    Totally consistant with tactics of Bush White House. No need to say anything else really.

    Sunshine and Roses,

    Art

  13. Rodney Dill says:

    McGehee, looks like your rule applies to Art as well, Though the spin there is grinding a little like the bearings are loose. 🙂

  14. Boyd says:

    Well Art, you did provide several things, but I wouldn’t have listed truth (or facts) among them.

    I wish some of you nascent intelligence experts actually had some intelligence experience. It’s certainly easy to sit back after something happens and point out all the signals that predicted the event. Actually doing it ahead of time is considerably more difficult.

    But it’s easier to just wait and second-guess your opponents.

  15. KE says:

    Just as an aside, mr. art, the cat who wanted to just learn to steer the plane (not takeoff or land) was Zach Moussaoui. He was arrested. Before 9/11. Really! I checked!

    Also, what is a “non-sequector?” Any relation to non sequitur?. Oh – and if you reach deep into your memory banks, you’ll remember (if reading the WashPost hasn’t warped your synapses too much) that Bush DID attack Afghanistan & the Taliban & al qaeda BEFORE Iraq. Really! He did!

    And for a GREAT example of the limpnuts thinking of the left, here is a Bob Kerrey quote from Oct 2000:
    “In my opinion [the attack on the Cole] is part of a military strategy designed to defeat the United States as we attempt to accomplish a serious and vital mission. I hope we will direct the anger and desire for vengeance we feel away from Yemen and towards Saddam Hussein … I can think of no more fitting tribute to the 17 sailors lost on-board the Cole than completing our mission and helping the Iraqi people achieve freedom and democracy.”

    And Kerrey ascribes to WHICH party? Hmmmmm…funny how his train of thought changed when the administration changed over.

    Also also, funny how Art could make a relatively lengthy post without coming up with even ONE (1) supportable thought or conclusion.

    Kinda sad, really.

  16. Art Keon says:

    Hi Guys:

    Just read your non comments. If you want to believe in fairy tales so be it. You Shrubbies are scary people without compassion. You need to know we are getting wupped over there. Yup there are lots of dead Iraqi’s and we can kill more but that just creates more bitter and desperate people ready to fight us anyway they can. Now it seems we have the emergence of potential suicide squads. Couldn’t have been the indiscriminate killing of 700 Iraq’s over the last ten days could it, that inspired these “Soldiers of Islam”? Nope it was big, bad, Iran and OBS and Syria and …

    Well it was us. Read what the Brit’s think of our preformance over in Iraq. Still think GWB is an ok guy? Ain’t nothing I can say to change your mind then.

    Good luck to all of you. Hope you don’t lose someone close because of Bush ineptitude.

    Art.

  17. Art Keon says: