I blogged below about the media’s hesitancy to call things as they are when it comes to the White House. Today’s New York Times is a perfect example.
In an article about the August 6, 2001, presidential briefing, the Times reports Bush was told al Queda “planned an attack within the United States with explosives and wanted to hijack planes.” The article goes on to note that this “appears to contradict the White House’s repeated assertions that the briefing the president received about the Qaeda threat was ‘historical’ in nature.” Come on! The person making the “repeated assertions” was Condi Rice under oath before the 9-11 Ccommission.
Here is Rice’s exact testimony before the 9-11 Commission:
- “[T]his was a historical memo.”
- The PDB “was not a particular threat report. And there was historical information in there about various aspects of al-Qaida’s operations.”
- “It was historical information based on old reporting.”
- “This was a historic memo — historical memo prepared by the agency because the president was asking questions about what we knew about the inside.”
- “The president was told this is historical information. I’m told he was told this is historical information and there was nothing actionable in this.”
- “It is just not the case that the August 6th memorandum did anything but put together what the CIA decided that they wanted to put together about historical knowledge about what was going on and a few things about what the FBI might be doing.”
- “[The] August 6th [PDB] is most certainly an historical document that says, Here’s how you might think about Al Qaida.”
If the current media reports about the content of the briefing are right, there is little doubt Rice misled or attempted to mislead the 9-11 Commission. No doubt White House lawyers will say her testimony was accurate because the memo did not deal with “a particular threat,” i.e., that terrorists were going to hijack planes and fly them into buildings in New York City. But at least now we know why the White House fought so hard to avoid having Rice testify under oath. The question that remains is why the mainstream media isn’t being specific about who made these patent misstatements.