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Friday, April 30, 2004

Up is down, black is white, night is day
That's the general gist of every White House press briefing by Scott McLellan. Here's a sample from Thursday:

I mean, this is a good opportunity for the President to sit down with members of the commission and talk with them about the seriousness with which we took the threat from al Qaeda, the steps we were taking to confront it and how we have been responding to the attacks of September 11th. The President believes their work is very important, and it is very important to helping us win the war on terrorism. He's pleased to sit down with the commission and answer their questions so that they can provide the American people with as thorough and comprehensive a report as possible.

Smirky fought the creation of the commission tooth and nail for over a year, tried, with considerable success to eviscerate its ability to actually find anything out, and only agreed to meet with the commission after months of stonewalling and insisting on a huge list of bizarre conditions.

Here's another sample from the same day:

Q Was the President's position, before the commission, that the administration had done all it could to respond to the threat from al Qaeda, that it took the threat seriously?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, look, I think -- I think the President talked about this in his news conference. Looking back, he wishes we had had certain things in place. He wishes we had had the Department of Homeland Security in place prior to September 11th; he wishes that we had had the Patriot Act in place; and he wishes that we were in a position to better share the intelligence information that we had. This is something that happened on his watch, and he very much supports the work of the commission and wants to see their report and see their recommendations and act on those recommendations.

The Department of Homeland Security, aka the Keystone Gestapo, was Senator Joe Lieberman's idea, and was strongly opposed by the Bush administration until rumors about the August 6 2001 PDB threatened to expose Bush as the fraud that he is in the Spring of 2002. And this crap about sharing intelligence information is just that--crap. The secrecy of the Bushies has made us substantially less safe.

What would have been the harm to national security in the summer of 2001 if there had been headlines in the New York Times and on CNN as follows: "FBI reports suspicious behavior: Many people in flight schools don't care about taking off or landing"; "CIA believes that two associates of Osama bin Laden are living in San Diego"; "President Bush briefed on hijacking threat from Osama bin Laden." While we know that Bush doesn't read the papers, I'll bet that many of the folks at the FBI and the CIA do, as well as many cops and other interested citizens. The dots would have been quickly connected. A few of the potential hijackers would have been rounded up, most would have snuck out of the country, and 9/11 would have been averted, perhaps indefinitely.

As long as the vast majority of the public is not terrorists, secrecy in government is an advantage to the terrorists, not the public. Of course, there might have been some hysteria and false accusations against some Arabs and Muslims in this country, but almost certainly much less than there was after 9/11. And with the charges or suspicions already public, they would have had a better chance of defending themselves publicly as well.

The extraordinary secrecy of the Bush administration, which is the focus of John Dean's book Worse Than Watergate, has deprived us all of the wisdom of countless potential dot-connectors, and has provided shadows for terrorists of all sorts to hide in (including those on Cheney's energy task force).