Mark Thiessen: More Important to HEAR–Not Read–Daily Brief Than Actually Respond to It

Yesterday, Mark Thieseen made a what amounts to a complaint that, half the time, President Obama reads his daily brief rather than receives it from a briefer directly. Here’s Obama’s response.

I figured, as Thiessen’s bleatings often are, it was meant to distract from the incompetence of his Bush people, but it was not yet clear what he was distracting from.

Now it is.

On April 10, 2004, the Bush White House declassified [the August 6, 2001 PDB that warned "Bin Laden determined to strike in US"]  — and only that daily brief  in response to pressure from the 9/11 Commission, which was investigating the events leading to the attack. Administration officials dismissed the document’s significance, saying that, despite the jaw-dropping headline, it was only an assessment of Al Qaeda’s history, not a warning of the impending attack. While some critics considered that claim absurd, a close reading of the brief showed that the argument had some validity.

That is, unless it was read in conjunction with the daily briefs preceding Aug. 6, the ones the Bush administration would not release. While those documents are still not public, I have read excerpts from many of them, along with other recently declassified records, and come to an inescapable conclusion: the administration’s reaction to what Mr. Bush was told in the weeks before that infamous briefing reflected significantly more negligence than has been disclosed. In other words, the Aug. 6 document, for all of the controversy it provoked, is not nearly as shocking as the briefs that came before it.

The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001. By May 1, the Central Intelligence Agency told the White House of a report that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation. Weeks later, on June 22, the daily brief reported that Qaeda strikes could be “imminent,” although intelligence suggested the time frame was flexible.

But some in the administration considered the warning to be just bluster.

All that’s not to mean Obama’s not missing similarly grave threats: threats to the financial system and to the climate.

But this op-ed–and presumably the Kurt Eichenwald book it is based on–seems to confirm that the Bush Administration very arrogantly refused to listen to the warnings they were getting in their President’s (and Vice President’s) Daily Briefings.

And because they failed to heed that warning, they responded with all-out, Constitution eroding war, and not with the policing that might have prevented 9/11 in the first place.

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10 Responses to Mark Thiessen: More Important to HEAR–Not Read–Daily Brief Than Actually Respond to It

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @armandodkos Heh, Yes, I, of all people, am Mr. Beltway. Good one!
45sreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @armandodkos Attacking and scolding people that agree with you seems a poor use of time.
6mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @armandodkos I dunno, I think fact I agree w/King decision+think it should prevail does that sufficiently. Just not belligerent enough for U
7mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Wonder if a futile suit against the President will lead Congress to do something about expansive immunity claims? Prolly not.
26mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @granick If they get handset ID because you're sitting next to me, is that CDR? Not traditionally, no. But it is included in permitted IDs.
39mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @granick We know they intend to use track burners. So if they're doing that analysis why would we believe they're not using location?
41mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @granick Not at all. They have to return to a CDR at each step. Says nothing about what they do to get there.
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emptywheel @LemonSlayerUS I'm talking NGOs, not members of Congress.
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emptywheel Fairly certain we've known for over 5 years Powell was not briefed on torture until September 16, 2002.
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emptywheel Maybe I'm wrong and NSA doesn't intend to do contact chaining on location. But wouldn't it be smart to get something in writing first?
51mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Bunch of privacy NGOs just supported legislation w/o first getting promised assurances for ODNI it doesn't put NSA in our smartphones.
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JimWhiteGNV RT @froomkin: Reminder: There is no genuine dispute that CIA tortured and lied. Only Q is if anyone will ever be held to account. http://t.…
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