Why Isn’t Obama Clearing Brush on PDB Day?

Nine years ago today, George W Bush was informed that “Al Qaeda [was] determined to strike in US.”

And then he went out to clear more brush at his pig farm in Crawford.

Obama is showing no such presidential manliness in the second year of his term. Yesterday, his Justice Department actually indicted 14 of those who were materially supporting al-Shabaab, which is determined to strike at the US.

And today, in addition to getting his own PDB and Economic Daily Brief and meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Obama will celebrate the confirmation of just the fourth woman to serve on the Supreme Court (may Elena Kagan be as much of a pleasant surprise on the Court as Sonia Sotomayor has), and will talk about the economy at a small business (though it’d be nice if he did more than talk…).

I may not love everything President Obama is doing on PDB day and every day. But at least he’s doing something more than clearing brush on a pig farm.

  1. MadDog says:

    OT – Just checking EW to see if you already were on this – via AP:

    AP Exclusive: CIA whisked detainees from Gitmo

    Four of the nation’s most highly valued terrorist prisoners were secretly moved to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2003, years earlier than has been disclosed, then whisked back into overseas prisons before the Supreme Court could give them access to lawyers, The Associated Press has learned.

    The transfer allowed the U.S. to interrogate the detainees in CIA “black sites” for two more years without allowing them to speak with attorneys or human rights observers or challenge their detention in U.S. courts. Had they remained at the Guantanamo Bay prison for just three more months, they would have been afforded those rights…

    • emptywheel says:

      Yeah, working on it.

      Once again it fills out stuff we knew, but didn’t know the precise details of (after all, AZ made it clear to ICRC he had been at Gitmo before). But it shoudl be read in conjunction with Andy Worthington’s every bit as important summary of some recent ghost plane info on Poland.

      Plus, I wonder whether this is just another limited hangout for the CIA, like their version of the torture inquiry was. After all, there are at least hints there STILL is a hidden camp at Gitmo.

      • bmaz says:

        Yeah, the timing on stuff lately is interesting in light of the supposed grand coming of BS Durham’s long awaited accountability moment. Not saying anything is necessarily related or not, but it always crosses my mind when seeing new info.

        • emptywheel says:

          Yeah, I’m thinking it may be two things: both preemption of that case (note the comments I made about the timing of their departure from Gitmo; in addition to evidence of crimes in the IG Report, there is FBI testimony complaining about what they did to al-Shibh in other documents). But also, an attempt to distract from Camp No and the possibility there was a later black site at Gitmo.

        • Mary says:

          I’ve wondered about that too.

          They’ve hit hard today on a story about the guy with the US green card,


          Shukrijumah. I think to put him out there as someone with US ties (permanent green card, but not a citizens) who everyone should be ok with targetting for drone assassination (his two *counterparts* are alleged to have existed and to have been killed by drone attacks, no word in yet if one was named al-Baghdadi).

          Oh – and not only can/should we get on board with the drone bombing of Shukrijumah (bc he knows stuff about the US – secret stuff you only know when you’ve lived here – therefore he’s much scarier) but then we can take the allegations about Shukrijumah and Padilla (that come from AZ and KSM torture) and the fact that they were going to blow up apartment buildings together, as fact – a fact to help offset anything done to Padilla, with Mukasey’s tacit approval, on US soil.

          And then on the *more clearly fictional* side of the equation, you have this raft of new CIA based TV programs coming out. Not Jack Bauer ‘cut his baby’s testicles off, that’ll make him talk’ shows, but instead really, desperately almost, painting the CIA in more a Scarecrow & Mrs. King meets James Bond fashion.

          The cute blondey and now the African American “couple” coming out of retirement, all making the CIA about good sex (you know, the kind that doesn’t involve sodomizing a terrified crazy guys while drugging him and threatening his family all while he’s on his way to years in isolation littered with sleep deprivation, more drugging, live burials, forced nudity, and being slung by the neck into walls, over and over) and excitement and doing important, dangerous things that save lives.

          Interesting timing and interesting choices.

  2. oldoilfieldhand says:


    Perspective, unlike perception, may not be reality, but it certainly is worthwhile and encouraging! Thank you!

  3. klynn says:

    I have wondered for a few years now, how does it happen that a staff does not really know if a President “received” a PDB?

    Even with the text, we don’t really know what the President knew and when he knew it. According to the CIA and the 9/11 commission, there were 40 other mentions of Al Qaeda or Bin Laden in the President’s Daily Briefs before 9/11. Most of those presumably came during what Dr. Rice called “the threat spike” of June and July 2001. The August 6 Brief came on the downside of that spike, so the other PDB reports may be more (or less) alarming.

    Really? More (or less) alarming? What BS Dr. Rice. The bottom line was the word alarming, whether more or less.

    Thanks for the perspective EW.

    • bobschacht says:

      Not bloody likely. Hawaii is a bear when it comes to yard work. If you have a yard in Hawaii, it will need a lot of work if you want to keep it from reverting to tropical rain forest. Hawaii doesn’t have a “fall” season that generates a lot of dead leaves, but the vegetation there is constantly shedding, blossoming, seeding, etc. and some of the trees (e.g. the Monkey Pod tree) are really messy.

      But I don’t think Obama has his own digs on Hawaii, and I think even his sister has moved away from Hawaii. When he visits, IIRC, he visits property maintained by others.

      Bob in AZ

      • Margaret says:

        Gee! It was meant to be light hearted and humorous! I guess this is the wrong crowd for that! Sorry.

        • bobschacht says:

          Sorry! I haven’t had breakfast yet. Besides, having recently lived in Hawaii for 5 years makes me an expert, doesn’t it? (psst, I hope dakine01 or ctuttle don’t notice!)

          Bob in AZ

    • Margaret says:

      Well I certainly wish he’d be more progressive but I don’t agree. I’m glad he’s not been on vacation over 25% of the time. I’m just waiting for the Republicans to start finding his lack of vacation time evidence of a socialist plot or being foreign born.

      • ShotoJamf says:

        I’m just waiting for the Republicans to start finding his lack of vacation time evidence of a socialist plot

        I think you’re onto something. It’s obviously un-American not to be clearing brush on a pig farm. Therefore, we can only conclude that the current President is a Kenyan-born Muslim with a socialist agenda. Yeah…it’s all starting to make sense. Glenn Beck should be able to draw up a really nice diagram on his crazy board….

      • jakegittes says:

        “I’m not going to rest or be satisfied until the leak is stopped at the source, the oil in the Gulf is contained and cleaned up, and the people in the Gulf are able to go back to their lives and their livelihoods.”

        How many vacations has he taken since he made this statement? 4?

        • demi says:

          Is your take on Everything you read literal? Comments like that kinda make you look like a fundamentalist. Sorry to say. But, if you’re just feeling argumentative, than your comment makes sense.

          • Margaret says:

            Apparently humor doesn’t go over well with the folks on this particular thread. Either that or my wit has become extremely rusty and unwelcome.

            • demi says:

              Nah, you’re fine. It takes all kinds, and some commenters have only one voice, pendantic and slightly patronizing. Or, maybe it’s is just meant as helpful and I’m missreading. Always possible.

          • jakegittes says:

            Do what now? I attempt to use humor in most of my posts, maybe these came across as overly harsh. Or maybe my Mom should have hugged me more.

            • demi says:

              Sorry. I missed the snark tag. It’s difficult to stay up on everyone’s snarkomenter. I’ll try to remember.

              • jakegittes says:

                Yeah. You’ll get over it.

                Honestly, I’m furious, furious that this “Democratic” President is about to voluntarily take an axe to our, my Social Security. He created this panel. He staffed this panel. The GOP didn’t force him to. The Senate didn’t force him to. He set this all in motion, staffed with people who should be enemies of any decent human being, much less “Democrat”. And in this economic downturn, he doesn’t go after Cayman Island tax havens, or Hedge fund tax rate cutouts, or raising the tax rate on the wealthy, or cutting military spending (or finding the 25% or whatever they just misplace).

                No. He’s coming after our FICA money. So yeah, I’m a little cranky on the subject of Obama and those willing to “cut him some slack”.

      • Mary says:

        I don’t wish he’d be more or less progressive.

        I’m fine with not criminal, not ordering up US citizen assassinations, following court orders on detainee releases like the Uighurs, not setting up Bagram as his newly approved torture site, not tossing US soldiers and Afghan citizens into the kill trench while he busily steeples his fingers.

        Decency. I’ll take it over progressivity any day.

  4. michaelfishman says:

    Sorry. I would really prefer Dear Leader to be out clearing brush, or scooping up after dogs, or any number of more manly things, than prosecuting people under the material support statute. For some reason, I felt a lot less threatened by GWB clearing brush.

    As for Kagan vis-a-vis Sotomayor, as my mother used to say, “You should live so long.”

  5. TobyWollin says:

    Let’s see now – what else doesn’t the current president do?
    — Well, he actually WORKS – yes, he takes breaks but in terms of time spent in the office working, he did; Bush did not.
    — He doesn’t drag the Secret Service and synchophantic twits around the countryside while he goes mountain biking to keep his addictions at bay.
    — He doesn’t do public events while drunk.
    — He doesn’t leave the business of governing to his vice president.We might not agree with people like Summers, Geithner and Rahm (I’m feeling a bit of doggerel coming on a la ‘Winkin, Blinkin, and Nod’), but at least he hasn’t put the operations of the country into the hands of someone like Cheney.

    • tanbark says:

      “What else doesn’t the current president do?”

      He didn’t risk one ounce of the prodigious capital we gave him, to get americans a good public option.

      He doesn’t support bringing generic drugs into the country to force Big Pharma to lower their rip-off prices.

      He doesn’t support ending the Health Insurance Companies’ exemption from anti-trust laws.

      He doesn’t come out foursquare in favor of legalizing gay marriage, but instead straddles the bi-partisan fence and says that while he’s agin gay marriage, he’s in favor of “equality”.

      He no longer supports either of his OWN drawdown plans for Iraq or Afghanistan. But instead is sounding remarkably like the Bush administration, in explaining why it might take longer than he said…when he was campaigning.

      Lesseee…after more than a year and a half in office, he hasn’t figured out how to get the nearly double-digit unemployment down, and he hasn’t shitcanned Timothy Geithner, one of the architects of our financial problems, but instead has left him in place where he can work behind the scenes on Wall Street’s behalf, and try to thwart one of the few meaningful regulatory appointments that Obama COULD make, in Elizabeth Warren.

      I could go on, but let’s cut to the chase: As we get closer to the mid-terms and to some resolution of the voter’s verdict on Obama’s most-excellent protecting of the status quo, democrats (including bloggers…) are going to have to make a decision as to the political and moral efficacy of:

      “We HAVE to vote for the democrats. No matter how bad they are, the republicans are worse.”

      I think it’s a lousy campaign slogan, and I would prefer that our side apply pressure, just as we applied it in beginning the firestorm when Obama rolled over and pissed himself like a little puppydog, as big, bad, Breitbart and Faux got after him. I’m glad that we at least made him apologize and offer her a new job, but then, he took another crap on the truth table and blamed the MSM for, somehow, forcing him to run like a rabbit, from the asshats.

      It was disgusting: “They made me do it.”…from the supposedly bold, articulate, man we sent to the White House with all of that political clout.

      We have about three months left in which to try to grow Obama and the dems some vestige of a spinal column. Peddling the view of “Oh, well, at least, he’s not doing such-and-such…” is not going to work. If that’s our party’s mantra in this political culture, the voters will eat us alive. And they should.

  6. rmwarnick says:

    I still think President Obama has moved the Supreme Court to the right. I’d like to be proved wrong about that!

  7. dagoril says:

    If I have to choose between clearing brush and gutting Social Security, I’ll take the brush clearer, thanks.

    • tanbark says:

      That’s gonna leave a bruise, but a rather small bruise, since Bush made a pretty good run at turning SS over to the tender mercies of Wall Street.

      Listening to the democrats howl about that effort, made me feel good.

      Listening to some of them get on the “I’ve got mine; fuck you, Jack!” bandwagon of raising the SS age limit, and cutting benefits, makes me want to puke.

      And what’s deadly about all of this reaching out crap, is that it blurs whatever distinction there is…excuse me…WAS, between the dems and the GOP. With what we’re looking at, that’s political seppuku…and that brings us right back to the question of:

      Are the democrats looking forward to hanging the flaming turd-lei around the repubs’ necks?

  8. onitgoes says:

    I realize that W “clearing brush,” was merely a photo op until such time as the undocumented Mexican-born peeps could get back to their slave-wage work. But at least in those few moments when W actually picked up and shifted some brush around for the camera… it appeared as if he was doing something useful.

    I would have preferred it if he stuck to clearing brush. It’s what else he did or didn’t do that was a disaster.

  9. LarryB says:

    [Delurking…moon must be blue]

    While I, too, deplore a lot of what the Obama administration has done (or not done) I think the crankier commenters need to get a grip. Remember, it could be much, much, worse. While this administration has been a lukewarm ally of the left, it is not a complete enemy. In conclusion, the primary season is wrapping up. That was the time to fight for the soul of the party. Now we enter the general and I, for one, will try to soldier on.

    • AppleCanyon2 says:


      I am way late to this discussion since I have been out all day and just catching up with the threads.

      I want to thank you for the refreshing comment here on your part. I remember when it was “much, much worse” and I do not want to go back to those dark days EVER again.

      I respect the opinions of all the commenters here, but many times they do not reflect my opinion and that is most important to me.

      I truly wish that when someone has an opinion like yours that they would be respected and not trashed by someone who feels strongly in the other direction.

      Has Obama done everything I like NO.

      Has the healthcare bill been everything to my liking NO.

      Has the Wall Street reform bill been everything that I asked for NO.

      I could go on and on, but like you, I will keep soldiering on in hopes that there is more on the horizon that can make us better than we were during the Bush years.

      Thank you for de-lurking and expressing your opinion. These opinions are important to so many of us.

      And for those of you that wish to attack me for expressing this opinion,

      I do not give a crap for your issues.

  10. jakegittes says:

    the crankier commenters need to get a grip.

    Actually we don’t.

    While this administration has been a lukewarm ally of the left, it is not a complete enemy

    I smell a campaign slogan! “Obama – not a complete enemy of the Left”.

    • onitgoes says:

      Kinky Friedman, fwiw, is quoted in today’s Sacramento Bee:

      “No, I’m not a fan of Obama’s. I voted for him, but I won’t do it again. He has run a government by ego. … Leave it to America to elect a black president without any soul. … But I am not picking on him. He’s just a politician. And I had hoped that he might be more.”

      Nice way to put it. I’m not into saying “it could have been worse.” Why should I accept something crappy as being “better than nothing.” I may sound like I’m being mean-spirited, but I think it’s a big mistake to settle wether one is choosing a life partner or one is reviewing a politician’s record after voting for them. Settling, imo, is not an option.


  11. Mason says:

    Obama is showing no such presidential manliness in the second year of his term. Yesterday, his Justice Department actually indicted 14 of those who were materially supporting al-Shabaab, which is determined to strike at the US.

    I don’t believe there is any credible evidence that al-Shabaab intends to strike at the United States. I don’t think there is any legitimate basis for this indictment. Why is it any of our damn government’s business if Somalis in the United States, whether or not they are U.S. citizens (I don’t know if they are), travel to Somalia to enlist with a group fighting to overthrow the corrupt government in Somalia, or send money to support that effort?

    • Mason says:

      I’m replying to my comment @ 43 in which I said that I don’t believe there is any credible evidence that al Shabbab is a threat to strike at the U.S. I haven’t changed my mind, but I did find this at Wikipedia.

      Twenty or so Somali–American youth from the area of the Twin Cities in Minnesota whose families emigrated to the United States have also reportedly been recruited to fight in Somalia. In September 2009, a Somali–American from Seattle drove a truck bomb into an AMISOM base in Mogadishu, killing twenty-one peacekeepers and himself.

      The group appears to be Wahabbist Taliban type group at war against the weak central government in Somalia seeking to replace it. It controls the southern part of the country and a few sections of Mogadishu, the capitol.

      Again, I don’t think it’s any of our damn business to mess in the internal affairs of any foreign nation however loosely they may be affiliated with al Qaeda. They have been designated a terrorist organization, however, but so what? I see no legitimate basis for jurisdiction. If I were representing one of the defendants charged in the indictment that was unsealed yesterday, I would be researching the jurisdiction issue to put together an argument in support of a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

      As is obvious, I think the whole war on terror is just a bullshit excuse by the grinning kleptocrats, the MOTU, the MIC, and Obama their stooge to invade countries to steal their natural resources and destroy our domestic Main Street economy at home to finish off the middle class and end our civil liberties.

      • bobschacht says:

        The group appears to be Wahabbist Taliban type group at war against the weak central government in Somalia seeking to replace it.

        Just in case you’ve forgotten, do you remember what the most important Islamic country is that is dominated by the Wahhabi sect?
        (Hint: S___ A___, and I don’t mean San Antonio.)

        Bob in AZ

        • Mason says:

          Yeah, I know. It’s the national religion taught in all Saudi schools.

          Schools in which, I might as well add, the children are taught that Osama bin Laden is a religious and national hero.

          Makes perfect sense that the Saudis, who believe in equal opportunity stoning women to death, are our principal Arab ally.

          The people who run our government are thieving snakes and idiots.

    • oldoilfieldhand says:

      If the fighters were Jewish, returning to Israel to wrest control from corrupted influences (we should live so long) and lawlessness there, wouldn’t we be reading Time Magazine feature stories and Gray Lady interviews?

  12. tjallen says:

    Actually it is questionable whether things are better. We have many of the same policies, and some worse ones. The issues that matter to me have not been resolved – 2 wars still going on, still treating terrorism as a secret war and not as a crime, still detaining, and prob torturing, still spying on our communications, still a domestic military-security state, still very little exercise of congressional power against the executive, huge amounts of my taxes going to military socialism.

    What we need and what Obama needs is someone willing to run against him from the left, otherwise he has absolutely no reason to move more than 1 degree away from that other party. Why do we write in 8 years for “our guy” when he’s elected? Why not make him prove himself by running someone against him after 4 years? Why would it help the other party for us to be holding our guy’s feet to the fire? I didn’t vote for him to get centrist-right issues favored. He needs to get to work on what I want, or he will miss my vote.