On Monday, we discussed the massive disparity between the GOP’s reaction to Benghazi versus its almost universally silent reaction to the Bush administration’s negligence and inaction during the months prior to 9/11, as well as its attempts to whitewash its response during the years following those attacks. In the process, we covered a series of intelligence documents, known as the President’s Daily Briefs (PDBs), including the notorious August 6, 2001 PDB, all of which warned the White House of an impending al-Qaeda attack inside the United States.
Coincidentally, the topic of the Obama administration’s PDBs regarding Benghazi popped up in the conservative media on Monday as well. It began with an op/ed in The Washington Post written by former Bush and Rumsfeld speechwriter Marc Thiessen who wrote that Bush so generously released the “Bin Laden Determined To Attack Inside The U.S.” PDB. Thiessen went on to demand that President Obama release not one but all PDBs from the days following the Benghazi attack.
What’s good enough for Bush should be good enough for Obama. Congress should ask the president to follow precedent and release the PDBs he received in the days after the Benghazi attack.
See that? Bush released one PDB, which means Obama should release multiple PDBs, plural. That right there is what we call a double-standard.
Thiessen misled readers by making it seem as if the August 6, 2001 PDB was the only PDB to discuss the 9/11 attacks. Clearly, based on what we covered yesterday via Kurt Eichenwald’s invaluable reporting, it wasn’t. There were many, many others.
Thiessen claimed the August 6 PDB “contained no actionable intelligence that could have stopped the 9/11 attacks from happening.” Maybe, maybe not, but it was a significant warning about an impending attack. Other PDBs not released by the former president covered specifics such as flight schools, mass casualties and the use of hijacked airplanes as missiles. The PDBs also specified that the attackers were already inside the U.S. At the same time, the National Security Agency was already monitoring two of the terrorists who went on to hijack the jet that struck the Pentagon, while 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui was arrested on immigration charges by the INS after his flight school instructor grew suspicious as to why he was training to fly jumbo jets without any aspiration to acquire a pilot’s license. Hmm.
Nevertheless, Thiessen wants us to infer that the reason Obama hasn’t released the post-Benghazi PDBs is because doing so would prove the administration’s guilt in the affair. Weird, considering the volumes of PDBs that the Bush White House never released specifically regarding 9/11. If Obama is covering his ass by not releasing his PDBs, what does that say about Bush, Thiessen’s former boss? “What’s good enough for Bush should be good enough for Obama,” right? That’s what Thiessen wrote.
Again, another example of selective and disproportionate outrage.
Elsewhere, as if the message had been coordinated between the conservative press and ex-Bushies, former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card appeared on Fox News Channel to discuss the Obama PDBs. If you thought Thiessen’s article was misleading, Card and host Gretchen Carlson absolutely lied about Bush’s PDBs.
CARLSON: Meantime, new calls now for the White House to release the daily intelligence briefings on the days right after the Benghazi attack. It is something that President Bush did right after 9/11. And joining me now, Andy Card, former White House chief of staff under President George W. Bush. Great to see you Andy.
Nope. That’s totally inaccurate. President Bush didn’t release briefings (plural) “right after 9/11.” He released one PDB. One. And when was it released? Nearly three years after 9/11 on July 22, 2004, and the reason it was finally released was due to pressure from the 9/11 Commission after Condoleezza Rice shocked the world when she noted the title of the brief during commission testimony. On top of all of that, as we noted yesterday, President Bush resisted the formation of the commission in the first place. But sure, Fox News rewrites history all the time, so why not now?
CARD: Good to see you, Gretchen.
CARLSON: This came to light today and I think it is fascinating on this story. It is about the daily intelligence briefings. President Bush really set the precedent after 9/11. Did he not? Tell us what he did.
CARD: He did. He set a precedent and it was very controversial when he did it. He did it because he wanted to be transparent with a congressionally mandated investigation. And so he said that he was going to release that document. That document is one of the most secret documents in American politics, if you will, and he felt that it was important to put it out but he did it in the right context.
It’s not as if we didn’t already know what was in the memo. Prior to Rice’s testimony, the PDB was leaked to CBS News. When? In 2002. Furthermore, if PDBs are so sensitive, why urge Obama to release a whole stack of them?
Again, Bush was strong-armed into declassifying one PDB — which had already been leaked to the press — regarding the deadliest terrorist attack inside the United States in which nearly 3,000 civilians were murdered. How is this praiseworthy?
While we’re here, guess how many e-mails regarding the 9/11 attacks were released by the Bush administration. Exactly zero. Take a look at the 9/11 Commission Report and find even one e-mail reprinted in the document. Good luck. Yet we’ve seen a variety of internal Obama administration e-mails released to the public regarding Benghazi.
So, great. We’re now entering the PDB cover-up chapter of the Benghazi freak-out, even though it’s really not based in reality or any actual precedent — not unlike so many other aspects of this cynical, politically-motivated witch hunt.