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Oh my goodness! President George W. Bush frequently said that he didn’t know where Bin laden was and that frankly, he didn’t care where he was. Now he tries to take the credit for it?
President Bush sat down with USA Today to discuss the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and his role in shaping U.S. policy in their aftermath. During the interview, Bush thought he’d take the opportunity topat himself on the back for Osama bin Laden’s death:
Bush said the events that led to the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May began during his administration.
“The work that was done by intelligence communities during my presidency was part of putting together the puzzle that enabled us to see the full picture of how bin Laden was communicating and eventually where he was hiding,” he said. “It began the day after 9/11.”
The reality, of course, is that Bush’s attempts to capture or kill bin Laden were huge failures. While it’s been well documented that the Bush administration missed an opportunity to get bin Laden in Tora Bora in 2001, Bush himself subsequently stated publicly that he wasn’t spending much time thinking about getting him. “I truly am not that concerned about him. I am deeply concerned about Iraq,” Bush said in 2002, “I really just don’t spend that much time on him, to be honest with you.” Bush told reporters in 2006 that hunting the al Qaeda leader was “not a top priority use of American resources.”
And in 2005, Bush shut down the CIA’s unit dedicated to finding bin Laden in order to shift resources to Iraq. “The Central Intelligence Agency has closed a unit that for a decade had the mission of hunting Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants,” the New York Times reported in 2006, adding that resources “had been redirected from the hunt for Mr. bin Laden to the search for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed last month in Iraq.” When the right wing rushed to give Bush credit after bin Laden’s death in May, ThinkProgress produced this short video highlighting Bush’s failures:
Soon after he took office, President Obama steered the U.S. on a course to end the war in Iraq and put resources back into finding bin Laden. “Shortly after I got into office,” Obama said in aninterview after bin Laden’s death, “I brought [then-CIA director] Leon Panetta privately into the Oval Office and I said to him, ‘We need to redouble our efforts in hunting bin Laden down. And I want us to start putting more resources, more focus, and more urgency into that mission.’”
The New York Times has assembled and posted more than two hours of military, air traffic, and airline radio communications—some of it never before heard in public—from the morning of September 11, 2001. It is depressing and fascinating.
Astonishingly, a complete archive of the available audio documenting the attacks from the perspective of air traffic controllers and other people responsible for tracking the four doomed flights has never been assembled. Investigators working for the 9/11 Commission labored to pull together all the recordings they could find, but the draft “audio monograph” of 114 recordings they culled in 2004 came too late—the Commission was disbanded before a pre-release legal review could be completed. While many of the recordings were played at commission hearings, the full document remained secret.
Until last year, when a former 9/11 Commission investigator named Miles Kara recovered the files from the National Archives, and, in concert with students at Rutgers Law School, finished cataloging and transcribing them. The transcripts will be published by the Rutgers Law Review, and the audio is being posted by the Times. It’s an amazing trove, and it boggles the mind that not even the commission tasked with generating a complete accounting of that day never thought to pore over every moment of audio.
There are two notable, and fascinating omissions: Thirty minutes of audio from the cockpit of Flight 93, caught when someone keyed one of the pilots’ microphones, and a “high-level conference call” joined by Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and others.
The audio is endlessly perusable. When Betty Ong, a flight attendant on American Airlines flight 11—which hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center—called her airline’s operations center to report the hijacking, she reported that no one could get into the cockpit or if the pilots were safe.
“Well if they were shrewd, they would keep the door closed,” the voice on the other end of the line replied.
You can say what you want about Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) — but she won’t stand for anyone talking smack about her legislative body.
Bachmann gave an unsanctioned rebuttal to President Obama’s job speech in a Capitol Hill TV studio Thursday night in which she dismissed the address as so much warmed-over Obama rhetoric with little or no chance of success. She called it “just a retread of everything he’s put forward before that’s failed.”
But what really grinds her gears was what she called his blatant “insulting of Members of Congress” that came “almost right out of the gate” in his speech.
Obama said this (from the prepared text):
The people of this country work hard to meet their responsibilities. The question tonight is whether we’ll meet ours. The question is whether, in the face of an ongoing national crisis, we can stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy; whether we can restore some of the fairness and security that has defined this nation since our beginning.
Did you catch it? Bachmann said contained in that early paragraph was a direct attack on the fine men and women of the House.
“It was interesting to me that if you look at the president’s remarks, almost out of the gate, the president began by insulting members of Congress,” she said. “He invited them to be a part of this address this evening…And yet he began with an insult — for a circus tent.”
“That isn’t what this is. I don’t consider the greatest, most deliberative body in the United States, the House of Representatives, a circus, a political circus,” Bachmann continued. “It isn’t at all.”
It’s worth noting at this point that past Obama addresses to joint sessions of Congress have included House members shouting “you lie!” at him; unbelievably long and drawn out public discussions about who will sit next to whom; public whining about the date and time of an address; and finally, Republicans deciding not to show up out of spite (and calling Obama “idiotic” for having the speech in the first place.)
Nevertheless, Bachmann says, the “circus” line was too far — and, she said, a sign that the President is not serious about changing the rhetoric in Washington and getting some jobs legislation passed.
Bachmann declined to take any questions about her flagging presidential campaign, saying she was giving the speech as a Representative from Minnesota’s 6th District, not a presidential candidate. She ignored a question about her candidacy from TPM after the press conference was over, with her staff directing all questions about her presidential bid to the campaign.