Thursday, February 09, 2006

Bush Said, A.P. Said 'in October 2001'

(Update at bottom)

The Associated Press reports:

He said that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks who was captured in 2003, had already begun planning the West Coast operation in October, just after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

What President Bush said - in specificity:

Since September the 11th, the United States and our coalition partners have disrupted a number of serious al Qaeda terrorist plots -- including plots to attack targets inside the United States. Let me give you an example. In the weeks after September the 11th, while Americans were still recovering from an unprecedented strike on our homeland, al Qaeda was already busy planning its next attack. We now know that in October 2001, Khalid Shaykh Muhammad -- the mastermind of the September the 11th attacks -- had already set in motion a plan to have terrorist operatives hijack an airplane using shoe bombs to breach the cockpit door, and fly the plane into the tallest building on the West Coast. We believe the intended target was Liberty [sic] Tower in Los Angeles, California.*

Perhaps the Associated Press knows something more than the President said because - to me - the two accounts don't match.

Bush said that "in October 2001, Khalid Shaykh Muhammad...had already set in motion a plan" while the Associated Press is reporting that Muhammad "had already begun planning the West Coast operation in October, just after the September 11, 2001, attacks."

But that's not the same thing.

It seems that President Bush just threw out the date of October, 2001 in order to link this in some way to 9/11. But if this was an actual plot then it couldn't have possibly been hatched in October of 2001. Qaeda and company were a little busy at the time, since the United States invasion of Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001.

If anything...this plot would have had to been hatched before October of 2001.

More from Bush's speech:

Rather than use Arab hijackers as he had on September the 11th, Khalid Shaykh Muhammad sought out young men from Southeast Asia -- whom he believed would not arouse as much suspicion. To help carry out this plan, he tapped a terrorist named Hambali, one of the leaders of an al Qaeda affiliated group in Southeast Asia called "J-I." JI terrorists were responsible for a series of deadly attacks in Southeast Asia, and members of the group had trained with al Qaeda. Hambali recruited several key operatives who had been training in Afghanistan. Once the operatives were recruited, they met with Osama bin Laden, and then began preparations for the West Coast attack.

If the plot were hatched in October of 2001, then this alleged meeting between Osama bin Laden and the Southeast Asian operatives would have had to have taken place after. But it seems unlikely that Southeast Asian operatives were able to journey into and out of Afghanistan or Pakistan and hook up in a cave somewhere to meet with Osama, completely undetected by the coalition troops involved in Operation Infinite Justice (I mean Operation Enduring Freedom).

If anything...this plot was hatched before October of 2001...and Osama inspected the recruits some time before that.

But lets not let common sense get in the way of President Bush or the Associated Press because what this is really about is damage control.


From today's press briefing by Scott McClellan:

Q But is it just a coincidence? You had February 6th circled on the calendar for the hearings, the NSA hearings. Is it just a pure coincidence that this comes out today?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you're talking about the -- let me mention, the terrorist surveillance program is a vital program, and it's been a very valuable tool. I'm not going to get into discussing any of the tools that may have been used when it comes to disrupting this plot. We provided you some additional information about this plot. But the purpose of this speech is the way I stated it. And I would discourage you from suggesting otherwise.

Unfortunately for Scotty, that wasn't the last question asked at the press briefing which suggested "otherwise."

From today's press briefing on the West Coast Terrorist Plot by Frances Fragos Townsend, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism:

Khalid Shaykh Muhammad was the individual who led this effort. He initiated the planning for the West Coast plot after September 11th, in October of 2001. KSM, working with Hambali in Asia, recruited the members of the cell. There was a total of four members of the cell. When they -- KSM, himself, trained the leader of the cell in late 2001 or early 2002 in the shoe bomb technique. You all will recall that there was the arrest of the shoe bomber, Richard Reid, in December of 2001, and he was instructing the cell leader on the use of the same technique.

After the cell -- the additional members of the cell, in addition to the leader, were recruited, they all went -- the cell leader and the three other operatives went to Afghanistan where they met with bin Laden and swore biat -- that is an oath of loyalty to him -- before returning to Asia, where they continued to work under Hambali.


So I guess that's the story...let's see how long they stick to it.

But they can't even seem to get their facts straight about the plot:

Q Not too bad. Anyway, to start with, you said that the cell leader of the West Coast plot had been arrested. What about the other cell members? Can you give us any further details, number one? And, number two, you talked about the need and great successes of international cooperation. Can you comment in any way on recent events in Yemen, when perhaps the international cooperation fell down a little bit?

MS. TOWNSEND: Sure. I should have said it, and Mark, thank you for reminding me. All of the cell leaders were ultimately arrested and taken into custody. So there are none of the remaining -- none of the four are at large.

Cell members, cell leaders...what's the difference I guess.


Q Fran, just one other follow up. What we don't know is the time. Can you give us some more details on the timeline on this -- meaning, you know, when, exactly, was this plot scheduled for? Do we know that?

MS. TOWNSEND: We don't know exactly when the plot was scheduled for. The intelligence tells us that Khalid Shaykh Muhammad began to initiate it in October of 2001. We know that between then and when the lead operative was arrested in February of '02, between those two periods of time, they traveled through Afghanistan, they met with bin Laden, they swore biat, they came back, and the lead guy is arrested, which disrupts it in February of '02. So you see what I'm saying? It's during that short window of time, between October of 2001 and February of 2002, but we don't know when they planned -- we don't know when it was planned to actually be executed.

So everyone involved in the plot has been detained but even with waterboarding and other tactics we don't know when the date of the attack was supposed to take place?

Then - not that I'm advocating this - why haven't we gotten more Bauerish with the "humane" torture to learn the details?


Q Just a question on the timing. You said that the operatives and the leader met with bin Laden in early 2002 in Afghanistan; is that right?

MS. TOWNSEND: It's between October 2001 and February of 2002, when the leader is arrested.

Q But when did they meet with bin Laden in Afghanistan?

MS. TOWNSEND: Hold on, let me see. They're telling me the intelligence community believes it was in October.

Q Of 2001?


Q Before the U.S. invasion?

MS. TOWNSEND: Okay, hold on. I can't be that specific, because we don't know.

Q Okay. So you don't know whether or not they met with bin Laden in Afghanistan while U.S. forces were in the country?

MS. TOWNSEND: I don't know.

I have nothing to add. Just let Ms. Townsend speak (or not speak) for herself.

Q Okay, okay. And then, again, is there any other details -- you can't say where they were arrested, who they are? Can you tell us where they are?

MS. TOWNSEND: They're all in custody, but I --

Q I know --

MS. TOWNSEND: I know, but I can't tell you their names, because that would give it away, and I can't tell you the names of the countries because -- not because I care, but because our partners want to have it kept a secret.

Q Are they in the United States? Are they in Gitmo? I mean, can you give us any sense of --

MS. TOWNSEND: I can't.

"[N]ot because I care."

Weird. Who cares what Ms. Townsend cares about?

"[B]ecause that would give it away."

You got that right, Ms. Townsend.

Provide any more details and more people will realize how full of shit this whole "plot" is.

If there are terrorists that plotted to attack America that aren't being detained or prosecuted by the Bush Administration then I believe the American public deserves to know the reason why.

Why haven't we demanded custody of these terrorist plotters?

What country in the world would be unwilling to turn over terrorists who plotted against America to us?

This whole scenario is ludicrous.


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