Thursday, February 09, 2006

Another Bush lie?
John Averosis thinks so, but the truth might be more complicated than that.
Earlier today, Bush made a speech in which he seemed to give out details of a previously unknown terrorist plot that his administration saved us from.
President Bush today disclosed new details of a foiled terrorist plot to fly a hijacked airliner into a skyscraper on the West Coast, crediting international cooperation in the war on terrorism with thwarting the 2002 scheme.

In a speech to the National Guard Association in Washington, Bush said Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network planned to follow up its Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon by sending young men from Southeast Asia to hijack a plane using shoe bombs to break into the cockpit. He said the plot called for the hijackers to then fly the plane into the tallest building on the West Coast, a 73-story structure in Los Angeles now known as US Bank Tower.

Bush said the plot was broken up in early 2002 when a "key al Qaeda operative" was arrested by a Southeast Asian nation.

At first glance, this would apper to be the usual scare tactics by the Bush administration. They are under siege for undermining the constitution with their illegal wiretapping program. members of the administration, like Cheney, have claimed that the program has thwarted terror attacks and saved lives. This time, for a change, Cheney's vague claims haven't been enough to quiet the criticism. So something scarier was needed. Bush went out today and mentioned specific details of a plot that would have killed specific people. While he didn't actually claim that his wiretapping program was responsible for foiling the evil-doers, he allowed that impression to be made with the usual unspoken message of "Only I can keep you safe."

The trouble is, someone is calling his bluff.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Thursday he was blindsided by President Bush's announcement of new details on a purported 2002 hijacking plot aimed at a downtown skyscraper, and described communication with the White House as "nonexistent."

"I'm amazed that the president would make this (announcement) on national TV and not inform us of these details through the appropriate channels," the mayor said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I don't expect a call from the president — but somebody."

Averosis is calling Bush a liar (and with good reason), but Bush is actually describing a real plot--one that was foiled when Clinton was president.

On January 6, 1995, the police in Manila, Philippines examined the aftermath of a fire in Suite 603 of the DoƱa Josefa Apartments. They found bomb making supplies, fake passports, and an off-white Toshiba laptop computer. Over the next few days they put together detail of a plot that included three waves of attacks. The first was a plan to assassinate Pope John Paul II when he visited Manila on January 15, 1995. The second was a plan to blow up destroy eleven airliners as they crossed the Pacific on January 21 and 22. Some of the bomb components would be smuggled on to the planes in the bomber's shoes. The third, was to hijack airliners in the United States and fly them into prominent American monuments including the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, CIA headquarters, the Sears Tower, the Transamerica Tower in San Francisco, and others. The entire plan, called Operation Bojinka, was funded by al-Qayda. This is what Condoleeza Rice meant when she told us no one ever imagined that terrorists might fly planes into buildings.

Bush is using details of a plot foiled by Phillipine police during Clinton's presidency and and trying to claim credit for it. That's pretty low.

Update: Holden plucked this out of today's White House press gaggle. It's not clear who the reporter is, but it seems others are finding Bush's story unlikely.
Q Scott, I wanted to just ask a follow-up about the LA plot. Is there something missing from this story, a practical application, a few facts? Because if you want to commandeer a plane and fly it into a tower, if you used shoe bombs, wouldn't you blow off the cockpit? Or is there something missing from this story?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know what you're referring to about missing. I mean, I think we provided you a detailed briefing earlier today about the plot. And Fran Townsend, our Homeland Security Advisor, talked about it. So I'm not sure what you're suggesting it.

Q Think about it, if you're wearing shoe bombs, you either blow off your feet or you blow off the front of the airplane.

MR. McCLELLAN: There was a briefing for you earlier today. I think that's one way to look at it. There are a lot of ways to look at it, and she explained it earlier today, Alexis, so I would refer you very much back to what she said, what she said earlier today.

[...]


Q On the subject of information-sharing, the Mayor of Los Angeles, Mr. Villaraigosa, today is complaining that he got no notification at all that the President planned to disclose this information about an alleged attack plot on his city. In fact, he said, "I'm amazed the President would make this announcement on national television and not inform us of the details through appropriate channels." Insofar as you said earlier that the White House is always looking for ways to inform the American people and keep them up to speed, why disclose the details of a plot that's now four years old?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Carl, first of all, in terms of -- I haven't seen what the Mayor said, I've been in meetings with the President, so I'll take a look at that. But my understanding was that we did reach out to officials in California and Los Angeles to let them know, I think it was yesterday, that the President would be talking about this. And the word I heard was that there was great appreciation for the notification that we provided. That's very important.

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