Monday, November 26, 2007

Do Only Conspiracy Kooks Think that Federal Officials Ignored "Specific" Threats About 9/11?

Well, that's not so clear, as Think Progress points out. Is "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." specific? Is it specific if the memo says that they were aiming at hijackings and "other types of attacks"? How about if the CIA director describes the threat as a "10 on a scale of 1 to 10"? How about if an FBI memo warns of a "coordinated effort" by OBL to send students to U.S. civil aviation schools? Those warnings seem fairly specific to me, though such things are, of course, matters of degree.

I've heaped scorn on the 9/11 conspiracy kooks who think that the administration was somehow behind the 9/11 attacks. But Think Progress's point is that, given the way this poll question is constructed, you don't have to be a conspiracy kook to answer 'yes' to the relevant questions. Federal officials including the President were warned, and the warnings were fairly specific.

The New York Post (note: not an actual news source) analogizes this to UFO conspiracies and so forth, but it's worth noting that, alarmingly prevalent though that kind of stuff is, "only" (egad!) about 1/3 of respondents accepted that sort of thing, where as 2/3 of respondents said that officials had specific warnings about 9/11. The best explanation for that difference is that many of those respondents were--perfectly reasonably--counting the warnings described by Think Progress and above as specific.

It's funny how stuff like "Bin Laden Determined To Strike In U.S." has been nearly forgotten. A Democratic president would have been impeached had he ignored such a warning (if not shot). But George W. Bush simply went on to lead us into a war so irrational that the enormity of the f*ck-up overshadowed his previous f*ck-ups...and this strategy seems to have worked. Astonishing.

Oh, also: I like how the view that oil companies are conspiring to keep oil prices up is treated in the piece as a conspiracy on the order of the government concealing frozen aliens in Area 51. How does that make sense?

Anyway, the long and the short of it: you don't have to be a conspiracy kook to think that "federal officials" had specific warnings about 9/11. They kinda did.


Blogger Colin said...

Two very different questions:

a) Did the government make a few colossal fuckups resulting in 911?
b) Did the government blow up two buildings and shoot a missile into the Pentagon, and then enact a massive coverup for their own benefit?

Conspiracy nuts sure as hell aren't asking question A. Anyway, Matt Taibbi has an excellent and easily digestible (if snarky and crude) series of articles about 911 that you can read with a quick search on Alternet.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Forming opinions on Think Progress polemics is perhaps unwise, passing them on even more so.

The original document:

There is a there there, altho more attributable to bureaucratic incompetence and institutional pigheadedness:

3:43 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Uhhh...yes, that's the memo alright, which everyone has seen about fifty times...ergo...huh?

4:08 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Exactly. Your argument is MIA. How smoking is the smoking gun, what they should have done about it, etc.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Hey, I'm sorry, man---you should be able to do your Two Minutes Hate on Bush without me ruining all your fun.

But for the record, a Democratic president named Bill Clinton did get away with doing nothing about bin Laden, as documented by none other than Richard C. Clarke [Against All Enemies, p. 225---I believe you have a copy].

I posted the direct quote awhile back, but it disappeared from your comments section for some mysterious reason.

OK, I'm out. Promise. Rock on.

5:56 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I know how you despise any criticism of Our Glorious Leader...but not every criticism is a "two minute hate." That's something more common on your side of the fence...though that was an eight year hate last time it came around...

Your knee-jerk criticism seems to miss the point of the TP post...I could 'splain it to you if you want...

6:51 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Sure. I like it when you elucidate rather than intimate. Anything not in the Reason article or this, which in Clintonese is called "old news"?

7:14 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

One day, Tom will type something coherent. One day..

As usual, I have no idea wtf you're trying to criticize, here, Tom. WS appears to at least understand that it's a criticism and that it misses the point of the TP post, but I have no idea how he arrived at that conclusion, since I don't even know wtf the criticism was supposed to be saying.

Why can't you just write clearly? You just have to write all lofty and loopy in a weird, vain attempt to establish some sort of internet linguistic dominance in a comment thread with your little weird spellings like "altho", bizarre usages of acronyms like "Your argument is MIA" (indicating that it once was here, but now it's gone? What?) and your usage of weird phrases ("There is a there there, altho...").

You don't need to prove your intelligence to us. You can stop using the thesaurus function on every word you type while you try to imitate some old-ass british guy from da reform club.

You sound like a group of high school drama nerds's unfunny, unclever attempt at replicating Monty Python.

Just say what you mean clearly and concisely, or don't speak at all.


2:35 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

And I couldn't help but laugh at this ridiculousness:

"I posted the direct quote awhile back, but it disappeared from your comments section for some mysterious reason."

LOL. Yes, I'm sure Winston, in his spare time, goes back through your old posts as soon as they're off the main page and he thinks you're not looking and deletes what you said.

Yes. That's likely the case.

You crazeh. CRAZEH!

2:37 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

There's just way more heat than light in all these discussions.

My point above--which could, of course, be wrong--is just that "federal officials" did indeed have warnings about attacks, and that those warnings weren't entirely unspecific. So you don't have to be a conspiracy kook to answer 'yes' to the questions at issue.

I wouldn't be inclined to say that Bush ignored specific warnings, but I don't think you have to be a nut to say that "federal officials" did ignore fairly specific ones.

It's more of a point about polls than anything else.

But, as usual, here we are.

3:51 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Ask WS about the missing comment, then, Mystic. Sometimes I'm purposely circumspect out of respect for my host.

WS, Think Progress went from a generic poll question about "federal officials" to more [knee-jerk] Bush-bash. What was Condi supposed to do, go waterboard the Blind Sheikh just in case?

And the NYPost made a similar elision with colors reversed. Curses on 'em all.

5:23 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Tom, I don't know how to tell you this, but I'm not interested enough in your comments to delete them.

8:41 PM  
Blogger lovable liberal said...

Condi was supposed to be out clearing brush with Duhbya, duh!

9:24 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Oh, you're very interested in my comments, WS.

I posted a long comment here

about how Bill Clinton refused to deal with bin Laden, based on Richard C. Clarke [you quoted Clarke's book for months] because Clinton was afraid of the political fallout.

Cowardly on President Clinton's part, in my view. Page 225, Against All Enemies, by Richard C. Clarke.

My comment disappeared, and the comments were locked closed, which only the blogger [that would be you, WS] can do.

Now perhaps there was some technical cockup, but anyone can see the comments are locked closed.

So, either we have a technical problem, and I'm willing to yield benefit of the doubt, my dear friend WS, or one of us is a liar.

Your call.

3:18 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Jesus, Tom, of all the weird things in all of this, it's kind of hard to pick the weirdest. You are bordering on obsession here.

Yes, now that I go back and look at it, you are right. The comments are disabled on that post--not "locked out," but merely disabled. If you look, you'll see that comments are disabled on many of my posts, mostly because of spam comments. Now, I really wish that that's what happened with THOSE comments, but it isn't. I tried to delete one of my own comments and apparently disabled the whole thread instead.

Now, although I obviously have no obligation to do so, I'm perfectly willing to re-enable it...though I'd rather not do so until I can figure out why an unusually ill-tempered comment of mine won't go away. There are, I now see, only two comments in the whole thing, a fairly inconsequential comment by you, and an irritated, sleep-deprived retort by me.

My bad, my error, mea culpa.

So no, Tom, neither one of us is a liar. Though one of us may be a little nutty.

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WS, the worse thing you can do to a martyr is to unshackle him from the wall and escort him to the castle door....................

11:29 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, it IS Tom's blog, after all. I just work here...

1:09 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

I'm relieved, WS. The word liar is too loosely used these days, and I shy from it. I had not had a comment ever disappear before, in the year-plus I've spent in your splendid company here.

To save you some work, I reposted the gist of my "inconsequential" comment elsewhere, which you nonetheless found consequential enough to be driven to reply to, despite your fatigue.

4:05 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Perhaps I was lying about its being consequential.

Are all the vowels there?

You can't be too careful around here...

11:12 AM  

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