Saturday, February 11, 2006

Shoe Fly Lie

You would think that, if Bush was going to trot out some tall tale about shoe-bomber plots being thwarted, the doctors in the House making up their facts would make the effort to render them a little more consistent with reality. Of course, part of the problem here is that the White House doesn't think much of an external reality; reality is what they say it is.

But there are moments when that reality comes hurtling forth and one of those hurtling reality moments smacked Frances Fragos Townsend silly the other day. Shagged her rotten, really. This comes via Cernig, First Draft is pointing out that some in the gaggle actually had the temerity to point out some inconsistencies in the choice details about those crazy mad shoe bombers that Bush proudly revealed to America.

Townsend is -- it's is quite a title -- Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and conducted a press briefing about the "liberty" tower shoe bomber plot. Questioners first began to wonder aloud how on earth shoe bombers would commandeer an airplane and fly it into the Library Tower if they had blown of their own feet? That, combined with the fact that the bomb would also blow up the plane rather than allow it to be commandeered, spoke of a rather ill-conceived hijacking plot.

Journalists then piled on during questioning about the so-called details, the most important of which suddenly became rather muddy:
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.

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.

The first claim that hijackers using shoe bombs would take control of airplanes appears to be completely mad. And if there is one thing that is certain, when these guys plan something, they are least aware that blowing off their own feet and blowing up the plane would likely disallow the successful completion of "the plot to blow up liberty tower." Richard Reid was caught with a shoe bomb in Demember 2001. But Reid never claimed that he was going to hijack an airliner with bloody stumps for legs. He was simply going to blow up the plane.

But Townsend's fluster when pressed on the dates of these alleged meetings in Afghanistan is what really stands out here. She clearly has no idea when this all supposedly happened, which, of course, immediately calls into question whether it happened at all.

How is it possible to believe that the Assistant to the President on counter-terrorism, a person who claims to know when all this alleged plotting took place, doesn't actually know these details? When pressed by external facts like the US invasion of Afghanistan and the hunting of bin Laden in Tora Bora, she balks at her own story because she has suddenly been confronted with the realisation that her fucking lie isn't working too well.

But as the White House continues to bumble and stumble when such questioning does occur, will anything come of it? With our trusty media at the helm of accoutability, not likely.


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