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From last night’s press conference:

“The report itself, I’ve characterized it as mainly history. And I think when you look at it you’ll see that it was talking about a ‘97 and ‘98 and ‘99. It was also an indication as you mentioned that that bin Laden might want to hijack an airplane, but as you said, not to fly into a building but perhaps to release a person in jail. In other words, serving as a blackmail. And of course that concerns me. All those reports concern me.”

I gotta wonder. What steps do you take to prevent a hijacking carried out in order to fly a plane into a building, and what steps do you take to prevent a hijacking carried out in order to free someone from jail? And how are they different? I can’t help thinking that the purpose of a hijacking doesn’t have so very much to do with how you prevent it.


  1. t. rev t. rev

    1) One requires a lot more flight training than the other.

    2) One is a much bigger threat than the other.

    C’mon, ask some hard questions.

  2. Flight-training — true.

    Bigger threat — so what? That doesn’t address the difference in prevention techniques.

    The real answer, and Bush can’t say this, is “We’d try harder to prevent the former than the latter.”

  3. t. rev t. rev

    The difference in the relative sizes of the threats does address the difference in prevention techniques, and the difference is exactly what you say it is.

  4. Right. Same techniques, though.

    Basically I’m wishing Bush would have the guts to stand up and say “We didn’t care as much about hijackings when we thought it was just the people on the plane who were at risk.”

    I wish Kerry would say the same thing, for that matter.

    It’s yet more of the government pretending that there aren’t any tradeoffs and that you can have everything. Bah.

  5. t. rev t. rev

    No, not the same techniques. At some point, quantitative differences lead to qualitative differences. I doubt even repeated hijackings of the former type would have led us to invade Afghanistan, for instance.

  6. Touche. Is there a relevant difference between punitive and preventative? Probably not.

  7. anonymous anonymous

    Frankly, i agree with Rice that there was no silver bullet. If there had been as much administration pressure on intelligence and other relevant agencies as there was during the millennium threats, then maybe…

    “Former Deputy National Security Adviser James Steinberg said the only time the FBI gave the NSC relevant information was during the millennium crisis.” (staff briefing, April 13 hearing of 9/11 Commission)

    Clarke said the mid-2001 threat reporting “exceeded anything that George Tenet or I had ever seen.” But i don’t think his word is going to get the attention of many Bush supporters. Anyone seen a list of the threat reporting that set their hair on fire?

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