Insider Confirms Bush Was Clueless Before 9/11

This morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” I watched a war of words between former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen and Lawrence O’Donnell. O’Donnell won.


From Greg Sargent:

In the course of arguing that Obama, by ending torture, has dismantled the most successful interrogation system in the history of the world, Thiessen made an interesting assertion:

“You gotta think back to the period after 9/11. We didn’t even know who hit us. We didn’t know that Khalid Sheik Mohammad was the mastermind of 9/11 or the operational commander of Al Qaeda. And then we started rounding up these terrorists…”

Lawrence O’Donnell heatedly disputed this assertion, pointing out that the Bush administration had been warned before 9/11 that a Bin Laden attack might be coming:

“Isn’t it true that the President you worked for invited the first attack by having no idea what was going on with Al Qaeda?…You just said, `We didn’t know who hit us.’ You were told who was going to hit you before 9/11. And your administration invited the first attack, for which you should live in shame.”

Oh, and torture never produced any actionable intelligence about al-Qaeda. Thiessen lied about that. The Bush Administration never publicly documented a single case in which torture produced intelligence that saved a single life.

UPDATE: Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) wants the U.S. government to punish the perpetrators of torture and detainee abuse… in Iran.

  1. #1 by cav on February 12, 2010 - 1:23 pm

    ‘Flaming hair’ can be interpreted in SO many different ways.

  2. #2 by cav on February 12, 2010 - 1:42 pm

    And this:

    “Marc, I’m wondering about your own personal experience with torture. I know you grew up in the richest zip code in America, in the Upper East Side. You went to the only boarding school in all of Connecticut that I know of that has its own golf course… And then you went to Vasser. And like all the torture-mongers in the Bush White House, the Cheney family included, you never served a day in the military. Never considered that. I’m wondering, with that background, what is it that gives you an expertise on torture? What makes you love it so much?”

    O’Donnell is quite good, really.

  3. #3 by Larry Bergan on February 12, 2010 - 2:54 pm

    CUT TO COMMERCIAL, CUT TO COMMERCIAL! We’ll be right back without the honest guy.

    I see morning Joe is still doing his job. You’re not supposed to call liars liars if they’re wingers. Ain’t allowed!

  4. #4 by brewski on February 12, 2010 - 7:14 pm

    I think going forward we can save a lot of unecessary key strokes if we can all acknowledge that we already know that all the Regressives on this page thin GWB is stupid, Palin in stupid, all Republicans are stupid, all white males are stupid, all Southerners are stupid……..We get it, you already said it over and over again. You aren’t telling us anything new.

    Now looking forward, explain to me again how taxing longshoremen less than people who make less money than them advances the cause of freedom and equality?

  5. #5 by James Farmer on February 12, 2010 - 7:35 pm



  6. #6 by cav on February 12, 2010 - 7:36 pm

    This obsession with longshoremen is troubling. Have you sought any help? You should you know.

  7. #7 by Dwight Sheldon Adams on February 12, 2010 - 9:51 pm


    We get it, you already said it over and over again. You aren’t telling us anything new.

    Come on, man, at least Richard’s information is new, even if his point is the same.

  8. #8 by brewski on February 12, 2010 - 10:20 pm

    Cav, I am not the one who is obsessed with longshoremen. I am not the one who wrote a special exemption into the health care bill just for them. Whoever wrote that in is the one who should seek help. He/she should be institutionalized for criminal insanity, or maybe just incarcerated for being a criminal.

  9. #9 by cav on February 12, 2010 - 10:35 pm

    I guess I was just set up by your first para.

    RE: unions (of all sorts) they haven’t gotten much love given all the great things the did for the workforce since I can’t remember when. Before Reagan.

    We owe Unionism a lot.

  10. #10 by brewski on February 12, 2010 - 10:43 pm

    Other quotes from Lawrence O’Donnell that I am waiting for Richard to use in his next post:

    The free-market position … has a lot of logic and it has a lot of rational analysis that you need a fair amount of education to do. Unfortunately, I suspect it takes almost at least a college level of education in economics to fully embrace the market’s power or to fully go that way.

    I believe (the late supply-side economist) Jude Winniski’s arguments about how high tax rates damage the economies of poor African countries.

    What I’m saying is that those countries (poor African countries) would be lucky if they could get some really exploitive sweat shops in there.

    I’m a European socialist, believe me

    There are children in the world who would be lucky – lucky – to be employed 12 hours a day in exploitive child labor situations where they are making 10 cents a day.

    The market’s the only thing that’s ever going to take us from oil to something else.

    I believe everything in the debate that the Republican candidate said about the pharmaceutical companies. I don’t think that is a necessary component of liberalism, attacking pharmaceutical companies. It seems to me one of the most juvenile components of it. We have a lot of great and responsible American corporations who are delivering great things to the world and American liberalism has to get in synch with that and not sound so anti-business.

  11. #11 by brewski on February 12, 2010 - 10:50 pm

    Yes, we owe unions a lot. We owe them the robust Canadian film industry. We owe them the vibrant Mexican auto industry. We owe them our wasted resources to pay for their retirement at age 50 at full salary so they can quit and go back to work in the same job and get paid twice for it.

  12. #12 by Richard Warnick on February 13, 2010 - 12:02 am


    Unless you’re starting a union for CIA employees, contract torturers, and out-of-work former Bushies, why bring up unions here?

  13. #13 by Dwight Sheldon Adams on February 13, 2010 - 12:14 am

    Yes, brewski. And we owe the Second Continental Congress a lot. We owe them government corruption. We owe them trillion-dollar deficits. We owe them a dozen “police actions” in underdeveloped nations. We owe them our wasted resources to pay for corporate subsidies when citizens subsidies would have done the job better.

    Just because ill has come of some unions doesn’t mean that they are foundationally or conceptually bad. You forget all of the improvements for laborers, and the basic purpose behind them: secure rights for the laborer from the dictatorial hands of management.

  14. #14 by cav on February 13, 2010 - 12:46 am

    brew’s trying to score toady points with the “masters”.

    There are times when it’s not so obnoxious. This is not one of them.

    Happens to the best of us.

    Now, didn’t two of the chief proponents of torture, somehow bobble what was shaping up to be a likely kill of the head of Al Kaida, our reputed nemesis? Yet, now they are howling about how Obama isn’t torturing the fully compliant underwear bomber?

    That brings me to another, no doubt pertinent part of this mystery: Boxers, briefs, eye-patch or garments? (Union made – in the USA).

  15. #15 by Larry Bergan on February 13, 2010 - 2:56 am

    Don’t you just hate it when people allow very, very bad things to happen and then claim it was negligence and keep their jobs; no matter what happens to US?

  16. #16 by Larry Bergan on February 13, 2010 - 3:08 am

    We counted the ballots, over and over in the machines! How could we have known?

  17. #17 by brewski on February 13, 2010 - 10:09 am

    Richard, Cav brought up unions, not me.

    I am not aganist the concept of unions. No one is going to argue against workplace safety and other improvements.

    But when unions don’t want private ballot elections then no one should be surprised at that some people see them as an intimidating force and not a democratic force. When unions demand and get above-market wages and benefits, then no one should be surprised when those jobs end up moving elsewhere. When unions extort special favors from politicians then no one should be surprised that people like me lose confidence in the concept of unions.

  18. #18 by brewski on February 13, 2010 - 10:10 am

    I have a comment awaiting moderation which does not mention unions.

  19. #19 by Richard Warnick on February 13, 2010 - 11:07 am

    Comment is now up (#10 above)

  20. #20 by cav on February 13, 2010 - 11:11 am

    Comment #4 brewski writes:

    …longshoremen less than people who make less money than them advances…

    Thread confusion and overlap are a feature of this site. No getting around it.

  21. #21 by brewski on February 13, 2010 - 5:05 pm

    Yes cav. I was illustrating how Richard has told of this all before and omits some things which are current. I didn’t mean it to be a discussion about unions. But when you said

    unions (of all sorts) they haven’t gotten much love given all the great things the did for the workforce since I can’t remember when. Before Reagan.
    We owe Unionism a lot.

    in #9

  22. #22 by cav on February 13, 2010 - 7:45 pm

    brew, let’s start over, upstairs. Mkay? I’ll try to behave.

  23. #23 by Richard Warnick on February 13, 2010 - 8:02 pm

    I guess brewski is trying to tell us that since George W. Bush is out of office, it’s OK to rewrite history so that nothing is his fault.

    From the 2001 recession, to the 9/11 attacks, to the USA PATRIOT Act, to torture, to warrantless surveillance, to not catching OBL, to Iraq, to not sending reinforcements to Afghanistan to stop the Taliban comeback, to Katrina, to the meltdown of the financial system and the Wall Street bailout for billionaires. The Worst President Ever cannot be blamed for any of that.

    We have to maintain a laser-like focus on the things that President Obama has gotten wrong. Maybe even build our case for impeachment.

  24. #24 by brewski on February 13, 2010 - 10:23 pm

    Richard, lets go through your list line by line, shall we?

    1. The 2001 recession
    No friggin way. This was the result of the bubble of the 90’s which was identified and warned about in 1996. You might as well blame Bush for male pattern baldness on this one.

    2. the 9/11 attacks
    They entered the US and trained under Clinton. Plenty of blame to go around on this one.

    3. the USA PATRIOT Act
    Passed the Senate 98-1. Voting for:
    Clinton (D-NY), Yea
    Biden (D-DE), Yea
    Boxer (D-CA), Yea
    Daschle (D-SD), Yea
    Edwards (D-NC), Yea
    Kennedy (D-MA), Yea
    Kerry (D-MA), Yea
    Reid (D-NV), Yea
    Schumer (D-NY), Yea

    4. to torture,
    The 9/11 Commission used information gained from torture and when they wanted more information they asked the CIA to go back and do more interrogations, fully knowing that would mean more torture.
    The Members included 6 Democrats.

    5. warrantless surveillance
    Same policy as George W. Obama

    6. not catching OBL
    I guess we can blame FDR for Bataan.

    7. Iraq
    “Heavy as they are, the costs of action must be weighed against the price of inaction. If Saddam defies the world and we fail to respond, we will face a far greater threat in the future. Saddam will strike again at his neighbors. He will make war on his own people. And mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them, and he will use them.” – William Jefferson Clinton

    8. to not sending reinforcements to Afghanistan to stop the Taliban comeback
    Wait a minute. You have said we need to “make peace with the Taliban” and now you are criticizing him for not fighting the Taliban enough? Pick a story and stick with it.

    8. to Katrina
    Mayor “New Orleans is for black People” Nagin and Gov. Blanco did a crackerjack job

    9. to the meltdown of the financial system
    “I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing”? – Barney Frank, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee

    10. the Wall Street bailout for billionaires
    “I know how unpopular it is to be seen as helping banks right now, especially when everyone is suffering in part from their bad decisions. But in a time of crisis, we cannot afford to govern out of anger or yield to the politics of the moment.” – President Obama

  25. #25 by Richard Warnick on February 13, 2010 - 11:08 pm


    You didn’t have to take me so literally, but I’m serious. Bush was a terrible president, worst ever.

    1. The recession was on his watch, it’s his recession. Bush was the first president since Herbert Hoover to have a net loss of jobs.

    2. Bush, Condi Rice et al. ignored the warnings and failed to hold one single meeting about the threat from al-Qaeda before September 11, 2001.

    3. USA PATRIOT Act provisions were first proposed by Reagan and Bush 41, but rejected by Congress because unconstitutional. Republican all the way.

    4. All the useful information obtained from KSM and Abu Zubaydah came from FBI interrogations prior to torture. They lied under torture.

    5. President Obama is acting unconstitutionally by letting the warrantless surveillance programs continue, but let’s remember who instituted them.

    6. Al-Qaeda declared war on the USA more than ten years ago, and has not been defeated yet. Hitler lasted three years and four months. Tojo four months longer than that.

    7. Iraq was a war of aggression, based on lies. It was the worst foreign policy blunder in U.S. history. Bush and Cheney’s idea.

    8. The Taliban were driven out in 2001-2002, now they control 80 percent of the country. Bush got bogged down in Iraq, ignored pleas for help from his Afghan commanders. As a result, yes, we are going to have to cut a deal with the de facto rulers of Afghanistan, Bush’s fault.

    9. The Bush/Cheney administration made such a big deal out of being our great protectors, but they could not anticipate and deal with a hurricane everybody saw coming? Rumsfeld: “The Department of Defense is not a first responder.” The Canadian Mounties got help to St. Bernard Parish a week before FEMA.

    10. Two words: ownership society. Bush owns this.

    11. Some of President Obama’s best friends are banksters. But Wall Street socialism happened on Bush’s watch. Privatize the profits and socialize the losses.

  26. #26 by brewski on February 13, 2010 - 11:40 pm

    Rationalization is more important than sex. When was the last time you went a day without a rationalization?

  27. #27 by cav on February 14, 2010 - 8:11 am

    Given the problems faced, or created in part by the dems, I hope you’re not suggesting the repubs are likely to provide any solutions. That would be a mistake. Blame must be shared, and I’d suggest the republicans ought to own the lion’s share.

    As for the Sarah Palin led teapartiers – while they may have some energy and smarts, any attempts the repubs make to coax this disparate group into its tent, will just cause the movement to flake apart – which is probably just what the two party system would like.

    What we really need is to harness the energy of squabbling, and point it at the real soluable problems we face. Sexist / racist / pure-party politics sure isn’t getting it.

  28. #28 by Richard Warnick on February 14, 2010 - 10:20 am

    I think cav has a good point. Both parties make mistakes. When are the Republicans going to own up to theirs? Former VP Dick Cheney on “This Week” this morning was unrepentant as ever.

  29. #29 by brewski on February 14, 2010 - 4:04 pm

    The GOP has spent the last 2 years publicly flagellating themselves for “losing their way” in the 2001-2006 era.

    Dick Cheney doesn’t really count for much any more. He doesn’t hold any office or any position in the GOP. So what he says doesn’t really matter. He has about as much power and influence now as John Murtha. Sarah Palin also doesn’t hold any office or position in the GOP. More energy is spent by liberals talking about Cheney and Palin than actual GOP members do. There are probably more references to Palin on this site than on any GOP site.

    Richard, you sometimes have some good points, but self contradiction and an willful denial of economic history undermine your credibility.

    • #30 by Cliff Lyon on February 14, 2010 - 4:38 pm

      If I may Brewski,

      The reason there is a lot about Sarah Palin on this site, is because it is a political site. You may recall Sarah Palin ran for Vice President. And since she is a dumb shit, we thought it best to remind you Republicans over and over. I guess you are not very proud of the McCain/Palin ticket so I can’t blame you not posting more about her on you GOP sites.

      But I’ll bet you voted for her anyway didn’t you?

  30. #31 by Richard Warnick on February 14, 2010 - 5:16 pm


    Yeah, former VP Cheney is so irrelevant that VP Biden was hastily scheduled on the talk shows this morning so that Cheney didn’t dominate the news cycle all by himself– as he has so many times in the past year.

    Actually, I think Cheney indirectly continues to make policy. He maintains an office in the Washington suburbs, and gets access to classified info through his network of plants in the CIA and elsewhere in the government. The most disturbing moment on “This Week” was when Cheney said he’s satisfied with the way the Obama administration is handling AfPak.

    If it were not for Cheney, I think Guantanamo would be closed by now and there would be no reason to hold detainees without charges. Without Cheney, President Obama might have shut down the widespread warrantless surveillance of Americans. If Cheney had gone fishing in Wyoming and kept quiet, we wouldn’t be talking about torturing people like the Underpants Bomber.

    Oh, and I’d be more than happy to read any article about how the GOP politicians have been “publicly flagellating themselves.” There must have been some press coverage of such an unusual event.

  31. #32 by Richard Warnick on February 14, 2010 - 5:35 pm

    Oh, and perhaps the strangest statement from former VP Cheney this morning was when he tried to take credit for the Iraq withdrawal plan.

    As recently as 2008, Cheney said withdrawal from Iraq would amount to “betrayal.” Just last summer, Cheney worried that Iraq withdrawal will “waste all the tremendous sacrifice” of US troops.

    The Obama administration has done a lot to promote political reconciliation in Iraq, in the hope that the withdrawal of combat forces will leave behind peace and progress. They have done more than I thought was possible, probably because Iraqi politicians trust President Obama. Of course, if the withdrawal of 90,000 U.S. troops this summer uncorks a civil war, Cheney and the GOP will be the first to blame Obama. Despite the fact it was the worst foreign policy blunder in American history that put those troops in Iraq, on Bush and Cheney’s watch.

  32. #33 by cav on February 14, 2010 - 6:11 pm

    Cheney should be occupying a cell at the Hague.

    Now if we can get back to Unions for a sec:

    “As in every country, Greece is divided between the haves and the have-nots,” said Yiannis Panagopoulos, who presides over the Confederation of Greek Workers, the nation’s biggest labor grouping. “Right now, sacrifices are being sought from the have-nots. We believe that austerity should be asked of those who have, those who made huge profits in the good years and who clearly don’t want to contribute to this big national effort to salvage the economy.”

    those wacky Greeks!

  33. #34 by Larry Bergan on February 15, 2010 - 1:54 am

    The popular myth about Bush Sr. is that he was put in charge of the CIA many years ago, because he supposedly didn’t know much about clandestine operations and could clean the place up. In fact, he was involved in secretive intelligence some 20 years leading up to that appointment. Of course after that he was Vice President under Reagan and then we had VP Cheney visiting the CIA personally to prod the upstarts there to find a way to invade Iraq.

    Peter B. Collins has a very interesting interview (podcast #84) with a man named Russ Baker who has written a book about very powerful people in this country called “Family of Secrets.”

    It’s hard to fight these people because it’s impossible to know where they’re coming from just as it’s impossible to stop somebody from breaking into your house. It’s much worse these days because they can find out as much as they need to know about you without even breaking in your place.

    We HAVE to get these thugs off the streets NOW!

  34. #35 by cav on February 15, 2010 - 8:23 am

    …attempts the repubs make to coax this disparate group into its tent, will just cause the movement to flake apart…

    Or perhaps, it’s the other way around.,0,1928212.story

    “Across the country, tea party groups that had focused on planning rallies are educating members on how to run for GOP precinct representative positions. The representatives help elect county party leaders, who write the platform and, in some places, determine endorsements.”

    Some tea-people appear smarter than others. And there’s really no telling just what their politics are. Assuredly disparate.

    Progressives ought to be doing the same with both the tea party and the dem party. Can’t let that “change” we were so hopeful about rest in the hands of ‘have-mores’ alone.

  35. #36 by Dwight Sheldon Adams on February 16, 2010 - 11:18 am

    The GOP has spent the last 2 years publicly flagellating themselves for “losing their way” in the 2001-2006 era.

    We all wish they had spent more time flagellating themselves during the 2001-2006 era. The lesson: don’t let Republicans play with a toy. They’ll feel sorry after you take it away, but only because they couldn’t control themselves while they had it.

    Come on, brewski. How easy is it to flagellate a Republican leader who everyone knows isn’t going to seek public office again? Bush is the Repubs scapegoat, to the utmost degree. They’re sacrificing his public image to their own, and that’s only when they’re not still defending his policies.

  36. #37 by Dwight Sheldon Adams on February 16, 2010 - 1:24 pm

    I read an article some time back, written by two conservative authors, about why conservatives don’t have a problem with the mistakes of their own party–forgiveness. The claim is that Republicans repent and Democrats don’t, so Republicans can be trusted to change. This creates its own problem, of course: all Republicans need to do after screwing up is insist that they’re sorry and that they’ve changed. No changing, no improvement, and no evidence of genuine penance is expected or demanded during their time in office. Once they’re out and the Dems are in, they can spend the next election cycle apologizing, and Repubs forgive all. Next time they’re in power, they’ll just repeat the old mistakes–and, later, recite the old apologies.

  37. #38 by Larry Bergan on February 16, 2010 - 6:09 pm


    Republicans NEVER apologize!

    When their plans are exposed, they say ‘we fucked up; live with it.’

    That’s not the same as an apology.

  38. #39 by glenn on February 16, 2010 - 7:14 pm

    Really Larry, all politicians do that. Did LBJ say he was sorry for escalating in Vietnam? Was Clinton sorry for lying under Oath? These are politicians, as predictable as fish and deer, things that have nominal intelligence.

  39. #40 by Larry Bergan on February 16, 2010 - 8:12 pm

    Did somebody with a name say something, or was I imagining something?

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