Skip to comments.Sen. John Edwards Fuzzy Memory (The Music Stops and One is Left Standing - my title)
Posted on 05/17/2002 11:25:54 AM PDT by jriemer
Fri, May 17, 2002
FUZZY MEMORY: Edwards is obscure about his knowledge of pre-Sept. 11 alert
By Kevin Begos
JOURNAL WASHINGTON BUREAU
Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., and Rep. Richard Burr, R-5th, hold seats on congressional intelligence committees that had pre-Sept. 11 information about the possibility that Osama bin Laden's terrorist network might hijack American airliners.
But the two politicians have very different answers about what they knew, and when.
Asked specifically if he knew in August about the general warning that al-Qaida might be planning to hijack airplanes, Edwards was vague at first. "I don't know. Not that I'm aware of," Edwards, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told the Winston-Salem Journal.
But Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said yesterday on NBC's Today show that "we were aware of that general warning the president got." Shelby is vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee.
Edwards' story seemed to change as the day progressed.
"We received generic information over a period of time about Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida, the possibility of attacks," he said during one interview.
Later, Edwards said, "I don't specifically remember discussions about hijacking, but I suspect hijacking could have been part of that discussion."
Edwards' fuzzy memory was sharply at odds with Burr's. Burr is a member of the House Intelligence Committee, and both committees receive substantially the same briefings.
"The House Intelligence Committee was given the same information," Burr said of the basic outlines President Bush got in early August.
Yesterday evening, a Democratic source said that members of the Senate Intelligence Committee had been able to compare the briefing they were given on Aug. 7 with what Bush was given the previous day, and that the Senate version had significantly less detail.
The different stories from Edwards and Burr mark a shift in the political climate, said Larry Sabato, a professor of political science at the University of Virginia.
"What strikes me is that suddenly Sept. 11 has become very partisan," Sabato said. "That's something we had avoided for all these months. And so Edwards and other Democrats are going after Bush with a sledgehammer, whereas the Republican members of Intelligence are trying to support the White House line."
Edwards said that something had gone wrong in the system of handling intelligence, but he dodged a question about his own responsibility.
"There's all this information out there that sent out warning signs," Edwards said of pre-9/11 intelligence. "Some of it was apparently at the FBI, some of it was at the CIA. My point is that there were all these warning signs that somebody should have followed up and taken action on."
Edwards said on Good Morning America that "there should have been bells and whistles going off." Later, asked specifically whether the Senate Intelligence Committee had, in retrospect, failed to respond properly to threats that its members knew of, Edwards didn't answer.
Sabato said that Edwards' silence doesn't make much sense.
"If he's on the Senate Intelligence Committee, then he bears some responsibility, albeit less than Bush. He cannot totally escape the same questions," Sabato said.
Burr tackled the pre-9/11 intelligence issue head-on.
"We had the opportunity, and chose not to change the level of security at airports, or immigration, or anything," Burr said. "We're as much to blame for having not increased airport security - if that's what it took - given that there was a potential threat.
"The fact is, with the information the administration had in hand, our intelligence agencies had in hand, the intelligence committees within Congress had in hand - none of us could predict what happened," Burr said.
"But you know, the tremendous thing about hindsight is we're all perfect," he added.
Burr said that although the House committee had been briefed on a general threat, the situation had to be viewed in context.
"That was not the first warning and/or analytical report that suggested that hijacking, and/or plane-aircraft, was a potential terrorist tool. I think the first goes back to the mid-90s," Burr said.
Such general reports are not the same as a specific warning, he said. "To suggest that was a warning, I think might be a misstatement," Burr said of the hijacking information last August.
Sabato said the bottom line is simple. "The truth is, nobody saw this coming," he said.
Stephen Hess, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said that Edwards is on firm ground when he criticizes the way the administration is putting together its Homeland Security defense.
"It seems to me there's a lot of room for improvement," said Hess, who served in the White House during the Eisenhower, Nixon, and Ford administrations.
But Hess also pointed out that after Pearl Harbor and the Kennedy assassination, people sifted back through history and found stray bits of evidence, and tried to find blame.
"It is also a staple of all conspiracy theories," Hess said of such discoveries. "And it's the conspiracy theorists who are usually at fault. They always fail to factor in incompetence."
Could it be that someone within the Democratic party is orchestrating a media event that is equally embarassing to President Bush and Senator Edwards. This way, they can attempt to damage the President's appeal and cripple a contender? Edwards did not exactly shine like the Golden Boy like he was supposed to on his last outing on Meet the Press. Perhaps the music has stopped and he does not have a chair...
What do you think Freepers?
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WRAL has been reporting this every hour on the news this am as well as Rush talking about it.
Warms my heart to see "Pretty boy Edwards" get yet another piece of bad press.
Yes, mine too! I can think of only a few pols more deserving of it than he is.
I think you give the Dems too much credit: the truth -- in this case, that Edwards also knew about the warnings -- never stands in the way of spin. Clinton told lies on national TV, and got away with it -- why would they think the same tactics won't work now?
John Edwards is a blow-dried Clinton clone.
Don't worry, if this whole "pretty boy senator" thing doesn't pan out, he can always go back to his old job.
His mentor, x42, doesn't have that luxury.
I think that's pretty much a reach to draw that conclusion. After seeing the Democrats flail around for the past 10-12 months, I don't think they are smart enough to pull it off.
"I want to be the most accessible senator that North Carolina has ever had."
Somehow, I don't think being FReeped is the "accessibility" he had in mind!
Senator John Edwards
United States Senate
225 Dirksen Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510
tel (202) 224-3154
fax (202) 228-1374
There was NO "warning" in the briefing. The media and democrats are spinning ... On August 6, 2001 the president received a presidential daily briefing that was an analytic report, not a warning briefing. It was an analytic report that talked about bin Laden's historic methods of operation from 1997-1998
I think the question was would they do it .. not if the were smart enough to pull it off ..
All I know is that I would not put ANYTHING pass the Democrats
If you're someone in the Democratic party interested in "thinning the herd" of potential rivals for 2004, you don't have to be smart - you have to be ruthless. The fact that Bush is getting roughed-up in the process is a bonus in their eyes.
Politics ain't bean-bag.
I mean, isn't that the key word that Bob Shrum stuck in his ear?
One word: Hillary!
Only she wasn't quite as sneaky as she thought. Ari called her on her behavior today at the WH press briefing. He said that Bloomberg called the WH for info while the junior Senator from NY marched to the Senate floor demanding an explanation. Only she messed up. She listed dates that she was aware of that general warnings were given. One of those happened to be in January of 2001 while her co-president still held the executive office.
If this is a spin by somebody wanting to discredit GWB & a likely contender that's being spun as the next BJC, look no further than Hillary!
He is dumb as a bag of rocks, and the dims need a new candidate...enter hildebeest.
I still don't believe they are smart enough to pull it off, ruthless or not. Everything they have done since Bush took office has been hit-or-miss (mostly miss). They don't coordinate with each other, there have not been any coordinated effective attacks. I think they started out in the hole when they assumed Bush would be easy to take apart. They found out he wasn't and have been left in the dust ever since, particularly since 9-11. They have only beenaiming at targets of opportunity and it isn't working out for them. As November draws closer expect them to become more and more irrational in their haphazard and undeveloped attacks.
IF YOU WOULD QUIT SPENDING TIME WORRYING ABOUT WHETHER BUSH IS DOING HIS JOB.....AND SPENT IT DOING YOUR OWN.....WE'D ALL BE BETTER OFF!!!!!!
This is proof positive that Rush reads FR, for I posted this exact same thing here just yesterday!!!!
Typical shyster lawyer legal mumblings: "I don't recall, but it could have happened..." Always leave yourself a little wiggle room to slither about it.
I'm telling you, I don't know how any person with at least a half an ounce of brains could pull the lever for an ambulance-chasing bum like this.
My latest letter to Johhny Boy Edwards:
Shame on you Senator Edwards.
First you spend all of your time gallivanting off to Iowa, New Hampshire and the NY talk shows.
Then you embarrass yourself and NC on Meet the Press last weekend when you couldn't answer a single question on how you would lead America.
Finally, you unfairly and unjustly criticize our Commander-in-Chief for failing to do 'something' before 9/11. You had the same information, if you weren't asleep in your Senate Intelligence Committee meetings.
Shame on you,
He also passes off comments as his own that were posted by Freepers.
But I think the damage to Edwards is collateral, so to speak. The target here is Bush. The polls keep looking worse and worse and election day is getting closer and closer. The dems are desperate for something to take the shine off Bush as a successful war leader and they hope this will do it.
IMHO it won't work. As has been posted, vague warnings that airplanes could be used as a terror weapon go back years - to Clinton's first term. The intel was too vague to trigger specific action. And Clinton ignored terror for years despite Mogadishu, El Khobar, WTCI, the Africa Embassies and the Cole - with Algore and Hillary! at his side. I think people will be offended the dems are trying to make this a political issue.
The question to that Jeopardy answer is: Who is the Senate Intelligence Committee?
Unfortunately the SIC was befuddled with folks like Edwards falsly filling the space of someone with reasonable intelligence....
Edwards' evasive response to this question will just remind people of a slimy lawyer tactic. Pretty boy did himself some damage here.
This is just like Daschle's "secret government" claim that he was unaware of secret government bunkers, when later in the day he was forced to admit that he had been at one of the bunkers.
You can smell this like a steaming turd on a hot sidewalk!
Gore is a footnote under stupid in the dictionary. The DNC wants him to go away.
Lieberman is a bigger fool than Carter... Daschle, Gephardt and Biden?... ha, ha, ha!
2004 is a long ways off. If the dems make a killing in 2002, Bush is in a fight for his political life and our own sanity.
Sen. John Edwards setting world Television eye-blinking record. Blink-LIE-Blink-LIE-Blink-LIE.....
NORTH CAROLINA REPUBLICAN PARTY
1506 Hillsborough St.
Raleigh, North Carolina 27605
Tele. (919) 828-6423 Fax. (919) 899-3815
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 17th, 2002
N.C. Republican Party Calls on John Edwards to Retract False Accusations that President Bush Had Prior Knowledge of September 11th Attacks
(Raleigh, N.C.) - North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Bill Cobey today called on Senator John Edwards to retract his false and destructive rhetoric accusing President Bush of prior knowledge of the September 11th terrorist attacks on America. Cobey asked citizens to contact Senator Edwards and tell him North Carolina stands with our President. "John Edwards' presidential ambitions know no bounds. Little more than a week after he was roundly criticized for his inability to coherently address important national issues on NBC's "Meet the Press," Edwards once again proved his lack of judgment by falsely accusing the President of prior knowledge of the Sept. 11th attacks.
"John Edwards' opportunistic accusations fly in the face of even his Democrat colleagues Bob Graham and Joe Lieberman," said Cobey. "Responsibility for the dreadful attacks on America lies solely on the terrorists who committed those evil acts. I ask all North Carolinians to contact John Edwards and tell him this is no time for partisan finger-pointing at our President."
Armed with the apparent clarity of hindsight, Edwards claimed Thursday on national television that the President should have foreseen the unprecedented attacks:
"We have three huge warning signs. We've got terrorists connected to al-Qaeda out in Arizona, engaging in flight training, number one. Number two, we've got Moussaoui arrested and being interrogated in Minnesota. And number three, we've got the president being briefed while he's on vacation in Texas about the possibility of these airplanes being hijacked. I mean, did it - was anything done about any of those things?" (Sen. Edwards, ABC's "Good Morning America," May 16, 2002)
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham and Senate Government Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman both rebuked Edwards' position.
When asked if the 9/11 attacks were foreseeable, Lieberman flatly rejected the notion: "Oh I think we've got to be very careful about reaching that kind of conclusion. Remember, this is from media reports, not from anything I or as far as I anyone else has seen I think it is very unfair to reach any conclusion about President Bush's behavior here." (Sen. Lieberman, Fox News Channel, May 16, 2002)
When asked if he thought the President should have seen the attacks coming given briefing information he was provided, Graham said: "Again, I don't think it is fair to ask the president of the United States, with all of the responsibilities that he has, to take on that operational role." (Senator Bob Graham, CNN, May 16, 2002)
Edwards, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, regularly received intelligence briefings that assessed the terrorist threats facing America prior to September 11th, making his claims that President Bush should have foreseen the horror of those attacks even more transparent and erroneous.
For more information, contact Communications Director Jonathan C. Jordan at (919) 828-6423.
Paid for by NC Republican Party, Steve Long, Treasurer.