Thursday, April 22

Couldn't terrorists on stilts step over fences?

Things are getting out of hand on Capitol Hill. The head of the Capitol Police now wants an iron fence around the entire Capitol to keep out any bike-riding terrorists. Seriously. The Hill reports:
In spite of the coming Capitol Visitor Center, which will funnel all visitors through underground checkpoints like airline passengers, a vastly increased security budget and thousands of metal bollards so expensive they are a “national security” secret, Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer wants an iron fence around the Hill’s favorite park — the Capitol grounds.

While numerous members of the House and Senate recoiled from this latest revision of master landscaper Frederick Law Olmsted’s design, others saw it as the thin edge of a wedge, wielded by a secretive and unelected four-man group of officials, to seal off the Capitol from the public with stone and metal and allow entrance only through a few guarded screening ports.

Already Congress has allowed the Capitol Police Board ... to shut off the famed west balcony of the Capitol, close down several Hill streets, erect pop-up barriers on other streets, encircle the Capitol grounds with bollards and dig an underground escape tunnel ... .

... Meanwhile, Gainer has almost completely stifled demonstrators, driving them off the Capitol grounds by means of “construction” fences and instructing his officers to tell would-be demonstrators that such activity is illegal — though courts have ruled only that a permit is required.

Changing the tone

Organizers expect as many as 750,000 activists in town this weekend for a huge women's rights rally. Randall Terry, semi-famous head of an anti-abortion group, provided a thoughtful retort to those who might be impressed by such a large demonstration:
I think their numbers are going to be way smaller than they projected, which is why they're reaching out to the communists, the homosexuals and turning this into a hate Bush march,' he said. 'So what if they have a big crowd? Adolf Hitler had big crowds in the '30s. . . . They are marching to support murder.
Terry says he'll have just 1,500 counter-demonstrators on hand ... maybe he should have reached out to the communists too.

Monday, April 19

Wednesday, April 14

Historical material

From the Post:
"By the time a CIA briefer gave President Bush the Aug. 6, 2001, President's Daily Brief headlined 'Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US,' the president had seen a stream of alarming reports on al Qaeda's intentions. So had Vice President Cheney and Bush's top national security team, according to newly declassified information released yesterday by the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

In April and May 2001, for example, the intelligence community headlined some of those reports 'Bin Laden planning multiple operations,' 'Bin Laden network's plans advancing' and 'Bin Laden threats are real.' "
Hey, by the time of the Aug. 6 PDB, that kind of info was old hat. It wasn't a warning, it was just one of several, umm, reports about historical stuff. Everyone already knew OBL wanted to attack America, no reason to shake the trees on that score.

Tuesday, April 13

no one was fired at FBI either

In WaPo, a lame excuse from former FBI chief Louis Freeh:
"Commission member Timothy Roemer, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana, asked Freeh why no action had been taken by FBI headquarters in response to a memo from an FBI agent in Phoenix who had detected suspicious flight training by young Arab men.

'I don't know,' Freeh replied. But he said that getting the requested information from civil aviation schools nationwide would have required the agency 'to first overcome a couple of federal statutes' prohibiting the schools from turning over the information without a subpoena."

The fact is, subpoenas are not that hard to get. Besides that, however, it's likely agents could have gotten the info they needed without a subpoena. Flight school teachers probably noticed weird things here and there about these particular students, and would have likely talked about it.

Rather than those pesky subpoenas, the real problem seems to be a general lack of focus and funding. J.A. came on board late, of course, but it seems his priorities were even more out of whack:

Some commission members believe Ashcroft placed a low priority on counterterrorism efforts during his first seven months, citing Justice Department documents that show he was focused more on drugs, violent crime and civil rights.

A day before the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon, Ashcroft formally denied a $50 million request from the FBI to hire more counterterrorism agents and intelligence researchers, according to witnesses and Justice Department documents.

At least that problem is over now that the war on terrorism porn is revving up.

Thursday, April 8

Lace up the shoes

A group of "foot doctors" named DC the Nation's Top Walking City. They picked DC from 124 other cities.

Foot doctors must be bored.

Just the facts, ma'am

From the Washington Post:
"Rice has spent hours on preparation, and a variety of aides worked on her 20-minute opening statement. John B. Bellinger III, legal adviser to the National Security Council, took the lead in assembling and creating summaries, timelines and other written materials for her preparation, and communications officials have war-gamed likely questions with her.

If you're just going to tell the truth about what you know, is "war-gaming" questions really necessary? The same article discusses how the WH is still refusing to hand over relevant documents from the Clinton files.