On Thursday’s Countdown show, one night after accusing President Bush of not doing enough to protect America from Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda organization before the September 11th attacks, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann seemed sympathetic to the plight of bin Laden’s former driver, Salim Hamdan, during the show’s regular "Bushed" segment which purports to update viewers on what the Countdown host sees as Bush administration scandals. Following Hamdan’s sentencing in a military court during which the judge expressed an apology to the bin Laden aide as he handed down a sentence that would make Hamdan eligible for release in six months, the American military indicated Hamdan may still be kept prisoner at Guantanamo Bay indefinitely in spite of the ruling, prompting Olbermann to accuse the Bush administration of "urinating" on the Constitution, and making Hamdan one of the "victims" of its "medieval" justice system. Olbermann: "So, besides urinating on the Constitution and the rights and freedoms every American soldier has ever fought to win and protect, the Bush administration has now decided that when its victims have actually served their sentences, doled out under its own medieval, quote, "justice," unquote, system, it still might not choose to set them free, thereby giving that Constitution and our country a second pass on the way out." (Transcripts follow)
Ironically, just the day before on Wednesday’s show, the Countdown host marked the seventh anniversary of a Presidential Daily Briefing from August 6, 2001, which has previously been hyped by the media as having been a warning that the 9/11 attacks were about to happen. During Wednesday’s "Bushed" segment, Olbermann claimed that the President was given a report "which he either did not read, did not understand or did not believe." And, although the report’s reference to surveillance of buildings in New York City was later found to be just the tourist activities of a group of Yemenis, Olbermann deceptively quoted a portion of the PDB which referred to "patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York."
Claiming that the PDB contained "all the information you could have wanted," Olbermann charged that President Bush "slept": "The President’s daily briefing seven years ago today, August 6th, 2001, entitled ‘Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.’ mentions bringing the fighting to America, retaliating in Washington, wanting to hijack a U.S. aircraft, preparations for hijackings, surveillance done in New York, groups of supporters in the U.S. planning attacks – all the information you could have wanted. All of it in George Bush`s hands, seven years ago today, with 36 days left to interrupt or alter 9/11. So when you rhetorically ask, as Mr. Posner did in his exceptional book, ‘Why America Slept,’ the answer is actually a correction. America did not sleep, George Bush slept."
But, as recounted in the April 12, 2004, CyberAlert, former Republican Governor James Thompson of Illinois, a member of the September 11th Commission, dismissed the PDB’s relevance to the 9/11 attacks in an interview on the April 10, 2004, CNN Saturday Night with anchor Carol Lin. Thompson contended that much of what was in the report "relates to things that were three years old," and pointed out that the "suspicious activity in New York with people surveilling federal buildings" turned out to be tourists from Yemen. Thompson saw the report as not having "anything to do with September 11."
Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Wednesday and Thursday, August 6 and August 7, Countdown show from MSNBC, followed by a transcript from the April 10, 2004, CNN Saturday Night:
#From the Thursday, August 7, 2008, Countdown:
KEITH OLBERMANN: And number one, Gitmo-gate. Yesterday, we had the first conviction from the infamous military commission system, devised by Mr. Bush and Mr. McCain. Salim Hamdan, who admitted to being a driver for Osama bin Laden, convicted of being a driver for Osama bin Laden. Sentencing was today. The government demanded 30 years. The military commission judges said five and a half, with five years off for time already served. An apologetic chief judge, Captain Keith Allred, told Hamdan, quote, "I hope the day comes when you return to your wife and your daughters and your country." Then he added, "Inshallah," Arabic for "Godwilling."
Ah, but not so fast. The Pentagon says even after Hamdan’s sentence is over, he will still be a prisoner, still branded an enemy combatant, to be released only if a military administration review board says so. So, besides urinating on the Constitution and the rights and freedoms every American soldier has ever fought to win and protect, the Bush administration has now decided that when its victims have actually served their sentences, doled out under its own medieval, quote, "justice," unquote, system, it still might not choose to set them free, thereby giving that Constitution and our country a second pass on the way out.
#From the Wednesday, August 6, 2008, Countdown:
KEITH OLBERMANN, IN OPENING TEASER: Speaking of bin Laden, "Bushed." Anybody remember what happened seven years ago today? Hint: 36 days before 9/11. It mentioned the World Trade Center, hijackings, attacks in Washington, groups of bin Laden supporters – and the President ignored it.
OLBERMANN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK: "Bushed": An anniversary bigger perhaps than 9/11. The day the President not only didn’t connect the dots, but threw the dots away.
And number one: Legacy-gate. As the struggle goes on to build the Bush presidential "liberry," here’s a reminder of the true legacy of the 43rd President of the United States. Take a look at the calendar, August 6th. Does that date ring a bell? Seven August 6ths ago, Mr. Bush was on his monthlong vacation at Crawford, Texas, when he was given a report which he either did not read, did not understand or did not believe.
Its first paragraph mentioned, "His followers would follow the example of the World Trade Center bomber," about "bring the fighting to America." Its second paragraph referred to the individual profiled in the report as wanting, quote, "to retaliate in Washington." Its 10th paragraph detailed sensational but uncorroborated threat reporting, including that the individual wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft.
Its 11th notes "patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York." And its 12th and final paragraph mentions, "A call to our embassy in the UAE in May, saying that a group of bin Laden supporters was in the U.S. planning attacks with explosives."
The President’s daily briefing seven years ago today, August 6th, 2001, entitled "Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S." mentions bringing the fighting to America, retaliating in Washington, wanting to hijack a U.S. aircraft, preparations for hijackings, surveillance done in New York, groups of supporters in the U.S. planning attacks" – all the information you could have wanted. All of it in George Bush`s hands, seven years ago today, with 36 days left to interrupt or alter 9/11. So when you rhetorically ask, as Mr. Posner did in his exceptional book, "Why America Slept," the answer is actually a correction. America did not sleep, George Bush slept.
#From the Saturday, April 10, 2004, CNN Saturday Night:
CAROL LIN: "A two-page report on the threat al-Qaeda posed to America. The President got it just one month before the 9/11 attacks. Now at first, it reads like a laundry list of red flags. Al-Qaeda, recruiting and plotting attacks in the United States. The White House declassified that document tonight."
AFTER SEPTEMBER 11 COMMISSION MEMBER JAMES THOMPSON ARGUED THERE WASN’T MUCH TO THE MEMO, LIN COUNTERED: Even though the evidence seems circumstantial that Osama bin Laden specifically says that he wants to attack in the United States, that young Muslims were being recruited in New York, that bin Laden specifically mentioned Washington, D.C., that the FBI had 70 separate investigations on al-Qaeda related activities here in the United States, that did not add up to what you witnessed on 9/11, as we all did?
JAMES THOMPSON: No, because the first four of those possibilities were three years old. And the fact that the FBI was conducting 70 full field investigations by al-Qaeda activities would have reassured me, not startled me or frightened me, if I were the President of the United States. I would have assumed that things were going forward, but all the other things in the PDB released tonight relate to things that were three years old. And even some of the things in the PDB we learned subsequently didn't pan out.
For example, the PDB talks about suspicious activity in New York with people surveilling federal buildings. Well, the FBI found those people. They happened to be two Yemeni citizens. They were tourists. And the FBI questioned and released them. And they had nothing to do with September 11. In fact, nothing in the PDB report tonight has anything to do with September 11.
THOMPSON LATER CONTINUED: So I think out of all the PDBs that we have, and we have many more than this one, and of the 2.5 million pages of pages of documents that we have, and the thousand witnesses that we've heard, with more to come, this is not something that would have triggered anything in anybody's mind from the president of the United States on down, about the possibility of September 11.
LIN: Then Governor, given the outcome, I mean when you see the memo, and you in hindsight you know what happened, what went wrong then? I mean, these were all red flags that did ultimately, whether they were true at the time or not added up.
THOMPSON: Nothing in the PDB is a red flag, but we know from other evidence that there were reports at FBI field offices about suspicions of people taking flight training, for example. And there's no doubt that mistakes were made in not transmitting information that FBI field offices had up to the head of the FBI...