Olbermann Suggests Political Timing of Terror Plot Story, Bush Provoking New Cold War
On Monday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann pushed the theory that the recent announcement of a terror plot involving JFK Airport was politically timed to benefit the Bush administration, as the Countdown host revisited and added to a recurring segment titled "The Nexus of Politics and Terror." Olbermann also suggested a connection to Fox News via the participation in a news conference of NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, the father of FNC correspondent Greg Kelly, and further theorized that President Bush was trying to provoke a "new Cold War" with Russia to distract attention from the current war in Iraq.
Olbermann teased the show by mocking a soundbite of U.S. attorney Roslynn Mauskopf, who referred to the danger of "unthinkable devastation" at JFK Airport if the plot were successful. The Countdown host quipped: "Yeah, well, so would me blowing up the moon with Mentos and a liter of Coca Cola." As he opened the show, Olbermann suggested that Bush was pushing missile defense to provoke "a new Cold War" with Russia. Olbermann: "Mr. Bush, meanwhile, arriving in Europe tonight for this weekend's G-8 Summit, and possibly fomenting yet another war in the process, a new Cold War with Russia, possibly to obscure the unending nightmare in Iraq, where, if the present rate continues, 140 American service personnel will have died by the first of July." (Transcript follows)
During one of his plugs for the segment, Olbermann brought Fox News into his conspiracy. Olbermann: ""The 'Nexus of Politics and Terror': Why was the JFK Airport plot revealed by a U.S. attorney in the middle of a U.S. attorneys scandal and by the father of a Fox News reporter? And why, on this Saturday, the coincidences have begun again. We will review that."
Olbermann soon replayed a list of what he referred to as "dubious coincidences," most of which already aired on his show in October 2005, as the Countdown host added recent events to the list for a total of 13 times Olbermann saw suspicious coincidences between terrorism-related news and political events. The Countdown host added the recent announcements of the plan to attack U.S. troops at Fort Dix and the plot to attack JFK Airport to the list. Olbermann connected the timing of the announcement of the JFK Airport plot to the timing of the recent Democratic presidential debate, and again brought up Commissioner Kelly's connection to Fox News. Olbermann: "The so-called plot happens to be revealed the day before the second Democratic presidential debate and, as the scandal continues to unfold over the firings of U.S. attorneys and their replacements by political hacks. The so-called plot is announced by the Bush-appointed U.S. attorney for Brooklyn, New York, and by the police chief of New York City, the father of a correspondent for Fox News Channel."
Below is a transcript of relevants portions of the Monday June 4 Countdown show on MSNBC:
KEITH OLBERMANN, DURING OPENING TEASER: The abstract, hypothetical terror plot at JFK: It sounds ominous until you ask the experts. Blow up part of the jet fuel pipeline and you still stand zero chance of blowing up the airport.
ROSLYNN MAUSKOPF, US ATTORNEY: The devastation that would be caused had this plot succeeded is just unthinkable.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, well, so would me blowing up the moon with Mentos and a liter of Coca Cola. We will truth squad the plot and update the "Nexus of Politics and Terror," the now 13 times officials in this country have revealed so-called terror plots at times that were just coincidentally to their political benefit, no matter how preposterous the actual schemes might have been, including the plot against Fort Dix where pizza delivery men were supposed to kill at will at an Army base full of soldiers with guns. All summed up neatly by a Republican state party chairman who has just said, quote, "All we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on 9/11, and the naysayers will come around very quickly for President Bush."
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. That Iraq has eclipsed the current presidency, that it will dominate the race for the next one, we all already knew, and we knew it all too well. How much, though, we might not have guessed. Last month was the deadliest month for Americans there in more than two and a half years. June has already seen the daily average escalate. Our fifth story on the Countdown, the U.S. military announcing that 14 Americans have already been killed there in the first three days of June, four of them in a single roadside bombing. And the Democrats had to debate it. Mr. Bush, meanwhile, arriving in Europe tonight for this weekend's G-8 Summit, and possibly fomenting yet another war in the process, a new Cold War with Russia, possibly to obscure the unending nightmare in Iraq, where, if the present rate continues, 140 American service personnel will have died by the first of July.
OLBERMANN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:12 PM: Law enforcement calls it, quote, 'one of the most chilling plots imaginable.' But even if the suspects had the support, the money, and the wherewithall they needed, is it even possible to ignite JFK Airport by igniting the jet fuel pipeline that leads to it?
OLBERMANN: And the President has renewed his attempts to link our security here with the war in Iraq. Are the arrests in this case and the equally impractical Fort Dix plan politically timed or just politically coincidental? We will revisit the "Nexus of Politics and Terror." You're watching Countdown on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:20 PM: Details of another plot more pipe dream than pipe line, emerging just as the White House redoubles efforts to equate the war in Iraq with our security at home. We will update our look at the history of these kinds of dubious coincidences in a revised edition of the "Nexus of Politics and Terror."
OLBERMANN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:26 PM: The "Nexus of Politics and Terror": Why was the JFK Airport plot revealed by a U.S. attorney in the middle of a U.S. attorneys scandal and by the father of a Fox News reporter? And why, on this Saturday, the coincidences have begun again. We will review that.
OLBERMANN, AT 8:29 PM: Since last August, there had been a period of calm, the screaming, hair-on-fire pronouncements about terror plots, that may have had real plotters but no real conceivable chance of actually happening, had ceased. That period spanned between the 2006 midterm elections and the week we reached exactly 18 months until the 2008 presidential election -- just a coincidence. Our third story in the Countdown, from the mindbending idea that four guys dressed as pizza delivery men were going to outgun all the soldiers at Fort Dix, to the not-too-thought-out plan to blow up JFK Airport by lighting a match 40 miles away, here we go again. Time for an update of our segment, the "Nexus of Politics and Terror," instances now 13 in number when those two worlds have overlapped and we are reminded by our government, with or without justification, that we should always fear "fear itself." We offer two prefaces tonight. One, the words of Dennis Milligan, the new state chairman of the Republican Party in Arkansas, who says about Iraq to the newspaper the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, quote, "At the end of the day, I believe fully the President is doing the right thing, and I think all we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on [September 11, 2001], and the naysayers will come around very quickly to appreciate not only the commitment for President Bush, but the sacrifice that has been made by men and women to protect this country."
OLBERMANN: "All we need is some attacks on American soil," said the Republican Party chairman in Arkansas, Arkansas, in the United States, that Arkansas. The other preamble, we remind you again that coincidences can happen, that the logical fallacy insists that just because event A occurs and then event B occurs, that does not automatically mean that event A caused event B. But neither does it say the opposite. The "Nexus of Politics and Terror" updated through today. Please judge for yourself.
OLBERMANN: Number one. May 18, 2002. The first details of the President's daily briefing of August 6, 2001, are revealed, including its title: "Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S." The same day another memo is discovered revealing the FBI knew of men with links to al-Qaeda training at an Arizona flight school. The memo was never acted upon. Questions about 9/11 intelligence failures are swirling. May 20, 2002.
TOM BROKAW, NBC NIGHTLY NEWS ANCHOR: The terror warnings from the highest levels of the federal government tonight are just-
OLBERMANN: Two days later, FBI director Mueller declares that another terrorist attack is "inevitable."
BROKAW: Tonight, there are even more warnings of possible terrorist attacks in America-
OLBERMANN: The next day, the Department of Homeland Security issues warnings of attacks against railroads nationwide, and against New York City landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. Number two. Thursday, June 6, 2002.
COLEEN ROWLEY, FBI AGENT: I never really anticipated this kind of impact.
OLBERMANN: Coleen Rowley, the FBI agent who tried to alert her superiors to the specialized flight training taken by Zacarias Moussaoui, whose information suggests the government missed a chance to break up the 9/11 plot, testifies before Congress. Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Graham says Rowley's testimony has inspired similar pre-9/11 whistle-blowers. Monday, June 10, 2002. Four days later:
JOHN ASHCROFT, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: We have disrupted an unfolding terrorist plot-
OLBERMANN: Speaking from Russia, Attorney General John Ashcroft reveals that an American named Jose Padilla is under arrest, accused of plotting a radiation bomb attack in this country. In fact, Padilla had, by this time, already been detained for more than one month. Number three. February 5, 2003. Secretary of State Powell tells the United Nations Security Council of Iraq's concealment of weapons, including 18 mobile biological weapons laboratories, justifying a U.N. or U.S. first strike. Many in the U.N. are doubtful. Months later, much of the information proves untrue. February 7, 2003. Two days later, as anti-war demonstrations continue to take place around the globe:
TOM RIDGE, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Take some time to prepare for an emergency.
OLBERMANN: Homeland Security Secretary Ridge cites credible threats by al-Qaeda and raises the terror alert level to orange. Three days after that, Fire Administrator David Paulison, who would become the acting head of FEMA after the Hurricane Katrina disaster, advises Americans to stock up on plastic sheeting and duct tape to protect themselves against radiological or biological attack. Number four. July 23, 2003. The White House admits that the CIA, months before the President's State of the Union Address, expressed strong doubts about the claim that Iraq had attempted to buy uranium from Niger. On the 24th, the Congressional report on the 9/11 attacks is issued. It criticizes government at all levels. It reveals an FBI informant had been living with two of the future hijackers. It concludes that Iraq had no link to al-Qaeda. Twenty-eight pages of the report are redacted. On the 26th, American troops are accused of beating Iraqi prisoners. July 29, 2003. Three days later, amid all of the negative headlines:
BROKAW: Word of a possible new al-Qaeda attack.
OLBERMANN: Homeland Security issues warnings of further terrorist attempts to use airplanes for suicide attacks. Number five. December 17, 2003. 9/11 Commission co-chair Thomas Keane says the attacks were preventable. The next day, a federal appeals court says the government cannot detain suspected radiation bomber Jose Padilla indefinitely without charges. And the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, Dr. David Kay, who has previously announced he has found no weapons of mass destruction there, announces he will resign his post. December 21, 2003. Four days later, the Sunday before Christmas:
RIDGE: Today the United States government raised the national threat level.
OLBERMANN: Homeland Security again raises the threat level to orange, claiming credible intelligence of further plots to crash airliners into U.S. cities. Subsequently, six international flights into this country are canceled after some passenger names purportedly produce matches on government no-fly lists. The French later identify those matched names. One belongs to an insurance salesman from Wales, another to an elderly Chinese woman, a third to a five-year-old boy. Number six. March 30, 2004. The new chief weapons inspector in Iraq, Charles Duelfer, tells Congress, 'We have still not found any WMD in that country.' And after weeks of having refused to appear before the 9/11 Commission, Condoleezza Rice relents and agrees to testify. On the 31st, four Blackwater USA contractors working in Iraq are murdered. Their mutilated bodies dragged through the streets and left on public display in Fallujah. The role of civilian contractors in Iraq is now widely questioned. April 2, 2004:
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NIGHTLY NEWS ANCHOR: The FBI has issued a new warning tonight.
OLBERMANN: Homeland Security issues a bulletin warning that terrorists may try to blow up buses and trains using fertilizer and fuel bombs like the one detonated in Oklahoma City, bombs stuffed into satchels or duffle bags. Number seven. May 16, 2004. Secretary of State Powell appears on Meet the Press. Moderator Tim Russert closes by asking him about the enormous personal credibility Powell had placed before the U.N. in laying out a case against Saddam Hussein. An aide to Powell interrupts the question, saying the interview is over.
TIM RUSSERT, MEET THE PRESS HOST: I think that was one of your staff, Mr. Secretary. I don't think that's appropriate.
COLIN POWELL: Get, Emily, get out of the way.
OLBERMANN: Powell finishes his answer, admitting that much of the information he had been given about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was-
POWELL: -inaccurate and wrong and, in some cases, deliberately misleading.
OLBERMANN: On the 21st, new photos showing mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison are released. On the 24th, Associated Press video from Iraq confirms U.S. forces mistakenly bombed a wedding party. killing more than 40. Wednesday, May 26, 2004. Two days later.
ASHCROFT: Good afternoon.
OLBERMANN: Attorney General Ashcroft and FBI director Mueller warned that intelligence from multiple sources-
ASHCROFT: -indicates al-Qaeda's specific intention to hit the United States hard.
OLBERMANN: -and that 90 percent of the arrangements for an attack on the United States were complete. The color-coded warning system is not raised. The Homeland Security secretary, Tom Ridge, does not attend the announcement. Number eight. July 6, 2004. Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry selects Senator John Edwards as his vice presidential running mate, producing a small bump in the election opinion polls and producing a huge swing in media attention towards the Democratic campaign. July 8, 2004. Two days later.
RIDGE: Credible reporting now indicates that al-Qaeda is moving forward with its plans to carry out a large-scale attack in the United States.
OLBERMANN: Homeland Secretary Ridge warns of information about al-Qaeda attacks during the summer or autumn. Four days after that, the head of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Deforest B. Soaries Jr., confirms he has written to Ridge about the prospect of postponing the upcoming presidential election in the event it is interrupted by terrorist acts. Number nine. July 29, 2004. At their party convention in Boston, the Democrats formally nominate John Kerry as their candidate for President. As in the wake of any convention, the Democrats now dominate the media attention over the subsequent weekend. August 1, 2004, Monday morning. Three days later.
RIDGE: It is as reliable a source, group of sources that we've ever seen before.
OLBERMANN: The Department of Homeland Security raises the alert status for financial centers in New York, New Jersey, and Washington to orange. The evidence supporting the warning, reconnaissance data left in a home in Iraq, later proves to be roughly four years old and largely out of date. Number 10. October 6, 2005, the President addresses the National Endowment for Democracy, once again emphasizing the importance of the war on terror, and insisting his government has broken up at least 10 terrorist plots since 9/11. At 3 p.m. Eastern time, five hours after the President's speech has begun, the Associated Press reports that Karl Rove will testify again to the CIA leak grand jury, and that special prosecutor Fitzgerald has told Rove he cannot guarantee that he will not be indicted.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: We're awaiting a news conference at the bottom of the hour. New York City Police-
OLBERMANN: At 5:17 p.m. Eastern time, seven hours after the President's speech has begun, New York officials disclose a bomb threat to the city's subway system based on information supplied by the federal government. A Homeland Security spokesman says the intelligence upon which the disclosure is based is of doubtful credibility. And it later proves that New York City had known of the threat for at least three days and had increased police presence in the subways long before making the announcement at that particular time. Local New York television station WNBC reports it had the story of the threats days in advance of the announcement but was asked by high-ranking federal officials in New York and Washington to hold off on its story. Less than four days after having revealed the threat, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York says, "Since the period of the threat now seems to be passing, I think over the immediate future we'll slowly be winding down the enhanced security." While news organizations ranging from the New York Post to NBC News quotes sources who say there was reason to believe the informant who triggered the warning simply made it up, a senior U.S. counterterrorism official tells the New York Times, quote, "there was no there there."
OLBERMANN: Number 11, a sequence of events in August 2006 best understood now in chronological order. As the month begins, the controversy over domestic surveillance without legal warrants in this country crashes. Then, on August 9th, the day after the Connecticut Democratic Senatorial primary, Vice President Cheney says the victory of challenger Ned LaMont over incumbent Joe Lieberman is a positive for the, quote, "al-Qaeda types," who he says, quote, "clearly are betting on the proposition that utlimately they break the will of the American pople in terms of our ability to stay in the fight." The next day, British authorities arrest 24 suspects in an alleged imminent plot to blow up U.S.-bound aircraft using liquid explosives smuggled on board in sports drink bottles. Domestic air travel is thrown into chaos as carry-on liquids are suddenly banned. On August 14th, British intelligence reveals it did not think the plot was imminent, only the U.S. did, and our authorities pressed to make the arrests. Eleven of the 24 suspects are later released. And in the months to come, the carry-on liquids ban is repeatedly relaxed. Number 12. May 7, 2007. Greensburg, Kansas, leveled by a tornado, and the state's governor notes more in sorrow than in anger that the redeployment of so much of the Kansas National Guard and its equipment to Iraq might now cripple the soldiers' ability to respond if another disaster hits Kansas.
GOVERNOR KATHLEEN SEBELIUS (D-KS): What we're really missing is equipment, and that is putting a strain on recoveries like this one.
OLBERMANN: The next day, the authorities announce arrests in a far-fetched plan to attack soldiers at Fort Dix in New Jersey. The so-called terrorists plan to gain access to the base by posing as pizza delivery men. It is not a suicide mission. They state clearly they intend to kill personnel and then retreat to safety, even though they were going to attack a closed compound full of trained soldiers with weapons. And though the plan is branded sophisticated, its perpetrators are not sophisticated enough to have not handed over the videotape of themselves training with weapons to a Circuit City store in order to be transferred to DVD. The Fort Dix plot not only erases from most news coverage the issue of disaster readiness in Kansas, but it also obscures the next day's story that, in anticipation of his testimony to a House panel, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has submitted opening remarks that match virtually word for word the remarks he had given the previous month to a Senate committee.
ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Recognizing my limited involvement in the process, a mistake that I freely acknowledge, I have soberly questioned my prior decisions.
OLBERMANN: And number 13. June 2007. The JFK plot to blow up the jet fuel pipeline feeding John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, thus causing the entire airport to be consumed in a horrific conflagration. One of the men arrested has, as a past employee, access to the sprawling complex, but little knowledge of the reality of the pipeline system. The manager of that system tells the New York Times that the pipeline is not some kind of fuse. Shut off valves throughout would have easily contained any damage, just as a leak in a tunnel in any city would not flood everything in that city below ground. The so-called plot happens to be revealed the day before the second Democratic presidential debate and, as the scandal continues to unfold over the firings of U.S. attorneys and their replacements by political hacks. The so-called plot is announced by the Bush-appointed U.S. attorney for Brooklyn, New York, and by the police chief of New York City, the father of a correspondent for Fox News Channel.
OLBERMANN: In all fairness, we could probably contruct a similar timeline of terror events and their relationship to the haircuts of popular politicians, but if merely a reasonable case can be made that any of these juxtapositions of events are more than just coincidences, if that case can be made on this, the very day that a military judge at Guantanamo day, dismissed all terror charges that have kept Salim Hamdan jailed there for five years, it underscores the need for questions to be asked, and asked continually in this country, questions about what is prudence and what is just fearmongering.