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Bush Jeopardized Airline Terror Case and Deceived British for Political Advantage

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Robin T Cox

Aug 9, 2008, 1:07:50 PM8/9/08
Cast your mind back to 2006 for a moment.

Disagreement over when to make the arrests

NBC News reported disagreement between the United States and Britain over
when to make the arrests. According to NBC News, a senior British official
contended that an attack was not imminent, noting that the suspects had not
yet purchased airline tickets and some did not even have passports; he
urged that the investigation continue to collect more evidence. The report
noted that this official's statement was contrary to statements by other
British officials previously reported in the press.

The same source also told NBC News that the United States had threatened to
use extraordinary rendition upon suspected ringleader Rashid Rauf in
Pakistan, or to pressure the Pakistan government to arrest him, if he were
not immediately taken into custody. According to the same report, a United
States official acknowledged this disagreement over the timing of arrests
and that a British official believed that an attack was not imminent.
However, Frances Townsend, Assistant to the President for Homeland
Security, denied the report of a dispute: "There was no disagreement
between US and UK officials."[34]

Now read on ...

Bush Jeopardized Airline Terror Case and Deceived British for Political

By JonathanSchwarz
Created 2008-08-08 20:12

Dean Baker: is there anything he doesn't know?

Here's email Baker sent out on August 10, 2006, talking about the UK Airline
Bomber Plot [1]:

So, do you think the British airplane plot is the response to Lieberman's
defeat? It certainly is conveniently timed, and we know that we are dealing
with people who would have no qualms whatsoever about pulling a stunt like
this. Having it down in Britain also is helpful to bush, since it removes
his crew from the direct line of fire, while still providing the same
benefits in terms of hyping terrorist paranoia. Needless to say, lapdog
Tony would gladly do as told, if the orders were given.

I was skeptical of this perspective at the time. Yet it was almost exactly
correct. Here's Ron Suskind yesterday on Fresh Air [2] describing what

NPR: I want to talk just a little about this fascinating episode you
describe in the summer of 2006, when President Bush is very anxious about
some intelligence briefings that he is getting from the British. What are
they telling him?

SUSKIND: In late July of 2006, the British are moving forward on a mission
they've been--an investigation they've been at for a year at that point,
where they've got a group of "plotters," so-called, in the London area that
they've been tracking...Bush gets this briefing at the end of July of 2006,
and he's very agitated. When Blair comes at the end of the month, they talk
about it and he says, "Look, I want this thing, this trap snapped shut
immediately." Blair's like, "Well, look, be patient here. What we do in
Britain"--Blair describes, and this is something well known to Bush--"is we
try to be more patient so they move a bit forward. These guys are not going
to breathe without us knowing it. We've got them all mapped out so that we
can get actual hard evidence, and then prosecute them in public courts of
law and get real prosecutions and long prison terms"...

Well, Bush doesn't get the answer he wants, which is "snap the trap shut."
And the reason he wants that is because he's getting all sorts of pressure
from Republicans in Congress that his ratings are down. These are the worst
ratings for a sitting president at this point in his second term, and
they're just wild-eyed about the coming midterm elections. Well, Bush
expresses his dissatisfaction to Cheney as to the Blair meeting, and Cheney
moves forward.

NPR: So you got the British saying, "Let's carefully build our case. Let's
get more intelligence." Bush wants an arrest and a political win. What does
he do?

SUSKIND: Absolutely. What happens is that then, oh, a few days later, the
CIA operations chief--which is really a senior guy. He's up there in the
one, two, three spots at CIA, guy named Jose Rodriguez ends up slipping
quietly into Islamabad, Pakistan, and he meets secretly with the ISI, which
is the Pakistani intelligence service. And suddenly a guy in Pakistan named
Rashid Rauf, who's kind of the contact of the British plotters in Pakistan,
gets arrested. This, of course, as anyone could expect, triggers a reaction
in London, a lot of scurrying. And the Brits have to run through the night
wild-eyed and basically round up 25 or 30 people. It's quite a frenzy. The
British are livid about this. They talk to the Americans. The Americans
kind of shrug, "Who knows? You know, ISI picked up Rashid Rauf."

NPR: So the British did not even get a heads-up from the United States that
this arrest was going to happen?

SUSKIND: Did not get a heads-up. In fact, the whole point was to mislead the
British...The British did not know about it, frankly, until I reported it
in the book...

What's interesting is that the White House already had its media plan
already laid out before all of this occurred so that the president and vice
president immediately--even, in Cheney's case, before the arrest, the day
before--started to capitalize on the war on terror rhetoric and political
harvest, which of course they used for weeks to come, right into the fall,
about, "The worst plot since 9/11, that has been foiled, and this is why
you want us in power."
Facts are sacred ... but comment is free

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