Scheer Fraud Posted by: Jon Henke
on Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Last week, I pointed out Robert Scheer's blatantly incorrect take on the recently disclosed FAA reports. Scheer, if you didn't catch it last week, wrote that there were "multiple warnings that Al Qaeda terrorists were planning to hijack planes as suicide weapons".
In reality, the commission actually found "no evidence that the FAA knew what al Qaeda was plotting -- hijacking planes and using them as missiles". What's more, the memos that did mention hijacking only called it "a capability al Qaeda was training for or possessed", and didn't indicate actual plans. Finally, the only mentions of suicide operations were "not connected to a threat in aviation".
So, the Reports indicate that the FAA...
...did not have a warning of any Al Qaeda hijacking plans, and...
...did not have an indication of any aviation-related suicide operations.
From this, Scheer concluded that the FAA...
...did have a warning of Al Qaeda hijacking plans, and...
...did have an indication of aviation-related suicide operations.
The mind boggles.
The mind, fortunately, stabilized just enough to write a letter to the Readers Rep at the LATimes pointing out that, contra Mr Scheer's column, A is, in fact, not B.
Eventually, I got a response...
Dear Mr. Henke,
Thank you for writing. Robert Scheer's view is that the still-secret sections of the 9/11 commission report do indicate that there were warnings that Al Qaeda terrorists were planning to hijack planes as suicide weapons.
News reports I've seen say that FAA offficials looked at many intelligence documents with warnings about Al Qaeda, some of which mentioned airline hijackings and suicide operations. Further, the news reports say the FAA warned airports that if hijackers wanted to commit suicide in a dramatic explosion, they would probably want to do so in a domestic hijacking.
I'm sorry you disagree with Scheer's interpretation of what those documents mean, but I thank you for taking the time to write and let us know your opinion.
If I understand him correctly, their position is that Robert Scheer has psychic powers, capable of peering into the "still-secret sections of the 9/11 commission report". "The eyes that see through the lies", you might say.
But that's a funny position to take, since the news accounts of the recently released memos indicate otherwise, and the public portions of the 9/11 Report (pdf) include this passage:
First, no documentary evidence reviewed by the commission or testimony we have received to this point has revealed that any level of the FAA possessed any credible and specific intelligence indicating that Usama bin Ladin, al Qaeda, al Qaeda affiliates, or any other group were actually plotting to hijack commercial planes in the United States and use them as weapons of mass destruction.
Certainly, the FAA was aware of the possibility of hijackings and suicide missions, but--and this is fundamental--they had no "warnings" that "that Al Qaeda terrorists were planning to hijack planes as suicide weapons".
Robert Scheer has perpetrated a fraud. And the LATimes, apparently, allows this. Noted.
If I understand the letter, it appears that the LA Times considers "news reports" to be more important than the actual investigative report. If I put a "news report" on my blog that Karl Rove is believed to have hypnotized Mary Mape into believing that he was an "unimpeachable source" and given her the documents while she was under the influence, so to speak, does that mean that my "news report" is more credible than the CBS News report?
This is extremely odd. If I didn't read you all the time and know you to be a very reasonable individual I would likely conclude that you had made up the LA Times letter.
I don't know in which apologetic world ye all live or what you are trying to prove - maybe that GW has been efficient in the GWOT even before 9/11?
Fact is that "the system was blinking red" and there was virtually no reaction to it. That is what makes still a lot of people angry. If the until now only partly declassified FAA warnings contained hints to AQ suicide hijackings, they might get Condi a perjury trial but it does not really alter the verdict on GW.
Jon, I didn't invent the phrase "The system was blinking red" but this is the heading of 9/11 report chapter 8. The text was coined after a statement of George Tenet. The chapter documents the rising tide of alarming reports during the summer 2001 that "AQ was planning something really big". It also shows that the elected US officials did not issue orders to step up the defenses. Blaming intelligence agencies is a lame excuse for poor judgement. After 9/11 and Iraq this seems to constitute a pattern.
I didn't invent the phrase "The system was blinking red"
And I didn't invent these phrases: "no documentary evidence ... or testimony ... has revealed that any level of the FAA possessed any credible and specific intelligence indicating ... any ... group [was] actually plotting to hijack commercial planes in the United States and use them as weapons of mass destruction."
Robert Scheer, however, said that the FAA did have that warning. "Blinking red" does not mean the FAA had a warning that Al Qaeda was planning--not capable, planning--to hijack and crash a plane.
the elected US officials did not issue orders to step up the defenses
Defenses against what? "Chatter" doesn't actually give us any idea about what to do. At any rate, the intelligence agencies were--so they thought at the time--looking into it appropriately. Obviously, they were wrong, but hindsights a bitch, you know?
Everything you say could even be true, however none of it entitles Mr. Scheer to make things up and not be called on it. Just because you believe Bush was negligent, doesn't mean Scheer should get to misrepresent what an actual document says about the events in question. Of course, should not be allowed does not mean you or the LA Times have to act accordingly. That nasty ought/is gap raises its ugly head once again.
There's nothing "wacky" about MaxedOutMama or her hypothetical. It amazes me that seemingly rational people can support Scheer's making up facts or the LA Times supporting him in doing it. But then, these are the same people who think it was rational for Dan Rather to say that while the documents may have been fake, the story was true. I wonder if they know how truly loopy they sound?
Unfortunately my hypothetical isn’t wacky at all. I have seen numerous discussions on blogs and left-leaning forums on the origins of the forged documents since the story broke last year. Maurice Hinchley, a Congressman for NY, suggested that Rove was behind the documents not long ago at a constituent meeting on Social Security (possibly explaining why there is so much misinformation on SS). He also said there should be an investigation, although he did concede after questions from the audience that he had no evidence to support his belief. However he felt "such questions should be asked".
Let me ask you this - do you think that if the press starts reporting Hinchley’s belief on this issue that "news reports" should then form a foundation for the editors of the LA Times to take the accusation seriously? If so, we are doing nothing but reporting on rumors among the press, based on rumors among the bloggers. Unless there is somewhere a foundation of fact and the paper or reporter has verified that, reporting on news reports as news is an abdication of journalistic integrity.
To me, the letter from the LA Times editor displays complete cognitive dissonance and constitutes a self-indictment. The 9/11 report was about those very documents that Mr. Scheer did not see. If the published conclusions of the 9/11 report are diametrically opposed to the "secret conclusions" of the report, then the LA Times should be frantically working to expose a bipartisan lie presented to the public as truth with all the force of government behind it. This would be a huge, huge story of paramount importance to the integral workings of our democracy.
But no, that is not what the LA Times is doing. Instead they are publishing a column misrepresenting the investigated facts as they are publicly known, but not admitting the discrepancy. They are either spreading disinformation or they are ignoring a much larger story. Surely you can see the crucial distinction there. If not, try harder. It’s very important.
Hans, I understand your distress about poor intelligence. There were warnings, but not warnings sufficient to build up a picture that would have allowed the FAA to make a political case for the security measures we have today for flights. Let’s both be realistic about this - those measures are controversial today, even after we have seen it happen. There has been litigation about many aspects of the current flight security system.
Without clear and specific warnings that suicide hijackings were planned, I know I would have thought that the FAA people had gone nuts if they made me stand in line for hours, had confiscated my nail clippers, and had done random pat-down searches. No one would have supported those measures, not Congress, and not the courts. I am sure you wouldn’t have either.
All the security measures in place beforehand were predicated on the concept that hijackers wanted to live. This was an error of perspective - after all, suicide bombings had been the style in the ME for a few years - but it was not an error of perspective that could easily be corrected.