With each passing hour it looks like Chimpy’s
Liberty Liberry Library Tower terror story is fictional.
John Aravosis points out that neither Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa nor the FBI’s counterterrorism director, John Pistole, were familiar with the plot.
Yesterday a gaggler pointed out that the plot itself makes no sense. Either the terrorists were intent on blowing their own feet off or they planned to remove the shoebombs from their feet and set them off, bringing the plane down instead of allowing them to take control of the cockpit.
Q Scott, I wanted to just ask a follow-up about the LA plot. Is there something missing from this story, a practical application, a few facts? Because if you want to commandeer a plane and fly it into a tower, if you used shoe bombs, wouldn’t you blow off the cockpit? Or is there something missing from this story?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don’t know what you’re referring to about missing. I mean, I think we provided you a detailed briefing earlier today about the plot. And Fran Townsend, our Homeland Security Advisor, talked about it. So I’m not sure what you’re suggesting it.
Q Think about it, if you’re wearing shoe bombs, you either blow off your feet or you blow off the front of the airplane.
MR. McCLELLAN: There was a briefing for you earlier today. I think that’s one way to look at it. There are a lot of ways to look at it, and she explained it earlier today, Alexis, so I would refer you very much back to what she said, what she said earlier today.
Little Scottie referred the gaggler to the briefing given earlier that same day by Frances Fragos Townsend (hey, isn’t she supposed to be investigating the Assministration’s criminal response to Hurricane Katrina?). But if you actually read the transcript of Townsend’s briefing you become even more suspicious of their story.
Check out this exchange, for instance. After admitting that they do not know what the planned target date for the attack was, Townsend claims that the plotters traveled to Afghanistan and met with Osama bin Laden between October 2001 and February 2002. When the reporter points out that US forces were waging war on Afghanistan and trying to track down bin Laden during that time period, she backs off and claims she doesn’t know if they met bin Laden afterall.
Q Fran, just one other follow up. What we don’t know is the time. Can you give us some more details on the timeline on this — meaning, you know, when, exactly, was this plot scheduled for? Do we know that?
MS. TOWNSEND: We don’t know exactly when the plot was scheduled for. The intelligence tells us that Khalid Shaykh Muhammad began to initiate it in October of 2001. We know that between then and when the lead operative was arrested in February of ’02, between those two periods of time, they traveled through Afghanistan, they met with bin Laden, they swore biat, they came back, and the lead guy is arrested, which disrupts it in February of ’02. So you see what I’m saying? It’s during that short window of time, between October of 2001 and February of 2002, but we don’t know when they planned — we don’t know when it was planned to actually be executed.
Q Just a question on the timing. You said that the operatives and the leader met with bin Laden in early 2002 in Afghanistan; is that right?
MS. TOWNSEND: It’s between October 2001 and February of 2002, when the leader is arrested.
Q But when did they meet with bin Laden in Afghanistan?
MS. TOWNSEND: Hold on, let me see. They’re telling me the intelligence community believes it was in October.
Q Of 2001?
MS. TOWNSEND: Yes.
Q Before the U.S. invasion?
MS. TOWNSEND: Okay, hold on. I can’t be that specific, because we don’t know.
Q Okay. So you don’t know whether or not they met with bin Laden in Afghanistan while U.S. forces were in the country?
MS. TOWNSEND: I don’t know.
Townsend refuses to reveal the names of the terrorist “cell leader” or any of the operatives arrested with him, nor will she reveal where they are being held.
Did these men receive due process, did they have lawyers and court hearings? Or were they declared to be “illegal enemy combatants”? Are they being held incommunicado? Where are they?
Q Who was the cell leader that got arrested? Actually, I wouldn’t mind having all the four names. And where were they caught?
MS. TOWNSEND: I can’t speak to where they were caught. Let me see if I’m allowed to release any of the names. No, I’m sorry, the names all remain classified.
Q Are they in the United States? Are they in Gitmo? I mean, can you give us any sense of —
MS. TOWNSEND: I can’t.
Not only do they not know the target date for the attack, the flight number of the airplane they intended to hijack, or even the name of the airline targetted, they do not even know what building was targetted. They just assumed it was the Library Tower.
Q What level of operational detail did this plot reach before it was foiled? I mean, was it — were they planning to fly a plane out of LAX? Did it reach that level of detail?
MS. TOWNSEND: We didn’t know what plane or what flight. We knew that they were going to fly a commercial airliner into the tallest building in California, or the West Coast. And there was an analytic judgment by the intelligence community that that meant the Library Tower. But, I mean, we didn’t have a day or a week; we didn’t know that.
This is a bogus story, told at this time in order to frighten the nation and too take some of the heat off of Chimpy’s illegal snooping program.