Wednesday, September 24, 2003

I can't emphasize how glad I am that Tom Tomorrow has revisted William Safire's awful, panic-inducing distribution of the White House's lie that the Secret Service had received a message on the morning of 9/11 saying, "Air Force One is next." As Safire told the tale, the message contained code words that indicated intimate knowledge of the president's procedures and whereabouts. In Safire's words, they had "the code-word information and transponder know-how that established their mala fides." In other words, there was a Al Qaeda mole in the White House.

This was confirmed by Karl Rove himself, who told Safire:

"When the president said 'I don't want some tinhorn terrorists keeping me out of Washington,' the Secret Service informed him that the threat contained language that was evidence that the terrorists had knowledge of his procedures and whereabouts. In light of the specific and credible threat, it was decided to get airborne with a fighter escort."
An Al Qaeda mole in the White House. I remember reading this article, and I remember freaking out about it.

Fortunately, like much that comes out of the Bush administration, this tale turned out to be complete bollocks, intended merely to quell any grumblings (including Safire's) that the president hadn't addressed the nation soon enough.

Unfortunately, William Safire still has his job. And as Tom Tomorrow points out, he appears never to have corrected this unbelievable gaffe.

Off the top of my head, I know of two other mistruths Safire has reported in his columns, relatively recently, though none nearly as serious at his uncorrected 9/11 scare story. One has local significance: When James Risen reported in The New York Times, quoting Czech officials, that the story about Mohammed Atta meeting an Iraqi agent in Prague turned out to be false, Risen wrote that ex-Czech President Vaclav Havel had "discretely" placed a phone call to the White House informing it that the story was bogus. In response to that story, Havel's office came out with a statement that no such phone call had taken place. Havel's office did not, as Safire later reported in the same paper, "deny the denial." Phone call or no phone call, the report of Atta's meeting was refuted by Czech intelligence. As far as I know, that has never been called into question, despite what Dick Cheney says today.

(Read this blog for a slightly alternative view on this.)

After the Washington sniper was caught last year, Safire congratulated himself on his previous hunch that the killer was an Al Qaeda sympthizer who "recently converted to Islam." Old man, John Allen Muhammed converted to Islam in 1985. Quick, somebody call the parents of Avril Lavigne and congratulate them on the "recent" addition to their family!

Put that guy out to pasture already.


Post a Comment

<< Home