Sunday, May 15, 2005

My Pet President: its worse than you think

Talk about missing a hanging curveball. The media was handed the Story of the Decade two days ago and none of them seem to care.

Not that the Capitol was under "attack" and our Dear leader was AWOL.; no there's a bigger story by far. As DC-Metro native, using a little simple geography, I think I can clearly prove that W was deliberately cut out of the loop, when it came to dealing with this crisis

WaPo columnist Dan Froomkin Framed the basic story up nicely:

Yesterday, even as a goodly swath of official Washington was running panic-stricken into the streets, President Bush was riding his bike in the country, completely unaware of what was going on.

Aides reportedly decided that since he wasn't personally in danger, he didn't need to know.

But wouldn't the president want to know about a potential terrorist threat serious .

The official White House line yesterday was that "protocols" established post-9/11 were being followed. But what are those protocols? ..Do they really call for the president not to be bothered if he's personally not in danger?

While the offical story is that the crisis was too minor to bother the President, the WH at first certainly didn't react that way. Federal offices, the White house and Congress were evacuated. Laura and a visiting Nancy Reagan were quickly hustled into the WH bunker. VP Cheney on was whisked out of Town in a VERY heavily armed Motorcade.

I spoke to an eyewitness who saw the Motorcade Crossing the Roosevelt bridge. He said that the Last SUV in the group had part of its top removed and some sort of multi-barreled missile launcher was clearly visible sticking out the top (I'm not enough of a military geek as to even hazard a guess). I know that I've never seen an offical motorcade, where the security force had weapons exposed.)

Clearly the situation was edging from Code red to Code Brown. But The one person who didn't swing into action was the guy supposedly in charge. He had better things to do than worry about it.

After the crisis, Press Secretary Scotty McC seemed to know they had a problem. He went from spitting out his usual non-answers and instead tried to cover up the inexplicable moment by, not to put too fine a point on it, Lying his ass off

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President was at an off-site location, and he was informed, and he was informed of the situation that occurred. And obviously, there are protocols in place for that, as well. But the President was being kept well-informed of the situation that was going on.

Q By whom?

MR. McCLELLAN: By his security detail that was traveling with him

but of Course as we all know now, the President wasn't informed until much later, well after all the hard decisions had to be made.

As this timeline shows When the president was told about the indicent at 12:50, the plane was already on the ground and its pilots in custody.

In other words, there was a time when a critical Shoot/Don't Shoot decision for the unknown plane had to be made. Either answer could put lives in danger. Shoot it down and you've not only killed the pilots but the wreckage could cause damage and death on the ground. On the other hand if you don't shoot and it IS attacking... However, at that critical moment, the only thing on the President's mind was which gear to use for the next hill.

And that dear, and patient reader is where the Local knowledge kicks in.

You see, the place where the President was biking is almost in my back yard. The White House seems to want people to have the impression its some sort of remote wilderness area. In reality its nothing of the sort. It a refuge anomalously placed between two mid-sized suburban towns.

Since its only 10 minutes away from my house, I visited it often growing up and I'm intimately familiar with its geography and terrain. And as I thought more and more about the location, something very big clicked into place:

Take a Look at This map

It shows directions from the front of the Wildlife refuge to Ft. Meade, a nearby US Army base, which was a mere 12 miles away by car. But even that doesn't tell the whole story.

Look at it again as a satellite photo now zoom in a bit.

Notice that the northern end of the Refuge (where the President was most likely biking given the abundance of trails in that area> actually borders the southern end of Ft. Meade?

So why is this significant? Well Ft. Meade besides being a US Army base, also houses the National Security Agency

In case you have trouble keeping your intel agencies straight, NSA is the one in charge of SigInt, or electronic intelligence. In other words they are the ones that can eavesdrop on virtually any electronic communication anywhere in the world,( As people following the Bolton nomination now know) and the folks who make sure OUR communications are secure. There would be no better placed to be plugged in during a crisis, except maybe the situation room at the WH.

So let's review. Washington's airspace was being invaded. Jets were being scrambled and defense grid was lit up. Laura and Nancy were rushed to the WH Bunker and, Dick Cheney split town in a motorcade that looked like it was headed to the Baghdad airport. and the city was placed in Full OMFG mode.

While all this is going on GW is less than five minutes away even by bike from the absolute Nerve center of America's entire secure communications and electronic intelligence network. And nobody even bothers to tell him what's going on

There's really no reasonable explanation for this except that his handlers made a deliberate decision to keep him away from the reins of power while the grown-ups handled the crisis. And this isn't the first time its happened

The sheer magnitude and uniqueness of 9/11 obscured the fact that that's exactly what happened on that day too. Dick Cheney, not the president, was the Man in the Situation Room that day, the one who almost had to order a pilot to shoot down an aircraft full of people.

What did George do? Well, we've never really been told, except that he was cooling his heels at an obscure air force base in BFE Nebraska. We've never seen any information that W made a single descision there except to put Cheney in charge.

The pattern is there and its very clear. Anytime there is a crisis that require immediate action and split second decisions, W's minders seem to conspire to keep him as far away from the Big Chair as possible. They know he's not great even when exhaustively prepped for an appearance in front of a friendly crowd. There ain't nobody who wants to see him improvise.

I now believe that at some point in 2000, maybe after the SC primary, Dick Cheney turned to Karl Rove and said "Okay Karl, I was skeptical at first, but I now believe you can get this chimp elected. But you gotta promise me that if the shit ever hits the fan you'll keep him away from all the big red buttons, and let me handle it."

So the real question is, how long until the Media wakes up and recognizes it has a huge blockbuster story?

So far, the only one with even an inkling of the magnitude of this event is Joe Scarborough. He's one of the bad guys but apparently one who has lost the Sith-mind trick of disbelieving his own eyes

I don't get it. All of America is glued to their TV sets . . . you've got people rushing out of government buildings all across Washington, D.C., and you don't notify the president of the United States? For an hour? Until after it's all over? Because, what, you don't want to disturb his bike ride in Maryland? I'm sorry, I just don't get it. . . .

"After I watched '[Fahrenheit] 9/11,' one of the parts that made me the angriest was the part about 'My Pet Goat.' I thought it was a cheap shot. I said, seven, eight, nine minutes, big deal. But here you have an attack going on -- or something most Americans thought was an attack -- for 15, 20, 30 minutes and the president of the United States not notified. Why?"

ahh truth, it can be so brutal no? and it so rarely uses lube. But if a cool-aid drinker like Joe can Spot the Issue; there's hope yet for the rest of the press corps right?

Right? Update [2005-5-13 16:17:46 by Magorn]: Since someone asked here's a brochure from Patuxent in pdf format. On p10 you'll find thier description of the bike trails and on p15 you can find the map of the area.


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