I took month-long vacations in the stratosphere, and you know it’s really hard to hold your breath

Terror Threats, Month Long Vacations and Consequences

A reader alerts me to this story in Buzzflash. It begins reasonably enough, telling the story about how “senior government officials” received warnings two months before 9/11/01 that “spectacular” attacks “designed to inflict mass casualties” would be launched against the US and/or Israel within “the coming weeks”. While I’m more than a little skeptical of these reports, and not about to suspect intentional wrong-doing even if true, it certainly deserves to be looked into.

The story, however, goes on to insist that the “senior government officials” MUST have included President Bush.

it is hard to imagine that President Bush would not have been made aware of this briefing and thus considered one of the “senior government officials” mentioned in the report

Again, I say we look into it. The story then claims that Bush took a month’s vacation in Texas during August so that he would be out of action during the attacks.

The sequence of events are easy to follow and the facts are indisputable. There are no dots to connect or wild assumptions that need to be made in order to draw a conclusion. The President was allowed to — or decided himself to — be on vacation when a terrorist attack of significant consequence was likely to occur against the United States.

Is it not so plainly obvious?

That is a pretty significant leap to make, and one that I’m not willing to attempt based upon the “evidence” I’ve seen so far. (For the record, I also would not have made that leap while Bill Clinton was in the White House, but I will admit that I’d probably have thought about it for a bit.)

This is a problem that crops up all the time. It’s very similar to what a reader said about the “US created Iraq” debate:

Latch on to one statement by a political opponent, in this case “The U.S. provided some weaponry to Saddam and was complacent as he used chemical weapons on others in the past, so we must bear some responsibility for the situation there now”. Polarize that phrase by removing key words like ‘some’ – “The U.S. provided weaponry and bears responsibility for the situation there”. Provide facts to prove the polarized phrase wrong. “Russia and France and Germany did it too, and did it more”. Add all those facts up and balance them against the polarized phrase. You have now made your opponent look stupid and wrong.

The difference here is that it’s not the opponent that’s polarizing an issue and using it against the claim-makers. It’s the claimers shooting themselves with their own story.

To take the facts, at least as presented here, and then present your position as “Bush took vacation because he knew we’d be attacked – It’s indisputable.” isn’t going to convince anyone and it’s going to get you taken not-seriously by most rational thinkers.

Move on. Nothing to see here.