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Memo Madness
April 12, 2004

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

The PDB memo is now public. It's part of the 9/11 Commission reality show that's been such a hit with the panicky Democrat crowd.

To my Tinseltown-wired eye, the hearings are reminiscent of something out of Hollywood central casting. We see the pompous prosecutor who's stuck in a Watergate time warp. We see a former Justice Department employee who used to answer to Janet Reno. And we see the strait-laced-turned-hip-headed senator who's auditioning for future veep.

Apparently, the Dem script called for the trio and their fellow cohorts to interrogate, interrupt, patronize and generally bully National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Richard Ben-Veniste crustily cross-examined. Jamie Gorelick giggled and grilled. And Bob Kerrey politely whined. It was enough to make you long for "Matlock" reruns.

It's all sort of strange because, in looking at the actual words on the sheet of paper that caused Brian Williams to hyperventilate and David Gregory to reach back to his "show and tell" training, you won't find a listing of a time or target for any attack. Still, the Democrats are trying to convince the public that the text was a threat warning.

As Dr. Rice testified, the memo contained no "actionable intelligence." She's right, of course. In lay terms, it's kind of like a friend telling you that something bad is going to happen to you soon. Your friend may be trying to be helpful, but he or she hasn't given you enough information to know what the impending harm is or the means to avoid it. But if your friend says something bad is going to happen to you when you go to the grocery store on Saturday afternoon, now you've got something real to work with. No doubt you'd plan your trip to the market accordingly.

I guess naked partisans are going to read what they want into the memo, but it sure would be nice if the Commission would remember that the questions they're supposed to be trying to get answers to are, What can we learn from the past and how can we protect ourselves against future 9/11s?

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Copyright © 2004
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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