- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Short on specifics

So it turns out that Condoleezza Rice was given a CIA briefing two months before September 11, but did not recall it as significant because the terrorist threat “information was not new.”

So says her spokesman, Sean McCormack, downplaying reporter BobWoodward’s contention in his new book that the CIA briefing, conducted by then-CIA Director George Tenet, was the “starkest warning they had given the White House.”

In a far less-celebrated book that was published in August 2004, this columnist recalled that Mr. Tenet during the period leading up to September 11 was not only briefing Miss Rice, but myriad audiences about a general terror threat, yet he was short on specifics.

For instance, I pointed out that Mr. Tenet on Dec. 7, 2000, spoke publicly of an impending terrorist attack. To his credit, he accurately described what the terrorists of September 11 were thinking: “How can I negate the overwhelming military force of the United States?”

As the former CIA chief put it: “Today, Americans must recognize that ours is a world without front lines … and that the potential method of assault goes well beyond a terrorist with a truck full of conventional explosives.”

And then this dire warning, nine months before the terrorists reared their ugly heads: “We in the intelligence community believe that the chances for unpleasant — even deadly — surprise [attack] are greater now than at any time since the end of the Second World War.”

Smiling butcher

Global-warming purveyor and CNN anchor Miles OBrien yesterday welcomed global-warming skeptic and Sen. James M. Inhofe onto the network to air their differences in person. Let’s pick up the transcript:

Mr. O’Brien: “Nothing new from Oklahoma Republican Jim Inhofe, who has long voiced skepticism about global warming. Our piece about his speech, which raised some skepticism about the senator’s claims, prompted him to blast us several times this past week. So now it is time to hear from him directly. Senator Inhofe joins us from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Senator, good to have you with us.”

Senator Inhofe: “Well, Miles, it’s nice to be with you. I know you don’t believe it, but it is nice to be with you.

Mr. O’Brien: “It’s a pleasure having you here.”

Mr. Inhofe: “You know why? You always smile. So many of these extremists out there, they are mad all the time. But you’re not; you smile. In fact, when you’re cutting my guts out for two minutes last week, you smiled all the way through it. And I appreciate that.”

Mr. O’Brien: “Well, yes, we got to keep it all in perspective.”

Permissive society

Short of calling for the head of House Speaker J. DennisHastert in the wake of how the Republican leadership handled the still-unfolding Mark Foley scandal, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins says blame goes to both sides — Republican and Democratic — for not protecting children from sexual predators.

“We are all shocked by this spectacle of aberrant sexual behavior, but we shouldn’t be,” Mr. Perkins states. “When a 16-year-old boy is not safe from sexual solicitation from an elected representative of the people, we should question the moral direction of our nation. If our children aren’t safe in the halls of Congress, where are they safe?”

D.C. ranchers

“In all due respect to those of you who are here who are attorneys of law — we’ve got enough of those kind of people in Washington.”

President Bush, headlining yesterday’s California fundraiser for seven-term Republican Rep. Richard W. Pombo, a rancher who has worn a cowboy hat for his official congressional portrait.

No term limits

Sen. Clinton” and “President Bush” will hold a mock press conference at the Warehouse Theater tomorrow afternoon to announce that Gross National Product’s two-person “Son of a Bush” political comedy revue is being extended indefinitely.

And talk about timely, we’re told several new topics will be added to the revue script, including last week’s reverberating resignation of former Florida Republican Rep. Mark Foley, along with Bob Woodward’s new book, “State of Denial.”

Deb Fiscella of Center Stage Marketing describes the comedy revue as “an entirely improvised town hall segment in which the audience takes on the role the press corps.”

For example, Mrs. Clinton is asked to clarify her position on Iraq, replying: “As the American people know, I’ve always been for and against the war.”

The Warehouse Theater is located on the 1000 block of Seventh Street Northwest.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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