[Editor’s note: This article orginally appeared on the cover of the June 10, 2002, issue of HUMAN EVENTS.]
Tim Russert, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” has committed excellent journalism, again.
The May 26 edition of “Meet the Press” featured as a guest Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D.-S.D.). Russert confronted Daschle with the cover story of the May 27 HUMAN EVENTS in which Senate Intelligence Chairman Bob Graham said that the congressional intelligence committees had the same information prior to September 11 that President Bush had–and that this information included three-year-old intelligence that al Qaeda might try to hijack U.S. airliners.
In light of Graham’s statement to HUMAN EVENTS, Daschle utterly failed to justify to Russert his tendentious call for an investigation of what the President knew prior to September 11.
Last Sunday, on the June 2 edition of “Meet the Press,” Russert interviewed the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate intelligence committees. He confronted them with the information in the May 27 HUMAN EVENTS cover story–and each of them, including Graham himself–confirmed the story.
Here is what they said:
Tim Russert, Host of NBC’s “Meet the Press”: Sen. Graham, let me clear something up for the country, if I can. There was a big uproar a few weeks ago that President Bush had received a briefing on August 6 about a potential hijacking by al-Qaeda, and a lot of charges and countercharges back and forth. HUMAN EVENTS reported that you said that we had all seen that information. Not in the same form as the President, but members of Congress had seen the same information. Is that accurate?
Senate Intelligence Chairman Bob Graham (D.-Fla.): First, I have not seen the briefing that the President received in early August. But I have read a summary of that briefing, and if that summary is correct, and I think it is, of what he received was essentially a historic presentation of the development of al Qaeda, what they’d done in the past, and then some speculations about what they might do in the future. The specific reference that related to hijackers was based on a foreign intelligence source that was two or three years old. So I don’t think it is fair to expect the President of the United States to see that kind of information and immediately spring into operational mode. Had Congress seen most of that information, if not all of it? Yes, over time, not in a consolidated historic report that was presented to the President.
Russert: Does anyone here disagree with that, that they didn’t see that information?
House Intelligence Chairman Porter Goss (R.-Fla.): No, I think it’s very clear.
Senate Intelligence Vice Chairman Richard Shelby (R.-Ala.): No, we had it.
Russert: Everyone had it.
Shelby: We had it.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.), Ranking Member, House Intelligence Committee: We had seen it over a period of time. We did not see it in aggregate as the President did that day. That is not to say that it was sufficient information, as the chairman has said, to warrant action on the part of the President, but I think the distinction has to be made that, for some reason, on that early day in August, someone in the intelligence community decided to put all of those events on one piece of paper. Interesting that what we saw in Congress in that same day, in that same 24-hour period, did not have the reporting that referenced hijacking. That was a distinction between what Congress saw and what the White House saw.