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Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly. Thank you for watching us tonight.
President Bush says he was warned about a possible bin Laden attack before 9/11. That is the subject of this evening's Talking Points memo.
Last August, the CIA told the president the terrorists associated with bin Laden had discussed airline hijackings. The agency did not have specifics. And the White House says it quietly put some federal agencies on alert.
But why did the president not tell we the people that terrorist threats had been received? After all, bin Laden had already bombed two American embassies and the U.S.S. "Cole." He was a threat.
On the radio FACTOR today, opinions varied, but most of the callers said they want to know about serious threats against the country. Some on the right, who will never criticize Mr. Bush, objected to that point of view, and some on the left, who will criticize nearly everything the president does, see the issue as a conspiracy. But that's baloney.
As always, we see things not in terms of right and left but in terms of right and wrong.
Here's what I would have done. Last August, Usama bin Laden was not well defined to most Americans, but Mr. Bush knew he was a danger. Since I believe in open government, I would have had Ari Fleischer mention to the press in a general way -- no big deal -- I would have told Fleischer to emphasize that panic was not necessary, but vigilance was. And I would have publicly stated that the FAA was beefing up security.
In that way, I would have raised awareness about possible terrorism without creating unnecessary anxiety.
Now, hindsight is always 20/20, but the issue here is open government, not the blame game. If all our elected officials would trust the people more, our nation would be stronger. Most of us can handle the truth. And for those who can't, tough. Hide in the basement.
Our government has fallen into a pattern of keeping information from the folks. National security, criminal investigations, litigation, are all used to drop a curtain over information flow. If some madman terrorist wants to kill Americans, we have a right to know about that, unless it violates a covert operation, which was not the case here.
I believe Mr. Bush probably didn't think the threat was all that credible. It wasn't that he was hiding anything, he just put it in the bottom drawer, let the underlings handle it. But if the open government theme was in place, even bottom-drawer stuff would have been released, and that should, that's what should have happened.
And that's the Memo.
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
Time for the "Most Ridiculous Item Of The Day."
That quiz program, The Weakest Link has been cancelled by NBC in primetime. And its host, Ann Robinson is heading back to England. But before she's out of here, she expressed her opinion that many Americans are not very smart. Only 5 percent of them have passports, she sniffed. Well, Ann, that may be true, but we the people are smart enough to know one thing, we don't like you. Goodbye.
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