Bin Laden (Still) Determined To Strike America

Tomorrow marks the four-year anniversary of the day President Bush received a President’s Daily Brief (PDB) entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US.” There are many eerie similarities between now and August 6, 2001. Chief among them is that the threat of terrorism remains high, President Bush is at his ranch in Crawford, and Osama bin Laden is on the loose looking to inflict greater terrorist damage.

Bush candidly acknowledged that he was not thinking about a terrorist strike on the U.S. during the hot, pre-9/11 days at his Crawford ranch. He told Bob Woodward: “I was not on point I have no hesitancy about going after him. But I didn’t feel that sense of urgency, and my blood was not nearly as boiling.”

THEN: Bush Went on Longest Vacation In 32 Years

“By the time President Bush returns to Washington on Labor Day after the longest presidential vacation in 32 years, he will have spent all or part of 54 days since the inauguration at his parched but beloved ranch. That’s almost a quarter of his presidency.”


NOW: Bush Goes On Longest Vacation In 36 Years

“The president departed Tuesday for his longest stretch yet away from the White House, arriving at his Crawford ranch in the evening to clear brush, visit with family and friends, and tend to some outside-the-Beltway politics. By historical standards, it is the longest presidential retreat in at least 36 years.”

THEN: Bush In “Carefree” Mood

“President Bush was in an expansive mood on Aug. 7, 2001, when he ran into reporters while playing golf at the Ridgewood Country Club in Waco, Tex. The day before, the president had received an intelligence briefing — the contents of which were declassified by the White House Saturday night — warning ‘Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US.’ But Bush seemed carefree as he spoke about the books he was reading, the work he was doing on his nearby ranch, his love of hot-weather jogging, his golf game and his 55th birthday.”

NOW: Bush In “Playful” Mood

“Bush was in a playful mood as the foursome climbed into the truck and rode off. When a reporter asked if Bush actually had a driver’s license, the president replied ‘Si,’ which is Spanish for ‘yes.’”

THEN: Top of Bush Agenda Was Stem Cell, Immigration, Social Security

“But if top officials were at battle stations, there was no sign of it on the surface. Bush spent most of August 2001 on his ranch here. His staff said at the time that by far the biggest issue on his agenda was his decision on federal funding of stem cell research, followed by education, immigration and the Social Security ‘lockbox.’”

NOW: Top of Bush’s Agenda Is Stem Cell Immigration, Social Security

“But questions remain about the rest of Bush’s agenda. For one thing, many items remaining on Congress’ plate — such as Social Security private accounts, expanding federal funding for stem cell, immigration reform, and even the annual federal spending bills — are likely to spark fissures within the GOP and near-unity among Democrats.”

THEN: Bush’s Political Standing Slipping

“During that month, Bush’s top aides were concentrating on the president’s political standing: His approval rating had slipped

NOW: Bush’s Political Standing Slipping

“Americans’ approval of President Bush’s handling of Iraq is at its lowest level yet, according to an AP-Ipsos poll that also found fewer than half now think he’s honest.”

After reviewing Bush’s attitude at his ranch in August 2001, the Washington Post concluded that he “gave no sign of worry” of the danger to come. In the midst of a New York Times warning today that al Qaeda is planning to hit the U.S. with suicide bombers, has Bush learned his lesson?