Throat" Documents: A Pre-9/11 Bush&Co. Scenario
by Bernard Weiner
The Bush Administration seemed to have everything so well
coordinated after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. How, many wondered,
could they have put the whole shebang together so quickly?
We may never know all the details, but recently some minutes
of a pre-9/11 Bush inner-cabinet meeting have come our way,
from someone inside the Administration.
We’re not at liberty to reveal that mole's identity, but
the job held by this person -- whom we'll call "Shallow Throat"
-- includes access to important papers and thus the undated
transcript below, believed to have been recorded in July or
August of 2001, could well be authentic.
P [presumably George W. Bush]: This Jeffords thing
is terrible, Karl! Why the hell didn’t you massage the guy?
With the Dems in charge of the Senate, we can't push anything
through anymore, and Lott is steaming! Our entire conservative
program is on hold!
KH [presumably Karen Hughes]: Karl’s already groveled,
Mr. President. Many times since June. We all blew that one.
Let’s figure out what to do NOW.
VP [presumably Vice President Dick Cheney]: The Democrats
are gloating; they know they have our agenda stymied. We’ve
got to do something, something dramatic, to regain the momentum.
KR [presumably Karl Rove]: Dick’s right. It’s got
to be something big, something that will change the way things
work in Washington. Not just a new piece of legislation but
something that will reduce liberal power now and for the next
P: Anything on the horizon, Conny?
CR [presumably Condoleeza Rice]: “Something big.”
Those same words have been picked up in known terrorist circles.
The word is that Osama bin Laden’s organization is planning
“something big,” against America, probably in America. We've
been watching him closely, but not -- .
DR (interrupting) [presumably Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld]: We’ve been unable to find out what he means
by "something big," and a date and time. But clearly he and
his boys are excited by what’s about to happen. If he initiates
an attack on American soil, your stock as commander-in-chief
shoots up a mile.
P: You mean it would be like Pearl Harbor and FDR?
VP: Exactly. But his Something Big has to be countered
by our Something Bigger. Look what happened to Clinton. The
African embassies were bombed and Clinton flung a few missiles
at Sudan and Afghanistan, all for show. Nothing changed. Something’s
got to change, Mr. President, if and when you decide to take
CR: From the wider perspective, the U.S. could act
because the new face of warfare in the 21st Century is terrorism
-- cyber, biological, chemical, nuclear -- threatening all
countries. We'd have instant support.
DR: The reason why bin Laden can keep coming up with
one attack after another against American interests is that
he’s been offered sanctuary by the Afghan regime, the Taliban.
If we go after bin Laden, we should go after them as well.
Overthrow the Taliban, hunt down bin Laden and his al-Qaeda
P: You forget, Don, that we were negotiating with
the Taliban just a few months ago, even invited them to Texas.
We thought we could convince them to protect the pipelines
that our friends want to build through Afghanistan. But those
Islams wanted too much money -- imagine, threatening us with
sabotage of the pipeline if we didn't cough up the dough.
CR: Well, we can kill two birds with one stone, if
we take on the Taliban for harboring bin Laden. Get them,
put him in a box. But that’s still a halfway measure, as I
see it. It doesn’t address the problem of how to rule effectively,
with the Democrat majority in the Senate.
P: As I’ve always said, things sure would be a lot
easier if I were a dictator. (laughter)
KH: Very funny, Mr. President. But maybe you’re on
to something here. If we were to go all the way, whole hog
on the barbecue -- by which I mean a full-scale war on terrorists,
wherever they are --
CR: (interrupting): Bin Laden’s organization has sleeper
agents in nearly 60 countries, we’re told.
KR: That’s it! We make this a PERMANENT war on terrorism,
no clear-cut victory because no end in sight, get the country
all riled up, frightened -- and no doubt there will be more
terror attacks on American soil, so we won’t be making all
this up out of nothing -- and you’ll get your easier rule,
Mr. President. The Democrats will back you all the way for
fear of looking like the unpatriotic namby-pambys they are;
we’ll play the war and patriotism and national-security cards
for all they’re worth. And you're in charge, totally, Mr.
President, for two terms.
JA [presumably Attorney General John Ashcroft]: I
think you guys have got the foreign part down pat. I’ve been
sitting over here trying to figure out the domestic part,
and I’ve got a few ideas.
KH: Go, John!
JA: Well, think back to when we on the Right could
more or less run the show in this country: When we had communists
as the common enemy. No matter what you think of Joe McCarthy,
he put the fear of God into liberals and leftists. Nobody
wanted to be considered even a little bit pink. We can do
that with terrorism, too. Once bin Laden and his boys deliver
whatever they're going to deliver, it'll be easy to bell our
liberal cows, make them seem treasonous if they argue with
what we're doing.
KH: I'm already thinking of how we might phrase that
one, John: "You're either with our hunt for terrorists or
you're a supporter of the terrorists," something like that.
P: I like that. Don't you, Dick?
VP: I do indeed. But I think you can take that idea
further. Make it universal. We retaliate against bin Laden's
organization all over the world, and you say to other countries:
"If you're not with our war on terrorism, you're with the
terrorists and you'll have to suffer the consequences."
CR: It's brilliant! The world will have to give in
to us, or risk being attacked by us. It's better than Nixon's
DR: Powell's not going to go for it, you know. He'll
whine about our allies in Europe and how we have to consult
them and so on.
VP: Well, we will consult, we will. AFTER we've begun
to move on what we want to do, of course. (laughter)
KH: You realize what we're talking about here, don't
you? It takes my breath away. As the only superpower in the
world, we're finally going to assert, openly and boldly, American
authority all over the globe. It's like us as the Roman Empire.
With nobody to stop us. It's power and profit and freedom
all around. And a fully supportive, patriotic, martial-type
society at home.
VP: Hail, Caesar! (laughter)
P: I like it. But I especially like what John was
talking about: being able to act without having to fly through
all that Democrat ak-ak in Congress. If we play our cards
right, we should be able to get anything we want in the way
of legislation, budget allocations, tax cuts, conservative
judges, eventually repeal of Roe v. Wade, removal of all those
old Clinton environmental regs that hogtied our business friends.
KR: And, best of all, with so much of our budget locked
up for the war on terrorism, and with our tax cut tying up
funds for the next ten years, we can drastically reduce all
that Democrat social spending and not have to pay any political
price for it. It's the war, stupid, not us.
P: But I don't want to be blindsided, by anything.
No more Jeffords! I need to know if there's anything out there
that could blow up in our faces.
VP: This has GOT to be absolutely confidential. But
my friends at Haliburton say that Kenny Boy's company is leaking
money badly. Might be a good time to examine your portfolios,
if you get my drift.
KH: You mean there's a danger Enron could go under?
No way! The company is too big and successful.
KR: If this is true, we're all in big trouble. We've
got Enron money and Ken's hands all over this administration;
we even let him pick officials regulating the energy industry.
Christ! We could get hurt on this one.
P: Let's not go crazy here. It's just boring old Repubican
business practices. There'll be a big thing made of it for
awhile and then it'll go away. It's not serious; it's not
DR: And we can always ratchet up the war if an influence-peddling
probe starts to get too hot for comfort, play a little wag-the-dog
distraction game. Invade Iraq or something. Hussein is an
even better villain than bin Laden anyway -- mean-looking,
you know what I mean?
P: Well, you stay on top of this one, Dick. And keep
your records private, executive-privilege them if you have
to. Worse comes to worst, it'll wind up in the Supreme Court.
VP: Too bad we don't have any influence there. (laughter)
The transcript ends at that point. Again, we can't prove
the genuineness of the document brought to us by "Shallow
Throat." But it kinda passes the smell test, don't you think?
Bernard Weiner, a playwright and poet, was the San Francisco
Chronicle's theater critic for nearly two decades.
A Ph.D., he has taught American politics and international
relations at Western Washington University and San Diego State
University, and has written for The Nation, Village
Voice, The Progressive and other political journals.