Mark Steyn relates a story told by Johnelle Bryant:
Bryant is an official with the US Department of Agriculture in Florida, and the late Atta had gone to see her about getting a $US650,000 government loan to convert a plane into the world’s largest crop-duster. A novel idea.
The meeting got off to a rocky start when Atta refused to deal with Bryant because she was but a woman. But, after this unpleasantness had been smoothed out, things went swimmingly. When it was explained to him that, alas, he wouldn’t get the 650 grand in cash that day, Atta threatened to cut Bryant’s throat. He then pointed to a picture behind her desk showing an aerial view of downtown Washington – the White House, the Pentagon et al – and asked: “How would America like it if another country destroyed that city and some of the monuments in it?”
Strangely enough, Bryant did not tell anyone else at the time about Atta threatening to cut her throat. A normal person might guess that this was because she made the story up, but Steyn triumphantly concludes that the evilness that is multiculturalism convinced Bryant that death threats are perfectly acceptable behaviour.
Media Watch points out a couple more problems with Bryant’s story. The 9/11 Commission Report has a detailed description of Al Qaeda’s planning of the attack and clearly did not find Bryant to be credible. Furthermore, Bryant claimed the encounter occured in early May, but Atta did not enter the US until June 3.
Instead of making a correction, Steyn compounded the error by insisting that Bryant was right and the 9/11 Commission was wrong. Steyn claims that Atta could have entered the US before June 3 in a visit that US immigration failed to record. Unfortunately for Steyn’s theory, Atta did not get a US visa till May 18, so he could not have entered before then. Steyn also attempts to bolster Bryant’s story by pointing to speculation shortly after 9/11 that the terrorists were trying to acquire crop dusters. However, these stories have been debunked. The 9/11 Commission, with the benefit of having interrogated Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (the man who organized the operation), has a detailed account of the plans and no crop dusters were involved.
Of course, hardcore Steyn fans are not bothered by mere facts. Scott Campbell dismisses the 9/11 Commission Report as “conspiracy theories found on the web“, while Typo Man uses his super powers to find a typo in the Media Watch transcript.
To be fair though, Rogier van Bakel is someone who thinks Steyn is a great writer, but investigates Steyn’s story and finds it wanting.
Update: Steyn tries to defend his column again and fails.