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.


  1. #1 doug
    August 3, 2005

    It seems to me that Steyn has it completely back-to-front. Someone with substantial multicultural understanding would have recognised this (claimed) behaviour as being inappropriate both in the person’s own culture as well as in the US. I’ve seen people with limited multicultural understanding ascribe an individual’s weird behaviours to their ‘exotic’ culture whereas it was actually that the individual in question was just behaving weirdly (especially by their own culture’s measure).

  2. #2 The Pessimist
    August 3, 2005

    I suggest you go and read Steyn’s reply to the Media Watch criticism for a more thorough understanding of the events. It is creditable and on balance it probably did occur.
    A few things:

    Byrant’s story was more or less supported by the bank, a couple of floors below the Dept. Of Agric. There were corroborating accounts that Atta went there looking for a loan after he was turned down and sent there by Bryant.

    The account of Atta’s threat to cut Bryant’s throat was not made exactly in the tone you implied. It was more like a hypothetical. Bryant’s account was that he made the threat in a hypothetical way. Atta thought she kept the money in cash in her desk. He then said what if he cut her throat and took the money? It was not a direct, immediate threat.

    Atta’s girlfriend (yes he did have an American born, blond girlfriend) has gaven account that Atta told her he wanted to buy a plane for crop-dusting. He also killed her cat after she got rid of him.ummmmm.

    I suggest you omit any references to the Dept of Immigration in defending your assertion, as it was worse than useless. Steyn’s comment that Dept. Immigration would not have even known who was in the country at the time rings true. Remember they sent Atta a renewal or approval of continuance of his stay in the US even after 911.
    The story is most probably true and Media Watch’s hit job on Murdoch is a becoming joke. Actually no it isn’t because we are paying for it. If Media Watch wanted to hit Murdoch’s real soft underbelly I would suggest they go after Phillip Adams who seems to have never read a review in the NY Review of Books he hasn’t liked as he seems to copy quite a few of them. That’s where the real story is. As a matter of fact why don’t you go after Adams in the same way as you have Lott. Someone with your investigative talents would have Adams fired in an hour.

  3. #3 Gary Farber
    August 3, 2005

    Mr. Pessimist seems to have a problem with supplying links for all his not-quite-a-cite non-cites, I have to notice. Maybe he’s right, but an inability to link to sources is unpersuasive.

  4. #4 Tim Lambert
    August 3, 2005

    I did read Steyn’s response and my post points out what is wrong with it.

    If Steyn embellished Bryant’s story and there wasn’t really a death threat then the whole premise of his column evaporates. Remember that his premise was that multiculturalism made Bryant think that death threats were OK.

    Bryant made up a crazy story and Steyn swallowed it hook, line and sinker.

  5. #5 Ragout
    August 4, 2005

    According to Tim’s links, the 9/11 commission said nothing at all about this crop-duster loan story. Most people wouldn’t be too sure about the meaning of their silence. But not Tim: he concludes that the 9/11 commission “clearly did not find Bryant to be credible.”

    Tim grows only more certain as the post goes on: “Steyn compounded the error by insisting that Bryant was right and the 9/11 Commission was wrong.” I suppose Tim means wrong not to have discussed it at all. But a reasonable person might conclude from Tim’s comments that the 9/11 commission made some pronouncement on the matter.

    Now I don’t deny that Steyn’s column was pretty odious, but Tim’s discussion of the controversy is awfully misleading.

    Why didn’t the 9/11 Commission discuss the crop-dusting plot? Maybe that had some mild doubts, and decided to restrict their findings to highly credible reports. Maybe they felt the crop-dusting plot was completely credible but irrelevant to their report. Maybe Tim’s right and they though Bryant was lying. Who knows what the commissioners were thinking? Despite what he implies, Tim sure doesn’t.

  6. #6 The Pessimist
    August 4, 2005
    1. The pessimist Says:

    Please ignore the earlier post, as I didn’t correct it and sent it out by mistke
    August 3rd, 2005 9:18 pm
    Sorry: one or two words badly spelt in my last post.
    And for not providing links: Here is Steyn’s reply to Murchoch err. Media Watch:
    The girlfriend story was in one of the local rags down there in Florida, which one, I can’t recall. Maybe it was The Palm Beach whatever.
    The Florida papers did a horrible job at the local level in reporting about Atta and his cohorts.
    Tim: You got have just one angle on this. Not weave around when it suits. Steyn’s piece on Bryant’s account that referred to Atta’s threat was not the central piece of the story. Bryant’s account went something like this: to paraphrase, Atta turned to her and said, ” what if I just cut your throat and take the money which is the draw”. Atta thought she had the cash in her desk! That wasn’t a direct threat. It was a hypothetical threat. A good reason why Bryant was scared was because she knew her life was immediately threatened. I would accept this.
    The support you use are/ is the links to the blogger who argues Atta could not have been in the US at the time. That’s just bull crap.
    Read Steyn’s account from the above link as it gives a good account why it doesn’t rock Bryant’s story.
    Quite frankly I am surprised you did not link to Steyn’s reply in your post despite linking to The Australian piece by Steyn. Did you miss the link? If you didn’t how could you not think it was pertinent?
    Steyn wasn’t suckered. Bryant’s story is credible. Scaringly so.

    Now what about Adams?

  7. #7 The Pessimist
    August 4, 2005

    The 911 Commission failed to mention that Atta had a girlfriend living in Florida and he killed her cat after they broke up.
    The Commission also failed to mention Atta and his buddies used to hang around strip joints and had cash to pay for lap dances.
    The Commission also failed to mention that the reason Atta broke up with the girl was because she was embarrassed he would get on top on a table in strip joints and dance with the strippers.
    The fact this wasn’t contained in the report doesn’t make these accounts any less credible, right? It just means they weren’t pertinent to the brief.

    I suggest you rad the report from cover to cover. It’s quite fascinating.

    One other thing:

    A friend of ours, a single, Australian girl, who hails from Yass was the very first person who rang 911 from a phone box on lower 5 th Ave. to report the first plane hitting the first tower. She was later interviewed by the FBI and was told she was the first to report the attack.
    I know this to be true. However it didn’t make it into the report. Is it any less credible?

  8. #8 SimonC
    August 4, 2005

    Bryant’s story is bollocks – what ‘evidence’ does Steyn give that Atta was in country at that time?

  9. #9 James
    August 4, 2005

    To show that Steyn was suckered, one needs to prove that Bryant’s story is false. Neither Tim nor Media Watch has done that. That the 9/11 Commission doesn’t mention Bryant means nothing. They may have disbelieved her account, they may have considered it irrelevant, they may have thought it outside their terms of reference. Who knows?

    That said, it is fair to say that the story seems unlikely, particularly given the problem of the time it was supposed to have occurred.

    On the other hand, there is some corroborating evidence from the bank downstairs, and the question of why Bryant would make up such a seemingly outlandish story. Applying Occam’s razor, it seems likely that the story is true, but that it wasn’t Atta that presented at Bryant’s office.

  10. #10 John Quiggin
    August 4, 2005

    Steyn has made a habit of retailing this kind of rumor, as in the urban myth that a New York school student of Pakistani origin had advance knowledge of the S11 attack

    this and others here

  11. #11 Tim Lambert
    August 4, 2005

    Ragout, the 9/11 Commission goes into a great deal of detail on Atta’s movements and the terrorist’s plans. If they believed that Atta cam to the US in May, they would have said so. If they believed that the terrorists planned to usr crop dusters they would have said that as well. It follows, therefore, that they did not believe Bryant. Further, if Bryant is right, their report that Atta did not come to the US until June is wrong.

    James, Bryant says that he spelt out his name A T T A. Her full story is more ridiculous than Steyn’s version.

  12. #12 Chris Jarrett
    August 4, 2005

    James, no one needs to prove that Bryant’s story is false, Bryant needs to prove that the story is true and the available evidence strongly suggests that it is not. Applying Occam’s razor, the most likely story is that Bryant is making up the story to get attention.

  13. #13 The Pessimist
    August 4, 2005

    1. Why were crop dusters grounded for a time? 2.Where did information come from that led the FTC to ground these craft?
    3. Why the the Department of Immigration issue a visa to Atta well after 911?
    Any of this mentioned in the commissions report?

    Have you ever entertained the possibility Atta entered the country on a false passport? Everytime they pick up a major name the guy is usually has a couple of dozen spare passports on hand.
    Why did empployees at the bank remember the crop duster loan?

    In fact why don’t you call the bank. The number is listed on Steyn’s reply to the letter.

  14. #14 Ragout
    August 4, 2005

    Tim, there are many possibilities that explain the 9/11 Commission’s silence other than your conclusion that they believed nothing Bryant said.

    For example, they might have believed Bryant was mistaken about the date (“April and the middle of May 2000”) or that she met with someone other than the 9/11 hijacker Atta.

    The point is that your original post misleads the reader by making it seem as if the 9/11 Commission made some definitive statement on the matter.

    BTW, I don’t think it’s very nice to suggest that someone’s a liar (Bryant) without stronger evidence than you have.

  15. #15 Meyrick Kirby
    August 4, 2005


    I suggest you read Bryant’s story from ABC. She claims to have met not only Mohamed Atta, but also Marwan Al-Shehhi (with Atta), Ahmed Alghamdi, and Fayez Rashid Ahmed Hassan Al Qadi Banihammad. So that would be four out of the nineteen hijackers looking for funds to buy amongst other things planes, and it just so happens that the 9/11 commission apparently don’t include any of this in their report.

  16. #16 Meyrick Kirby
    August 4, 2005


    I none of the items you noted about Atta are relevant to the 9/11 attacks other than background into Atta’s personality. Trying to buy planes is I would imagine far more relevant to the commissions work.

    P.S. Your link to Steyn evidence does not work.

  17. #17 Ian Gould
    August 4, 2005

    Have you ever entertained the possibility Atta entered the country on a false passport?

    So he entered the US sometime prior to April, 2001 under a false passport, left and came back within a few weeks later using his real passport?

    And while in the country illegally he used his own name to apply for a loan?

    It’s not completely impossible but it sounds highly unlikely.

  18. #18 The pessimist
    August 4, 2005


    You can’t rely on entry and exit data because it wasn’t reliable as everyone knows.

    The underlying point of this argument is what I find funny. Here we are arguing about dates to credit or discredit the wonan making these claim. However what I find amusing about this whole thing is the vast majority of people did not see the claim as outrageous. In other words multicultalism has reached the point where something like this is credible. Isn’t that incredible.

    Isn’t it incredible that two Christian clergyman criticising Islam have been sanctioned by a Victorian tribunnal under the religious vilification laws. Aren’t you a bit upset a Melbourne Islamic bookstore is selling junk which encourages the killing of non-muslims, which of course does not make it to the tribunal?

    You watched that ABC interview last night? Did you ask yourself, how the f…. was the creep allowed to get in here in the first place.

  19. #19 Ragout
    August 4, 2005


    Why leap to the most damning conclusion about the other loan-seeking hijackers, instead of the most charitable conclusion? For example, ABC may have misrepresented what Bryant said — it’s a paraphrase, not a quote. Or maybe Bryant did speak with a number of the 9/11 hijackers: they were conspiring together, after all.

  20. #20 Ragout
    August 4, 2005


    You’re right that this whole discussion is ignoring the substance of Steyn’s article. I blame Tim, for insisting on overly strong claims, rather than tackling Steyn head-on.

    But the substance is ridiculous. Steyn basically says that it’s obvious that the person Bryant met with was a terrorist, and that it must have been her “multiculturalism” that blinded her to this fact.

    But, it seems a lot more likely that it wasn’t so obvious at the time. Even in hindsight, Steyn has to invent facts to make it seem more evident that the loan-seeker was a terrorist (there was no death threat, and Bryant never pretended not to recognize her client). And even in hindsight, it isn’t clear that the person Bryant met with was a terrorist — it seems pretty doubtful that it was Atta, for example.

    And even if her customer’s terrorist plans were as obvious at the time as Steyn says they were in hindsight, I can think of a lot of things that might have blinded Bryant to that fact other than “multiculturalism.” Maybe she’s just a nice person.

  21. #21 Ian Gould
    August 4, 2005

    What I find incredible is that the erstwhile right-wing opponents of racial and religious villification laws are so eager for them to be used now.

    The Christian clergymen in question were given due process and a fair trial.

    I expect the owners of the Islamic bookshop in question to be given the same treatment – and if conivcted I expect them to be dealt with accordingly.

  22. #22 Tim Lambert
    August 5, 2005

    Here’s a transcript of Brayant’s interview: Part 1 Part 2

    Bryant says that Atta, after spelling out his name so that she wrote it down correctly told her he was in Al Qaeda and that Bin Laden “would someday be known as the world’s greatest leader”.

    This was after Clinton had bombed Al Qaeda’s bases in Afghanistan and tried to kill Bin Laden because of his terrrorist attacks.

    In other words, Atta supposedly identified himself as a terrorist to Bryant.

  23. #23 The pessimist
    August 5, 2005

    Funny you bring this up:
    “…… that Bin Laden “would someday be known as the world’s greatest leader”.

    There was an interview last night where a “Melbourne Islamic Figure” said almost the same thing. To paraphrase ” Bin Laden is a great man”.

    Atta was using the future tense because 911 hadn’t happened. This “gentleman” was using the present tense. Where is the indigation about last night’s interview?

    Let’s keep in mind that the first most of us ever heard of Al Quaeda was during the President’s state of the Union address in January 2002. Like most Americans Bryant would probably never had heard of Bin Laden or Al Quaeda at the time. Your argument just doesn’t cut it. Americans at the time weren’t even close to focusing on Terror threats.

  24. #24 James
    August 5, 2005

    Tim, I read the interview with Bryant that you linked to. The account is certainly bizarre, but at the same time it doesn’t sound like somebody “making up a crazy story”.

    Interesting is this news report published only two weeks after 9/11:,%202001_files/CA62FP56_files/000000082049155.html

    “[Robert Epling] said the loan officer recalled the incident after the FBI asked his bank last week to search its records for any signs of contact with [Mohamed Atta], particularly in connection with crop-dusting. The FBI also said that Atta had approached an area branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in person, for a loan. Epling said his bank shared a building with a branch office of the Agriculture Department.”

    Epling is the president of the Community Bank of Florida, and would have to be considerd a highly credible witness. Clearly Bryant had come forward with her testimony immediately after 9/11. Bryant and the bank were located in the same building. That’s a hell of a coincidence.

    Add to that evidence that the 9/11 terrorists had approached a crop-dusting service (reported in the same article), and Bryant’s account sounds a lot more credible.

  25. #25 Doug
    August 5, 2005

    But Pessimist, surely it beggars belief that Atta would identify himself with OBL and AQ in that way at that time. Wouldn’t he have known of the (then) fairly recent attacks by the US on AQ and OBL?

    And re the ‘great man’ description, I note that Mike Scheuer has also called OBL a ‘great man’, specifying that he’s referring to his impact on history, not saying he approves of him. As for the cleric, I think I saw the same interview and to be fair he did clarify by saying (If I understood aright) that OBL was great for what he did against Russia (and for Islam) in Afghanistan, and that he doesn’t believe OBL was involved with the 9/11 attack. (But remember, he’s a cleric, we don’t expect his beliefs to be grounded in reeality…)

    Finally, having read the Bryant story linked below (at no. 11) I really can’t see what it’s got to do with multiculturalism. What did it stop her doing? As you say yourself, ‘Americans at the time weren’t even close to focusing on Terror threats.’

  26. #26 James
    August 5, 2005

    Oh, and Bryant makes it clear in her interview that when Atta (?) talked about Bin Laden and Al Qaeda she had no idea what he was talking about.

    For what it’s worth, prior to 9/11, I’d no knowledge of Bin Laden and Al Qaeda either.

    Finally, you seem to assume that Atta was sane. I’m not sure that’s the way I’d characterise someone that hijacked an airliner full of passengers and deliberately flew it into skyscraper.

  27. #27 Tim Lambert
    August 5, 2005

    James, here is the key paragraph:

    The Florida bank president said Monday that one of his loan officers remembered getting a request by telephone for financing to buy a crop-duster or crop-dusting company. Robert Epling, president of Community Bank of Florida in Homestead, said the officer could not identify the caller as Atta, and that the caller never submitted a loan application.

    So there is no reason to think it was Atta. The FBI were clearly checking out Bryant’s story — I think that if it was true there would be much much more corroboration.

    You might not have heard of Bin Laden before 9/11, but he was already widely known and Atta would probably have expected most Americans to have heard of him.

  28. #28 The Pessimist
    August 5, 2005


    “Finally, you seem to assume that Atta was sane”

    In Doug’s world not only sane, but if you do something so outrageous as to kill people while dunking their Bagels in the coffee for breakfast, you could be considered a great man.
    Funnily enough this takes us the full circle back to what Steyn was talking about. Values and uncertaintly caused by relativism makes us unsure of absolutes.

  29. #29 Ian Gould
    August 5, 2005

    For what it’s worth, prior to 9/11, I’d no knowledge of Bin Laden and Al Qaeda either.

    what you missed the Cole bombing, the East African embassy bombings, the bombing of the apartment block in Saudi Arabia housing US troops AND the massive attmept over a period of months by Fox News amd the Republicans to paint Clinton as a blood-crazed murderer for bombing Sudan in an attempt to get them to extradite him?

  30. #30 James
    August 5, 2005

    OK, I’d like to ask Tim & Ian if they were aware of OBL prior to the 9/11 attack? If you say “yes”, that’s fine, but I consider myself reasonably well informed, and I wasn’t.

    A profile of John O’Neill, once the FBI’s counter-terrorism chief, appeared in the New Yorker in 2002. For years he was warning whoever would listen about OBL and Al Queda, but was brushed aside. Eventually he quit. Ironically (tragically?) he took the position of Security Director at the WTC, and was killed in the 9/11 attacks.

  31. #31 The Pessimist
    August 5, 2005

    Are you making this up as you go along?

    Sudan offered Clinton’s crew OBL and he turned them down because of opinion offered by his legal advisors.

  32. #32 Tim Lambert
    August 5, 2005

    James. Yes I was aware of OBL. Here are some extracts from Clinton’s speech in 1998, less than two years before Atta supposedly visited Bryant (my emphasis).

    I want to speak with you about the objective of this action and why it was necessary. Our target was terror. Our mission was clear ? to strike at the network of radical groups affiliated with and funded by Osama bin Laden, perhaps the preeminent organizer and financier of international terrorism in the world today.

    The groups associated with him come from diverse places, but share a hatred for democracy, a fanatical glorification of violence, and a horrible distortion of their religion to justify the murder of innocents. They have made the United States their adversary precisely because of what we stand for and what we stand against.

    A few months ago, and again this week, bin Laden publicly vowed to wage a terrorist war against America, saying ? and I quote ? “We do not differentiate between those dressed in military uniforms and civilians. They’re all targets. Their mission is murder and their history is bloody.”

    In recent years, they killed American, Belgian and Pakistani peacekeepers in Somalia. They plotted to assassinate the President of Egypt and the Pope. They planned to bomb six United States 747s over the Pacific. They bombed the Egyptian embassy in Pakistan. They gunned down German tourists in Egypt.

    The most recent terrorist events are fresh in our memory. Two weeks ago, 12 Americans and nearly 300 Kenyans and Tanzanians lost their lives, and another 5,000 were wounded when our embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam were bombed. There is convincing information from our intelligence community that the bin Laden terrorist network was responsible for these bombings.

    Based on this information, we have high confidence that these bombings were planned, financed, and carried out by the organization bin Laden leads.

    But there have been, and will be, times when law enforcement and diplomatic tools are simply not enough, when our very national security is challenged, and when we must take extraordinary steps to protect the safety of our citizens. With compelling evidence that the bin Laden network of terrorist groups was planning to mount further attacks against Americans and other freedom-loving people, I decided America must act.

    And so, this morning, based on the unanimous recommendation of my national security team, I ordered our Armed Forces to take action to counter an immediate threat from the bin Laden network. Earlier today, the United States carried out simultaneous strikes against terrorist facilities and infrastructure in Afghanistan. Our forces targeted one of the most active terrorist bases in the world. It contained key elements of the bin Laden network’s infrastructure and has served as a training camp for literally thousands of terrorists from around the globe. We have reason to believe that a gathering of key terrorist leaders was to take place there today, thus underscoring the urgency of our actions.

    Our forces also attacked a factory in Sudan associated with the bin Laden network. The factory was involved in the production of materials for chemical weapons.

  33. #33 Ian Gould
    August 5, 2005

    Pessimist, no I’m not “making this up as I go along – but then my sources of information aren’t limited to parrotting Fox News talking points.

  34. #34 Ian Gould
    August 5, 2005


    On 26 June 2001 I wrote about the need to get the Taliban to hand over Bin Laden:

    In May 2001 I referred to reports that Bin Laden was supporting Islamists in Xinjiang

    The Guardian and Australian Broadcasting Commission was reporting Bin Laden as the likely perpetrator of 9/11 as early as September 13 (Australian time – that’s 9/12 US time).

    The story in question is no longer on the ABC server but I archived bits of it here:

    The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is drawing
    up an emergency plan for a possible massive attack on
    Afghanistan if evidence emerges that Osama bin Laden
    and his network were responsible for the attacks on New
    York and Washington, Britain’s Guardian newspaper said.

  35. #35 The Pessimist
    August 5, 2005

    Which was after we all found out that the…..errr… comment, “I never had sex with that woman” wasn’t exactly true.
    Even the NY Times was asking whether his actions were to change the topic of conversation in the country (not just Republicans). Rumours that Monica could remember certain … errr distinguishing features on a particular presidential body part was taking more front page real estate than anything else.

    The problem with that speech, which I now recall very well, was at the height of Monica gate. Tragically, he returned from Martha’s Vinyard that day so he could sit in the oval office and look Presidential. Unfortunately no one could bear the sight of him after what he had done- Dem or GOP.

    The problem with that speech was that the actions never gained traction especially when the world found out the factory in Sudan was in fact supposed to be producing aspirins. It quickly started to be compared to a movie called( can’t remember) about a president who attacked a small country to redirect focus. The unfortunate part of history is that if you place an ever sexed, over-aged teenager in the oval office people tend to not take you seriously.

    Funny thing isn’t Tim. You had to look that speech up. Can anyone ever remember anything Clinton said that was memorable other than the “the era of big government is over”?

    The problem was not just Clinton wearing blinkers. The problem was that there was absolutely constituency for overseas adventures during those Clinton years. Zilch.

    People were far more concerned trying to figure out what had happened to their tech stocks for the day’s trading. In other words no one gave a hoot about some clown sitting in the mountains in Afghanistan when WorldCom had gone up another $5 bucks for the day.

    Back to Byrant.
    I read the interview and watched it as well. The thing which struck me the most about her was…. Well we can say it. The thing that struck me was she sounded like she needed rehab just to learn how to tie her show laces. This is not a person who is going to win a Nobel Prize for Math. I really dounbt whether she could put together a story like that.

  36. #36 Meyrick Kirby
    August 5, 2005


    ABC may have misrepresented what Bryant said ? it’s a paraphrase, not a quote

    In that case why has Bryant not asked for this mistake to be corrected?

    Or maybe Bryant did speak with a number of the 9/11 hijackers: they were conspiring together, after all.

    In which case why did this not get mentioned in the 9/11 commission’s report?

  37. #37 The Pessimist
    August 5, 2005

    The 911 report refers to the Sudanese offering OBL to the Saudis. American Intelligence did nothing, although they were aware of the Sudanese offer. This isn’t exactly Fox News.
    This happened in 1996 or there abouts. Go read it in the report.

  38. #38 Ian Gould
    August 5, 2005

    Actually, the report says that the US tried to get Saudi Arabia to accept Sudan’s offer to extradite Bin Laden but the Saudis refused.

    See page 109-110

    In late 1995, when Bin Ladin was still in Sudan, the State Department and the CIA learned that Sudanese officials were discussing with the Saudi gov
    ernment the possibility of expelling Bin Ladin. U.S.Ambassador Timothy Carney encouraged the Sudanese to pursue this course.The Saudis, however, did not want Bin Ladin, giving as their reason their revocation of his citizenship.

    Sudan’s minister of defense, Fatih Erwa, has claimed that Sudan offered to hand Bin Ladin over to the United States.The Commission has found no credible
    evidence that this was so…

  39. #39 The Pessimist
    August 5, 2005

    Read your last para. Then put it together with this:

    Sandy Berger (clinton Security Advisor) was caught stuffing classified security documents down the front of his pants when he was shown classified 911 Commission papers. He wasn’t using the papers as substitute for toilet paper.

    I’ll go with the Sudanese on this one. Even the NY Times reported on this indictment. It’s hysterical.

  40. #40 Ian Gould
    August 5, 2005

    “I’ll go with the Sudanese on this one.”

    And with that you lose any remaining shred of credibility you may have had.

  41. #41 Eli Rabett
    August 5, 2005

    Re #23: I must say that a number of people have not been paying attention. Bin Laden’s name was in common use in the 90s, especially with respect to the bombings of US embassies in East Africa and the US Cole. One could go on at length to earlier and later instances.

  42. #42 The pessimist
    August 5, 2005

    Leaving aside Berger stole classified documents from the 911 Commission (by stuffing them into the front of his pants), which were apparently docuements pertaining to the very issue of Bin Laden and Sundan’s role in “donating” the pig to some other country. Leaving all that aside.

    Go read the report again and ask yourself this.
    If the US really wanted to get Bin Laden could they have? Wouldn’t there have been endless ways in doing so? Haven’t US authorities in the past forced airline diversions when trying to catch tax fraudsters? They have! Are you seriously saying the US could not have taken Bin Laden into custody when the Sudanese were offering him out on a plate?

    And I am the one without credibility? The problem as I see it is that you place ideology before reality.

    Isn’t it ironic that you explicitly criticise Fox news. Meanwhile the reason this thread came about was because of Media Watch’s sordid attempt at nailing Steyn. This is the same program which ignores a left wing writer in the Murdoch press- a savage plagarizer. Does the name Adams suggest anything to you?

  43. #43 djotefsoup
    August 6, 2005

    Some people won’t let a bad conspiracy theory go. We’re referring to those who loudly assert that former NSC adviser Sandy Berger was trying to protect the Clinton Administration when he illegally removed copies of sensitive documents from the National Archives in late 2003.

    On Wednesday, we quoted Justice Department prosecutor Noel Hillman that no original documents were destroyed, and that the contents of all five at issue still exist and were made available to the 9/11 Commission. But that point didn’t register with some readers, who continue to suggest a vast, well, apparently a vast left- and right-wing conspiracy.

  44. #44 Ian Gould
    August 6, 2005


    I’m saying that the only Sudanese offer on the table was to hand him over to the Saudis provided they gave him a full pardon.

    Are you suggesting that the US should have matched that offer?

    Your increasingly desperate attempts to deflect this discussion from Steyn’s credulity are almost amusing.

    “Byrant looks mentally disturbed, this adds to her credibility because she probably lacks the capacity to make a story up.”

    “I prefer the word of corrupt mass-murdering Islamic fundamentalists in Khartoum speaking in the media to the results of a multi-year bipartisan investigation by the US Senate.”

  45. #45 The pessimist
    August 7, 2005

    Are you seriously arguing that it would have not been possible for the US to have got its paws on the pig a this time? (No offense to pigs as I find it hard to write his name sometimes). Is that what you arte saying?

  46. #46 z
    August 7, 2005

    Unlike some, the Clinton administration realized that abiding by international law is a higher priority than getting your way in one particular case, no matter how significant; and that losing the support of the world and setting a precedent that any government can just hijack anybody anywhere without an actual criminal charge is the kind of thing that comes back to bite you.

    And as for getting him if they wanted; they managed to hit his convoy with a missile, but missed the vehicle he was traveling in. That comes closer to “getting him” than the current effort has. Do you think that in the midst of this effort costing trillions of dollars, 1800 American lives, and God knows how many foreigners (they don’t count, and we don’t count them) the Bush administration could have gotten bin Laden, if they really wanted to?

  47. #47 The Pessimist
    August 7, 2005

    Isn’t that just dandy. I had forgotten criminal: pigs like obl have rights too. Like the right to fly uninterupted to another locale where you can set up a terrorist boot camp. Just what “international law” are you referring to that allows that? Would you mind directing us to that “law”.

    Just as importantly is see you argue that lobbing a few missiles at his convoy is quite ok – in the sense that it doesn’t break “international law”, but interdicting a plane load of murderous goons will get you in front of an “international law judge”.

    Z, you and Ian are making this up as you go along. This is amusing.

  48. #48 Meyrick Kirby
    August 8, 2005


    So far, judging by a quick look down this page, you have not provided any working links to evidence, so I’d be careful about accusations of “making this up”.

  49. #49 z
    August 8, 2005

    Well, you have two basic tactics regarding bad guys; you can arrest and punish them after they’ve done something wrong, or you can arrest and punish them before they do anything wrong. While the latter option has its advantages, in the absence of reliable evidence (outside of mediocre Tom Cruise sf movies), free societies have traditionally chosen the former path while totalitarian societies have chosen the latter. With that in mind, let’s go to the tape:

    1993: Clinton proposes anti-terrorism legislation, voted down by Republicans.

    April 19, 1995: Timothy McVeigh blows up Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

    1995: Clinton again proposes anti-terrorism legislation, again voted down by Republicans. The legislation was “an unwarranted assault on Americans’ rights and privacy”, said Senator John Ashcroft, of all people.

    Feb. 1996: Sudan offers to extradite bin Laden to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia wants nothing to do with the plan.
    “At the time, ’96, he had committed no crime against America so I did not bring him here because we had no basis on which to hold him, though we knew he wanted to commit crimes against America.”
    Bill Clinton

    “If you look, beginning in 1996, in his last four years in office, President Clinton gave about 40 speeches where he mentioned terrorism, five speeches that were devoted just to terrorism. He did a lot, but, frankly, if you look at the media play on those speeches, the media didn’t pick up those speeches. When he made a speech on terrorism, it wasn’t on the front page, it wasn’t on CNN.”
    Richard Clarke

    June, 1998: A federal grand jury indicts bin Laden on terrorist conspiracy charges, based on the testimony of a defector, Jamal Ahmed al-Fadl

    1998: Central Intelligence Agency secretly sends teams to northern Afghanistan to persuade Ahmed Shah Massoud to go after bin Laden. Clinton invokes emergency economic powers against bin Laden and Al Qaeda, freezing assets of any individuals or institutions working with or assisting them.

    August 7, 1998: al Qaeda bombs US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya

    August 20, 1998: US missile strikes on al Qaeda camp, one hour after bin Laden suddenly decides to leave; kills 20-30 al Qaeda.

    August 20, 1998, 8 PM EST: CNN, ABC, CBS, FNC and NBC report on missile strike; each network speculates on whether it was “Wag the Dog” scenario to draw attention away from Lewinsky; every network but ABC features soundbite from Republican Senator Dan Coats “I think we fear that we may have a President that is desperately seeking to hold onto his job”; CBS runs soundbite from Republican Senator Arlen Specter echoing Coats. All networks except CNN end with Lewinsky news.

    “[The Clinton administration was] correctly focused on bin Laden.”
    Paul Bremer, ambassador for counter-terrorism in the Reagan State Department, chair of the Congressional National Commission on

    “Overall, I give [the Clinton administration] very high marks [on counter-terrorism].”
    Robert Oakley, also ambassador for counter-terrorism in the Reagan State Department

    “The Clinton administration was ‘obsessed’ with bin Laden”
    report of the 9/11 Commission

    Ashcroft “largely uninterested in counter-terrorism issues before Sept. 11 despite intelligence warnings that summer that Al Qaeda was planning a large, perhaps catastrophic, terrorist attack”
    report of the 9/11 Commission

    August 6, 2001: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike Within US”
    Title of briefing paper given to Bush before he went fishing.

    Sept. 11 2001: 9/11.

    September 11, 2001: “We will find these people… We will find those responsible and bring them to justice.”
    George W. Bush

    September 13, 2001: “The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him.”
    George W. Bush

    September 15, 2001: “We will find those who did it. We will smoke them out of their holes, we’ll get them running, and we’ll bring them to justice. … We will find them in their hiding places, and we’ll get them moving, and we’ll bring them to justice.”
    George W. Bush

    December 5, 2001: “And we will bring them to justice. We’ll bring them to justice in Afghanistan, and we’ll bring them to justice… And if it’s in our national security interests to bring people to justice … and at the same time, bring al Qaeda to justice. … they will be brought to justice. … they must be brought to justice.”
    George W. Bush

    December 28, 2001: “He will be brought to justice. … we’re going to get him running and keep him running, and bring him to justice.”
    George W. Bush

    January 24, 2002: “[We must] hunt down the killers and the terrorists wherever they try to hide and bring them to justice.”
    George W. Bush

    January 29, 2002: “First, we will shut down terrorist camps, disrupt terrorist plans and bring terrorists to justice.”
    George W. Bush

    February 4, 2002: “relentless in our pursuit of those who would harm America, those who hate freedom, and bring them to justice.”
    George W. Bush

    March 13, 2002: “I don’t know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don’t care. It’s not that important. It’s not our priority. I am truly not that concerned about him.”
    George W. Bush

    October 7, 2004: “America is safer today with Saddam Hussein in prison… he had the means and the intent to produce weapons of mass destruction”.
    George Bush

    Reminiscent of OJ’s never-ending quest for the real killers on every golf course in America, George Bush will continue to bomb Iraq until bin Laden is smoked out.

  50. #50 Ian Gould
    August 8, 2005

    My last post to this thread appears to have disappeared into the ether. Here’s a quick reprise:

    In 2001, the Bush administration had to resort to a full-scale war in an unsuccessful attempt to capture Bin Laden.

    I hope, Pessimist, that you are equally critical of that failure as of Clinton’s earlier failure.

    If Bin Laden hadn’t believed that there was a real and imminent threat of extradition he wouldn’t have fled Sudan.

    As to people making things up:

    The whole reason we’re debating Bin Laden’s whereabouts in the 1990’s is your attempt to deflect the discussion from your earlier absurd claims that no-one had heard of Bin Laden before 2001.

    Who was it who introduced Berger’s socks into the discussion?

    who was it who made false claims that the Sudanese offered to extradite Bin Laden to the US?

  51. #51 The pessimist
    August 8, 2005

    Don’t attempt to demonstrate argue the Clinton Administration was agressive in anti-terror activities because it wasn’t.
    In some ways Clinton policies weakened the the US. Jamie Gorelick who sat on the 911 Commission in certain ways exemplified what I mean. Her memo requesting domestic and foreign intelligence services not to talk to each other was probably the stupidest thing any administration could do.

    Both you and Ian seem to politicise anything you touch and “fit” facts whenever expedient.

    You argued that “International Law” would have been breached if the US interdicted the Bin Laden aircraft. I say crap.

    Ian accuses me of not sticking to the point but writes this in one of his posts:
    “What I find incredible is that the erstwhile right-wing opponents of racial and religious villification laws are so eager for them to be used now”.

    My comments are mostly a response to silly comments like this, or this:

    “Unlike some, the Clinton administration realized that abiding by international law is a higher priority than getting your way in one particular case, no matter how significant; and that losing the support of the world and setting a precedent that any government can just hijack anybody anywhere without an actual criminal charge is the kind of thing that comes back to bite you”.

    Talk about getting sidetracked.

    I maintain that both you and Ian just make up stufgf as you go along.

  52. #52 Ian Gould
    August 8, 2005

    Both you and Ian seem to politicise anything you touch and “fit” facts whenever expedient.

    This is a classic case of projection.

    You were the first person to inject partisan politics in this thread and have consistently made absurd or false claims to support your position.

  53. #53 The pessimist
    August 9, 2005

    I am projecting, meanwhile you are being even handed? Aren’t these your comments?

    “AND the massive attmept over a period of months by Fox News amd the Republicans to paint Clinton as a blood-crazed murderer for bombing Sudan in an attempt to get them to extradite him”.

    “In 2001, the Bush administration had to resort to a full-scale war in an unsuccessful attempt to capture Bin Laden”.

    “The Christian clergymen in question were given due process and a fair trial”.

    “but then my sources of information aren’t limited to parrotting Fox News talking points”.

    This is credible?

  54. #54 Ian Gould
    August 9, 2005
    1. Factually accurate – go back and look at the coverage.

    2. Factually accurate – or did I miss the capture of bin Laden?

    3. Factually accurate – or do you have proof their trials weren’t fair? Have you considered taking this info to the DPP?

    4. If you insist on repeating Fox News stories that have been discredited as fact I believe it is valid to assume that Fox News is your principal or only
      news source.

    Tell us again about how Bill Clinton could have arrested Bin Laden but chose to let him go and how the proof of this was stolen by Sandy Berger.

  55. #55 J F Beck
    August 9, 2005

    The 9/11 Commission also fails to mention that Atta and some of his hijacker mates were likely recognized as terror cell members prior to 9/11.


  56. #56 z
    August 9, 2005

    If “The 9/11 Commission also fails to mention” refers to the “scoop” in the Times today stemming from ace investigative Congressman Curt Weldon, the article states (twice) that the commission states that they did look into the allegation and found nothing there. And that Weldon has been floating this story since June; apparently nobody else has been able to find anything there either. Considering that Weldon has also granted us such astonishing discoveries as bin Laden’s hiding place in Tehran, well…..

  57. #57 J F Beck
    August 11, 2005

    According to the Guardian:

    The Sept. 11 commission knew military intelligence officials had identified lead hijacker Mohamed Atta as a member of al-Qaida who might be part of U.S.-based terror cell more than a year before the terror attacks but decided not to include that in its final report, a spokesman acknowledged Thursday.

    Al Felzenberg, spokesman for the commission’s follow-up project called the 9/11 Public Discourse Project, had said earlier this week that the panel was unaware of intelligence specifically naming Atta. But he said subsequent information provided Wednesday confirmed that the commission had been aware of the intelligence.

    The information did not make it into the final report because it was not consistent with what the commission about Atta’s whereabouts before the attacks, Felzenberg said.


  58. #59 Dave S.
    August 13, 2005

    “Pessimist, no I’m not “making this up as I go along – but then my sources of information aren’t limited to parrotting Fox News talking points.”

    You know that idea that you lose an internet argument when you compare your opponent to Nazis? There should be a corollary – “You lose an internet argument when you state that your opponent gets all of his news from Fox News.”

    BTW, here are some famous journalists from prestigious, non-Fox organizations: Janet Cooke (Washington Post), Jayson Blair (New York Times), Stephen Glass (The New Republic).

    People who get their news from television – any network – are not getting news. Having said that, all media organizations get stories wrong. I’m hard-pressed, though, to think of a Fox reporter who has spun them from whole cloth.

  59. #60 Ian Gould
    August 13, 2005

    David S.,

    You would have point if I dismissed any and all right-wing views by accusing people of “par rotting Fox news”.

    I don’t – see my lengthy discussions elsewhere on this side with a number of people on the right regarding gun control, the Iraq War and global warming.

    In this specific instance, Pessimist was making a specific claim – that Clinton was offered Bin Laden by the Sudanese and turned the offer down. Virtually the ONLY news sources which have made this claim to the best of my knowledge are Fox News and NewsMax.

    The article I cited rebuts the claims and also shows that Fox News has made those claims repeatedly.

    If your discussing Germany in the 1930’s, discussing Nazism is appropriate and indeed essential.

    If you are discussing an issue with someone who’s sole source of information on that issue appears to be Fox News then it is appropriate to point that out.

  60. #61 Tim Lambert
    August 13, 2005

    Look at the 9/11 commision’s press release on the allegations that there was intelligence that Atta was in the US before June 2000. There was no written report naming Atta. Someone claimed that he had remembered seeing his name in a report but that it had been deleted. This may in fact be an even less credible story than Bryant’s.

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