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After the Golden Age by Alvin Schwartz
Giving a glimpse into the formative years of comics and beyond.

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AFTER THE GOLDEN AGE for 10/27/2003
Volume 2, #99

Bush's Biggest Fiasco

In my last column, I had been sitting with Clark at the Sixth Avenue Cafeteria, and the year was 1946. We had finished our discussion and I was about to get to my feet when Clark stopped me. He had a strange expression on his face. "Before you take off for your own time, I think there's something you ought to know, right now." And before I could answer, he seemed to grow blurred, the space he occupied in my vision was suddenly bounded by a periphery of flashes and flickering lights that reminded me of how the aurora borealis sometimes appears in northern climates. And then, he was back again, but he had a newspaper in his hand. He thrust it across the table to me. I looked down at it. It was a copy of The New York Times, dated Sunday October 26, 2003.

"Hey, that's my time. Why did you bring me THIS?"

"I was getting worried. You look at the headline and then tell me,"why is it that nobody seems to be paying any attention. Except maybe your friend, Arnold Drake, who's been trying to make a fuss. But nobody's listening to him either. Go ahead, read it."

"Last year, the White House confirmed news reports that President Bush received a written intelligence report in August 2001, the month before the attacks, that Al Qaeda might try to hijack American passenger planes."

I read and well, I goggled. "According to this, Bush knew in advance that the Al Queda attacks were coming. Is that possible?"

"Read some more," Supes said.

So I did, scanning down the rest of the page.

October 26, 2003

9/11 Commission Could Subpoena Oval Office Files

MADISON, N.J., Oct. 25, The chairman of the federal commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks says that the White House is continuing to withhold several highly classified intelligence documents from the panel and that he is prepared to subpoena the documents if they are not turned over within weeks.

The chairman, Thomas H. Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, also said in an interview on Friday that he believed the bipartisan 10-member commission would soon be forced to issue subpoenas to other executive branch agencies because of continuing delays by the Bush administration in providing documents and other evidence needed by the panel. "Any document that has to do with this investigation cannot be beyond our reach," Mr. Kean said on Friday in his first explicit public warning to the White House that it risked a subpoena and a politically damaging courtroom showdown with the commission over access to the documents, including Oval Office intelligence reports that reached President Bush's desk in the weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks.

"I will not stand for it," Mr. Kean said in the interview in his offices here at Drew University, where he has been president since 1990.

"That means that we will use every tool at our command to get hold of every document." He said that while he had not directly threatened a subpoena in his recent conversations with the White House legal counsel, Alberto R. Gonzales,"it's always on the table, because they know that Congress in their wisdom gave us the power to subpoena, to use it if necessary."

A White House spokeswoman, Ashley Snee, said that the White House believed it was being fully cooperative with the commission, which is known formally as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. She said that it hoped to meet all of the panel's demands for documents.

Mr. Kean suggested that he understood the concerns of the White House about the sensitivity of the documents at issue, saying that they were the sort of Oval Office intelligence reports that were so sensitive and highly classified that they had never been provided to Congress or to other outside investigators.

"These are documents that only two or three people would normally have access to," he said. "To make those available to an outside group is something that no other president has done in our history.

"But I've argued very strongly with the White House that we are unique, that we are not the Congress, that these arguments about presidential privilege do not apply in the case of our commission," he said.

"Anything that has to do with 9/11, we have to see it, anything. There are a lot of theories about 9/11, and as long as there is any document out there that bears on any of those theories, we're going to leave questions unanswered. And we cannot leave questions unanswered."

While Mr. Kean said he was barred by an agreement with the White House from describing the Oval Office documents at issue in any detail, he said the White House was "quite nervous" about any public hint at their contents, other commission officials said they included the detailed daily intelligence reports that were provided to Mr. Bush in the weeks leading up to Sept. 11. The reports are known within the White House as the Presidential Daily Briefing.

Despite the threat of a subpoena and his warning of the possibility of a court battle over the documents, Mr. Kean said he maintained a good relationship with Mr. Gonzales and others at the White House, and that he was still hopeful that the White House would produce all of the classified material demanded by the panel without a subpoena.

"We've been very successful in getting a lot of materials that I don't think anybody has ever seen before," he said of his earlier dealings with the White House. "Within the legal constraints that they seem to have, they've been fully cooperative. But we're not going to be satisfied until we get every document that we need."

Last year, the White House confirmed news reports that President Bush received a written intelligence report in August 2001, the month before the attacks, that Al Qaeda might try to hijack American passenger planes. (NY Times Sunday Oct 26, 2003)

"Oh my God," I exclaimed. "Bush knew! And now, he's trying to cover up anyone finding out that he knew. He's trying to sweep it all under the rug! How can he possibly get away with it?"

Clark told me to sit down and listen. "What all you 21st century Americans don't seem to realize is that an American revolution has taken place. A gang of wealthy, high rolling industrialists went out and snagged W as the perfect candidate for their great scheme. Because he had the Bush name, it didn't matter that he didn't know how to utter a sentence more than five words long. It didn't matter that he had the brains of a chipmunk. In fact, that was an advantage. He could the more easily be manipulated and trained. And better yet, he had recently swallowed some fundamentalist version of the bible and his mind, such as it was, was seething with images of devils and supernatural evils. On top of all that, if he didn't know anything, how come he's been stonewalling the commission and will continue to do so for as long as we let him get away with it? Part of the problem is that some of the best people in the country just can't let themselves believe that this has really happened. That the conspiracy went so deep it involved the Supreme Court. Because Americans have such childish faith in the permanent security and rightness of their country, all that plays its part."

"But," I protested. "If Bush really knew what was coming down, why didn't he do something?"

"Are you forgetting what happened? He wasn't there! Cheney moved him out of the way. Got him way up and out in the sky in that Presidential aircraft, before he could start asking too many questions. Figure it this way. Bush himself is not the villain of the piece. He's kind of the fall guy. Can't you just see it happening? He gets this word that these bad guys are going to attack American passenger planes, and he justs sits there and goggles, maybe even saying to himself, something like: "Garsh, this sounds bad. Garsh, what am I supposed to do? Garsh, there must be some mistake. But, mm, maybe I better get Cheney on the phone and ask him what's coming down here and maybe," But by then, Cheney himself is on the phone and telling Bushy that these guys are after him and he better hightail it out to AirForce One and stay up high in the sky until all the smart guys on the staff get a handle on it to make sure Bushy winds up safe and sound. That's what I think, or some version of that. For the love of pete, man, don't you remember all that?"

I sat back, embarrassed, angry, even a little frightened. "Yes, I do remember now."

Clark sat there staring at me. "So now it's staring you in the face. What are YOU going to do?"

"Me? I'm an old man, pal. And I only have a small voice. I've already been using my column to make noises about the Iraq war and how we got stiffed into that."

"Then keep doing it. Get your readers to take up the cry. It's gotten way past the point of protocol or politeness. The nation is on the skis, all over the world. This president has to be impeached!

"You really think so?"

"We've got to try," Clark said. "Or,"

"There'll be hell to pay," I admitted.

Okay, here I am back. And I'm passing the word on. You've all got to do as much. Everyone of you. Starting now. Find ways of getting the word out. Raise up a big hue and cry. And make sure you let everyone of those milk-fed democrats who didn't vote against the war in Iraq that there's no place for any one of them in the upcoming presidential race. And don't forget, the conspiracy that put Bush up there had a lot of goals, such as robbing your schools of funds; freeing themselves from the taxes that our states need to operate. Oh, it's such a long list! But you don't need me to tell you that we're rushing slam-bang into a depression. Remember the Alamo, and Enron and Halliburton and Bechtel.

<< 10/13/2003 | 10/27/2003 | 11/03/2003 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Round Table.

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