McConnell Gives Misleading Talk
Admiral Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, spoke at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore yesterday and his office emailed me the transcript. The talk was misleading in places — more on that in a subsequent post — but McConnell showed a combative streak. First, he uncharitably kept demanding his polite interlocutor get an exact quotation of a dissenting footnote in the latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iran. And then he revealed himself to be a jerk:
DR. STEVEN DAVID: Why hadn’t the United States been attacked in a major way by a terrorist group since 9/11 in your opinion? Is it capabilities or willingness?
Just to expand a bit, it would seem to me that capabilities are not that difficult. We had the Washington sniper here a few years ago, we had two jerks in a car terrorizing the whole region. Why can’t al-Qaida recruit several people, shoot up shopping malls, blow up busses, and what not, terrorize the region? Or are they waiting to do something bigger? Or is it that the intelligence agencies are simply depriving them of the capability of even these lower level kinds of threats? Why have we been safe since 9/11?
DIRECTOR McCONNELL: I’m a little bit surprised at the question. You ask the question as if you’re disappointed that we weren’t attacked.
DR. DAVID: No.
DIRECTOR McCONNELL: I’m glad we’re saying we haven’t been attacked.
Maybe something is lost in transcription here — a chipper tone of voice or a cheeky expression or something to indicate that McConnell, a man who can spy on Steven David if he feels like it (has David made any calls or sent any emails to countries with incidents of terrorist activity recently?), isn’t really saying that David is an al-Qaeda sympathizer. Because that would be disgraceful and McConnell would need to step down in shame.