Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Alternate History

Following links around, I discovered this. It's a review of a book written in another universe where George W. Bush did as many seem to want him to have done and arrested 20 young Arab men on the morning of September 11, 2001. Strangely enough, things didn't go well for him there either:
Like Watergate, “Saudigate” (a wince-making name but the one that has stuck) began with a small, attention-grabbing event. On the morning of September 11, 2001, FBI agents arrested 19 young Arab men, almost all citizens of Saudi Arabia, as they boarded four domestic airline flights. The Saudi government naturally protested, and Attorney General John Ashcroft responded by publicly making an astonishing accusation: that the 19 had intended to hijack the airplanes and crash them into the White House, the Pentagon and the two main towers of the World Trade Center. This plot, more like a Tom Clancy novel than a real world occurrence, had supposedly been set in motion by Osama bin-Laden, a Saudi businessman living in exile in Afghanistan who called himself the leader of a shadowy, and probably shadow-thin, network of religious fanatics. Ashcroft dubbed the group“al-Qa’eda” (“the Foundation”), a name that some of those involved may have used but that is more firmly linked, as Blumenthal notes in one of many enlightening asides, to the science fiction novels of Isaac Asimov. The SF resonance evidently appealed to the White House aides who were primarily responsible for manufacturing a “crisis” to shore up a tottering administration. Blumenthal credits the idea to a second-level speech writer named David Frum, a Canadian import whose wife is a best selling novelist.
Impeachment comes up, too.

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