California’s blackouts, California’s terrorists


Reading the White House web site ( is a lesson in history, especially for the early months of 2001. Sometimes it does look as though the Bush administration was directed by evil stars, before 9/11, to do everything richly wrong.


Take one day in history, May 3, 2001. On that date, we find “Remarks by the President, Secretary of Energy Abraham and Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz After Energy Advisors Meeting” in the Roosevelt Room:


It’s almost funny:

“This administration is deeply concerned about California and its citizens. We’re worried about blackouts that may occur this summer. And we want to be a part of any solutions. Since I became sworn-in [sic], we’ve been working with the state of California to provide regulatory relief to encourage an increase in the amount of supplies available for the consumers in that state.”


Obviously, any remarks by GWBush addressing energy problems in California then, given what we now know about Enron manipulations at the time, tend to arouse sardonic humor. Steps proposed were modest, aside from the deregulation: 


First, “Today, I am instructing all agencies, federal agencies, to reduce their peak hour electricity use in the state of California. And the Secretary of Energy will be traveling to the state today to consult with the governor of the state of California, as well as work with our respective agencies in that state.” [Reducing peak hour use is a good idea, especially if you couple it with flex time for government employees. But why did Secretary Abraham have to waste jet fuel by traveling to California personally, rather than coordinate by videoconference call from DC?]  


“Secondly, I am pleased to report that the Secretary of Defense, after a careful review, believes that this Department, which has got a large presence in the state of California, can reduce peak hour usage by 10 percent — and can do so without harming military readiness.” [Paul Wolfowitz goes on to explain that the DoD uses one percent of California’s peak energy load, so a 10% reduction in DoD use would presumably reduce peak use 1% over-all, in California. This reduction seems not to have occurred.]


In the White House press briefing the same day, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer was on message with the same proposal:


In line with White House energy concerns on May 3, the GOP-led House of Representatives held a hearing on “Geothermal Resources on Public Lands,” one of a series of GOP-instigated attempts to move public opinion in favor of drilling in national parks and other federal land.

[So far as is known, Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park has not yet been harnessed for steam energy.]


A few items of information, for context:

May 3 is also the date of a transcript from the ongoing federal terrorism trial, in New York:

On this particular trial date, in the US Court for the Southern District of New York (New York, NY, Honorable Leonard B. Sand, District Judge, presiding), one finds the prosecutors reviewing statements by terrorist suspect Wadih El Hage, about when he became aware of Usama bin Laden’s declaration “that America should be attacked.”  Throughout the early months of 2001, during which time the Bush administration including Bush, Cheney, and Condoleezza Rice have repeatedly said they had no idea blahblahblah, federal servants were combing over defendants from the bombing of the World Trade Center influenced by UBL’s fatwa against America, in federal court in New York City. No wonder New Yorkers have doubts about Bush.


Also on May 3, the CIA sent a Senior Executive Intelligence Brief (SEIB) around to the top people in the Bush administration: title: “Bin Ladin Public Profile May Presage Attack.” (


Meanwhile, in other action that month — May 2001 — the administration introduced the “Visa Express” program in Saudi Arabia, allowing any Saudi Arabian to obtain visas for entry into the US through a travel agent rather than through a US consulate. 


Also on May 3, Bush appointed one of the administration’s remaining counter-terrorism experts as Ambassador to Yemen:


Also on that date, by coincidence, Tennessee’s GOP governor, Don Sundquist, “signed SB 1266 authorizing a person without a social security number to receive a driver’s license if the person submits an affidavit affirming that they have never been issued a social security number. The act further allows noncitizens to be given a driver’s license if they provide proper documents demonstrating identification.”

[It is hard not to notice the almost magically poor judgment so often exercised by GOP officeholders when it comes to genuine public health and public safety issues. They tend to be Johnny-on-the-spot about awarding big corporate contracts, though.]


May 3, 2001, seems to have been a busy day for misfeasance.

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