Let's do a moment of follow-up about the president's reaction to the August 6th, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief.
'How did the president react?' and 'What did he do?' have been the chief reactions swirling around this story. So let's look back at the AP story from the day in question.
According to the story, the president went out for the morning 4 mile run before 8 AM. He came back, washed up, and went to meet aides for a foreign policy briefing.
"With sunlight pouring in through a floor-to-ceiling living room window," said the Associated Press, "Bush met with deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin, national security aide Steve Biegun and spokesman Scott McClellan for about 45 minutes. They took a call from National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, discussing peace efforts in Macedonia."
After that, the president headed off to work on a nature walk on the ranch.
Now, there's been some questioning as to whether the president himself ever actually read the PDB at all. According to an article in Salon last week, the president usually does not read his PDBs himself but rather has them summarized for him by George Tenet.
Tenet of course did not do the briefing that morning since Bush was on vacation in Texas. Rather, it was delivered by the number three person at the NSC, Biegun, who was the president's chief foreign policy advisor on hand. It doesn't seem to be a great stretch that Biegun would have summarized the brief just as Tenet normally did. But of course we don't know.
Now, there's another wrinkle to the story. The president arrived two days before the briefing noted above -- on August 4th. That was a Saturday. And the Monday briefing seems to have been the first after he arrived.
In addition to this, Biegun had only been on the job for about six weeks at the time. So it seems likely that this was the first time he had ever briefed the president. And that makes me wonder even more about just how the briefing was conducted.
So, what do we have? The fact that the meeting lasted less than an hour -- and also included discussion of another major issue, Macedonia -- tells us, I think, that the document generated little if any serious discussion.
But look who was also there: Scott McClellan, the president's current press secretary. The press gets a crack at him every day. Sure, he probably won't answer on principle. But he's one of only four people there that day. He was there. Why not ask him?