What did he know and when did he know it are perennial questions given new life by the recent revelations about intelligence reports to George W. Bush, the Resident, the Shrub-man, Juniorness personified, prior to last Sept. 11. But these may not be the right questions.

I have no problem believing that Bush didn’t know enough details about the terrorist attacks in advance to prevent them – I go along with the scientific principle that the simplest, most logical explanations are most likely to be true – that we don’t need to look for complicated explanations when straightforward ones will do. I believe Bush’s PR flaks when they say he didn’t know enough to prevent the Sept. 11 tragedy. After all, there is obviously so much he doesn’t know about virtually every subject.

But there was clearly enough intelligence for him to figure out that SOMETHING big would happen soon. I think the right question is this: what did he do with that knowledge?

Maybe what he did was prepare a plan to politically use the attack he knew was coming. Maybe he and his advisors (read: controllers) met to map out a strategy to use the threat of terrorism to pass the elements of their policies that were, prior to Sept. 11, going down to defeat.

It was eerie how quickly the Bush administration moved onto the offensive, offensive in all meanings of the word. He and his minions seemed to understand very quickly, almost instantaneously, that the political atmosphere had shifted so dramatically that repressive legislation and anti-democratic regulations and decisions could be crammed through with indecent speed.

Given Bush’s generally bumbling style and sloppy strategic thinking (as in, “we have to teach them the strategy of you’re either with us or against us”), the rapidity and slickness of the switch, maybe it wasn’t made up on the spot, but rather was a well-prepared program.

His Holy Self-Righteousness, Mr. Dubya himself, now wants to take us back to those days right after the tragedy, when he had a free hand and a blank check. He wants to make us all feel the fear and uncertainty of those days, when he was able for the first time to go on the offensive with almost guaranteed success.

But we know he knew there was some kind of attack coming, and we know that his administration was able to cynically take advantage of and compound that tragedy, so it is not hard to imagine that, learning from history, his advisors told him, “This is great – we get to have a Reichstag Fire and we don’t even have to plan it ourselves, we just have to be ready to move whenever it happens.”

Marc Brodine is the chair of the Washington State Communist Party. He can be reached at marcbrodine@attbi.com