The White House has revealed why President George W. Bush failed to act on the August 2001 memo warning of possible attacks by Al Qaeda: it simply contained too many long words.
"Clandestine - what kind of a damn fool word is that?" the president is reported to have said when the briefing landed on his desk. "Isn't Clandestine where that Arafat fella lives?"
"Millennium - now I know that word! That means rich folks. My daddy's a millenniumaire!"
"Surveilled? SURVEILLED? Is that a French word? Dang it, I didn't lose the last election so I'd have to sit and read French!"
"Terrorism... that's when folks go on holiday, right? Why ARE we letting all these tourists come into our country, anyway?
A source close to the White House commented last night: "The fact is, that memo contained a lot of long words. George had several tries at reading it, but he couldn't make any sense of the strings of nouns and verbs dancing before him on the page. Just when he was getting somewhere with it, he'd become hungry and have to go eat a pretzel. Once he'd eaten, he'd fall asleep. When he woke up again, it would be time to hit the gym. So there wasn't much time available to get his head round the contents of the memo".
In particular, it is believed that Mr Bush's confusion of the words 'terrorism' and 'tourism' led him to paste the memo into a scrapbook titled "What I did on my holidays, by George". It was only after the terrible events of September 11th that the memo came to the attention of Mr Bush's aides, when he accidentally locked his terrier Barney in the Oval Office. The animal chewed its way through a number of books and other documents, and staffers discovered the memo whilst piecing them back together. Tragically, by then it was too late.