In the now released briefing given to the vacationing Dubya in August 2001, there is the following sentence:
The CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our embassy in the United Arab Emirates in May saying that a group of Bin Laden supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives.
In the usual sloppy fashion in which these things are reported, we have heard some TV and radio reporters say the call referred to an "explosive attack." But in this case, the sloppiness points to a serious issue. There's a difference between an attack with explosives, and an explosive attack.
In fact, Dubya would much prefer to stick to the wording in the briefing, because he can then say that in addition to Osama being so inconsiderate as to not call ahead of time with dates and flight numbers for 9/11, the planes didn't have actual explosives on board. But 9/11 was clearly an explosive attack. So we find ourselves wondering the following: was the original call to the UAE Embassy in English or Arabic? And if the latter, is there some ambiguity in how the key phrase was translated into English?
UPDATE: Slate has this hilarious Powerpoint visualisation of that mysterious UAE phone call.