On Aug. 6, 2001, President George W. Bush received a classified review of the threats posed by Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, Al Qaeda. That morning’s “presidential daily brief” — the top-secret document prepared by America’s intelligence agencies — featured the now-infamous heading: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” A few weeks later, on 9/11, Al Qaeda accomplished that goal.
On April 10, 2004, the Bush White House declassified that daily brief — and only that daily brief — in response to pressure from the 9/11 Commission, which was investigating the events leading to the attack. Administration officials dismissed the document’s significance, saying that, despite the jaw-dropping headline, it was only an assessment of Al Qaeda’s history, not a warning of the impending attack. While some critics considered that claim absurd, a close reading of the brief showed that the argument had some validity.
That is, unless it was read in conjunction with the daily briefs preceding Aug. 6, the ones the Bush administration would not release. While those documents are still not public, I have read excerpts from many of them, along with other recently declassified records, and come to an inescapable conclusion: the administration’s reaction to what Mr. Bush was told in the weeks before that infamous briefing reflected significantly more negligence than has been disclosed. In other words, the Aug. 6 document, for all of the controversy it provoked, is not nearly as shocking as the briefs that came before it.
The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001. By May 1, the Central Intelligence Agency told the White House of a report that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation. Weeks later, on June 22, the daily brief reported that Qaeda strikes could be “imminent,” although intelligence suggested the time frame was flexible.
……In the aftermath of 9/11, Bush officials attempted to deflect criticism that they had ignored C.I.A. warnings by saying they had not been told when and where the attack would occur. That is true, as far as it goes, but it misses the point. Throughout that summer, there were events that might have exposed the plans, had the government been on high alert. Indeed, even as the Aug. 6 brief was being prepared, Mohamed al-Kahtani, a Saudi believed to have been assigned a role in the 9/11 attacks, was stopped at an airport in Orlando, Fla., by a suspicious customs agent and sent back overseas on Aug. 4. Two weeks later, another co-conspirator, Zacarias Moussaoui, was arrested on immigration charges in Minnesota after arousing suspicions at a flight school. But the dots were not connected, and Washington did not react.
Hey Eichenwald, if you want to blame someone, blame BILL CLINTON. That son of a bitch had multiple opportunities to get Bin Laden and failed. Sudan even captured him and offered him up on a goddamned silver platter. Clinton turned it down.
What exactly was Bush supposed to do? They had no exact dates, no specific method of attack, nothing. If he had gone ahead and created the Patriot Act ahead of time and implemented the TSA, which in spite of all the gate rapes hasn’t prevented one single terrorist from boarding an American plane, you ‘tards at the NYT would have had grand mal seizures.
There’s plenty of blame to go around. The State Department, the FBI, and all the three-letter acronym intelligence agencies who didn’t connect the dots or worse, dismissed information outright because they don’t want to “offend” muslims.
Case in point:
In 1998, an FBI agent in Oklahoma wrote a memo describing reports of “large numbers of Middle Eastern males receiving flight training at Oklahoma airports” which “may be related to planned terrorist activity”.
Kenneth Williams, an FBI agent in Phoenix wrote a memorandum two months before the 9/11 attacks, warning of the possibility of Osama bin Laden’s followers hijacking aircraft within the United States and using the planes in a terrorist attack.
Their warnings were never followed up on.
The 19 hijackers applied for and received tourist/student visas. (Thank you, State Department) Atta, Shehhi, and Jarrah violated the terms of their status and/or overstayed their periods of admission, but SNAFUs and inspectors’ inattention to detail, let them slip through the cracks.
None of that information was passed on to the CIA or Bush, for that matter, thanks to Jamie Gorlick, former Clinton Deputy Attorney General. In 1995, Gorlick wrote a memo directing that counterintelligence efforts be kept separate from criminal intelligence. This action created a wall that prohibited collaboration between agencies like the FBI and the CIA, and impeded the investigation into Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called “20th hijacker”, (pre-9/11) which could have led to the arrest of the other 19.
Eichenwald is part and parcel to the Ron Paul ‘truther’ wackjobs who believe that George W. Bush not only knew every single minute detail about 9/11 before hand, but probably operated all 4 planes by remote control and set off explosives to collapse both World Trade Center towers.
The asshats at the New York Times are still doing the “blame Bush” circle jerk. The failures of Clinton and their sweetheart Obama, who took the credit for the Bin Laden mission, even though George Bush already had operations in place to get him, and who leaked classified information about our counter-terrorism operations to massage his own ego, don’t get squat.
If Eichenwald feels the urge to thank someone for a change, Bin Laden, Al Awlaki, and Al Zarkawi were killed, and Khalid Sheik Mohammad was captured, thanks to the policies that Bush started.