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Bush administration’s negligence prior to Sept. 11 attacks was worse than we thought

THIS PIECE by Kurt Eichenwald indicates that the history of the terrorist attacks of 11 years ago today is still being written:

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.

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5 Comments

  1. Luke Fredrickson

    Your headline is inaccurate…I thought it was at least this bad.

    Wolfowitz should be indicted.

  2. The administration was just too preoccupied with Saddam Hussein believing Bin Laden was small potatoes. Wonder if these secret documents will find their way to the G W Bush library.

  3. http://macsmind.com/wordpress/2012/09/clinton-more-to-blame-for-911-that-bush-simple-fact/

    The Vanity Fair weasels are out in force on the 11th anniversary of 9/11 of course, “blaming Bush”, but the fact is that while the real blame is the terrorists that committed the act, if Bill Clinton had pulled the trigger in 1999, and several other numerous occasions there would have been no attack.

    I worked as an analyst during the Clinton administration and I and many more of my colleagues will tell anyone that Clinton missed many opportunities to get Bin Laden and in fact didn’t. It’s just a fact. The 911 Omission Commission found the same thing.

    Here is an AP write up just days after the attack, before the leftwing spin machine started the “Blame Bush” lie. Of course you’ll remember that during the 9/11 commission one of Clinton’s National Security advisor, Sandy (Docs in his Socks) Berger was caught steeling classified documents related the Clinton administration’s dealing with Bin Laden to hid them from the 911 Omission Commission.

  4. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,116517,00.html

    Speaking publicly and under oath before the panel investigating the worst terror attacks on the United States, Rice said “structural problems” in U.S. intelligence agencies and a lack of precise information about threats prevented officials from knowing exact details about the impending events.

    “So the attacks came,” she testified. “A band of vicious terrorists tried to decapitate our government, destroy our financial system and break the spirit of America.”

    Rice’s much-anticipated appearance comes after the testimony of several high-ranking Bush and Clinton administration officials. After weeks of saying it wouldn’t allow Rice to testify, citing separation of powers concerns, the White House conceded to the panel’s calls for her to publicly appear.

    That move was in part to rebut claims by former Clinton and Bush counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke (search), who said the Bush White House didn’t take the Al Qaeda threat seriously enough.

    “I do not believe there was a lack of high level attention, the president was paying attention to this, how much higher level can you get?” Rice said.

    Rice came under heavy fire from Democratic commissioners Richard Ben Veniste and former Rep. Tom Roemer of Indiana about how much Bush was informed of the threat of terror activity leading up to the attacks.

    “I think we’ve all asked ourselves what more could have been done,” Rice said. “If we had known an attack was coming against the United States, against New York and Washington, we would have moved heaven and earth to stop it.”

    Officials from both the Clinton and Bush administrations have testified that no matter what actions were or could have been taken leading up to Sept. 11, the attacks still would have happened.

    *snip*

    She noted that on Aug. 6, 2001, Bush’s intelligence briefing included a
    response to the president’s earlier question about Al Qaeda (search) plans to strike the United States within its borders. There was a reference to an uncorroborated report from 1998 that terrorists may try to hijack a U.S. aircraft to blackmail the government into releasing 1993 World Trade Center bombing terrorists in U.S. custody.

    “It did not raise the possibility that terrorist might use airplanes as missiles,” Rice said, but “intense” actions were still taken to protect inside U.S. borders in the summer of 2001, including warning overseas embassies and other installations about possible threats and putting U.S. airlines and airport security personnel on alert.

    The commission announced that it asked the White House to declassify that Aug. 6 presidential daily briefing, which Rice argued did not contain specific threat information for attacks but had vague references to something that may happen.

    *snip*

    After Bush was elected in 2000, Rice said, the Clinton team briefed the incoming staff on national security issues that included Iraq and the Middle East and “we understood that the [Al Qaeda] network posed a serious threat to the United States.”

    The Bush team continued to pursue Clinton counterterrorism efforts and retained CIA Director George Tenet, FBI Director Louis Freeh and Clarke, who recently testified before the commission that the Bush administration didn’t do enough to deal with the Al Qaeda threat.

    Rice noted that Bush received daily intelligence briefings and for the first seven months, heard more than 40 items on Al Qaeda while the White House was developing a new strategy to eliminate the terror network.

    Bush “made clear to us that he did not want to respond to Al Qaeda one attack at a time. He told me he was tired of ‘swatting flies.'”

    The new strategy, focusing on eliminating Usama bin Laden’s (search) terror network, was approved on Sept. 4, 2001, and took into account several of Clarke’s counterterrorism proposals.

  5. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2201387/9-11-anniversary-Series-2001-briefings-warned-attack-Bin-Laden.html

    Yet George Pataki, New York state governor on 9/11, laid into Eichenwald during a joint appearance on MSNBC for writing the New York Times article about the briefings.

    ‘I just think this is incredibly unfortunate, to be perfectly honest. Because first of all, having been there, on September 11th and for weeks, months thereafter President Bush provided inspired, effective leadership,’ Pataki, a Republican, said.

    ‘On September 11th everything changed and to look 11 years later and say, “Aha, this was happening before September 11th in the summer” and go though and selectively say, “You should’ve done that, you should’ve done that” I think is incredibly unfair and a disservice to history.

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