On Aug. 6, 2001, President George W. Bush received a classified Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) with the headline: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” The PDB (partially declassified in 2004 as a result of the 9/11 Commission investigation) predicted an al-Qaeda attack on New York’s World Trade Center. Bush stayed on vacation in Texas, going fishing the next day.
In yesterday’s New York Times, Kurt Eichenwald reports on the contents of prior PDBs that the Bush administration kept secret (emphasis added):
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.” …
…And the C.I.A. repeated the warnings in the briefs that followed. Operatives connected to Bin Laden, one reported on June 29, expected the planned near-term attacks to have “dramatic consequences,” including major casualties. On July 1, the brief stated that the operation had been delayed, but “will occur soon.”
…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.
The Bush administration was the worst in our history. And their irresponsible behavior prior to the 9/11 attacks was just one of their string of catastrophic failures.
UPDATE: Speaking to CBS “This Morning” Eichenwald explained that the neocons in the Bush administration ignored repeated warnings about al-Qaeda because they were already fixated on Iraq.
“The worst of them, the neoconservatives at the Pentagon, as the CIA was coming in and saying al Qaeda is going to attack, said, ‘Oh, this is just a false flag operation. Bin Laden’s just trying to take our eye off of the real threat, Iraq.’ And so there are presidential daily briefs that are literally saying, ‘No, they’re wrong. This isn’t fake. It’s real.’”
“In the aftermath, the White House and others said, ‘Well, they didn’t tell us enough.’ No. They told them everything they needed to know to go on a full alert, and the White House didn’t do it.”
UPDATE: Romney Adviser Calls Foreign Policy A ‘Distraction’. Uh-oh.
While it seems clear that the so-called “Cheney-ites” are running things behind the scenes, Romney has avoided much public discussion of foreign policy. Even his own advisers and supporters have no idea what Romney’s foreign policy is.
UPDATE: Cheney bashes Obama for not paying attention to intelligence briefings. Not true of course, it’s another example of GOP projection.