Tuesday, September 11, 2012
George W. Bush was enjoying a long vacation playing rancher, when on August 6, 2001 these words were put in front of his eyes. “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” The messenger was told “You’re ass is covered”, and that was the end of the matter.
We all know what happened less than a month later.
Now in his defense, there were no specifics as to where or when such an attack would occur. This was not actionable intelligence, but an analytical assessment, backed by increased chatter form suspected terrorists. Still measures could have been taken to coordinate our law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and to place airports on high alert.
But even that didn’t happen.
(Just for a second, Imagine how the Right would have reacted if that was Obama in the identical situation. Yeah. The attack would clearly have been Obama the Muslim terrorist's fault.)
And no, I’m not blaming 9-11 on the befuddled Decider. But I do blame him for inaction and negligence, and buying into Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, and their fellow PNAC (Project for a New American Century) Neocon’s distraction and obsession with invading Iraq. After that attack they spent great efforts to link Saddam with 9-11. They fooled much of the country into that deception as well, and cleared their path for invading a country that didn’t attack us.
Bette Stockbauer presents a good review of PNAC’s vision of US global military dominance.
PNAC members believe that there are four vital missions "demanded by US global leadership," but claim that "current American armed forces are ill-prepared to execute" these missions.
1. Homeland Defense.
2. Large Wars
3. Constabulary Duties
4. Transform U.S. Armed Forces.
PNAC even expressed their concern that we’d need a “new Pearl Harbor” to kick start their transformation and war-mongering dreams.
Well, good news for the Neocons. They got their new Pearl Harbor and exploited that to advance their agenda. An agenda that ignored the threat of non-state terrorism.
But, we are learning that August Presidential Daily Brief was the last warning, not the first, of an al-Qaeda attack in the US.
Today’s New York Times tells us there were earlier warnings, not yet released.
The Deafness Before the Storm:
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.
But some in the administration considered the warning to be just bluster. An intelligence official and a member of the Bush administration both told me in interviews that the neoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power at the Pentagon were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat. Intelligence officials, these sources said, protested that the idea of Bin Laden, an Islamic fundamentalist, conspiring with Mr. Hussein, an Iraqi secularist, was ridiculous, but the neoconservatives’ suspicions were nevertheless carrying the day.
In response, the C.I.A. prepared an analysis that all but pleaded with the White House to accept that the danger from Bin Laden was real.
“The U.S. is not the target of a disinformation campaign by Usama Bin Laden,” the daily brief of June 29 read, using the government’s transliteration of Bin Laden’s first name. Going on for more than a page, the document recited much of the evidence, including an interview that month with a Middle Eastern journalist in which Bin Laden aides warned of a coming attack, as well as competitive pressures that the terrorist leader was feeling, given the number of Islamists being recruited for the separatist Russian region of Chechnya.
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.” Some of the briefs again reminded Mr. Bush that the attack timing was flexible, and that, despite any perceived delay, the planned assault was on track.
On May 1, June 22, June 29, July 1, and finally August 6, 2001 the alarms were sounded.
Kurt Eichenwald concludes his report:
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.
Could the 9/11 attack have been stopped, had the Bush team reacted with urgency to the warnings contained in all of those daily briefs? We can’t ever know. And that may be the most agonizing reality of all.
So do we blame Bush for 9-11? No, we blame al-Qaeda. But I do blame Bush for his subservience to the Neocons narrow self-serving vision.
And guess who Romney would have as foreign policy advisors?
Yup, the same crew that got it all wrong eleven years ago.
Not the change we need.