JOHN W. DEAN
The 9/11 Report Raises More Serious Questions
Fri Aug 8 18:13:34 2003
64.140.158.211

The 9/11 Report Raises More Serious Questions About The White House
Statements On Intelligence By JOHN W. DEAN
----
Tuesday, Jul. 29, 2003

The recently released Report of the Joint Congressional Inquiry Into The
Terrorist Attacks Of September 11, and its dismal findings, have been well
reported by the news media. What has not been widely reported, however,
are the inescapable conclusions that must be drawn from a close reading of
this bipartisan study.

Obviously, Republicans were not going to let Democrats say what needed to
be said, or maybe Democrats did not want to politicize the matter. But since
the facts could not be ignored or suppressed, they reported them without
drawing certain obvious, not to mention devastating, conclusions.

Bluntly stated, either the Bush White House knew about the potential of
terrorists flying airplanes into skyscrapers (notwithstanding their claims to
the contrary), or the CIA failed to give the White House this essential
information, which it possessed and provided to others.

Bush is withholding the document that answers this question. Accordingly,
it seems more likely that the former possibility is the truth. That is, it seems
very probable that those in the White House knew much more than they
have admitted, and they are covering up their failure to take action.

The facts, however, speak for themselves.

Bush's Claim Of Executive Privilege For His Daily Intelligence Briefing

One of the most important sets of documents that the Congressional Inquiry
sought was a set of copies of the President's Daily Brief (PDB), which is
prepared each night by the CIA. In the Appendix of the 9/11 Report we learn
that on August 12, 2002, after getting nowhere with informal discussions,
Congress formally requested that the Bush White House provide this
information.

More specifically, the Joint Inquiry asked about the process by which the
Daily Brief is prepared, and sought several specific Daily Brief items. In
particular, it asked for information about the August 6,
2001 Daily Brief relating to Osama Bin Laden's terrorist threats against the
United States, and other Daily Brief items regarding Bin Laden, Al Qaeda,
and pre-September 11 terrorism threats.

The Joint Inquiry explained the basis for its request: "the public has a
compelling interest ... in understanding how well the Intelligence Community
was performing its principal function of advising the President and NSC of
threats to U.S. national security."

In short, the Joint Inquiry wanted to see the records. Bush's public assertion
that his intelligence was "darn good" was not sufficient.

The Inquiry had substantial background material, for the Clinton
Administration's national security team had been very forthcoming. As a
result, it warned President Bush of the inevitable consequences of refusal to
provide access to the requested Daily Briefs.

The Inquiry told Bush: "In the absence of such access, we will have no
choice but to extrapolate the number and content of [Daily Brief] items on
these subjects from the items that appeared on these subjects in the Senior
Executive Intelligence Brief and other lower level intelligence products during
the same period."

Bush nevertheless denied access, claiming Executive Privilege. While the
Inquiry did not chose to draw obvious conclusions, they are right there in
the report for everyone else to draw. So I have drawn them, to see what they
look like.

Revealing Information In the 9/11 Report

After pulling together the information in the 9/11 Report, it is understandable
why Bush is stonewalling. It is not very difficult to deduce what the
president knew, and when he knew it. And the portrait that results is
devastating.

The president's briefing of August 6, 2001 was the subject of public
discussion even before the Inquiry started its work. As the 9/11 Report notes
in a footnote (at page 206), "National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice
stated in a May 16, 2002 press briefing that, on August 6, 2001, the President
Daily Brief (PDB) included information about Bin Laden's methods of
operation from a historical perspective dating back to 1997." (Emphasis
added.)

At that May 16, 2002 briefing, Rice went on to say that the Brief made clear
that one method Bin Laden might choose was to hijack an airline, taking
hostages to gain release of one of their operatives. She said it was "a
generalized warring" with nothing about time, place or method. And she
added, "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would
take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one
and slam it into the Pentagon."

Unfortunately, Rice's statements don't fit comfortably with the Inquiry's
information. It appears from the 9/11 Report that either Rice was dissembling,
or the CIA was withholding information from the President (and hence also
from Rice).

But as we have been learning with the missing Weapon of Mass Destruction,
the CIA has consistently been forthcoming. So it seems that it is Rice who
should explain herself.

A Closer Look At Rice's Statement

Note again that Rice stated, in explaining the August 6, 2001 Daily Brief, that
it addressed Bin Laden's "methods of operation from a historical perspective
dating back to 1997."

What exactly did it say? We cannot know. But the Inquiry's 9/11 Report lays
out all such threats, over that time period, in thirty-six bullet point summaries.
It is only necessary to cite a few of these to see the problem:

In September 1998, the [Intelligence Community] obtained information that
Bin Laden's next operation might involve flying an explosive-laden aircraft
into a U.S. airport and detonating it.
(Emphasis added.)

In the fall of 1998, the [Intelligence Community] obtained information
concerning a Bin Laden plot involving aircraft in the New York and
Washington, D.C. areas.

In March 2000, the [Intelligence Community] obtained information regarding
the types of targets that operatives of Bin Laden's network might strike. The
Statute of Liberty was specifically mentioned , as were skyscrapers, ports,
airports, and nuclear power plans.
(Emphasis added.)

In sum, the 9/11 Report of the Congressional Inquiry indicates that the
intelligence community was very aware that Bin Laden might fly an airplane
into an American skyscraper.

Given the fact that there had already been an attempt to bring down the twin
towers of the World Trade Center with a bomb, how could Rice say what she
did?

Certainly, someone could have predicted, contrary to Rice's claim that,
among other possibilities, "these people would take an airplane and slam it
into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the
Pentagon."

The Unanswered Questions

Is Rice claiming this information in the 9/11 Report was not given to the
White House? Or could it be that the White House was given this
information, and failed to recognize the problem and take action? Is the
White House covering up what the President knew, and when he knew it?

The Joint Inquiry could not answer these questions because they were
denied access to Bush's Daily Brief for August 6, 2001, and all other dates.
Yet these are not questions that should be stonewalled.

Troublingly, it seems that President Bush trusts foreign heads of state with
the information in this daily CIA briefing, but not the United States
Congress. It has become part of his routine, when hosting foreign dignitaries
at his Crawford, Texas ranch, to invite them to attend his CIA briefing.

Yet he refuses to give Congress any information whatsoever about these
briefings, and he has apparently invoked Executive Privilege to suppress the
August 6, 2001 Daily Brief. It can only be hoped that the 9/11 Commission,
which has picked up where the Congressional Inquiry ended, will get the
answers to these questions.

Rest assured that they will be aware of the questions, for I will pass them
along.




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