JOHN W. DEANThe 9/11 Report Raises More Serious QuestionsFri Aug 8 18:13:34 2003184.108.40.206The 9/11 Report Raises More Serious Questions About The White HouseStatements On Intelligence By JOHN W. DEAN ----Tuesday, Jul. 29, 2003The recently released Report of the Joint Congressional Inquiry Into TheTerrorist Attacks Of September 11, and its dismal findings, have been wellreported by the news media. What has not been widely reported, however,are the inescapable conclusions that must be drawn from a close reading ofthis bipartisan study. Obviously, Republicans were not going to let Democrats say what needed tobe said, or maybe Democrats did not want to politicize the matter. But sincethe facts could not be ignored or suppressed, they reported them withoutdrawing certain obvious, not to mention devastating, conclusions.Bluntly stated, either the Bush White House knew about the potential ofterrorists flying airplanes into skyscrapers (notwithstanding their claims tothe contrary), or the CIA failed to give the White House this essentialinformation, 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 seemsvery probable that those in the White House knew much more than theyhave 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 BriefingOne of the most important sets of documents that the Congressional Inquirysought was a set of copies of the President's Daily Brief (PDB), which isprepared each night by the CIA. In the Appendix of the 9/11 Report we learnthat on August 12, 2002, after getting nowhere with informal discussions,Congress formally requested that the Bush White House provide thisinformation.More specifically, the Joint Inquiry asked about the process by which theDaily Brief is prepared, and sought several specific Daily Brief items. Inparticular, it asked for information about the August 6,2001 Daily Brief relating to Osama Bin Laden's terrorist threats against theUnited 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 acompelling interest ... in understanding how well the Intelligence Communitywas performing its principal function of advising the President and NSC ofthreats to U.S. national security." In short, the Joint Inquiry wanted to see the records. Bush's public assertionthat his intelligence was "darn good" was not sufficient.The Inquiry had substantial background material, for the ClintonAdministration's national security team had been very forthcoming. As aresult, it warned President Bush of the inevitable consequences of refusal toprovide access to the requested Daily Briefs.The Inquiry told Bush: "In the absence of such access, we will have nochoice but to extrapolate the number and content of [Daily Brief] items onthese subjects from the items that appeared on these subjects in the SeniorExecutive Intelligence Brief and other lower level intelligence products duringthe same period."Bush nevertheless denied access, claiming Executive Privilege. While theInquiry did not chose to draw obvious conclusions, they are right there inthe report for everyone else to draw. So I have drawn them, to see what theylook like. Revealing Information In the 9/11 ReportAfter pulling together the information in the 9/11 Report, it is understandablewhy Bush is stonewalling. It is not very difficult to deduce what thepresident knew, and when he knew it. And the portrait that results isdevastating.The president's briefing of August 6, 2001 was the subject of publicdiscussion even before the Inquiry started its work. As the 9/11 Report notesin a footnote (at page 206), "National Security Advisor Condoleezza Ricestated in a May 16, 2002 press briefing that, on August 6, 2001, the PresidentDaily Brief (PDB) included information about Bin Laden's methods ofoperation from a historical perspective dating back to 1997." (Emphasisadded.)At that May 16, 2002 briefing, Rice went on to say that the Brief made clearthat one method Bin Laden might choose was to hijack an airline, takinghostages to gain release of one of their operatives. She said it was "ageneralized warring" with nothing about time, place or method. And sheadded, "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people wouldtake an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another oneand slam it into the Pentagon."Unfortunately, Rice's statements don't fit comfortably with the Inquiry'sinformation. It appears from the 9/11 Report that either Rice was dissembling,or the CIA was withholding information from the President (and hence alsofrom 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 whoshould explain herself.A Closer Look At Rice's StatementNote again that Rice stated, in explaining the August 6, 2001 Daily Brief, thatit addressed Bin Laden's "methods of operation from a historical perspectivedating back to 1997." What exactly did it say? We cannot know. But the Inquiry's 9/11 Report laysout 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 thatBin Laden's next operation might involve flying an explosive-laden aircraftinto a U.S. airport and detonating it.(Emphasis added.) In the fall of 1998, the [Intelligence Community] obtained informationconcerning a Bin Laden plot involving aircraft in the New York andWashington, D.C. areas. In March 2000, the [Intelligence Community] obtained information regardingthe types of targets that operatives of Bin Laden's network might strike. TheStatute 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 theintelligence community was very aware that Bin Laden might fly an airplaneinto an American skyscraper. Given the fact that there had already been an attempt to bring down the twintowers of the World Trade Center with a bomb, how could Rice say what shedid? Certainly, someone could have predicted, contrary to Rice's claim that,among other possibilities, "these people would take an airplane and slam itinto the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into thePentagon."The Unanswered QuestionsIs Rice claiming this information in the 9/11 Report was not given to theWhite House? Or could it be that the White House was given thisinformation, and failed to recognize the problem and take action? Is theWhite House covering up what the President knew, and when he knew it?The Joint Inquiry could not answer these questions because they weredenied 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 withthe information in this daily CIA briefing, but not the United StatesCongress. It has become part of his routine, when hosting foreign dignitariesat his Crawford, Texas ranch, to invite them to attend his CIA briefing. Yet he refuses to give Congress any information whatsoever about thesebriefings, and he has apparently invoked Executive Privilege to suppress theAugust 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 theanswers to these questions.Rest assured that they will be aware of the questions, for I will pass themalong.
Bush Fishing 6 August 2001? Stephen M. St, John, Fri Aug 8 18:54
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