Bush's 9-11 Secrets
Tue Aug 12 02:03:20 2003
Bush's 9-11 Secrets
The Government Received Warnings of Bin Laden's Plans to Attack New York and
By James Ridgeway
The Village Voice
Thursday 31 July 2003
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Even though Bush has refused to make parts of the 9-11 report
public, one thing is startlingly clear: The U.S. government had received
repeated warnings of impending attacks—and attacks using planes directed at New
York and Washington—for several years. The government never told us about what
it knew was coming.
See for yourself. The report lists 36 different summaries of warnings dating
back to 1997. Among them:
"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."
"In the fall of 1998, the [Intelligence Community] obtained information
concerning a Bin Laden plot involving aircraft in the New York and Washington,
"In March 2000, the [Intelligence Community] obtained information regarding the
types of targets that operatives of Bin Laden's network might strike. The Statue
of Liberty was specifically mentioned, as were skyscrapers, ports, airports, and
nuclear power plans."
Maybe the Bush team dismissed warning signals as the discoveries of an overly
hyped up Clinton team. But John Dean, a White House counsel under Nixon who has
become a guide to deciphering reports on 9/11, says this is unlikely. Condi
Rice, Bush’s national security adviser, "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."
Rice also said at this briefing that the PDB pointed out that Bin Laden might
hijack an airline and take hostages to gain release of one of their operatives.
She said the warning was "generalized"—no date, place, or method.
As Dean notes, how could Rice, having known all this, say that the
administration had no idea "these people would take an airplane and slam it into
the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon"?
"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," says Dean. "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?"
We don't know because Bush has invoked executive privilege to withhold from
Congress this key briefing on August 6, 2001.
We do know that despite years of warnings from the intelligence community, the
government apparently had taken no steps to protect the eastern seaboard or any
other American border from attack. There were no fighter aircraft ready to
respond immediately to a threat. The government undertook no measures to
increase airport security.
This entire affair has been forced into a discussion of what the CIA knew or
didn’t know, and what it told or didn't tell the White House. But the
questioning needs to focus on what Bush knew or didn't know. And what he did or
didn't do in response to what his intelligence advisers told him.
CHECK OUT THIS SEARCH: 9-11 Bush CIA FBI Condi Rice
TIME.com: Could 9/11 Have Been Prevented?
... proposals amounted to "everything we've done since 9/11.". ... Every few
days, the CIA
director would call Tom ... Secret Service was July 20, when Bush would arrive
THE TWO VISITORS
As the first cool nights of fall settled on northeast Afghanistan, Ahmed Shah
Massoud was barely hanging on. His summer offensive had been a bust. An attempt
to capture the city of Taloqan, which he had lost to the Taliban in 2000, ended
in failure. But old allies, like the brutal Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum,
had returned to the field, and Massoud still thought the unpopularity of the
Taliban might yet make them vulnerable. "He was telling us not to worry, that
we'd soon capture Kabul," says Shah Pacha, an infantry commander in the Northern
Around Sept. 1, Massoud summoned his top men to his command post in Khoja
Bahauddin. The intention was to plan an attack, but Zahir Akbar, one of
Massoud's generals, remembers a phone call after which Massoud changed his
plans. "He'd been told al-Qaeda and the Pakistanis were deploying five combat
units to the front line," says Akbar. Northern Alliance soldiers reported a
buildup of Taliban and al-Qaeda forces; there was no big push from the south,
although there were a number of skirmishes in the first week in September. "We
were puzzled and confused when they didn't attack," says a senior Afghan
intelligence source. "And Taliban communications showed the units had been
ordered to wait."
What were they waiting for? Some of Massoud's closest aides think they know. For
about three weeks, two Arab journalists had been waiting in Khoja Bahauddin to
interview Massoud. The men said they represented the Islamic Observation Center
in London and had a letter of introduction from its head, Yasser al-Siri. The
men, who had been given safe passage through the Taliban front lines, "said
they'd like to document Islam in Afghanistan," recalls Faheem Dashty, who made
films with the Northern Alliance and is editor in chief of the Kabul Weekly
newspaper. By the night of Sept. 8, the visitors were getting antsy, pestering
Massoud's officials to firm up the meeting with him and threatening to return to
Kabul if they could not see Massoud in the next 24 hours. "They were so worried
and excitable they were begging us," says Jamsheed, Massoud's secretary.
The interview was finally granted just before lunch on Sunday, Sept. 9. Dashty
was asked to record it on his camera. Massoud sat next to his friend Masood
Khalili, now Afghanistan's ambassador to India. "The commander said he wanted to
sit with me and translate," says Khalili. "Then he and I would go and have lunch
together by the Oxus River." The Arabs entered and set up a TV camera in front
of Massoud; the guests, says Khalili, were "very calm, very quiet." Khalili
asked them which newspaper they represented. When they replied that they were
acting for "Islamic Centers," says Khalili, he became reluctant to continue, but
Massoud said they should all go ahead.
Khalili says Massoud asked to know the Arabs' questions before they started
recording. "I remember that out of 15 questions, eight were about bin Laden,"
says Khalili. "I looked over at Massoud. He looked uncomfortable; there were
five worry lines on his forehead instead of the one he usually had. But he said,
'O.K. Let's film.'" Khalili started translating the first question into Dari;
Dashty was fiddling with the lighting on his camera. "Then," says Dashty, "I
felt the explosion." The bomb was in the camera, and it killed one of the Arabs;
the second was shot dead by Massoud's guards while trying to escape. Khalili
believes he was saved by his passport, which was in his left breast pocket-eight
pieces of shrapnel were found embedded in it. Dashty remembers being rushed to a
helicopter with Massoud, who had terrible wounds. The chopper flew them both to
a hospital in Tajikistan. By the time they arrived, Massoud was dead. The
killers had come from Europe, and they were members of a group allied with al-Qaeda.
Massoud's enemies had been waiting for the news. Within hours, Taliban radio
began to crackle: "Your father is dead. Now you can't resist us." "They were
clever," says a member of Massoud's staff. "Their offensive was primed to begin
after the assassination." That night the Taliban attacked Massoud's front lines.
One last time, his forces held out on their own.
As the battle raged, Clarke's plan awaited Bush's signature. Soon enough, the
Northern Alliance would get all the aid it had been seeking-U.S. special forces,
money, B-52 bombers, and, of course, as many Predators as the CIA and Pentagon
could get into the sky. The decision that had been put off for so long had
suddenly become easy because a little more than 50 hours after Massoud's death,
Atta, sitting on American Airlines Flight 11 on the runway at Boston's Logan
Airport, had used his mobile phone to speak for the last time to his friend Al-Shehhi,
on United Flight 175. Their plot was a go.
That morning, O'Neill, Clarke's former partner in the fight against
international terrorism, arrived at his new place of work. He had been on the
job just two weeks. After Atta and Al-Shehhi crashed their planes into the World
Trade Center, O'Neill called his son and a girlfriend from outside the Towers to
say he was safe. Then he rushed back in. His body was identified 10 days later.
— Reported by Massimo Calabresi, John F. Dickerson, Elaine Shannon, Mark
Thompson, Douglas Waller and Michael Weisskopf/Washington; Hannah Bloch and Tim
McGirk/Islamabad; Cathy Booth Thomas/Dallas; Wendy Cole and Marguerite Michaels/
Chicago; Bruce Crumley/Paris; James Graff/Brussels; David Schwartz/Phoenix; and
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