Bush Officials and 9/11: They Had a Plan

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PAUL J. RICHARDS / AFP / Getty Images

President George W. Bush is informed by chief of staff Andrew Card of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City during an early-morning event at a school in Sarasota, Fla., on Sept. 11, 2001

Reporter Kurt Eichenwald has new details in the New York Times today about the blindness and inaction of the George W. Bush Administration in the run-up to 9/11. In addition to the well-known Aug. 6 presidential daily brief titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.,” Eichenwald reports on previously unknown CIA warnings given to the President and his top advisers based on confirmed intelligence from the field.

There has been a lot of reporting over the years about then CIA chief George Tenet running around Washington with his hair on fire during the summer of 2001 trying to express just how dangerous he thought the situation was. The response from Bush Administration officials has been that there was not much new information by which they could do anything about the impending attack. Then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and others have said that repeated warnings came with no actionable intelligence the White House could use to diminish the threat and that eventually the White House became inured to Tenet’s warnings.

Eichenwald shows that there were in fact a few details emerging from the field during the summer of 2001 that could have spurred action. More important, while no single piece of information by itself was actionable, there was plenty the Administration could have been doing to disrupt the plot without knowing the specifics of time and place. We first detailed the plan available to the Bush Administration back in 2002.

(PHOTOS: Eleven Years Later, New York Reflects on the Tragedy of 9/11)

As she took control of the National Security Council in the first week of January 2001, Rice received a lengthy and carefully crafted plan from then NSC senior counterterrorism director Richard Clarke designed to “roll back” al-Qaeda worldwide. Clarke had been working on the plan since the brazen al-Qaeda attack against the U.S.S. Cole, and made his pitch with a lengthy PowerPoint presentation, according to TIME’s Aug. 12, 2002, cover story:

Clarke’s proposals called for the “breakup” of al-Qaeda cells and the arrest of their personnel. The financial support for its terrorist activities would be systematically attacked, its assets frozen, its funding from fake charities stopped. Nations where al-Qaeda was causing trouble — Uzbekistan, the Philippines, Yemen — would be given aid to fight the terrorists. Most important, Clarke wanted to see a dramatic increase in covert action in Afghanistan to “eliminate the sanctuary” where al-Qaeda had its terrorist training camps and bin Laden was being protected by the radical Islamic Taliban regime … Clarke supported a substantial increase in American support for the Northern Alliance, the last remaining resistance to the Taliban. That way, terrorists graduating from the training camps would have been forced to stay in Afghanistan, fighting (and dying) for the Taliban on the front lines. At the same time, the U.S. military would start planning for air strikes on the camps and for the introduction of special-operations forces into Afghanistan. The plan was estimated to cost “several hundreds of millions of dollars.” In the words of a senior Bush Administration official, the proposals amounted to “everything we’ve done since 9/11.”

Throughout the spring and summer of 2001, the NSC leadership, including Rice and her deputy Stephen Hadley, slow-walked the plan through the interagency, which is shorthand for the NSC-chaired process through which different agencies clarify potential policies before setting up decisions by the principles, including in some cases the President. The Clarke plan didn’t receive its first dedicated meeting until April 2001. It was eventually approved by the Bush NSC the day before 9/11 and became the post-9/11 battle plan that has been followed to this day.

Eichenwald suggests that an early focus on Iraq contributed to the Bush Administration’s disregard for the terrorist threat. In fact, of the other agenda items that crowded out counterterrorism in the first nine months of 2001, abrogating the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia was much more of a factor than Saddam Hussein and Iraq. The top strategic priority of Bush’s national-security team, many of whose members had come of age during Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars push, was focused on developing and deploying missile defense.

That said, the ludicrous, bizarre and discredited neo-conservative theory that Osama bin Laden and Saddam were inextricably linked did have credence in the White House and did shade its thinking and priorities: near his desk, Hadley had a copy of Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein’s Unfinished War Against America by Laurie Mylroie, which served as the urtext for Iraq–al-Qaeda conspiracy theorists at the time.

111 comments
buck1996
buck1996

bush invaded iraq, johnson invaded vietnam, we killed millions of people in the process and so we build libraries to honor these men, it just doesn't make sense

RobertBreisch
RobertBreisch

The sad reality is under Bush Sr as Director of the CIA-the USA sold Saddam everything he needed to convert agricultural pesticides into binary nerve agents from which all pesticides are manufactured.To use against Iran on the battlefield-and then again against the Kurds and finally against us as Bush Sr-now President-orders an invasion to push Saddam back into Iraq and allows him to return to power-allows his army to use those binary agents against us in Desert Storm.We had the capacity to eliminate saddam before he ever got back to Iraq-but allowed him to return.

agnar150
agnar150

American's are just brainwashed from Fox News lol 

fuktwittertwattter
fuktwittertwattter

9/11 was an Inside Job. September 11, 2001 events were an Inside Job and accordingly to all the public information, articles, videos about 70% of people on the Earth already know this. Bush, Cheney, Larry Silverstein, Giuliani, etc. belong in prison just like Hitler. Do you think CIA, FBI, US government was going to allow some foolish terrorists handle the "attacks" on their behalf? Are you folks that naive to believe to this ridiculous story that your fascist tax-cheating government made up for you? What are you gonna do about it?

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

These are some Cheney QUOTES. DICK CHENEY, the WH gangster.

1, You know, Paul, Reagan proved that deficits don't matter. We won the mid-term elections, this is our due.

to Paul O'Neill, then Treasury Secretary 

2. The good Lord didn't see fit to put oil and gas only where there are

democratically elected regimes friendly to the United States.

Occasionally we have to operate in places where, all things considered,

one would not normally choose to go. But, we go where the business is.

Speech delivered at the Cato Institute, June 23, 1998

3. We haven't really had the time yet to pore through all those records in

Baghdad. We'll find ample evidence confirming the link, that is the

connection if you will between al Qaida and the Iraqi intelligence

services. They have worked together on a number of occasions.

Interview with Rocky Mountain News, January 2004

4. Senator Kerry says he sees two Americas. And that makes the whole thing mutual — America sees two John Kerrys.

Acceptance Speech at the Republican National Convention. September 1, 2004

5.America has shown we are serious about removing the threat of weapons of

mass destruction."..."We now know that Saddam Hussein had the capacity

to produce weapons of mass destruction.... We know he had the necessary

infrastructure because we found the labs and the dual-use facilities

that could be used for these chemical and biological agents. We know

that he was developing the delivery systems — ballistic missiles — that

had been prohibited by the United Nations.

Fundraising dinner in New Mexico, February 6, 2004 [17]

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

In Iraq, a ruthless dictator cultivated weapons of mass destruction and

the means to deliver them. He gave support to terrorists, had an

established relationship with al Qaeda, and his regime is no more."

Quote by Cheney

–Nov. 7, 2003 

 

LIAR

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

I am not really sure what this piece is meant to address. Is it meant to state that Rice had a plan against Al Queada, and her great plan failed??? Or is he trying to hoodwink us, as the media did in 2001, that Bush was some kind of anti-terrorist President???  Please remember that it was under he watch of President Bush, that thousands of Americans were slaughtered by terrorists in our own country.

I know that it National Security had failed so woefully under a Democrat, there would not be another Democrat in the WH till we collided with Brllotynht (an imaginary undiscovered planet). If Bin Laden had been killed under the watch of a Republican president, that would be the center point of this election, s o m e h o w!! Instead, we have folks trying to say that Obama took credit for Bin Laden. Really???? If he had failed, his presidency would have been over, and he would have been held responsible. Yet, these Far Righties do not want Obama to take credit for his incredible decisiveness. 

Obama killed Bin Laden, PERIOD. He did what Cheney and his gang of "war loving, never have fought ever" were NEVER able to do. Bin Laden gave Bush the finger for 8-years. Obama ended the Bin Laden series on Al Jeezera. His endless release of video clips showing him in his filthy clothing, and insane eyes, are gone forever. Thanks to an awesome Commander in Chief!!

Well, I think its time to stop this insane adulation of Bush like this article seeks to do . That so called "dash"opf objectivity at the end was very disingenuous even for a Far Rightie like Calabresi.  Whatever, faker!!  Anyhow, I supported Bush for two terms, and admit that his presidency was a big FAIL. 9/11 happened under him. He did not protect us. And Romney has all the same Bush advisers working for him. These are the LOONS that sent us into an unjustified and insane war. Romney should be kept out of the WH, and Massimo Calabresi kept off the pages of TIME. His articles stink!!

bobell
bobell

What is the piece meant to address? The failure of the Bush administration to act against Osama and al-Qaeda despite repeated warnings from the intelligence community.

Next question?

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

Bobbell, my questions were not directed at you (or anyone else for that matter)-- since they were RHETORICAL. I am sure the article was clear enough for most literate folk to understand.

Secondly, in my opinion, this piece is not strong enough in condemning Rice's failure to lead on the Al Queada issue, prior to 9/11. I believe the loss of lives created by this failure to act, despite all the intelligence provided them, should have engendered a much stronger condemnation as Calbresi is apt to do in his articles, here on TIME. 

Lastly, I read Eichenwald's piece and enjoyed his forthrightness. However, as I indicated in the prior paragraph, this article by Calabresi (discussing the Eichenwald article) , does not strongly and unequivocally articulate the DIRE problems, created by the ineptitude of the Bush Administration on this matter.

It is certainly Calabresi's  style, to use scathing language when criticizing an actual or perceived misstep by the Obama administration. I did not see the same excoriation of the Bush mismanagement, in the usual language of the author, in this article. PERIOD. 

PS: Just as an aside, I like many commenters here in the Swamp, and dislike others. If I had a question, I would address it to Sacred, Outsider, Bob, Stevie O etc etc, but not you Liberal Lies and all your pansy)

bobell
bobell

I agree with the points you've made.  I quoted your rhetorical question only as a springboard for my brief comment.  I admit to being just a wee bit snotty, and I apologize for that.

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NadePaulKuciGravMcKi
NadePaulKuciGravMcKi

11 September Crime Of The Century Media AIPAC neoCONed

catch the mist catch the myth catch the mystery catch the drift

ahandout
ahandout

 Problem is that the attack came from HIJACKERS that entered the US in DECEMBER 2000 when Clinton was president.  And, we had ALREADY been attacked by Al Qaeda in 1993 at the WTC.  What exactly did Clinton do?  Nothing. 

"The September 11 Travel Operation," is a detailed account of how each

hijacker acquired a visa and entered the United States. In all, they had

25 contacts with consular officers and 43 contacts with immigration and

customs authorities. They began acquiring their visas in April 1999 and

began entering the country in December 2000. They successfully entered

the United States 33 times over 21 months, through nine airports of

entry, most of which were on the East Coast.

priestson
priestson

 Strengthens suspicions that some of the Bush gang were part of the conspiracy. Probably not Bush himself, a clueless moron most of the time who pickled  his brain at Yale..

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

Bush was choking on pretzels and had no plan.  Any plan was devised by the neocons, Halliburton and Cheney.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

Bush was choking on pretzels and had no plan.  Cheney officials did have a plan and it was all about the zionists neocons and Halliburton, which is a person and may run for president with Cheney sucking both tits and the butt end.

plooger
plooger

Good to read something that actually mirrors the reality I recall, especially the early Bush Admin push to roll back our arms treaties and push the missile defense effort. It seemed surreal, at the time, that an administration in the year 2000 was regressing to Cold War issues.

thebobbob
thebobbob

Bush was told to expect the attack and he dismissed the warnings. He had

the Republican “dream team” of Romney and Rumsfeld telling him that the

Commies in N. Korea and Saddam were the problem, not a rag-head in the

mountains of Afghanistan. Besides, that “pot-smoking, womanizing,

sax-playing Clinton wasn’t “serious” and anything they said couldn’t be

trusted.

Bush did NOT keep America safe. 9/11 happened on his watch. He and his

fellow chest-beating, flag-waving, cross-carrying Republicans left

America in shambles.

Obama has made America safer and has done a great job fixing the mess he was handed.

Sam Michaels
Sam Michaels

Wake up...  Search  "911-In plane sight".. "Hunt the Boeing", "A plane did not hit the pentagon", and the "Shanksville hoax"  for so much video evidence of a coverup that you will have a headache for years... Within these searches listed adouve, there are thousands of links to prove that the jets that crashed on 9/11 were remote controlled by the CIA--There NEVER were any Hi-Jackers...  It was all made up in order to blame Iraq so that the United States could build a huge base there... Osama Bin Ladin had Nothing to do with this..but the CIA and the bush white house had Everthing to do with it

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bystanderX
bystanderX

If you read the charter of the PNAC, it pretty much begs for 9/11, calling it a "pearl harbor" event, necessary to mobilize american armed forces to spread american democracy. If you know anything about straussian neo-conservatism, you realize that "the big lie" is permissable in pursuit of your aims. Strauss, and his disciples, and by extension most of the GOP base today, see things in black and white, good or bad, while most rational people understand that most of the spectrum is composed of different shades of grey.

bystanderX
bystanderX

If you read the charter of the PNAC, it pretty much begs for 9/11, calling it a "pearl harbor" event, necessary to mobilize american armed forces to spread american democracy. If you know anything about straussian neo-conservatism, you realize that "the big lie" is permissable in pursuit of your aims. Strauss, and his disciples, and by extension most of the GOP base today, see things in black and white, good or bad, while most rational people understand that most of the spectrum is composed of different shades of grey.

Bill Collins
Bill Collins

that is why bush felt asleep at his desk and the usa fell asleep as well !

well, if he had followed up with the damn brief, what would he have done about it ? practically NOTHING !

mjaeger
mjaeger

As far back as 1999 the Bush admin was warned that terrorists were going to use airliners as bombs, or perhaps suitcase nukes.

http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/pdf-...

The Bush admin didn't even enforce the no fly list after receiving this intel.

ahandout
ahandout

 I hate to tell you this slick, but Clinton was president in 1999, and we had ALREADY been attacked in 1993 at the WTC.

mjaeger
mjaeger

Bush, Clinton it does not matter. Intel was delivered and not acted on. That's the point.

mjaeger
mjaeger

You did say it, that it matters to name them. You say its dry because your argument is dry and without merit.

bobell
bobell

I cannot explain what you want me to explain because I never said it, and I don't think a fair reading of what I did say leads to an inference that I intended to convey any such thing.

Otherwise, I think this well has gone dry.

mjaeger
mjaeger

We all agree that both presidents Clinton and Bush received specific warnings about imminent attacks and neither did anything substantial to stop them. Two presidents of different parties sat on Intel that could have saved life and property... Please explain your logic of why naming names makes the failure ok.

bobell
bobell

Tolstoy notwithstanding, it matters very much who is president.  Blaming "the president," without naming him, doesn't tell us much.

mjaeger
mjaeger

The office of the Presidency is to blame, no matter who sits in the chair. My mistake was only putting the name of the wrong monkey in my post. I am not assigning blame to a person, but failure of government in general to protect the safety and well being of its citizens. Wake up and stop playing partisan politics.

bobell
bobell

No, that's not the point.

If you're trying to assign responsibility, it matters quite a bit who was president at the time of a given event.  It's perfectly okay to argue that something did or did not carry over, e.g., the job losses that started under Bush in late 2008 and ran well into 2009, which history will assess as Bush's responsibility even though Obama became president in January 2009.  But the job losses are an established fact without regard to who gets the blame; there's no arguing that (if you're sane).

It matters greatly who knew what in advance of 9/11 and who did what with the information.  That warnings were ignored has been known for a decade and is disputed only by loonies. Like it or not, the point is who gets the blame for ignoring those warnings.  Having Bush ignoring warnings in 1999 is like blaming Obama for the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Bush took over in 2001 and got plenty of warnings in the months before 9/11.  With him as president, they proved inadequate. Whether things would have been different with another president is impossible to determine, thought I'm sure we all have our opinions.

But thanks for playing.

mjaeger
mjaeger

Your comment is irrelevant to the discussion. If you want to get technical, Puerto Rican nationals are our country's greatest terrorism threat statistically, responsible for hundreds of bombings.

the_end_is_fly
the_end_is_fly

WOW! Thanks for this link, quite depressing.... from that report:

"Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaida’s Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House. Ramzi Yousef had planned to do this against the CIA headquarters. "

But yes our intelligence agencies really failed... lets spy on the American people, make them hate travelling, and make torture fun again!!!

Steve336
Steve336

Kristol, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Jeb Bush, et. al.  signers of  "Rebuilding America's Defenses" published by The Project For A New American Century....and published PRIOR to 9/11...a direct cut/paste quote: 

 "Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event––like a new Pearl Harbor" 

They welcomed an attack. They probably expected a USS Cole-type attack, maybe in a naval shipyard. They couldn't conceive of what actually happened, of course.  Nevertheless, a catalyst is what they wanted.... And what does it say of our political system that not one of them has paid a price. Hell, Cheney and Rumsfeld didn't have the decency to divest themselves of their personal stock holdings in the defense industry.

Armand Winter
Armand Winter

The contents of the briefing warning of 9/11 have never been revealed.

Osama's brother was one of Bush's partners in 'El Busto' oil.

Bush took the Bin Ladin family into the White House for two days until they could arrange for a flight out of the country on a CIA jet... there's a photo on google images showing them sitting on the porch sipping mint juleps.

the_end_is_fly
the_end_is_fly

Aside from the massive loss of life that could have been avoided, look at the aftermath of all of this. The attacks on 911 could have been avoided had Bush asked for more intelligence work when the first memo came to his office in spring. The info regarding Al Qaeda flight training, etc, would have been connected to the threats Al Qaeda was bragging about. But instead the info was ignored and as a result of the "intelligence failure" to stop 911, the Patriot Act, TSA, Department of Homeland Security, Torture, illegal searches, illegal detention, etc all implemented in the US to fight the terrorism that the old methods had failed to stop. The old methods were working! It was an inept administration that failed! So here we are, with the constitution in the toilet, a so-called free press run by the elite who only look out for their own interest instead of reporting the truth. The "free" press failed, the government failed, the economy tanked, and the propaganda worked. And we learned absolutely nothing.

anotherlimey
anotherlimey

If Bush was such a great president why is he laying low right now ? I'm not complaining that we don't see anything of him but I feel even Republicans know he was, and is, a liability that they would rather forget.

priestson
priestson

 Apparently  even Bush the Elder can't stand him.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

His (ostensible) veep gets out more than W does.  Too bad every time he speaks it's from the standpoint of a much-reviled, cold, pathetic excuse for a human.