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  1. #1
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    * Washington Post - Wednesday edition - Bush Saw Repeated Warnings

    Panel Says Bush Saw Repeated Warnings


    By Dana Priest
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Wednesday, April 14, 2004; Page A01


    By the time a CIA briefer gave President Bush the Aug. 6, 2001, President's Daily Brief headlined "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US," the president had seen a stream of alarming reports on al Qaeda's intentions. So had Vice President Cheney and Bush's top national security team, according to newly declassified information released yesterday by the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

    In April and May 2001, for example, the intelligence community headlined some of those reports, "Bin Laden planning multiple operations," "Bin Laden network's plans advancing" and "Bin Laden threats are real."

    The intelligence included reports of a hostage plot against Americans. It noted that operatives might choose to hijack an aircraft or storm a U.S. embassy. Without knowing when, where or how the terrorists would strike, the CIA "consistently described the upcoming attacks as occurring on a catastrophic level, indicating that they would cause the world to be in turmoil," according to one of two staff reports released by the panel yesterday.

    "Reports similar to these were made available to President Bush in the morning meetings with [Director of Central Intelligence George J.] Tenet," the commission staff said.

    The information offers the most detailed account to date of the warnings the intelligence community gave top Bush administration officials, and provides the context in which a CIA briefer put together a memo on Osama bin Laden's activities in the Aug. 6 PDB for Bush.

    The government moved on several fronts to counter the threats. The CIA launched "disruption operations" in 20 countries. Tenet met or phoned 20 foreign intelligence officials. Units of the 5th Fleet were redeployed. Embassies went on alert. Cheney called Crown Prince Adbullah of Saudi Arabia to ask for help. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice asked the CIA to brief Attorney General John D. Ashcroft about an "imminent" terrorist attack whose location was unknown.

    "The system was blinking red," Tenet told the commission in private testimony, the panel's report noted.

    In this context, Bush "had occasionally asked his briefers whether any of the threats pointed to the United States," the report said. Or as one U.S. senior official more intimately involved in the summer reporting paraphrased the president's question to the CIA: "This guy going to strike here?"

    A partial answer was contained in the very first sentence of the Aug. 6 President's Daily Brief: "Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate Bin Ladin since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US."

    The document ended with two paragraphs of circumstantial evidence that al Qaeda operatives might already be in the United States preparing "for hijackings or other types of attacks," and that the FBI and the CIA were investigating a call to the U.S. Embassy in the United Arab Emirates in May "saying that a group of Bin Ladin supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives."

    The commission also released new details showing how the CIA and FBI failures to track the movements of two hijackers, Khalid al Mihdhar and Nawaf al Hazmi, and share information foiled what now appears to have been the best chance to disrupt the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

    The CIA knew Mihdhar had attended a meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in January 2000 where, officials later learned, he had helped plan the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole off the coast of Aden, Yemen. After the meeting, Mihdhar and others went to Bangkok, but the CIA station in Malaysia did not inform the CIA station in Bangkok in a timely manner.

    Only two months later, in March, did the CIA learn that Mihdhar had left Bangkok with a visa to the United States.

    In January 2001, two surveillance photographs from the Kuala Lumpur meeting were shown to an informant who was helping both the CIA and the FBI. He helped them understand that Mihdhar was at the meeting with a man identified as "Khallad" -- who by then was known to have planned the Cole bombing. But "we found no effort by the CIA to renew the long-abandoned search for Mihdhar or his traveling companions," the staff report noted.

    Also, contrary to the previous testimony of Tenet, the CIA did not tell the FBI about this discovery until late August 2001, according to the report.

    Mihdhar had left the United States in June 2000 but had plans to return.

    "It is possible that if, in January 2001, agencies had resumed their search for him" or had placed him on a terrorist watch list, "they might have found him" before he applied for a new visa in June 2001, the report said. "Or they might have been alerted to him when he returned to the United States the following month. We cannot know."

    In mid-May 2001, during the height of threat reporting, a CIA official went back through the Mihdhar files and discovered that he had a U.S. visa and that Hazmi had come to Los Angeles on January 15, 2000. The official concluded "something bad was definitely up," the staff report said, but he did not alert his FBI counterparts. "He was focused on Malaysia."

    But the report said he did ask an FBI analyst detailed to the CIA to review the Kuala Lumpur material again -- "in her free time." She began on July 24, 2001, and learned from the Immigration and Naturalization Service that the two might be in the country. She drafted a cable asking that Mihdhar and Hazmi be put on a terrorist watch list. The FBI analyst, meanwhile, "took responsibility for the search effort inside the United States."

    The analyst thought Mihdhar was in New York and informed the FBI's New York field office. But she labeled her first e-mail to the office "routine," which gave the FBI 30 days to respond.

    "No one apparently felt they needed to inform higher levels of management in either the FBI or CIA about the case," the commission staff said.

    The search was assigned to an FBI agent who had never before handled a counterterrorism lead.

    "Many witnesses have suggested that even if Mihdhar had been found, there was nothing the agents could have done except follow him onto the planes," the report said. "We believe this is incorrect.

    "Both Hazmi and Mihdhar could have been held for immigration violations, or as material witnesses in the Cole bombing case," the commission report said. Interrogations "also may have yielded evidence of connections to other participants in the 9/11 plot. In any case, the opportunity did not arise."



    © 2004 The Washington Post Company

  2. #2
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    you post too many bush threads.

  3. #3
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    [x] YES
    [ ] NO

  4. #4
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    Hindsight is always 20/20.... What would you have done in Bush's shoes?

  5. #5
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    Full text of the Bush interview with Q&A's.

    He called Rumsfeld "Secretary of State" and made some comments about brown-skinned people

    http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/nation/2503831

  6. #6
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    Originally posted by amish_geek
    What would you have done in Bush's shoes?
    That -- what Bush did or not do prior to 9/11 -- is not the point. The point is what he and his administration have done since then and what they are doing now -- denying that there was any credible intelligence and information at that time about the risk of a terrorist attack within the US.
    Specializing in SEO and PPC management.

  7. #7
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    Yeah, i read this in the paper.
    JayC I think you are correct.
    Benoît Brookens III
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