Documents disclose 9/11 warnings

Diane Bondareff/AP file photo

Documents show the U.S. was given more warnings about potential terrorist attacks in the weeks leading up to 9/11, writes Vanity Fair contributing editor Kurt Eichenwald in a New York Times op-ed.

The documents predate the presidential daily briefing on Aug. 6, 2001, which said, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”

“The administration’s reaction to what Mr. Bush was told in the weeks before that infamous briefing reflected significantly more negligence than has been disclosed,” he wrote. “In other words, the Aug. 6 document, for all of the controversy it provoked, is not nearly as shocking as the briefs that came before it.”

The direct warnings to Bush, he writes, date back to the spring of 2001. On May 1, the CIA told the White House that there was “a group presently in the United States” that was planning an attack. On June 22, a daily briefing described the attack as eminent. Administration officials, however, dismissed the warnings, saying that Osama bin Laden was merely feigning an attack to distract the U.S. from efforts against Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

“Intelligence officials, these sources said, protested that the idea of Bin Laden, an Islamic fundamentalist, conspiring with Mr. Hussein, an Iraqi secularist, was ridiculous, but the neoconservatives’ suspicions were nevertheless carrying the day,” Eichenwald wrote. “In response, the CIA prepared an analysis that all but pleaded with the White House to accept that the danger from Bin Laden was real.”

Briefings on June 29, July 1, and July 24 carried similar warnings. On July 9, Eichenwald writes, one official suggested staff members of the CIA Counterterrorism Center “put in for a transfer so that somebody else would be responsible when the attack took place.”

“[The Bush administration] got this information and they weren't looking at it in the context of here's this huge threat that's developed,” Eichenwald said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “Look at what the Pentagon said, ‘What's the nation state that's backing them? Oh, we think it's Iraq.’ And so, it was a frame of mind that was not unreasonable for them to have because they hadn't been getting the intelligence until very recently about the evolution and change of al-Qaida.”

Eichenwald, however, was criticized by former New York Gov. George Pataki, a Republican, for writing the piece.

“I think this is incredibly unfortunate,” he said on Morning Joe, adding that, "I think is incredibly unfair and a disservice to history.”

Eichenwald wrote a book, “500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars,” describing the intelligence briefings and actions taken by the Bush administration before and after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.