Former US President George W. Bush was given a series of direct warnings throughout 2001 about the possibility of a terrorist attack by Al Qaeda – but failed to take them seriously, it was claimed today.
On the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, it has been reported that the White House received multiple briefs between May and August 2001 about an attack with explosives and numerous casualties.
But George W. Bush continually failed to take any significant action and questioned the thoroughness of the briefings – leading to huge frustrations within the CIA.
These repeated warnings came before the famous top secret briefing – which has previously been reported – given to George Bush on August 6 with the heading “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S.”.
Just a few weeks later on September 11, terrorists smashed planes into the World Trade Center in New York City – killing nearly 3,000 people and horrifying the world.
Details of the other briefings given to George W. Bush and his administration – which have never been made public – have now been revealed by The New York Times.
And they paint a startling picture of negligence at the heart of the U.S. government before 9/11.
The White House was made aware of potential attacks in the spring and, by May 1, was told by the CIA that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist attack, the Times reported.
In another daily brief on June 22, the administration was told that Al Qaeda strikes could be “imminent”.
However, the new neoconservative leaders at the Pentagon told the White House that the CIA had been fooled.
They believed that Osama Bin Laden was pretending to plan an attack to distract the U.S. from Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Following this, the CIA prepared another daily brief for June 29 in which they listed over a page the evidence which they had built up.
This included an interview with a journalist from the Middle East in which aides of Bin Laden warned of an upcoming attack.
The briefing also included: “The U.S. is not the target of a disinformation campaign by Usama Bin Laden.”
It also included details from people close to Osama Bin Laden which claimed the expected attacks would have dramatic consequences with many casualties.
Another warning on July 1 said despite the attack being delayed it would soon take place.
But despite these warnings the White House did not appear to take them as seriously as the CIA was demanding.
The Times reports that officials within the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center became increasingly angry and in one meeting an official suggested the staff request a transfer so they could not be blamed when the attack occurred.
The White House was also told that the extremist Ibn Al-Khattab – known for his links to Al Qaeda – told his followers in Chechnya that there would “be big news soon”, the Times reported.
George W. Bush was told on July 24 that the attack was still being prepared but added that it had been postponed by a few months. However, he did not think the briefings were adequate and requested a much more detailed analysis of Al Qaeda.
This was to be the famous briefing of August 6 which was eventually declassified by the White House in April 2004 and made public.
“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,” Kurt Eichenwald wrote in the piece for the New York Times.
“In other words, the August 6 document, for all of the controversy it provoked, is not nearly as shocking as the briefs that came before it.”
Following the devastating attacks on 9/11, the White House – which was receiving criticism it had ignored CIA warnings – said it had never been told when or where the attacks would take place.
Yet many have claimed that if the government had been on high security alert over that summer they may have found out about the planned attack – and saved the lives of thousands.
Yet George Pataki, New York state governor on 9/11, laid into Eichenwald during a joint appearance on MSNBC for writing the New York Times article about the briefings.
“I just think this is incredibly unfortunate, to be perfectly honest. Because first of all, having been there, on September 11th and for weeks, months thereafter President Bush provided inspired, effective leadership,” George Pataki, a Republican, said.
“On September 11th everything changed and to look 11 years later and say, <<Aha, this was happening before September 11th in the summer>> and go though and selectively say, <<You should’ve done that, you should’ve done that>> I think is incredibly unfair and a disservice to history.
“And by the way if you look back there are those who could have said that President Roosevelt was at fault for Pearl Harbor. But the government didn’t look back and say, <<let’s blame the President>>; we came together to fight an important war.”
IGNORED WARNINGS: THE CIA BRIEFS ABOUT AL QAEDA ATTACK
May 1, 2001 CIA told White House that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation “with explosives”
June 22, 2001 CIA brief reported that Al Qaeda attacks could be “imminent”
June 29, 2001 Warning that the government needed to take briefs seriously. Added evidence included Osama Bin Laden aides warning of an attack and operatives claiming it would have “dramatic consequences”
July 1, 2001 Brief said the operation had been delayed but “will occur soon”
July 9, 2001 Extremist in Chechnya linked to Al Qaeda told followers there would soon be big news – and within 48 hours the information was passed to the White House
July 24, 2001 George W. Bush told the attack was still under preparation but that it had been postponed
August 6, 2001 George W. Bush received review of threats posed by Al Qaeda with headline: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”