"In late August 2001, when aggressive presidential action might have changed the course of U.S. history, CIA Director George Tenet made a special trip to Crawford, Texas, to get George W. Bush to focus on an imminent threat of a spectacular al-Qaeda attack only to have the conversation descend into meaningless small talk.
Alarmed CIA officials already had held an extraordinary meeting with then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice on July 10 to lay out the accumulating evidence of an impending attack and had delivered on Aug. 6 a special “Presidential Daily Brief” to Bush entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US.”
“A few weeks after the Aug. 6 PDB was delivered, I followed it to Crawford to make sure the President stayed current on events,” Tenet wrote in his memoir, At the Center of the Storm. “This was my first visit to the ranch. I remember the President graciously driving me around the spread in his pickup and my trying to make small talk about the flora and the fauna, none of which were native to Queens,” where Tenet had grown up.
Tenet’s trip to Crawford – like the July 10 meeting with Rice and the Aug. 6 briefing paper for Bush – failed to shock the administration out of its lethargy nor elicit the emergency steps that the CIA and other counterterrorism specialists wanted.
While Tenet and Bush made small talk about “the flora and the fauna,” al-Qaeda operatives put the finishing touches on their plans.
It wasn’t until Sept. 4 – a week before 9/11 – when senior Bush administration officials, including Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, “finally reconvened in the White House Situation Room” to discuss counter-terrorism plans “that had been lingering unresolved all summer long,” Tenet wrote.
Tenet’s memoir also provided new details about the emergency July 10 meeting that Tenet had demanded with Rice to lay out the startling new evidence of an impending al-Qaeda attack.
By July 10, senior CIA counterterrorism officials, including Cofer Black, had collected a body of intelligence that they first presented to Tenet.
“The briefing [Black] gave me literally made my hair stand on end,” Tenet wrote. “When he was through, I picked up the big white secure phone on the left side of my desk – the one with a direct line to Condi Rice – and told her that I needed to see her immediately to provide an update on the al-Qa’ida threat.”
‘Significant Terrorist Attack’
After reaching the White House, a CIA briefer, identified in the book only as Rich B., started his presentation by saying: “There will be a significant terrorist attack in the coming weeks or months!”
Rich B. then displayed a chart showing “seven specific pieces of intelligence gathered over the past 24 hours, all of them predicting an imminent attack,” Tenet wrote. The briefer presented another chart with “the more chilling statements we had in our possession through intelligence.”
These comments included a mid-June statement by Osama bin Laden to trainees about an attack in the near future; talk about decisive acts and a “big event”; and fresh intelligence about predictions of “a stunning turn of events in the weeks ahead,” Tenet wrote.
Rich B. told Rice that the attack will be “spectacular” and designed to inflict heavy casualties against U.S. targets, Tenet wrote.
“Attack preparations have been made,” Rich B. said about al-Qaeda’s plans. “Multiple and simultaneous attacks are possible, and they will occur with little or no warning.”
When Rice asked what needed to be done, the CIA’s Black responded, “This country needs to go on a war footing now.” The CIA officials sought approval for broad covert-action authority that had been languishing since March, Tenet wrote.
Despite the July 10 briefing, other senior Bush administration officials continued to pooh-pooh the seriousness of the al-Qaeda threat. Two leading neoconservatives at the Pentagon – Stephen Cambone and Paul Wolfowitz – suggested that the CIA might be falling for a disinformation campaign, Tenet wrote.
But the evidence of an impending attack continued to pour in. At one CIA meeting in late July, Tenet wrote that Rich B. told senior officials bluntly, “they’re coming here,” a declaration that was followed by stunned silence.
The intelligence community’s evidence was summarized in the special PDB that was delivered to Bush while he was vacationing at his ranch in Crawford.
The PDB ended by noting that “FBI information … indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York. The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the US that it considers Bin Ladin-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our Embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group of Bin Ladin supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives.”
Bush apparently was not pleased by the CIA’s intrusion on his vacation nor with the report’s lack of specific targets and dates. He glared at the CIA briefer and snapped, “All right, you’ve covered your ass,” according to an account in author Ron Suskind’s The One Percent Doctrine., which relied heavily on senior CIA officials.
Ordering no special response, Bush returned to his month-long vacation of fishing, clearing brush and working on a speech about stem-cell research."
Monday, May 07, 2007
all predicting an imminent attack
Posted by lukery at 5/07/2007 10:47:00 AM