Sept. 11/Bu$h inquiries go mainstream
"Top lawmakers on Thursday pushed for tough inquiries after the White House revealed President Bush was told a month before Sept. 11 that members of Osama bin Laden's terrorist network might attempt to hijack American airplanes."
Spin, counter-spin and disinformation aside (wasn't Osama), the truth will prevail.
'You mean he LIED to us?! Oh, gee whiz!' America is finally waking up to a rancid cup o' Joe.
Go to http://www.copvcia.com/ and http://www.counterpunch.org/ for alternative links to what WE have known about for months!!!
Peace, R.I.P. 9/11/01--To the friends I lost in WTC, we'll never forget you. Justice will be served to enemies foreign and domestic who betrayed their country.
WASHINGTON (May 16, 2002 2:05
p.m. EDT) - Top lawmakers on
Thursday pushed for tough inquiries
after the White House revealed
President Bush was told a month
before Sept. 11 that members of
Osama bin Laden's terrorist network
might attempt to hijack American
"Was there a failure of intelligence?"
asked House Minority Leader Dick
Gephardt, D-Mo. "Did the right officials
not act on the intelligence in the
proper way? These are things we need
to find out."
Federal agencies and airlines were quietly alerted last summer that there
were "nonspecific" threats of hijackings by al-Qaida, White House
spokesman Ari Fleischer said. After those warnings were issued, Bush was
told of the threats during a CIA briefing while on vacation in his Texas ranch
the first week of August, Fleischer said.
But the president and U.S. intelligence did not know that suicide hijackers
were plotting to use planes as missiles, as they did against the World Trade
Center and the Pentagon, Fleischer said.
Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta was told of "long-standing
concerns about possible hijackings" during his regular intelligence briefings
before Sept. 11, but "there was never a scenario put forward that was
anything like the events of 9/11," said department spokesman Chet Lunner.
"There was no specific, credible warning to disseminate," Lunner said.
A spokesman for the trade group that represents the country's major
airlines, Michael Wascom of the Air Transport Association, said: "I am not
aware of any warnings or notifications in advance of Sept. 11 concerning
specific security threats to any of our airlines."
Donn Marshall, whose wife, Shelley, died in the Pentagon attack, expressed
bitterness at the revelations. "The notion that American planes might be
hijacked - that should have caused more concern, even if we didn't think
that they might be flown into things," he said.
"There are people who get paid to put it all together," said Marshall, of
Marbury, Md. But Marshall added that such issues are "almost a moot point.
I can point fingers, but it's not going to bring my wife back."
A CIA official declined to describe what piece of intelligence led to the
concern about hijackings or how it was collected. The information presented
to Bush concerning a hijacking was mentioned in a spectrum of possible
terrorist attacks being plotted against the United States, and did not
initiate any lengthy discussion during the president's briefing.
The development, the first direct link between Bush and intelligence
gathered before Sept. 11 about the attacks, instantly drew strong criticism
from Capitol Hill, mainly by Democrats but also from members of Bush's
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., called on Bush to release to
congressional investigators "the entire briefing that he was given," and also
a recently revealed pre-Sept. 11 FBI memo from the agency's Arizona office
that warned of suspicious activity by Arabs at U.S. flight schools.
"We need to get the facts," Daschle said.
Gephardt said Congress needs to find out - in hearings open to the public -
what Bush and other officials knew, when they knew it and what they did
with the information. He hinted he might push for additional inquiries.
"Right now we have an inquiry that's going on in the intelligence
committees," Gephardt said. "It may or may not be sufficient to get all this
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said: "There were two separate FBI reports plus
a CIA warning, none of which were coordinated. The question is, if all three
had been connected, would that have led to more vigorous activity? That's
the reason why we need the commission to look at it."
But Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., termed Daschle and Gephardt's "effort to blow
this up into a scandal" as irresponsible.
"Their unspoken implication is that the president knew these attacks were
coming and did nothing," Bond said. "That is an insult."
Peppered with questions about the presidential heads-up, Fleischer sought
to play down the development. He said there were long-standing concerns
that Muslim extremists might carry out traditional hijackings, and that bin
Laden had been a major worry for years.
"I don't think this should come as any surprise to anybody," he said of the
warning given to Bush. "But the president did not - not - receive information
about the use of airplanes as missiles by suicide bombers. This was a new
type of attack that was not foreseen."
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence
Committee, said the panel had received the same general warning that "was
not specific in its content."
However, Shelby said on NBC's "Today:" "There was a lot of information, I
believe and others believe, if it had been acted on properly we may have
had a different situation on Sept. 11."
On CNN, Shelby also questioned why the White House waited so long to
acknowledge Bush's knowledge of the hijacking threat. He said of the
warning: "I think it should have been acted on, but it wasn't."
Shelby also suggested he may demand that the White House release the
top-secret CIA briefing received by Bush, and the FBI memo.
The revelation instantly created a politically charged atmosphere in which
every White House statement about pre-Sept. 11 threats was subjected to
new scrutiny. Fleischer, for example, was asked by reporters hours after the
attacks whether "there had been any warnings that the president knew of."
He replied, "No warnings."
Fleischer stood by the comment Thursday, saying there indeed was no
warning of suicide hijackings against American landmarks.
Bush himself said in January, "Never did we realize that the enemy was so
White House officials said Bush was steadfast in private that CIA Director
George Tenet and FBI Director Robert Mueller have done a good job
overhauling their agencies to close the gaps exposed by the Sept. 11
attacks. Their jobs are not in jeopardy, officials said.
One Bush associate quoted the president as saying "no one knew" that bin
Laden was plotting to make the leap from traditional hijackings to the highly
sophisticated suicide attacks on U.S. landmarks. "No one passed (that type
of information) to me," Bush was quoted as saying.
Fleischer said that starting in May 2001, there had been increased threats
of terrorism strikes against U.S. targets - primarily abroad - and that
security was tightened at U.S. embassies and military installations.
With the threat of hijackings, there was "a pulling together of domestic
agencies to make certain that they were aware of this information."
At least some agency officials, including Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill,
said Thursday that they had received no specific information about possible
terrorist hijackings of airplanes before Sept. 11.
The Associated Press reported earlier this month that FBI headquarters did
not act on a memo last July from its Arizona office warning there were a
large number of Arabs seeking pilot, security and airport operations training
at at least one U.S. flight school and which urged a check of all flight
schools to identify more possible Middle Eastern students.
A section of that classified memo also makes a passing reference to bin
Laden, speculating that al-Qaida and other such groups could organize such
flight training, officials said.
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