We've known for years that the threat wasn't taken seriously enough and the public excuse that "nobody could have predicted" even though somebody had.
We've known for years that the neoconservative advisers in the administration, and the vice president himself, were far more interested in finishing off Saddam Hussein than they were in doing anything about al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden.
We've known for years that they were only surprised by the scope of the attack on Sept. 11, 2001, not the fact that a major attack happened.
We've known because, despite the stubborn efforts of the administration to keep any investigation secret and to put that investigation under the oversight of Henry f'n Kissinger, the 9/11 Commission Report told us. Because the National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism, Richard Clarke, told us. Because Bush officials, through their denials and buck-passing and blame-pointing, told us.
We've known that from Sept. 12 on, the Bush administration took the attacks as an excuse to go after Saddam Hussein, that Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and the whole "cabal," as Colin Powell's Chief of Staff Larry Wilkerson later called it, concocted a pile of lies to support their invasion of Iraq and the killing or maiming of hundreds of thousands of people who had zero to do with what happened on Sept. 11.
What we didn't know was just how many warnings the administration had received and how deep the anger among analysts was about the administration's unwillingness to take action on the intelligence that they provided.
Eichenwald makes it clear. What they knew didn't just come from the Aug. 6 Presidential Daily Brief titled bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US.
The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001. By May 1, the Central Intelligence Agency told the White House of a report that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation. Weeks later, on June 22, the daily brief reported that Qaeda strikes could be “imminent,” although intelligence suggested the time frame was flexible.But the administration's neoconservative advisers, Eichenwald writes, said the CIA had been fooled and that focus on al Qaeda was a "distraction" from Saddam Hussein who they saw as the greater threat. To which the CIA replied:
“The U.S. is not the target of a disinformation campaign by Usama Bin Laden,” the daily brief of June 29 read, using the government’s transliteration of Bin Laden’s first name. Going on for more than a page, the document recited much of the evidence, including an interview that month with a Middle Eastern journalist in which Bin Laden aides warned of a coming attack, as well as competitive pressures that the terrorist leader was feeling, given the number of Islamists being recruited for the separatist Russian region of Chechnya.At least three more warnings came before the Aug. 6 PDB. From the administration: crickets.
And the C.I.A. repeated the warnings in the briefs that followed.
On CBS News today, Eichenwald rejected the idea that it was the intelligence community that failed:
"Actually, the counterterrorist center of the CIA did a spectacular job, and that's what really comes down. You know, in the aftermath, the White House and others said, 'Well they didn't tell us enough.' No, they told them everything they needed to know to go on a full alert and the White House didn't do it."One of the leading mouthpieces for the shameful parade of venality and imperialist assault that followed the Sept. 11 attacks proved today that its fabricators have no intention of changing their spots. Here's Ari Fleischer adding one more lie to the deep pile he has told over the years.
Nothing in Eichenwald's op-ed indicates that he is a "Truther." And no reviewer of Eichenwald's book, 500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars, makes such an argument. The claim is just another Fleischer smear, just one more attempt to discredit the administration's critics.
Many of the Bush administration's advisers who ignored the warnings, who pushed for the focus on Iraq, are now advisers on Mitt Romney's team. As Eichenwald demonstrates, their casual references to the threat from the "Soviet Union" is the least of the reasons they should never ever be allowed near the levers of power in the future.
teacherken has a post discussing the subject here.