9/11: When the facts didn’t fit their neocon fantasies

Astounding. This New York Times oped piece by Kurt Eichenwald says the neocon influence in the Bush White House was so all-consuming, so rigid, that when President Bush received numerous intelligence briefings about an impending attack by bin Laden, they decided it was an attempt to distract them from Saddam Hussein. Frightening, just how criminally negligent they were – and they’ve never admitted they were wrong, not even after all this time and all these people dead:

On Aug. 6, 2001, President George W. Bush received a classified review of the threats posed by Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, Al Qaeda. That morning’s “presidential daily brief” — the top-secret document prepared by America’s intelligence agencies — featured the now-infamous heading: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” A few weeks later, on 9/11, Al Qaeda accomplished that goal.

On April 10, 2004, the Bush White House declassified that daily brief — and only that daily brief — in response to pressure from the 9/11 Commission, which was investigating the events leading to the attack. Administration officials dismissed the document’s significance, saying that, despite the jaw-dropping headline, it was only an assessment of Al Qaeda’s history, not a warning of the impending attack. While some critics considered that claim absurd, a close reading of the brief showed that the argument had some validity.

That is, unless it was read in conjunction with the daily briefs preceding Aug. 6, the ones the Bush administration would not release. While those documents are still not public, I have read excerpts from many of them, along with other recently declassified records, and come to an inescapable conclusion:

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 some in the administration considered the warning to be just bluster. An intelligence official and a member of the Bush administration both told me in interviews that the neoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power at the Pentagon were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat. 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.

In response, the C.I.A. prepared an analysis that all but pleaded with the White House to accept that the danger from Bin Laden was real.
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Catfood Commission road show here today

Go and tell them you don’t want a Grand Bargain!

Temple University

9:30 AM – 10:30 AM EST

Hosted by the Fox School of Business
Location: Alter Hall, 1801 Liacouras Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19122

Governor Rendell is participating. AC 360 will be filming the event and it will air on Wednesday.

University of Pennsylvania

12:30 PM – 2:00 PM EST

Hosted by the Fels Institute
Location: Amado Recital Hall in Irvine Auditorium
Corner of 34th & Spruce Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19122

Governor Rendell is participating. AC 360 will be filming the event and it will air on Wednesday.

To learn more about the event, please go here.

Autumn

This weather has been intoxicating. A high of 75 today — it was just delightful. And it’s supposed to be like this until the weekend.

True the Vote

Ballot box bullies are coming to a state near you — and true to wingnut tradition, will be doing their best to do the exact opposite of what they say they’re doing.

Common Cause, League of Women Voters, the NAACP and other organizations are training poll watchers to report any intimidating activity. Targeted states include Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.

Why we’re still in Afghanistan

Russ Baker from Whowhatwhy.com with a look at what could be the real reason we’re staying in Afghanistan:

When the United States decided to invade Afghanistan to grab Osama bin Laden—and failed, but stayed on like an unwanted guest—could it have known that the Afghans were sitting on some of the world’s greatest reserves of mineral wealth?


We’ve raised this topic before (see here)—where we noted the dubious 2010 claim, published by the New York Times, that “the vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was [recently] discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists.” Other evidence, and logic, point to the fact that everyone but the Western public knew for a long time, and before the 2001 invasion, that Afghanistan was a treasure trove.


So we were interested to see a new piece from the Times that emphasizes those riches without stressing the crucial question: Was the original impetus for the invasion really Osama—or Mammon?


The failure to pose this question is significant because the pretense of a “recent discovery” serves only to justify staying in Afghanistan now that the troops are already there—while ignoring the extent to which imperial-style resource grabs are the real drivers of foreign policy and wars, worldwide.


As long as we continue to dance around that issue, we will remain mired in disaster of both a financial and mortal nature. As long as we fail to tote up who are the principal winners and losers then we fail to understand what is going on.


Some of the least likely candidates for insight are waking up. To quote Alan Greenspan: “I’m saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” Who will say the same about Afghanistan and its mineral wealth? Once we acknowledge what General Wesley Clark claims (and which the media keeps ignoring)—that he was told the U.S. had plans ready at the time of the 9/11 attacks to invade seven countries (including Iraq and Afghanistan)– then the larger picture begins to come into view.

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