Neocons Convinced Bush to Ignore Al Qaeda Attack Warnings Leading Up to 9/11

When people adopt a highly rationalized worldview designed to justify whatever it is that they want to do, there's no diverting them from their plan -- even in the face of evidence that suggests their plan will lead to disaster. Such was the case with President George W. Bush, according to author Kurt Eichenwald, in the days leading up to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

While it's long been known that Bush was briefed in August of that year about the possibility of an imminent attack, Eichenwald has uncovered evidence of a steady stream of CIA warnings about al Qaeda activity in the U.S. that began in May 2001. From Eichenwald's op-ed in today's New York Times:
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.
For the Bush administration, it was a highly inconvenient stream of information, bent as it was on invading Iraq. So the neocons driving the Bush foreign policy arrived at a novel reading of the situation: Osama Bin Laden was simply trying to divert the administration's attention from Iraq, because he was in league with Saddam Hussein. From Eichenwald:
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.
At one meeting of intelligence officials, Eichenwald reports, an exasperated officer suggested that the whole counter-terrorism team put in for transfers to other departments in order to avoid being left holding the bag when the attack inevitably came to pass.
There's no way to know whether the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and whatever target had been intended for the plane that went down in Shanksville, Penn., could have been prevented based on the available evidence. But Eichenwald's reporting stunningly reveals the lie-steeped hubris with which U.S. foreign policy was conducted under George W. Bush, and a callous disregard for the safety of the American people.
AlterNet / By Adele M. Stan

Posted at September 11, 2012, 7:36am

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