REPEATEDLY IGNORED AND FAILED TO RESPOND TO HIGH LEVEL INTELLIGENCE WARNINGS OF PLANNED TERRORIST ATTACKS IN THE US, PRIOR TO 911
The White House's top counter-terrorism adviser, Richard A. Clarke, has testified that from the beginning of George W. Bush's presidency until September 11, 2001, Clarke attempted unsuccessfully to persuade President Bush to take steps to protect the nation against terrorism. Clarke sent a memorandum to then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice on January 24, 2001, "urgently" but unsuccessfully requesting "a Cabinet-level meeting to deal with the impending al Qaeda attack."
In April 2001, Clarke was finally granted a meeting, but only with second-in-command department representatives, including Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, who made light of Clarke's concerns.
Clarke confirms that in June, July, and August, 2001, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) warned the president in daily briefings of unprecedented indications that a major al Qaeda attack was going to happen against the United States somewhere in the world in the weeks and months ahead. Yet, Clarke was still unable to convene a cabinet-level meeting to address the issue.
According to Condoleezza Rice, the first and only cabinet-level meeting prior to 9/11 to discuss the threat of terrorist attacks took place on September 4, 2001, one week before the attacks in New York and Washington.
On August 6, 2001, President Bush was presented a President's Daily Brief (PDB) article titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." The lead sentence of that PDB article indicated that Bin Laden and his followers wanted to "follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and 'bring the fighting to America.'" The article warned: "Al-Qa'ida members—including some who are US citizens— have resided in or traveled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks."
The article cited a "more sensational threat reporting that Bin Laden wanted to hijack a US aircraft," but indicated that the CIA had not been able to corroborate such reporting. The PDB item included information from the FBI indicating "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 article also noted that the CIA and FBI were investigating "a call to our embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group of Bin Laden supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives."
The president spent the rest of August 6, and almost all the rest of August 2001 on vacation. There is no evidence that he called any meetings of his advisers to discuss this alarming report. When the title and substance of this PDB article were later reported in the press, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice began a sustained campaign to play down its significance, until the actual text was eventually released by the White House.
New York Times writer Douglas Jehl, put it this way: "In a single 17-sentence document, the intelligence briefing delivered to President Bush in August 2001 spells out the who, hints at the what and points towards the where of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington that followed 36 days later."
Eleanor Hill, Executive Director of the joint congressional committee investigating the performance of the US intelligence community before September 11, 2001, reported in mid-September 2002 that intelligence reports a year earlier "reiterated a consistent and constant theme: Osama bin Laden's intent to launch terrorist attacks inside the United States."
Given the White House's insistence on secrecy with regard to what intelligence was given to President Bush, the joint-inquiry report does not divulge whether he took part in that briefing. Even if he did not, it strains credulity to suppose that those "senior government officials" would have kept its alarming substance from the president.
Again, there is no evidence that the president held any meetings or took any action to deal with the threats of such attacks.