On December 13, 2008 the New York Times published the following OpEd by Reuel Marc Gerecht, ex-CIA officer and a member of Foundation for Defense of Democracies. FDD is a neocon think tank that includes Steve Forbes, Bill Kristol, Jack Kemp, Louis J. Freeh, Joseph Lieberman, Newt Gingrich, Max Kampelman, Robert Macfarlane, and James Woolsey. FDD's Board of Advisors are Gary Bauer, Rep. Eric Cantor, Frank Gaffney, Gene Gately, Charles Jacobs, General P.X. Kelley, Charles Krauthammer, Hon. Richard D. Lamm, Kathleen Troia "KT" McFarland, Sen. Zell Miller, Richard Perle, Steven Pomerantz, Oliver "Buck" Revell, Hon. Francis J. "Bing" West (This list courtesy of Wikipedia).
In his OpEd Gerecht postulates a "ticking time bomb" scenario:
"[I]f we’d gotten our hands on a senior member of Al Qaeda before 9/11, and knew that an attack likely to kill thousands of Americans was imminent, wouldn’t waterboarding, or taking advantage of the skills of our Jordanian friends, have been the sensible, moral thing to do with a holy warrior who didn’t fear death but might have feared pain?"
Interestingly, the US government did have information about a pending attack on the US, with the World Trade Center Twin Towers specifically mentioned by more than one source. What did the Bush White House do about this?
Not only did they have information, they had a great deal of information, from diverse and multiple sources, all without engaging in rendition and without employing torture. Imagine that: you can actually get useful information without drowning people, beating them to a pulp, suffocating them or sending electricity through their genitals? Fancy that.
In my book, Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney, you will find this abbreviated list, in Chapter 14 by Peter Phillips, Bridget Thornton, Lew Brown and Andrew Sloan, of what the White House knew before 9/11:
"1996–2001: Federal authorities knew that suspected terrorists with ties to bin Laden received flight training at schools in the U.S. and abroad. An Oklahoma City FBI agent sent a memo warning that 'large numbers of Middle Eastern males' were getting flight training and could have been planning terrorist attacks. (CBS, May 30, 2002.) One convicted terrorist confessed that his planned role in a terror attack was to crash a plane into CIA headquarters. (Washington Post, September 23, 2001.)
"JUNE of 2001: German intelligence warned the CIA, Britain’s intelligence agency, and Israel’s Mossad that Middle Eastern terrorists were planning to hijack commercial aircraft and use them as weapons to attack 'American and Israeli symbols which stand out.' (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, September 11, 2001; Washington Post, September 14, 2001; Fox News, May 17, 2002.)
"JUNE 28, 2001: George Tenet wrote an intelligence summary to Condoleezza Rice stating, 'It is highly likely that a significant al-Qaeda attack is in the near future, within several weeks.' (Washington Post, February 17, 2002.)
"JUNE–JULY 2001: President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and national security aides were given briefs with headlines such as 'Bin Laden Threats Are Real' and 'Bin Laden Planning High Profile Attacks.' The exact contents of these briefings remain classified, but according to the 9/11 Commission, they consistently predicted upcoming attacks that would occur 'on a catastrophic level, indicating that they would cause the world to be in turmoil, consisting of possible multiple—but not necessarily simultaneous—attacks.' (9/11 Commission Report, April 13, 2004.)
"JULY 26, 2001: Attorney General Ashcroft stopped flying commercial airlines because of a threat assessment. (CBS, July 26, 2001.) The report of this warning was omitted from the 9/11 Commission Report. (Griffin, May 22, 2005.)
"AUGUST, 2001: Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the U.S. that suicide pilots were training for attacks on U.S. targets. (Fox News, May 17, 2002.) The head of Russian intelligence also later stated, 'We had clearly warned them' on several occasions, but they 'did not pay the necessary attention.' (Agence France-Presse, September 16, 2001.)
"SEPTEMBER 10, 2001: a group of top Pentagon officials received an urgent warning that prompted them to cancel their flight plans for the following morning. (Newsweek, September 17, 2001.) The 9/11 Commission Report omitted this report. (Griffin, May 22, 2005.)" (Pp. 268-270)