December 11, 2003

Where The Blame Lies

Regis Sabol, Intervention Magazine: "The evidence shows President Bush was asleep or incompetent or indifferent and the horror of 9/11 happened because his Administration did not act on overwhelming intelligence."

Reveal the Truth about 9/11, Show Up for Democracy in 2004: Defeat Bush (again!)

Where The Blame Lies

The evidence shows President Bush was asleep or
incompetent or indifferent and the horror of 9/11
happened because his Administration did not act on
overwhelming intelligence.

By Regis T. Sabol

President Harry S. Truman kept a plaque on his desk
with a simple message: The buck stops here.
Apparently, President Bush doesn’t believe that rule
applies to him.

In the wake of revelations that the CIA warned
President Bush a full month before 9/11 that Osama bin
Laden’s operatives were planning a major operation
involving the hijacking of passenger airliners, the
President, White House aides, Republicans, even some
Democrats and most of the press are tripping all over
themselves to absolve Bush of any specific blame for
the attacks that killed almost 3,000 people.

Surrounded by Air Force Academy cadets at a Rose
Garden ceremony, the president earnestly declared that
“had I known that the enemy was going to use airplanes
to kill on that fateful morning, I would have done
everything in my power to protect the American
people.” National Security Advisor Condeleeza Rice
echoed similar sentiments at a White House briefing.
After acknowledging that the president had “general”
information about Al Qaeda plans to hijack American
airlines, she pleaded that he and his advisors had no
idea that hijacked airplanes would be used as missiles
to crash into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon,
her implication being that such an idea was so
outlandish it was beyond comprehension.

Balderdash, Baloney, and B_______!

My response to these sentiments is balderdash,
baloney, and, well, you know what the third B stands
for. Indeed, these excuses are disingenuous, at best,
and much more likely deceitful. The evidence at hand
was more than sufficient to warrant a sustained high
level of alert both at home and abroad. At the very
least, they reveal a president asleep at the wheel and
top advisors oblivious to red flags waving in front of
their faces, including a clear warning from one of
their own, CIA Director George Tenet.

The excuses being made to excuse the inexcusable seem
to contradict one another. They range from not having
enough information “to connect the dots,” (the new
administration and media catchphrase) to having too
much information, more than the intelligence community
could possibly absorb. The latter is the rationale for
ignoring reports from FBI agents in Phoenix and
Minneapolis about Al Qaeda operatives attending flight

The truth, we are now learning, is that none of these
excuses hold water. Bush and his advisors had plenty
of evidence and had been made keenly aware of an
impending attack involving civilian airliners.

Could George Bush have acted to possibly prevent the
attacks of 9/11? Yes. Should the American people hold
him and his advisors to account for not preventing
these attacks? Absolutely!

For starters, let’s take the president and Ms. Rice at
their word; they had good reason to suspect that
terrorists intended to hijack American airliners, but
they had no idea the hijackers intended to kill
people. The hijackers, they suspected, would use the
airliners to negotiate the release of bin Laden allies
who tried to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993.

Does this mean that hijacking an airliner or airliners
with hundreds of passengers did not justify taking
immediate action? What did Ms. Rice and the
president’s other advisors think that bin Laden’s
hijackers would do with these planes and their
passengers if their demands were not met? Meekly let
them go? We’re talking about a man who had
masterminded the first attack on the World Trade
Center (hint, hint), the bombings of two United States
embassies in Africa, and the attack on the S.S. Cole.
We’re talking about a man who has repeatedly urged his
followers to kill as many Americans as possible. What
were Bush, Rice, thinking?

What They Knew—or Should Have Known

In fact, The New York Times revealed Saturday that the
F.B.I. acknowledged it has known since 1996 “of a
specific threat that terrorists in Al Qaeda, Mr. Bin
Laden’s network, might use a plane in a suicide attack
against the headquarters of the C.I.A. or another
large federal building in the Washington area…” Not
only that, as far back as 1994, Algerian terrorists
seized a Paris-bound Air France flight and planned to
crash it into the Eiffel Tower or blow it up over
Paris. French commandos killed them before they
succeeded. Shouldn’t that act have provided a clue
about what terrorists might do if they could get their
hands on a fuel-laden airliner?

In 1999, a federal interagency intelligent report
predicted, “Suicide bomber(s) belonging to Al Qaeda’s
Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft
packed with high explosives into the Pentagon, the
headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency or the
White House.” Was Ms. Rice unaware of this report? If
so, then she hadn’t done her homework.

Moreover, the Federal Aviation Administration had
published a warning on its website months earlier that
“Bin Laden’s anti-Western and anti-American attitudes
make him and his followers a significant threat to
civil aviation, particularly to U.S. civil aviation.”
Please note that last phrase—“particularly to U.S.
civil aviation.”

Actually, Bush first received warning of an impending
Al Qaeda operation the previous July. According to the
Washington Post, Richard Clarke, the government’s top
counter terrorism official, told officials of a dozen
federal agencies at a White House meeting July 5,
”Something really spectacular is going to happen here,
and it’s going to happen soon.” C.I.A. Director Tenet
“had been ‘nearly frantic’ with concern since June
22,” the Post said. And Ms. Rice, herself, no less,
warned on June 28, “It is highly likely that a
significant al Qaeda attack is in the near future,
within several weeks.” Nothing happened within a
couple weeks, so no one in the security hierarchy,
except for Tenet, took such a threat seriously. By
August, George W. was in Texas and just about everyone
else had fled the Washington heat.

Consider another factor. While it may be true, as the
administration asserts, that it would be impossible to
know exactly when and where the enemy would strike,
the intelligence community had received specific
information from Israeli and Russian intelligence that
Al Qaeda’s operation would involve American civil
aircraft. Wouldn’t it have made sense to have
drastically heightened security at the country’s major
airports, including those in Boston, New York, and
Washington? Why did the administration trust
minimum-wage security personnel to protect us from
terrorist attacks?

Didn’t the date September 11 ring a bell with anyone
in the administration? To Islamic guerilla
organizations, September 11 is what December 7 is to
Americans. It commemorates the date the Jordanian army
expelled the PLO from Jordan. The terrorists who
attacked the Israeli village at the 1972 Olympic Games
in Munich were known as the September 11 Movement. In
other words, September 11 was not some mere random
date chosen by bin Laden’s gang to carry out their
attacks. It had symbolic meaning. How could top
Administration security advisors not remember those
three awful days in September? Incidentally, and HBO
financed documentary, Three Days in September, had won
an Academy Award for best documentary film the
previous year. Another clue here might be the month,

A Conspiracy of Lies

After 9/11, the administration compounded its
astounding failure to ignore the abundant evidence of
an impending attack by lying to the American people
about the existence of this evidence and the
president’s awareness of it. Up until just last week,
everyone in the administration from Bush on down had
steadfastly maintained the government had no warning
that Al Qaeda planned to hijack American airliners.

In other words, they lied to us. Bush lied to us.
Cheney lied to us. Rumsfield lied to us. Rice lied to
us. Powell lied to us. Fleischer lied to us. They all
lied to us. Of course, why should this come as a
surprise? This is an administration mired in secrecy
and deceit and lies.

Now that Bush and his minions have been caught in
their lies, they have chosen, instead, to attack
anyone who wants to know the truth. Bush described his
critics as second guessers and claimed he smelled
politics in the air. Cheney called any criticism
“incendiary. Such commentary is thoroughly
irresponsible and totally unworthy of national leaders
in time of war,” he intoned. In other words, all you
senators and congressmen, shut up! Ari Fleischer was
even more combative when he cited congressional
critics by name, as if they knew what the president
knew and were somehow responsible for that awful
slaughter, which, in turn, has led us into a war, the
end to which is nowhere in sight. Among his targets
were Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Dianne
Feinstein, chair of the Technology and Terrorism
Subcommittee of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Fleischer sneeringly asked the rhetorical question,
what did they know and when did they know it?

Well, they didn’t know and they weren’t responsible.
Feinstein told CNN last July that she “was deeply
concerned as to whether our house was in order to
prevent a terrorist attack.” Moreover, Vice President
Cheney’s office did not respond to Feinstein’s urgent
request that counter-intelligence programs be
improved. Finally, the only information members of the
Senate Intelligence Committee received was a two-page
summary of the president’s briefing.

Only Bush and his inner circle knew. And they did
nothing about it. And they didn’t tell anyone about
what they knew. While Bush was working out in is gym,
napping, and snacking on pretzels, Cheney, Rice & Co.
were not minding the store.

Mr. President, explain that to the families of those
aboard those three airplanes and to the survivors of
the thousands who died in New York and Washington.

Regis T. Sabol is contributing editor of Intervention
Magazine. You can email Regis at

Posted Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Posted by richard at December 11, 2003 10:50 PM