July 26, 2004

...two C.I.A. analysts involved in preparing the brief had wanted to make clear to Mr. Bush that, far from being only a historical threat, the threat that Al Qaeda would strike on American soil was "both current and serious"

How could the Bush abomination survive the political
fall-out from the implications of the August 6, 2001
PDB? It's the Media, Stupid.

PHILIP SHENON, www.democrats.com: In testimony this April to the Sept. 11 commission, before it was made public, Ms. Rice insisted that the report was "historical."
"It did not, in fact, warn of attacks inside the United States," she testified. "It was historical information based on old reporting. There was no new threat information.''
But there were gasps in the audience in the hearing room when she disclosed the name of the two-page briefing paper: "Bin Laden Determined to Attack in U.S."
The document was made public several days later and contained passages referring to F.B.I. reports 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." It noted that a caller to the United States Embassy in the Unitedar Lies, Arab Emirates that May had warned that "a group of bin Laden supporters was in the U.S.," planning attacks with explosives.
The commission's final report revealed that two C.I.A. analysts involved in preparing the brief had wanted to make clear to Mr. Bush that, far from being only a historical threat, the threat that Al Qaeda would strike on American soil was "both current and serious."

Repudiate the 9/11 Cover-Up and the Iraq War Lies,
Show Up for Democracy in 2004: defeat Bush (again!)

http://www.democrats.com/view.cfm?id=22732

Correcting the Record on Sept. 11, in Great Detail
July 25, 2004 By PHILIP SHENON
This article was reported by Philip Shenon, Douglas
Jehl and David Johnston and written by Mr. Shenon.
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/25/national/25PANE.html
[Note: only parts of the article below were published
on the Times web site]
WASHINGTON, July 24 - When the National Commission on
Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States set to work
early last year to prepare the definitive history of
the events of Sept. 11, 2001, it seemed that much of
the hard work of the so-called 9/11 commission was
already done, because so much of the horrifying story
seemed to be known.

At the time, it was understood that all of the
hijackers had entered the country legally and done
nothing to draw attention to themselves; Osama bin
Laden had underwritten the plot with his personal
fortune but had left the details to others; American
intelligence agencies had no warning that Al Qaeda was
considering suicide missions using planes; President
Bush had received a special intelligence briefing
weeks before Sept. 11 about Al Qaeda threats that
focused on past, not current, threats.

But 19 months later, the commission released a final,
unanimous book-length report last Thursday that, in
calling for a overhaul of the way the government
collects and shares intelligence, showed that much of
what had been common wisdom about the Sept. 11 attacks
at the start of the panel's investigation was wrong.

In meticulous detail, the 567-page report, including
116 pages of detailed footnotes in tiny, eye-straining
type, rewrote the history of Sept. 11, 2001,
correcting the historical record in ways large and
small and shattering myths that might otherwise have
been accepted as truth for generations.

The commission's report found that the hijackers had
repeatedly broken the law in entering the United
States, that Mr. bin Laden may have micromanaged the
attacks but did not pay for them, that intelligence
agencies had considered the threat of suicide
hijackings, and that Mr. Bush received an August 2001
briefing on evidence of continuing domestic terrorist
threats from Al Qaeda.

"Our work, we believe, is the definitive work on
9/11," said Thomas H. Kean, the former Republican
governor of New Jersey who was chairman of the
commission, and whose consensus-building talents are
credited by other commissioners as the reason the
panel's report was unanimous. If there are unanswered
questions, Mr. Kean said, it is mostly because "the
people who were at the heart of the plot are dead."

The Hijackers

For the commission of five Democrats and five
Republicans, the work of correcting the record began
with an understanding of how 19 young Arab terrorists
managed to enter the United States unnoticed, hiding
in plain sight in the weeks and months before they
joined in an attack that left more than 3,000 people
dead.

This was the subject of the first of what would be
series of riveting public hearings held by the
commission this year. The first fact-finding hearing
in January showed just how wrong - and self-serving
-much of the government's information about the Sept.
11 plot had been. And it suggested just how aggressive
the commission intended to be in setting the record
straight.

Immediately after Sept. 11 and in the months that
followed, the F.B.I., the C.I.A. and other
counterterrorism agencies defended their failure to
detect the plot by insisting that the hijackers had
gone out of their way to enter the United States
legally and to avoid detection in the months preceding
the attacks.

"Each of the hijackers, apparently purposely selected
to avoid notice, came easily and lawfully from
abroad," Louis J. Freeh, the former director of the
F.B.I., testified to Congress in October 2002. "While
here, the hijackers effectively operated without
suspicion, triggering nothing that alerted law
enforcement."

But in its final report, the commission found that as
many as 13 of the hijackers had entered the United
States with passports that had been fraudulently
altered, using criminal methods previously associated
with Al Qaeda.

The commission found that the visa applications of
many of the hijackers had been filled out improperly;
in several cases, the hijackers had provided
demonstrably false information on the forms. The names
of at least three of the terrorists were found after
Sept. 11 in the databases of American intelligence and
counterterrorism agencies.

After entering the United States, several of the
hijackers should have drawn the attention of law
enforcement agencies but did not.

Mohamed Atta, the plot's Egyptian-born ringleader,
overstayed his tourist visa. One of the terrorist
pilots, Ziad al-Jarrah, attended school in 2000 in
violation of his immigration status, which should have
been enough to block him from re-entering the United
States; he left and re-entered the country at least
six more times before Sept. 11.

Imagining the Unimaginable

In trying to explain why the nation had left itself so
vulnerable on Sept. 11, the leaders of the nation's
law enforcement and intelligence agencies have
insisted publicly that they never considered the
nightmare of passenger planes turned into guided
missiles.

"I don't think anybody could have predicted that these
people would take an airplane and slam it into the
World Trade Center," Condoleezza Rice, President
Bush's national security adviser, said in May 2002. As
recently as this April, in testimony to the Sept. 11
commission, Mr. Freeh said that he "never was aware of
a plan that contemplated commercial airliners being
used as weapons."

But in its investigation, the commission found that an
attack described as unimaginable had in fact been
imagined, repeatedly. The commission said that several
threat reports circulated within the government in the
late 1990's raised the explicit possibility of an
attack using airliners as missiles.

Most prominent among those reports, the commission
said, was one circulated in September 1998, based on
information provided by a source who walked into an
American consulate in East Asia, that ''mentioned a
possible plot to fly an explosives-laden aircraft into
a U.S. city." In August of the same year, it said, an
intelligence agency received information that a group
of Libyans hoped to crash a plane into the World Trade
Center.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command had gone
so far as to develop exercises to counter the threat
and, according to a Defense Department memorandum
unearthed by the commission, planned a drill in April
2001 that would have simulated a terrorist crash into
the Pentagon.

Bin Laden's Role

American intelligence agencies had known for years
that the United States had much to fear from Osama bin
Laden, but it was fear based more on Mr. bin Laden's
power as a global symbol of Islamic fundamentalist
rage than as a terrorist logistician.

A senior State Department official testified to the
Senate in 2001 that the bin Laden terror network was
"analogous to a multinational corporation, bin Laden
as C.E.O.," leaving the details of the terrorist
attacks to others.

But the commission found that far from being the
disengaged leader of his terror network, Mr. bin Laden
was described by captured Qaeda colleagues as a
hands-on executive who wanted to be involved in almost
every detail of the Sept. 11 plot, choosing the
hijacking team himself and selecting targets. He was
reported to have been eager to hit the White House.

The report describes information obtained from the
interrogation of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Mr. bin
Laden's former chief of operations, who said that "bin
Laden could assess new trainees very quickly, in about
10 minutes, and that many of the 9/11 hijackers were
selected in this manner."

American intelligence analysts had long believed that
Mr. bin Laden had a vast personal fortune that
bankrolled Al Qaeda; news accounts described the bin
Laden fortune as totaling as much as $300 million,
with real estate holdings in London, Paris and the
C?´te d'Azur.

But the commission reached a far different conclusion,
finding that Mr. bin Laden was cut off from his
family's wealth after the early 1990's and that he
financed Al Qaeda's operations through a core group of
wealthy Muslim donors, mainly in the Persian Gulf. The
report said that from 1970 to 1994, Mr. bin Laden
received about $1 million a year from family funds - a
sizable sum, but not nearly enough to finance such an
ambitious terrorist network.

The Iraq Connection

The Bush administration has long maintained that there
was a close working relationship between Al Qaeda and
Iraq. In October 2002, with the invasion of Iraq only
months away, President Bush said in a speech in
Cincinnati that ''high-level contacts" between Iraq
and Al Qaeda "go back a decade," and that "we've
learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in
bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases."

As recently as last month, Vice President Dick Cheney
said there was reason to believe a disputed Czech
intelligence report that Mohamed Atta had met with a
senior Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in April
2001, suggesting a tie between Iraq and the Sept. 11
plot.

But in its most contentious effort to set the record
straight about the origins of the plot, the bipartisan
commission's final report found no evidence of close
collaboration between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda,
appearing to undermine a justification for the Iraq
war.

The commission found no credible evidence to suggest
that the Prague meeting took place and no evidence of
any kind to show Iraqi involvement in attacks by Al
Qaeda against the United States. While there had
indeed between periodic contacts in the late 1990's
between Al Qaeda representatives and Iraqi officials,
principally in Sudan, the commission found, those
contacts did not amount to much.

"To date we have seen no evidence that these or the
earlier contacts ever developed into a collaborative
operational relationship," the commission wrote.

A footnote buried on page 470 of the commission's
report provided a clue to some of the false claims:
"Although there have been suggestions of contacts
between Iraq and Al Qaeda regarding chemical weapons
and explosive trainings, the most detailed information
alleging such ties came from an Al Qaeda operative who
recanted much of his original information."

The commission attempted to lift suspicion that the
leaders of another Arab government, that of Saudi
Arabia, had underwritten Al Qaeda, and to knock down
widely circulated theories that the Bush
administration had improperly assisted the Saudis by
allowing members of the extended bin Laden clan to
flee the United States on charter flights at a time
when all commercial air traffic was shut down after
the attacks.

''Saudi Arabia has long been considered the principal
source of Al Qaeda financing," the commission wrote in
its final report. "But we have found no evidence that
the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi
officials individually funded the organization."

The Evidence

In the first hours after the Sept. 11 attacks and ever
since, the White House has consistently insisted that
President Bush and his deputies had no credible
evidence before the attacks to suggest that Al Qaeda
was about to strike on American soil.

But the assertion has been questioned as a result of
the commission's digging. After its most heated
showdown with the Bush administration over access to
classified information, the commission pressured the
White House to declassify and make public a special
intelligence briefing that had been presented to the
president at his Texas ranch on Aug. 6, 2001, a month
before the attacks.

The existence of the document - but not its detailed
contents - had been known about since 2002, when the
White House confirmed news reports that President Bush
had received an intelligence report before Sept. 11
warning of the possibility that Al Qaeda might hijack
American passenger planes.

In testimony this April to the Sept. 11 commission,
before it was made public, Ms. Rice insisted that the
report was "historical."

"It did not, in fact, warn of attacks inside the
United States," she testified. "It was historical
information based on old reporting. There was no new
threat information.''

But there were gasps in the audience in the hearing
room when she disclosed the name of the two-page
briefing paper: "Bin Laden Determined to Attack in
U.S."

The document was made public several days later and
contained passages referring to F.B.I. reports 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." It noted that a caller to the United States
Embassy in the United Arab Emirates that May had
warned that "a group of bin Laden supporters was in
the U.S.," planning attacks with explosives.

The commission's final report revealed that two C.I.A.
analysts involved in preparing the brief had wanted to
make clear to Mr. Bush that, far from being only a
historical threat, the threat that Al Qaeda would
strike on American soil was "both current and
serious."




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Posted by richard at July 26, 2004 09:32 AM