Bush Knew More About Bin Laden's Plans Than We Realized

The Atlantic
Bush Knew More About Bin Laden's Plans Than We Realized

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Bush Knew More About Bin Laden's Plans Than We Realized

Now, 11 years later, new details of the attack on the World Trade Center continue to emerge from the government's vault of classified documents and the journalists who've gained access. This year, the reporter with the jaw-dropping scoop is Kurt Eichenwald, a former Timesman and present contributing editor at Vanity Fair. After reading more than one tweet with the simple instructions "Read this," we clicked on the link to Eichenwald's powerful op-ed, due to be published in The New York Times on September 11. In it, Eichenwald goes into teeth-grinding detail about how the Bush administration had even more advance notice about Osama Bin Laden's attack than we previously realized. You should read it, too.

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With the infamous August 6 White House briefing as a focal point, Eichenwald walks through the months and years of warnings leading up to the September 11 attacks. Some of these are events and reports that remain classified, but Eichenwald says he's "read excerpts from many of them, along with other recently declassified records, and come to an inescapable conclusion: the administration's reaction to what Mr. Bush was told in the weeks before that infamous briefing reflected significantly more negligence than has been disclosed."

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Again, we already knew that Bush had some advance warning. We just didn't realize how much. This passage from Eichenwalds piece reads like a nightmare:

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.

In response, the C.I.A. prepared an analysis that all but pleaded with the White House to accept that the danger from Bin Laden was real.

That was in June of 2001. Three months later, the White House didn't have the luxury of avoiding reports about Bin Laden any more. 

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Read Eichenwald's piece in full.

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