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Rice Was Warned of 9/11

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    Two Months Before 9/11, an Urgent Warning to Rice The Washington Post Sunday 01 October 2006 http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/100106Z.shtml Editor s Note: How
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 3 7:26 AM
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      Two Months Before 9/11, an Urgent Warning to Rice
      The Washington Post
      Sunday 01 October 2006

      Editor's Note: How much effort the Bush administration made in going
      after Osama bin Laden before the attacks of September 11, 2001, became
      an issue last week after former president Bill Clinton accused
      President Bush's "neocons" and other Republicans of ignoring bin Laden
      until the attacks. Rice responded in an interview that, "what we did
      in the eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton
      administration did in the preceding years." -The Washington Post
      On July 10, 2001, two months before the attacks on the World Trade
      Center and the Pentagon, then-CIA Director George J. Tenet met with
      his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, at CIA headquarters to
      review the latest on Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist
      organization. Black laid out the case, consisting of communications
      intercepts and other top-secret intelligence showing the increasing
      likelihood that al-Qaeda would soon attack the United States. It was a
      mass of fragments and dots that nonetheless made a compelling case, so
      compelling to Tenet that he decided he and Black should go to the
      White House immediately.

      Tenet called Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser,
      from the car and said he needed to see her right away. There was no
      practical way she could refuse such a request from the CIA director.

      For months, Tenet had been pressing Rice to set a clear
      counterterrorism policy, including specific presidential orders called
      "findings" that would give the CIA stronger authority to conduct
      covert action against bin Laden. Perhaps a dramatic appearance - Black
      called it an "out of cycle" session, beyond Tenet's regular weekly
      meeting with Rice - would get her attention.

      Tenet had been losing sleep over the recent intelligence he'd
      seen. There was no conclusive, smoking-gun intelligence, but there was
      such a huge volume of data that an intelligence officer's instinct
      strongly suggested that something was coming. He and Black hoped to
      convey the depth of their anxiety and get Rice to kick-start the
      government into immediate action.

      He did not know when, where or how, but Tenet felt there was too
      much noise in the intelligence systems. Two weeks earlier, he had told
      Richard A. Clarke, the National Security Council's counterterrorism
      director: "It's my sixth sense, but I feel it coming. This is going to
      be the big one."

      But Tenet had been having difficulty getting traction on an
      immediate bin Laden action plan, in part because Defense Secretary
      Donald H. Rumsfeld had questioned all the National Security Agency
      intercepts and other intelligence. Could all this be a grand
      deception? Rumsfeld had asked. Perhaps it was a plan to measure U.S.
      reactions and defenses.

      Tenet had the NSA review all the intercepts, and the agency
      concluded they were of genuine al-Qaeda communications. On June 30, a
      top-secret senior executive intelligence brief contained an article
      headlined "Bin Laden Threats Are Real."

      Tenet hoped his abrupt request for an immediate meeting would
      shake Rice. He and Black, a veteran covert operator, had two main
      points when they met with her. First, al-Qaeda was going to attack
      American interests, possibly in the United States itself. Black
      emphasized that this amounted to a strategic warning, meaning the
      problem was so serious that it required an overall plan and strategy.
      Second, this was a major foreign policy problem that needed to be
      addressed immediately. They needed to take action that moment -
      covert, military, whatever - to thwart bin Laden.

      The United States had human and technical sources, and all the
      intelligence was consistent, the two men told Rice. Black acknowledged
      that some of it was uncertain "voodoo" but said it was often this
      voodoo that was the best indicator.

      Tenet and Black felt they were not getting through to Rice. She
      was polite, but they felt the brush-off. President Bush had said he
      didn't want to swat at flies.

      As they all knew, a coherent plan for covert action against bin
      Laden was in the pipeline, but it would take some time. In recent
      closed-door meetings the entire National Security Council apparatus
      had been considering action against bin Laden, including using a new
      secret weapon: the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, that
      could fire Hellfire missiles to kill him or his lieutenants. It looked
      like a possible solution, but there was a raging debate between the
      CIA and the Pentagon about who would pay for it and who would have
      authority to shoot.

      Besides, Rice seemed focused on other administration priorities,
      especially the ballistic missile defense system that Bush had
      campaigned on. She was in a different place.

      Tenet left the meeting feeling frustrated. Though Rice had given
      them a fair hearing, no immediate action meant great risk. Black felt
      the decision to just keep planning was a sustained policy failure.
      Rice and the Bush team had been in hibernation too long. "Adults
      should not have a system like this," he said later.

      The July 10 meeting between Tenet, Black and Rice went unmentioned
      in the various reports of investigations into the Sept. 11 attacks,
      but it stood out in the minds of Tenet and Black as the starkest
      warning they had given the White House on bin Laden and al-Qaeda.
      Though the investigators had access to all the paperwork on the
      meeting, Black felt there were things the commissions wanted to know
      about and things they didn't want to know about.

      Philip D. Zelikow, the aggressive executive director of the Sept.
      11 commission and a University of Virginia professor who had
      co-authored a book with Rice on Germany, knew something about the July
      10 meeting, but it was not clear to him what immediate action really
      would have meant. In 2005 Rice hired Zelikow as a top aide at the
      State Department.

      Afterward, Tenet looked back on the meeting with Rice as a
      tremendous lost opportunity to prevent or disrupt the Sept. 11
      attacks. Rice could have gotten through to Bush on the threat, but she
      just didn't get it in time, Tenet thought. He felt that he had done
      his job and had been very direct about the threat, but that Rice had
      not moved quickly. He felt she was not organized and did not push
      people, as he tried to do at the CIA.

      Black later said, "The only thing we didn't do was pull the
      trigger to the gun we were holding to her head."



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