NYT: Bush Warned Months Before 9/11 Of "Imminent" Qaeda Strike Against USA

September 11, 2001, and George W. Bush is being told that his neocon dream has just come true—he's got a reason (not a justification) to launch a war against Saddam Hussein and Iraq, even though they had nothing to do with attacking the USA that morning. Bush looks shocked because he thought Osama bin Laden was bluffing.
In a New York Times op-ed that will likely rekindle debate about how George W. Bush and his administration may have fiddled while Qaeda prepared to burn multiple targets in the USA on 9/11, reporter Kurt Eichenwald says undisclosed daily briefings from the 2001 Bush White House show "significantly more negligence than has been disclosed."

People may recall the infamous August 6, 2001 briefing, released in 2004 by the Bush White House to the 9/11 Commission, which was entitled "Bin Laden Determined To Strike In US". That briefing, presented to Bush a little more than a month before Qaeda launched a devastatingly successful raid on New York and Washington DC using hijacked commercial airplanes, included the following information on Qaeda's focus on launching attacks in the USA:
"FBI information...indicates patterns 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...CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our Embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group of Bin Laden supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives."
According to Eichenwald, the Bush administration in 2004 tried to dismiss the implications of the August 6, 2001 briefing—that Bush and his intelligence team had been asleep at the wheel in spite of specific warnings—by claiming that briefing was "only an assessment of al-Qaeda's history, not a warning of the impending attack."

However, Eichenwald says he has been able to review a number of other, so far unreleased, daily briefings, along with "recently declassified records." 

Eichenwald's conclusion (which he says is "inescapable") of this data:
"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. In other words, the Aug. 6 document, for all of the controversy it provoked, is not nearly as shocking as the briefs that came before it."
Eichenwald's specific charges include something that has been suggested before, that Bush's and the neocons' focus in early 2001 on attacking Saddam Hussein and Iraq, caused them to be dismissive of the threat posed to the USA by Osama bin Laden and domestic Qaeda operatives. But more than this, Eichenwald says the neocons argued Qaeda was cooperating with Saddam in early 2001, and making false threats to attack the USA in order to "distract the [Bush] administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat."

Even though Bush had been warned in a June 22, 2001 briefing that Qaeda attacks on the USA might be "imminent", Eichenwald says the CIA, particularly, was alarmed that Bush was not taking the Qaeda threats seriously, and prepared a June 29, 2001 briefing for the White House that included the following: "The U.S. is not the target of a disinformation campaign by Usama Bin Laden". This briefing included information warning that the Qaeda attacks would produce "major casualties". Bush at that point wanted more information, and another five weeks passed before the August 6, 2001 briefing was presented to him.

As noted, Bush would later dismiss that briefing as a history lesson, and not a warning of a specific attack.

As for Bush's focus in the leadup to the 9/11 attack—he spent August 2001 in Texas, on one of the longest presidential vacations in history. On the day he was supposed to be getting up to speed on the "imminent" Qaeda threat that would cause mass American casualties and result in the complete altering of US life as we knew it, Bush was busy taking a break.

Immediately after the 9/11 attack, Bush and his neocon advisers began working out exactly how the attack, launched by Osama bin Laden, could somehow enable Bush to blame Saddam Hussein so the USA could invade Iraq—a country that had not attacked the USA on 9/11.

Nevertheless, many Republicans still defend George W. Bush for "keeping us safe". The facts point to the opposite conclusion, that keeping the USA safe was the furthest thing from Bush's mind.

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