Today’s New York Times continues the same old worn out cliché that President Bush knew about 9/11 before the attacks yet did nothing to stop it in an op-ed titled “The Deafness Before The Storm.” It seems to want to play politics on a day of somber remembrance rather than honoring the memory of those who perished.
Columnist Kurt Eichenwald hangs his hat on an Aug. 6, 2001 classified briefing of al-Qaida’s desire to strike at targets within the United States that the former President received a month before the attacks.
Eichenwald’s column seems to consist of selective cherry picking of information and a basic ignorance of the problems within the U.S. intelligence community that the 9/11 Commission discovered.
“That is, unless it was read in conjunction with the daily briefs preceding Aug. 6, the ones the Bush administration would not release,” Eichenwald writes. “While those documents are still not public, I have 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.”
Eichenwald admits that the documentary information is fragmentary because many of the documents remain classified, yet he seems to want to fill in the dots with his prejudices to indict former President’s alleged “negligence.”
Even if President Bush was warned that an attack could be imminent, there is no way of knowing how much the U.S. intelligence community or the former President knew enough details about the details of the plot to prevent it from being carried out.
“That is true, as far as it goes, but it misses the point,” Eichenwald writes, addressing Bush administration claims that President did not know about the details of the plan. “Throughout that summer, there were events that might have exposed the plans, had the government been on high alert.”
Intelligence analysis is as much of an art as it is a science because it often involves taking pieces of incomplete information and extrapolating motives and next moves based on prior or existing behavioral patterns.
The 9/11 Commission Report found the intelligence community had not considered the possibility that terrorists would use airplanes as guided missiles or fly them into buildings. It was a problem common to both the Clinton and Bush administrations.
Then on top of that you had the problem of competing turf and a breakdown in information sharing and a lack of imagination in the U.S. intelligence community that hampered connecting the dots.
He jumps into the typical leftist cliché of jumping on the neoconservatives in the Bush administration by playing Monday morning quarterback blaming them for seeing Iraq’s hand in the attacks.
“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,” Eichenwald writes as if to say that most people were skeptical about Iraq.
Yet the Clinton administration had reached similar speculations following the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania The New York Times itself reported in Nov. 1998.
And Bill Clinton’s first CIA Director James Woolsey, a Democrat, suspected that Iraq and al-Qaida might have been connected somehow before 9/11.
Up until 9/11 the idea of the sort of non-state sponsored terrorism that we know al-Qaida is involved in was unthinkable because most prior terror attacks had involvement from state sponsors of terrorism such as Iran, Libya, Syria, Iraq or the Soviet Union if you go back far enough.
“Bin Laden is way overblown, bin Laden is a front for various intelligence agencies, including Iraq [and] Sudan, and the Taliban,” American Enterprise Institute scholar Laurie Mylroie told me on Sept. 15, 2001 after the 9/11 attacks, while telling me that she thought Iraq was behind the attacks. “This kind of lone ranger type is tremendously appealing to reduce a difficult issue like terrorism to one man, and that is what everyone keeps doing.”
Unfortunately all of these theories proved incorrect, and Eichenwald engages in nothing more than ignorant partisanship in an effort to point the finger at President Bush.