August 6

Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.

Four years ago today President Bush received a daily brief warning him that terrorists planned to attack America. He spent the next three weeks on vacation.

If he had done something, anything, might the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 have been prevented. I don't know. Nobody knows.

But here is what we do know: He did not do anything. And nearly 3,000 people died.

The blame for the attacks lies, of course, with the terrorists who carried them out and not with those in charge of our security who failed to stop them.

But George W. Bush did not merely fail to stop them. He failed to try to stop them. That still doesn't mean he deserves blame for the attacks, but he has earned the enduring shame of a sleeping watchman. He was duly warned, and he did not even try.

Yet now he wears that failure as a badge of honor. He is praised, even revered, because of the attacks that he did nothing to try to prevent. I still cannot wrap my mind around the Mad-hatter logic of that.

Oh, and where is the president today? Exactly where he was four years ago. He's in Crawford, Texas, on vacation.

  • cjmr

    And this year, he’ll be on vacation for longer…

  • coriolis

    With all due apologies to the fine people of Texas: Who vacations in Texas in August? To clear brush?

  • wintermute

    During that vacation he appointed US ambassadors and nomiated judges; met with the heads of government of Britain, Mexico, France, Germany, Canada and Russia; gave an adress on stem cell research, signed off on a dozen laws, attended a ceremony honouring Lance Armstrong; held 6 press conferences; put forward reform plans for Medicare and social security; made personal appearances for groups like Habitat for Humanity and the YMCA, as well as at schools and Little League World Series games…. Frankly, after a brief scan of the Whitehouse’s press releases for August 2001, I think that it sounds like a very exhausting “vacation”.
    Besides, we all know he was too busy justifying and planning an invasion of Iraq to really take a vacation.
    None of this, of course, is to imply that Bush was actually working on anti-terrorist measures (after all, he’s made enough political capital from terrorism that it’s hard to believe he’d have deliberately given that advantage up), but it’s disingenious to say that he was he wasn’t doing anything at all.
    Also, I have difficulty seeing what action should have been taken, based on the briefing itself: We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a [deleted text] service in 1998 saying that Bin Laden wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft to gain the release of “Blind Shaykh” ‘Umar’ Abd aI-Rahman and other U.S.-held extremists.
    Nevertheless, FBI information since that time 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.
    The President recieved several briefings that equivicated less, and that came to nothing. Should he have raised a hue and cry about this one? In hindsite, yes, as it turns out. But at the time, neither the CIA nor the FBI thought it was worth any more attention than they were already giving it.

  • spearNmagicHelmet

    Two planes crashed into the WTC buildings on 9/11. That’s about the only thing you can say with certainity on that day.

  • Mnemosyne

    Also, I have difficulty seeing what action should have been taken, based on the briefing itself:
    How about informing the airlines that the danger of hijacking was high, as stated in the report? The FBI can make as many reports as they like but, as Colleen Rowley discovered, a report doesn’t mean jack shit if the people higher up (like, say, the National Security Advisor) don’t act on the recommendations.
    Take a look at the actions that were taken in 1999 that ended up thwarting the millennium bomber. Letting government employees know that they should be alert made the customs agents, well, stay alert and they spotted the guy trying to cross the border from Canada. Then say again that Bush did everything he could to thwart the attacks.

  • VKW

    As far as Wintermute’s question goes, it would have been nice if the new Administration had paid attention to the outgoing Administration on the topic of terrorism.
    I think we should all show our support for Dubya by adopting him as a role model on 9/11. Start reading “The Pet Goat” when he did, whisper to other people, look blank, etc. People with money can fly around the country, visiting all the spots George did on that fateful day prior to returning to Washington, DC.

  • http://www.leanleft.com/archives/2005/08/08/4400/ Lean Left

    “The System was Blinking Red”, Again

    On Saturday, Fred reminded us of what happened on August 6th, 2001, when Bush was once again on vacation:
    Four years ago today President Bush received a daily brief warning him that terrorists planned to attack America. He spent the next three weeks …

  • Kevin

    It should probably also be noted that something like a dozen countries attempted to warn the U.S. about the impending attacks, to no avail.

  • Passacaglia

    On vacation again? From the debates:
    “It’s a lotta hard work, hard work, y’know”

  • Dale

    Richard Clarke also tells us that the Administration snickered and reviled such “warnings” about Al Quieda as a “Clinton thing”, and therefore deserved no attention whatsoever. Their hubris caused this. And their hubris will , if left unchecked, get us into deeper trouble, if it isn’t already too late. Of course, how does one get the attention of people who think they already know all they need to know, and believe they can handle anything thrown their way? I don’t think you do.

  • http://theoblogical.org/movtyp/archives/004335.html Movable Theoblogical

    Chillin’ in Crawford 4 Years Later

    slacktivist: August 6 Four years ago today (Aug.6th) President Bush received a daily brief warning him that terrorists planned to attack America. He spent the next three weeks on vacation. I had forgotten the anniversary of that now infamous Aug…

  • Lisa

    There were things that could have been done. Just the word “hijackings” speaks volumes. Step up security at the airports. Reinforce cockpit doors so no one can mess with the pilots. Put sky marshals on planes. “Shake the trees” – canvas other governments who may know something, and any other contacts we have, to learn what if anything they know. Have the CIA and FBI tell their people to be on alert and BE SURE that they follow up on ANYTHING out of the ordinary – like maybe that devout Muslim guy who wanted to learn how to fly a plane but doesn’t care to know how to land.
    For starters.

  • Xoebe

    I have been lurking here for awhile, so here I go. /delurk
    A book I am reading right now is Timothy Naftali’s Blind Spot: A History of Counterterrorism in America. It’s a pretty decent read. Naftali was interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered (if I recall correctly) and that prodded me to buy this book. While it’s a bit drier than the radio interview, which was superb, it’s a must-read for anyone who is curious about the events and policy decisions leading up to 9/11. I work with bureacratic agencies a lot, so little in the book has surprised me, though it might make some people sick :)
    Some people are forgetting, that what appears to be indecision or negligence about the 9/11 hijackers is really a result of the policies implemented to protect American civil liberties. The CIA and it’s precursor organizations conducted intelligence gathering on Americans since the 1940′s. It was in the aftermath of Watergate that the schism between foreign and domestic intelligence was created, because people didn’t want to be spied on. In addition, the FBI was prohibited from conducting surveillance/intelligence gathering unless their was “evidence of a crime”.
    As bad as it appears that there were “intelligence failures” leading up to 9/11, the truth is quite the opposite. The system worked fine. It worked the way we made it work.

  • cjmr’s husband

    The “intelligence failures” in question were the fabled inability to “connect the dots”. The CIA had information from overseas (hence the August 6 memo). The FBI had tabs on some of the hijackers — the “crime” in question being visa violations.
    It is now the responsibility of fatherland security to connect those dots; before, terrorism was primarily a CIA issue, but the legal restriction on use of FBI data was not in play: the hijackers were not US Citizens.

  • Jon H

    “As bad as it appears that there were “intelligence failures” leading up to 9/11, the truth is quite the opposite. The system worked fine. It worked the way we made it work.”
    It failed because the people at the top didn’t take the threat seriously. The system worked as designed, but it isn’t self-guiding. A finely built Rolls Royce will work as designed while driving over a cliff. Someone has to steer and provide direction. There was no leadership in the Bush administration.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Come on! Hindsight is 20/20.


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