8 years ago: August 6, 2001

August 6, 2005, on this blog: August 6, 2001

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.

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  • MikeJ

    “All right. You’ve covered your ass, now.”

  • MikeJ

    Pardons for the punctuation. I c&p’ed the quote and would have taken out that extraneous comma had I proofread first.

  • And we know GWB wasn’t too concerned about OBL after a while because he was more interested in beating up countries and giving tax cuts to rich people.

    9/11 was the biggest present to American imperialists all over. (>_<)

  • VMtheCoyote

    “But why are we still blaming everything on Bush? What about Benghazi?”


  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    And if Dubya had done anything before the fact, who would have believed him? Especially in a time of playing race cards? “Come on now, BOX CUTTERS?”
    9/11 worked because it was an Unexpected Bold Move (like Pearl Harbor in 1941 or Doolittle Raid in 1942), so ridiculous and unbelievable that nobody would take the idea seriously — until it actually happened and all the ridiculous prepwork suddenly made sense after-the-fact.
    Problem is, the Unexpected Bold Move only works once. Like Admiral Yamamoto told the Tojo Shogunate, it has to be a knockout on the first punch — or else.

  • JustoneK


  • What’s this race card crap you’re going on about? >_<

  • Ross Thompson

    See, that’s why we have courts, so we don’t need to rely on people believing the President.

  • Except that belief in GWB doesn’t come into play here. He didn’t come up with this idea based on a premonitory dream that he’d had. He was given an actual document — the President’s Daily Brief — that detailed what they knew about the attacks. There was an entire CIA investigation involved. Additionally, apparently previous PDBs had more information on what Al Quaeda was planning because the CIA had been investigating this for a long time prior to August 6, 2001.

  • mp

    But what could he have done? In order to prevent such infrequent but effective attacks, you have to install a massive surveilance apparatus, which has more negative longterm effects on society than the sudden death 3000 people. As a politician you hae already the incentive to install more surveillance (or security theather as Bruce Schneir calls it) – or you don’t and hope for the best. Which didn’t work in Bushs case.

    The resulting panic initiated the worst reaction of all, which we see now in the leaks of Edward Snowden: worldwide surveillance of everybody, the secret agencies worldwide working together against the public. In efect, it gave the terrorist exactly what they wanted, and it showed that terrorism works in the USA.

    What should have followed in the aftermath of 9/11 in my opinion is the reaction of norway after the Breivik massacre: Mourning for the victims and support for their relatives, but a fair procecution to the perpetrator and no changes to the society in general.

  • Norway is a country from which the US could learn a lot. There’s a reason it has frequently ranked number one in the human development index.

  • I saw writeups at the time that said, “This is fundamentally a police matter; we know who the relevant party is, and we should target that party and that party alone.”

    After all, the US didn’t declare war on right-wing militias as a whole when they got Timothy McVeigh, now did they?

    Oh, sorry, I forgot. He’s white.

    Brown people are supposed to just be happy they didn’t get nuked, apparently. (-_-)

  • MaryKaye

    How often do such reports appear on the President’s desk (meaning, ones indicating a serious threat of this kind)? Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, less?

    What is the past accuracy rate of such reports? 1 in 2? 1 in 10? 1 in 100?

    Without knowing those numbers I have no opinion about whether Bush did the right thing or not. If only 1/100 of such reports is accurate, only very mild responses to them can be justified, otherwise resources will be squandered on constant false alarms. If 1/2 is accurate it’s another story.

    The one point on which I do have an opinion is that we need less security theater, not more: if we can’t reasonably reduce the actual risk of an attack, the best thing to do is NOTHING. Not hassling foreigners or young men or mothers carrying baby formula. Not putting people on no-fly lists because they share a name with someone suspicious. Not tapping random citizens’ phones.

    If that’s the situation Bush was in–and absent the numbers I don’t know–then the decision to do nothing is one of very few Bush decisions I’ve ever agreed with.

  • There’s doing nothing, and then there’s blatantly fucking off. Which is what Dubya Bush did all of August. He was fundamentally a very lazy, slack-ass President. Had 9/11 not happened he’d have golfed and horseback-ridden his way through 8 years of office and grinned fatuously through it all while his buddy Dick Cheney worked the levers of power behind the scenes.

  • In order to prevent such infrequent but effective attacks, you have to install a massive surveilance apparatus, which has more negative longterm effects on society than the sudden death 3000 people.

    Except when the installation of a massive surveillance apparatus is one of the negative longterm effects of the 3,000 deaths, in which case there are clearly at least as many such effects from the deaths, and really certainly more, since there are the 3,000 deaths themselves on top of that.

  • Also, even pre-9/11 there was an ongoing undercurrent of racism and prejudice against Arabs and Muslims. Not as bad as after, but even in the ’90s —

    Well, after the OKC bombing the very first thing all the talking asses did was blame the ebil Mooslims.

    So yeah, people might have dismissed box cutters as weapons, but only because nobody’d done it before. It would have still been very good policing to take those folks aside and ask some questions. Even just the act of taking them in might have spooked the entire cabal off and delayed, if not prevented, those attacks.