dereliction of duty: could rice and bush have had any more warning?

Apparently, Bob Woodward has finally come to his senses. His new book, the third in a series about the Bush administration, is finally breaking new ground and not just taking advantage of his unprecedented access to power to paint a portrait of Bush as the heroic cowboy sent from heaven to save us. Among the revelations in his new book is this little bit… Not only did Condi Rice and Bush see a classified Presidential Daily Brief that included a report entitled “Bin Laden Determined To Strike in US” prior to 9/11, but there was also, it now appears, a meeting between Rice and CIA Director George Tenet in which the immediate Bin Laden threat was discussed. (It was decided not to take action.) Of course, this wasn’t disclosed to the 9/11 Commission (and didn’t appear in ABC’s fictionalized account which recently made the case that Clinton was solely to blame). Here’s a excerpt from a blog post written by Peter Rundlet, a Counsel to the 9/11 Commission:

As a Counsel to the 9/11 Commission, I became very familiar with both the PDB and the Phoenix Memo, as well as the tragic consequences of the failure to detect and stop the plot. A mixture of shock, anger, and sadness overcame me when I read about revelations in Bob Woodward’s new book about a special surprise visit that George Tenet and his counterterrorism chief Cofer Black made to Condi Rice, also on July 10, 2001:

They went over top-secret intelligence pointing to an impending attack and “sounded the loudest warning” to the White House of a likely attack on the U.S. by Bin Laden.

Woodward writes that Rice was polite, but, “They felt the brushoff.”

If true, it is shocking that the administration failed to heed such an overwhelming alert from the two officials in the best position to know. Many, many questions need to be asked and answered about this revelation — questions that the 9/11 Commission would have asked, had the Commission been told about this significant meeting. Suspiciously, the Commissioners and the staff investigating the administration’s actions prior to 9/11 were never informed of the meeting. As Commissioner Jamie Gorelick pointed out, “We didn’t know about the meeting itself. I can assure you it would have been in our report if we had known to ask about it.”

Rice, unfortunately, while acknowledging that the meeting may have taken place doesn’t seem to recall the subject of Bin Laden coming up.

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2 Comments

  1. Ted Glass
    Posted October 3, 2006 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    In the defense of the administration, I’m sure that if Bin Laden had called the White House the day before the attack and provided the names of the terrorists and their flight numbers, that Bush Co would have done something.

  2. Ted Glass
    Posted October 3, 2006 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Or at least I’m 90% sure they would have done something.

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