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CIA Warned of Attack 6 Years Before 9-11
April 16, 2004 5:01 AM   Subscribe

CIA Warned of Attack 6 Years Before 9-11 Six years before the Sept. 11 attacks, the CIA warned in a classified report that Islamic extremists likely would strike on U.S. soil at landmarks in Washington or New York, or through the airline industry, according to intelligence officials.
posted by Postroad (41 comments total)

 
So much ado about nothing. Who is to say that a half-dozen or more planned attacks weren't prevented as a result of having this (albeit very vague) info? I believe at least one plot to blow up bridges and tunnels in NYC was foiled subsequent to 1997, as well as the attempt on LAX on 12/31/99, who knows how many others were stopped?
posted by psmealey at 5:34 AM on April 16, 2004


8 YEARS BEFORE 9/11, THE WTC WAS ATTACKED!

though, this link could help me with my golf score.

(and so as to not have some asshat cry derail, there are scenarios going back to the late 60's that envision airplanes as weapons)
posted by clavdivs at 5:52 AM on April 16, 2004


Is this "limited hang out", or what? The real news here, to my mind, is the fact that the AP chose to post this as "News".

Here's a bit of recent history on the subject, from my long comment [ in the recent "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US - The Presidential Daily Briefing" Metafilter thread ], which is in turn largely based on Paul Thompson's "Complete 9-11 Timeline".
_____________________________________________

"Though hauntingly prescient, the CIA's 1995 National Intelligence Estimate did not yet name Osama bin Laden as a terrorist threat." - well maybe not, but others sure had - and the source of the threat as well as the means and the likely targets were generally quite well understood :

1993 FIRST ATTACK ON WTC

1993 Draft on Suicide Plane Attack angainst Pentagon, White House circulated through Pentagon, Justice Dept., and FEMA

"An expert panel commissioned by the Pentagon [The Cetron Report] in 1993 discussed how an airplane could be used to bomb national landmarks. “It was considered radical thinking, a little too scary for the times,” said retired Air Force Col. Doug Menarchik, who organized the $150,000 study for the Defense Department’s Office of Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict. “After I left, it met a quiet death.” The decision not to publish detailed scenarios was made partly out of a fear that it could give terrorists ideas, participants said. A draft was circulated through the Pentagon, the Justice Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but senior agency officials ultimately decided against a public release." (Source: Washington Post, October 2, 2001, “Before Attack, U.S. Expected Different Hit, Chemical, Germ Agents Focus of Preparations,” by Jo Warrick and Joe Stephens)

April, 1994, a disgruntled Federal Express flight engineer boarded a DC-10 and invaded the cockpit, intending to crash the plane into a FEDEX building in Memphis.

1994 August
Tom Clancy's "Debt of Honour" hits the shelves. Plot: a conspiracy to crash a remote controlled plane into the Capitol building to bring down the US gov.

"Clancy's latest novel traces the financial, political, military, and personal machinations that drive America into the next major global war.... a shocker climax so plausible you'll wonder why it hasn't yet happened" -- Entertainment Weekly

September 1994
a pilot crashed a single engine Cessna on the White House lawn, just short of the president's bedroom.

December 1994
Algerian Islamic terrorists hijacked an Air France flight in Algiers and had it loaded with fuel with the intention of crashing into the Eiffel Tower. French commandos stormed the plane, kiling the terrorists.

From (the NEW American 11/05/2001)
"The December 1994 hijacking of an Air France flight from Algiers was carried out by four members of the "Phalange of the Signers in Blood," a subsidiary of Algeria’s Armed Islamic Group. The terrorists seized control of the plane and demanded that it fly to Marseilles, where it was to be refueled for a trip to Paris. The hijackers also demanded that the Airbus A300 — a plane of comparable size to the Boeing 767s that were used to attack the World Trade Center — be loaded with 27 tons of fuel, which was three times what was necessary for the short trip.....After debriefing released hostages and working with other sources, French authorities determined that the terrorists intended either to explode the plane over Paris or ram it into the Eiffel Tower. Corroborating evidence, in the form of 20 sticks of dynamite, was found by French troops who stormed the plane and killed the hijackers."

1995
BOJINKA PLOT UNCOVERED
Phillipines police tortured an Islamic terrorist (with Al Qaeda affiliations) into confessing of a plot to simultaneously bomb 11 US airliners and crash a plane loaded with explosives into CIA headquarters. The WTC, the White House and the Pentagon were also mentioned as possible targets. This plan was called "Bojinka". The alleged mastermind of the first WTC bombing in 1993, Ramzi Yousseff, architect of the first attack on the WTC, boasted of this plot to the two FBI agents who extradited him from the Phillipines to the US for trial. ("Border network of terror, Bin Laden followers reach across globe", Washington Post, 9/23/2001).

TIME, 1995
SAM NUNN'S "LURID" PLANE ATTACK FANTASY
"Nightmares are coming true," says Robert Kupperman, a terrorism expert at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies. "I think we're in for deep trouble." .....Even very sober public officials are deeply concerned. Three weeks ago, Georgia's Senator Sam Nunn sketched a lurid fantasy: how terrorists might wreck the central government of the U.S. On the night of a State of the Union address, when all the top officials are in the Capitol, Nunn said, a handful of fanatics could crash a radio-controlled drone aircraft into the building, "engulfing it with chemical weapons and causing tremendous death and destruction." This scenario, said Nunn, "is not far-fetched," and the technology is all readily available."

Summer, 1996
ATLANTA OLYMPICS READY WITH AIR DEFENSE AGAINST TERRORISM
US officials, worried about the use of crop dusters and suicide flight during the Altanta Olympic games, deployed Black Hawk helicopters and US customs service jets to protect the Atlanta airspace and issued bans on specific Games-related airspace. FBI agents went to local airports to thwart hijacking of small planes. In fact, the International Olympic committee has considered plane crash scenarios in it's security planning since 1972 (LA Times, 11/17/2001)

1996 -
FBI BEGINS INVESTIGATION INTO AL QAEDA FLIGHT SCHOOL SCHEMES
"The FBI began investigating Arab students training at flight schools in 1996 - "Since 1996, the FBI had been developing evidence that intyernational terrorists were using US flight schools to learn to fly jumbo jets" (from Washington Post 9/23/2001, "FBI knew terrorists were using flight schools").

1998 DRUDGE REPORT: TIME GOT THERE FIRST?
"Drudge Report": Time story predicts 9-11 in 1998
TIME story: " the Laden scare also is being felt domestically, intelligence sources tell TIME they have evidence that bin Laden may be planning his boldest move yet--a strike on Washington or possibly New York City in an eye-for-an-eyeretaliation. "We've hit his headquarters, now he hits ours," a State tells TIME."
http://www.drudgereportarchives.com/dsp/specialReports_pc_carden_detail.htm?reportID=%7B47FF8AF9-8C34-47CC-913A-3BDA4D25F91E%7D

June 1999
FEMA manual cover shows W/WTC IN CROSSHAIRS
What was on FEMA's mind? [ you can see it at The Memory Hole ] - the graphic was on the cover of "Managing Weapons of Mass Destruction Incidents: An Executive Level Program for Sheriffs." a 250 page training manual which was given to people who participated in a training program of the same name that taught local law enforcement how to deal with terrorist attacks.

Sept 15, 1999
HART RUDMAN REPORT - "AMERICA WILL BE ATTACKED"
In a Sept. 15, 1999 report, the Hart-Rudman Commission concluded, "America will be attacked by terrorists using weapons of mass destruction and Americans will lose their lives on American soil, possibly in large numbers."

September 1999
CIA SPONSORD REPORT: AL QAEDA MIGHT CRASH PLANES INTO PENTAGON
National Intelligence Council Report by the Federal Research Division, commissioned by the CIA, delivered Sept. 1999 concludes "Al Qaeda might hijack an airliner with the intention of crashing it into the Pentagon or another government building"

"Mr. Murad's plot ["Boijinka"] was noted in a 1999 federal report suggesting that Al Qaeda might hijack an airliner with the intention of crashing it into the Pentagon or another government building. The intelligence report, which was prepared for the National Intelligence Council, was widely shared within the government and has long been available to the public over the Internet."(NYT 5-18-2002)



Sept 15, 1999
HART RUDMAN REPORT - "AMERICA WILL BE ATTACKED"
In a Sept. 15, 1999 report, the Hart-Rudman Commission concluded, "America will be attacked by terrorists using weapons of mass destruction and Americans will lose their lives on American soil, possibly in large numbers."

September 1999
CIA SPONSORD REPORT: AL QAEDA MIGHT CRASH PLANES INTO PENTAGON
National Intelligence Council Report by the Federal Research Division, commissioned by the CIA, delivered Sept. 1999 concludes "Al Qaeda might hijack an airliner with the intention of crashing it into the Pentagon or another government building"

"Mr. Murad's plot ["Boijinka"] was noted in a 1999 federal report suggesting that Al Qaeda might hijack an airliner with the intention of crashing it into the Pentagon or another government building. The intelligence report, which was prepared for the National Intelligence Council, was widely shared within the government and has long been available to the public over the Internet."(NYT 5-18-2002)

[SOURCE-"Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism"]"Al Qaeda's expected retaliation for the U.S. cruise missile attack against al Qaeda's training facilities in Afghanistan on August 20, 1998, could take several forms of terrorist attack in the nation's capital. Al Qaeda could detonate a Chechen-type building-buster bomb at a federal building. Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al Qaeda's Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House. Ramzi Yousef had planned to do this against the CIA headquarters."

[BACKGROUND - "In response to a number of inquiries from the media concerning the report "Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism," which was mounted on our website on December 14, 2001, the Federal Research Division (FRD) offers the following background:

• FRD is a full cost recovery service that performs directed research at the request of other agencies of the U.S. Government. FRD prepares studies, reports, and translations under interagency agreements for a wide variety of Federal agencies, which are listed elsewhere on this website (http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/FAQ_Clients.html).

• Work done for Federal agencies is the property of the requesting agency, and dissemination is controlled by them. In some cases, FRD is asked to disseminate the commissioned reports, many of which can been seen on this website under "Research Products" (http://lcweb.loc.gov/rr/frd/).

• The study "Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism," reported the findings of FRD's research of then -current literature written by experts on terrorism, inside and outside government, and was commissioned in June 1999 by the National Intelligence Council (http://www.cia.gov/nic/) and delivered in September 1999."]

[SOURCE?]"Nonetheless, the White House still found itself on the defensive once again today, this time over a 1999 report commissioned by a federal intelligence agency that eerily foreshadowed the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Suicide bomber(s) belonging to Al Qaeda's Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency or the White House," the report said.

The report, titled "The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism," was prepared by the Library of Congress for the National Intelligence Council, an interagency group that oversees intelligence analysis throughout the government. The report, which has long been public, based its analysis largely on the fact that in 1995, a similar plot by a group of Islamic militants based in the Philippines who were linked to Al Qaeda was foiled."
posted by troutfishing at 5:52 AM on April 16, 2004


Could you please stop that?
posted by hama7 at 5:54 AM on April 16, 2004


hama7 - is it not germane?

Wow - that lined up neatly with clavdivs (no doubt accurate, I'd reckon) observation. I didn't go back quite so far.

But come on now......planes as weapons? it's the idea that this concept was somehow a novel one first implemented on September 11, 2001 that ludicrous and laughable. It offends our intelligence.

Really now. I'm sure the concept was an old one during the days when Biremes and Triremes were battling it out on the Mediterranean a few thousand years ago.

Crashing a vehicle into stationary object.

Smashing a thing into another thing.

The pretense that the concept hasn't been around, essentially, since the dawn of civilization is like a bad Monty Python skit.

(cue to the morons) "We'll take a THING and SMASH! it into another THING!.....and if THAT doesn't work, we'll smash an even BIGGER thing into the other thing!"
posted by troutfishing at 6:02 AM on April 16, 2004


Yeah, add me to the list of people who just doesn't get this. Saying that Islamic extremists would likely attack certain big American cities is about as helpful and unsurprising as saying there will likely be an tornado in Ohio sometime in the future. What does "attack" mean? New York and Washington are big fucking cities. Who are the Islamic extremists? When will this attack occur (in this case 6 years later)?

And the icing on the cake is: what could the FBI/CIA have done with this information to prevent 9/11? Round up a bunch of "Islamic extremists" before they commit a crime? Are you prepared to say you would have been fine with that?

(on preview, even after reading troutfishing's exhaustive link -- the question still stands: what the fuck could have been done? "Al Qaeda might fly an airplane into the Pentagon." That's great. Which airplane? How? Who? When? Two years later? (Any idea how many commerical airplane flights there are over the course of two years?) Do you arrest "Islamic extremists" before they do anything wrong? Do you prevent them from flying? Wouldn't that be a civil rights violation? Wouldn't most of you have been up in arms?)
posted by pardonyou? at 6:06 AM on April 16, 2004


Even more shocking - there were 911 days separating the Madrid train bombings and the 9/11 attacks on WTC! Shocking, but True!
(as long as you count the right way and ignore date-difference conventions)
posted by grateful at 6:10 AM on April 16, 2004


anthony zinni warned rumsfeld:
"I'm surprised that he is surprised because there was a lot of us who were telling him that it was going to be thus," said Zinni, a Marine for 39 years and the former commander of the U.S. Central Command. "Anyone could know the problems they were going to see. How could they not?"
one wonders what warnings this administration is not heeding today?
posted by specialk420 at 6:28 AM on April 16, 2004


hama7 - is it not germane?

I don't mean the content, which could be hyperlinked. I mean the giganto-cut-and-paste. It's a waste of space, and annoying to scroll past every time you do it, which is too often.

The CIA gets warnings every day which are probably too numerous to count. Some of it is pure baloney. There really is nothing that the CIA could not have envisioned, especially since they knew the towers were a target after the first bombing. Nothing new here.
posted by hama7 at 6:32 AM on April 16, 2004


Round up a bunch of "Islamic extremists" before they commit a crime? Are you prepared to say you would have been fine with that?

Good point. I have a feeling that many of the same people who are complaining (not without some justification) about 9/11 not being prevented would be saying "racial profiling! unfair oppression on Muslims!" if we had done that. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
posted by jonmc at 6:37 AM on April 16, 2004


Ultimately, prevention is only that, prevention. It's inherent in the very concept that no matter what is done about a certain situation, be it terrorism or teenage sex, something is going to happen. Unfortunately, most of us look at "prevention" as some sort of vague, fail-safe end-all and be-all that will keep us from harm. Fingerpointing is fine, but we have to understand that no matter what we do, it will happen again.

I think it stems from our belief that we can control everything in our lives and on our world, which is of course completely false.

So, as jon says, damned if you do, damned if you don't, tho in a different context.
posted by ashbury at 6:49 AM on April 16, 2004


what the fuck could have been done?

If someone with authority to do something had realized that crashing airplanes into buildings was a big threat, they could have ensured that the FAA and NORAD were prepared to respond appropriately to that kind of attack when it happened. That's what could have been done.
posted by sfenders at 6:52 AM on April 16, 2004


But come on now......planes as weapons?

The idea of suicide as a part of national military policy was completely new in the history of warfare. The surprise attacks were to take the Americans completely by surprise. They were bewildered by the Japanese suicide missions, completely unable to comprehend the mentality behind them.
posted by AwkwardPause at 6:54 AM on April 16, 2004


hama7 - The bipartisan US Senate Hart-Rudman commission, which released it's final report in early 2001, warned of impending attacks had drawn up a list of 50 specific recommendations to help safeguard the US. The Bush administration told the commission - "thank you, now don't worry. Dick Cheney will pick up your work now and take care of it." - Yah, sure. Cheney filed the commission's recommendations, no doubt - in his circular file.

Hart, subsequent to this and shortly before September 11, warned Cheney several more times about impending attacks.

Further - The US gets many warnings every day, no doubt. But it doesn't receive high level diplomatic warnings of immanent threats every day. The Bush Administration received high level warnings, with varying degrees of specificity, from every major relevant nation - Germany, France, Italy, The UK, Israel, Syria, Egypt........yada yada yada.

As a recent Guardian newspaper op-ed noted : "To say that a memo entitled "Bin Laden determined to attack inside the United States" did not warn of an impending attack, according to Dr Rice, suggests the administration has begun to lose touch with reality.
"


____________________________________________

AwkwardPause - Hey! I need to attach that to my giganto cut-and-paste quote.

Another salient chapter in the history of using things as a weapons, by smashing them into other things.
posted by troutfishing at 6:58 AM on April 16, 2004


what the fuck could have been done?


perhaps a pre-emptive strike upon boeing.

- On a more serious note, there does not appear to be anything new here.
posted by johnnyboy at 7:00 AM on April 16, 2004


Ashbury - True, very true. But perhaps misleading.

Fatalism is not an option, and so :

If precautions have been taken but attacks slip through anyway, blame is inappropriate. In any case, the first order of the day is to analyze shortcomings in those defensive and preventative measures - so as to thwart future attacks.

However, assigning blame IS appropriate - after a major terrorist attack - if little to no effort has been made to take basic precautions which could have prevented those attacks.

That, in a court of law, is called negligence.
posted by troutfishing at 7:08 AM on April 16, 2004


they could have ensured that the FAA and NORAD were prepared to respond appropriately to that kind of attack when it happened. That's what could have been done.

OK, let's assume for the moment that the FAA and NORAD had enough time to do anything (and troutfishing, please don't laundry list the links to how many minutes it took the F-16s to scramble, etc.) What is "respond appropriately"? Shoot down the airliners? What would the American public have thought upon hearing that U.S. F-16s shot down four hijacked commercial jetliners in the span of 30 minutes, based on a suspicion that they might be used to crash into buildings (never mind that the planes would have been shot down over densely populated areas)? I would have been horrified. Talk about conspiracy fodder.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:16 AM on April 16, 2004


if little to no effort has been made to take basic precautions which could have prevented those attacks.

Those precautions being ...?

That, in a court of law, is called negligence.

Actually, I think the term you're looking for is strict liability.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:18 AM on April 16, 2004


Troutfishing, you forgot:

March 04, 2001

The Loan Gunmen TV show predicts hijacked Boeing crashing into the WTC.
posted by tomplus2 at 7:21 AM on April 16, 2004


ok, i'm just not getting something.

i won't pretend to be brilliant or clever. i can't explain or understand all the intricacies of world politics and relations between nations, the role of defense agencies and intelligence agencies, evidence gathering techniques, etc.

but i just can't figure something out: if i'm late for work 3 times in one month, that's grounds for dismissal and i'm considered irresponsible, negligent, unreliable and all that bad stuff.

but we look at one of the most horrific attacks on civilians in the history of the u.s., and we just shrug and say "nothing could have been done to prevent it," and nothing happens to any of the people in the agencies that we have in place to protect us from such things?

i really don't understand.
posted by lord_wolf at 7:42 AM on April 16, 2004


Shoot down the airliners?

They could have been ready to provide that option, whether or not it was taken. You'd think they'd be able to get a fighter in the sky over the Pentagon in less than an hour.

NORAD commander General Ralph Eberhart stated, "We did not anticipate this threat would take off from inside the United States and it would be a matter of double-digit minutes" to respond.
posted by sfenders at 7:43 AM on April 16, 2004


OK, let's assume for the moment that the FAA and NORAD had enough time to do anything

Oh...they had all kinds of time. Hell, the pilots could have gotten a manicure and a facial during the time it took for the jets to scramble.

Look, it's s.o.p. that if a plane loses radio contact, that jets are scrambled. Don't y'all remember before 911 when some minor celebrity fell asleep in his little plane and the f16s were beside him within minutes of him losing contact? I have a pilot friend who have seen f16s when his radios failed, and the f16 pilots made it very clear that he should land...right now, please.

The fact is that these planes were in the air for over an hour before the Air Force was allowed to leave the ground.


Considering reports that were coming from the planes...i.e., that the attack was not your standard hijack scenario, people had been killed and the hijackers had taken over the cockpit...then yes, I think blowing the planes out of the sky when they were over the water would have been explainable.

I find it more unexplainable that we allowed four hijacked planes in the same time frame to fly, unescorted for an hour or more.

I know I'm out on the looney conspiracy, tin-foil hat fringe when I make this statement...but I am fairly sure that this attack was either planned or sanctioned by people who are currently in power. It was the fastest way to enact all of the plans they had...patriot act, reduction of civil rights, destruction of habeas corpus, Iraq...considering everything the current regime has done since 911...it sure looks suspicious to this inquiring mind.

I said it before, and I'll say it again....for those who know history, 911 carries too many similarities to the Reichstag bombing for comfort.
posted by dejah420 at 8:00 AM on April 16, 2004


Some people think they did shoot down one airplane.
posted by agregoli at 8:04 AM on April 16, 2004


The Out of Towner
While Bush vacationed, 9/11 warnings went unheard.
By Fred Kaplan

from the article: "Roemer then asked Tenet if he mentioned Moussaoui to President Bush at one of their frequent morning briefings. Tenet replied, "I was not in briefings at this time." Bush, he noted, "was on vacation." He added that he didn't see the president at all in August 2001. During the entire month, Bush was at his ranch in Texas. "You never talked with him?" Roemer asked. "No," Tenet replied. By the way, for much of August, Tenet too was, as he put it, "on leave.""
posted by matteo at 8:07 AM on April 16, 2004


Some people think they did shoot down one airplane.

Some people think a big man with a long white beard lives up in the clouds and reigns control over us.

have a feeling that many of the same people who are complaining (not without some justification) about 9/11 not being prevented would be saying "racial profiling! unfair oppression on Muslims!" if we had done that. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Nail on the head.
posted by dhoyt at 8:14 AM on April 16, 2004


Just pointing it out, dhoyt. No need to get ridiculous.
posted by agregoli at 8:22 AM on April 16, 2004


(Sorry, didn't mean it quite as it sounded--just pointing out how easy it can to be to suspend one's belief...)
posted by dhoyt at 8:26 AM on April 16, 2004


what could the FBI/CIA have done with this information to prevent 9/11?

1. Reinforced cockpit doors. That's a really easy one.
2. Aforementioned ready jets near ("near" can be pretty far with supersonic fighters) big targets with a clear chain-of-command who has authority to shoot.
3. Making sure that when the FBI finds out about a suspected terrorist taking flight lessons, that information somehow makes its way to the top.
posted by callmejay at 8:46 AM on April 16, 2004


3a. and that information gets to every airline, and airport.
4. Warned the public, like Ashcroft and other govt. officials were warned. (These weren't the usual warnings and assessments--the whole world was telling us it was going to happen--and soon)

Why were we all warned about the millenium threats and not these? Why was security beefed up--in Times Square and every other public gathering on 12/31/99--but it wasn't in the weeks leading up to 9/11?
posted by amberglow at 9:14 AM on April 16, 2004


First of all, you got it going on, Troutfishing. Now start writing editorials. I think out collective responsibility is to start screaming until CNN listens.

I would be much more willing to forgive the Bush cabal if I felt that it was capable of learning from its mistakes. I almost made a FPP to an article in the Guardian about unprotected nuclear sites in Iraq. According to various UN agencies, nuclear material is being taken out of the country. Entire buildings are disappearing.

Not only is the White House fixated fixated on diffuse enemies, they seem consistently unable to deal with intelligence information.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 9:30 AM on April 16, 2004


5. Have FBI agents on flights near the east coast.
posted by drezdn at 9:41 AM on April 16, 2004


this attack was either planned or sanctioned by people who are currently in power.

You know, I wouldn't even be thinking about that possibility if I hadn't heard of operation northwoods. "Casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation." Fuck. People can be so stupid.
posted by sfenders at 9:48 AM on April 16, 2004


I've been thinking about this topic quite a bit this week, thanks to the hearings on the subject, and I think that to some degree both types of arguments are correct: 1)The Bush Administration could have and probably should have done much more to respond to the threat, and 2) it's understandable that not more was done.

Frankly, I'd be willing to cut the Bushies some slack on this, if they would do just one thing: start being honest on what they did right and what they did wrong. Nothing pissed me off more this week than to listen to Condoleeza Rice and (even more so) John Ashcroft place the blame on everyone else but themselves. It was Clinton's team - they didn't take it seriously enough, and were too busy "swatting flies" to do any real damage to Al Queda. It was the FBI - they didn't tell me enough. They didn't keep me informed. It was the American people's fault - they wouldn't have allowed us to do what we wanted to do, so we didn't even try.

Now, granted it's easier to assess one's performance in a job honestly after you've stopped doing it than while you're in the middle of it, but Clinton's people are the only ones I've heard who have admitted that they didn't do everything perfectly. I don't lay responsibility for the events of September 11, 2001 on the American government; that belongs solely to the people who planned, participated in and funded the hijackings. I do hold them responsible for not doing their jobs as thoroughly as they should have, for not listening to people like Richard Clarke and FBI head Pickard, and for looking for someone else to blame when it became clear that they had f'd up. If Ashcroft had any shame whatsoever, he would have resigned before the end of the year in 2001. Instead, he was telling anyone who would listen that the attacks couldn't have been prevented because of the Chinese Wall between foreign intelligence and domestic law enforcement, and that we needed the ironically named PATRIOT Act to fix that. It was all Clinton's fault, he raved earlier this week. The statutes and executive orders issued in the earlier adminstration tied the hands of the FBI, and he was valiantly trying to change that. Assuming for the moment that his assessment of the situation was correct, it seems odd that he wouldn't have said anything about this prior to Sept. 11, and that just two days before the attacks happened he refused Pickard's request for extra funding precisely for fighting the terrorists that Ashcroft was so worried about.
posted by deadcowdan at 10:18 AM on April 16, 2004


as for the issue of 'rounding up the extremists', if you look at the 911 terrorists, some of them you could have detained and questioned without anyone making much of a peep, others you couldn't lock up even today without an outcry. Al Qaeda specifically brought in people with no records, 'clean' people who in any free society would be allowed to more-or-less come and go as students, tourists, whatever.

It's easier now because of the Patriot Act to lock people up without charge or reasonable cause, but even with it there are people that would not be held. But it's not true to say that investigating, detaining, or questioning peple with known terrorist group associations, would bring a big outcry, of course there would be some outcry from the groups whose job it is to protest against deviation from a strict interpreation of the constitution, but there would be no groundswell of popular support for someone with a 'dirty' background.
posted by chaz at 10:27 AM on April 16, 2004


Some people think a big man with a long white beard lives up in the clouds and reigns control over us.

...and some people think GWBush is the "leader of the free world" (how's that for a fairy tale?) - such a great leader that he just sat there waiting for instructions while "America (was) under attack", and then lied about the whole "airplanes as weapons" scenario being an unimaginable concept that no-one could have ever predicted. Which is the point of the FPP - and, sorry if you've heard this before, but the reason folks keep bringing it up is that it hasn't seemed to have sunk in with enough people yet.

It seems to me that the current administration wants it both ways - they want to claim bungling and incompetence (and not conflict of interest) as a defence against ordering investigators to back off the Bin Ladens even as the warnings were increasing during the spring and summer of 2001. There's so much more to say about this, but I will defer to troutfishing's paste-bombing prerogatives...
posted by dinsdale at 10:41 AM on April 16, 2004


Don't y'all remember before 911 when some minor celebrity fell asleep in his little plane and the f16s were beside him within minutes of him losing contact?

Maybe you're not thinking of the same thing I am, but Payne Stewart's (you know, the PGA player who wore knickers) private plane depressurized, and once it had veered far from where its plan, they sent jets up to look at it, and they could tell from the way the windows looked that it had depressurized, and they made sure it wasn't on course to hit anything populated, and it ended up crashing in South Dakota or something.

Nothing pissed me off more this week than to listen to Condoleeza Rice and (even more so) John Ashcroft place the blame on everyone else but themselves.

I actually think (and I must admit that some of the things he's done infuriate me worse than any other member of the administriation) that Ashcroft really couldn't have done much to prevent the 9/11/2001 attacks, and that most of the blame falls on Rice. However, the fact that Ashcroft hailed the USA PATRIOT Act as the very panacea and aid to America it isn't did bother me.

on preview:
and some people think GWBush is the "leader of the free world"

Well, he is, in the sense that he's one of two people who can order the destruction of the world, and he can destroy it more times over than the other person (Putin).
posted by oaf at 10:53 AM on April 16, 2004


Payne Stewart

Yup, that's the one everyone thinks of. An F-16 intercepted the flight within 20 minutes of losing contact.

Oddly enough, the rules were changed since then, in June 2001. CJCSI directive 3610.01A superceded 3610.01. I can't find a copy of the original to compare it with, but it includes in its change list:

Statutory Authority for Responding to Aircraft Piracy enclosure removed and added to reference list.

The relevant paragraph of the revised directive says:

When notified that military escort aircraft are needed in conjunction with an aircraft piracy (hijacking) emergency, the DDO, NMCC, will notify the appropriate unified command or USELEMNORAD to determine if suitable aircraft are available and forward the request to the Secretary of Defense for approval in accordance with DODD 3025.15, paragraph D.7.

That paragraph says:

Requests for an immediate response may be made to any Component or Command. The DoD Components that receive verbal requests from civil authorities for support in an exigent emergency may initiate informal planning and, if required, immediately respond as authorized in DoD Directive 3025.1.

So 3601.01A, the one they'd go to first, says "go to the Secretary of Defense for approval of any actions in accordance with 3025.15D7"; but that document says you don't need such approval if the conditions in 3025.1 apply. Which they probably would. So which one takes precedence?

Anyway, the question is why they changed it in June 2001, and whether they removed at that time whatever clause was used to get military jets up there to respond to previous incidents in civilian aviation. The various conspiracy theory sites are perhaps making too much of this, but I do think it's an interesting line of inquiry.
posted by sfenders at 12:23 PM on April 16, 2004


I know postroad hasn't commented in this thread, and may not see this, but I feel like adding:

CIA Warned of Attack 6 Years Before 9-11

Note in passing that this took place during the Clinton administration!
posted by msacheson at 1:00 PM on April 16, 2004


Well, it's still Bush's fault for not properly funding the precrime division.
posted by darukaru at 1:54 PM on April 16, 2004


and some people think GWBush is the "leader of the free world"

Well, he is, in the sense that he's one of two people who can order the destruction of the world, and he can destroy it more times over than the other person (Putin).


I'd call that more the "person-with-his-finger-on-the-destructo-button" of the free world rather than "leader" per se - my point stands.
posted by dinsdale at 4:25 PM on April 16, 2004


Wow sfenders, that's a new bit of info that I didn't have...

Yep, I'm going to reinforce my tin foil beanie, yes I am.
posted by dejah420 at 7:09 PM on April 16, 2004


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