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Judy, Judy, Judy
May 18, 2006 4:55 PM   Subscribe

"It's Al-Qaida!" I yelled. "We had a heads-up!" In an exclusive AlterNet interview, Judith Miller says (and her then-editor Steve Engelberg corroborates) that in July 2001 an intelligence source (maybe Richard Clarke?) told her about an intercepted communication between two Al Qaida operatives that were disappointed that the US hadn't responded more seriously to the October 2000 attack against the USS Cole. "And one Al Qaida operative was overheard saying to the other, 'Don't worry; we're planning something so big now that the U.S. will have to respond.'"
posted by kirkaracha (23 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
They decided not to publish the story because they didn't have enough specifics. Plus, they were busy working on a book. Steve Engelberg discussed the story in the September/October 2005 Columbia Journalism Review.
p.s. Cary Grant never actually said "Judy, Judy, Judy."
posted by kirkaracha at 4:55 PM on May 18, 2006


Interesting. So is the lack of major reaction to the Cole

a) Good because a major reaction was what they wanted
b) Bad because it was goading them into something worse
c) Bad because it made us look weak
or
d) Good because it made us look like we were so strong that the attack was irrelevant?

Or e) something else?
posted by Happy Monkey at 5:06 PM on May 18, 2006


Surely this will be . . .
posted by fandango_matt at 5:06 PM on May 18, 2006


Interesting story.

So is the lack of major reaction to the Cole

a) Good because a major reaction was what they wanted


I'd say (a). Like the non-reaction to the July 2005 London bombing. Terrorism isn't effective if the target isn't terrorized.
posted by russilwvong at 5:37 PM on May 18, 2006


So, did Al Q say anything about the date and flight numbers? Or even the date? Anything to help us narrow it down some from the 8-12k flights a day?

It doesn't seem like that info was available. The heads up was that they were planning 'something' - not anything specific, it would seem.
posted by JB71 at 5:38 PM on May 18, 2006


posted by JB71 It doesn't seem like that info was available. The heads up was that they were planning 'something' - not anything specific, it would seem.

Actually, all the information was available, but the people with access to the different pieces failed to share those pieces and work to figure out how the pieces fit together. Simply put: the intelligence agencies didn't do their jobs.

The solution, therefore, is to examine the phone records of American citizens, civil liberties be damned.
posted by fandango_matt at 5:46 PM on May 18, 2006


one Al Qaida operative was overheard saying to the other, 'Don't worry; we're planning something so big now that the U.S. will have to respond.'"

Have you guys read the 9/11 comission report? This sort of intel was popping up every other day in the months leading up to 9/11. I am only hyperbolizing a little.
posted by ori at 5:53 PM on May 18, 2006


Poor woman hates being out of the spotlight. On the bright side, we finally gave Al Qaeda exactly what they were looking for.
posted by uosuaq at 6:32 PM on May 18, 2006


This isn't even a "surely this will be..." moment because FBI agents knew 9/11 was going to happen. Judy Miller just loves the attention.
posted by rxrfrx at 6:56 PM on May 18, 2006


This sort of intel was popping up every other day in the months leading up to 9/11.

Which is exactly why it made so much sense for the chief executive to go on the longest presidential vacation in human history right then.

But the July date is interesting - that's when Ashcroft stopped flying commercial planes, remember?
posted by soyjoy at 7:17 PM on May 18, 2006


as all this keeps adding up, when would you all say your suspicion would turn seriously from "they fucked up, they know!" to "they let this happen, they knew!"? Anyone?

...Beuller?
posted by es_de_bah at 7:26 PM on May 18, 2006


Judy Miller? Why bother? The only NYT reporter who has less credibility is Gina Kolata.
posted by intermod at 7:44 PM on May 18, 2006


judy miller? i'm really sick of that attention-seeking bitch.
posted by quonsar at 8:00 PM on May 18, 2006


So is the lack of major reaction to the Cole

Clinton didn't respond to the Cole attack partly out of "wag the dog" criticism, partly because he didn't want to start a war for the next guy to finish, and partly because his Secretary of Defense didn't think it was realistic. The attack wasn't linked to Osama bin Laden until December 2000.

Bush said he was tired of swatting flies, which is interesting, because he didn't do shit about terrrorism until after the September 11 attacks.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:51 PM on May 18, 2006


Judy Miller? Why bother? The only NYT reporter who has less credibility is Gina Kolata.

She no longer works for the NYT.

Most people have forgotten that she was in jail for several months. She's the only person out of the entire neo-con cabal who lead our country to war to actually serve any time in jail, even though the "charges" were only tangentially related.
posted by delmoi at 9:05 PM on May 18, 2006


Has anyone here not yet accepted the fact that the US ignored specific intelligence cues as well as an obvious overall campaign of attacks in a disastrous failure of imagination that such a thing as 9/11 could happen? Anyone? Hello?

I don't really think we need to see any more "people knew before!" stories, honestly. It doesn't matter how many clues there were. The administration and the "intelligence community" regarded such attacks as on the same scale as a Martian invasion, clearly.
posted by scarabic at 9:24 PM on May 18, 2006


Scarabic, you're right - whether the US could have prevented 9/11 if we were only better spies is a more important question than where precisely we fucked up. But answering that question requires us to analyze the mistakes made, so we're probably in for more of these stories.
posted by jimmy76 at 9:48 PM on May 18, 2006


Ah, and here I was thinking that the point being made in this FPP is that Judy Miller "knew" from the intercept that al-Q wanted to provoke a big reaction from the US, and she went ahead and published all her sabre-rattling lies anyway!

Surely, OBL must be thinking of Judy, "With enemies like these, al-hamdu l'illah, who needs friends?"
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:08 PM on May 18, 2006


analyze the mistakes made

Good point, though most of the rhetoric around the mistakes made has been blame-flinging, not analysis. This week in particular we're reminded how the "intelligence community" is more fucked than ever.
posted by scarabic at 11:01 PM on May 18, 2006


You know, they hung Lord Haw-Haw for treason, way back.
posted by gsb at 11:10 PM on May 18, 2006


So the whole thing was her fault for not saying anything?
posted by IronLizard at 1:23 AM on May 19, 2006


This needs repeatng, on very large billboards and on American Idol where it will be actually seen:

Terrorism isn't effective if the target isn't terrorized.
posted by nofundy at 6:47 AM on May 19, 2006


Gosh, you mean Judy Miller almost saved America?!

Give that gal a medal of honour! Give her the key to the city!

Judy: American Hero!
posted by five fresh fish at 3:59 PM on May 19, 2006


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