“…two months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, then-CIA Director George J. Tenet met with his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, at CIA headquarters to review the latest on Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Black laid out the case, consisting of communications intercepts and other top-secret intelligence showing the increasing likelihood that al-Qaeda would soon attack the United States. It was a mass of fragments and dots that nonetheless made a compelling case, so compelling to Tenet that he decided he and Black should go to the White House immediately…..Tenet hoped his abrupt request for an immediate meeting would shake Rice. He and Black, a veteran covert operator, had two main points when they met with her. First, al-Qaeda was going to attack American interests, possibly in the United States itself. Black emphasized that this amounted to a strategic warning, meaning the problem was so serious that it required an overall plan and strategy. Second, this was a major foreign policy problem that needed to be addressed immediately. They needed to take action that moment — covert, military, whatever — to thwart bin Laden….. Tenet and Black, however, felt they were not getting through to Rice. She was polite, but they felt the brush-off.” – Bob Woodward, no enemy of the Bush Administration, in his book ‘State of Denial’
When news of Rice’s July 10 meeting with Tenet was first made public with the release of Woodward’s book, Rice initially denied the meeting ever took place “Rice has denied that such a meeting took place, citing the 911 Commission Report, which never mentioned any such meeting.” Presumably she was trying to avoid getting involved in the messy questions about her and the Administration’s behavior in the summer of 2001 that would naturally arise if the press got wind of the details and timing of the meeting with Tenet and Black so soon before 9/11, swirling amidst all the other reports of intelligence breakdowns around that time. And, technically, Rice was correct. The 9/11 Commission Report did not, amazingly, make any mention of this crucial July meeting and subsequent brush-off.
However, when transcripts from the testimony given before the 9/11 Commission were actually reviewed by a number of intrepid reporters, it was proven that the meeting HAD taken place. It was just never written into the 9/11 Commission’s official report. Caught in a lie, Rice then changed tack, saying that, well, yes she supposed the meeting did take place, but at no time in that meeting was the warning about the impending al Qaeda attack specific as to where that attack was to take place. “Speaking to reporters en route to the Middle East, Rice said she had no recollection of what she called ‘the supposed meeting.’ What I’m quite certain of, is that it was not a meeting in which I was told that there was an impending attack and I refused to respond,” she said. “Rice vehemently denied that she ever received a special CIA warning about an imminent terrorist attack on the United States, angrily rebutting new allegations about her culpability in U.S. policy failures before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by al Qaeda.”
Soon after Rice’s second attempt at denial regarding the meeting and/or the contents of the meeting with Tenet and Black, reporters and the public naturally became suspicious of the Administration’s version of the story, and they started to turn the heat up on Rice. She again claimed that no information was given to her specifically about an impending attack on U.S. soil, despite the fact that she had recently not remembered the meeting even taking place. Woodward, who until then had been lauded by the Bush Administration for his intrepid and fair reporting, stood by his assertion that Tenet and Black were quite explicit about an impending attack on U.S. soil. And since Rice had already proven herself to be, at best, unreliable, and at worst a flat out liar, more and more credence was given to Woodward’s rendition. He was, after all, privy to all sorts of classified documents and knowledgeable contacts within the Administration itself.
Suddenly cornered and in real danger of having to answer an array of alarming questions regarding her lack of adequate response to Tenet and Black’s ominous reports, Rice, without any kind of intended irony, abruptly changed tack again. Flip-flopping 180-degrees, she now began to defend herself with a new strategy by saying that, in fact, not only had the meeting she originally denied actually taken place, but she had taken the meeting so seriously that she specifically ordered Tenet and Black to brief Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General John Ashcroft about the gravity of the news she had just been given. Rice’s press Secretary, Sean McCormack, held a press conference to inform the media of this new revelation about how seriously his boss had taken the meeting she, up until the previous day, hadn’t actually remembered even happening. “Mr. McCormack said the records showed that far from ignoring Mr. Tenet’s warnings, Ms. Rice acted on the intelligence and requested that Mr. Tenet make the same presentation to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft, then the attorney general.” And this request for a meeting between Tenet, Black, Rumsfeld, and Ashcroft was fulfilled, as confirmed by a number of public reports on the subsequent briefing.
So, to review, in response to Bob Woodward reporting that Condaleeza Rice and the Bush administration did nothing in response to a crucial meeting Ms. Rice had with CIA Director Tenet on July 10, 2001 warning of an impending catastrophic attack by al Qaeda on American soil, Ms. Rice first denied the meeting ever took place. Then when that story didn’t hold water and was proven false, she suddenly remembered the unremembered meeting and proceeded to clarify for us what was and was not discussed at said originally unremembered meeting. Then when people were still alarmed and critical of her lack of understanding of the gravity of the unremembered meeting, she finally decided to fully defend herself by saying, well, listen, don’t blame me, I did take that unremembered meeting seriously, so seriously, in fact, that I ordered Director Tenet to pass on the specific information of this unremembered meeting to my superiors. A long and tiresome diatribe of double speak and blatant contradiction which begs the question for Ms. Rice, which one was it?
If a child behaved like this, that child would be immediately sent to their room and asked not to come out before detailing a more logical narrative. When the National Security Advisor of the United States behaves like this, and her already suspicious looking behavior is suddenly revealed to be, at the very least, criminally negligent, we make her the Secretary of State. A brash kind of Orwellian lack of logic that, though unexplainable to a five year old, we readily accept with an almost grateful relief. Because to pursue the absurdity of the narrative offered by the Bush Administration would, perhaps, unravel a world of which we are unwilling to let go.
U.S. President George W. Bush was involved in the 9/11 operation: He had instructed his National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to block his obtaining from U.S. government sources any specific information about what the attacks would entail, or about the date on which they would occur. (Presumably, he already knew, via his private communications with Prince Bandar or someone else who was in on the event’s planning, all that he had wanted to know about the coming event.) When CIA Director George Tenet, on 10 July 2001, was practically screaming to Rice to allow him into the Oval Office, to meet privately with the President to inform him of how urgent the situation had become to take action on it, she said: “We’re not quite ready to consider this. We don’t want the clock to start ticking.” Tenet was shocked, and dismayed. That encounter with Rice was intended to urge the President to establish a hit-team to take out bin Laden, so as to avert the operation — whatever it was, or would turn out to be. The way that Chris Whipple put this, in his terrific report in Politico magazine, on 12 November 2015, titled “The Attacks Will Be Spectacular”, was that, “they did not want a paper trail to show that they’d been warned.”
Apparently, “Bandar Bush” knew the details, but his friend George W. Bush did not — Bush needed “plausible deniability” — it’s not for nothing that he was able to say, after the event, as Condoleezza Rice was to put it when speaking to reporters on 16 May 2002, “This government did everything that it could in a period in which the information was very generalized, in which there was nothing specific to react to … Had this president known of something more specific, or known that a plane was going to be used as a missile, he would have acted on it.”
How does she now square that statement with her having told Tenet, on 10 July 2001, “We’re not quite ready to consider this. We don’t want the clock to start ticking.”? What ‘clock’? Why not? No one asks her — especially not under oath.
Is that the way things happen in a democracy, even 15 years after the event?
On 10 September 2012, Kurt Eichenwald, who had reported for The New York Times, was then issuing his new book on the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, 500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars, and he headlined an op-ed then in his former newspaper (which thus could hardly have declined to accept it), “The Deafness Before the Storm”, describing the most puzzling aspect of the lead-up to 9/11:
It was perhaps the most famous presidential briefing in history.
On Aug. 6, 2001, President George W. Bush received a classified review of the threats posed by Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, Al Qaeda. That morning’s “presidential daily brief” — the top-secret document prepared by America’s intelligence agencies — featured the now-infamous heading: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” A few weeks later, on 9/11, Al Qaeda accomplished that goal.
On April 10, 2004, the Bush White House declassified that daily brief — and only that daily brief — in response to pressure from the 9/11 Commission, which was investigating the events leading to the attack. Administration officials dismissed the document’s significance, saying that, despite the jaw-dropping headline, it was only an assessment of Al Qaeda’s history, not a warning of the impending attack. While some critics considered that claim absurd, a close reading of the brief showed that the argument had some validity.
That is, unless it was read in conjunction with the daily briefs preceding Aug. 6, the ones the Bush administration would not release. While those documents are still not public, I have read excerpts from many of them, along with other recently declassified records, and come to an inescapable conclusion: the administration’s reaction to what Mr. Bush was told in the weeks before that infamous briefing reflected significantly more negligence than has been disclosed. In other words, the Aug. 6 document, for all of the controversy it provoked, is not nearly as shocking as the briefs that came before it.
Those “briefs” still are not published. And now, after the revelation, by Chris Whipple, that Condoleezza Rice was under instruction from her boss not to allow him to be informed too early for “the clock to start ticking,” we can understand why there is still so much that hasn’t yet been released to the public, in our ‘democracy’, about who was really behind 9/11.
If this seems a cynical stretch in analysis, consider that while no policy adjustments were made with this new intelligence information provided by Tenet and Black to protect the American people, John Ashcroft did make some new personal policy adjustments for himself. In July 2001, immediately after being briefed by Tenet about the intelligence reports Rice had quickly and officially brushed off, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft suddenly stopped flying on all commercial airplanes. A chilling and startling revelation when seen in context and within this structured timeline of meetings and intelligence discoveries. “Like most of the Bush cabinet, Attorney General John Ashcroft took commercial jets when he traveled. But on July 24, 2001, he changed that practice and began flying in chartered government jets.” If the perceived threat in the information given by Tenet and Black was significant enough to convince Mr. Ashcroft to make changes in his own personal life, why did the federal government not do anything to further pursue and/or fully investigate the provided intelligence in order to protect the American people? Including 3,000 innocent civilians in NYC who would soon unnecessarily die. So far, no coherent, nor adequate response has been given to this crucial question.
A last crowning and confounding aspect to the story of the July 10 intelligence breakdown is the fact that this meeting between Tenet and Rice, and the whole debacle around who said what, reacted when, delegated resources where, and responded how – details so wholly critical to the overall narrative of 9/11 – never made it into the official 9/11 Commission Report. As mentioned above, allusions to the July 10 meeting were made in the testimony of a number of principals before the Commission in hearings, but these allusions were wholly ignored and written out of the official narrative published for the public’s consumption. Why? Cofer Black, of all people, has taken this guess.
“The July 10 meeting between Tenet, Black and Rice went unmentioned in the various reports of investigations into the Sept. 11 attacks, but it stood out in the minds of Tenet and Black as the starkest warning they had given the White House on bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Though the investigators had access to all the paperwork on the meeting, Black felt there were things the commissions wanted to know about and things they didn’t want to know about. Philip D. Zelikow, the aggressive executive director of the Sept. 11 commission and a University of Virginia professor who had co-authored a book with Rice on Germany, knew something about the July 10 meeting, but it was not clear to him what immediate action really would have meant. In 2005 Rice hired Zelikow as a top aide at the State Department.”
Many skeptics, with no knowledge of the mountain of facts and data involved, often dismiss questioners of the official story of 9/11 by calling them ‘conspiracy theorists’ who don’t respect the fact that any real conspiracy or foul play would have been uncovered by the diligence of the 9/11 Commission Report and its investigators. What these people fail to recognize, however, is the fact that the 9/11 Commission Report, if one is familiar with the overall picture of the government’s official narrative of 9/11, reads like a 585-page farce. Not only is the July 10 meeting left out, not only did its executive director become a Bush Administration member and advisor, not only did it fail to mention the fact that a 47-story building in Manhattan not hit by an airplane somehow fell down, it systematically ignores whole swaths of data and information that do not serve to uphold the government’s official timeline and story. And not only is the 9/11 Commission Report not proof against the findings of the so-called conspiracy theorists, but an honest rendering of its contents serves to wholly back up their skepticism and allegations. (The absurd findings of the 9/11 Commission are beyond the scope of this paper, but one of the country’s leading scholars, Dr. David Ray Griffin, has picked apart the 9/11 Commission Report page by page in his seminal book, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions.
As of yet, no one in the media, nor in the government, has answered any of the critical questions raised by the disastrous intelligence failures detailed above. Instead, officials and government agents gloss over the details with vague assertions that the charges of systematic intelligence breakdowns raised are ‘serious’ and ‘interesting’ and ‘in need of further investigation and inquiry’. Often, bureaucratic stagnation is blamed for the breakdowns in communication. Excuses are given that the FBI had intra-department squabbles. That the FBI didn’t like to talk to the CIA who didn’t like to work with the Pentagon who was at odds with Congress – a supposedly contentious archipelago of loosely connected government agencies.
But this is an incredibly weak argument. If these agencies were so at odds and incapable of communicating with each other, if they had no prior knowledge of 9/11 and its perpetrators before 8:46 a.m. on September 11, how did they pull so suddenly together to detail the narrative and the names of the 19 hijackers? How did they suddenly detail their addresses, personal histories, photographs, backgrounds, and al-Qaeda connections within hours of the attack? How in the world were DNA samples eventually collected from the crash sites that positively identified the hijackers? Against what existing records were these DNA samples compared? How did the U.S. government have existing DNA information on these men that they had supposedly never heard of? Did the future hijackers, upon entering the country years before, hand over a blood sample each, saying to the customs official, “In a few years time, I’m going to fly an airplane into a building, so here is some blood for your records to identify me after I’m dead.” How could these various agencies claiming to be so at odds with one another suddenly connect dots so fast? When, before, they were described as a collection of individual organizations in supposed ill-communication with each other? And why am I, a relatively uninvolved, unconnected tax-payer, on my own free time and at considerable personal and financial risk and loss, the one asking these basic, crucial questions that any amateur investigator of even the simplest crime would normally grind to a pulp?