August 6 PDB and a Dick Clarke Review

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The Smoking Gun has posted an excerpt of the August 6 President's Daily Brief which featured prominently during Condoleezza Rice's testimony before the 9/11 commission.

And here, courtesy of Arts & Letters Daily, is a link to Robert Sam Anson's rave review in The New York Observer of Richard Clarke's new book. Snippet:

Your reviewer promised 10 reasons to plunk down the cost of two movie tickets and a popcorn special. Actually, there are a ton. Like learning how Ramzi Yousef?architect of the 1993 World Trade Center attack?turned up at J.F.K. without a passport, and immigration let him waltz right in. Or discovering why Madeleine Albright became convinced that the clueless C.I.A. was suffering from "battered child syndrome." (Alas, how George Tenet found out about Dubya?s unnatural relationship with Spotty the spaniel?the only conceivable explanation for his continued employment?is not revealed in these pages.)

There?s one last reason, which is how you?ll feel when you?ve finished Richard Clarke?s brave, damning, gripping book: that a lot of people ought to burn in hell because of 9/11. And not all of them live in caves.

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  1. Im going a little crazy today, Ive come upon a revelation, why exactly is it the governments job to stop terrorism??

    You cannot hold the cops responsable for someone stealing your car, or going on a killing spree and shooting 20 people at the mall, or breaking into your house and murdering your children, or even McVeigh’s bombing in OK, why can we hold anyone responsable for 19 crazy fanatics hijacking an airliner and crashing it into the WTC?

    I understand this is a sore spot for many people, but near as I can tell, while there were credible warnings about potential terroist activity, its no different then the police knowing that there will be potential gang activity in a very hot spot in south central LA. Yet nobody expects the LAPD to proactivly stop the next drive by (which happens multiple times daily).

    Whats the difference? And why??

  2. So we needn’t expect any accountability from government ? If there’s a crime spree in your neigbhourhood, very likely you’ll demand some explanations & that some heads roll if things are not taken care of. Same with terrorism.

  3. That’s not an excerpt, that’s the whole shebang. I’m not sure which is more unsettling, the fact that the terrorists were sizing up federal buildings, or the fact that they planned attacks with explosives. If the govt had only moved faster (instead of Bush going on vacation) they could have saved all of those poor people in Oklahoma City. Oh wait, that was McVeigh and Nichols. But this memo makes it clear that 9-11 could have been avoided.

    Smoking gun? Maybe. Smoking something? More likely.

  4. SM,
    Im not saying that there should be no accountability in the government, but what exactly should they be accountable for in this instance? Not reading minds?

    Is there evidence that the gvt. knew that there might be a airline hijacking? Yes absolutely. Is there any evidence that, before the first plane struck the first tower that the gvt. knew that September 11 was going to have 4 hijackings from 3 different airports resulting in the destruction of the WTC and heavy damage to the Pentagon? No, at least nothing in the public domain, not even the testimony from Richard Clark aluded to this.

    As for the aftermath and hindsight, surely we realize that there might have, could have, possibly even should have (although that is pushing it) done something, it all is in hindsight.

    If you look back at past postings you will find that I did not always have this opinion, so dont count me as some kind of Bush Admin. appologist, I am not. I just dont believe that 9/11 is some sort of catastropic failure by the gvt, anymore then the OK city boming, the first WTC bombing, the attack on USS Cole, the multitude of embassy bombings, Lockerbie, Somalia “black hawk down”, the invasion of Kuwait, the Iranian hostage crisis, the list is endless.

    Oversight in not addressing the urgency of the situtation, sure, but I believe a poster on reason stated that oftentimes we forget that the gvt. works for us, (as much as that can be possible) and a pre 9-11 America would not have stood for systematic bombings of Afganistan/Iraq/etc. no matter how urgent of warnings Bush and Co. could have generated regarding WMDs.

    You think the uproar of civil liberties is bad now? We were attacked and yet sane minded people are not letting the crackdown go by silently, can you fathom how they would have reacted had the gvt. quietly passed a USAPATRIOT act without just cause (if you can consider 9/11 just cause).

    No my friend, 9/11 was possible because we are a free society, they took advantage of the loopholes and took advantage of the passengers conditioning that everything would be OK if they just sat still and cooperated. You could easily make the argument that those who were in a position to know best what was occuring on 9/11 (the passengers on each of the 4 planes) failed you, and you know as rightfully as I do what BS that statement is.

  5. My concern is less over whether the Bush administration was to blame for 9/11 & more over this new notion that there was nothing the government could really do to prevent it sans the ability to perform mind-melds on terrorists etc. Or that being a “free society” is a handicap. Western european nations have been dealing with terrorism for a while now and contrary to propaganda they remain free. Nor are “unfree” societies immunized from terrorism – see Arabia, Saudi.
    Previous administrations took the heat for things like the Iranian hostage Crisis & USS Cole. Some quality about this administration renders it off-limits to examination & criticism just because we are a “free society” ? Clarke could be wrong but it most definitely is tghe governments job to prevent terrorism.

  6. Yeah. And this stuff about regulating corps and preventing them from looting companies is, like, the same thing. Law of the jungle, you know.

  7. It all comes back to one of the many false paradigms of crime prevention. The government is supposed to be invasive enough to prevent these sorts of things from ever happening, I guess. Something big happens and they get even more invasive.

  8. Yean and Jayson Blair’s book is a good read too…

  9. The point is is that this has been going on since 1993 with the first WTC bombing. Then there were five more attacks over the next 8 years. These were KNOWN to be the work of A-Q. What was Bush talking about pre 9/11? Stem cell research. People want to know why terrorism wasn’t at the top of the list. Many witnesees are saying terror was NEVER mentioned at the highest level.

  10. It seems to me that the federal government processes enough warnings and danger signals every single day that there is NO WAY it can know which are legitimate threats. If you face 500 threats a year and you know that two or three of them are going to turn out to be real and actually happen, how do you know WHICH threats to take seriously?

    I don’t see how ANY government — even a competent one, if that were possible — could stop all threats, even if there were such a warning about the real threat among all the other bogus warnings. It just points out that the only solution is to quit doing things to tick off other people, because we CANNOT stop people who are determined to do such harm. Of course, that would require that the U.S. government quit trying to police the world and tell everyone else what to do. That obvious solution is certainly seen as simplistic and impossible by most people.

  11. Dave, what is really simplistic, is thinking that had we never policed anything or told anyone what to do, that the Islamo-terrorists would not still wish US all dead.

  12. According to Rice’s testimony, the customs agents that foiled the LAX plot didn’t know that they were supposed to be on a heighten state of alert.

    “It’s not about hassling ordinary people.” Because everyone knows that brown is not ordinary?

  13. “What was Bush talking about pre 9/11?”

    T-Ball. Little tykes playing T-ball on the White House Lawn.

  14. “According to Rice’s testimony, the customs agents that foiled the LAX plot didn’t know that they were supposed to be on a heighten state of alert.”

    But once that bust happened, the information about it got spread around the intelligence and security communities, and they were able to connect dots with their own information, which got passed back to assist with the investigation. In that way, the import of information – say, he called this guy on this day – could be recognized.

  15. The “Bush knew” crowd may think that they have been vindicated by recent developments, but it seems that Bush didn’t know because he was deliberately kept in the dark.

    Raimondo covers the whole story in his April 12, Piece: Dark Suspicions About 9/11
    President’s secret briefing noted pre-9/11
    :
    http://www.antiwar.com/justin/

    When the 9/11 commission gets around to the how and why, this story could blow up in monstrous proportion.

    But, the Israeli and the Turkish government’s intelligence services ( which have a history of close cooperation) did have prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks.

    Carl Cameron at Fox, first broke the story:
    http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/Israeli-Spying-Part-1.htm

    He reported: “There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9/11 attacks, but investigators suspect that the Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance, and not shared it.”

    Much more evidence since then including
    A report titled: Suspicious Activities Involving Israeli Art Students at DEA Facilities from the
    Drug Enforcement Administration Office of Security:
    http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/timeline/2001/dea0601.html

    Next Door to Mohammed Atta
    Israeli agents were living in Florida and tailing the future death pilots ? until their cover was blown.

    by Oliver Schr?m
    Die Zeit:
    http://iraq-info.1accesshost.com/schrom.html

    Israeli WTC Employees Warned of Attack
    from the Israeli paper, Harretz:
    http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=77744&contrassID=/has%5C

    For much more, see that Raimondo piece!:
    http://www.antiwar.com/justin/

  16. Anon:

    “Why did the Bush administration start a war based on dubious/inaccurate intelligence on Iraq, but did nothing in the case of 911?”

    Perhaps because the cost of ignoring dubious/inaccurate intelligence after 9/11 was too high. Furthermore, I doubt at the time the intelligence was considered dubious. Judging with 20/20 hindsight is foolish.

    Tim

  17. We should absolutely hold the government accountable. Any member of the house or senate should know what a horrible, backwards mess the INS is (and was). Talk to any recent immigrant or visitor. They all hate the INS because its run like something out the movie “Brazil”. Had the INS been run properly and funded properly, they might have noticed they were giving VISAs to terrorists, and we might have caught some of them.

  18. Tim,

    Please remember, the adminstration was not the passive recipient of bad intelligence on Iraq WMDs and terror connections, but spent the better part of a year leaning on the intel offices to tell them the story they wanted to hear.

  19. Tim,

    “Furthermore, I doubt at the time the intelligence was considered dubious.”

    What?? It was not only “dubious”, it was fabricated! Such as, the report that Powell read at the UN that turned out to be a plagiarized, and altered grad student thesis. Powell referred to it as “valuable intelligence”. The neocon propaganda machine hyped this “report” big time.

  20. “He also made it clear to his subordinates that investigating Al Qaeda and preventing strikes was their priority – not star wars, not porn, not China, but Islamist terror.”

    So all of the laws prohibiting the sharing of information, and all of the organizational tribalism of the FBI, CIA, and so forth came about under Bush? That is truly amazing. I wonder, you have some evidence that the FBI was given terrorism as their top priority? How about the INS? Revisionist gushing.

  21. It is precisely because of the Church laws forbidding information sharing (and the cultural antipathies you mention) that strong coordination was needed at the top. They couldn’t pass the leads to each other, put they could pass them up, where the AG, DCI, NSA and President could pass them down again.

    This type of coordination was carried out better in the Clinton White House than the Bush White House. A large part of this resulted from having more meetings between the relevant “principles” on the topic of terrorim.

  22. Those meetings sure stopped the bombings at the embassies in Africa, the first attempt at the World Trade Center, the Cole.

    I think we should have a commission look into all those terrorist attacks. It shouldn’t take long. The Clinton administration was on top of everything so there is no way they actually happened.

    You live in a strange world joe.

  23. You libertarians aren’t any more honest than the liberals. You suggest slyly that the breifing is some sort of smoking gun, and then post a review of Dick Clarke’s book that is as sensational as can be. How informative.

  24. Ira sez: “Actually, Dave, Islamic nutcases attack everywhere, and if it weren’t for the countries who are willing to use a little muscle, they’d take over Switzerland. But maybe you’re right, perhaps all countries should have left the Nazis alone, as the Swiss did. It’d make for a more peaceful world once the few billion who get in the way are slaughtered.”

    As Charley Reese said, “It is absurd to suppose that a human being sitting around suddenly stands up and says: “You know, I hate freedom. I think I’ll go blow myself up.”

    Your “just a buncha crazies out for blood” simplification is rediculous. Your allusion to Hitler is equally rediculous. Helping save europe (and, eventually, ourselves) from the empirical designs of the Third Reich is absolutely nothing like our ultra-interventionist middle east foreign policy blunders. There is no massive national army trying to take over the world. The muslims are not trying to “pull a hitler”. And we have no business sticking our nose into the affairs of these countries, unless it is directly threatening to us. Our outright support of Israel is a fool’s errand. 3-6 billion american taxpayer dollars fund Israel’s military every year…why? To piss off everyone who doesn’t agree? It is our ultra-interventionist foreign policy that has brought this pain upon us…and it’s just one more reason (though, not the main reason) that we should focus inward, instead of trying to save the world. Look what it has gotten us? Grief and horror. All for…what?

    Yet again, though, you prove that the Hitler analogy will never lose its spot as the most over-used, yet misinterpreted, reference in modern history.

    Here’s an idea: try reading George Washington’s writings/speeches on foreign policy and America’s role in the international community.

  25. I don’t hear any but the whackos suggesting Bush&Co ought to bear the blame for 9/11. What I hear Condi saying is that they knew there was the potential for terrorist attacks–they had warnings, however vague–but she didn’t do anything about it because no one told her to. So the administration did absolutely nothing because their focus was on other areas. And after 9/11 the administration made a half-hearted effort in Afghanistan then went after an unrelated target, Saddam Hussein, instead, and tried to pretend it was all the same. It’s not. And then all the administration can say is “It’s not my fault. Nobody told me what to do.” It’s the reverse of the classic war crimes defense “I was only following orders.” Pathetic.

  26. I want full disclosure. I want to see every single PDB since Nixon, and I want everyone to tell me how much action should have been taken based on each one.

    To discuss this intelligently, we need to know what value these documents historically have had, and we really need to know what the US would look like if we acted with maximum urgency on all of them. If we don’t take this step, I guess the next best thing is to use the power of hindsight to tell everyone what SHOULD have happened. As long as we have a reason to bitch, life is good.

  27. LFTB, your term “hold the cops responsible” conflates two different points. No, we don’t arrest or sue police who faithfully discharge their duties yet fail to provide 100% security. However, cops who are asleep at the switch are fired or demoted all the time, as are cops who just have the wrong attitude and strategy about how to do their jobs.

    And how exactly would the precautions that should have been taken to stop a “traditional” hijacking be any different from those taken to stop a suicide hijacking?

    Look, whether a higher priority should be given to non-state terrorists or to rival powers is a legitimate policy disagreement between the parties. One that was pretty clearly settled on 9/11. Obsolete Republican Cold War mentality.

  28. Late for the boom,
    On reading your first post, I thought you were beginning to get it, but then you said:
    “No my friend, 9/11 was possible because we are a free society”

    You are confusing cause and effect.
    9/11 happened because we are not a free society.
    If we were a free society, our government would not have enough money to give aid to Israel and Egypt, put troops in Saudi Arabia, spend billions to, supposedly, “protect” oil in the ground, build a fence between us and Mexico, protect American jobs, and on and on.

    Are you in favor of the things our “free society” does to piss off foreigners?

    Then our “free society” causes a doubly harmful “unintended” thing: It says, “Hey, people. Don’t worry. We’re on the job. We’ll handle it.”

    The people could handle it themselves, if they were not lulled into a false sense of security.

  29. “Look, whether a higher priority should be given to non-state terrorists or to rival powers is a legitimate policy disagreement between the parties. One that was pretty clearly settled on 9/11. Obsolete Republican Cold War mentality.”

    Indeed. Based on this PDB, and without the benefit of hindsight, the government imposes in August 1, 2001 TSA-style travel restrictions. Joe, without ever having seen you, I can imagine your face the first time friggin John Ashcroft made you take your shoes off based on a report like this.

  30. Read what I wrote, JL. It’s not about hassling ordinary people. It’s about communication among security agencies, assignments of personnel, the effort put in at the top levels of government – bascially, the priority given to coordination of security, intelligence, and anti-terror efforts. Would I have shrieked if Massaoui’s laptop had been searched? Absolutely not. Did I shriek when Clinton banged heads together, and the LAX and Pacific plots were rolled up? Nope.

    You have straw stuck to your sweater.

  31. “Absolutely not. Did I shriek when Clinton banged heads together, and the LAX and Pacific plots were rolled up? Nope.”

    I’m sorry, what did Clinton do again?

  32. Let’s assume for a second that the intelligence pre-911 was dubious or inaccurate. Why did the Bush administration start a war based on dubious/inaccurate intelligence on Iraq, but did nothing in the case of 911?

  33. Dan:

    Since the Islamic nutcases don’t seem to spend much time attacking Switzerland and other countries who genuinely mind their own business, it’s a reasonable assumption that there might be causation as well as correlation.

    While it certainly doesn’t justify the murder that they engage in, these attacks probably wouldn’t have happened if the U.S. government hadn’t spent most of the 20th century trying to tell everyone else what to do.

  34. Actually, Dave, Islamic nutcases attack everywhere, and if it weren’t for the countries who are willing to use a little muscle, they’d take over Switzerland. But maybe you’re right, perhaps all countries should have left the Nazis alone, as the Swiss did. It’d make for a more peaceful world once the few billion who get in the way are slaughtered.

    BTW, it’s not fair to compare Jayson Blair to Clarke. Blair is obviously much more honest.

  35. “I’m sorry, what did Clinton do again?”

    He attempted to solve the stovepiping problem, by holding principles meetings at which information coming up through the bureaucracy was shared, and marching orders informed by this greater understanding sent down.

    He also made it clear to his subordinates that investigating Al Qaeda and preventing strikes was their priority – not star wars, not porn, not China, but Islamist terror.

  36. “It just points out that the only solution is to quit doing things to tick off other people, because we CANNOT stop people who are determined to do such harm. Of course, that would require that the U.S. government quit trying to police the world and tell everyone else what to do. That obvious solution is certainly seen as simplistic and impossible by most people.”

    The problem is, people hate us because of our success. As long as our culture is a threat to Islamic radicals, we will be a target.

    Our governments actions have been a mixed bag. We helped Muslims in Afganistan in their war against the Soviet invaders, we helped Muslims in Kosovo and the terrorist KLA in its fight with the Serbs, we defended Kuwait (and Saudi Arabia) from Saddam’s Iraq. Sure, we supported the Shah (until Carter decided to end support, allowing Iran to devolve into Islamic radicalism), and we have supported Israel more or less consistently since 1968 (the only place in the Middle East where an Arab’s vote counts: naughty Israel), we tried to protect the Somoli food supply, yadda yadda yadda. The bottom line is that our forign policy in the Middle East and in Islamic nations is a mixed bag, consisting of do-good efforts, self interest, Cold War concearns, etc. It doesn’t add up to a reason for Muslims or Arabs to hate us.

    In contrast, our culture and our wealth and success all point in one direction. It undermines Islamic fundamentalism, and it underlines Islamic and Arab insecurities. They hate us for our culture and our success.

  37. Right Joe. Like how Clinton recieved his daily CIA briefing, and Bush refused, preferring a memo. Oh, excuse me, it was Bush who recieved the briefing, Clinton who demanded the memo. Me bad.

    Really, does anyone really think that Clinton had any concearns beyond his legacy and keeping his weannie wet?

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