Bush Dismissed Warnings About 9/11 And Failed To Bring Bin Laden To Justice

Bush Ignored Intelligence Warnings On Bin Laden Threat. According to Kurt Eichenwald in the New York Times, “The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001. By May 1, the Central Intelligence Agency told the White House of a report that ‘a group presently in the United States’ was planning a terrorist operation. Weeks later, on June 22, the daily brief reported that Qaeda strikes could be ‘imminent,’ although intelligence suggested the time frame was flexible. An intelligence official and a member of the Bush administration both told me in interviews that the neoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power at the Pentagon were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat. Intelligence officials, these sources said, protested that the idea of Bin Laden, an Islamic fundamentalist, conspiring with Mr. Hussein, an Iraqi secularist, was ridiculous, but the neoconservatives’ suspicions were nevertheless carrying the day.” [New York Times, 9/10/12]

Bush Was Told That Bin Laden Was “Determined To Strike In U.S.” According to Newsday, “Just five weeks before the 9/11 terror attacks, the CIA told President George W. Bush that a group of Osama bin Laden supporters was said to be in the United States planning assaults with explosives. […] The document – entitled ‘Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in U.S.’ – said the al-Qaida leader had wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the United States since 1997, according to reports from foreign governments, clandestine sources and the media. It quoted a ‘clandestine source’ as saying that in 1998 a bin Laden cell in New York was actively recruiting Muslim-American youth for such attacks.” [Newsday, 4/11/04]

Bush In 2002: “I Just Don’t Spend That Much Time On [Bin Laden].” According to a transcript of a press conference at the White House:

Q: Mr. President, in your speeches now you rarely talk or mention Osama bin Laden.  Why is that?  Also, can you tell the American people if you have any more information, if you know if he is dead or alive?  Final part — deep in your heart, don’t you truly believe that until you find out if he is dead or alive, you won’t really eliminate the threat of —

GEORGE BUSH: Deep in my heart I know the man is on the run, if he’s alive at all.  Who knows if he’s hiding in some cave or not; we haven’t heard from him in a long time.  And the idea of focusing on one person is — really indicates to me people don’t understand the scope of the mission. Terror is bigger than one person.  And he’s just — he’s a person who’s now been marginalized.  His network, his host government has been destroyed.  He’s the ultimate parasite who found weakness, exploited it, and met his match.  He is  —  as I mentioned in my speech, I do mention the fact that this is a fellow who is willing to commit youngsters to their death and he, himself, tries to hide  —  if, in fact, he’s hiding at all. So I don’t know where he is.  You know, I just don’t spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you.  I’m more worried about making sure that our soldiers are well-supplied; that the strategy is clear; that the coalition is strong; that when we find enemy bunched up like we did in Shahikot Mountains, that the military has all the support it needs to go in and do the job, which they did. [White House, 3/13/02]

Bin Laden Escaped From Tora Bora After Military Leaders Decided Not To Pursue Him. According to USA Today, “Osama bin Laden was unquestionably within reach of U.S. troops in the mountains of Tora Bora when American military leaders made the crucial and costly decision not to pursue the terrorist leader with massive force, a Senate report says. The report asserts that the failure to kill or capture bin Laden at his most vulnerable in December 2001 has had lasting consequences beyond the fate of one man. Bin Laden’s escape laid the foundation for today’s reinvigorated Afghan insurgency and inflamed the internal strife now endangering Pakistan, it says.” [USA Today, 11/29/09]

CIA’s Bin Laden Unit Closed In 2006. According to the New York Times, “The Central Intelligence Agency has closed a unit that for a decade had the mission of hunting Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants, intelligence officials confirmed Monday. The unit, known as Alec Station, was disbanded late last year and its analysts reassigned within the C.I.A. Counterterrorist Center, the officials said.” [New York Times, 7/4/06]

Iraq War Took Resources Away From Hunt For Bin Laden. According to the New York Times, “In recent years, the war in Iraq has stretched the resources of the intelligence agencies and the Pentagon, generating new priorities for American officials. For instance, much of the military’s counterterrorism units, like the Army’s Delta Force, had been redirected from the hunt for Mr. bin Laden to the search for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed last month in Iraq.” [New York Times, 7/4/06]

Bin Laden Remained On The Loose Until He Was Killed In Raid On His Compound In May 2011. According to the Washington Post, “Osama bin Laden, the long-hunted al-Qaeda leader and chief architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, was killed by U.S. forces Sunday in what officials described as a surgical raid on his luxury hideout in Pakistan. In a rare Sunday night address from the East Room of the White House, President Obama said a small team of U.S. personnel attacked a compound Sunday in Pakistan’s Abbottabad Valley, where bin Laden had been hiding since at least last summer. […] The secret operation that culminated with bin Laden’s death was years in the making. For most of the past decade, bin Laden was thought to be hiding in Pakistan, but American intelligence had lost his trail until picking up fresh intelligence of his possible whereabouts last August. After months of studying intelligence and reviewing operational plans, Obama gave the order on Friday morning for the action that ended in bin Laden’s death.” [Washington Post, 5/2/11]

Washington Post: “Obama Announced Bin Laden’s Death Eight Years To The Day After Bush Declared The End Of Major Combat Operations In Iraq.” According to the Washington Post, “Obama called Bush and former president Bill Clinton, as well as senior congressional leaders, before announcing bin Laden’s death to the nation. Although Bush and former officials were quick to declare bin Laden’s killing a victory that transcended party lines, it represented the culmination of the former president’s promise, never fulfilled during his time in office, to capture the al-Qaeda leader ‘dead or alive.’ In a statement, Bush congratulated Obama and the military and intelligence personnel who ‘devoted their lives to this mission.’ ‘They have our everlasting gratitude,’ Bush said. ‘This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done.’ Obama announced bin Laden’s death eight years to the day after Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq, a war spawned in large part by the Sept. 11 attacks, in front of a “Mission Accomplished” banner on the deck of an aircraft carrier.” [Washington Post, 5/2/11]