For the first time perhaps ever, Donald Trump was right about something. There exists irrefutable evidence that George W. Bush and his national security team was repeatedly warned about the impending September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and failed to do a damn thing in the face of those warnings. “Warnings,” plural, is appropriate grammar here since it wasn’t just the single President’s Daily Brief (PDB) dated August 6, 2001 that should’ve raised serious concerns at the White House that an epic-scale attack by Osama Bin Laden was forthcoming. Indeed, there were many, many others. We’ll circle back to this point.
Jeb Bush, for his part, reacted to Trump’s criticism noting how the billionaire was borrowing “the attacks of (liberal filmmaker) Michael Moore and the fringe left.” Bush also noted, “Let’s be clear: Donald Trump simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” Meanwhile, on Wednesday morning, Rubio told Newsmax TV,
“What [Trump] said is just not true. The truth is that George W. Bush inherited all sorts of things from the Clinton administration, including intelligence agencies and others who were…not sharing information across agencies.”
On the contrary, every word of what Trump said was 100 percent accurate.
FACT: There were numerous instances when the Bush administration failed to act in accordance with intelligence community warnings about Bin Laden and subsequently attempted to cover up not only its inaction but also aspects of the aftermath — with zero outrage or obsessive hobby-horsing from Fox News or congressional Republicans. Instead it was all met with the usual refrain: Don’t try to undermine the commander-in-chief while troops are in harm’s way, you unpatriotic, terrorist-loving America-haters.
Vanity Fair’s Kurt Eichenwald, author of “500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars,” reported back in 2012 that the infamous August 6, 2001, PDB wasn’t the first time the Bush administration was warned of a massive attack being prepared by Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda co-conspirators, and yet there’s no indication Bush took any significant or even cursory action to disrupt the plot. (I hasten to note: This is in no way an endorsement of the conspiracy theory that Bush deliberately allowed the attacks to occur.)
But let’s run through the timeline:
• From the beginning, Richard Clarke, a holdover Clinton administration counter-terrorism adviser, desperately attempted to repeatedly warn then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice about an impending Bin Laden attack. Clarke warned of “an immediate and serious threat to the United States” at the hands of Bin Laden.
• May 1, 2001: Eichenwald reported that the president was briefed by the CIA that there were plans being assembled for an attack by “a group presently in the United States.”
• June 22, 2001: Bush received a PDB that warned of an “imminent” al-Qaeda attack during a “flexible timeline.” The neocons in the White House, meanwhile, believed that Bin Laden was a distraction from an actual plot by Saddam Hussein. The pretext for an invasion and regime change in Iraq had obviously been on the table for many months. In spite of its participation on Iraq, the CIA urged the White House to not ignore Bin Laden.
• June 29, 2001: Another PDB outlined in detail an impending attack by Bin Laden. Eichenwald noted that this brief emphasized “dramatic consequences,” “including major casualties.”
• July 1, 2001: The White House is instructed in yet another PDB that the attack had been postponed, but “will occur soon.”
• July 9, 2001: The CIA’s Counter-terrorism Center staffers held a meeting in which one senior official recommended that everyone resign so as to not be blamed for the impending attack.
• July 11, 2001: The White House is informed that al-Qaeda-linked radical Ibn Al-Khattab told his supporters that “there would soon be very big news.” The CIA brief included more information about a possible attack.
• July 24, 2001: The White House is again warned of preparations for an attack in “a few months.” Eichenwald wrote that Bush wasn’t convinced and requested a “broader analysis on al-Qaeda.” This analysis became the infamous August 6 PDB.
• August 4, 2001: 9/11 co-conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, whose flight school attendance was noticed by intelligence officials, is picked up and charged on immigration violations.
• August 6, 2001: While vacationing in Crawford, Bush receives the notorious PDB titled, “Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US.” No action was ever taken by the administration to intervene.
Following September 11, the Bush administration repeatedly stonewalled the formation of a commission to investigate the attacks and instead set about the process of tying 9/11 to Saddam Hussein while selling an invasion of Iraq to the American people.
I’ve said it before: If roles had been reversed and there had been a Democratic president on 9/11, he or she wouldn’t have been merely investigated — impeachment would’ve absolutely begun while Ground Zero was still smoldering. How do we know this? Just look at the outrage and righteous indignation over an attack with four American casualties. Now add 2,973 more and a very long paper trail showing negligence preceding the deaths and rampant misinformation following them.
Furthermore, and in addition to five previous investigations, the current Benghazi select-committee has been assembled for almost as many weeks (75 weeks) as the 9/11 Commission (84 weeks). By the time it’s adjourned permanently, it will have easily far exceeded the 9/11 investigation. As of this writing, $4.5 million has been wasted on Trey Gowdy’s political theater. And, to this day, no one has been able to prove malfeasance or negligence on behalf of President Obama and his team, including Hillary Clinton. We can hardly say the same for President Bush.