Mattathias Schwartz: 9/11 – President George W Bush lied when he said that CIA Director George Tenet had said that the Al Qaeda threat was “overseas”


I wrote about George W. Bush’s 3-hour interview with the 9/11 Commission. A rough transcript was kept secret for almost 20 years. Why? /1

Well, the story that Bush tells about the numerous pre-9/11 warnings that he received is both self-serving and flat-out wrong. Here, Bush claims that CIA Director George Tenet said that the Al Qaeda threat was “overseas.” No. That’s not at all what Tenet or the CIA said… /2

CIA’s position — the one that Bush either ignored or failed to hear — was that Al Qaeda could strike anywhere and at any time, and that all US citizens were potential targets. Warnings do not get clearer than the August 6 PDB entitled “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike US” /3

That document is just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s a list of other urgent warnings that the Bush White House received in the spring and summer of 2001, from @philipshenon‘s “The Commission” … /4

Or, if Bush really wanted to know CIA’s take on the possibility of an Al Qaeda attack on US soil, he could have consulted Tenet’s public testimony. Here is Tenet on the Hill in 1999… /5

There’s more background in the piece, below. Also: This idea that Bush bears some direct responsibility for 9/11 after having ignored numerous warnings is not some fringe view. At least it wasn’t in 2004… /6

Here is @maureendowd on Bush’s deafness to the Al Qaeda threat in 2004. Bush has said at times that the warnings lacked specificity. That’s not an excuse for inaction. Dowd is entirely right — how much specificity do you need? /7

What we now know is the extent of Bush’s commitment to an erroneous talking point: “The threat was overseas.” Bush’s insistence that he wasn’t warned about a *domestic* AQ threat was good politics, bad leadership, and bad history. Read the whole memo../8

Here’s Bush in his memoir, once again trying to blame the lapse on the intelligence community… /9

And here’s Bush talking to Bob Woodward. This is the closest he ever came to accepting some amount of responsibility. “I didn’t feel that sense of urgency,” he says. But what’s clear from the record is that George Tenet did… /10

Here’s Richard Clarke on how hard it was for both he and Tenet to get Bush’s team to focus on the domestic AQ threat… /11

Clarke’s view is backed up by Michael Morell, Bush’s lead CIA briefer at the time, among others… /12

Bush’s maneuvering to escape blame for 9/11 — winning a second term despite having presided over such a devastating failure — is one of the shrewdest tricks in presidential history. Here is the story of how he did it. /13-end



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