From: Gary L. Bauer, Chairman
Date: Thursday, May 16, 2002
This is not a good moment for the White House. They have been forced to confirm the CBS story that Bush was warned in August of a possible bin Laden directed terrorist attack that would involve hijackings. The President's political and media enemies are smelling blood in the water. The New York Times headline Thursday morning: "Bush Was Warned Bin Laden Wanted To Hijack Planes," the Washington Post: "Bush Was Told of Hijacking Dangers," and Katie Couric's contribution, "What did Bush know and when did he know it."
Inevitably there will be further investigations. Congressional Democrats will demand to know what specific information was intercepted that led U.S. intelligence to include the brief warning given to the President in August 2001, already Congresswoman McKinney, who has insinuated the Administration new something and didn't act, is claiming vindication. The Democrats better be careful however--it is likely the congressional intelligence committees received the same information as the President.
It is important for the Administration to put as much information as they have out as quickly as possible or the conspiracy theorists will have a field day.
Here is What We Know
The warning delivered to the President was part of the daily CIA briefing. In July of 2001 the CIA was picking up a lot of "static" suggesting something big was coming. Separately, the FBI received a memo from a Phoenix, Ariz., agent urging an investigation into the large number of Middle-Eastern men enrolled in American flight schools. The FBI took no action because they felt without more specifics it would be an overwhelming task to investigate the 2000+ flying academies in the U.S. By the way, six years ago, on Clinton's "watch" the FBI was warned by Philippine investigators of a terrorist plot to hijack commercial planes and slam them into the Pentagon and CIA headquarters. If Congress wants to investigate lets start with 1995!
The Big Question
U.S. intelligence collects incredible amounts of information, but, as we sadly know, agencies protect turf, refuse to share data, and are adept at avoiding ultimate responsibility. It is a scandal in my view that no one in a significant position of authority in Washington was fired after Sept. 11.
But here is a more disturbing question. We knew last summer that our Islamic enemies were planning something. We knew every terrorist attack to date had been carried out by Middle Eastern men between 20 and 40 years old. We knew hijackings might be the next tactic. Did anyone in Washington do the obvious: Alert airport security to employ higher scrutiny of Arab men in U.S. airports? I suspect the answer is "no"--political correctness would forbid it!
Even with 3,000+ dead, and a hundred billion dollar blow to our economy, we still are avoiding the obvious. At airports, 75 year old women are patted down, and 25-year-old mothers are told to take off their shoes, while Arab men walk on board--and this is with "good guys" in charge of government.