In an op-ed posted online late Monday night and in today’s print edition, Vanity Fair contributing editor Kurt Eichenwald makes damning accusations regarding the previous Bush Administration’s total deafness to mounting evidence of an impending attack by al-Qaeda.Eichenwald, in classic buzz-building form, appears to be providing a teaser account of his new book going on sale today, on the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks: “500 Days, Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars.”
The crux of the op-ed lies in revelations based on access to daily briefs not yet made public which indicate that, contrary to the accepted narrative, President Bush ignored significantly more evidence of an incoming attack led by Usama Bin Laden’s network.
In April of 2004, following months of pressure, Bush became the first sitting president to publicly release information from his Daily Brief, provided by the CIA to all American Presidents (now presented in iPad form), and meant to keep the White House abreast of critical intelligence.
That briefing, entitled “Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US” was provided shortly after the now infamous 9/11 commission had specifically addressed it during questioning of then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice the week prior.
The New York Times in particular was blistering in its analysis of the August 1st briefing provided to the Bush administration at the time of its release:
“In a single 17-sentence document, the intelligence briefing delivered to President Bush in August 2001 spells out the who, hints at the what and points towards the where of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington that followed 36 days later.”
At the time, Rice had downplayed the significance of the report, though in subsequent years it became ubiquitous with criticism lobbed at the Bush administration in its handling of al-Qaeda. Likewise, Eichenwald’s op-ed resurrects that CIA briefing, and builds a case for a systematic failure to appreciate the importance of direct warnings beginning as early as May of that year.
Eichenwald further indicates that, even after “neoconservative leaders” at the Pentagon had dismissed the CIA’s warnings as a ruse to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, the CIA produced a page-long analysis refuting that criticism.
The full op-ed merits reading—this piece, along with Eichenwald’s new book, is sure to be the object of contentious debate over that period of history leading up to the September 11th attacks.
Kurt Eichenwald had a lengthy career as an investigative reporter with The New York Times, and is the author of three previous best-sellers.
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