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Bush had no advance warning of 9/11 attacks

By Carol Devine-Molin
web posted April 12, 2004

According to the New York Times, "The classified briefing that President Bush received 36 days before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks reported that the al-Qaida terrorist network had maintained an active presence in the United States for years, was suspected of recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York and could be preparing for domestic hijackings. But the briefing did not point to any specific time or place of attack and did not warn that planes could be used as missiles."

That gets to the heart of it. The US government had known of the overall intentions of al-Qaida to strike on American soil for quite some time. However, the Bush administration did not possess any specific information regarding the September 11th attacks. As President Bush has indicated, if he had known such specifics, he would have "moved mountains" to protect the American people. Frankly, the fact that the 9/11 Commission is being profoundly politicized by the Democrats is despicable. The current criticisms being heaped upon President Bush and his administration are nothing more than a partisan onslaught during a presidential election year.

The Clinton administration had been in power eight years when it passed off the ticking time bomb of terrorism to the new Bush administration in 2001. Given the cumbersome bureaucracy, the Bush administration was working as quickly as possible to counter the terror threat posed by al-Qaida and other terror groups. It certainly didn't help that our so-called premier intelligence agencies, the FBI and the CIA, were largely ineffective and in need of radical reform. In essence, US authorities were unable to develop the necessary intelligence to break the 9/11 conspiracy before it was enacted.

By the late-1990s, most informed Americans understood that our nation was at considerable risk for terror attacks -- More precisely, this was common knowledge among relatively objective individuals who followed world affairs. We had already been hit on American soil at the World Trade Center in 1993, and our global assets were under siege as illustrated by the devastating strikes on our embassies in Tanzania and Kenya (1998) and the USS Cole (2000). Of course the small-minded liberal elites, reveling in their heyday of the 1990s, didn't concern themselves with such matters prior to 9/11, particularly when their beloved Clinton administration was busy eviscerating the military and reducing it by half. Nor did the Clintonites do anything to ameliorate the systemic problems that flourished in the intelligence community.

For approximately six years, I hosted and co-produced a local cable access television program that I distributed throughout most of Westchester County, NY, and which permitted me to interview some brilliant dignitaries. One of my favorite guests was Congressman Ben Gilman (20th District-NY), who was the Chairman of the House International Relations Committee and a widely acknowledged expert on foreign affairs and terrorism. Noteworthy, Rep.Gilman completed his tenure as Chairman of the House International Relations Committee in 2001, having served the six-year limit -- three consecutive two-year terms -- imposed by the Republican House Rules in 1994. He was subsequently designated Honorary Chairman Emeritus of the House International Relations Committee and Chairman of the new Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia until his retirement in early 2002.

When the Congressman appeared on "On The Right Side" in 1998 and 1999, he expressed heartfelt concern that America would be subjected to significant terror assaults within the next few years, and he reiterated the same when I interviewed him for a written piece in 2001. Ben Gilman is one of America's true patriots who utilized his bully-pulpit to sound the clarion call that America was in peril. And yes, the Republicans largely listened, but the Democrats continued to give this notion of "America at risk" short-shrift.

In my March 2001 interview with Congressman Gilman for an Internet article, he underscored President Clinton's feeble foreign policy that lacked "cohesiveness and constancy" -- Clinton exhibited a "Band-Aid, short term approach", which was essentially the "modus operandi for his international relations team." I summarized as follows: "Unfortunately, without clarity of vision, consistency of message and actions, and the ability to effectuate an overall agenda through long range systematic efforts, the Clinton administration's foreign policy notably faltered… As cited by not only Gilman, but by the full chorus of Bush officials and Congressional Republicans, the most imminent danger facing this nation is the threat posed by transnational terrorists, now possessing biological, chemical and possibly nuclear warfare (talk of "suitcase bombs", but unproven), capable of delivering catastrophic attacks upon the citizenry. Clearly, the Clinton administration was not adequately responsive to America's national security needs."

This was written approximately six months before 9/11, and demonstrates that President Bush and his fellow Republicans were well-cognizant of the dangers posed by terrorism. Moreover, the recent testimony of NSA chief Condoleezza Rice before the 9/11 Commission only substantiates the Bush team's dedication to tackling terrorism from the get-go. The simple truth is that the FBI and CIA failed to provide President Bush with good intelligence as the threat of 9/11 was emerging. However, was the 9/11 tragedy avoidable? I really can't say -- Only God in heaven knows for sure.

Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.

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