- White House given series of briefings about an Al Qaeda attack between May and August 2001 - but failed to take any significant action
- Lengthy briefs included interviews with Bin Laden aides admitting an attack with multiple casualties was 'imminent'
- Bush asked for more evidence - frustrating the CIA
- Highlights startling negligence of U.S. government before 9/11
- George Pataki, New York state governor during 9/11, lambasted claims as 'unfair and a disservice to history' and praised Bush's leadership
By Anthony Bond
PUBLISHED: 04:27 EST, 11 September 2012 | UPDATED: 12:20 EST, 11 September 2012
Former President George Bush was given a series of direct warnings throughout 2001 about the possibility of a terrorist attack by Al Qaeda - but failed to take them seriously, it was claimed today.
On the eleventh anniversary of the atrocity, it has been reported that the White House received multiple briefs between May and August that year about an attack with explosives and numerous casualties.
But the president continually failed to take any significant action and questioned the thoroughness of the briefings - leading to huge frustrations within the CIA.
The retrospective report was lambasted as 'unfair' and a 'disservice to history' by George Pataki, the New York state governor during 9/11 who praised Bush's leadership in the months after the attacks.
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Worrying: Former U.S. President George Bush was given a series of direct warnings throughout 2001 about the possibility of a terrorist attack on the U.S. by Al Qaeda - but failed to take them seriously, it has emerged
Anger: Bush continually failed to take any significant action against briefings warning of Al Qaeda, the report suggests. People are pictured walking away from the World Trade Center following the attacks
But it shows the repeated warnings came before the famous top secret briefing - which has previously been reported - given to Bush on August 6 with the heading 'Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S'.
Just a few weeks later on September 11, terrorists smashed planes into the World Trade Center in New York City - killing nearly 3,000 people and horrifying the world.
Details of the other briefings given to Mr Bush and his administration - which have never been made public - have now been revealed by The New York Times.
And they paint a startling picture of negligence at the heart of the U.S. government before 9/11.
The White House was made aware of potential attacks in the spring and, by May 1, was told by the CIA that 'a group
presently in the United States' was planning a terrorist attack, the Times reported.
Concerns: Revelations about the briefings paint a worrying picture of negligence at the heart of the U.S. government leading up to 9/11 which left almost 3,000 people dead
Horrific: This famous photo taken on September 11, 2001 shows President Bush's Chief of Staff Andy Card whispering into his ear to tell him of a plane crashing into the World Trade Center
IGNORED WARNINGS: THE CIA BRIEFS ABOUT AL QAEDA ATTACK
May 1, 2001 CIA told White House that 'a group presently in the United States' was planning a terrorist operation 'with explosives'
June 22, 2001 CIA brief reported that Al Qaeda attacks could be 'imminent'
June 29, 2001 Warning that the government needed to take briefs seriously. Added evidence included Bin Laden aides warning of an attack and operatives claiming it would have 'dramatic consequences'
July 1, 2001 Brief said the operation had been delayed but 'will occur soon'
July 9, 2001 Extremist in Chechnya linked to Al Qaeda told followers there would soon be big news - and within 48 hours the information was passed to the White House
July 24, 2001 Bush told the attack was still under preparation but that it had been postponed
August 6, 2001 Bush received review of threats posed by Al Qaeda with headline: 'Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.'
In another daily brief on June 22, the administration was told that Al Qaeda strikes could be 'imminent'.
However, the new neoconservative leaders at the Pentagon told the White House that the CIA had been fooled.
They believed that Bin Laden was pretending to plan an attack to distract the U.S. from Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Following this, the CIA prepared another daily brief for June 29 in which they listed over a page the evidence which they had built up.
This included an interview with a journalist from the Middle East in which aides of Bin Laden warned of an upcoming attack.
The briefing also included: 'The U.S. is not the target of a disinformation campaign by Usama Bin Laden.'
also included details from people close to Bin Laden which claimed the
expected attacks would have dramatic consequences with many casualties.
Another warning on July 1 said despite the attack being delayed it would soon take place.
But despite these warnings the White House did not appear to take them as seriously as the CIA was demanding.
The Times reports that officials within the CIA's Counterterrorism Center became increasingly angry and in one meeting an official suggested the staff request a transfer so they could not be blamed when the attack occurred.
White House was also told that the extremist Ibn Al-Khattab - known for
his links to Al Qaeda - told his followers in Chechnya that there would
' be big news soon', the Times reported.
Wrong: Neoconservative leaders at the Pentagon told the White House the CIA had been fooled. They believed Bin Laden was pretending to plan an attack to distract the U.S. from Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein
Bush was told on July 24 that the attack was still being prepared but added that it had been postponed by a few months. However, he did not think the briefings were adequate and requested a much more detailed analysis of Al Qaeda.
This was to be the famous briefing of August 6 which was eventually declassified by the White House in April 2004 and made public.
'The August 6 document, for all of the controversy it provoked, is not nearly as shocking as the briefs that came before it'
'The administration's reaction to what Mr. Bush was told in the weeks before that infamous briefing reflected significantly more negligence than has been disclosed,' Kurt Eichenwald wrote in the piece for the New York Times.
'In other words, the Aug. 6 document,
for all of the controversy it provoked, is not nearly as shocking as
the briefs that came before it.'
Following the devastating attacks on
9/11, the White House - which was receiving criticism it had ignored CIA
warnings - said it had never been told when or where the attacks would
Yet many have claimed that if the government had been on high security alert over that summer they may have found out about the planned attack - and saved the lives of thousands.
Never forget: The Tribute in Light is illuminated next to the Statue of Liberty and One World Trade Center, left, during events marking the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center
Stunning: The Tribute in Light is an art installation near the site of the World Trade Center in remembrance of the September 11 attacks
Yet George Pataki, New York state governor on 9/11, laid into Eichenwald during a joint appearance on MSNBC for writing the New York Times article about the briefings.
'I just think this is incredibly unfortunate, to be perfectly honest. Because first of all, having been there, on September 11th and for weeks, months thereafter President Bush provided inspired, effective leadership,' Pataki, a Republican, said.
'On September 11th everything changed and to look 11 years later and say, "Aha, this was happening before September 11th in the summer" and go though and selectively say, "You should've done that, you should've done that" I think is incredibly unfair and a disservice to history.
'And by the way if you look back there are those who could have said that President Roosevelt was at fault for Pearl Harbor. But the government didn't look back and say, "let's blame the President"; we came together to fight an important war.'
VIDEO: Watch the events as they unfolded on September 11th, 2001
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